Brendan Duhamel and Jamie Young are 16 and 17, respectively. They’re only in High School but are already making head waves as entrepreneurs in the fledgling Bitcoin economy. While they’re not the first high schoolers in the crypto space, their startup Cisonius provides a unique solution for helping merchants integrate Bitcoin as a payment mode.
By developing the world's first Bitcoin Tablet designed to help businesses accept Bitcoin, they have made this process quicker and easier than ever.
- Brendan Duhamel (left) and Jamie Young (right)
Cointelegraph got a chance to interview Brendan who shared his thoughts and experience on starting a Bitcoin businesses, their future plans and their views on the nascent industry in general.
Brendan and Jamie have known each other and played on the same sports teams since they were little kids. It was last summer when Jamie first contacted Brendan about running a non-profit investment fund. They started a club at school to teach their peers about stocks and the investment world as a whole while managing US$15,000 of their peers’ money for free.
As they learned more about investing to teach other students, they began to realize that they knew a lot more about it than they thought. In result, the two began writing for an investment tracking site known as seekingalpha.com. They were always trying to find the newest and coolest upcoming businesses to write about.
One night Jamie discovered Bitcoin. So later that night he called up Brendan and told him that there was a center for Bitcoin in New York. “We thought it would be really cool if they could start a similar thing in Boston,” said Duhamel. At 1 in the morning they booked their train tickets to NYC from Boston for 6 AM the following morning. They left notes for their parents and took off for New York.
Thus, their Bitcoin venture had begun. In NY they fell in love with cryptocurrency. “And although we changed ideas many times before Cisonius was started,” said Duhamel, “after visiting the center we both knew we were on a path to doing something really cool.”
Cointelegraph: You guys have no shortage of ambition - how are you tackling the large-scale stuff like gathering enough investment funding?
Brendan Duhamel: Currently, we are not spending much time worrying about investor funding. Our top priority is to integrate Bitcoin in the retail environment.
CT: The Bitcoin space is producing some remarkable competition in many circles - what makes you guys stand out among other young entrepreneurs like BitSell?
BD: While most in the Bitcoin space are focusing on technology and the software side, we're focusing on the people side. Our mission is to bring increased acceptance of Bitcoin in the retail environment and this requires more evangelism than coding expertise.
CT: Tell us a bit more about the experience of setting up the business. Have there been any surprises you weren't counting on?
BD: The experience of setting up the business was harder than anticipated. We are an LLC in MA and our filing took longer than needed as the fact that we are minors lead to some delays. Also, our main plan has changed frequently and we've had to spend a good amount of money just to launch. That being said, all legal and technical problems are behind us and we're more than excited to get moving.
CT: The classic pitfall of many young Bitcoin startups is hackers being one step ahead of the game. How's your security setup shaping up?
BD: Our security is top notch. That being said, we're neither an exchange, nor a wallet provider and therefore don't have too many concerns regarding any type of debilitating hack.
CT: What are your plans for the company's future? Will you continue to run everything while studying or go into partnership?
BD: Only time can really tell but we plan to continue studying for the time being. However, we do have several exciting plans for the future!
CT: How did you go about finding a partner for manufacturing the hardware you send to customers? And how did the software take shape?
BD: For us it is all about user experience. Accepting Bitcoin should be easier than current methods, not harder. Therefore, our software and hardware offerings maximize simplicity and speed.
CT: The Cisonius concept seems straightforward enough - how many businesses have signed up so far? What's the response been like?
BD: Response has been very positive and we have several interested merchants and salespeople. As we announce new merchants be sure to check out our Facebook page and website! Also, if anyone is interested in spreading Bitcoin evangelism, we offer a commission for every new merchant you sign up. Head over to our website to sign up.
CT: What is the biggest impediment to your business right now?
BD: The biggest impediment to our business is the frequent Bitcoin smear stories. Bitcoin is a revolutionary payment network that drastically cuts existing credit card merchant fees. Unfortunately, many merchants hear the odd story about Mt. Gox or Silk Road and instantly shun Bitcoin.
CT: Besides Bitcoin, is there any altcoins or projects that you’re particularly excited about?
BD: Being from the Boston area, we're really excited about the MIT Bitcoin Club's plan to give every incoming freshman US$100 in Bitcoin. The guys there are doing an excellent job and they're running an exciting contest this summer, the BitComp.
We actually plan to enter that contest with a new concept of ours. It's called BlockSig, short for Blockchain Signature. The platform allows for multiple parties to send and sign contracts across the Blockchain. It changes how contracts are signed while greatly lowering contract fraud. We hope to launch the site before the summer ends!