Silicon Valley is no longer synonymous with innovation. More and more small countries are entering the fintech arena as successful startups emerge outside the big nations. In the list of the 62 most startup-friendly countries of 2021, 28 are the small countries: Malta, Israel, Switzerland, and Lithuania to name a few.
A country’s attractiveness for tech startups has various dependent factors such as the human resources and technical professionals available in the country, entrepreneur infrastructure, research facilities, and policy dynamics.
Most fintech startups are associated with big megalopolises such as San Francisco. The recent wave of crypto startups has brought a wind of change, as small countries are becoming very active in developing innovative solutions.
In an exclusive interview for DailyCoin, Dmitrijus Borisenka, CEO of a Lithuania-based cryptocurrency payment gateway CoinGate, tells the success story of their huge startup that started in a small country.
This year the company won the Global Brands Award of Most Innovative Cryptocurrency Payment Gateway in Europe.
Solving the problem of crypto adoption
CoinGate was founded in 2014. The company brings cryptocurrencies closer to mass adoption by offering methods to set up cryptocurrency payments for any website or physical store.
Permission-based account management, fiat payouts to the bank account, and brand new email billing features are just a few reasons why CoinGate has become a go-to payment processor for many.
Besides merchant services, CoinGate also provides a platform for buying and selling numerous crypto assets with a single payment. Customers can choose from purchasing methods like credit/debit cards, SEPA bank transfer or mobile balance, or selling their coins for fiat.
Borisenka shares that their company roots began in 2013, when cryptocurrencies caught widespread attention and Bitcoin prices spiked.
“Our point of view was that money was basically the last thing that the internet didn’t touch properly, and we thought that this blockchain and Bitcoin is very interesting for us.”
While getting familiar with crypto technology and attending conferences, co-founders of the company noticed the booming potential of the technology. However, they understood that to start using Bitcoin on a mass-scale, the problem of adoption should be solved.
“We thought that this was an interesting opportunity. We need to somehow integrate blockchain payments into the ecosystem of e-commerce, and we started by processing payments for cryptocurrencies for various businesses”, says Borisenka.
Founders saw that creating and owning a digital wallet to collect payments in cryptocurrencies is easy for a physical person but not easy for businesses. The bigger the company is, the more it requires complex solutions and flexible tools.
As a company, CoinGate decided to solve this need by offering service at a sophisticated level.
CoinGate payments gateway mainly focuses on small and medium enterprises but also has solutions of different grades. The platform is beneficial to all traders, e-shop owners and merchants, developers, and crypto enthusiasts.
The company chose to start work with the small and medium business sector because back in 2013, the vision and possibilities to integrate crypto were still unclear.
“Back in the day, no one knew how the technology would develop, and you know what the potential risks are. We noticed that there are some certain scalability issues, let’s say with Bitcoin and Ethereum. Just recently, you know Ethereum passed the London Protocol, so hopefully, that will solve a bit”, says Borisenka.
Borisenka notes that it is much easier to find common ground and get instant feedback with small and medium enterprises, and the company keeps focused on this segment.
Building Blocks of Success
Borisenka describes CoinGate as a bootstrap company, now employing 50 people with exponential growth in talents, products, and customers every year. Borisenka believes that the company is growing so fast because of its ability to make faster and more flexible decisions than in the past.
Most of the team are in their mid 20s, just after college. Borisenka notes that this age group can multitask and have in-depth insights; however, securing the loyalty of a 25-year-old for 3, 4, or 5 years is a difficult task, especially in Lithuania which has a fast-changing work landscape.
“My personal and professional goal is to [secure that loyalty]. I’m glad to have so many people working with us and building a common dream. It’s not my own dream. I have many good, interesting, very smart people around me. Smarter than me, most of the questions. Although I think I know how to connect the dots”, reveals Borisenka.
Failures in business are a way to grow. According to Borisenka, one of the biggest failures that the company had was a slow start. For the first four years, CoinGate did not have a sales team and it was a failure in the perspective of the company’s development. Borisenka agrees that in the market, one needs to be quicker.
“I’d do things differently. But again, when you take into consideration that it was 2013 and we were in Lithuania and Lithuania back then was a little bit different than it is right now. We didn’t have enough money to boost all the operations, hire the good seniors, hire the good compliance team, etc.,”
Borisenka admits that the journey of 7 years in developing the company was a pleasure and a real roller coaster in terms of risks related to cryptocurrencies, their growth, and their successes.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy, I feel alive, and I’m also happy where I feel I see my project right now”, shares Borisenka.