Buttercoin CEO Reveals 'Tactical Mistake' that Led to Company Closure
Despite accruing an impressive list of investors, including Google Ventures, Centralway Ventures and Y Combinator, Dahl suggested that it was Buttercoin's affiliation with larger investment firms that ultimately left it less able to adapt in a changing bitcoin ecosystem.
He told CoinDesk:
"The big lesson is that you cannot rely on venture. You have to make a product that is self sustaining."
Founded in 2013, Buttercoin raised $1.3m in funding, capital that helped make the startup 'one to watch' in a crowded market. However, in hindsight Dahl wouldn't have tried to raise venture funds at all, he said, calling the decision a "tactical mistake".
"There's much more seed money out there. It's much easier to raise, whereas with venture, if you're not able to get it, the funding is over. With seed and angel money, you can keep going," he continued.
Since the move, some of the company's more high-profile customers have already reported switching marketplace providers, with MegaBigPower's Dave Carlson entering a business relationship with Boost VC-backed startup Hedgy.
Buttercoin's last full day of operations was 10th April, with employees scheduled to depart at close of business on 15th April.
Supply and demand
In interview, Dahl talked at length about his regret that he didn't bootstrap the company, instead trying to raise "a significant amount" early on.
"What I should've done is really start with a fraction of what I would actually need and once you have enough demand, raise more," Dahl said.
Still, Dahl warned that having traction in the marketplace isn't everything, as he believes Buttercoin was able to achieve an active user base despite opening to the public roughly five months ago.
"At the end of the day, we built a great product that had real growth that was growing between 10–25% per week," Dahl said.
Dahl also suggested the decline in the price of bitcoin was a factor in funding, noting that his initial fundraising took place when the price of bitcoin was at or near $1,000, compared to its current value of $220 at press time.
Consolidation to continue
Dahl also discussed the need for bitcoin industry executives to strike a balance between "reality and perception," noting that both are equally important when dealing with potential investors.
"Perception is important," Dahl continued, adding that he expects companies to raise funds without introducing products because of this factor.
The most likely targets for this funding, he suggested, would be first-time bitcoin investors or firms looking to capitalize on the big opportunities in the space. Further, he said that investment is likely to be split between large venture rounds and smaller seed investments, though all in line with an overall trend of consolidation.
"If you look at the money this year, 50% has gone to two companies. That's a rough figure and I think you'll continue to see this distribution where fewer companies get more."
Dahl went so far as to predict an environment where the number of bitcoin wallet providers is whittled down to a handful of well-capitalized winners.
"I think that you'll find there's going to be a really big consolidation in the space," he added.
'Moonshot' option on table
Despite the formal announcement, Dahl suggested that he wasn't ruling out a last-minute bid to save the company or secure an exit for investors.
"We're trying to do the best we can by our team and our investors, we're pursuing every option possible to get compensation," he said.
Overall, Dahl expressed his thanks to his team which he commended for handling both the scaling up, and subsequent winding down, of Buttercoin professionally. Going forward, Dahl indicated he would also seek to make himself available as a resource to aspiring bitcoin entrepreneurs.
"At the end of the day, I'm super proud of the team we put together and the product we've built."
Caution tape image via Shutterstock
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