The Asian Silicon Valley, Singapore currently pursuing the blockchain adoption in many public and private institutions, attracts lots of ambitious entrepreneurs to launch their Fintech companies on its ground. With many unoccupied positions in the market that is currently in a very early stage of exploration, but nevertheless embraced by the Singaporean government to the fullest possible extent, there’s a clearly defined tendency among startups as well as the large corporations to join forces by forming the frontline alliances in order to stabilize their positions in the market.
Today we have spoken to the founder of an extraordinary startup, that considers itself a pathfinder in the Fintech bridging the adoption of cryptocurrency with the innovative approach to the user experience. His name is Rune Evensen, and he is passionate about the blockchain, cryptocurrencies and the possibilities they bring into the business world. In 2016 Rune founded COSS, a crypto-one-stop-solution platform that sees its purpose in amplifying the adoption of cryptocurrency among the masses and the average people with no background in the IT whatsoever.
What’s your business background Rune? When, where and how did you start?
Rune Evensen: I consider myself a serial-entrepreneur. My background is mostly within sales and marketing, but it is fairer to say that I have been wearing all the collars, from the brown collar, to the blue collar to the white collar. I started doing business straight after school, but went back to studies again 15 years later when I wanted to improve my skills in sales and marketing.
How long ago have you established yourself in Asia? In Singapore?
Rune: I started to travel frequently to Asia, mostly to Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and India back in 2003-2004. After I got married in 2005 I moved to China and stayed there for a year or so, since then it has been a year in Hong Kong and now 7+ years in Singapore. I established my consultancy company there back in 2013, and that led me to launching COSS.IO, incorporated in Singapore in November 2016.
How did you adjust to the Asian style of doing business?
Rune: I actually consider myself an Asian trapped in a European body. I love spicy food, I love the weather here, and although I come from Norway, I cannot stand the cold, the windy and the rainy weather. Asia suits me perfectly, and when it comes to business even more so. People are looking for opportunities here, while in Norway they are more contented, and maybe they feel too well “taken care of”. When it comes to the IT, innovation and the related tech industry, I would say, Asia is miles ahead of most of the markets.
The community is everything here, and especially in the spheres of business related to the blockchain and cryptocurrency. If you don’t get along well with or don’t get the “acceptance” of the community, it is very hard to approach the mainstream with any tech product or service. All ideas and projects at some point require validation, and there is no better way to get it other than within the very same industry. We are happy to be corporate members of both ACEESS (the Singapore Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association) and the Singapore Fintech Association (SFA), and partners of an entire array of business enterprises focused on tech. Such co-operations allow us to interact with the community on a totally different scale.
What kind of strategy did you use to establish your business?
Rune: They say failure is a key to learning, so I guess it is fair to say that I have tried, I have failed, I have been knocked down and I have risen and done all that over and over again. Persistency is the key. Just because an idea doesn’t get traction or generate the income it doesn’t necessarily mean the idea is bad. There can be many reasons for something not to work whether it be due to the market conditions at the time, the timing itself, etc. The important thing is to never, never, never give up.
Who were your advisors/mentors/ supporters?
Rune: I used to read a lot of books and I wish I could have the time to continue that trend, but I assume I’ll leave it for a later day. There are many wise men out there, but the writings of Napoleon Hill, Richard Branson, a Norwegian serial entrepreneur Kjell Inge Roekke and the like are the ones that I have studied most and tried to learn from. Aside from reading I also know many successful and prospering entrepreneurs personally, and take every possibility to learn from them. My background in consulting has taught me to look for the experts and ask their advice when needed. In a technology-driven market that we are currently exploring nobody is an expert yet, but everyone has equal possibilities to become one in a few years by simply embracing the technology at an early-stage. I have broad experience launching companies and startups myself, but when it comes to Fintech, I want to learn from the best minds. Luckily, these people are on the advisory board of COSS already.
What does your company do?
Rune: We are an internet company that operates within the blockchain/cryptocurrency space. We develop, we market and we build. We are also an industry facilitator or pathfinder that moves forward down the unknown track of innovations. Through our platform at coss.io, to which we invite many other start-ups to join and to launch their products and services on top of our infrastructure, we reach a very wide audience looking for the optimal solutions for their payment systems and a venue to manage their personal finances safely. With a united front formed through the partnerships with the other industry players it is much easier to reach the audience. We like to compete, but most importantly we like expanding our business and growing alongside the powerful leaders of the Fintech. Our audience reach is very wide, which is extremely beneficial to our partners which are mono-brands. Our customers automatically become their customers and vice versa.
Who are the people behind COSS?
Rune: The team behind COSS is very versatile and open-minded. We are spread across several continents and we possess a wide range of backgrounds and skills in the IT, management, marketing, design, you name it. The core of the team currently consists of 12, including 4 co-founders (Andrei Popescu, Christopher Bridges, Dan Cearnau and myself), the dev team based in Bucharest, Romania, and the management board in Singapore. Andrei, our Experience Officer, has an extensive entrepreneurial background, so as Dan, the Dev-Team Leader, and Christopher, the Compliance Officer, each in their respective fields. Dan has his own software development company, and Chris has his own law firm. We have also invited a powerful crew of strategic partners and advisors to contribute their knowledge to the development of COSS.
Who are the partners of COSS?
Rune: We collaborate with many companies based in Asia: Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), for instance, CoinPip, Attores, FundYourselfNow. They all were launched recently, and got on board to offer their services via COSS, same as Civic and CoinFirm. In Europe, our partners are Eva Energy, the energy supply company that accepts bills for gas and electricity with crypto via the payment gateway / POS system designed by COSS; CardBlue, the prepaid MasterCard provider soon to issue COSS cards that will be loaded with cryptocurrency from COSS wallets directly. We cooperate with funds such as TaaS, DDF (Digital Developers Fund), Mereu Aproape. The first two have their own tokens that are listed on COSS and can (or soon will) be traded on our exchange. The last one is a charity foundation that started accepting donations in cryptocurrency with our payment gateway. We also cherish the support of state organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania (CCIR) and The International Chamber of Commerce and Industry Romania — Israel (CCIRI), and media partners, Financial IT, for example. For the Asian mentality, such a huge network of supporters is a sign of credibility, which is often neglected by the companies during their take-off phase. Such partnerships are an essential part of raising COSS to a more advanced level of development. Many of the services deployed by the partners are implemented as the third-party plugins. We had this phase in our business plan since the very beginning, and now it is basically taking shape.
Why did you decide to start an ICO?
Rune: We have been working on the COSS project for approximately 18 months, and all this time the project has been self-funded. We have never taken in any money from the investors, nor have we applied the government grants of any kind. Having seen and realized how fast the industry is moving we started thinking of ways to speed the development up. Through the Token Sale (ICO) we aim to be able to speed up and deliver a lot more services in less time.
COSS is an abbreviation for Crypto One Stop Solution, and we can’t really call ourselves a one-stop solution unless we have implemented it through many more features. If all these features were to come organically over the time, it would take years. With a successful Token Sale, we can escalate both the team and the speed of the development and also the quality of the product that we aim to deliver.
When and how will the Token Swap take place?
Rune: It will start on August 8 at 08:08 pm Singapore time on our official ICO page at ico.coss.io. You’ll find the most essential information there as well as the instructions. We are looking forward to that and are expecting to be very busy during it. We will sell 130M COSS tokens that can be used to generate revenues for its holders in all cryptocurrencies supported by COSS. The remainder of the stake that won’t be sold until September 6 (if any) will go to charity and we will proceed to building more applications for the platform.
What are your future projections for COSS and for the industry?
Rune: I definitely see that there is a space for COSS in the market. We have found an opening that wasn’t filled, and in order for the crypto to really attract the masses, a platform like COSS is essential. We aim to become the preferred destination for all the cryptocurrency users’ needs, and we strongly believe that we will get there.
The industry we belong to is extremely abundant with unresolved puzzles and paradoxes, especially when startups raise millions and billions of dollars in minutes. At the same time, it presents infinite possibilities and while we are at it, we want to take the best of it. The major drive of the Fintech industry nowadays is the combination of factors such as the increase in the adoption rate of cryptocurrencies, the government that wants to optimize its processes through the blockchain and similar technologies and the abundant business environment, in which companies raise their profits proportionately with the growth of the overall wellbeing. Exactly what takes place in the Fintech at the moment.
Thanks for sharing your insights Rune, it was pleasure talking to you.
Rune: Thank you!