Timofey Volkov is the CEO of CryptoIns, the first online service for insuring cryptocurrency backed up by a traditional insurance company. Volkov is a skilled insurance professional with more than 25 years of experience in business, who is now eager to completely change the approach of the industry, raising the bar to a game-changing high-tech level. Thus, his aim is to significantly improve people’s life by making an insurance service people would want to use without the need of leaving their home.
Thank you so much for joining us! First things first, and I am sure our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell me your back story and how you have transitioned from traditional insurance to the crypto industry?
I’ve been working in the insurance industry for over 25 years. A few years ago, my partner and I launched a brokerage reinsurance business from scratch, and in the summer of 2017 the idea to make an insurance product for the cryptocurrency market came to us. So in October 2018, we launched. Our potential customers are cryptocurrency-owning private investors who are realistic about risk and willing to mitigate it through insurance.
For me the cryptocurrency industry is one more niche, a very promising and interesting one, in the insurance market, and this niche will grow rapidly in the coming years. It is thriving and new products are continuously emerging that meet customers’ needs. Entering the cryptocurrency niche, which is new for us, is just the next step – we want to expand our opportunities and prospects and enter the direct insurance market.
Can you tell us a little more about your new product? What inspires you about it?
Currently my partners and I are developing a product named CryptoIns. It is the first online service for insuring cryptocurrency backed by a traditional insurance company. We insure traders’ funds on cryptocurrency exchanges, and accept insurance premiums and make claims settlements in cryptocurrency. We pay insurance indemnities to our clients — private investors and traders — after a 30-day period in the event a crypto-exchange completely stops operating. We are also in the process of negotiating with cryptocurrency exchanges about the use of our platform for their customers.
We went through a lot of trouble to create a truly unique product. First of all, the insurance can be bought either with Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH), while disbursements for insurance claims cases will be made equal to the total amount of assets in the assured accounts recalculated in Bitcoins. No one has ever put a product like this on the market. Secondly, we were able to attract a licenced insurer with a robust reinsurance programme to the project. No one else has done this to date either.
Our goal as a business is to solve the pressing issues that our customers face related to the security of their crypto assets. Imagine a trader who transferred a few of his hard-earned Bitcoins to an exchange account and then suddenly the exchange stops functioning rendering their cryptocurrency irretrievable. There is zero communication from the exchange’s side – and it goes on like this for quite some time. This is a real headache that anyone could face. And we offer a smooth and convenient solution.
No one is able to achieve success without failing. What are your thoughts on failure?
The first thing one has to do is admit that everyone makes mistakes, this is inevitable. Sometimes when you fail seriously, it seems like the world ends and there is absolutely no way forward. At these moments, mindfulness helps me, personally. I believe the attitude toward mistakes has to change – recognize them, find the root causes and reduce their importance. Put the situation into perspective consciously, don’t let yourself get carried away. Track your attitude toward the issue at hand. Don’t overreact about every little thing, any mistake is just part of the process. After some time passes, you will be laughing at the memory of what once seemed like the end of the world.
You mentioned mindfulness – can you tell us in more detail, what does it mean to you?
With mindfulness, you learn to stop yourself in the moment and avoid forming unwanted intentions. If you only think about negative things, you will attract negativity to yourself. But if you think positively and can see a good, right and necessary goal, then you’re moving in the right direction. You will meet different people, events and issues on your path, and solving these problems will bring you closer to the goal. This principle is crucial. I’m not talking about complete control over yourself and your thoughts, only a select few are able to do that, but if you spend at least a little effort on living mindfully, controlling yourself and your train of thoughts, it will improve your quality of life, and the way you see yourself, the world and your business.
It sounds like entrepreneurship is a particular path to an ultimate goal. What is this goal?
Business ideas can change as new opportunities and people appear, and new doors are opened. The most important thing is to feel that you are positively progressing, and the process brings you a sense of joy and empowerment. Carlos Castaneda, a writer who had a huge impact on me at one point, calls it the path with heart. If you like what you do and enjoy it regardless of the challenges – because you understand that issues are an integral part of any human activity, especially creative ones – it means, you’re on the right path, and this is your “path with heart.”
However, there is a subtle nuance here. Any creative development forces one out of their comfort zone. In order to develop, even the best professionals and experts have to push their boundaries and explore the areas where they lack experience or knowledge. Currently for me public speaking is outside my comfort zone and it requires a lot of effort and self-discipline from me. However, I realize that I’m still on my path with heart. I am sure some time in the future I will laugh over my already former inability to speak publicly, and over my agitation. In the meantime, I’m integrating new experiences, learning, rebuilding something inside of me, and mastering new skills and fields of knowledge.
How do you avoid the burnout epidemic everyone is dealing with?
Any human activity consists of both creative and routine elements. Burn out is caused by running in circles going through the routine motions while the creative aspects are lacking or only a negligible part of one’s everyday work – it seems that there’s no place for development. In order to avoid burn out, one needs to look for extra tasks and take on problems that call for creativity. And for this, one needs to take a conscious and honest look at one’s self in order to try to understand how fed up you are with what you’re doing and whether you have hit a ceiling. After that one needs to consciously make a decision to change something. Any change will almost certainly require you to leave your comfort zone, but at the same time it will inject creativity and diversity into the daily grind.
There are times when everything is going wrong. It goes without saying that the path of what to do next and how to achieve success is often unclear. So lulls in activity are necessary – constantly running like a hamster on a wheel is not helpful. Now, I am much calmer when lulls occur, but they used to drive me crazy in the past. When a slow period occurs, I know how to turn it into a positive thing that helps me see what else I could be doing. And then I can continue to move forward.
From your point of view, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader?
A leader is a person who has a goal, sees it and understands how to move toward it. Progressing toward it on the path with heart gives you strength, energy, and optimism. Therefore, first and foremost, a leader is an optimist. I think it’s vital for a leader to both see the bigger picture and be detail-oriented, while remaining focused on the ultimate goal.
A leader must understand that the path to a goal consists of smaller steps. There is a well-known Chinese saying – a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. It doesn’t come all at once – every day a leader will take one more step toward reaching their goal.
What role does luck and hard work play for entrepreneurs like yourself?
Luck plays a huge role. You know, many people today say, “Work hard, and you’ll be all right, everything is achieved only through hard work.” I don’t think this is entirely true. As seditious as it might sound to some, it’s not always necessary to work tirelessly 24/7 in order to achieve success. Of course, there are a lot of tasks that require attentiveness, perseverance and great effort. But luck is had through forming proper intentions, focusing on the goal and physical movement toward it. When you advance consistently, you follow your own path and enjoy it, and it brings good luck into your life. It is as if you create a vortex around you that sucks in luck in the form of new opportunities, the right people and good ideas. Conversely, any negativity or self-pity are the most harmful factors that kill luck.
If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?
I would tell myself that anything is possible. Any goal can be achieved and any height can be reached through self-control, self-discipline and mindfulness. Focus on your intention with the right goal in mind, and it will be achieved. This applies to both professional and personal goals. Let the problems go and stop overthinking, and it will restore your enthusiasm and energy. Energy is a prerequisite for progress as it unlocks new opportunities.
What are your three best tips for people who are just now starting their own business?
Firstly, the idea is important. Finding an idea for a business is the most challenging part. You can’t come up with one sitting on your couch. Your personal life journey should lead you to it.
Secondly, understand if you are on the path with heart, if you are happy and enjoy what you do. This is extremely important. Waking up in the morning excited to do something and going to bed at night thinking about how you can do it better gives you a very good sense of purpose. It doesn’t steal your energy from you but instead invigorates you.
Thirdly, resist the urge to achieve everything at once. In order to achieve something, particular and consistent small steps have to be taken. The more determination and vision you have in regards to the process, the faster and more wholeheartedly those steps will be taken.