War, founding startup, crypto transfer fees and total craziness around
Someone hired me. It was a local development company in Armenia. I had about 2 years of experience in engineering. Not counting 1 year in University after which I dropped out and was sent to serving in the army for 2 years. For all male species in our country serving in the army is mandatory. Anyway, I wanted to tell a different story. We were working on some useless projects for the Central Bank of Armenia. The project was useless, I don’t even know whether they used it or not, probably yes, because they just paid for it, but it was not solving any issues. The good thing is that now I can say: “yo, motherfucker I worked on projects for the Central bank of Armenia, what have you achieved, loser?!”. Of Course, as always, details are hidden: nonsense projects, no serious technical difficulties, nothing valuable, it’s just a fancy line that you throw and hide all the important details. This is what we always do, but refuse to accept that we are this kind of pieces of shit. If you are offended, I am really sorry, but leave this post asap, it’s going to get worse.
Probably you know the feeling when you can’t get rest for your mind. Maybe from suspecting that your GF is cheating on you, or one of your ‘friends’ bought Mercedes S class and you keep envying him, you know that it’s not right, but you still continue doing it and get more terrified because you know that’s wrong. Some people get terrified from other people’s Instagram accounts and start eating themselves from inside, other people eat themselves finding purpose in life, and so on. Did you get the point? We are different, we get terrified from different things, but getting terrified is common, we all get terrified.
At the time of Central bank bullshit, I was terrified. I wanted to work on something meaningful, challenging which will wake up my drive of doing things. It took a lot of years to finally understand that challenges are my passion. It doesn’t matter what it is’ rope-jumping, voluntarily going to war, or solving some everyday technical challenges. It was terrifying to accept that I am just an addict to adrenaline. From first it terrified me, what the hell, maybe I should just settle down and live a normal life. But something happened during the war and it changed my mind.
Back to my addiction. Friends and I were thinking about startup ideas. 10 at a time. I can’t count how many times I bought a domain, how many times I hit that “Create new project” button in Visual Studio. Fairly I can’t also count how many times I deleted those projects, for how many of them I canceled domain subscriptions. Why? Just because after solving technical challenges, in which we were experts, it was boring. Ok, what we should do? How should we talk to people? How should we promote our product? How should we get customers? All these questions were not challenging for us, we were thinking: “you idiots, we are gods, we created a product and YOU HAVE TO USE IT”. To be honest all these questions don’t look challenging to me even now. Why? Hell knows! But I do them now. In fact, right now I am doing it, I am telling my story here. You people call it promoting yourself. I am doing it, eat it!
Ok, we worked on a bunch of nonsense projects. One day we joined our friend who was building a crypto exchange. It worked out. I mean we got a couple of million investments. Everything was working out. Finally, we got super challenging stuff. Building Crypto Exchange. By that time I first flew to the US. Been in Chicago, and played BlackJack in Vegas. Maybe this sounds ordinary for you, but for me, at that time it was a new world. I think from my attitude you can guess that not everything worked out. If you guessed that, take my congratulations, you have a very good word empathy. Or I am a very good writer. Anyway, we got hacked. Lost about one million dollars. Our CEO took money from the company and vanished in the eternity of this new world. We were left with nothing. Some of the mofos in our company managed to find new investors and sold the company on their own behalf. We were literally left with nothing. Welcome to the new fucking world.
It made me really upset. We had spent a bunch of years grinding on it. Writing and caring for each line of code in that insane amount of codebase. Now the owner of all of it is some guy that just passed a few bucks and all years of our hard work belong to him. You can ask, didn’t you have company shares? I had. They legally fabricated everything. Why didn’t I sue them? I don’t know, I thought it would be a very complicated and expensive process. I just thought, oh fuck it, I don’t have nerves for it.
By this time I didn’t have a job, didn’t work on anything. Just spending my money savings on drinking and doing some random stuff. Random, nasty stuff. Anyway. This was the exact time when the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan started. This was exactly what my thirsty mind was searching for. Don’t get me wrong, it’s immoral to say this and I know it. Ok, whatever, feel free to get me wrong.
47 days of the war. Best 47 days of my life. So many mental challenges, so many physical challenges. It’s like Disneyland for horrible addicts like me. I was happier than ever. I was sitting near the road waiting for the enemy tank to come. I really wanted to destroy a bunch of them. So that tank never came, but the ideas that I had while waiting for it are still with me.
The thing that I realized is, that no matter what is happening, you should do your thing. You should find your thing and keep doing it. In war it’s easy, your thing is to obey orders. In life, it’s a bit messy to understand what’s your thing. But I think you never have to understand it, you can choose it. Choose your thing and start doing it. As simple as that. Try something - if it doesn’t work out, try a different approach. Play an infinite game, don’t say I have to do this, and if this doesn’t work out I quit. No, there are no limits, there is no winning/losing condition. It’s an infinite game, so play it infinitely. Nothing, except you, can stop you. You should get this right, during this process your mind will tell you, Nah I am doing this, this is not going to happen, this is wrong and all stuff of negative thoughts. Just ignore them and do your thing! If you don’t get your desired results, you have the wrong desires. Your desire should be playing the game, not the final score. There is no final score. In the end, we all are going to be just as dead as others.
Ok, in short: challanges are my thing, it’s normal and I should keep doing it. That’s it.
That’s enough about philosophy for now. When I got back from war, I was really working to find something to do. And by that time I had some crypto and started buying/selling some random stuff. I wanted to move some BTC from one exchange to the other. I suddenly realized that for no fucking reason I am paying 50$ fees. I mean I am using centralized crypto exchanges, why the fuck I should use blockchain for transferring crypto from one to another. Seriously, the address I am withdrawing from doesn’t belong to me, the address I am withdrawing to doesn’t belong to me either. I never had even a few bits of those private keys. So why the fuck I want blockchain here. And on the other hand, because I use blockchain, I have to pay 50$ for just a transaction and wait an hour to get the withdrawal to the end. Sounds like a legit problem. I called my addicted friends and we started thinking about how to solve it.
We found a really simple and elegant idea. Most big exchanges have internal transactions. Those transactions don’t go through blockchain, are cost-free and nearly instantaneous. Let’s say you want to move money from Binance to Huobi. We create accounts in both exchanges. When you want to move money from your Binance account send it to our Binance account, we detect it and from our Huobi account, we send it to your Huobi account. As simple as that. Fully automated. You just configure stuff and get addresses from us. And whenever you want to withdraw, you just withdraw to that address. Great, we built the product, tested it, and it works insanely cool.
Great! We have a working product, what should we do now? Hell knows. We started experimenting. We joined a bunch of discord channels. Started asking for feedback from traders. Most of them said, “wow, that’s a really cool idea”. The most popular question that we were asked was “how we trust you”. That’s a legitimate question. Still don’t know how you are going to trust us. I think this blog post will add its few bits on trust bank.
Long story short, we got to our first Accelerator, got our first angel investment. And yet there are bunch of other stuff that is insanely broken in this world. I knew a startup that raised couple of millions, just with non-sense pitch deck (like metaverse + defi + nft stuff) and the product that technically is not possible to ship. At lest for next 5 years. I will share our foundraising process in another blog post - maybe.