Meet the Entrepreneurs – Georgy Sokolov, e-Coin

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1) What did you study at Cass? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

I studied on the Executive MBA programme. I have always been looking for new challenges, whether in work, or in sports/hobbies. Plus, I have always had that feeling deep inside me that I could barely feel fully comfortable within a large corporate structure, so the idea of being an entrepreneur has always attracted me.

In the current company I work for, I have some autonomy but within certain limits, I want to be in a position where I don’t have to report to anybody.

Having “recovered” after the two intense years of MBA I had an opportunity to join a couple of friends to found a start-up and I didn’t think long to jump on it.

2) What is E-coin? Give us your elevator pitch.

E-Coin is a fast growing company in the fintech industry, in cryptocurrency, to be more precise. We offer our customers worldwide a bitcoin debit card which allows them to spend their digital money, not only with the merchants who accept it, but with all the merchants who accept Visa so you could go down to the shops and buy your bread with it and nobody would know the difference.

It is easy to use, fast to load and there is no need to have a bank account or set up a bitcoin exchange account, you can simply order the card with your name and address. This makes it accessible to people who may not have the necessary documentation to open an account. That may not be a problem in countries such as the UK where most people have the necessary details but is quite important in places where the banking system is underdeveloped such as West Africa and many people wouldn’t think of ever having a bank account.

3) What have you achieved so far? What challenges have you overcome and what has been your biggest success to date?

Having launched in private Beta just before New Year’s Eve 2014, we now have over 45,000 registered users and over 7,000 cards issued, roughly evenly split between plastic and virtual cards.

It would take more than an interview to name the challenges we have overcome and are overcoming every day, the largest ones probably being the general level of trust in this very young and yet unregulated industry, the very cautious attitude of Visa/MasterCard and banks overall towards cryptocurrency, and lack of resources.

Yet, with a very lean structure consisting of a small team and very little external finance that we have raised so far, we have managed to become arguably the #1 bitcoin debit card provider out there, despite having large competitors whom are backed with $40M funding.

4) What do you hope to achieve in the next year with the business?

We aim at becoming the bitcoin debit card provider, the ultimate benchmark and trend setter in this industry, growing our customer base ten-fold, constantly improving our service and entering new markets such as global remittance, corporate payroll, etc.

5) How are you funded? What made you choose that route?

We started with our own money, and have attracted about £100K overall of external capital from friends and funds in rather small batches.

At the moment we are running a crowd funding campaign on one of the world leading platforms for fintech businesses. We are aiming to raise £250,000, offering 10% of equity plus some interesting perks for the investors (like free bitcoin debit cards and +50% revenue on our Affiliate Programme).

This is not just a way to raise funding for us, but also a way of giving something back to our loyal customers and the bitcoin community by letting them share our success.

If you would like to invest in this start up; here is the link to the campaign (you can also see a short introductory video which gives the idea of the business there):

www.bnktothefuture.com/pitches/2156/_e-coin-spend-bitcoin-anywhere

About the author: Steve Shepperson-Smith

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