In the past couple of weeks when scrolling through social media you may have seen a headline about how an entrepreneur from Tampa, Florida sold his ICO ranking website for $2.5 million.
The LUXCAP team saw that same headline, but instead of simply reposting the same content as other business news outlets we felt it was our due diligence to get an exclusive interview with the entrepreneur himself.
His name is Armando Pantoja and he graduated from Austin Peay State University in 2005 with a degree in computer science and computer engineering.
We finally caught up to the mogul and were able to ask him questions that many of us in the blockchain, FinTech, and cryptocurrency space have been dying to know the answer to.
LUXCAP: So Armando, how did you initially get into the cryptocurrency space?
Armando: I worked for several software engineering firms after I graduated from college. While working at these firms is when I began my journey into software security. I started studying cryptology on my own, this was before blockchain and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).
LUXCAP: Would you care to explain to people what exactly the study of cryptology is?
Armando: Cryptology is what blockchain is based on, a lot of people refer to it as “crypto crypto”.
Essentially it is the study of how computers communicate with each other in a secure way. Cryptocurrencies are based on that same technology, just in a currency sense. Crypto equals secured money.
LUXCAP: Everyday we log onto social media or look at business news headlines we always see that someone’s cryptocurrency was just stolen from them because they got hacked. If cryptocurrency equals safe money based on its cryptology build, then how are people being hacked for millions of dollars of cryptocurrency?
Armando: Sometimes people get hacked because they give out their passwords, or their computer gets hacked through key logging viruses and getting people’s information and passwords that way. It’s typically not the technology’s fault. Social engineering is the number one way to get people to give up their information.
I remember one time someone was trying to send me BTC but all of his coin was on his coinbase account. He goes on google and types in “Coinbase Support” and called the first support number that came up saying “Coinbase Support”.
While on the phone with the support line they sent him a link and told him that it would be the first step towards resolving his issues. Once he clicked the link, it swiped his account because that was not a real Coinbase support number.
You have to be extremely careful regarding your ability to protect access to your cryptocurrency because if someone steals your money it’s untraceable. There are pros and cons of the high level security of it all, the money is more secure but that also makes it more of a target for theft because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
LUXCAP: That is quite comprehensible. I know recently someone decided to sue AT&T for $224 million because $24 million of their crypto was stolen and they are saying it is AT&T’s cybersecurity team’s fault. I wonder how much of that was actually irresponsibility on the user’s part with their passwords.
LUXCAP: So we know that you recently sold ICO Ranker for a $2.5 million, but tell us about the journey towards that business deal and how ICO Ranker started for you and your team?
Armando: Early in 2017 ICOs were coming out very frequently.
I was part of a company called Quan Index. We are working on an ICO called Hire Match which is a decentralized recruitment platform. We were looking to market it and give it that credibility within the industry and needed a ICO platform to get ours out there.
We tried to find one, but we couldn’t so we created ICO Ranker.
The whole market was decentralized and fragmented, and ICO Ranker really was a step in the right direction of making things even more streamlined and easier to find for those who were interested.
LUXCAP: So basically you found a gap in your industry while working on a larger project, and decided to fill that gap as well?
LUXCAP: Awesome. So give a little bit more detail about what exactly ICO Ranker was so people can have a better understanding?
Armando: ICO Ranker was a project listing site that we launched in October of 2017 which used algorithms and logistics test to rank the feasibility of the ICO that was about to launch.
This was needed because it allowed investors to make better financial decisions with their investments. In a space where there is not a lot of understanding from society, this allowed people to comprehend the ICO purposes better.
It was one place that everyone can go to to analyze all these projects.
We were getting approximately .5 million – 1 million website clicks per month.
The servers kept crashing because of all of the web traffic so we had to upgrade the server two times
LUXCAP: Wow so this site really had a positive impact on the FinTech and Cryptocurrency space?
Armando: Yes, it helped investors and inspired many entrepreneurs. Now there is hundreds of sites like this.
LUXCAP: Of course there are now, because it sounds like it was a brilliant idea that was very much needed.
This seems like such useful site that saw a lot of success in a very short period of time, so I think the big elephant in the room that many people are asking is, why did you sell it?
Armando: Well, I have sold websites before. and I can tell when the law of diminishing returns begins to happen. It was getting to a point where it felt like it was too costly to upkeep. Plus, this was not my original goal.
My original goal is the decentralized recruitment platform, this was simply something that we created because we needed to use it for our other project and it just so happens that this smaller project ended up gaining traction as well.
A publicly traded company, Blockchain 360, contacted us about acquiring our site and the negotiations went from there.
Now we are back to working on “Hire Match”, our recruitment ICO.
LUXCAP: Do you think you will have any regrets about selling?
Armando: No, because I am very pragmatic about my decisions. I am best at starting businesses and getting them off the ground, not necessarily running businesses.
I would prefer to manage a group of 3 to 4 people who are great at what they do, than to manage a team of 30 to 40 people who are only slightly passionate about the mission.
I am not prideful, and I feel that it is best to know your strengths and weaknesses. I disconnect emotion from decisions, which goes back to me being pragmatic.
Selling the website just made sense and we knew within the first 3 months of starting that we need to start coming up with an exit plan because we knew that we could not do both.
LUXCAP: The fact that you have enough wisdom and insight about who you are as a business man is a forecast into your future continued success. Many people ARE prideful and would have tried to do both.
We have always felt that the reason many people are a jack of all trades and a master of none, is because of their pride. A lot of members of society are too prideful to admit when something just IS NOT their strong suit.
So the fact that you’re able to hone in on your strengths and capitalize on them without trying to force something upon yourself out of pride is admirable.
We know you sold the website for $2.5 million, was that a full cash deal?
Armando: No, it was a cash and stock deal. So we still hold equity in the company.
LUXCAP: So you can still profit off of the success of your brainchild without having to use your teams energy to continue managing.
Now you can use that energy towards your main goal, decentralized recruitment. It’s a win-win situation.
LUXCAP: Since your decentralized recruitment platform is your main goal, why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit about that?
Armando: As I mentioned before, the platform is called Hire Match. The development is about 95% completed and we currently have a beta version.
It is myself and my same team that created ICO Ranker that is working on this development as well. We are looking at Q4 2018 for a potential launch date, so sometime between the next 3 weeks until the end of the year.
LUXCAP: We definitely cannot wait to see the launch and hope to cover it on LUXCAP. There are so many aspects of the business world that can be streamlined and benefit from blockchain technology, it’s just a matter of time before these technologies begin to be implemented into these outdated business sectors. Aside from blockchain, what are some other upcoming goals of yours?
Armando: I would like to work on a set of children’s books that are about software engineering featuring minority characters. Half of the Forbes top 20 list were software engineers at some point. We need to push towards educating the community on software engineering.
In the future that’s where all of the jobs will be. They will be lost without the training.
The thing about technology is that nobody cares what your race is.
You can’t discriminate against someone you’ve never known, you can’t discriminate against technology.
LUXCAP: We like that a lot, “You can’t discriminate against technology”. We totally agree with the importance of the youth knowing about these progressions in the tech world and teaching them that it is acceptable and cool to be into tech and other STEM industries. Going back into FinTech and cryptocurrency, what is your opinion on the current state of crypto?
The original intent of cryptocurrency was not meant as an investment, it was an actual form of currency. You don’t go to Europe to get euro and wait for the price to go up. Everyone was thinking of it as an investment to pump and dump. So eventually it’s going to crash because of that. The market will be back up but you won’t double your money in a year. I am pretty good at predicting technology trends, I could see that bull run coming. That’s another reason I knew ICO ranker would work, because I knew there was about to be a need for it. My prediction was accurate, we had record profits during the time of the bull run.
LUXCAP: Do you think the trend of govt acceptance is going to continue? If so how do you think this will affect the market?
Armando: There was resistance against uber. But uber was a better technology. The same with crypto. It’s a better technology. When it is adopted those volatile swings will even out. The same with the internet, it was like the wild Wild West at first but over time it got better and I predict that it is only inevitable that the same adoption patterns happen with blockchain and cryptocurrency as well.
LUXCAP: Thank you so much for your time Armando. We wish you well in Q4 of the year and look forward to keeping up with your developments.
Armando: Thank you for having me and for supporting the vision.
As we told Armando, it was truly a pleasure getting the chance to hear his story and the details of his journey in the blockchain space.
Be sure to connect with Armando on LinkedIn at the following link:
and to follow us on instagram at @TheLuxuryCapital .