Transcript of Q&A session with Simon Cocking
On March 31 the first part of the Q&A session between the interviewee Dmytro Budorin, Hacken's CEO, and Simon Cocking, the interviewer, took place. The community anticipated this event much as they had sent their questions through special Telegram Bot. However, there were some major technical issues, and the session didn't go well. Indeed, we are skilled white hat hackers and mediocre filmmaker. Our bad! Promise to boost the skill :)
Nevertheless, Dmytro Budorin shared some important and intriguing facts which can't be left unnoticed. He answered some of the questions posed by the community. Therefore, if you have missed or weren't satisfied with Q&A video, here is the transcript.
Enjoy, ask questions, and get inspired! We are working for the prosperity of crypto community!
Korean PartHacken plans in Korea
S: Tell us why you’re in Seoul, and we’ll talk about how it’s been going.
D: I’ve just given a speech at the conference, and I’m here to find a partner who will sell our services in Korea and build a community of Korean supporters. I’ve had some meetings with blockchain companies’ representatives to get in touch with one particular exchange. Besides, there are a lot of things to do in Seoul. I love the food, it’s amazing! [laughs]
S: Why are Koreans excited about what you guys offering?
D: We have a number of successful cases with Hacken’s services. Koreans want to promote them here in Korea because people are so scared of these hacker attacks, especially on the exchanges. Actually, there are not so many providers of cybersecurity services in Korea. So, we are looking for a partner with whom to work and operate at full speed on PR and media.
S: Korea is a hotspot for crypto, ICOs, and tokens; it makes sense that you guys are a good fit for them. Maybe it’s you guys who can offer the best solution.
D: Well, we try. Currently we are focused on our products and services. We don’t give as much attention to PR as other companies; this is our weak spot. The idea is to prove our skills and protect our clients on a decent level first, and only then develop PR and media to make people start talking about us. So I’m here in Korea because so many people here are holding crypto and especially older people. These people are not so familiar with how to protect their wallets properly. So our services are pretty in demand here.
Anti-Phishing for Nucleus Vision
S: You had a very successful experience with an Indian ICO. So, maybe talk about that to show why there is a need for what you do.
D: It was Nucleus Vision. It’s quite successful today. Not because they raised a lot of money (I think more than 50 million), it’s also because, in these very difficult crypto times when the market is on top, they were able to make the 3x profit for their investors.
So imagine: some ambitious guys want to make an ICO and raise money. How many Indians would want to phish them? Hundreds! Everybody knows that things are good in IT, so the phishing sites, the fake telegram groups, fake admins, fake bots were growing like mushrooms after the rain. And we were in charge of shutting down all these things, searching and finding these spammers, scammers, phishers, and eliminating them as quick as possible.
Our team was working 24/7 for around ⅕ months, and we succeeded and beat them. We shut down more than 10 websites not to mention fake social media accounts. It was a challenging project, and the client stayed very pleased. Now Nucleus Vision helps us promote Hacken services in India, which makes me very happy.
S: Win-win: you fixed their services, and it’s good PR. Fake admins in Telegram are a big issue. Should cybersecurity companies keep identifying and getting rid of them? Will this always be a problem?
D: Unfortunately, the Telegram developer team is busy with some other issues but not with phishing one at the moment. There is no sophisticated tool how you can quickly shut down the fake admin. What can we do? We mark them. This is what we propose to our clients so that the investors and community members can quickly check who is fake and who is real.
S: Do you tell your clients that Hacken doesn’t have any particular tools to mark fake accounts and groups in Telegram?
D: You have to be fair to everyone that you’re partnering with. If you are objective with yourself and what you do and you believe in it, and if it’s good for the community, then just do it, and the community will support you. So, my central principle is the fair partnership. We don’t give empty promises; we’re just working hard on the product.
The growing demand in Hacken’s services
S: What else are you planning to do? What other kinds of products or services are you going to offer in the next couple of quarters?
D: In the White Paper we promised to launch HackenProof Platform. It’s been already operating since December in a closed version because we were testing it. Hackers were working, looking for bugs, and establishing the stable business processes. Today, we officially announce the new design of the HackenProof Platform and its alpha version. Previously, we didn’t promise to perform the smart contracts audits, but we do it now and quite successfully. We continue to offer anti-phishing services and penetration tests. We see the opportunity, and we know that the community needs it, and that’s why we provide these services as well.
Hacken Marketplace: Hideez key
Aside from this, we promised to create a marketplace, an analytical center (CER) and organize the HackIT Conference. HackIT will be held in Kiev this autumn, and the analytical center is also on the development stage.
Concerning the marketplace, we are in negotiations with several companies. Hideez and some American company, which are doing some pretty cool hacker toys. With the Hideez we release a limited edition of the digital key, which will be used as the two-factor authentication, and the digital crypto wallet. It will be Hacken branded. I think that this key is the best solution for account management.
We will speak about Hideez more and more in the upcoming future. I plan to promote Hideez to exchanges, and right now I’m offering it to the Asian ones. According to the research of Dashlane, a reputable cybersecurity company, most exchanges don’t provide a proper two-factor solution to their clients. I’m saying to the exchange representative that right now there is high competition between trading platforms. Why don’t you take the Hideez Key to fight for your clients? Buy it from us, and provide it to your community free of charge stating that you want your clients to be fully protected. I suppose this business model will work out, and we will be able to sign a contract with some big exchanges.
The marketplace is of great need for the crypto community. We don’t want people to keep losing their passwords, accounts, and access to wallets. We don't want hackers to take advantage of it.
Why CER is needed
S: What about an analytical center?
D: It is called Crypto Exchange Ranks (CER). We managed to build a fantastic team. The product owner is Dmitry Shestakov who has a huge background in financial analysis. He is now doing his Ph.D. on the innovative business analysis. We already did the scoreboard and selected the factors which we gonna evaluate on every exchange. You can review these factors at the website; the product is going to be launched by the end of May. The first MVP will contain about 20 indicators, 20 ranks and about 50-60 exchanges that we gonna evaluate.
S: Do the exchanges see the value of your efforts?
D: This year shows harsh competition of exchanges. People want to create a new exchange rather than make a nice one. Some guys who became billionaires just in 4 months after launching the biggest exchange, so everyone wants to follow their example. On the one hand, it is crazy what is happening on the market. On the other, Hacken is here to provide services according to every client’s needs. We are ready to do the penetration testing of exchanges, as we already did for the Chinese, European and Ukrainian ones. We want more exchanges to test as we want to draw more attention to the security issue.
S: Around month or two, there’ve been a few hacks worth more than $500 million.
D: I see what you mean. I don’t approve of the founders’ response. They offered the reward for catching the hacker instead of paying more attention to their cybersecurity. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.
Hacken’s clients beyond the blockchain
S: Does your technology have an application for other businesses and sectors as well?
D: Definitely! When we come to a business meeting we show, “Hey, guys, look what we can do with your wi-fi. Here, we can read your email.” When you show the client what you can do, it’s easier to sell. So we can cooperate with various advanced companies. For instance, the biggest tickets sales services like SkyScanner but a Ukrainian one - Tickets.Ua is our client. We work with one of the most advanced and popular fintech companies - InterCastle, and we have a secret client: it’s large, we will announce it soon. Of course, we also deal with the banks, which were our primary clients before we turned into blockchain.
Hacken’s team, its growth dynamics, and becoming international
S: I think it’s good and important that you’re showing other businesses that you offer value not just for the crypto industry.
D: We understand that our market is growing. That’s why we also consider the opportunity of raising and educating new experts, cybersecurity specialists. We were designing the courses for young people, and we encourage all young Ukrainian IT talents to join our team.
S: Wanted to ask you as well: if it’s all going well, and if it goes really well. What are your plans if you have to start scaling up and perhaps become a company of several hundred people? Will you expand it out of Kiev? Or how and where will you grow it? What are your thoughts on that?
D: To grow so fast, it’s difficult in terms of management. If you develop too fast, you will start losing in quality. We aren’t in a hurry. The Hacken team is quite ambitious, but we need to understand that we need to grow step-by-step. You are right; there were less than 15 people before Christmas. Now, we are a team of 37. Every week we need 1 or 2 new employees. It is hard, to be honest, because our policy, our vision is to hire the best ones, but, fortunately, they integrate into our team so quickly. I think we’re going to be around 100 by summer. Because, for crypto exchange ratings, for example, you need at least 20 people just to fill the developer’s team.
Regarding plans of moving out from Kyiv, I think it’s possible to grow internationally through partnerships. The first agencies are gonna be in Japan and China, then it’s going to be in the UAE and Korea, and these offices will work as sales and technical support. We’re gonna hire one foreign sales guy and one technical guy, give them all our services and educate how to establish our approach; they will go to their home countries and sell our services. This is how we want to grow.
S: I think in some ways it’s a good strategy because you’ll be a larger stronger company and then you can go to the US, for instance.
D: I want our supporters to know that we already have revenues, we are already making profits. Hacken is not a conventional ICO company that always spends, every day we are becoming a reliable blockchain company that has lots of clients worldwide and operating cash flow that allows us to grow.
Chinese Part S: How are you Dmitry and what’s new?
D: Nihao! I’m in China now, in Guangzhou. Since we last spoke, I think it was one week ago or something, I have met some really interesting and promising clients and projects. After Seoul I went to Shanghai, I spent three days there, and now I’ve been for three days in Guangzhou. My next destination is gonna be Shingzei, and then I’ll come back to Shanghai once again.
China and some huge partner to come
S: Cool! So, you’re on the road for a while, and I know when we spoke before you said that there was a good response in South Korea to what Hacken Does. How has it been in China? How have the Chinese interpreted and embraced what you’re offering?
D: China is a big and rather loyal country. We have a great number of Chinese supporters. From the last trip, we brought several huge clients, for example, Qbao, and one software company. This time we also aim to establish new partnerships. We want to create Hacken’s agency in China, to register it officially. We would like to partner with some existing cybersecurity companies to bring more expertise and exchange the skills and experience.
I’m anticipating bringing some big-name Chinese company. I’m in negotiations with the representative of top-20 cryptocurrency right now, and we are going not only to provide our services but create new products and work on the infrastructure of the united crypto community and the blockchain projects.
S: China’s one of the most prominent places for cryptocurrency investment, so from what you’re seeing, you’d feel that this is somewhere where you can see more of a future perhaps?
D: Yeah, definitely. I enjoy working here, I enjoy meeting people as all of them have the mindset of win-win, so we design such win-win cases, and work further. I also see that people in China are very responsive and they are ready for cooperation.
How CER was born
S: What is the crypto exchange rating? Tell us some special things about it.
D: Okay, when we first faced cybersecurity issues on the exchanges, we decided to make free tests for existing exchanges and to bring the analytics report on which exchanges to choose and which to avoid. Then we understood that with an aim to bring more value we could make the rating for exchanges that will also include liquidity analysis, legal analysis, PR, and be a more comprehensive analysis in general. That’s how the project started.
Then, Dmytro Shestakov , one of my very good friends, who has a lot of experience in innovations and finance startups, agreed to lead it and now we already have around 20 people engaged to deliver this exchange rating program. The main idea is to manage this exchange chaos, structure it and make understandable for traders, clients, and ordinary people. First of all, it’s an educational project. Secondly, we want to draw exchanges’ attention to the number one issue - quality and fair game. Most exchanges are scams, and some of them are frozen.
As a former auditor, I’m looking forward creating this rating system and make the crypto world better.
S: I think it’s a really good idea. It’s something that ICOs are always asking me about: Which exchanges to be listed on? And to have a more objective way to evaluate that will be useful, and I think a lot of people will use it. So I think it’s a great idea and I hope to hear more about it.
Why listing is not a priority now
S: There is one question the community has been asking: “Which exchanges are you going to be listed on and by when?”
D: This question is rather important for everyone. Obviously, the price sometimes depends on what exchange you’re trading on. We are not in pursuit of being listed on more exchanges. Our approach is a little bit different: we want to prove our skills and capabilities step-by-step and bring big clients and big partners to Hacken. Only after some bright partnerships, you’ll be able to build a new community.
I believe, we shouldn’t be one of the coins in the 300th rank. We aim to be within the 100th coin ranking, and we must be on the first list of the Coin Market Cap. In order to be there, you need to bring value to the community. For the record, listing on the most popular exchanges will not have a permanent effect on the price of HKN; it might have a small effect and then it’s gone, and then what? My ambition is to bring a new product and make some good partnerships. I want exchanges to make offers, not us to beg for listing. Afterwards, we’ll make some partnership, after we deliver the products and services, believe me, exchanges will go and ask us to be listed there. It’s a step-by-step approach.
Once again, at these down times, the listing on the exchange will not bring much value. So, please, be patient.
S: Building a product takes longer than an ICO campaign takes. I think you’re actually right: it’s about informing and educating the community that it’s better to have a valuable product. I think it’s the right answer and I would agree with that.
Hacken's plans in China
D: I also want to add that we will start an active marketing campaign in China, and afterwards, we’ll build a community in China as well, a big one in particular. Then we will go for listing on Chinese exchanges. In my last trip, I was already selecting PR partners, and I’ve already made a decision. The guys that are selected are competent and they’ve already created big communities in Chinese crypto.
S: A lot of Western companies made the mistake of thinking that they could crack open China in a short period, whereas they have to go region by region and build up relationships in each area. So are you still finding that a good case for building a product in China?
D: Of course, that’s why I’m having an Asian trip right now. Every city I’m coming to, I have a meet up with 2-3 potential partners and clients. This trip is crucial and, as I said, we’ll open an agency here. We will bring some experts, salespeople, and hire Chinese people. Right now I have time to concentrate on it because in the previous months we were entirely devoted to the development of HackenProof and building a strong team (we’re almost 40 people by now). It’s a big thing. I’m more or less comfortable, and we’re ready to build new communities. I’m so excited! The potential exceeds my expectation.
Strategies for North America
S: What are you gonna do in North America? Explain a little bit about your approach and your plan for North America?
D: Again, it is step-by-step. You cannot do everything at once. If you start doing everything at once, the quality will drop. First, we strived to be well-known in Ukraine and other CIS countries. Then, we became renowned in Europe after we helped several French clients. Then people started to come to us without any advertising. Now, I’m concentrating on Korea, Japan, and China, and only after that, we will head to North and South America.
My business development partner, Egor Aushev, who is in charge of Japan, and HackenProof product owner, Eugenia Broshevan, are going to Japan to visit the blockchain hackathon; they will be judges there. After that, he will go to build relationships in North America. We split our responsibility regarding business development. When we build Korean, Japanese, and Chinese communities, we will go to the States; this will be an entirely different angle. Hacken will show who our partners and our clients are, and then we can compete with Americans on equal terms.
Hacken and blockchain
S: Another question from the community. This is one that you’ve probably had a few times. They were asking: How does Hacken use the blockchain? How does the blockchain enable Hacken to do what it does and make Hacken unique?
D: I’m thinking of changing the ERC20 to our private blockchain. We have in Ukraine a lot of blockchain developers who know how to do it, and we believe that this will make sense. But we will do it after the exchanges go more technologically advanced because now most of them don’t want to spend a lot of time and money. It will increase the value of the coin for sure.
S: Is there anything else you’d like to add or that I should’ve asked you, or that you’d want us to cover?
D: I wanted to add that our website is in moderation and new features will be released soon. I want our supporters to stay tuned because some partnerships are coming. I don’t wish Hacken to be another ICO; I want it to be on the first page, and I want it to be in the top league. This is my goal and my team, and I put all efforts to achieve it.
By the way, we are developing the special certificate that will be put on verified platforms. Everybody will be able to trace it, and nobody to fake it. This idea belongs not only to us, we’re launching it together with a Chinese partner, quite a big company.
S: Thanks very much and I wish you good luck. It was an exciting and educational talk. See you later!