Wyre was co-founded with software engineer Ioannis (Yanni) Giannaros, who lived in a bunk bed under Danworth in a shared Silicon Valley hackerhouse when he first moved to the United States in 2013. I did.
It was a rental house packed with cheap sleepers. There, those who wanted to be technology founders or software developers paid $ 200 a night while trying to find a big break.
Wyre uses blockchain-based technology to provide merchants with fast cross-border payments and sell crypto-based payment application programming interfaces (APIs) to ensure secure and regulated cryptography for businesses. Allows you to connect directly to the payment infrastructure from to Fiat.
We have remittance licenses in 27 states in the United States and operate in China and Brazil.
Bolt, known for its one-click checkout service for merchants, Reportedly For $ 11 billion in the January funding round, we saw Wyre as a way to add crypto trading support to its service.
“Bolt is an incumbent in the payments space and they can understand that cryptocurrencies are pointing the way to the market,” said Danworth.
“They are like Peter Parker and we are Spiders who bite them and turn them into Spider-Man.”
It’s a superhero analogy that shows that the roots of Mr. Danworth’s whirlwind journey to success are still fresh in his mind.
The pair’s first business idea to make friends with Jannaros was to dress up as a superhero like Batman or Spider-Man and get dry cleaning around San Francisco.
Surprisingly, I realized that the business got off to a good start, quickly driving around the city with lots of laundry and establishing a relationship with a laundromat.
But when after a disastrous bank vacation, all laundromats were closed and forced to put $ 1 coins into a pay-as-you-go washing machine to complete the same day order, Danworth said this was his. I knew it wasn’t a big break.
“I remember sitting outside the laundromat. What the hell are you doing?” Danworth said.
“I didn’t want to start a laundry company, even if I could create a cool app that would tailor a superhero to the place.”
At that time, online shopping was a part of everyday life throughout the United States, and Danworth and Jannaros saw the opportunity to develop a one-click checkout product.
Wired Snapcard was founded in 2013 and built a pair of software to combine user purchases into a single basket at stores such as Kmart, Zara, and Amazon.
Customers pay only once for different purchases, but Snapcard zooms in on the backend to pay all the different sellers and cut out 2% of the value of the basket.
The idea was novel and soon they had a fast-growing customer base.
“At some point, we were buying everything with his credit card, so Yanny had the highest credit score in North America,” Danworth said.
“He bought $ 100,000 worth of merchandise a day and paid back immediately.”
Step into cryptography
At the time, Bitcoin was emerging as a hot new idea among tech workers, and Danworth considered offering cryptocurrency payments as a novelty.
After fixing the price at checkout, Snapcard receives Bitcoin payments via a Coinbase account (the founder was a friend and was on the road to Silicon Valley), converted to US dollars and then paid to the merchant, In the middle of cutting the normal 2%.
Again, to the surprise of this pair, the demand has risen and Snapcard has entered the world of banking licenses and blockchain-based transactions.
It was in 2013, when Bitcoin’s price soared from $ 15 to about $ 1,150, and anyone with a cryptocurrency was happy to spend it online shopping.
Anticipating a final slowdown as prices fall, Danworth and Jannaros have begun building cryptocurrency wallets and have bank licenses that need to be held to facilitate cryptocurrency movements in the United States. We have started the painstaking process of finding.
Around this time, they pitched to Boost, a Bitcoin-focused venture capital accelerator run by Adam Draper, who invested $ 10,000 in return for 6% of the business. The deal is currently described by Danworth as “quite good for them.”
But $ 10,000 wasn’t really that far. As a result, Snapcard needed to raise more money in the first seed round within 12 months.
Venture capital is now much more free-flowing, but Danworth finds the process unbearable. He eventually sent cold emails to 2300 different people, received 600 replies, which led to 100 calls, after which 25 meetings provided two checks.
“It’s very difficult to raise money,” Danworth said. “This is the most difficult process in the world, making it even harder not to be a Stanford graduate who had been with Uber for four years. It’s impossible to exaggerate how terrible this process is.”
Eventually, they were able to deposit $ 1.5 million in a bank and rent an office, but they had two mattresses on the ground in the side room where they slept for three years.
Snapcard was deploying cryptocurrency wallets at this point, and Dunworth was in the midst of cryptocurrency regulations and the requirement to know customers.
“The hard part is not stealing money from someone, but making sure they aren’t fraudulent,” Danworth said.
While systematically confirming that Snapcard complies with strict banking regulations on financial products, Dunworth and Giannaros decide they don’t want to set up a company like Coinbase that offers brokerage and transactions. Did.
Their API system was born out of the idea that companies around the world don’t want to follow strict compliance procedures and can sign up for Snapcard and plug and play.
When Bitcoin entered the bear market around 2015, the Snapcard team realized that they had built a strong rail to consistently and securely convert Bitcoin to local currencies.
Thanks to the global immediacy of blockchain, Snapcard can begin offering cross-border payments to merchants dealing with manufacturers in developing countries such as Brazil and China.
Currently, banks take 6 days to settle cross-border payments, but Snapcard can offer same-day payments.
“It was great. We did it instantly using the Bitcoin network and freed the cash flow of all these merchants,” Danworth said.
“And the industry was completely unaffected by the fluctuations in the crypto market.”
Snapcard has been rebranded to Wyre, and Dunworth and Giannaros have taken a growth blast and saw their technology underpinning well-known crypto brands such as Metamask and Rarible.
Danworth found and solved the problem that Wire’s success did not want merchants trying to use cryptocurrencies to go through a tedious licensing process just to provide crypto payments within their products. Said it was due.
Pair has spent years building proper banking licenses in various jurisdictions and has built a crypto payment API that provides other start-ups with fully compliant on-ramp and off-ramp payment rails. ..
The business is also booming in e-commerce and Amazon merchants by using Bitcoin and blockchain instant transfer technology to provide cross-border payments in fast-growing markets such as China and Brazil. I embarked on it.
“There are plenty of things in the right place, at the right time, but there’s also the definite truth that we built this iron-walled architecture with all the right licenses that haven’t been hacked so far,” Danworth said. Says.
That growth and the $ 90 million that Wire recorded in revenue last year ultimately brought Bolt, bringing a $ 1.5 billion acquisition to the table.
Danworth said the decision to sell is not difficult as start-ups have evolved beyond their fast-growing roots and settled on established businesses. In addition, Danworth was ready to step back from the conflict and return to Australia.
“At this point, I was really running out of steam,” Danworth said. “My mental health has stopped beatings for years, and it’s come to the point where I have this huge scammer syndrome.”
Danworth returned to Australia with a two-month stay, but the relief of a retreat from Wyre’s day-to-day operations struck him, and Jannaros took over the role of CEO during the acquisition of Bolt.
“We are still considering the role I will play in the new location that Wire has in Bolt,” Danworth said.
“But it all depends on Yanny and whether he needs me there. If he does, I’m in. Hopefully I’ll take a break and play an old video game. , Trying to remember who I really am. “