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The past 12 months in crypto: Interview with Gabriele Musella, CEO and Co-Founder at Coinrule

Interview by Doug Beck, Executive Search Specialist at X4 Technology.

The cryptocurrency market was valued at $792.53 million USD in 2019 and is expected to reach $5,190.62 million by 2026. I spoke with Gabriele Musella, CEO & Co-Founder of Coinrule, a meta trading platform that allows users to set up rules-based cryptocurrency trading across multiple crypto exchanges with no coding skills required.

Gabriele shared his thoughts on some of the biggest challenges in the crypto space right now and his phenomenal journey over the past 12 months which saw everything collapse around him due to Covid-19 in March 2020 and then turnaround in December 2020 when Coinrule launched a Seedrs campaign and secured over 200% of its target.

There’s a growing and a well-documented shortage of blockchain developers. What are the biggest challenges you have found when recruiting and competing for blockchain talent?

It’s such a new technology and programming language ‘Solidity’ that you need to know which geography to look for. At Coinrule, we have found that a lot of developers in Europe, such as France and Spain, are very strong in blockchain but Eastern Europe are still focused on main stream tech stacks, as they’re more familiar with PHP and NodeJS.

On the other hand, in countries where the ecosystem is more developed, like Singapore and Hong Kong, they tend to lean towards modern technologies like TypeScript, which are frontend based, therefore, it’s difficult to find blockchain developers in these places too.

Thankfully, we’re now a fully remote company, which has made the talent pool much, much bigger.

What do you think needs to be done to reduce the skills gap in the industry?

Being an engineer it’s very difficult because you need to constantly update your skill set. I have colleagues that are contractors and at least every three to four contracts they take a six-month break to travel and learn about new technologies. It’s challenging to always be learning but that’s one of the only ways to fix the gap.

There’s lots of good content and online courses, especially because the DeFi and blockchain community are all open-source. This means you can either duplicate a project and then put your spin on it or do your own specific features. That’s what has been happening lately with the DeFi craze, Uniswap, SushiSwap, they are basically a copycat of each other but with added innovation. That’s the beauty of the DeFi and the essence of the open source community.

There’s endless opportunity now for developers. Coinrule spend a lot on education, we send our marketing and tech team on weekend long courses and also pay for mentoring so our employees get an hour long monthly conversation with their mentor, which is very valuable and gives a lot of direction.

It has been well-documented that the world of cryptocurrency is heavily male dominated. What do you think needs to change to encourage more women to get involved in blockchain technology to help balance the gender divide?

That’s a problem we feel a lot. It is a very male dominated industry and when we put an advert out to attract more females, we had around 20 applications and only one or two of them were by women. Crypto is difficult to use because the user experience isn’t yet there and at Coinrule, we really care about design-first methodologies. If more females enter the industry through design and marketing roles, it will lead to more female programmers.

Nowadays candidates really want to know about the diversity of your team. There’s 15 of us and we’re all from at least 8 different countries. We’re from different ethnicities, have different backgrounds and disabilities and we’ve now managed to hire 2 female profiles in our marketing team, so the diversity is there, but yes, overall it’s difficult.

Eventually it will get better with more UX and marketing professionals coming in.

Do you think more diverse teams will contribute to crypto becoming more widely adopted?

Totally. It’s also smarter because more diverse teams bring different values and look at things in a different way. Women often bring soft skills such as compassion and great communication, helping make things more balanced. It also means that the focus becomes less on just the tech and performance but also about long term sustainability, and how the value we generate for our users connects to society. Everything becomes more impactful.

Some parts of the crypto industry are blind, driven by machines and people who lack soft skills – a problem now in the crypto space.

What would you say is one of your biggest learns in the past 12 months?

The biggest learn has been perseverance. In March 2020, we had a term sheet from an investor on the table, and because of Covid-19 the deal collapsed. We didn’t have many funds in the bank to pay salaries, and we were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Then, we put people on furlough and with a few other budgeting changes we got through the storm and slowly started building our fundraising again, and in few months we had a lot of Angel Investors coming in, one by one. Eventually, the revenue started growing and we went crowdfunding on Seedrs. The campaign was very successful. We were over funded by 209% and raised around $700,000.

What I learned there was to keep pushing. To persevere, be very rational, and have cold blood. When everything around you is collapsing, as one of the founders I needed to be the one that was calm and lucid so we could make the best decision at that point. I’m now much stronger as a result of that experience and ready for the next bigger challenge.

What are some of the innovations in the world of cryptocurrency that you are most excited about?

I’m excited by fast blockchain infrastructures like Solana, as it’s solving real problems. Solana is a very fast blockchain, it can make 50,000 transactions per second and the transaction fees are very low. It could in the future be acquired or replace MasterCard or Visa and become the face and the rails of the new payment system. I have most of my funds on Solana and they’re also creating an ecosystem of trading platforms that are derivatives and many other different financial products.

Also, Polkadot is a very good project working on the interoperability across chains. You can go from Bitcoin to Ethereum to Solana all on one platform interchanging tokens. Interoperability is a big topic right now because the speed of transactions is scaling up.

There is also DeFi (Decentralised Finance), which is simply beautiful. You have your wallet in your hands, then plug it in on any platform, trade in and unplug it, and then have your money back on your ledger or your mobile phone. It’s the idea that you own your own wallet, and you don’t need a bank as an intermediary between you and the trading and still keep the same, if not better, security.

There’re so many experiments, it’s very interesting; all the elements of finance have been deconstructed and built them again as a better version. The fact you can attach each of these tools with other tools means there are endless possibilities in the future. And the change to decentralised finance has just started.

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