In April, ecommerce platform Bolt announced an agreement to acquire cryptocurrency infrastructure provider Wyre. The acquisition promises to be the largest crypto acquisition in history. It comes nearly a decade after Wyre was founded in 2012, when the cryptocurrency market was still in its infancy.
“We got into crypto super early. In 2012, crypto was absolutely a trash bin. A lot of companies dived and it took a lot for us to stay in,” says Wyre co-founder Ioannis Giannaros. “We were extremely resilient and we were nimble in the face of change. We wouldn’t be here today if we didn’t make pivots and think long term.”
On July 27, 2022, Giannaros shared his crypto startup journey with Founders Network members during our July global keynote presentation. As part of the event, he detailed the lessons he’s learned about revenue, product-market fit, and fundraising.
Here’s a sneak peak of the event.
Prior to starting Wyre, Giannaros worked primarily with revenue focused companies. Using his expertise, Wyre was able to post impressive revenues in its early stages. However, while revenue can be a sign of success, looking back Giannaros says this early focus on revenue hindered the crypto startup in certain ways.
“Very early on in our journey, in 2013, we posted a lot of revenue so we became very revenue focused from day one,” Giannaros says. “That is a very challenging thing to overcome because once you’re revenue focused you have to remain revenue focused. There’s no way of turning back.
“There is a game to growing a Silicon Valley based company that is significantly different from growing a revenue based company. It took me a while to realize that.”
The path to product-market fit
While securing revenue came naturally, finding product-market fit was something the crypto startup struggled with. That’s true for many startups and according to one report, 42 percent of startups fail because they do not find product-market fit.
“We found revenue very early on, but product market fit wasn’t there,” Giannaros says. “Product market fit wasn’t solidified until 2018. It was a really long path for us and that was a very challenging thing.”
A different fundraising approach
Wyre’s early revenue success also impacted the way they approached fundraising. Unlike some venture-backed startups that can raise based on an idea or market analysis, Wyre had to continuously demonstrate revenue to satisfy investors. That’s why Giannaros recommends startups put thought into their fundraising strategy and business approach early on.
“If we had raised money on hopes and dreams, it would’ve been a much different story.
Some people will say you have to post metrics before fundraising while others say you can fundraise on a deck, an idea, and a vision. But our lesson was to put thought into where you’re planning on going. There is a game to fundraising.”
In his keynote Giannaros also covered:
- The reasons Wyre succeeded where other crypto startups failed
- How VC-backed startups are different from traditional businesses
- The importance of fundraising strategy
- How to find product-market fit
- The keys to managing early revenue