The way people do transactions has evolved dramatically over centuries, from barter system to monetary system; from plastic money to now bitcoins. Since its creation in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, increasing number of people now see Bitcoins as a trusted way of transaction, as now major companies like Microsoft, BMW and Etsy are also accepting Bitcoin payments. Going by numbers, the cryptocurrency market was valued at USD 1.03 billion by 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1.40 billion in 2024, growing at a CAGR of 6.18% during the forecast period. This growing popularity of bitcoins inspired Shiva Sitamraju to start Blockonomics, a startup that unlocks the power of Bitcoin by allowing entrepreneurs and enthusiasts manage their bitcoin payments with ease. Here is a peek into the journey and operations of this Hyderabad based startup.
Blockonomics simplifies the process of receiving /making payments through Bitcoins and tracking Bitcoin transactions. The company has introduced a number of features for this,which includes -
- Bitcoin Payment Plugins for ecommerce merchants, supporting sites like Wordpress, Wix, WHMCS, and many more
- Bitcoin Payment Button/URL, which allows people to set up quick and simple payment options and donations
- Bitcoin Invoice, so you can pay your employees easily in Bitcoin, or charge customers if you're a freelancer.
- Wallet Watcher, so you can easily keep track of all your wallets, with many sub features such as the Export Feature allowing you to see all your transactions in a simple place.
- Bitcoin Tracker, a quick way to see any transactions and wallets on the Blockchain.
"Allowing people to control their own sales and payments is an important part of Blockonomics, and is a driving force in what we do. Many ecommerce merchants have to use expensive payment solutions that go through middle men, so it limits the control of their sales. Our products seek to ensure entrepreneurs can more directly control their cash inflow, and to cut down on fees they experience. We also make the easiest to use Bitcoin payment plugin, the other options are often more complicated" says Blockonomics Shiva Sitamraju emphasizing the USPs of Blockonomics.
Blockonomic's products facilitates ease and direct control. The company's e-commerce plugins tie directly into e-commerce platforms, for easy installation and tracking. For scenarios where a plugin can’t be used, Blockonomics' in-house solutions, such as the payment button/url and invoice function are made to be easily implemented into whatever website, email, etc that might be used.
Blockonomics CEO Shiva Sitamraju is an MTech from IIT Delhi. He has experience in scalable backend engineering and has held lead engineering roles in a number of startups before.
Blockonomics currently has a team of 7 people spread throughout 4 continents. There are 3 members of the marketing team, and 3 on the software development and design.
The Idea behind Starting Blockonomics
Blockonomics started as a Wallet Watcher to track a large number of bitcoin addresses. Sitamraju himself is a bitcoin enthusiast, and was facing problems with monitoring and tracking multiple bitcoin addresses, which made him create 'Wallet Watcher' as a tool to help himself out. In December 2014, Sitamaraju launched Blockonomics Wallet Watcher on bitcointalk forum. The initial response of the bitcoin community on Blocknomics' Wallet Watcher was very good and it was very heartening for the Blockonomic's team to constantly receive feedback on features to add to the product. As Shiva Sitamraju puts in,
"We used community forums like bitcointalk, stackexchange and reddit. These channels are most important to build your MVP into an actual startup. Even though growth of user metrics may be slow using these channels, they are valuable to build user trust and help to steer you in the correct direction. In 2015, Blockonimcs' thread became hugely popular on reddit bitcoin. Even though we had very few users and zero revenue, a constant feedback from customers and a sense that this product is getting used kept us going"
However after 2 years, when Blockonomics monetized its Wallet Watcher, the team soon realized that the revenue stream for the product was very less. So the company started diversifying its offerings.
"Though some people were willing to pay for the Wallet Watcher, the amount was very less and creating pressure on our margins. After looking at some other services that were selling e-commerce payment plugins, we realized that this market was a good fit for our product which already had backend ability to serve blockchain queries" says Shiva about the initial challenges of the startup.
Blockonomics' - Work Culture
Blockonimics' work culture has always been completely remote (even before covid).
When Shiva started to recruit remote work, he had two simple rules:
- Hire from anywhere in the world
- Don't look at resumes
The company never had an office and the team has never been restricted to geographical boundaries. Also the team avoids holding unnecessary meetings and has only one meeting per week. All work is done asynchronously using tools like slack, trello, github. This gives employees more flexibility and there is no assigned office time (you don’t need to be online 9-5). This also means all team members are independent / self driven and there is a trust that no one needs monitoring/ management
Blockonomics - Revenue Model
For the Address Watcher Users, Blockonomics charges a flat subscription fee. The subscription fee ranges from 0- 20 USD per month based on address limits and API features. While, for merchants, the company offers first 10 payments free and thereafter charges 1% fee on payments.
Blockonomics - Challenges
Building a viable business has been the major challenge for the Blockonomics team. Shiva was from a tech background and he did not had any entrepreneurial experience. It took him quite some time to become able to handle a business. Initially, Blockonomics had very less users and earned almost zero revenue. The team had to dig through business knowledge from podcasts/books and learn on the road.
Blockonomics - Growth
Despite all the struggle, Blockonomics has today established itself as a sustainable and profitable company which is making a difference. Some major growth parameter achieved by Blockonomics are-
- Active Wordpress installs - 3000+
- Total merchant store installs - 10,000+
- Blockonomics is monitoring 300,000+ addresses
- 140,000 payments has been processed through Blockonomics payment plugin/payment button/URL
- 6,500 P2P invoices have been created through the platform.
While there are many who are still confused and unsure about Bitcoins, startups like Blockonomics are doing a good job in making more and more people confident about using Bitcoins by making Bitcoin transactions easy.