Nicolas creates design and marketing for Delta – the crossplatform cryptocurrency portfolio app.
Q: Hi Nicolas! Can you tell us about yourself and what you're working on?
Hello everyone! I’m Nicolas, 27 years old (1990’s kid), living in Ghent, Belgium and currently working on ∆ Delta, a cryptocurrency portfolio tracker app for iOS & Android (desktop soon!).
Q: What is your background?
Well, to set things straight right away, I’m not a developer. Something I didn’t expect to say ten years ago. I was 100% convinced for multiple years during high school that it was right up my ally to become a developer. I loved the idea to work on all sorts of ideas: websites, apps, new cool digital ideas.
So I went on to study Computer Science in college. I didn’t love it. I also immediately felt that, while I was an ‘okay’ developer, it was never going to be something I excelled at. Other students were way more passionate & talented when it came down to the technical side of things. I really hated the feeling of being mediocre.
I really hated the feeling of being mediocre.
But I still loved making concepts of new digital products though, so as years went along I became more uncertain and nervous about my future. Luckily, my life path changed during my college internship (as a developer) at Twoo, a dating website. Nearing the end of the internship, it was time for an evaluation talk. I told them the exact same story and they came back to me with the idea to finish my internship as a ‘Product Manager’, a position I didn’t really know was ‘something’. However, when they explained it to me, it sounded exactly what I wanted to do. Come up with ideas, new features, conceptualise them, even start designing them, work out ecosystems and more. I was grateful (and still am) at the people that saw something in me back then, even though I studied something completely different.
It went well. I was happy and they were to. So after the internship, I got the job and started evolving due to continued great mentor – and leadership. I went from coming up with a proposal for a simple download instruction page to working out completely new products. I learned how to cooperate with developers (my technical background helped for this), how to function within a product & design team to ultimately managing one.
After three and a half years, I left Twoo for a real-estate portal called Realo where I stayed for about a year before launching ∆ Delta, something I’m doing now full-time.
Q: How many people are in the team?
Delta is currently the sole product of a company called Opus Labs, which has been founded by five people in the summer of 2017. Three of those co-founders are mainly investors, then there’s me, responsible for product, design, marketing & community and Filip Minev, who’s doing all development and also doing community.
So at the moment, Delta is mainly being run by two people with some very useful help from the other co-founders as well of course. They’re much more experienced as they founded and invested in several successful companies in the past.
We’re also planning to add a new full-time developer by the end of this month.
The full Opus Labs team.
Q: How much time did it take to build an MVP?
The first ideas were very ‘unofficial’. It was mainly Filip & me just talking over some stuff. At some point, I started working out the idea behind Delta and how it all would fit together. This took about two weeks. When we were all aligned about Delta and we got funded, it took about a month to build the MVP. Then another month to get the first alpha out of the door. We ultimately released October 4th. 🙂
Took a picture of the MVP while I was having my Summer vacation in Spain 😀
Q: What are the biggest problems you've faced since the Delta start?
Well, this was kind of a ‘good’ problem to have but.. our launch went way better than planned. Our servers weren’t prepared for this. To paint a picture: in our financial plan, we went for a very achievable plan. The idea was to have 650 users by the end of the first month. Barely spending money on marketing and just trying to get some initial users. We ended the month with over 18.000 users that opened the app at least once. We’re already having more users active in one hour than we anticipated to have in an entire month!
There’s also an extra problem aside from the server issues (which have been fixed by now). Expectations rose as our Telegram community grew to above 500 members. We had a lot of requests for features that users eagerly want to see added and we’ve tried to very transparently explain our way of working and upcoming features via our blog posts. We really don’t want to disappoint our users, so we’re trying to step it up, even though we’re a small team still.
Q: What is the planned business model? Will the app stay free?
Well, talking about transparency, we’ve been very open about this towards our users. We do not sell or use data of our users and we have no intention to ever do this. We’re also not looking into adding ads in between users’ portfolio overview.
However, we do need to survive as a company and make revenue. That’s why we’re adding Delta PRO this month, a subscription-based service on top of Delta. The idea is to pack empowering features in there, for users that are already in that ‘advanced’ stage of investing. It’s completely optional though. Everything that is currently free, will stay free and the majority of new features that we’ll add, will be free features.
Q: What are the differences from your competitor’s app?
Well, first of all: none of those are as multi platform as we are. We are on iPhone, Android Phone, iPad, Android Tablet and also on Mac & Windows by the end of the year. Everything will sync effortlessly as well. Nobody has done it before.
Then there’s the app itself. Apart from Coindex (which we think is & looks amazing, but it’s not a portfolio tracker), Delta looks and feels way better than anything else out there. You feel that Blockfolio is designed by engineers. It functions, it’s really good. I used to use it all the time and liked it a lot. But the UI & UX isn’t great. It feels and looks a bit, uuh, clunky.
Delta looks and feels way better than anything else out there.
Substance over style of course, so we also tried to make Delta not only on par (feature-wise) with Blockfolio but even go beyond them. We launched with a ‘Deduct/Add from holdings’ feature which our users loved right away and we also have a solution to track any ICO out there that isn’t on an exchange yet.
Then there are the small things, like the fact that we seamlessly combine different pairs for a coin in one overview. We also put the focus on a few different things we found really important: like immediately showing the total profit & loss for your whole portfolio and for every coin. It’s a different approach and makes so much sense.
And this is all just the beginning really. We have so much stuff lined up already and with lined up we mean, we have the plans, the designs, the flows, it just needs to be build. API integrations with the exchanges to import your trades is probably the biggest one, but there’s much more going from portfolio analytics to advanced alerts.
Q: Will you let your users exporting their data and go away to a competitor or make an effort to hold them in your ecosystem?
That’s a very good question. Again, we try to be as transparent as possible about this. So yes, we will let users export their data (coming soon). And yes, to a readable format that the user can use for any purpose he or she wants. Including going to a competitor with it.
In the end, the user should always be completely in control over its transactional data. We need to focus on making an application of the highest quality & stability possible, so that the user should never feel like moving their data to a competitor.
Q: What are your marketing strategies?
Well, there’s a lot of pretty standard stuff that really went well for us. Our Product Hunt post got featured and got over 300 upvotes. We did some social posts & were active on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram and tried to be smart about it by using the right hashtags and keywords. Nothing ground-breaking there.
Then there’s the less obvious stuff, like going to Telegram communities about cryptocurrencies and sneakily posting a Delta screenshot to show off your portfolio or a specific coin graph within Delta. Not spammy, within the context of the active conversation, but very purposefully and strategically sent. And as I mentioned, Delta looks pretty good, so it immediately triggered lots of users to ask ‘Hey, what’s this app?’. And the ball started rolling. People wanted it right away.
It immediately triggered lots of users to ask ‘Hey, what’s this app?’
Going to specific subreddits and asking feedback about the app did wonders too, especially since we really responded to every single comment. I think that has been the key to our marketing success so far: engaging and communicating with (potential) users on a personal level. We reply to everything and almost always within a few hours: Google Play & App Store reviews, support emails, Telegram & Slack messages. We also almost over-communicate to levels that other companies could benefit from it: we’re super open about our roadmap, timings & business model. We make blog posts about incoming updates and our strategy. It’s a-typical, but I feel it’s being appreciated a lot so far. The amount of personal, uplifting & motivating messages we got have been amazing. You don’t get tired of it, every single one pushes us even further. We love it.
Q: Can you tell us about the Delta roadmap?
Sure thing. Currently we’re focused on delivering two big milestones that we promised to release before the end of the year. Those milestones are a desktop application with the option to sync your data with the phone/tablet version and a way to import trades via the exchanges’ API.
Looking further ahead we have a lot more planned as well: portfolio analytics, advanced alerts, lots of ways to tweak the layout of your portfolio overview, data import & export, et cetera. After we completely ‘nailed’ the portfolio part, we’re looking to expand Delta towards a more all-round cryptocurrency tool, where you have your portfolio & watchlist but also a news section, upcoming ICO’s & events, a coin market list and much more. Maybe even a section where you can buy cryptocurrencies. Nothing set in stone yet, but the bigger vision is to exceed from being just a portfolio tracker.
More on our upcoming features via our blog btw: https://medium.com/getdelta
Q: What was the most valuable lesson that you have learned while working on the app?
The biggest lesson so far has been: if you do the effort to spend time on helping your users, listening to them and communicating with them, then you’ll get that back from them. They’ll shout about your app, they’ll volunteer to help, they want to back us all the way through. It’s amazing.
Q: How did you get into Bitcoin?
Well, I started saving as I started my career and I think after three years of saving, I was kind of getting annoyed by the fact that the money was just sitting there. Nothing moved. So I went with the 70-20-10% rule of investing. I kept 70% in my savings account, I used 20% for medium risk investments (in my case, these were stocks) and 10% for a high-risk investment, which ended up being Bitcoin & other cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies were immediately interesting to me due to its technical nature and the community around it. So even though my total money investment is ‘only’ 10%, it’s the investment that I keep track of daily, where I’m most interested in and where I’m genuinely passionate about. There’s a sort of entertainment value to me in this world. It’s a rollercoaster and I’m really enjoying the ride.
Q: Show off your workspace, please!
It’s a mess with just my MacBook Pro & an Android test device. Picture was taken with my iPhone. 🙂
Q: How much Bitcoins do you hold? Which altcoins do you prefer to invest in?
I prefer to invest in altcoins & ICO’s that I believe in as supposed to investing in cryptocurrencies that are likely to give me a short term profit (i.e. pump & dump). This was different when I first started though as I was a bit clueless. I invested in lots of altcoins & ICO’s just for the sake of making money. I stopped doing that as I started to better understand the dynamics and the world of cryptocurrencies. It doesn’t make sense in the long run and it’s the wrong way of thinking I came to realize.
Q: What would you ask Satoshi if you would meet him?
Is the current state of Bitcoin still the Bitcoin you envisioned?
Q: What are the main challenges in front of Bitcoin today?
If the grand vision behind Bitcoin is real to become a currency where you pay everyday life stuff with, it needs to become more stable. I’m not going to buy a 50$ videogame let’s say nowadays with Bitcoin, only to realize I paid 400$ for that game a few months (or weeks!) later.
Bitcoin’s biggest challenge is probably the barrier for less tech-savvy people to get in.
But in the current state of affairs where it’s an ‘investment’ for most people, Bitcoin’s biggest challenge is probably the barrier for less tech-savvy people to get in.
Q: What should the Bitcoin community do to engage many users to the network?
Very much related to the above, the community should realize that the success of cryptocurrencies is not only dependant on technical and/or legal challenges. Most people in the world aren’t tech-savvy. It’s already happening but there needs to be way more effort spent towards the commoditization of buying & selling cryptocurrencies. My mother for instance wants to buy some Bitcoin but she has no clue how to start and even if she would start, the whole process would completely confuse her and make her scared. Coinbase and Blockchain.info are doing good things, but it’s still not good enough. Google ‘Buy Bitcoin’ and try every link on the first page.
Q: Mention 3 cryptocurrency-related links.
- Talkingcrypto.party – Built by a friend & ex-collegae: useful bot and great Slack community! You should probably join as it’s still open!
- @filipminev – Co-Founder of Delta and my first source of intelligent information & useful insights regarding cryptocurrencies. Intelligent & friendly guy. Great developer too.
- Coinmarketcal.com – Really nice overview of upcoming events for a specific altcoin, curated by the community
@filipminev (left) & myself stumbling upon a beer called Delta during lunch. 😀
Q: What future of the blockchain technology and Bitcoin do you predict?
Everybody is talking about a bubble that will pop eventually. It might. But I feel confident that after every pop, blockchain will come back stronger. If that will be Bitcoin as the major player, I don’t know. But blockchain is here to stay.
Q: Where can we go to learn more about you?
The usual! Via Twitter at @nicolasvh and for more ‘business’ type of connections, you can find me over at LinkedIn via https://linkedin.com/nicolasvh.
I’m also always around in Delta’s Telegram group (https://telegram.getdelta.io) so you can always send me a message via there or in private (@nicolasvh as well).
You can learn more about the app here: https://getdelta.io/.