Cryptocurrency: as a family business? Jack Kuveke, Lead Evangelist and Community Director of GameCredits, a Serbian-based company that uses cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to build innovative gaming products, discusses how/why he left college and moved to Serbia. Note: He has three brothers, including an identical twin, and two of the three are also working in the cryptocurrency/blockchain space!
What did your parents say when you told them you were leaving Syracuse University and joining a start-up in Serbia?
Although I had been thinking about the decision for a while, it was my dad who first suggested it out loud. In early December of 2017, I got a call from my Dad after he had met my company's CEO in NYC for coffee. He knew that I had been working 40+ hour weeks on top of being a full-time student and suggested I take a leap and move overseas for a few months to immerse myself in the industry. But I think his decision was made easier since I encouraged him to invest in Bitcoin/GameCredits about a year earlier.
What does your company do?
GameCredits is a software company building gaming products that provide unique benefits to game developers and gamers alike. Our secondary goal is to make our cryptocurrency a universal method of payment for the gaming industry.
How is bitcoin transforming the gaming industry?
With the massive growth of the gaming industry, developers and gamers face many problems. Game developers pay thirty percent fees to platforms like Apple and Google, but deal with significant chargeback/fraud issues on in-game purchases—and receive payments on average every 30-60 days. With our platform and cryptocurrency payment system, we can cut fees to 10%, prevent fraud, and pay developers in hours rather than months. At the same time, gamers can use a single currency to pay for in-game items from game to game and can be rewarded in tokens for gameplay.
How did you become interested in bitcoin?
In January of 2016, I was starting the second semester of my freshman year in college and was looking for something to do. After one semester, I got bored with the usual college party-scene and wanted to invest my time into something new. I had heard about Bitcoin and the stories of people turning 100 dollars into 1 million dollars, and I naively thought I could do the same. So, on a whim, I bought 500 dollars' worth of Bitcoin when it was about 300-400 dollars, and within a day my investment was worth 700 dollars. That was the day when my life changed: I began researching and spending dozens of hours each week reading about blockchain technology and trading cryptocurrencies. The more I read, the more obsessed I became. Unfortunately, at the time barely anyone knew about cryptocurrency and those who did know about it thought it was stupid. But I figured if most people didn't know about something I considered amazing, it was because they haven't see the potential yet. Needless to say, after watching numerous of my investments grow tens of thousands of percent I'm happy with my decision.
Bitcoin has been called the "tulip mania" of the 21st century, how do you address investor and partner concerns that crypto is merely a fad?
I tell them that they're not entirely wrong. Ninety percent (or more) of cryptocurrency valuations move on speculation and hype. These currencies ultimately won't amount to anything and will likely die out over the next five years. However, the disruptive potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is proven. The currencies that solve real use cases, that deliver applications, and see demand over the next ten years have massive potential. Take GameCredits as an example. If GameCredits becomes a universal method of payment for 2.4 billion gamers around the globe, it has the potential to have a multi-billion-dollar market cap. GameCredits is just one of many applications that could see massive adoption. That's why there is still upside potential despite the fact that most existing currencies are valued entirely on speculation.
Your company is headquartered in Serbia, what challenges have you faced working overseas?
Before I moved to Serbia, I worked remotely for about 15 months. Honestly from a work perspective, it was probably more challenging working remotely than working overseas. When you're six hours behind ninety percent of your teammates, you end up wasting a ton of time just from communication delays. There's nothing worse than waking up at 7:00 AM to hundreds of missed messages, having to catch up ASAP because you're a critical part of the team. That said: It's taken some time to adjust to living in an Eastern European country. You have to get used to weird cultural customs, methods of doing business, and local cuisine. For instance, Serbia is famous for a very hard liquor made from a fruit known as Rakjia. I had to grow accustomed to going out to lunch with coworkers who order a couple shots of Rakija for the entire table at noon...
Is there a Serbian entrepreneurial vibe?
Yes, there is a Serbian entrepreneurial vibe. Most of Eastern Europe, and Serbia, in particular, have faced some severe hardships in the past one hundred years. These hardships have fueled a generation of hardworking and scrappy startups that are trying to bring their country back to the public stage. One thing I've noticed about Serbia is the number of talented developers. Serbians seem to know that the West is falling behind in educating developers, so they're investing in math and science educations to have a competitive edge in the digital world.
Best book, blog, or article that has helped you pursue your entrepreneurial journey?
It's hard to pick only one, so I'm going to cheat and suggest two: Burn the Business Plan by Carl Schramm. Schramm is a world-class economist and personal mentor of mine. He's been called the evangelist of entrepreneurship, and his book embodies the essence of entrepreneurship better than any I've ever read.
The second one is gaming industry related called: Console Wars. The book is about the battle between Nintendo and Sega back in the early 90s when the gaming industry was first becoming big. The book outlines the business decisions, marketing wizardry, and risks these companies chose to try and take over a new billion-dollar industry. If you've ever played a video game in your life, Console Wars is a must read.