You will over time become an expert at what you do, and likely whatever you create will be based around that expertise in some capacity.
Travis Parker is the Chief Operations Officer for IRA Bitcoin LLC, a financial services company based in Calabasas, California, recently launched a new solution for investors seeking to purchase and hold cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Ripple in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401k.
Leveraging strategic partnerships with highly rated IRA custodians, established cryptocurrency exchanges and secure digital wallet providers, Travis leads a team of experienced financial advisors at IRA Bitcoin LLC who have developed a simple, safe and IRS-approved process for facilitating fund transfers, executing transactions, settlement and account reporting.
Previously, Travis was Global Sales Director for a leading foreign exchange brokerage firm and trading company based in London, UK.
Where did the idea for IRA Bitcoin and Crypto Knight come from?
My team and I have been involved in cryptocurrencies for a few years (as long as they’ve been around really) and Bitcoin even longer. Most of us have already had extensive backgrounds in Fintech (Financial Technology) and Forex (Currency Trading). When cryptocurrency came along, essentially currency made exclusively through technology, it piqued our interest and drew us in very early on in its development.
Early in 2017, when it began popping up on the radar of mainstream investors and financial media we had been making money in it for years. We formed Crypto Knight to be the hub for different ideas we developed in this space. The first company that saw major success was IRA Bitcoin. IRABTC is a service that allows investors to purchase many of the major Cryptocurrencies with funds currently held in their IRA’s or 401k’s. We found a IRA custodian who offered this as an IRS approved investment option and began offering this to our customer base, and when we saw the success and enthusiasm from it, soon rolled it out as a public offering.
Other companies offering trade signal in less common altcoins, analysis in the crypto market, or due diligence services providing investors with research on investments in the Crypto space soon followed. The main idea behind the services we provide is give investors guidance in this new arena. We have worked in unregulated markets before and understand that when something new, profitable and exciting comes along like this, so do opportunists and scam artists. We felt both excited and obligated to offer our expertise in this field to the public in a multitude of facets, whether it be unique investment opportunities or educating them in how to protect their funds, from both market volatility and companies that could potentially be defrauding or misleading the public.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I make lists, and try to follow a routine as much as possible. Every day any idea pops into my head, between when I wake up and leave for the office, I write it down; then the first thing I do when I arrive at the office I take 10 minutes and make a list of everything I’d like to accomplish for the day. Ideally there should be enough items on there that accomplishing all of them should be possible, but not guaranteed. The right number of tasks is when you feel like knocking out the whole list will require more focus and energy than your typical day at the office.
As the day progresses, I’ll usually add items to it, but you have to force yourself to keep coming back to it. When running a startup, you end up having to wear so many hats, that you can easily lose sight of the important tasks that need to get accomplished, but still be working so hard.
Running a successful company at this stage of growth is about results and productivity, your effort is needed, but when measured independently it counts for nothing. You NEED to focus your effort and energy in the correct places, and not waste it doing things that won’t directly improve your company. The list keeps what needs to get done right in front of you, and when you look at what’s still on there at the end of the day, you can also get an assessment for both your productivity and time management.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It starts with my notepads, I take them with me everywhere… if it has legs when I reread it, it then gets put up on the whiteboard. I then play skeptic and try and shoot it down, amongst whatever random questions I ask about why it might not work, I make sure I can answer the following three questions:
1.What are we selling/offering
2. What does it cost? How does it create revenue?
3. Who are we selling it to?
If these can be answered and I’m still excited, I start to consult with people I trust and get their opinions. Sometimes entrepreneurs can get so excited and obsessive over an idea that they refuse to let anyone see them or challenge the idea. You can’t do this. A great idea stays a great idea under withering scrutiny. This is even more true if you plan on taking it to investors for funding.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’ll be unoriginal and say Cryptocurrencies. I am excited about all things technology. Quantum computers, 3D printers, CRISPR, all new innovations like these will change the way we live within 5-10 years, all of this I find difficult not getting excited over! But I also like that cryptocurrency has made investing mainstream and “cool” again. My generation seems to be late to the game in understanding the value of investing. I hope the trend continues and the public becomes further involved in taking personal responsibility in their finances rather than leaving it in the hands of their employers or some random financial advisor.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I sold copiers, in Phoenix, in the summer…. I wore a suit and would cold call 50 businesses a day in 120-degree heat, the people almost always hated me when I’d enter, some would even yell “No Solicitations!”
The sales process was long and tedious, and nearly every day I would ask myself, “Why am I here?” “What am I doing this for?” I remember one day while walking in the heat this thought popped in my head… ”Even if I become the best in the world at what I do, no one would ever care, nobody, not even other copier salesmen.” I stayed 7 or 8 months, and actually did okay, to prove to my 20 year old self that I could sell anything. So here’s what I learned,
1. You can make a living off with a 1% success rate
2. Enjoy what you’re doing, or don’t do it
3. Just because you CAN sell anything, doesn’t mean you SHOULD sell anything
4. Those high-end copy machines save everything ever printed in them, and you can access it directly from the machine. If you have one of these, say you’re a doctor or dentist that have children as patients using your waiting room, buy a big box of crayons, print a bunch of coloring books out every morning and let them have at it. Black and white printing cost almost nothing, and the kids would have something to do that kills a lot of time. Yup!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
In cryptocurrencies or investing in general this is easily answered by stating that you would have invested sooner. Google in 2004, Amazon In 1997, Apple in 1980, Facebook in 2012, the US Dollar vs the British Pound in 2008 and of course Bitcoin in 2010.
Early on, I also underestimated our target market. Baby Boomers have always understood in the value of precious metals like gold and silver, but I thought it would be the opposite with Cryptocurrency, and although we expected some, we didn’t think we’d get a huge demographic of Baby Boomers. Because crypto was digital, and completely tech based, we though the majority wouldn’t understand, nor care to learn. However, at this point, we work with Baby Boomers as our primary demographic, and have set up a lot of our marketing material content to be educational-based. They want to learn, they don’t want to miss out, and they recognize the opportunity and the sense of urgency in getting in on this wave while they can.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Listen. To your customers, to your sales team, and use the information. Some people make the mistake of either listening to no one, or even worse listening to the wrong people. Of course, some feedback from your sales team or customer base wont be accurate, or necessarily represent the masses, but a lot will. These groups are on the frontline with your product or service. You never want to create anything that doesn’t have the flexibility to adapt, your product or service is dictated by the market, the people. In business, the people are never wrong.
Sales Team Members and Relationship Managers will know what people are saying, why they do business with you or with your competition. Sure, you may need to ignore some of the feedback, but there’s truth in all of it, good or bad. Make the adjustments to your offering accordingly, if you lose touch with what your customer base is looking for, then your days are numbered.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Know your talents, and don’t reinvent the wheel. You will over time become an expert at what you do, and likely whatever you create will be based around that expertise in some capacity. When you’re first starting out, if there are certain areas that you don’t know, find someone who does. If you can’t afford to bring on new people, copy the competition. There’s a reason big companies market a certain way, or have the website layout the way it is, because it works. Do what their doing, do not attempt to outthink someone in their area of expertise.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had a consulting firm that offered turnkey-solutions for Forex Brokers looking to get into China, which is a huge market that attracts Western-based brokers, but they are rarely successful because they lacked connections and did not know how to do business to properly accommodate the Chinese marketspace. Long story short, I spent about 3 years living in both the US and Shanghai, I established multiple brokerages in China, and put together a solid B2B offering. We would build it out, with staff on the ground, we’d launch it, then we would sell their brand under the image and business model of their current operation.
I had the knowledge, resources and connections to facilitate this, I also had the personal capital to float myself for about 5 months, the projected sales process was 90 days and I had plenty of interest. I decided to not look for a financial partner or backer, I would take the risk and own 100% of the company, after all it was 100% my idea and I had just left a joint venture that had left me with a sour taste in my mouth for “partners”.
I signed my first customer and we began meetings and negotiations, I’d known them for years and it looked like an easy prototype client, from there I could inject cash flow and fine-tune the offering. It ended up getting dragged out 6 months, then at the last minute they backed out It left me crippled, I didn’t have time to look for a financial backer at that point, and had to let it all dissolve.
I overcame it because that’s what you have to do, I got back on my feet and eventually rebuilt my capital and confidence, you will likely have many stories like this throughout your early career if your starting from scratch — I do at least. The lesson I learned was, don’t be greedy, if your budget only allows room for everything to go perfect, then you’re going to need a bigger budget. One day you’ll be big enough to fund your ideas all by yourself, but until that day, you really shouldn’t.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Here’s one…. I think millions of people can use it, I haven’t looked into it, but there has to be a way to do this, monotize it and become rich…, I’m serious!
I won’t even be mad if someone takes the idea directly from this interview and becomes a billionaire, I’ll just be glad someone invented it.
It’s an App. I have clients and business partners all over the world, with the exception of the United States (and maybe Canada too), just about every place in the world uses a messenger app of some sorts, however it varies from region to region, and almost everyone uses Skype in addition to whatever else they’re using. As of right now, just for me personally, I myself use the following messenger apps for business every single day:
7. Facebook Messenger
Now this is not counting SMS and 6 different emails. What if there was an app that could aggregate all of these applications into one messenger service? This would allow you to send basic messages directly from the app, and also click on any specific messenger to be transferred into the actual app and utilize the advanced features. It would save me lots of time, and decrease the likelihood of any messenger not getting checked on or responded to in a timely manner. And if this is the case for me, I am sure it’s the case for millions.
There it is, take it and go get rich, but just make it already!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a Hardware digital wallet the Ledger Nano $99, works with dozens of different cryptocoins and wallets, we use it to secure all our crytpos online, by loading them onto it and taking them offline. If you are in crypto and don’t have it, BUY ONE! Or you’re taking a risk, and have no one to blame if you get your money stolen but yourself.
What software and web services do you use?
1. Tidal – I’ve been partial to Spotify for a long time, but I have to back Mr. Carter, because I’m a lifelong fan, and because he moved his whole collection here and off Spotify.
2. Soundiiz- I used this to transfer my playlists from Spotify to Tidal… you can use it for any music service, it made the transition much less painful
3. Fiverr- Great place to find Entrepreneurs looking to get work for cheap, or to get work if you are just getting started. Animations, Graphic Design, Writers, Web Developers you name it they got it, and you can find something in the range of any budget.
4. Click Funnels- Great company for “do it yourself” marketing companies. Also, they have options for if you want to find someone who can do it better using the same service as well.
5. Smartsheet- For all Excel junkies this ones for you. A powerful project management/ business development tool that is 100% excel based, all-around solid product, and has a great support team.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Mastery by Robert Greene
I find all of his work interesting to some extent, I really enjoyed the 50th Law, but Mastery is one that really got me. The quick synopsis is that we are all capable of reaching a higher level of intelligence, and ability to be creative and prolific in a particular field, but there are no shortcuts. In order to achieve what is known as the level of “Mastery” you must first find something that you’ve been naturally drawn to your whole life, then find a path in a field that use this natural ability to some capacity, then put in the 10,000 hours to become an expert.
It goes into great detail on how to go about doing this, I loved it, I think mastery is a level most people don’t think about because it is not as necessary as it was when every village needed a farmer, or blacksmith or tailor. Now that we live in the information age, with life as convenient as it’s ever been, it seems like we all know a little bit about almost everything, but the road to mastery seems to be less and less traveled.
I suggest your read it, it’s full of gems, here’s a quick example:
“We are all in search of feeling more connected to reality—to other people, the times we live in, the natural world, our character, and our own uniqueness. Our culture increasingly tends to separate us from these realities in various ways. We indulge in drugs or alcohol, or engage in dangerous sports or risky behavior, just to wake ourselves up from the sleep of our daily existence and feel a heightened sense of connection to reality. In the end, however, the most satisfying and powerful way to feel this connection is through creative activity. Engaged in the creative process we feel more alive than ever, because we are making something and not merely consuming, Masters of the small reality we create. In doing this work, we are in fact creating ourselves.”
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.