The creator of both My Etherum Wallet and now MyCrypto.com, Taylor Monahan, joined us for another discussion in what is fast becoming a mainstay of the Crypto 101 podcast. This time the topic of conversation was what to expect when building a crypto company from the ground up. Taylor has had ample experience — including mistakes made and lessons learned — and she shared some of her journey with us.
For most of us, our journey into the crypto space began as a hobby. We all learned about this strange concept called ‘the blockchain’ or had a friend who was evangelistic about Bitcoin. For most, being interested and engaged in the cryptosphere as a hobby is more than enough and a perfectly interesting and enjoyable past-time — maybe even a way to see some return on investment. But for some, that hobby has the potential to begin blossoming into something a bit more complex. Crypto 101 is the perfect example of an interest-turned-hobby-turned-potential business.
But when should a hobby become something more official? Should it ever? If you are interested in developing a company around blockchain or cryptocurrency, Taylor has some hard-won advice and some passionate concerns.
Her advice on when to start putting formalities in place is it is always best to be early rather than late. Below are some practical steps derived from lessons learned along the way. Taylor’s initial warning is that “these things take time and they’re not fun” but that doesn’t take away from their importance.
As everyone’s circumstances are different it is impossible to give a blanket “this is what you need to do” list. The first thing Taylor says when asked the “when do you make the call to start a crypto business” is:
We can’t answer this for you. But Taylor’s advice is that you’ll know when you know. Maybe you are unhappy in your current position, or perhaps the income you are receiving from your crypto hobby is starting to look competitive with your other income streams. The main thing to be concerned about here is to be reasonable and prepared. This is not something to take lightly or begin on a whim. Which leads to the next point.
Figure out if it is reasonable
Sometimes hobbies are so enjoyable because they are hobbies. Turning a hobby into work isn’t always the best idea. Be reasonable. Make sure to be as objective as possible before you turn this fun side project into something you are depending on for your next meal or rent payment. Things can go bad, and fast — we will come back to this.
Be mentally and organizationally prepared
Taylor stressed to not assume you can just figure it out as you go. You need to prepare yourself mentally for the task ahead. Not only that but you need to be organised. Make a list, have a plan. If you have a plan you are preparing yourself well for when circumstances change — because they will change. Don’t be scared when they do. Be flexible. Part of that plan involves being clear with business partners about expectations. These are people who have mouths to feed and bills to pay too. Treat them with respect.
Put it on paper and be clear on expectations
Be proactive and do the things that aren’t fun early. Write up contracts/agreements before it gets uncomfortable or messy. Be clear with each other up front.
These are just a few well-earned lessons from a pioneer in the crypto world. They bear a similar theme — that is that they are all rather simple and practical.
An important warning
So should a hobby be turned into a job? Taylor’s most passionate advice came not from mistakes she has made but worries she now has. If your hobby turns into a job for other people too, if your crypto company pays people, you now have a LOT of responsibility. You then have people that depend on you. If your company makes a misstep, that could result in people not being paid, or worse, losing their job. This is not to be taken lightly, and making sure you get the boring stuff right upfront can guard against this nightmare.
A last word
During the interview, Dani brought up a well-known business mantra — “fail fast” — and wondered if Taylor agreed. The mantra is designed to encourage people to find their weaknesses and fail quickly in order to minimize the damage and negative effects the failure brings. Taylor’s take on this was insightful and especially true for the crypto space. Her reasoning was more along the lines of ‘act fast.’ Get something to market, something people can engage with. Because “you have no idea how people will use your product.” Once it is out in the open you can learn what the community likes and dislikes and what they are using your creation for, thus giving you the opportunity to hone and tailor your product or service to be more effective.
If you haven’t listened to the episode yet, click the link below to hear our candid discussion with Taylor.
Crypto 101 interview with Taylor — here