Hello Fiskantes! Great to connect and to introduce you to the wider audience. How did you learn about crypto and what drew you in?
Hi! Unlike others, my first experience with crypto wasn’t speculative. I played online poker and some poker rooms accepted bitcoin as the only form of deposit. That’s why I learned to use it back in 2013 or so. I didn’t like the price volatility and cumbersome UX though. I thought it could never succeed beyond some fringe use cases. Only 3 years later in 2016 I came to appreciate it as a potential new paradigm. I write more about my early crypto days and poker here.
What is your background and your professional experience?
This question is like from a job interview :). My only “real job” experience (apart from odd jobs on construction sites, event security gigs and IKEA warehouse) was a position of Community Manager for the largest global poker community PokerStrategy.com, where I met Pavel.
In the meantime I studied law but dropped out after 2 years, bored out of my mind. I focused on playing online poker while traveling. Later I got a degree in applied psychology, but mostly because I wanted to understand my own mind, not to work in the psychology field per se.
When I earned enough money from poker, I learned how to invest in stock markets and later real estate and startups. But online poker is still what really defines my background. The lessons I learned from it and friends I made there are my biggest assets till today.
Crypkit was mainly your idea, so how was it born and what made you pursue it?
In early 2017 my crypto investments really melted my face and I got sucked in down the rabbit hole, reading whitepapers and investing. Some of my friends wanted to co-invest with me. We were using spreadsheets to track who owns what but it was cumbersome. We needed a tool that would be able not only to track our balances, positions and trades across wallets and exchanges, but also that would be able to divide the portfolio into shares of individual investors.
No crypto tracker offered what we needed. There were only simple asset tracking solutions à la Blockfolio. That’s why we started to build our own tool with a small team of developers.
In 2018 we founded Sigilfund.com, where the requirements for tracking, auditing and accounting were even higher. We learned a lot in the process. Our unique experience of running our own crypto fund and building a tool for our own needs is what gives us a huge competitive advantage. So we decided to spin off Crypkit into a standalone project.
What is your role in the project now and your main contribution?
I am a co-founder and vision generator for the project. Earlier, my role was more active, I was closer to a startup CEO. That means I was actively managing development, product ideation, testing, hiring. But I have to admit I am a much better investor than operator. Luckily a much more skilled manager – Michal – took over operations and I could focus on investing where my real strengths are. Currently I am filling in the role of product owner and ideator for new features. I am also the most demanding user so I provide a lot of feedback, especially for the new DeFi and Staking modules.
What were some of the biggest obstacles in bringing this to life?
Tracking crypto assets sounds simple, but under the hood there are a lot of details you need to get right. Things like which valuation methods to use, reliability of data sources from various chains, outliers such as multiple assets having the same ticker…
And while you are dealing with all that the whole industry keeps changing under your feet so you need to adapt your roadmap frequently to stay relevant. For example we thought support for miners and stakers would be the next obvious feature to implement but then DeFi hit us in the face and we had to change our direction sharply to be able to track LP tokens, DEXes and yield farms. And all the time new even more exotic DeFi projects are being released such as algo stablecoins.
Apart from DeFi, we are working with data from centralized exchanges as well via read only APIs. Every exchange API is a bit different. We are planning to support various other blockchains, staking assets outside of Ethereum – all different data sources that we need to bring under one roof and standardize. On top of it we have released the accounting module to help business with their bookkeeping. Accounting is a huge challenge in crypto by itself and it may be our biggest product challenge so far.
Doing all of this under one roof is really like herding cats but there is no other way. You can’t realistically use 4-5 different apps to track everything and stay sane. I believe this is a hard and important problem to solve because I am a crypto power user myself and without something like Crypkit I would have been driven crazy a long time ago.
Our biggest non technical challenge was people – we have so many ideas on our roadmap but not enough skilled devs to execute them. Here is where I really have to give kudos to our developers, who did so much work in the last 2 years that it’s comparable with teams that are 5 times bigger.
We were molded in the crypto bear market and so far we were frugal with our spending. In retrospect I think we could have gone much bigger much earlier and we are catching up only now, with a bigger fundraising round being planned in Q2 2021.
What is your vision for the future?
I am not the only one calling the shots in Crypkit, but my personal vision for the project is as follows:
1. Technical: Crypkit will have a scalable backend and database architecture that can aggregate all types of data sources and standardize them so they can be used on the frontend for various cases from asset tracking to accounting. Of course DeFi is the name of the game and we will keep rolling out integrations with popular DeFi projects. I believe other chains will become more important as well and we want to be early in supporting them. I am very optimistic about Polkadot and Tendermint (Cosmos) ecosystems, which will contain many application specific blockchains with their own staking tokens and specialized use cases. We also plan to build support for Solana and Serum, since we see some early traction there. We are of course looking at various other chains, side chains and layer 2s, and will integrate them based on user demand. I want to appeal to teams building these projects to think about developer friendliness and ease of use for third party tools.
2. Business: It’s important to know who we are serving and who we are not serving. Crypkit is becoming a dominant asset tracker and accounting tool for crypto and DeFi power users – professional investors, traders and companies that are in need to track multiple wallets and use many different crypto projects. We are not targeting the mass retail speculator who is content with simple products like Blockfolio.
3. Learning culture: Crypkit is a lean, remote first company. This gives us the opportunity to work with a diverse team of self-driven professionals from all over the world. Motivated and skilled developers who don’t have previous crypto experience are welcome as well. Working for Crypkit exposes our team to all kinds of crypto projects, be it exchanges, DeFi protocols or PoS chains. Thus Crypkit is a great “crypto entry drug” company for those who want to gain broad experience in crypto markets from various angles. For this reason we are fostering friendly and learning focused culture.
4. Embracing change: Crypto markets change so fast it’s mind blowing. We need to be ready to change our course and cater not only to the present needs of our clients but to the future ones as well. That’s why the whole architecture of Crypkit is built in a modular way – we can add new data sources and build new use cases on top of them without needing to change the underlying codebase again. We are here to stay and for that we need to have a flexible and open mind about the future and not get too bogged down in our current vision of the world.
Fingers crossed all of the above will become a reality. Thank you for your time!
You can follow Fiskantes on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Fiskantes/
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