This weeks spotlight is on CEO and co-founder of Coinfloor, Obi Nwosu:
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am the CEO and Co-founder of Coinfloor, the UK’s longest established cryptocurrency exchange. I have spent over 20 years in leadership and entrepreneurial roles involving technology and eCommerce. My passion for Bitcoin and Fintech as well as growing businesses is what led me to the position I am in today. Beyond this, I am a born and bred Londoner from a lower working class Nigerian family. I like to think that my background has meant that I have the natural business instincts of a Nigerian while still remaining worldly wise enough to realise that the vast majority of my success has nothing to do with my own ability, even though I have worked extremely hard to get where I am.
How did your business start?
I started researching Bitcoin in 2011 when a friend mentioned it to me and I quickly became excited by its potential; an entirely digital currency, and how it could solve a lot of the problems associated with money we use today. I bought a few Bitcoins at which point the price immediately dropped! Then I sold my holdings and didn’t return until 2013 when Bitcoin was again in the news, and it was clear that the existing UK trading platforms lacked trust, reliability or security.
Coinfloor was launched with the goal of correcting this situation by providing transparency and secure platform focused on helping UK customers easily get exposure to the new world of cryptocurrency.
What challenges do you face when running a business?
The biggest challenge of running a business is ensuring that my team is happy and have enough balance to do meaningful work. As a small business, every person plays a big role in our success. It is a fast-paced environment which is enjoyable and exciting but high performance can take a toll if not managed properly. A large part of my day involves checking in on various teams and offering coaching and counsel where it is needed, as well as keeping an eye on the team dynamic.
What’s your biggest success or achievement so far?
My biggest success to-date has been growing and setting up Coinfloor and all its subsidiaries even in the face of major challenges. I believe Bitcoin will cause profound change in the lives of people all over the world, empowering them with a form of money that is appreciative, secure, and cannot be manipulated. A company like ours has the potential to drive this change by facilitating secure and trusted access to Bitcoin. That in itself is very exciting.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Swimming: I swim lengths for about an hour. It is a great form of exercise and I also find it to have a meditative quality.
Watching fantasy and science fiction movies: They are enjoyable, diverting and also expose my mind to new possibilities and ways of thinking.
Catching up with close friends, ideally over a meal at an interesting and preferably new location: There is nothing like the combination of spending time with loved ones, great food, and new experiences.
What does work-life balance mean to you?
As an entrepreneur, you often live and breathe your work because it is something you enjoy and are truly passionate about. However, taking a meaningful break away from the grind to focus on other passions and interests recharges my focus and drive, and brings perspective to my life. It’s tricky but I have gotten better at taking regular breaks the older I have become. For example, I am now a proponent of regular, restful and fill length sleep after reading ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker. I also try to minimise working during weekends so that I effectively get a weekly mini break.
What’s next for you/your business?
We are looking at additional services and functionality that help our business and customers perform much better. We also feel that tech and crypto companies have become too self focused to the detriment of their customers and that is something we wish to continue doing our part to rectify. The Bitcoin economy is emerging, and as it matures, we are thinking hard about how we can build new products and services that help to meet its financial needs.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Genuinely breaking new ground in financial services with a group of brilliant and highly capable minds. I may sit at the top of the business but not a day goes by where I am not learning or taking points of inspiration from my team and peers.
How do you handle criticism?
In this space you are faced with a lot of irrelevant criticism which I have become good at blocking out. But criticism from credible people is invaluable.
During my previous career as a startup CTO, I was fortunate enough to have amassed an amazing group of mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, and friends who helped me countless times along the way by acting as sounding boards, confidantes, and advisers due to their varied perspectives and experiences. On top of this I try to always be open to feedback from the team, especially when it is constructive and thought through.
What advice would you give to people starting out?
I have two pieces of advice:
First, be antifragile. By this I mean don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but rather, seek to make new mistakes. Gain new learnings, and fail often until you are no longer afraid of failure. At that point you will be free to reach your full potential.
Second, it took me far too long to realise that the game of life is rigged. Don’t play by the established rules and never expect nor wait for the incumbents to change the rules to be more fair. Be the games master, create your own game and rules such that you have an unfair advantage. This way you can truly guarantee success.