Elevator Pitch: CoinJar

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Asher Tan from CoinJar.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

CoinJar allows consumers and businesses to experience the benefits of digital currency and finance in their everyday lives — from owning your first Bitcoins, to using and accepting them around the world. We do this by providing useful tools such as Australia's first Bitcoin debit card, CoinJar Swipe, allowing people to spend bitcoin anywhere they like. Our web and mobile apps provide a simple solution to buy and sell Bitcoins, as well as help businesses to accept Bitcoins as a payment method.

Our business is built on the belief that Bitcoin is a democratiser of finance. We are helping people be part of this movement and to find innovative ways to diversify their personal finances.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Over the past 12 months we've been firmly focused on growing our user base. We now have more than 32,000 individual and business customers and we've processed more than $50 million worth of transactions.

Our marketing strategy is to acquire new customers through word of mouth, digital marketing, events and even some guerrilla marketing. We're also heavily involved in the Bitcoin community in Australia.

Innovating and expanding our product suite is another important growth strategy, and we're getting close to being able to provide an end-to-end set of tools for our customers to manage and use their bitcoin. We are fortunate to be backed by leading investors AngelCube and Blackbird Ventures, who provided a round of investment in 2013, which we have put towards financing the research and development of our technology.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

As we continue to rethink facets of the global financial system, traditional banks often prefer to ignore or stop what they cannot control or understand. Hence banking is a major issue we are continually addressing.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

There have been other Bitcoin providers or platforms who are happy to make profits and sit on them, but we are continually putting money back into CoinJar to ensure that the experience of digital finance far exceeds anything already out there, not just in Australia, but around the world. We're focused on the bigger picture goals in the space — namely helping our users to democratise their finances and making cryptocurrencies like bitcoin a mainstream or household name and experience.

We also obsess over building really good user experience — we are very focused on that and have an excellent design team. We are building products that we would enjoy using ourselves every day.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Snapchat — we're all big fans in the office as it allows us to stay in touch with friends in an often hilarious way.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

When I first met my co-founder Ryan, he made me read a series of essays by Paul Graham. The one that resonated with me the most - be relentlessly resourceful. I highly recommend reading it.

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