34 Bytes wants to make it easy for merchants to accept bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions can help prevent fraud and chargebacks and come in handy when faced with a lack of access to other payment services.
Name: 34 Bytes, LLC
Location: Manhattan Beach, California
Product / Service Offering: Bitcoin Point-of-Sale Terminal
Co-founder Interviewed: Stephen Karlsgodt
Other Key Management Team Members: Naiden Calintaru
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I am an Electrical Engineer. However, I like to learn as much as I can on any topic. I am motivated by the thrill of building things. It is even better when it starts with a blank sheet of paper.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
I founded the company in 2014. 34 Bytes had a slow start, but now that I can fully focus on the company, everything is gaining traction and moving much faster.
My interest in bitcoin began in early 2013. I was fascinated and excited by the new technology and concepts, as well as the wide open space for innovation. The barriers to entry were so low, and the ground was fertile for revolutionary ideas. The early bitcoin industry was literally a space where if you had an idea, nothing could stop you. It is still like that to some degree, but the entry of larger players and regulators is slowing down… Though, that’s not all bad!
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
34 Bytes wants to make it easy for merchants to accept bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions can help prevent fraud and chargebacks and come in handy when faced with a lack of access to other payment services. Additionally, bitcoin is global! Bitcoin used to be reliably cheap for transactions. Now, the transaction fees can sometimes swell and make it less attractive for daily commerce. We are eagerly awaiting deployment of the Lightning Network and the features and advantages it will provide. That will be the big game changer for bitcoin.
Looking ahead, we are working on adding traditional credit card processing to the terminal to make it a one-stop counter-top solution for merchants. Additionally, we are working on implementing a bitcoin ATM-like feature where customers can buy and sell bitcoin with the merchant.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
34 Bytes is integrated with many bitcoin exchanges and services around the world. Merchants have a choice with regards to handling their bitcoin. We only process bitcoin. That means we never have access to, or custody of, the merchant’s funds, and by design, we are not a wallet service.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge we face is probably similar to other bitcoin businesses. The challenge is education of the public (merchants and the consumers). Within the universal bitcoin community, it can be easy forget that this technology is still very foreign and opaque to most people. At 34 Bytes, we are making solutions that are simple and very easy to use. Our solutions will ease some of the apprehensions people may have.
What resources have you utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
With the speed at which the cryptocurrency/cryptoasset world is developing, it is crucial to stay connected and up to date within the community. Luckily, the Internet makes that very easy to do. The downfall is it takes a lot of time.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We have not made any push for funding yet. We have spent our time getting the initial product functioning and in the hands of merchants to best understand their needs. Everything is self-funded. We are now getting to a point where we will start working on an angel/seed round.
What questions have you had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Most of our questions are the same as every startup’s. Though, they are specific to every endeavor’s unique demands. Usually these types of questions do not have clear answers.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
We are working to add traditional credit card processing to the terminals. It is more difficult and complicated than we expected.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We are very eager to work directly with merchants to ensure that our solutions provide the best value for them. We are interested in learning about their specific use cases. Understanding how our product and service can be tweaked creates a better fit with work flow and operations.
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