- Juliet will never get tired of being called the Smarter Woman.
- “With some entrepreneurs there’s this sort of internal process that goes on of wanting to be a ‘self-made person’. Often times this can lead to people feeling like they have to do everything themselves, but that is such a fallacy. No man is an island.”
- “When you find the right people at the right place and the right time, magic can happen.”
- “They think in order for you to be an entrepreneur, you need to have some fancy tech startup. Being an entrepreneur can just be you have an Etsy store and selling stuff.”
- “Be really conservative with your cash flow at the start.”
- “Do not make the assumption that your project will go viral.”
- “Pitching and finding potential investors is not an easy thing to do. It does, to an extent, depend on the networks of people that you have.”
- “Everybody sees the flashy headline. Nobody sees the two years of groundwork that it took to get to that point.”
- “Most start-ups fail.”
- “It’s okay to let an idea go. You can try new things.”
- “You can do anything – just not everything. Accept the help that people are willing to give if you’re just starting your entrepreneurial journey.”
- “Build something 100 people love, not something 1 Million people kind-of like.” – Brian Chesky
Meet Nicholas Prouten
Our guest is Marketing Director of Atomic47 Labs, Nicholas Prouten.
Nick’s decade-long career has spanned across roles in Gaming, Entertainment, Cybersecurity, Real Estate, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies. He is an Ambassador for LODE, a precious-metal-backed cryptocurrency, and his goal is to bring back an honest monetary system.
Smart Man, Smarter Woman References
We talk about a lot in each episode; however, we don’t want you to miss a thing! Here are some key items were mentioned if you want to take a closer look.
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Steve Loates (00:00):
Welcome everyone to another episode of the podcast, Smart Man, Smarter Woman, a podcast for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And thank you very much for giving us a listen today. I am Steve Loates.
Juliet Aurora (00:13):
And I am Juliet Aurora.
Steve Loates (00:16):
And we are your co-hosts. And before we bring in today’s special guest, let’s hear a few words from my wonderful co-host, that smarter woman herself. And she never seems to get tired of me calling her that smarter woman. How are you doing today, Juliet?
Juliet Aurora (00:33):
I am amazing, thank you. I’m not sure why I would ever get tired of being called a smarter woman. I mean, there’s just no logical reason that I would. But no, I’m having an amazing day. Sometimes you have those days where you have this list and everything just gets checked off really nicely and smoothly, and you’re just going from one thing to the next thing. So I’m having one of those days. So it’s been pretty good.
Steve Loates (00:57):
Awesome. So getting lots of stuff checked off your list.
Juliet Aurora (01:01):
I am. And I’m a list person, as you know, Steve. So it’s very fulfilling for me to be able to cross things off my list.
Steve Loates (01:09):
Yes, I am aware of the list. Well, that’s great. So let’s bring today’s guest into the show. And he’s joining us today all the way from beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia, and that is a gorgeous part of the world. And his name is Nick Prouten. How are you doing today, Nick?
Nick Prouten (01:27):
Hey Steve, I’m doing fantastic. Thank you so much for having me. And yourself as well, Juliet. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Steve Loates (01:32):
Well, thank you for joining us. So as we usually do, why don’t we start off, if you could perhaps share a little bit about who you are, what you do, how you help people and a little bit about your own journey.
Nick Prouten (01:45):
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been in the tech sector for about a decade now, which I can scarcely believe time seems to be moving ever faster. I fulfill two roles. I operate as a chief marketing officer for a incubator out of Kelowna that helps and grow early stage startups. Take things from ideas to reality and help find product market fit and scale them and bring them into the market. And additionally, I play a dual role as COO for a FinTech blockchain startup known as the LODE Project that’s dedicated to taking precious metals assets, so physical gold and silver, and putting them onto a blockchain and turning them into a liquid form of currency again. Which is a really, really exciting and challenging space to be working in right now as Bitcoin is a buzz word on everybody, on the tip of everybody’s brain.
Nick Prouten (02:36):
And that is a team of about 70 people that work within that project. So when it comes to talking about my journey, I would, a little bit of humor in this as well, but I would call it a series of fortunate events and can loosely be described as falling upwards. But that being said, it’s not been without its trials and tribulations. And certainly the entrepreneurial path is never linear, but I feel that perhaps mine, especially, there was no clear cut line from A to Z that led me to where I was. It was loosely held together by things, by goals and objectives that I wanted to achieve for personal growth and benefit that led me to the positions where I am today. And we can dive into this a little bit more, but I’m a big believer in the methodology that there are four prime motivators in life. And I’m going to try and get them all, but you’ll have to forgive me, it’s nine o’clock in the morning.
Nick Prouten (03:27):
It’s progress, autonomy and mastery. And the last one I believe is … come back to it in a minute. But anyways, there’s the fourth motivator. But generally, when I was going through my entrepreneurial, I was always thinking about things either from a perspective of, oh, I want to make $120,000 a year, or I want to run the biggest startup in the world or there is this specific project that is calling to me. It was more about, what is going to give me a sense of autonomy, the ability to live my life the way I want to live it? What is going to give me a sense of fulfillment and advancement? Can I be the best at something? And so ultimately those were the kinds of things that steered me to where I am today.
Steve Loates (04:12):
Juliet Aurora (04:13):
It’s interesting as to how the two businesses that you’re a part of are also very different. They don’t sound like they’re not … you mentioned that you’re in the tech sector, but they are using two different sides of your brain. So I think it’s interesting that you shared what motivates you, because it does a little bit explain why you’re running two very different businesses. And I love the idea of incubators. Would love to dive into that a little bit more as well, because they are such a great breeding ground for entrepreneurs. And a lot of entrepreneurs in our audience may not know what an incubator is, so maybe that’s a starting point. If you can give a brief description as to what it is, what its purpose is, and how it works.
Nick Prouten (04:58):
Yeah, absolutely. So just before I do, to close off, to tie the knot on the other thought there, the fourth one was purpose, and I can’t believe I forgot that one because that one is a really big motivator for myself. A sense of purpose, am I changing the world? Was the fourth motivator that I choose to live by. So an incubator, from my perspective, is all about helping founders and innovators and people who have great ideas and are perhaps just starting their entrepreneurial journey first time around, they’ve maybe never been through the gambit before, and helping them grow their projects to the point where they are either self-sustaining or they crossed the chasm and found their product market fit. And so it’s a real hands-on approach to help nurture and grow entrepreneurs. And what we do at Atomic 47 is we find really, really passionate people who have really, really great ideas and we apply our years of experience into helping people find everything, from funding to the team of people that are really going to help take this project to the next level.
Nick Prouten (06:02):
And I find, with some entrepreneurs, there is this sort of internal process that goes on of wanting to be a “self-made person.” Oftentimes, this can lead to people feeling like they have to do everything themselves. But that is such a fallacy, and really nobody is an island, no man is an island, to use the idiom. And really, we think that great people are the heart of innovation. Truly. I know it says that on the website, so it’s an easy go-to. But really this is at the core of what we believe at Atomic, is that when you find the right people at the right place at the right time, magic can happen. So hopefully that describes to you what an incubator is and what we’re doing at Atomic 47. LODE actually came out of Atomic 47. There was a really passionate group of people that were partially based in Kelowna that approached us and we worked with them and continue to work with them as they scale into a global payment ecosystem. So back over to you, Juliet and Steve.
Juliet Aurora (06:57):
Excellent. So can you tell us, a lot of people think that as a startup, I think maybe it’s a complete misconception, that to have a startup or to start the entrepreneurial journey, that you have to be fairly young. In your 20s that you have to be, or your 30s. Do you find that there is a typical demographic that goes through your incubator space?
Nick Prouten (07:23):
I think the media glamorizes that, it puts the Hollywood sparkle on that, it makes it look like everybody’s this young, sexy mid-20-year-olds on the bleeding edge of everything. But I actually think the script is a little flipped in reality. I think most entrepreneurs I come into contact with are probably mid-30s, coming croaking on 40s, people that have worked maybe in one sector for a really long time, have a passionate idea. Those 20-year-olds that we were talking out before, talking about, they do exist and there are some of them that come into the market, but they’re rare. And this goes back to the idea of purpose that I mentioned a little bit earlier. Usually, I find that founders are really motivated by a singular purpose or a goal that they would really want to … a value that they want to bring into the world.
Nick Prouten (08:12):
And I think in your 20s, there’s a lot of self discovery that’s going on for a lot of people. And so I think those younger demographics, perhaps haven’t even found a sense of purpose for themselves, let alone a value they would like to bring to the world. Some people do, again, I’m not painting everybody with the same brush here. But I think when you reach a certain level of maturity and experience in life, perhaps those things become a little more evident. If you’ve worked in the industry for a long time, you can recognize flaws in a certain sector and ways to alleviate those. So that all comes through experience and time. So that’s why I personally think that I see a greater body of entrepreneurs that is perhaps older. And then there’s those serial entrepreneurs, which are really just gluttons for punishment. Go through the startup process again and again and again, and those are your season’s bets. But honestly, if you can find people like that to act as mentors for you on your entrepreneurial journey, what a blessing.
Juliet Aurora (09:10):
Excellent. And I do agree with you that Hollywood has glamorized and the startups’ success stories that you hear are always the 20-year-olds that start, not the 30 and 40 year olds. And I think that with what we’ve gone through over the last year with COVID and so many people losing their jobs, a lot more people are venturing into the entrepreneurial space out of necessity. Because they’ve lost their job, can’t find another job in their sector, and so are starting their own journey and tend to be a little bit older. So I’m glad to hear that my misconception was actually a misconception.
Nick Prouten (09:51):
Yeah. Again, COVID is unprecedented times for living. And I think that gets overused a lot, but it’s really true. Once in a lifetime type phenomenon, hopefully, that we’re experiencing here. But as negative, and again, when I’m speaking about these things, I don’t ever come at it from this perspective as it’s a good thing people lose their jobs, but I do think pressure creates diamonds and conflicts creates desires for innovation. And during these times you see an acceleration of technological development and advancements, often creativity leaps sometimes in thinking and logic. And I think that, to an extent, Corona has provided this for some people. As you said, lots of people starting off their entrepreneurial journey. And again, I want to clarify as well. I think sometimes, again, the Hollywood lenses, they think in order for you to be an entrepreneur, you have to have some fancy tech startup, and that makes you an entrepreneur.
Nick Prouten (10:46):
But being an entrepreneur can just be you having an Etsy store and selling stuff. It can be just you doing a retail outlet online. It’s different for everybody. And I think it’s a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m growing a corporate entity and I enjoy the environment that I work in, but I think we need more small businesses out there. I think we need more entrepreneurs out there creating new ways to bring value into our lives and creating great solutions et cetera, et cetera, for us to enjoy. I am sick of going to Walmart, I am sick of big-box chains that catch all and give me everything I need at once. I love the diversity that comes from a healthy entrepreneurial climate in cities. And so perhaps that is a silver lining in this whole COVID disaster that we’re living through.
Steve Loates (11:38):
Yeah. We certainly, in our business, see entrepreneurs from all walks of life. And certainly, anyone who does their homework on entrepreneurship and looks at the history of it will see that entrepreneurs who achieve success really has little to do with age. You know what I mean? There’s lots of young entrepreneurs who are very successful. And I think the oldest one I’ve heard of, and I’m sure there’s someone older, but I remember reading about Colonel Harland Sanders, the guy who started Kentucky Fried Chicken. And he was, I think, 72 before he achieved any success with it at all. So it’s a pretty diverse demographic when it comes to age. And Juliet and I, obviously we’re entrepreneurs ourselves and huge fans of entrepreneurs.
Steve Loates (12:45):
And like I say, it has nothing to do with age, I think a lot more it is mindset and it does require a certain amount of mindset. But I would like to come back a little, perhaps to help some of these startups out there who are perhaps listening to this show. Can you share maybe some of the more common mistakes you see startups making, or perhaps even wrong thoughts that they have when they’re starting up, that they really need to change it a little and that may help them increase their chances of being successful?
Nick Prouten (13:31):
Sure, absolutely. This is actually a really fun question. There are two major pet peeves that I have when I work with entrepreneurs. And one is really quick to get out of the way, but one I’ll unpack a little bit more. So the first one is overspending when you get funding. They look at, sometimes you can land a couple of million dollars in terms of funding if you really impress the right people and/or you get a great angel investor, for example. And now it’s just like, we hired 20 people and I dropped a little bit on myself and et cetera, et cetera. Obviously, most entrepreneurs are very responsible people, but I think that excitement that comes when you get funding for your project gives you a false sense of security, like you’ve made it.
Nick Prouten (14:14):
But really what you’ve been done is you’ve just put some gas in your car and you’re not even at a full tank yet. And so burnout from a financial perspective, actually blowing through all those funds that you just accumulated, I’ve seen that happen a lot. And then it puts startups in this really toxic work cycle where people … I think people work best when they are not under duress. At least I like to believe that, you know what I mean? A little bit of stress is healthy, there is such a thing as healthy stress levels. But constantly being in a cycle of, oh my God, if I don’t get this next round of money, how are we going to put food on the table? Or something to that effect is really toxic because that translates to the people that you have hired as employees, and the workspace becomes a less cohesive environment and a less friendly environment where people aren’t enjoying the innovation that needs to take place.
Nick Prouten (15:07):
And especially in the tech sector … this is my field of experience so I’m going to pull from that. Tech is a very iterative, and I know this has this idea of being agile, but it’s actually very slow. It’s tons of user experience testing, it’s tons of bug fixes, it’s tons of, oh, we thought we liked this, but now we like this, or we were going this direction, now we’re pivoting, and this is a constant. So when you are financially planning, you need to do so in such a way that gives you the time to do that proper process, that proper development that needs to take place and not leave yourself financially in the hole. And so that might mean hiring one less developer, or not hiring the big fancy agency, because you’re not really at the point where you’re ready to go to market quite yet. And that can feel like the anticipation is hard to resist, but I think that is a really, really important recommendation that I have for most entrepreneurials. Is be really conservative with your cashflow at the start, until you’re at the part where you’re generating revenue. Right?
Steve Loates (16:13):
Nick Prouten (16:14):
The other major pet peeve I have is when people tell me they’re going to go viral, or they want to do a viral campaign. Don’t get me wrong, if you have the right kind of platform, if the type of influencer that is good for your brand is the kind of industry that has a knack for going viral, it’s a valid strategy. However, financial technology, as a great example, like for most people, their eyes gloss over. Talking about finance did not win me many dates back in the day. And because of that, it’s very difficult for a project to go “viral.” And I’m using that as an easy example because finance is a little bit of a drier topic, you have to enjoy talking about numbers and finances in general. But this is true across the board for just about every project. Do not make the assumption that your project will go viral, that everybody is just going to love it immediately.
Nick Prouten (17:12):
And the way these social media platforms are now designed, especially the big ones is, if you are a business, they are going to throttle the amount of traffic you get. They are going to intentionally cut you off so that you have to spend money on advertising. Meaning that even if you have a really, really, really good campaign and the right influencer, if you launch it from your profile and you’ve maybe got 1000, 2000 people that follow you, only 10 to 15, maybe 30, 40 people are going to see that. That’s a very, very, very small portion of your audience. And so that belief is just, I think it antagonizes me. I don’t know if there’s any really anything else beyond that, but I think it’s kind of, I want to say an immature thought process to have. Don’t assume that you’re going to be the next big thing on social media. It’s great if it happens. You can certainly do giveaway campaigns, influencer campaigns, et cetera, et cetera. But the market will decide, the people will decide if they’re what you want. You can’t demand that that happens.
Steve Loates (18:15):
Juliet Aurora (18:16):
If we can touch on your first point, which is funding.
Nick Prouten (18:19):
Juliet Aurora (18:20):
So we’re in the accounting and bookkeeping space. So we’re in the finance space, we understand the eyes gloss over. When someone asks you what you do, you answer, and then they’re done.
Nick Prouten (18:31):
Right. That being said-
Steve Loates (18:34):
Although we personally are very exciting people.
Nick Prouten (18:36):
Exactly. [crosstalk 00:18:37]. Working in FinTech myself, I love talking about numbers. But we get the most people.
Juliet Aurora (18:43):
So in our industry over the last several years, we have heard tons and tons. We get these announcements from our partners that we work with and that they’ve received 10 million in funding, 20 million in funding, 100 million in funding. And then there’s entrepreneurs like us who are sitting there thinking, well, how does anybody get 10 million … do they find someone to put $10 million into our business? So maybe you can touch on that for the entrepreneurs in our audience who, in your example, you got a million dollars. Well, how do I get a million dollars? Who wants to put a million dollars into my business? If you can point them in that direction.
Nick Prouten (19:25):
Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, it’s, right upfront, pitching and finding potential investors is not an easy thing to do. It does, to an extent, depend on the networks of people that you have in your network. So this is where seasoned entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, if you will, may come in handy because they’ve gone through the gambit, they may have networks of introductions that they can introduce you to. So there is the boots on the ground, bootstrapping approach to things. There are also angel networks. Some of them are more public than others, but researching angel networks in your local area, or even across Canada, because we’re all doing remote right now, or even within the United States. There is platforms like AngelList, for example, that are geared towards helping people find it. There are pitch competitions. And really, ultimately, it’s going to be a mixture of all these things.
Nick Prouten (20:15):
You can also, depending on what you do, go through, depending on what kind of business you’re doing, series A seed round funding, et cetera, et cetera, to have a more structured approach to how much money you’re raising as well. And so, as I was saying before, oftentimes, it won’t just be one individual. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes it strikes the right chord. The friend of a friend, your third tier connection has an angel investor that’s super down and is rich like Jeff Bezos. And he’s like, yeah, sure, I’ll throw a million dollars. But usually what it will be is a series of companies or perhaps grants, or some government funding from something like IRAP that’ll come along and you’ll get 100,000 here and 50,000 there, and that will reach the total of your fundraising goal.
Nick Prouten (21:01):
But those, ultimately, any entrepreneur in the pitching space that is in the pitching stage of their business should be prepared. It is a long haul. It is a long haul. It’s not a quick closing cycle on these opportunities, and it requires constant nurturing of these leads. It’s as much social psychology as it is having a compelling product. And that’s just the reality of this space. Unfortunately, I find, especially today, as we’re living through a lot of instability and similarly, there’s so much opportunity in the market. I find that many investors want to bet on a sure thing, which is really weird because that’s not what I think is at the core of what investing is about. It’s about taking a risk, a chance on something. Of course, you want to hedge your bet as much as possible, but I digress. And so for example, for one of the projects we’re working on right now in the Atomic 47 space, most of the investors we have say, hey, we’re really interested, we’ll wait until your app’s in the market.
Nick Prouten (21:58):
We’ll wait till the app is fully live and you have users on the platform and we’re going to see what kind of market traction you get before I throw money at it. Again, trying to bet on a sure thing. So I’ve gotten away from the initial point of what direction should people go in, but I just want to paint the picture that you hear these big success stories of these big raises. Everybody sees the flashy headline, nobody sees the two years of groundwork that it took to get to that point. And conversely, we’re talking about early stage startups right now, the funding journey largely is something that is ongoing. For example, with LODE in the United States, we’re in the process of filing for a Reg D under the SEC. Which is, again, going out to institutional investors, financial institutions, and big money that exists out there in the space and approaching these players to help build a payment ecosystem that is on par with something like PayPal or Visa.
Nick Prouten (22:54):
And if you thought the initial closing cycles from early stage startups are long, these guys take even longer. But you do get better at it. It is a craft that I think most entrepreneurs need to have in their back pocket and they need to hone it constantly. So always be pitching. You’ve heard of always be closing, but always be pitching.
Juliet Aurora (23:13):
Yeah, great advice.
Nick Prouten (23:15):
Yeah. The final component of that I will say is, there is the third route of crowdfunding. Kickstarter campaigns and stuff like that have created success for a lot of great entrepreneurial ideas out there, and it is a really valid strategy. Again, I think if you’re going to pursue that route, dropping some money on a social media expert or somebody who is really an expert in that particular arena, because it is very media intensive. And as much as your product is the brand, you the entrepreneur are the brand. And you got to put yourself front and center and really drive, be able to drive traffic to your GoFundMe campaign. So, yeah.
Juliet Aurora (23:57):
Lots of great advice on that.
Steve Loates (23:59):
There is lots of great advice. And I think the other thing that you mentioned, what we don’t see is all those months and perhaps years of hard work to achieve success. What we also don’t see are those hundreds and thousands of people who put in the hard work and never get the funding.
Nick Prouten (24:19):
Steve Loates (24:20):
It’s certainly, you’re taking … I mean, I don’t know what the percentages are, but I would imagine that the percentage of those that actually get the funding they want compared to all those that try to get it, I think is probably pretty low.
Nick Prouten (24:38):
Well, I mean, it is. The reality is, most startups fail. I don’t like saying that, but that’s the reality of it. It’s a highly competitive environment. That failure, on an entrepreneurial level, you cannot let it destroy you, you cannot let it defeat you. In the Silicon Valley tech startup world, there’s this idea of fail fast. Meaning that you will fail and at a variety of things, and you’ll fail probably quite often. And you have to be able to learn to pick yourself up and keep going. Additionally, if you’re at the earliest stage of a startup and you’re really struggling to get market traction, you’ve done all the right things and it’s not there, unless this is something that is at the very core foundations of your beliefs, it’s okay to let an idea go. You can try new things.
Nick Prouten (25:29):
Obviously, if you’ve got a team of 20, 30 people working under you, there’s more responsibility on your shoulders at that stage of the journey. But if you’re just at the stage of conception and just having an idea and trying to test the appetite for it in the market, it’s okay that it doesn’t work out. Take your learnings, apply it to the next great idea that you’re going to have, because I do find that most entrepreneurs are like these pools of great ideas. And one of the … I won’t call it a pet peeve, it’s more like a thing of endearment really, is like, innovators will build a three to six-month roadmap with them and then they’ll come in and will be like, okay, we got to build this feature, and what if we did this, and we could do that and this and that and that, and it’s like, focus. We got to get through the day. We got to build the actual car engine before we can start driving.
Steve Loates (26:20):
Yeah. You touched on it a little bit, but talk to us a little more about the LODE Project. What got you interested in becoming involved and what’s the game plan? Where do you see it going, where would you like it to go?
Nick Prouten (26:39):
Yeah, absolutely. So LODE has been around for about years now. Some of the co-founders came out of Kelowna, but now it’s been 70 people all over the world and growing. And I came into it right when blockchain was blowing up, 2017, early 2018 timeframe. And I had already gotten involved in the blockchain space a little bit as of 2016. I was consulting an e-commerce business and the guy goes, oh, I would like to start accepting cryptocurrency. And I looked at him and I was like, what’s a cryptocurrency? I had absolutely no idea, as most people did at that time. I had no idea what it was. But I started diving into it and looking at the technological implications and where this could be applied, blockchain technology could be applied to businesses, and was like, oh my God, this is going to be huge.
Nick Prouten (27:28):
Because the financial industry at large and other industries that are massive and monolithic when we think about them were using outdated technology that was just primed to make a leap forward. It’s like the dot com bubble, I guess, is the easy comparison to go through. But I like to think of it as that jump that we took from CD ROMs to just fully digital. This was a huge leap forward from requiring one thing to go into a whole new infrastructure. And usually I think we are on the tail end. We come into the whirlwind and the adoption cycle of things probably in the early mid majority type stage of a life cycle of a product. We’re not usually there on that innovation level, we’re not usually there at that really early adopter level. But here we were and there were only 7,000 blockchain developers in the entire world.
Nick Prouten (28:24):
But if you looked at it and who was investing what and who was taking a look at it, it was like the biggest financial institutions of the world were all eyeballing this, federal reserves were eyeballing this technology. And it was like, okay, there is a real opportunity to be a market leader in this space. So I started looking for opportunities in that, and that is how largely I came across LODE. LODE, as I mentioned before, its big vision is to restore gold and silver as a form of currency, as actual money. And gold and silver have a really, really long history within the world of being used as money. We used it throughout most of human history in most countries in the world. And there are some questionable and speculative reasons as to why the US moved off the gold standard, but largely, to sum it up, it’s so that they could print more money.
Nick Prouten (29:10):
And the by-product of that is the devaluation of your dollar. Now, the economic structure of the United States and developed nations protects us to an extent from this inflation, but it’s still there, it still happens slowly. The soda that I used to go buy for a dollar now costs me two. And so there is this desire and this innate sense that we need a better form of money, and that the gold and silver can help play a role in that. In addition to that, they’re two of the biggest commodities in the world. And as we transition to more over to blockchain assets, providing easy access to precious metals that cuts out some of the friction in the existing way that we purchase precious metals, there was a real felt need there. Silver is like the second biggest commodity in the world, I think 10,000 use cases.
Nick Prouten (29:55):
And so that’s where LODE got its inspiration from. And what we’ve been doing and building is the technological backbone to make this happen. 2021, where we’re now bringing this to the world at scale, we have a mobile wallet solution where it’s really easy for you to manage your traditional currencies, your Canadian dollars, your gold and silver, your precious metals and your Bitcoin and your Ethereums, et cetera, et cetera. And where we’re going with that is we’re creating an entire payments platform for merchants that make it really easy for people to transact with this digital currency, accept Fiat payment and settle to digital currency, and really have greater control and diversity over their wealth management in a really simple, easy to use platform.
Nick Prouten (30:38):
And that’s not easy. It’s a very ambitious goal, and we are going up some of the biggest players in the entire industry; Visa, PayPal, Square, Venmo, Revolut. It’s terrifying when you look at how big the players in the space that we’re going up against. But we’re unique because we have this precious metals component to it. And I think that precious metals have a great history as being a hedge against inflation and that we’re creating something compelling. And there is room for the little dog in this big ocean here.
Steve Loates (31:11):
When you have that much competition, that is also, I’ve always thought, an indication that there’s lots of potential or the competition wouldn’t be there in the first place.
Nick Prouten (31:23):
Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, money management is one of the biggest industries in the entire world. It’s how we preserve our Wells and run trading commerce. The list goes on and on. And so the fact that there is so much competition in the space and that I think blockchain has spurred a whole new level of competition in the space is indicator that there is real opportunity there. We are active in over 100 countries, we’ve got close to 8,000 users in our MVP. And this year is really all about going at scale and taking this product that we’ve built, that we think is really awesome and putting it out there into the world. And some people are like, okay, well, that’s great, Nick, but you know what? I’m really happy with my great British pound or my Euro or my Canadian dollar.
Nick Prouten (32:14):
That’s fine. I’m not saying you need to sink it all into gold and silver and be done with your Fiat cash. But prudent financial planning says maybe 10% of your portfolio should be in a precious metal, just as a principle. So there’s a justification for all use cases. And in developing nations … and this is one of the big things that blockchain is trying to solve right now. Is in developing nations, there is a real, real felt need for stabilized currencies that are outside the hands of dictators, outside the hands of inefficient governments that can’t produce a responsible monetary policy. And Venezuela comes to mind, but there’s a lot of hyperinflation going on out there where your dollar is basically worthless and you might as well light it on fire.
Steve Loates (32:57):
Absolutely. And I mean, we could probably do a whole show on blockchain and cryptocurrency and the ramifications and the future, but we only have so much time.
Nick Prouten (33:10):
Steve Loates (33:11):
And so we need to start winding down and we can’t do that without doing our Smart Man, Smarter Woman version of James Lipton’s Actor Studio. And that’s where we ask every one of our guests six questions, the same six questions for every guest. And so if you’re ready, I will get started.
Nick Prouten (33:34):
All right, let’s do it.
Steve Loates (33:36):
Perfect. What one word best defines an entrepreneur?
Nick Prouten (33:43):
Steve Loates (33:45):
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
Nick Prouten (33:51):
What profession, other than my own, would I like to attempt?
Steve Loates (33:54):
Nick Prouten (33:57):
Steve Loates (34:01):
What profession would you like never to attempt?
Nick Prouten (34:07):
Steve Loates (34:12):
I don’t know why. What sound or noise do you love?
Nick Prouten (34:17):
I love the sound of rain and thunderstorms.
Steve Loates (34:22):
Okay. What book would you recommend entrepreneurs should read?
Nick Prouten (34:30):
I think it’s called The Art of Persuasion. I’ll look it up real quick here, but I think all entrepreneurs should have at least some foundations in social psychology. You’re going out, you’re pitching people, you’re trying to sell people. Regardless of what it is, if you want to sell any product, you need to have an understanding of how the human brain works. So excellent read, it’ll give you a great foundation from which to build your skill set on.
Steve Loates (34:54):
Perfect. And question six, when your own entrepreneurial or work journey is completed, what do you hope your legacy is?
Nick Prouten (35:05):
I don’t think it’s ever really done. But at the end of the day, there is a finite time that I am on the earth. And when I think what my legacy is, ultimately, I think I will want to have … and this is a rough description of it, there is no real concise flashy way of putting it. But I will hope that I will have brought value to the world through the entrepreneurs that I’ve inspired, through the people that I’ve helped and through the businesses that I’ve brought to life. My ultimate hope for my legacy is that the technology and the things that we are producing, they last. They’ve brought such value to the world that there’s something that lives on past me and hopefully on into … not infinity, but you get the idea.
Steve Loates (35:55):
Absolutely. No, that’s a great legacy. And for those listeners in the audience who would like to connect with you, what is the best way for them to do that?
Nick Prouten (36:06):
Yeah, absolutely. You can find me at either firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a small business or an entrepreneur looking to get pointed in the right direction or perhaps interested in collaborating with us, if you’re interested in learning more about the LODE Project, you can head over to lodepay.com. L-O-D-E P-A-Y.com. Learn more about what we’re doing in the blockchain space. We have community channel, we’re all really friendly and really eager to talk about that sort of stuff. You can find me on Twitter @nicholasprouten, N-I-C-H-O-L-A-S P-R-O-U-T-E-N on Twitter. And again, if you want to watch me play interviewer and play news anchor, I do have my own media channel that I do with LODE called LODEPay Media, where I interview CNBC analysts and precious metals experts throughout the industry. So that should give everybody a good pool of places to get way too much of me.
Steve Loates (36:56):
Yeah. There’s no excuse for not getting in touch with you, Nick. I don’t think.
Nick Prouten (36:59):
Steve Loates (37:00):
And we will have all of your contact info in the show notes. And as we wind down, do you have any final words for our audience, Nick?
Nick Prouten (37:12):
I’ll go back to one of the things that we were initially talking about, about no man is an island. You can do anything, just not everything. Talk to your friends, talk to your support network, get friends of friends, leverage their networks, get people excited about what you’re doing, and don’t be scared to talk about it and accept the help that people are willing to give if you’re just starting your entrepreneurial journey. That I think is one of the most important things about just getting started and I want you to succeed in your endeavor. So I think doing that is a great first step, and it’s a great way to help your project just go that much further.
Steve Loates (37:52):
Excellent. That’s great advice. And Juliet, do you have any final words?
Juliet Aurora (37:58):
Lots of great information. I will also maybe expand on what Nick just said about when you’re starting out, don’t try and do everything yourself. It doesn’t even matter if you’re at the startup phase, if you’re 20 years in business like we are, you still need help. You still can’t do it all by yourself. And I think that I need reminding of that probably more than anybody. So it was a great reminder. Thank you very much, Nick.
Nick Prouten (38:25):
My pleasure. It’s been a pleasure chatting with the both of you.
Steve Loates (38:28):
Thank you. And that brings us to this episode’s words of wisdom. And I like this one, I came across a little while ago, “Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like,” and that was Brian Chesky, the co-founder of Airbnb.
Nick Prouten (38:55):
Brilliant, great piece of advice.
Steve Loates (38:58):
Thank you. I wish I could take credit, but I can’t. So thank you again to our guest, Nick. Great job. As Juliet said, lots of great advice there. Thank you again to my awesome co-host, couldn’t do this without you. But most importantly, thank you once again to you, our audience, for tuning in and giving us a listen. We certainly hope you found some value here. And if you did, we would love it if you subscribed to the podcast. We’re in all the regular places that you know about, iTunes, Spotify, you can find us. Or just go to the website, smartmansmarterwoman.com. So thank you. Until next time, take good care of yourself and those that you love. Bye for now.