April 21, 2023

Episode 249: Ben Weiss, CEO & co-founder of CoinFlip

Ben Weiss co-founded CoinFlip in 2015 and served as the Chief Operating Officer before being appointed as Chief Executive Officer in April 2021. Since its inception, Ben has led the company’s strategy and helped CoinFlip surpass $1B in transaction volume. In addition to running a burgeoning startup, Ben spends his time working with governing bodies toward cryptocurrency regulation. Regarded as a thought leader in the space, he is regularly interviewed by major news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN Business, and Moneywise, and has given several keynote speeches about the future of cryptocurrency.

Ben graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in Economics. Compelled by cryptocurrency’s lack of accessibility, he sought to create a cash-to-crypto ATM service. Since then, CoinFlip has expanded to n nearly 4,000 ATMs across the country and Canada, maintaining a strong record of regulatory compliance to ensure the safety and security of its customers. The company will keep that central focus, as well as map out new opportunities internationally and across its product lines.

Under his leadership, CoinFlip placed 60th on the 2021 Inc. 5000 list as the top-ranked cryptocurrency company, was named the 2021 and 2022 #1 fastest-growing company in Chicago by Crain's, and was awarded the 2021 and 2022 Stevie ® Awards for Customer Service.

Julian: Hey everyone. Thankyou so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have BenWeiss, CEO and co-founder of CoinFlip. CoinFlip is a leading financial servicesplatform focused on the digital economy. Ben, I'm so excited to chat with you and,and obviously before the show we were talking about, prior experiences and alsojust with what you're doing at Coin.

Flip in that. Super interesting factabout how much is being involved in a lot of the founders of, web three and,and, and, blockchain focus companies being that there's so much externalpressures that really, I, I'm curious as a founder understanding how younavigate that with everything going on and, and how you kind of continue topush the mission of what your company's doing.

But before we get into all that goodstuff, what were you doing before you started CoinFlip?  

Ben: Hey Julian, it's greatto be on your show. Super pumped to be here. Before CoinFlip, I was sort ofhaving an existential crisis at college figuring out what I wanted to do withmy life. All my friends were getting, and it was like junior year, so a lot ofpeople were getting internships that summer, whether it was in investmentbanking or consulting.

And I decided pretty early on that Iwanted to do my own thing and do my own path, but I just didn't know what,yeah. And then I found Bitcoin and blockchain and I was. Wait, this is supercool because the way I thought about, blockchain was so much more than justBitcoin. Basically, I was thinking that it's a way to create property rights onthe internet and to have an open public ledger.

So when you can create property rights,you can capture value. And you can build marketplaces. So I knew I wanted to gointo blockchain and I just had to find a way to either come up with an idea orfind someone with an idea. And lucky for me, one of my best friends from highschool Daniel Peloski, who's one of my co-founders, he had this idea of theBitcoin ATMs.

And we started on that. We brought inour two other co-founders, Chris and Allen. And seven years later, here we are,300 plus employees.  

Julian: It's incredible tothink about, the founder journey and how just the setting the intention kind ofgets you to the opportunities that are out there that kind of lead you on thepath that you're looking for.

And were, were you always, cognizantthat it was gonna be something in web three that you were gonna build somethingalong with Bitcoin. What in particular was, was exciting to you about thetechnology that, that you had kind of stumbled upon when, when you startedlearning more about, you know, Bitcoin and, and what its capabilities.

Ben: Mm-hmm. I believe likea lot of life is putting yourself in the right place at the right time. Yeah.And exposing yourself to the right opportunities. Like you can't sort of createluck in your own way. And I know my parents, they traditionally wanted, andeven a lot of people around me, they were like banking, law, medicine.

But that's how people made big moneylike 10, 20 years ago. Right. And I knew tech is. You could, a, make the mostmoney, B, make the most impact. So I knew it was gonna be something with tech.I actually don't code myself, but I'm very into sort of the, the trends of techand how it affects society. And I could just tell that blockchain was the placeto be in tech for that.

So it was sort of a top down approach ofI should be in tech. Okay, I should be in blockchain. Hey, I have a friend withthis idea. About the Bitcoin ATMs. So I was pretty intentional about that. Andthen I just took the leap.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah. Taking theleap is, is, they always talk about, it's the hardest part, but I feel likeit's deciding kind of when, when the moment is that you kind of set yourself onthat path, which you set that intention out, you gets all that opportunity andyou kind of create this, this luck and all this energy goes in one.

Flipping into, flipping funny going intoCoinFlip and what you're all working on now, what was the incumbent beforeATM's? People were purchasing on exchanges, holding them on digital wallets.Why couldn't you simply, get access to that, that currency in a different, sayU S D or in any other currency beforehand?

What was kind of the barriers that youwere seeing that you Yeah. You all had to work through to, to make ithappen?  

Ben: In 2015, it wasincredibly difficult to buy Bitcoin. I remember. See, like hearing, seeingabout Bitcoin, I'm like, I need to get this. I need to figure out what this isabout. And I'm pretty technically sophisticated and I was having troublefiguring out, even back then, Coinbase Circle, I remember it was like a monthto get onboarded.

Yeah. And I was like, how is someonelike my mom, she doesn't use online banking. How is she gonna get onboarded tothis? She's not gonna wait a month. And I was thinking there has to be aphysical intangible. To give people access to cryptocurrency. Yeah. And Iwasn't trying to build the next Coinbase. I wasn't like, oh, those guys haven'texchanged.

Let me, build one too. I was just tryingto find something that I could do that no one else was doing. And that waswhere the ATM ATMs come into. PL came into place. Yeah. And I was thinking too,I was like, everyone trusts ATMs. ATMs are part of the normal financial system.Why don't we just have this.

For crypto, even if most people arestill gonna buy down an exchange, some people don't have bank accounts. Somepeople like the physical aspect of it, so it's just about finding, I think alot of people in business want to solve everything for everyone, but I'vealways just been focused on solving a very specific thing for a very specificsort of customer, and that's always done well for me.

Julian: Yeah. Well, it'sfascinating too. I'm sure it expands upon with creating that accessibility withthe ATMs. But, thinking about just the mechanics of it, like, if you go to anatm, just walk me through the experience. You go to an atm do I already haveBitcoin held in a wallet? Am I doing it as almost like a currency exchange, likewhen I go to a different country and put in my U S D?

Or something else in particular, how dothe mechanics work from a user standpoint of if I say, all right, I need to go,get some Bitcoin and I see one of these ATMs, what's my experience from there?  

Ben: All you need is awallet and a phone, and you can have Bitcoin before you get back to your car.

And then there's 24 7 customer support.We've always leaned. The 24 7 customer support because for a lot of people likeCoinbase is great, but let's say you buy your funds on Coinbase or Kraken.Yeah. And it doesn't show up in your wallet. A lot of people think if you're anovice investor, if you're just crypto curious and it doesn't show up in yourwallet and you put in a ticket, imagine waiting seven days.

Yeah. To find out if your Bitcoin isthere or not. So we wanted, we wanted to demystify crypto. We wanted to take itout of the cloud. We wanted to make it physical and tangible, and we wantedpeople to be able to talk to a live human being.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And, andwhere, where is say, go, I, I, I buy Bitcoin.

Is it held on my phone? Is it held in onyour exchange? Where, where is that Bitcoin currency where?  

Ben: We don't hold anycustomer funds. We've been fully leaning into self custody so customers canscan any wallet they want at the kiosk, whether it's a treasure, whether it's apicture of a QR code, whether it's a Coinbase wallet.

So we just send it to whatever walletthe customer uses at the machine. We don't get into the custody of crypto, andgiven the regulatory environment and things that happened with ftx, I thinkthat was the right decision to.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah, definitelythe, the right decision. Just hearing, how how kind of that unfolded and, andeven the mechanics behind it, aren't unfamiliar in, in regards to traditionalinvestment companies on, on traditional assets.

It seemed very much kind of in linewith, with previous practices, unfortunately. But you know, kind of going intoCoin, flipping this whole self custody idea, what does it mean for people who,want to buy into cryptocurrency? They buy some Bitcoin, they have self custody.What does that mean to that future kind of monetary value of that Bitcoin thatreally hasn't been seen prior to this technology being available?

Ben: Well, the thing aboutself custody, I mean, look what just happened with SVB and these other banks.Yeah. People just give their money to a bank and what they don't realize, andbanks have been very important in history, I think banks do a lot of greatthings, but what they don't realize is that the bank is taking those depositsand they are loaning it out to other people in other businesses.

So when everyone goes to get their moneyat once at the bank, the money might not be there. And by the. That's the samething that could happen at centralized exchanges. If you look at all the cryptoexchanges that have had issues and went under in bankruptcy, black Fi, Celsius,ftx, all of those were holding people's funds.

And then lending out, lending it out. Imean, it was the same banking model. Yeah. But just for crypto. So with selfcustody, you control your funds, you have the keys to your. Now with that, thatcomes responsibility because it's not like having a Chase Bank account. Youforget your password, you call Chase.

They reset it. Yeah. But we believe thefuture of crypto is self custody because then everyone can control their financialdestiny.  

Julian: Yeah. And what does itgive in terms of access and, and describe a little bit more of the tractionthat CoinFlip has, was super impressed on how many machines are out there,where they are in the world.

If you could share that with ouraudience, and also what do you think it means in terms of, people who have had,challenges. Whether it's, it's, it's accessing, currency or liquidity or, orany of these kind of financial instrument or tools.  

Ben: 20% of people, even inthe US don't have access to bank accounts.

They're either unbanked or underbanked.And then when you go to the rest of the world, it's closer to. 50%. So rightnow, CoinFlip, we started in 2015, the four of us in a shack behind the Popeyeswith three ATMs, we've now grown the business to 300 plus employees. We haveover 4,000 plus kiosk in three countries.

So we're a global company now, whichthat has been super fun in business going international, like each. It's hisown, challenge and opportunity. And even just the product offerings. Like forinstance, in Latin America, everyone loves stablecoin. Yeah. In Africa a lot ofthe payments technology is actually more advanced than the US So people havebeen using, their phone is their bank account for almost a decade, and they'reused to hyperinflation and things like that.

So it's just been so interesting to getthat global. Perspective of business, and then how do you build a team for aglobal business? I mean, it's one thing when you have 10 people in the companyand you can talk to everyone. Hey, I need marketing to do this. Can you guys dothis? What, what about when you have 300 people and you have a guy running yourAustralia business who's on a totally different time zone than you?

I mean, it gets complicated, but it's sofun.  

Julian: Yeah. What, what havebeen some of the, the surprising, I guess, yeah. What, what have been some ofthe surprising nature of, of working with other countries? Has there been anypushback? Are they more, reliant on technologies like this for the future of,of their people and their citizens?

Describe a a, anything that come, cameup when, when breaking into these markets that you were just either unaware ofor, or was kind of a learning curve that your company had to take?  

Ben: One of the interestingthings is, Basically the breakdown of utility versus investment. So I would sayin the US a lot of people are purchasing crypto as an investment, so they wannahold it, they wanna make money off it.

Maybe it's. They love stocks, but hey,this is a great hedge against, the economy and inflation. But then you go toLatin America, you see a bunch of interest in stable coins cuz people areactually using it to transact daily to buy things. Even the, in the Ukrainewar, I know Ukraine raised a hundred million dollars basically overnight in thebeginning with crypto.

Because if you tried to send wires inand out of Ukraine, it was like a dead zone. I mean, it. Months and months. Soin each country, I think, they have their, their, each country has their ownregulations, so it's so important. You need people on the ground. You needlawyers who understand that country's laws.

Yeah. And then how do you have, from abusiness perspective, how do you have accountability for people who you have tomanage that might be across the world. What you measure is what people payattention to. So setting those KPIs and things like that and just sort ofsignaling to the organization like, these are the things we focus on.

And there's, there's many strategies.Are you gonna focus on max profitability and unit economics? Are you gonna say,Hey, we don't need to make as much profit upfront. We need to get customers.Let's put down a bunch of kiosks. So there's always these decisions to make.And I think another thing that I learned pretty early on, As a founder, likefounders are typically ambitious type A people.

You wanna do everything, but you have tomake trade offs. Yeah. You have to like do less things better. That's somethingI always say at CoinFlip. Do less things better.  

Julian: Yeah. And thinkingabout here, at least in, in the states, in the us what, what have you been, interms of, regulations and there's been some off-ramps that have been, been shutdown.

What are some of the biggest externalfactors or risks that you think the company faces today with, everything being,almost under a microscope. Regulation changes. Compliancy changes are changingalmost every month. How do you stay focused and how do you stay in line with,being up to date and, and staying, kind of afloat while, while, some companiesare going outta business.

Ben: Regulation can be achallenge, but it's also a tremendous opportunity and it also gives, forinstance, the early adopters of crypto. They might not care if it's regulated,but as, as it gets to the later adopters, a regulated product and regulatedcompanies can actually give more confidence. And from day one, we've alwaysleaned into legal compliance and accounting.

A CoinFlip there, in a startup, you haveto be lean in the beginning, but the two places you wanna bring in people.Who've done this before is legal and accounting. Yeah. So at Coin we hiredsomeone. As our chief legal officer who was a federal prosecutor who was headof financial crimes at Morgan Stanley and also in the us.

Another thing is like the federalgovernment is sort of in a deadlock right now, so there's a lot of talk aboutregulation, but the states have actually been stepping up and doing a lot ofdifferent regulations, so our kiosk might have to have different disclosure.Based on what state we're in, based on what the loss is.

There's different privacy laws inCalifornia versus Nebraska. So making sure that you have a solid legal team.Yeah, and by the way, like a lot of business people naturally want to be like,oh, regulation just slows things down. But regulation can actually give you anice moat because it's expensive to hire the right people and it's tough toexecute on.

If it was, if. An easy business thananyone would do it. It would just be like a corner store, the A restaurant orthings like that, and someone could just put up the next one right next toyou.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And whathas that process been like in terms of building trust with your consumers? Iwas looking at your YouTube your, your your YouTube channel, and there was aamazing content on there, not only in the beginning stages of what you know,Bitcoin is and introductory material, but also, further to explain differentintricacies about, how you can use Bitcoin and how you can use CoinFlip andwhat are the different value props and things like that.

But what has been the biggest challenge?Education. How have you tackled that? Is, have you tackled it with community,with content? What's been most successful for you and how much do you, doesyour team thinking about it every day?  

Ben: Well, I mean, it'severything. And I think the, the way you have to think about it is a lot ofcompanies just see the consumer as a transaction, but at CoinFlip, we want tobe there for the consumer every step of the way, for the whole entire journey.

And that comes from the 24 7 customersupport. So you can call us even if you've never done a transaction with us toin Tampa, where we have our our head, our global headquarters is in Chicago,but we have another corporate office in Tampa. We actually have somethingcalled the Crypto Experience Center, which is, think of it as like an Applestore for crypto.

Anyone can walk off the walk off thestreet seven days a week, walk into the location, do a transaction in personwith their crypto guide. There's classes open to the public, both in person andonline. A metaverse, there's an N f T gallery. So whether you want to just do atransaction or learn about how to safely set up a wallet, so we're we're therefor the customer every step of the way.

And if we were selling potato chips orbottles of water or something to everyone knew, you wouldn't spend money inresources, right? On education and things like that. It's just a transaction.But in crypto, you like our whole ethos from the physical locations to the 24 7customer support. Demystifying crypto.

Julian: Yeah, yeah. Ifeverything goes well, what's the long term vision for CoinFlip?  

Ben: Man. I mean, just dayby day, just doing the right thing. I mean, I want to build an ecosystem that'sthere for. Everyone's needs in crypto, and not just crypto, I mean all thethings beyond just actual cryptocurrencies. I mean, think about there's allthese assets out there that are gonna be tokenized and securitized, so we wantto build that one stop shop where.

Everyone's needs in the blockchain basedeconomy can be met. But day to day, I just try and execute on what I need to dobecause I mean, early on I was sort of like an anxious person in the business,cuz if I would think about these very, very lofty things would almost getoverwhelming. So I would always just break it down into what do I need to dothis hour?

What do I need to do this day? So I tryand just do the right thing every. I trust that it'll all work out.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I lovethis next section I'll call my founder faq. So I'm gonna get hit you with somerapid fire up questions and we'll see where we go do it. A first question Ialways like to break into is what's particularly hard about your job?

Ben: I would say thehardest part about my job, and I think about the CEO job in general, is that.Your natural urge, especially being a founder ceo, your natural urge is youwant to do everything yourself, and you want to jump in and you wanna solvethis prom, and you wanna, why is the website this color and why is the productlike this?

And. We should do this, but your job asthe CEO is to actually hire people smarter than you. Yeah. And a lot of the jobof the CEO is to hire those people, and yes, you have to hold 'em accountableand yes, you have to manage them, but sometimes you just hire the right people.Yeah, give direction, like this is where we're going.

But if you hire a really good exec, youdon't even have to tell them. Yeah, they'll do the how. So I think for me, Istill am a founder by heart. So I have this urge to call it, jump in, call itmicromanage, but then I realize that I have the right team. Yeah. And then Ijust, okay, these guys got it.

But I think that's the hardest part isgoing from founder to executive and I would. That starts around employee 50when you can sort, when you can no longer have a direct relationship with everyone.So it becomes about. It, it switches from being good at tasks to being good.You still have to have the vision, but how do you manage people?

If your people are, if people are comingin just for a paycheck, you're screwed. You need people to be inspired. Youneed people to be motivated. You need to build something that's bigger thanyourself. And I think that's the hardest and most challenging thing about beinga ceo. Yeah. Especially founders, ceo.

Julian: Yeah. And describe alittle bit more of that transition. From what I understand, you were focusingheavily more on the product side and being really on the ground withunderstanding your, your customers.

Ben: I would pick up, whenwe had 10 ATMs, I would go to the machine, I'd pick up the cash by myself andtake it to the bank while answering a customer support call.

Julian: Yeah. What's thattransition like, been like, how, how's it been relinquishing some of thatownership of some of those tasks? And what kind of what's allowed you to do that?You talked about team, you talked about talent. How have you been really ableto, get everyone in line on the same vision to be able to relinquish some ofthat responsibility?

Ben: People, people, peoplehire hiring execs can. A good exec can make your company a bad exec, can breakyour company. And I, people talk about culture, people talk about strategy, butall these things are actually byproducts of getting the right people in yourcompany. So the way I think about it is, You, you're, you're gonna havestrengths as a founder, right?

Some founders are operational, somefounders are product people. Some founders might be finance people, but youwanna hire pretty quickly, a number two, who can do what your weakness is. Solet's say you're the tech oriented CEO and you're great at the vision. But youdon't know necessarily how to operate a company and how to make sure you're notspending more than you're making.

Or if you're VC backed, manager burned,then you want to hire a really good coo. Yeah. And you, I mean, all managementis, is give people the vision and then clear expectations. People just want toknow what does success look like? Like whether someone's doing good or bad. Noone should be surprised by the feedback that they're getting because yourcompany culture has made it so clear.

What success looks like and what notsuccess looks like.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. One thingthat Als also kind of, really intrigued me about CoinFlip, which, and I've hada conversation with other founders from, from other countries, which is thiswhole kind of being online by mobile versus web and how much different anddistinct that experiences for, different consumers being that a lot of themwent on mobile apps first, and, and so having their wallet on their.

Not necessarily too, foreign to themversus if you talk to a lot of people in the US it's more of a transition. Whathas that allowed you to do in terms of the adoptability for countries who aremobile for us and, are they, are they almost ready and and willing for aproduct like this to come in?

And what does it mean when they finallyget something like that? What's that experience been working with, countriesthat are mobile first and having a product that is so easily.  

Ben: There's a natural fit.And so we talked earlier about education. Yeah. And you may still have toeducate on crypto itself, but this idea of a digital wallet, for instance, youdon't have to educate as much in Africa in other places.

And for instance, like if you look atthe numbers, if you look at. And this is how you can get an edge in business aswell. Because if you're just looking at the numbers, if you're looking at gdp,if you're looking at how much disposable income do people have to spend on yourproduct, if you look at, for instance, let's say you're looking at.

Africa's a continent. Yeah. You mightsay, Hey, the US has five times the gdp. We should drill down more in the usbut wait, what if 80% of the people are a natural fit for crypto in Africa, butonly 20 are in the us? So you have to look for edges like that. And I thinkthat's another thing you, you can't, like a lot of tech people make things for.

Tech people Sure. Instead of for thecustomer. And you have to realize you might not even be the customer yourself,so you really have to do your best to put yourself in other people's shoes orhire people. Yeah. Who can put themselves in other people's shoes.  

Julian: Yeah. And how do you,I, I think a lot of founders, when we go through and, and try to, do our duediligence at a market before expanding into it, have, have, have struggles in,in finding the right information that give us the right signals.

How are you able to find that? Were youon the ground? Were, were you in connection with the partnership? What wasable, what, how were you able to kind of create that that product line,understand what the opportunity was, and then implement it? What was thatprocess like for other founders who are maybe looking to do.

Ben: It's a little bit ofeverything. I mean, it's looking at the statistics, it's going on the ground.It's thinking about it logically and intuitively. For instance, we know there'sbeen a track record of inflation in Africa and Land America. We know they'reahead on their payments tax, but at the end of the day, and not a lot of peoplewill always admit it, it is a leap of.

At the end of the day, just likestarting a business, you're never gonna fully get there rationally and do likea cost benefit analysis because then other people would already start yourbusiness. You have to take. Some leap of faith, and it's the same way goinginto countries. So yes, I'll read business cases of why we should or shouldn'tgo in this country, but at the end of the day, the best business case, put down10 ATMs and see how they perform.

Yeah. And it's better to move quicklyand get information back quickly. Like in business, you want to shrink thatfeedback loop. You're gonna take actions, you're gonna get feedback, you'regonna pivot and adjust. You want that loop to be as quick as possible. So whenI see. Like where people are getting stuck at the company.

I call these sticky points. I just, Icome in, this is where I will get a little hands-on. I'll come in and I'll justpush things along to make sure we're keeping that feedback loop as quick aspossible. No, put down 10 ATMs in this country. If they don't do well, youdon't have to put down more.  

Julian: Yeah. Has there everbeen have you worked with a country that has, kind of rejected the idea yet?

And, and and what was thatexperience?  

Ben: Every country thatwe've gone into has worked. Some have been more or less profitable and everycountry has been profitable. Now, there were, and I'm not gonna say which onenecessarily, but there was, we were looking at an acquisition. Mm-hmm. And wethought on paper this was a great acquisition.

And then due to some things in thelandscape of the, in the country versus, and also looking at the company aswell, we pulled. From that acquisition. So there has been deals that we'vewalked away from in countries that it's not like the country, is a failure.Like, oh, we, we shouldn't go there.

But there were more attractive.Countries at that time. And again, that is about being, you have to be willingto make a trade off. Yeah. Is a business person. You do 10 things at once,mediocre, you're not gonna do well. All the, the world is ruled by power loss,so all the returns come for being, in the top one, two, 3% of things.

Like tech is sort of a winner take all,yeah. Economy. So you'd rather. Three countries that are amazing versus 15countries that are mediocre.  

Julian: Yeah. And thinkingabout what really, the access to, whether it's crypto or, or anything thatessentially is decentralized. What does that mean for entrepreneurship indifferent countries and, for people who want to build things and, and haven'thad the ability to access capital because of whatever, traditional legacy,financial institution was.

What is your, I guess your predictionfor, what, giving access to other countries, even people in, in the US whohaven't been able to get financial means, what does that mean to their journey?Even entrepreneurs kind of overall.  

Ben: Well, I think everythingis getting decentralized and this is a good thing, and there's been a lot ofmarket cap and value created by cryptocurrencies themselves.

But what's even more amazing is all sortof the long tail effects and opportunities this is creating, whether it's theability to take out a loan with DeFi, whether it's. There might be someone whodoesn't look like a traditional op entrepreneur, so they're not getting fundingin Silicon Valley, or they don't have access to the right connections.

Yeah. But you can have a great idea onthe internet now, and you can reach so many people, whether it's throughcrowdfunding or issuing your own Coin. It's never been easier. I mean, it'sstill incredibly hard, but it's never been easier to start a business. Their traditionalbarriers to entry are disintermediating.

Yeah, and this is a trend, whether it'sin web three, whether it's in crypto. We're seeing the world sort ofdecentralized in many ways, and I think that's a good thing because the legacyfinancial system left a lot of people behind, unfortunately.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I don'tknow if you have a, an answer to this, but you know, in regards to fundraising,What, what, what will it mean in the maybe near future or long-term future for,a company to be, transac have all those transactions through Bitcoin and cryptoor different types of currencies and, and trying to evaluate that based on thevolatility.

I know you're not a VC company, but inpure speculation senses. What do you think the evaluation process will be and,and will that change for companies or invest in, in, big investing arms whowant to invest in companies that are transaction in these currencies? How doyou evaluate them?

How do how much of what they're doing orwhat, the currencies that they hold is worth now will be the same in thefuture. Pure speculation, but I'm curious to hear.  

Ben: Yeah, well there's alot to cover there. I mean, I think a lot of companies are now looking to putsome sort of crypto on the balance sheet just a little bit, perhaps.

The bigger the company typically themore risk averse. But I think you're gonna see a lot of companies. Putting somesort of crypto on the balance sheet. I also think, this is sort of a littletangent to your question, but I think crypto is gonna change the game forcontent creators because content creators have always been traditionallyunderpaid because there's so many middle men.

Think about for every dollar yourfavorite singer's making the the record company, the middleman, the peopleabove are probably making $10. So now there's native currencies. For theinternet, for fans to more easily interact and interact with artists, interactwith content creators, that there was, there wasn't a way to do that before.

And now, now take it to the next stepwith the metaverse. The metaverse is sort of a loaded word, but what I thinkof. The Metaverse is a way to bridge the physical and digital. Yeah. So forinstance, think about the New York Yankees, right? They're iconic and they havea lot, a lot of fans. They probably have, hundreds of millions of fans all overthe world, right?

Like most of their fans probably don'teven live in New York. Yeah. They'll never have a chance to go to a baseballgame. Right. But with the Metaverse, they're going to have that experience tobasically go to that baseball game, and there has to be some sort of, Economicform of value in the digital world, and that's what cryptocurrencies do.

So, I mean, I'm so excited, man, aboutthe future of tech, the future of blockchain, the future of crypto. I knowthere's a lot of, perceived negativity out there and it can seem uncertain, notjust in crypto, I mean in everything. It could. You look around and it couldseem like the world. Falling apart, but I've never been more optimistic forhumanity.

Julian: I love that. I lovethat. And just on a, on a more personal note, what's something for otherfounders out there, what's something that you're good at now that you wish youwere better on you, you wish you were better at earlier on as a founder?  

Ben: Not tying my personalidentity to the business.

Yeah. And I'm gonna say that, butfounders in the beginning, no matter what I say, you're gonna tie, you're gonnado it your personal identity to the business. Yeah. So your business does good.You feel great, right? Your business does not good. You don't feel good, andyou have to have a little bit of that.

Yeah. But it gets to a stage where your.Identity becomes tied to your business and you almost lose the sense of selfworth because yeah, you become, oh, that's Ben from CoinFlip. That's no longerBen Weiss. And you don't, you don't, it's not really healthy after a certainpoint. And I think it's so important not to tie your identity to anythingbecause you can be an amazing founder.

Like guess what? Businesses sometimessucceed and fail because of things that have nothing to do with you, just cuzyou're. Business fails, whatever that means, doesn't actually make you a badfounder and just cuz your bus, it could go against you the other way too. Yourbusiness could succeed cuz you're at the right place at the right time.

Yet you could think because it was, cuzyou were really smart. And when you tie that identity, you'll start to buildego and you'll start to get arrogant and overconfident and over risky. That'swhy so many, you know what look like great entrepreneurs sometimes end upcrashing and burning. So you can't get too high, you can't get too low, and theway to do that is to not tie your personal identity to the business.

That being said, you're just gonna do itin the beginning and it's useful. It motivates you, but just be self-aware ofyour identity and your ego and when it's the right time, when you feel you canjust remember you're more than your business or else this other things aroundyou will suffer. Yeah. That's  

Julian: something that'shugely, I think under said on the podcast.

I think maybe one other founder, twoother founders probably have brought it up, but the, the whole tying yourselfworth to the business really. Put the strain on you emotionally and it's harderto ride the waves when you know you just wanna move forward. And also, yeah,when you discuss it, you, you so tied into this project, but you know, a lot offounders talk about when you're able to,

Ben: I started the businesscuz I had, and maybe it was naive, 20 year old, seven years ago.

But I started the business cause Ithought. Oh man, the nine to five looks like a, a rat race. Like the only peaceof mind is to have your own business and do your own thing. And then little didI know, four or five years later, I'm, responsible for hundreds of people. I'm,my identity's tied to the business and I had, I didn't have any more peace ofmind.

Yeah. In fact, I felt worse than when Istarted. And it was crazy because I told myself, This much success, like Ishould totally be happy with everything. But I was, for a moment I was likemiserable in that, cuz I was tying my whole identity to the business. And forme, the whole point of starting a business was to build something great withgreat people.

Yeah. And have peace of mind. And then Ifound myself not having it and the only way I was able to reclaim that was torealize I'm more than just my business.  

Julian: Yeah. How did youreframe that in your mind?  

Ben: Honestly, it just gotto sort of, Like, that's why I say like, I'm gonna say this, but you're stillgonna do it.

Yeah. Because it almost got to like abreaking point where like there were no more hours to put in the day. I mean, Iwas emotionally exhausted. I was having headaches, I couldn't sleep. Yeah. Andthen just through a lot of wor, it was reading, it was hiring a lot of peoplewho've done this before and just realizing that it's gonna be what it's gonnabe.

I'm gonna put my best foot forward. I'mgonna bring on the best people. But at the end of the day, whether thisbusiness, IPOs for 10 billion or doesn't that, you know what I'm, do like the,the process is the reward, the journey's the reward. That's why when I saidfailure earlier, sort of in quotes, like you never really fail because that'sjust data points for.


Julian: Yeah. Yeah. That, Imean, well said there. We'll, we'll end it right there. That, that's, yeah,exactly, exactly the point. I always like to ask, this question, I know we'recoming to the end of the show here, but I always love how founders extractknowledge out of anything that they ingest, whether it's early in your careeror now, what books or people have influenced you the most?

Ben: I love books. I thinkthe people who influence me the most, everyone sort of looks to role models andthings like that. If you're looking to role model, you're sort of diminishingyourself because they're the same struggling human beings as you. I just getinspired by all the people around me, by the little things day in, day out, allthe people at CoinFlip who work to make this company great books.

One of the books that always has stuckwith me is Black Swan, because Black Swan, basically, just to summarize it in acouple sentence, school makes you think linear. And incrementally, right? Butall the best businesses, all the things that changed the history of the world,they weren't incremental leaps, they were discontinuous, random andunpredictable events.

So basically, Like I said earlier, powerlaws sort of rule the world. It's not linear, it's an exponent. It's a powerlaw. So what does that mean? That means you wanna expose yourself to as muchups, like asymmetric upside risk as possible, and you want to protect yourselfagainst as much asymmetric.

Downside risk is possible. So peoplealways underestimate and don't pay attention to the tails of the graph. So lookat the tails. What risk are you not thinking about that isn't there, or that'sthere. Think of like svb, like you know that they're probably doing all thetraditional metrics and they're not thinking, Hey, the Fed might raise interestrates and these bonds might be worthless.

And then think about that asymmetricupside. Like when I first got into crypto, I'm not. Claim. I was one of thesepeople who's like, oh, I knew Bitcoin was gonna, make it and be worth thismuch, and I could build a business. I was just thinking like, Hey, I havenothing to lose and there's a lot of upside here, but if it doesn't work, I'drather.

Not make the money when I'm young. Sojust look at those tales and realize the world is not linear and notincremental.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I lovethat. And that, that's a book that hasn't been recommended yet too. So we'lladd that one to the list. I appreciate that. Last little bit is, I know we'recoming to the close of the episode, so I wanna make sure that we didn't leaveanything on the table.

Is there any question I didn't ask youthat I should have or anything that we didn't talk about that you wanted to, toget into? Anything that we left on the table.

Ben: I'm just excited forthe future of CoinFlip. We have new countries we're going into. We have a newdigital product called Olive coming out in April, and I'm just excited abouttech in general.

Yeah. Whether it's ai, whether it'sblockchains, whether it. Robotics. I mean, I truly believe in humanity'sability to solve every single problem out there. And even though things mightlook shaky right now, I'm gonna continue to make big bets on our future. AndI'm optimistic.  

Julian: I love that, Ben. Andlast, last thing here is where can we find you and, be a supporter, be a fanof, of Ben Weiss as founder?

And also, if CoinFlip, give us yourplugs. Give us your LinkedIns, your Twitters. Where can we reach out and, and,and be a fan?  

Ben: My Instagram andTwitter is Ben CoinFlip. I'm on LinkedIn. Our website is CoinFlip.tech for ourdigital product. That's olive.com. That's launching April, late April. AndConsensus, we have a wait list for that.

So that's where you can find us andme.  

Julian: Amazing. Ben, it'sbeen such a pleasure learning about your experience, kind of what got you intoa CoinFlip and, and also what has expanded to you and what really is, is givingaccess to opportunity and, and resources to people and what that really meansfor the future.

So excited to be not only a fan of whereyou are now, but where you're gonna lead into the future. So I hope you enjoyedyourself. I know we did on the podcast. And thank you again for being onBehind. Company Lines today.  

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