On August 1st, TRASTRA celebrated its Fourth Anniversary. Though, technically still a startup, after four years and 10,000 TRASTRA crypto debit cards, the company is passing the business viability test with flying colours
The idea of TRASTRA started to take shape in the spring of 2017 when the company raised its first seed money at the height of the ICO bull run. The first round was $1 million, which by no means is much by any VC standards, but the founder Roman Potemkin’s ambitions were grand enough to start realising immediate goals on a shoe-string budget.
The road was not a smooth one. TRASTRA has gone through several less than successful integrations before choosing a banking-as-a-service platform Contis as a strategic partner. That’s when TRASTRA finally found a way to custody euros so that its customers can transfer funds and exchange crypto into euros inside the app without having to go to the bank.
By March 2019, the first cards were issued, and TRASTRA finally stopped being an experiment turning into a viable business. The company broke even by Nov 2020 and that’s when real growth began.
The Big Reveal
“The first iteration was all about easy crypto cash-out, which was a great value proposition for the still-young crypto-economy,’ Roman Potemkin, TRASTRA founder and CEO, recalls. “With time, we realised the potential of TRASTRA as a universal tool for receiving salaries and other types of wages globally.
Today we are not only building a product for mass-market adoption of cryptocurrency for consumer needs. We want to give businesses a chance to adopt crypto as a fast, reliable, and secure means of maintaining payroll and providing options for members of the global workforce who want to get paid in crypto. Overall, we want TRASTRA to become the only tool you’ll need to live off crypto, get paid in it, do it seamlessly, quickly, securely, and without any hassle.”
August 1st is as official as the company can get without getting pedantic about its origins. On Aug 1, 2017, the first developers showed up for work and logged on to the company server as TRASTRA employees. Although, another version of the events suggests that the “employee zero” – TRASTRA’s COO Hanna Petrova – came on board in October the same year. “In any case,” Potemkin jokes, “two b-days is almost always better than one, and we’re not the ones to pass on a good party!”
Another item that’s always on the company’s agenda is the like-mindedness of potential hires. “For me, it’s a crucial point during interviews, of which we conduct dozens these days,” Potemkin says. “TRASTRA is growing rapidly, but spontaneous growth is not what TRASTRA is about; we’re building a team of individuals who share goals and aspirations.
I always ask people who come to me what they want from life, but I’m not looking for academic responses. Neither am I counting on the complete truth during the first meeting. I’m not that naive. But I want to compare notes with people and make sure that they’re not just looking for a job but actually want to accomplish something. It’s essential to me!”
One look at the TRASTRA team, and you begin to understand what Roman means. It’s a widely diverse group that differs by age, nationality, ethnicity, and race. And yet, they not only manage to pull off incredible feats in a highly competitive fintech startup environment, they actually love spending time with each other.
Rarely does a Friday go by when the entire team doesn’t get together at a pub or a club. Company outings and retreats are the usual, almost routine practice at TRASTRA. The reason why these people are so comfortable with each other? “Easy,” Roman hacks the air in front of him in two halves with the palm of his hand.
“Freedom. No-nagging policy across the entire company organism. We plan ahead, and our plans are very precise. But once we’ve mapped them out, each team member is free to choose the tactics and strategise to achieve those goals. We trust each other and are not bothered by some of the alarming trends in the workplace today.
The result is that we don’t go to work to “work” per se. Rather, we spend time together because TRASTRA plays a huge role in our collective serenity and individual harmony. So it’s only natural that we don’t count hours or days.”
Today when crypto is no longer an alternative financial culture, but a major part of the economic mainstream, the future of TRASTRA is brighter than ever. “We want to expand our value proposition and streamline the token listing mechanism, so the members of our tribe enjoy the ultimate freedom of the Cryptoverse,” says Hanna Petrova, TRASTRA COO.
“Fast and seamless integration with exchanges, liquidity providers, and issuers is key for us. Today we are hard at work refining the algorithm that will allow crypto-heavy businesses to shorten the journey from discovery to partnership dramatically. Also, in the coming months, TRASTRA plans on digging deep into investor relations as a hub between crypto-focused VCs, retail investors looking for lucrative opportunities, and issuers with amazing tech.
I don’t mean to reveal too much in this regard right now, but we have the technology, connections, and ambition to position ourselves in the space strategically, and we are planning to do exactly that!”