A global company can be managed even from the living room

Interview: Peter Kriš and Gleb Urvanov, Mangata Finance

Mangata was founded in 2020, but before that we were already making order software for foreign clients in the field of cryptocurrencies for four years. We founders have been in cryptocurrency for 10 years and that has given us a lot of experience and a deeper insight into how it all works. We have already noticed that blockchain projects suffer from several ailments, e.g. to problems with insider trading and manipulation of orders. It was quite common for your trading orders to be overtaken by various hackers, users getting the wrong price, or having their orders completely canceled with no way to fix it. That’s why we decided to design a new blockchain architecture. It is an exchange infrastructure and a blockchain in one, where we were one of the first in the world to propose principles where the order order cannot be manipulated and no one can manipulate the price. We are the first ever team in the world to put this solution into production, and our blockchain is already live. We currently have 20 people, 10 in Slovakia and 10 around the world. Our leadership is from Slovakia, the remaining people are from Spain, USA, India, Austria, Colombia. We are a distributed team, we don’t have offices yet.

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Lockdown has helped us a lot by opening the door to the whole world in the online space. In 2020, we entered the accelerator of our main investor Polychain. This accelerator is from Silicon Valley and we were supposed to go there for three months, unfortunately, because of covid, it all happened online only. After three months, the investor decided to give us 1.4 million. euros to get started. We were the first team he invested in, and we never met in person. After a year, we came up with the first functional version and this opened a conversation with other investors, where we agreed on the sum of 4.2 million. euros, which already includes about 15 funds from different corners of the world – from San Francisco, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo. Investors have recognized that the value of the project can reach up to 60 million euros, which is probably the best fintech deal in history by Czech-Slovak standards.

NXT: What cryptocurrency exchange trading problems does your startup solve?

In addition to the mentioned manipulations with orders, we decided that the exchange infrastructure must be as efficient as possible – we proposed an economic model with low fees that are also fixed, which offers a great saving on costs, because other blockchains work with variable fees and it is often very expensive , even impossible to place orders.

NXT: :What makes your solution unique?

Our solution is unique in that we were the first to release a blockchain where the order of orders is guaranteed to be random and also the content of the order is encrypted, so it is impossible to tell what it contains. This guarantees protection against hackers who do not have the ability to manipulate and cannot estimate whether it is worthwhile to overtake the order and profit from it. This solution also brings innovation from the scientific side, it can be applied by any distributed systems outside of cryptocurrencies.

NXT: Who is behind the idea and how did you go about implementing it?

We created the idea together as founders. I’ve always known in which areas exchanges need to improve, and Gleb Urvanov has the experience in computer science and information security to design the right architecture.

We started the implementation by starting to monitor the most popular Ethereum blockchain and taking note of all the hackers’ moves. After some time, we identified weaknesses that needed to be addressed, and that was the basis for our blockchain design.

NXT: How did you build the team and why is it so internationally distributed?

We first built the team locally, here in Slovakia. However, the technology with which we do this is very specific, and we started to come across the fact that there are no people in Slovakia with the necessary experience in the field of blockchain or programming, so we had to search internationally for the right specialists for individual areas. We didn’t think too much about it, we are people who live on the Internet, so it was natural for us to communicate with people from India, Colombia or the US. Everything takes place in video calls.

NXT: Is it difficult to manage such a team remotely?

It has its pitfalls. On the one hand, you get world-class talent who can work peacefully in Silicon Valley, on the other hand, a purely online team requires perfect communication of all people, great transparency, and also a great degree of understanding and listening. People have to be absolute professionals, otherwise hiccups quickly show up. Also, because I can’t control what a person does on the other side of the planet, there is a lot of trust towards people who also have a lot of freedom. But with great freedom comes great responsibility. When you choose the right people, it will work ☺.

NXT: How did you manage to win the trust of investors?

It is a combination of several factors. Most importantly, we have been in cryptocurrency for 10 years. Then the fact that we have an academic history, and then the fact that investors have seen that we don’t just keep our promises, but actually fulfill what we set out in our plans. It was a very complex software robot to build our solution.

Other important factors are vision and self-confidence. In Slovakia, unfortunately, we still have a cultural tradition that we are too modest. On the one hand, it’s great, but when a person wants to compete in the world, he must first believe that he can handle really big projects. This is especially true in America, where they are used to thinking megalomaniacally, and in order to succeed among them, one must have great self-confidence. On the other hand, our Chinese and Japanese investors are more down to earth and have appreciated our Eastern European frugality and efficiency.

NXT: For what period do you have financing secured and when do you plan to be profitable?

We currently have a two-year plan and we will need another round of investment because what we are doing is not a small thing. Profitability is estimated in 4 to 5 years at the earliest.

NXT: What is your recipe for successfully establishing yourself in the world with a startup from Slovakia?

Not being afraid is 50% of success. These days you don’t have to go to New York, just email the right person. Pick up the phone and call. Arrange a video call. The world is starting to understand that talented people are everywhere, and that’s why some boundaries stop working.

The remaining 50% is about persistence and the ability to go deep into the domain of your interest. In the online world, you can learn many things from the internet. Another factor is to follow and connect with people in the domain and learn from them. I’ll just remind you that you are one e-mail and video call away from anyone in the world. Lately, they don’t even ask me where I’m from in online meetings anymore, I guess they don’t even care.

Martin Drobný spoke for NXT.


Source: Nextech by www.nextech.sk.

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