Cultivating crypto-currency: Inside BitAccess

There aren’t too many companies that would turn down $10 million in funding, least of all if that company’s a start-up. Nevertheless, at BitAccess that’s exactly what they did. The company, which builds BitCoin ATM’s for easy conversion of conventional currency to the crypto-currency, was started “almost by accident,” said Abdul Haseeb Awan, Chief Management Officer at BitAccess. Awan was among four other recipients of the 2014 Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards given out on Jan. 29 by the City of Ottawa in partnership with the Economic Club of Canada.

“Our goal was not aligned with our investor,” said Awan, of their former prospective investor, Bit Capital.

For now, funding isn’t a problem. “We have enough to keep going for two years without any revenue,” said Awan. Nor is he terribly concerned with the fluctuating nature of BitCoin. He likened it to the oil and gas industries. “Who cares if the gas prices go up? You still fill up. Prices don’t really matter too much.”

Awan, who is originally from Pakistan and moved to Canada in 2010, co-founded the company with three others. Their first round of funding raised all the money they needed within one day.

Now, BitAccess has BitCoin ATM’s in over 80 locations, spread throughout 15 countries. Awan said that they’ve had talks with another round of investors from Silicon Valley, but the terms aren’t yet being disclosed.

Awan, with his co-founders, has made his company work by drawing investment, but has relied on his people for that. “Good people are always in demand,” he said.

Among them are Andre Deminiac, the Deployment Lead for BitAccess. His position is a somewhat vague one, but he “works in a support role,” dealing with both hardware and software issues with the ATM’s. “I put a different title on every form,” he said with a laugh “It’s been a great experience so far,” said Deminiac. “I do support, he [Awan] does sales. If you ask him how to do sales he’ll say ‘Don’t sell.’”


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