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An in-depth interview with Coss founder, Rune Evensen:
Hey guys! About two weeks ago I decided to book tickets to Singapore to pay a visit to the COSS team. I was and still am heavily invested in COSS and I thought it was my duty to push the do your own research idea to the maximum and actually go there and meet them! So, today was my first day in Singapore and it's been very busy! I spent the morning preparing my first official meeting with Rune and I headed to their offices around 2pm. They are a little bit outside of the city center, about 10 minutes drive. They look quite nice and leave a lot of room for growth, which is good cause a lot of people are coming in house in the next few weeks. The meeting went for about 2 hours and we talked about almost everything regarding COSS. Rune has been incredibly welcoming so far, I landed yesterday night and as soon as he knew I was in town he invited me to have dinner with him, so today was our second meeting, first official one. After the meeting, I headed back to my hotel caught a bit of sleep and started redacting the interview. Tomorrow I have a meeting with their head of compliance and will do the same thing, only much shorter. I'll also start vloging my adventures in Singapore :) Here is the 1st part of the interview: *Hi Rune, thanks for having me, how did you come up with the COSS idea? * Rune Evensen: Originally, back in 2013, I to develop a one stop solution for social media. I was looking at the current platforms and realized twitter is undersharing, facebook is oversharing and LinkedIn is for professionals. You needed a different account for everything so I started building a solution. Unfortunately it was all 3d rendered and way too heavy. It was designed like a house with different rooms. I spent two years on that project and we were supposed to build-in something like facebook credits as an internal currency, but not a cryptocurrency because at that time I did not know about them. But when I showed my idea to people, especially here in Singapore, more and more of them asked me why don’t you make it as a cryptocurrency instead of credits? Then I started to look into it, that was in 2015 but I found it quite complicated with a lot of hurdles especially for a beginner. So instead of working on a one-stop solution for social medias I figured I should build one for cryptos, because everybody talks about mass-adoption, but it is mostly IT guys, nerds and traders who are into cryptos. It is still way too complicated for people to get into it. So I started to plan my one stop solutions, many long nights of work. To get a better understanding I signed up for a FinTech course at MIT. During one of the weekly sessions there, we were supposed to submit a business idea that we had and could implement into blockchain. That was the first time I publicly presented my idea. We 1200 people in this course, and the average score for the assignment was 25, my project got the best rating, 100. They described it as a great business idea with real potential to take COSS to the masses. That was quite an endorsement! I needed this endorsement to actually build this idea. I had a consultancy company in Singapore with some staff. First I brought some of them in the project, then I met Dan from Romania and some months later we had the first drafts of the white paper. In November 2016 we moved to our offices in Singapore, in April 2017 we went live with the beta. Until then we were 100% self-funded, and that was the time all the ICOs were popping up. At first we started looking at institutional investors, but they wanted too many shares of the company for money that would last us a year at best. I did not want sell a majority stake of my company in which I already put so much time, efforts and money. The next natural step was to do an ICO and this is why we created our COSS token and came-up with the idea of the fee split allocation. We had to come-up with a clear use case. We then built our advisory board, we picked our advisory board according to our road map and not specifically for the ICO. For example Anson Zeall who is the president of ACCESS, Singapore’s Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association. So we chose them so that they could help us to complete our roadmap. We did every possible mistake during the ICO because we had no experience in it, none of us had done it before. We did not realize the power of community at the time, we did not even have Telegram at the time! You need to start building a community months before the ICO, you need thousands of people on Telegram and people being active in the community. This is the key to a successful ICO. Nowadays we are actually asked for advices by companies doing their own ICOs because we did everything ourselves during ours. We did not do proper marketing too, we thought we could push it through social medias, that was a big mistake. Nowadays, you need at least half a million to start your ICO for marketing budgets etc… Some companies even offer funding to ICOs! I remember we were approached at the time by TokenMarket and they offered us to take care of everything in our ICO. For 4 months of their work we were asked between 30 and 40k USD. Nowadays they do not work for less than a million. It’s been a bumpy road, that’s why we call it the RollerCOSSter! We raised 3.2M during our ICO. How much did you estimate you needed? Rune Evensen: We were very ambitious because we made an audit through ICO ranker and at that time they scored us the highest they had ever done. So we thought we would reach our 50M hardcap really easily. We were asked by the community what we were going to do with the unsold tokens, we did a community vote and the result was that everybody that joined the token sale would get 10x more token than expected. We decided to stay on Ether with the ICO money as opposed to go to FIAT. We only convert as we go and we still have two third of ETH we raised, which at today’s market price are worth 6M USD. For those who believe we have not hired more staff yet because of financial reasons, that is absolutely not true. We are very careful with the way we use our money, yes we have a big office but we decided to rent it a little bit outside of Singapore’s center cause it is a lot cheaper. We got a big office because we know we want to hire a lot. We are 7 persons working at the office at the moment and 4 more will arrive in February. Three persons for compliance and one developer, Jay. That was actually my follow-up question, how many people are on the current staff? Rune Evensen: We have a very decentralized team. We currently have 7 people in house, then we have the core dev team in Romania, which is Dan’s (one of COSS shareholders) team. It’s a 20 people team but only two of them are working a 100% on COSS. Then we have the UI team in Amsterdam, with 5 people working on COSS. We have our content manager also in Europe, we have our graphic designer in Indonesia, we have our internal security expert and our lawyer (also a shareholder) here in Singapore. So we have a big team, but people need to understand the difference between team and staff. For instance we have Gary here in house for support but he’s managing a four people team that we outsource. They all came here for training but do not work here. We are also planning to add 6 or 7 more in house developers. Mong (COSS’s 1st in house dev) has determined what kind of team she needs and she has free hands to hire and build the team. Just to clarify, if she finds someone that would fit the team, she is allowed to hire him/her immediately? Rune Evensen: Of course, we still need to discuss it together. She cannot sign the contract all alone. But yes, she is free to hire! We want it to be as quick as possible. The very good ones often have a job, then we need to make good offers to convince them and once they accept they need to give notice to their former employers so that takes a bit more time. If there are some devs out there that can start immediately and fit our needs, then we will bring them in immediately. Is it fair to say that Mong is COSS’ CTO? Rune Evensen: Yes, her contract does not say CTO but she is definitely acting CTO. It’s the same for me, I am leading the company but I do not have the CEO title. What does your typical day look like? Rune Evensen: I’m normally at the office between 8 and 9, sometimes I try to hit the gym before coming there, not too much lately. At the office I spend a lot of my time acting as support role on Slack and Telegram, I help everybody that DMs me with issues. Maybe I made myself too available because now I am getting a lot of them everyday. Of course we have meetups with compliance team and the devs. Mong has taken over a lot of communications with the dev teams oversea. She is coordinating and leading the Amsterdam and Romania team. Before she came on board that was also part of my job. I also took part on the KYC process, which is now the compliance team’s responsibility. I’m also the one negotiating when a coin wants to be listed. The priority is to get off your support role? Rune Evensen: Yes, as soon as support is up to speed, and can handle all the issues as fast I as I want to I will get off this role and go back to only leading the company. You announced FIAT will be introduced by the end of Q1 can you give us more details? Rune Evensen: We will introduce FIAT through credit card for Bitcoin and ETH. We will add more FIAT pairs as soon as the engine is up and running. I do not have an exact date for the engine. We are in the process of designing the architecture we need and want to use. Once that is done I will be able to give a more precise timeline. This should happen by the end of the week or next week. One question that comes up a lot, why don’t you buy the same engine as Binance? Rune Evensen: We want to build something from scratch for a few reasons. One reason is security, we want to have full control of the code. But mostly we want the engine to fit our business model, that requires different solutions than a standard exchange. So even if we bought Binance’s engine we would need to build a lot on top. We will speed up as much as possible the release of the engine, as long as that does not jeopardize security or quality. There are now over 80 devs on the Trello board, what is their role? Rune Evensen: They are giving us feedbacks and come up with solutions. For instance what can be done to increase the speed of the site. Some of them are working for Microsoft, Facebook and other Fortune 500 companies. Of course they are already very busy with their job and they are only helping us because they have an interest in COSS. Some of them reached out and sent their CVs to us. That’s something I always rejected before because we did not have in house devs. I did not want to get more outsourced devs and put them under an already outsourced dev team. Now that we have a leading team in Singapore, I’m passing those CVs, of highly qualified people looking to contribute more, to Mong. Some of them will become COSS team members. That’s really the true power of community that I talked about in my Medium update. Yes we have the FUD, from time to time, but to see the activity we have on Telegram and Slack, I really believe we have an amazing community. I know you guys also have a huge french community. France is actually our second biggest market behind USA. Let’s talk about security, it’s always an important concern from users. How do you improve and assess the exchange’s security? Rune Evensen: We are doing regular penetration testing, you can never say that something is 100% hack proof. My personal recommendation is to leave on exchanges only what you intend to trade and send the rest to your hardware wallet. You can get your fee split allocation on Ledger very easily. We do our due diligence and have never been breached, but some users have through their emails. I’m also amazed by how many people have not yet set-up 2FA. We might make it mandatory. You mentioned earlier that you still have 6M worth of ETH from your ICO. How much volume does the exchange need to cover your costs? Rune Evensen: Right now, when we have 2 to 3M daily volume, we are paying weekly to COSS holders between 70 and 100k. That means we get the same amount for ourselves and that’s almost enough to cover our expenses. If we reach 10M daily volume we should be very healthy financially.
First Ripple Transaction - Binance to Ledger - Super Fast!
Got my Ledger Nano S today in the mail all the way from France so I decided to set it up and get my XRP off Binance. Setup wasn't too bad but I kept getting an error at first when trying to install the Ripple wallet; managed to get past it somehow. Also, practiced restoring the wallet using the first 24-word seed I got and since I'm paranoid, I reset the Ledger and got a new 24-word seed before transferring any XRP to it. The transaction confirmed really fast! I refreshed my Ripple wallet after five minutes and it was already confirmed. It was probably faster than that but I was searching for Ripple's block explorer in the interim. I've sent litecoin before which confirmed after 20 minutes or so and I've sent bitcoin which, for the fastest transaction, took an hour or two. Some tips for new users before sending any crypto to your new hardware wallet.
Practice recovering your hardware wallet with the first/initial seed. This will be a throw-away seed.
Wipe/reset your hardware wallet to generate a second new seed. This will be your permanent seed. This step is probably not needed since hardware wallets are supposed to be tamper-proof but I'm paranoid. Did this with my Ledger too.
Send a small test transaction first. I only sent several dozen XRP to make sure I was doing it right. Binance's fee for withdrawing XRP is .25 XRP which is only $.75. Better paying a small fee twice than losing your entire stack.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke
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