Have a read of Calvin’s developer story. As a Co-Founder and CTO, he shares his experience of building a company, how crucial hiring is in a startup, and his take on the future of cryptocurrency.
Hi Calvin! Thanks for joining us 😃 Why not introduce yourself and your company as a starting point?
Hi, my name is Calvin Hsieh. I graduated from University of Washington and started the company right out of college at the end of 2013. The company was called CakeCodes then rebranded to StormX a few years later after Simon Yu joined.
As a CTO and Co-founder, what does your average day look like?
My average day is the same. Get up, work, eat, and sleep. There are many all-nighters here and there but I do try my best to manage my time wisely!
What did you initially start out to do when the idea for StormX came about? How has this changed over the years?
StormX (the app, not the company) used to be called BitMaker. It started off with a very simple idea – how to get people into blockchain and cryptocurrencies easily? Then the idea of watching a short video advertisement every 30 min in return of a fraction of bitcoin (aka satoshis) came about. We had great success growing organically at the beginning but it wasn’t scalable in the long run. So we started adding features like “Task” for people to complete tasks to get rewarded. Soon after that, we introduced “Shop” for people to earn crypto cashback while shopping online. All these with one goal: earn anywhere, anytime from any device.
How did you manage to build a consistent customer proposition in a volatile market? How do you maintain user trust?
We are data-driven, so we look at the data and trends to evaluate possible features to be added or removed. We also do our best to be transparent to our users and maintain a healthy community. There are many blockchain projects out there that failed early on. StormX has been around since the end of 2013, that means something.
How do you prioritise feature requests and feedback into your product roadmap?
We are the users of our app too. We do see what our other users see and we do our best to prioritize intuitive UX for end users as much as possible. By that, we often improve the app before the users provide feedback. Though, they do have requests for adding certain shops and we have a dedicated team doing their best to add more shops.
How did you manage to acquire your first 1,000 users – what channels and tools did you utilise?
We were on some subreddit evangelizing BitMaker and it grew organically from there.
Where do you see the future of Cryptocurrency?
Whether cryptocurrency will or will not stay is still very hard to say. But I strongly believe that blockchain technology is here to stay with us. How that will shape our economy and cryptocurrency is still out in the air. Cryptocurrency is just one possibility utilizing blockchain; there are many many other ways to utilize and we need hungry creative innovators to help us evolve. When the internet came out, no one took it seriously. When cell phones came out, no one took those seriously either. Cryptocurrency/blockchain is similar in that way; people need time to adapt and the governments need to be on their feet to adapt as well.
Making your first few hires in any startup is key. Give us some advice for anyone who may be looking to join a startup – what key skills or attributes did you look for in those first hires?
Startups are very different from corporations. Having the startup mindset is critical. There are types of people just not meant to work at a startup because of the personality or mindset. To work at a startup, you should be willing to sacrifice many hours to get things done, wear multiple hats, and step out of your comfort zone.
How have your previous experiences really set you up for success with StormX, could you talk a little about what you did professionally previously and how you found your interest in technology and entrepreneurship?
When I came to the states for high school, I had to feed myself without the support from my parents. This set me up with the hunger to earn a living mindset. Like I mentioned before, those are one of the traits for working at a startup. I was very poor so I understand how hard it is to make a living, and so I wanted to find a way to help people earn more in their daily lives. My dad used to own a business, so I think entrepreneurship is just built-in in my blood. I am willing to take risks and that’s important for being an entrepreneur. So I took what I learnt from college, which was computer science, as well as my entrepreneurial mindset, mashed them all together and started a company. I am happy and grateful for how far we have come and achieved and am very excited to see how we can grow further!