Is the global equity market outdated? Do middlemen such as banks and brokers wield too much power and control? Well, a new company based out of Lichenstein certainly believe so and they have set about revolutionising the sector with a scalable, purpose-built dual blockchain. We spoke to CEO of Chainium, Sascha Ragtschaa, to understand more about the company’s origins, its journey to date, as well as their impending ICO.
Please can you give us a brief overview of Chainium and the market issue you set out to address?
Chainium’s mission is to democratise the global equity market: allowing anyone to buy shares and stock, from any business in the world. From any location, any background, any salary level, any education level, any demographic…anyone. By creating a direct link between business owners and investors, we cut out the many middle-men and service providers. We use blockchain technology to create this trusted peer to peer link between business owners and investor, tamper-proof and immutable. A lasting record that cannot be altered.
What’s your own personal background? And, how did you find the experience of starting a company from scratch? Were there any doubts/reservations at anytime?
I started Software Engineering at the age of 16 and worked for a number of web technology start-ups during the initial stages of my career. Over the past 17 years I’ve worked for the largest global share registry and transfer agency provider in the world, and held various technology leadership roles in Europe, Australia and North America. In my most recent role I was the Chief Information Officer for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, managing 463 technology staff across multiple locations and countries, covering the end-to-end technology delivery and servicing lifecycle of a global organisation.
I’ve started Chainium with two of my close friends and colleagues, equally involved in the traditional equity servicing industry and all in technology roles too. I knew the time was right, we had and have a killer idea and we have the means to deliver with a now ever-expanding team. There was and is never any doubt.
You started the company last year, how has the company grown to date, and what does the next 12 to 18 months have in store in terms of growth plans?
We’ve started with just a few volunteers and we’ve now grown to close to 15 permanent staff. By the end of the year we will have probably 30 to 50 staff, most of which will be developers and engineers. As we’re just completing our own token sale, we have funding for the next two years and our aim is to deliver the platform, win a few major clients, on-board many smaller to medium clients and build some great partnerships with other technology and equity businesses to grow our network. We aim to be profitable in two years.
You mentioned people are trying to refer to you as “the Uber of the equity market”, however you mentioned that is not what you are trying to be. What is it about that tag that you are trying to distance yourself from? And, how are you distancing yourself from it?
We’re a tech company, and our aim is to build a lasting business that will survive the ups and downs that any business goes through. At the same time, we pride ourselves in respectfulness towards traditional businesses and other peers – even though we have a fairly aggressive market approach. And we’re trying to build a company that is for the staff and people, so creating a creative and flexible and awesome place to work, without all the constraints and red tape that larger corporations are faced with. We left the corporate world to create something better, and at the end of the day, we all want to be successful but also want to have a lot of fun.
You are in the middle of an ICO, how have you found this experience? You mentioned you have been exposed to the dark side of ICO’s, how have you ensured you have not been pulled into this murky side of the market?
It’s a great experience. It is a lot of work, and we’ve done the hard yards to build a community, share our vision, go on lots of roadshows and get exposed to many advisers and people that claim they know it all. If you are a tech and blockchain business, you have to do it. There’s no other way. However, you need to be tough and mature to go through all of it, especially when you’re on a tight budget. There are teams that throw millions at marketing and PR, and they create artificial or “paid” hype. That works too, but it won’t be sustainable and they will eventually get called out.
And then there are teams like us, with a great idea and a concept and real hands on experience, but without the deep pockets. So you have to do it all from the ground up, and this is the truly amazing experience. The market changes dramatically too, and when we started six months ago to now, the goal posts have changed. You also need to look after your community, as there’s a constant wave of FUD (injected by others, trying to undermine your project) and FOMO (driven by outsiders and influencers and groups) … that you need to calmly navigate while sticking to your approach. You end up with a great community, and people believing in your vision and idea, and you need to take good care of them. That’s the key lesson.
What does the future hold for Chainium? How will you ensure you stay ahead in a very competitive and increasingly busy tech sector?
We focus on what we do best: build great products that cater for private businesses in need of a new fundraising approach. Whilst anyone can build these platforms, we do have a large team with experience, and we know what is missing in the traditional equity market. Given we are now heavily involved with the crypto community, we have a large network of really bright and talented people and teams we can rely on too – one of the benefits being so close to a growing community. You can catch up on Marketing and PR, and you can buy this sort of skillset, but you cannot beat experience and knowing technology. The business interest is huge, and we have already a massive pipeline of businesses wanting to get onto our platform fast and early. That’s our immediate goal: finish the product, ship early and on-board clients.