Tech writer sharing insights in a fun and informative way.
Welcome to this exciting interview series “Monday Mornings with Entrepreneurs“, where we will be talking to small business and startup leaders about how they came up with an idea, difficulties they faced, how they got through difficult situations, what was their inspiration, what advice would they give to wannabe entrepreneurs, what keeps them motivated, and on and on.
For the first interview of this series, we have with us Piotr Michalak who believes that his startup is going to outperform Wikipedia. So before starting your morning, pause for a coffee break 😉 and enjoy this chit-chat with Piotr.
Please tell our readers a bit about how you perceive success?
Piotr: Hello guys, and thank you for having me. Ever since my youngest days, I noticed people, e.g. my parents, work hard for little to no results, even lose their money, health, and happiness.
When I started doing business 16 years ago, I noticed no correlation between hours put into work and my accomplishments. It’s not about how much you do, but if you do the right things and in the right way. That’s when you realise that you need to be a wise and not just an educated person.
So you may have noticed that it’s more and more popular to complain about the current post-Prussian education system and how it doesn’t prepare us for everyday life: day to day decision making, planning your life, finding your purpose, or even specific things like investing, building a house and solving marriage problems.
“Success is not about what information you read on Wikipedia and learn at school.”
Do you think we live in the information era?
Piotr: Researchers say that the information era ended around the dot com burst around the year 2000, that is pre-iPhone (lol).
They say that we live in the knowledge age. So people who have the know-how to do specific things gain a competitive edge.
But the wisdom age is coming up soon, and it’s the wisest, not most educated, people that will win on each and every market and in life.
Steve Jobs didn’t have a better know-how of computer manufacturing. Still, he made sometimes wiser decisions (and sometimes not), and that’s what really mattered for Apple and where it is today.
But where is Google in this puzzle?
Piotr: It is still only useful while searching for information. You can’t ask Google for an opinion or advice. Only other people can answer you.
It’s people who create content, not Google. There is no place that would aggregate some more complicated questions and categorise them to help make this content evergreen and work for people worldwide via automated and curated translations.
Quora and others don’t do this either but generate even more online facebook-like chaos. Thus a need for ccFOUND was born. If Google is a place to search for information, ccFOUND is a place to search for knowledge and wisdom.
How and when was the idea for ccFOUND born?
Piotr: We have been working on it for years. The most important thing is to understand that we are building on the meta-trend of the Internet, moving from information into knowledge and then to wisdom sharing. We say that “Past was about information. The present is about knowledge. Future is about wisdom.” That’s what counts in today’s world. It can give people and companies a competitive advantage.
We plan to build a combination of how Wikipedia organises knowledge, how Quora helps people ask questions and get answers, and how Udemy lets experts build a community of followers and monetise content but with allowing many other products and monetisation mechanisms.
Apart from that, we will help people around the world to communicate with each other by automatically translating every post into every other language, thus building the world’s largest wisdom database.
What’s even more impressive – we will gradually decentralise, create a “company in the cloud”, where everyone may be a virtual shareholder and earn money by simply holding our tokens-generating DAO Knowledge Currency.
You think it’s a very convincing vision. How convincing?
Piotr: Well, we gathered $1.35M just from our 270 private sale investors in 9 days.
How are you going to outperform Wikipedia?
Piotr: Wikipedia is organising encyclopedic information and knowledge. There is no place for opinions or controversy. There is no space for speculation or discussion.
As an expert, you have no way to build a community or monetise your experience. You are just an anonymous donor. However, Wikipedia is the most organised knowledge source on the Internet now.
That’s why we are inspired by it. However, ccFOUND fulfills an entirely different need. We create a place for opinion sharing, speculation, discussion, and gathering wisdom.
What needs to be understood here is that wisdom only develops when you collide many different ideas and perspectives.
ccFOUND is a place to do that, similarly to Quora, StackOverflow, and Yahoo Answers, but in a much more organised way.
ccFound also allows people to build a community of followers and monetise their work once they ethically gain their trust.
You know a lot of industries were disrupted by the pandemic, but which sectors do you think thrived during COVID-19?
Piotr: Healthcare, medicine, and IT are pretty obvious. But the less obvious ones are investments. About 20% of all US dollars were printed in just 2020, and it’s even worse in the EU and other countries.
Hyperinflation glooms over every country.
Everyone who knows anything about money wonders what the future will bring. People are afraid and looking for alternative investments to protect their life savings.
That’s where a place like ccFOUND emerges. First of all, this social media platform will focus first on investment advice. Secondly, it’s an investment all in itself, offering passive tokens and an ecosystem that maximises the chance of this investment growing manifold.
Shahmeer: Tell us two things that excite and worry you most about the tech revolution?
Piotr: I’m mainly focused on the Internet because of what we do at ccFOUND. I’m really worried about the attention-grabbing algorithms implemented by most social media nowadays.
The movie “The Social Dilemma” was all about how the Internet now is no longer for exchanging information and knowledge but about grabbing people’s attention.
It makes us addicted to the service and then just uses people as a product to sell to advertisers. There’s nothing wrong with businesses making money. Still, the original service should and could serve something more than just the lowest human instincts.
Obviously, people want and need to watch funny videos with cats, and I do that too. But people also want and like to help each other online; they like getting and giving advice. People want to build genuine relationships and reputation; social media’s current state doesn’t help much with that. We are building a platform that will put users and experts first, not by treating them like numbers in a database in a dehumanized manner.
Talking about the tech revolution, What do you make of the recent crypto surge?
Piotr: We knew about it and were ready for it. Informed investors know that the crypto market moves in 4-year cycles connected to Bitcoin halving. We have created the biggest publishing house for crypto investments in Poland in the last 4 years, so we had access to the best analysts and experts beforehand.
One great side effect of it is that after ccFOUND’s private sale, we collected $1.3M at first, then kept $1M of it after taxes. Still, now this capital grew to $1.75M thanks to crypto allocation. What about other people? I can only wish everybody to exit at the right moment and buy back even more at the upcoming bear market, which obviously won’t be possible for everybody.
Roughly speaking, for every person who generates a positive ROI, someone else has to lose money, which’s the unfortunate nature of markets and life. But even if you lose now, there will be another bull market in several years.
How do you keep yourself and your team motivated during these tough times?
Piotr: Unfortunately, it’s not a tough time for us, although I sympathise with all the people that lost their jobs or companies… Our Polish cryptocurrency publishing house grew 4x y/y during COVID. Then ccFOUND generated $1.3M with just 4 webinars and in 2 weeks.
Thanks to this, we’ve built a new 20+ person company and are preparing for a $100M+ crowdfunding campaign. That was my greatest desire, to create a company with a professional management team first and do business the right way. We also have an excellent school for kids here, so we somehow manage through COVID.
On the other hand, it’s tough to hire great developers.
The IT market is booming, and we compete for talents with the likes of Google, Apple, and Microsoft, which is not easy. Thankfully we have a superb CTO. So I can only sympathise with the less fortunate and… I create an ecosystem to help people.
What was the best advice you ever received? And did you follow it?
Piotr: It was my first business mentor who taught me to build companies in an organised manner.
He told me – create products, offers, develop procedures and processes… When there’s a fire in the company, it means there was no process beforehand to take care of it, so learn from this and create a set of rules on how we do things so it doesn’t happen again…
It took me three years to implement his advice because of how our minds work: each of us has some kind of modality of how we live and operate. Changing these automated thinking habits just takes time. It’s a matter of information flowing from the cerebral cortex into the reptilian brain or the limbic system.
It takes from 1 to 3 years on average. But once I started hiring people, building a team, setting up the organisational rules, I became a financially free person first and then created something more significant.
What advice would you give to those looking to become successful leaders?
Piotr: Nowadays, I tend to believe that roughly 80% of a company’s success is connected to what market you choose. By that, I mean the product you decide to create and sell, for whom and where.
That also means which problems you will solve for your customers or what needs dreams, and desires you are trying to fulfill. That also means you understand people, what they need, what they are afraid of, what they like or dislike…
So you have heard this before, that you need to have the vision to make people follow you.
But to have strong convictions, you need to really to empathise with great insight about what’s currently wrong in the world or where the world is headed.
That’s what I also did in ccFOUND, after many months of research and preparation, created a vision that has attracted the greatest talents I have ever worked with!
Piotr thank you so much for sharing knowledge with us. I hope our readers will enjoy and learn. Before ending this interview, since the series is named “Monday mornings with Entrepreneurs”, Can you tell our readers, What are your Monday Morning rituals?
Piotr: To me, as an ambivert, it’s really important to connect to my team. As one leader once said, business is created by the people, with people, for the people. You can’t start a revolution alone.
So I spend my Monday mornings meeting with our key leaders, tightening our relationships, helping each other, solving problems, making sure we go in the right direction. ccFOUND is something that will change the world at least a bit, and I am very excited to have a great team on board and working together with some of the brightest minds.
Thanks, Hackers for reading 🙂 If you have any suggestions regarding questions to ask in this series, I am available on slack and you can also reach out to me on Linkedin 😉
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