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50 Best Companies to Watch 2019

An Interview with Vj Anma, Cone, Inc CEO: ‘We’re Bringing Efficient, Safe and Accessible Financial Services to a Wider Audience’

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“We are democratizing access to blockchain by making it incredibly easy for anyone to join the blockchain ecosystem.”

Blockchain technology, dubbed as ‘the new internet’, is transforming the financial services industry and creating opportunities for both new and established players. The technology’s ability to provide a new form of distributed database or ledger could be applied across a broad range of applications in financial services. Hence, the concept of blockchain has energised the financial services industry globally and has already brought a disruption.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Cone, Inc.

Cone is committed to providing alternative access to financial services for everyone—including the unbanked and underbanked.

With Blockchain-Aware Applications at your fingertips, Cone’s groundbreaking platform makes it simple for anyone, in any jurisdiction, to innovate and create the next generation of revolutionary technology.

The company is democratizing financial services through innovation. Using developer-friendly infrastructure and intelligent tools, Cone users have the ability to create groundbreaking products and solve significant problems.

Cone was incorporated in 2019 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Vj Anma, Cone, Inc CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Cone was set up as a direct result of solving internal problems faced throughout the development of our previous crypto-related venture, AndyCAAT that was sold to Ernst & Young last year. While developing AndyCAAT, we realized that about 85 percent of our time, money and effort was dedicated to retrieving data from blockchains and exchanges. The response formats of these APIs are different, and requests have to be throttled to avoid blacklisting. This is a very arduous problem which required point-to-point integration with each exchange and blockchain. Any application that has to track crypto transactions across blockchains and exchanges has to normalize the data. In our conversations with other developers who were experimenting with blockchain, we realized they also had the same problem. We recognized the need for an API platform that abstracts the complexity of connecting to exchanges, blockchains, and smart contracts. So Cone was born—a unified API that is simple, secure, easy to use, and what we would have used for building AndyCAAT, had it been available.

In response to customers’ requests for pricing information and transaction data for accounting purposes, we continued to refine our product to meet their needs.

What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?

Since blockchain is in its early stages many customers experience confusion about this nascent and highly complex technology. In fact, some companies incorrectly believe that their challenge requires a blockchain solution whereas a traditional database would suffice for their needs.

We use education-based marketing to educate our customers. In client communications, we focus on the ultimate ROI and what our customers stand to benefit from working with us.

Additionally, their responses have also inspired new product ideas. We learned that thousands of businesses are unaware of how blockchain could be used for their unique purposes. In response to this, Cone is currently working on a product offering to help companies identify which blockchains are the best fit for their needs and why.

What are the factors that make your company stand out from the competition?

We believe our company's altruistic mission to provide financial inclusivity for all combined with our tech-forward offerings set us apart from other companies. In developing our brand identity, we were thoughtful about symbolizing our goal to connect the centralized and decentralized worlds—a cone, with the flat bottom, moves to the apex (symbolizing centralization), while an inverted cone moves from center to the sides (symbolizing decentralization).

Moreover, we have noticed our customers' confidence and interest in leveraging our products are heavily influenced by the ebb and flow of the crypto market. If we stay lean and listen closely to our customers' needs, our agility will allow us to evolve and stay relevant throughout volatile market conditions.

Any company, big or small, must have a sense of authenticity and originality to succeed. That said, is your company a leader or a follower?

Cone is innovating on a brand new category of applications, called “BaApps” or Blockchain-Aware Applications. Until now, centralized applications and decentralized blockchain networks operate as two completely isolated islands. Our Blockchain-Aware apps allow for the market to evolve so that hundreds of thousands of centralized apps can tap into the blockchain network--bridging the gap between the centralized and decentralized worlds.

What are the factors that help your company to compete on a global platform?

Our company's operating success ultimately starts with the people on our team. We have a globally distributed team spanning the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia, with our core team in San Francisco/ Silicon Valley. Such a remote operation necessitates crystal clear communication and alignment on expectations.

Additionally, given the global nature of the blockchain ecosystem, our solutions must be relevant worldwide—particularly in developing countries—therefore we work with partners that have a local presence in our target geographies and leverage them as our ‘eyes and ears’ in those particular regions.

What are your company’s core values and how are they helping you to succeed?

Our company's core values are integrity, continuous growth (from both an innovative technological and human potential standpoint), transparency, and ease-of-use. These values help us succeed by informing every aspect of our company's culture and product offerings. We're a mission-driven company, and our values guide us to continually be aligned internally as a team. They also help guide us on how we show up every day for ourselves and for our customers.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Our main product is an API which has already been launched (people can sign up for it right now on our website). We will also roll out a couple of new products in the near future.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

In a couple of years from now, we see ourselves with great traction toward achieving our larger mission of eliminating poverty worldwide. We are democratizing banking for all; leaving the world a more equitable place than before we started this project.

Blockchain has the potential to transform every industry. Cone is bringing efficient, safe and accessible financial services to a wider audience.

Vj Anma: A Formidable Leader

Vj Anma is a San Francisco-based serial entrepreneur who has built and sold multiple companies. He sold his first startup at the age of 22. Vj has been involved in the crypto space since 2012. Most recently he founded a cryptocurrency accounting and tax software, called Andy CAAT. Andy CAAT was sold to Ernst & Young in 2018. In addition to his ventures in the blockchain industry, Vj plays an active role as an advisor to numerous startups in Silicon Valley, advising on product-market fit, fundraising, and team building.

Vj holds a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is a graduate of the inaugural class at Singularity University. Vj has a deep passion for technology and its potential for improving society. He is a member of Mensa International, the high-IQ society, and the recipient of an honorary doctorate for his efforts in finding homes for children and helping raise funding for families affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

“As more and more people discover the value of blockchain, Cone empowers a mass transition into this exciting ecosystem—enabling developers to bridge this gap with or without prior blockchain experience.”