Bitcoin exchange platform igot, which is based in Australia but targets international markets, has secured funding from US serial entrepreneur and investor Jesse Chenard.
Igot co-founder Rick Day told CoinDesk that Chenard’s involvement will bring added value, not just in money but in experience.
“Frankly, the field is so new and interesting that it is attracting great minds and giving us the chance to work with people we might not have otherwise come into contact with.”
While Day didn’t disclose the exact size of Chenard’s stake, he added that initially igot had met with larger investment funds from several continents and was “completely shocked with their proposals”, including at least one that would have seen igot absorbed into a larger corporate structure straight away.
igot’s largest customer bases at the moment are Australia and India, but the company has far more ambitious plans, with an aim to establishing itself as a popular exchange throughout Asia and beyond, to Europe and the Middle East.
Day had a background in payment processing and formed igot with lawyer Patrick Manasse, after the two met in New York.
They chose Australia as the location for their endeavor due to its convenience as a gateway to Asia, and Asia as a target market due to a lack of any integrated payment network covering the whole continent like the US’s ACH (Automated Clearing House) and Europe’s SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area).
While igot is naturally delighted with the extra investment, Day said a sense of frugality forced by working in such a new field actually helped build the business.
“We were originally 100% bootstrapped,” Day said. “Partially this was due to the fact that when we started very few people had heard of bitcoin. We spoke to banks and to investors but most people had no idea what we were talking about.”
Still, Day said he was undeterred despite the challenge, recalling:
“We squeezed every dollar, which in retrospect has engendered a certain discipline in our team. Unless we’re pretty certain that dollar is going to generate more than a dollar in revenue fairly quickly, we don’t spend it.”
Eventually though, they preferred the flexibility of working with smaller individual investors, which allows them to stay independent and try entering a more diverse range of markets worldwide.
“Too much money can also be the death of a company. There are a thousand great ideas coming out of our people every week, but the processes we’ve developed to evaluate and test these before moving forward is worth its weight in gold, and we probably wouldn’t have developed this discipline if we didn’t have resource constraints.”
The founders have already made back all the money we put in “plus a seriously healthy profit”, Day said, which had all been reinvested into the company.
“Now the only real question left is how fast can we grow. That takes a lot of concerns off the table.”
igot customers are able to fund their accounts with BPAY, Australia’s dominant electronic payment network for almost all bills. It also accepts direct debits from bank accounts, and Day said there had not yet been the kinds of hassles other companies had encountered with banks unilaterally closing accounts.
He added that Australia had huge potential as a bitcoin hub. While he has seen his customers make major purchases like cars through igot’s exchange, some trades were made for major export items like coal.
In an economy like Australia’s, still centered in large part on primary industries and the mineral resource exports, introducing bitcoin into the mix as a payment option could have massive implications.
igot is also planning some financial innovation with bitcoin and promises new announcements with investment products are coming soon.
Image via igot
- ^ Chenard (angel.co)
- ^ numerous (www.linkedin.com)
- ^ Image Space Media (www.crunchbase.com)
- ^ igot’s (www.igot.com)
- ^ ambitious plans (www.theaustralian.com.au)
- ^ BPAY (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ like Australia’s (en.wikipedia.org)
- ^ Asia (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ Australia (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ India (www.coindesk.com)