“Change before you have to change.”Change is inevitable. As a startup, we are expected to change rapidly. Even larger companies must change, or they will become obsolete. Organizations change; people change; jobs change; focus changes; markets change; technology changes; and so on. So it is vital to look ahead and change before change is forced upon you. If you’re always prepared, you have the ability to drive the change, rather than allowing the events around you to hold the power to formulate change.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Armin Ebrahimi, CEO and founder of ShoCard, a blockchain-based identity management ecosystem. Armin is a veteran of Silicon Valley, with more than 30 years of experience building both enterprise and consumer products, and a serial entrepreneur with two successful exits, selling his companies to HP and AOL. Armin also served as Senior Vice President of Platform Engineering at Yahoo during his tenure from 1998 to 2008 and later, in 2012, after selling his company to AOL, as the CEO of Advertising.com — an AOL company. Educated and experienced in both computer science and business, Armin builds leading-edge disruptive technology solutions while connecting them to real-world businesses.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you got involved in this industry?
After selling my last company to AOL, I began exploring new technologies, thinking about how they can solve some of the existing gaps in the marketplace. When I started examining blockchain technology in 2014, I found a powerful opportunity for it to disrupt identity management by combining the technology with mobile devices. In 2015, I founded ShoCard to create a platform for identity management where users’ personally identifiable information (PII) data is kept with them, utilizing authentication codes and proof-of-validation, in the form of digital signatures or hashes of data, resting on the blockchain.
When I started ShoCard, I had no particular interest in crypto markets and did not realize how future regulatory mandates, such as GDPR, would become a positive force for our mission. Rather than being a blockchain or crypto company that provides identity management, ShoCard is an identity management company that uses the blockchain infrastructure to revolutionize identity.
What are the top concerns that firms like yours should be considering in order to have a competitive edge?
First and foremost, a crypto firm should always have a product and solution that solves a real problem. No amount of money raised is an appropriate substitute for a business with a legitimate solution. The company with the best solution and go-to-market (GTM) strategy has the greatest competitive edge, and companies in the crypto space are no different. Blockchain technology or crypto assets should be used as tools that help execute a real solution and GTM strategy.
Can you share a story of a time when things went south for you? What kept you going and helped you to overcome those times?
When we were fundraising for ShoCard’s second round with venture capitals, we literally ran out of money. I firmly believed in the product we were building, even if investors were not over the line yet. Because I did not want anyone in the company to be impacted or leave, I decided to give a personal loan to the company and stopped paying myself a salary until we secured the new round.
I knew the funding could take longer than expected and the loan I gave the company would not last forever. It was vital to raise the funds quickly, as the process would become more difficult the longer it took.
Fortunately, we had a product in place already with some early customers. The feedback from the clients was overwhelmingly positive, which was a huge motivator and helped keep me going. I also trusted my instincts, which reminded me that we were solving a real problem and providing a solution that matters.
What are some things that you do on daily basis regardless of how busy you are?
I start every day at 5 a.m. to look through the market, get ahead on emails and plan for the day ahead. Then, at 6 a.m., I work out for an hour, unless I have an overseas conference call. I usually arrive at the office before most of my team members, create my task list for the day, and before 9 a.m., I already know the objectives for the day.
While the mornings to about 3 p.m. are typically filled with meetings, I also hold casual and scheduled meetings with my team. Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., I reflect on the day and follow up on pending tasks. I’ll work with key team members to delegate or plan the work. I also review how our resources, team and network are working to see if changes, short and long term, need to be made.
For least 20 minutes every evening, I take the time to think about how things are rolling up for the longer term. I ask myself “are these daily tasks and accomplishments fitting our long term vision and priorities?”
Regardless of how busy my day is, I always spend time in the evening with my two sons and Alicia, who is more than a mother to my kids, but also my closest friend. Two nights a week, I’ll practice Karate, something I have done for more than 38 years.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Change before you have to change.”
Change is inevitable. As a startup, we are expected to change rapidly. Even larger companies must change, or they will become obsolete. Organizations change; people change; jobs change; focus changes; markets change; technology changes; and so on. So it is vital to look ahead and change before change is forced upon you. If you’re always prepared, you have the ability to drive the change, rather than allowing the events around you to hold the power to formulate change.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can follow me on Twitter (@arminebrahimi), and follow ShoCard on Twitter (@getShoCard) and Facebook (@shocard).
Originally published at medium.com