🔥Crypto Fireside #19 — Interviews with crypto people.
🔥Hello! Who are you, and what do you do?
S: Hi everyone, my name is Shaz, and I developed DCA Stack.
DCA Stack is an automated dollar-cost averaging bot for your crypto that can interface with over 100 exchanges all completely free and open-source.
I built this project because I was fed up with the current state of the market. Many exchanges do not offer recurring buys and the ones that do, charge unnecessary and costly fees to do so. The automated trading solutions that do offer a DCA strategy are sometimes too costly or are severely limited in exchange connectivity. I was tired of the status quo and wanted to change it.
After several weekends, I am proud to announce an early preview of my hard work. I title it DCA Stack which stands for Dollar Cost Averaging Stack. I call it a stack because it truly is a stack of tools that help automate your DCA strategy.
Right now, it’s in its infancy. The features are limited, and the website is minimal. But the functionality exists and it’s here to ask you if the competition is doing enough to keep your money.
You have nothing to lose by trying DCA Stack because it’s completely free and the source code is public; so why not have a look?
🔥What’s your backstory, and how did DCA Stack come about?
S: Well I’m Shaz. I’m originally from south-east Asia but moved to America to study computer science. I wasn’t always into CS, actually majoring in philosophy. But along the way, as crypto grew and my interest in the industry, I figured it was time for a pivot.
So I spent a long while teaching myself how to code and understand computers better. Along the way, I went from simple scripts to automate small tasks to working on this project, DCA Stack. Which is my first-ever website and an open-source project. I’m super excited to share my hard work with everyone and learn with the community :)
The idea for DCA Stack came to me when I first started getting my feet wet with crypto. So like many people, I signed up on Coinbase and got to buying. At the time, the fees weren’t too much of an issue since my purchases were infrequent. However as I started learning more about long-term investment strategies, I kept seeing the letters D-C-A. Curious, I started educating myself more about it and even saw all these fantastic websites showing the benefit of doing so (https://dcabtc.com/).
That’s when I knew that I wanted a long-term strategy that removes the emotion and impulsivity of trading crypto. But what I noticed when I set up recurring buys on Coinbase was the pesky fees they would charge. Especially for someone with such a small budget ($10 weekly), I would lose about 10% just for the convenience of DCA! People with larger budgets ($100 weekly) would find themselves losing about 3% just for convenience. That is less money you get to invest all because of some arbitrary fee decided by the exchange. Of course, singling out Coinbase is not fair, a ton of exchanges operate on the same model.
This got me wondering if there was a better way. There had to be, there was no way everyone was okay with these fees. That’s what got me started on DCA Stack. I wanted to restore people’s purchasing power and put more sats back in their pockets.
🔥Describe the process of launching DCA Stack.
S: The process for releasing an early preview of DCA Stack was nerve-wracking simply because I had never made a website or a project for the community. My biggest fear was that it would never appeal to the crypto community.
So to prepare, I started posting teaser content in various communities to see first impressions. Using this, I was able to quickly fix obvious issues and incorporate user feedback as part of my design iteration cycle. I never want to iterate on an idea, feature, or design without having the user as part of the process. So I heavily relied on feedback to prepare the early preview.
🔥Take us through your daily process of what it is that you do.
S: My daily process starts with the user. So the first thing I do is check the support inbox and see if anyone has questions that need to be answered. This is probably the most important thing I’ll do in my day. Ensuring each user has a smooth experience is of utmost priority to not only begin fostering a community but also prove that the product works.
Once I clear out the inbox, I start looking at the logs. See if any new errors came up, any issues, or general bugs. I make note of these and form an attack plan to address them. If any of them was experienced by a user, I reach out to them proactively to see what went wrong. This helps me understand their workflow better and gives me direction on how to make improvements.
These are the two fixed things I do every day the moment I wake up. The rest of my day varies from either developing new features or interacting with the community. I make it a point to interact with a new community every day because everyone’s perspective is unique. In this uniqueness, I try and explore what I can do to convince them that this project is worth their time.
🔥What has worked to attract and retain users?
S: Since DCA Stack is still in its infant stages, there is no heavy marketing or promotional material.
It solely relies on word of mouth and sharing posts with small Reddit crypto communities.
I like to think of myself as the small fish in the market of automated trading solutions. While it would be great to hit millions of users and become the standard for DCA, I think it’s important to start small but have big aspirations. It allows me to be humble and communicate with every user that signs up on my platform. I think building that relationship with early users is the key to fostering a greater community with so many more users. I get to hear everyone’s feedback, complaints, and criticisms. Same time I get to act on them immediately and show that every user’s feedback was heard and discussed.
🔥Why did you choose to focus on a DCA strategy, why not something else?
S: I think it’s the easiest trading strategy for people who love the crypto tech and see the value it presents a decade from now. It makes the most sense to DCA into crypto projects because no one knows its true value in this current market. One moment BTC is flirting with 70K and the next moment it’s flirting with 40k. To remove all emotions and impulses when it comes to crypto investing, I think DCA is the best approach.
Not to mention it appeals to everyone in the crypto community no matter how long they’ve been in it because it’s always easier, more reliable, and safer to set a DCA schedule and forget about it. Very few traders make a life-changing profit chasing different coins, day trading, and focusing on day-to-day movements. Many find their life-changing profits from having a well-thought-out DCA plan and schedule. Building wealth doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years of careful planning and patience.
That is what I want to bring forward to the crypto community. A simple straightforward “set and forget” investing tool that lets them build wealth over the timeline of years.
🔥How are you doing today, and what does the future look like? Let’s talk numbers!
S: Today, DCA Stack is in its infancy. It’s not even a couple of weeks old since it launched. But the response by users has shown the need for such a solution in today’s automated crypto trading market.
From all the user sessions we get on DCAStack.com, over 7.56% signed up! Given that the average for SaaS websites ranges from 2% to 5% (https://www.klipfolio.com/metrics/marketing/sign-up-rate), our conversion ratio is promising! People are curious and are signing up to explore this idea of automated DCA.
Now diving deeper into the users that use the platform, over 50% of them have made donations towards the operation of DCA Stack. The big thing to note is that these donations, on average, are more than what the competition charges! The competition charges between $5 and $20 and the average donation to DCAStack.com is $25 showing that users are fed up with the options available in today’s market. They just never had an option up until now and are voting with their crypto.
While DCA Stack is still just an early preview, the response, feedback, and donations by users are very motivating to continue development. I can’t wait to explore the future of DCA Stack with the community.
🔥Through launching DCA Stack, what is something you have learned that surprised you?
S: The biggest thing I’ve learned is people’s natural distrust when it comes to new products that are advertised as free but closed source.
People often think there is some sort of catch. The saying goes that if a product is free, chances are YOU are the product. I did not realize how many people thought this way. When I initially launched, it was met with tons of criticism and accusations of being a scammer. This brought me great pause and a chance to revisit the drawing board. It made me wonder ‘what did I do wrong?’. I did the market research and I know that the market is severely lacking in low-cost / free automated DCA apps. So why the heavy skepticism?
I’d love to say the first thing I did after such negative criticism was to get back to the drawing board and pivot. But actually, the first thing I did was give up.
I took it a bit too personally and felt that no one could benefit from the work I’ve released for free. So I took the website down. It wasn’t until the next day that I got an email from a user asking why the site was down, they wanted to play around with it but couldn’t because I’d shut it down.
This was honestly the motivation I needed to get back on track and not give up. People could still benefit from this but I had to rethink my strategy.
So the first thing I did after putting the website back up was going through my entire source code in preparation for making it completely public. I realized the only way people can trust me as a programmer was by releasing all the code publicly for the community to audit. Though this is particularly strange because none of the competition or people in this space offers their services open source. This made me realize there is still a fundamental distrust and caution when it comes to crypto. It is no secret that the crypto space has a TON of elaborate scams, schemes, and methods by bad actors to get your funds. This has made people naturally cautious and distrustful. It also dawned on me that this was the reason why none of the competition ever took off or reached a huge level of commercial success.
That is where I want to be different and succeed. I want to win the community’s trust by releasing my code publicly and rebuilding trust in the crypto community. And so, I vetted everything, added extra security features, fixed any lingering bugs, and tidied things up.
After this long process, I finally released it and it was met with a much more positive response. The positive response I needed to continue development on my project.
🔥Mistakes were made. What were they and what did you do?
S: No mistakes were made (fortunately) during the development of this project. The biggest pivot however was pursuing DCA Stack as a website. Initially, I was going to make a small python script that would handle all my DCA schedules locally. But the more I developed, the more I realized there aren’t a lot of options on the market in this niche space. Competition is always lacking in one way or another. Not to mention exchanges don’t make it easy to set up recurring purchases due to their obnoxious and quite frankly unnecessary fees. So I figured ‘why let everyone else settle for the status quo?’. Why not take what I’ve been developing and go the extra mile to develop some sort of minimal viable product for people to play around with?
I’m no expert in web development, this is the first website I’ve ever made. But I figured this could be a valuable learning experience for both myself and users that are tired of the current state of things.
🔥What have been the most influential things in your life that affected your project? This can include books, podcasts, or people.
S: I think the most influential thing that affected my project was being fed up with the lack of options in the market. I am and never was one to settle for the status quo. If I didn’t like something, I would work towards a solution that I devised myself. That fundamental nature is what got me here today to work on this project.
This attitude coupled with the fantastic resources provided by Miguel Grinberg is what helped me kickstart my project. Miguel is the author of The New Flask Mega-Tutorial and has published many articles, blogs, and resources on web development through Flask. Here is one such example: https://blog.miguelgrinberg.com/post/the-flask-mega-tutorial-part-i-hello-world
By background, I am not a web developer. I got my feet wet in python and now frequently swim with python. Miguel’s resources helped me rapidly prototype a web app with nothing but python to show the world my MVP.
Of course, DCA Stack would not be here in its scope without the fantastic support of the CCXT team (https://github.com/ccxt/ccxt). Their team offers a completely open-source library that DCA Stack uses to offer exchange connectivity to over 100 different platforms. Their commitment to the open-source community is what made DCA Stack exist.
🔥Do you have any advice for other creators, entrepreneurs, or developers who want to get started or are just beginning?
S: My advice to anyone who has that itch to innovate, build, create or solve problems is to never give up. I know that adage is cliched and told so many times, but it is the truth. Your first time making a project will be demotivating, and met with criticism and although you should not take it personally, you do. It demoralizes you and makes you wonder why you even started in the first place. I cannot guarantee that your project idea will take off and be a success no matter how revolutionary it may be. But what I can guarantee you is that if you develop the attitude to persevere, you will find a new perspective to success.
Success is not measured in the unit of output but rather in the perspective you hold.
🔥Where do you see the blockchain, cryptocurrency, and decentralization space going in the next 5 to 10 years?
S: I truly see the cryptocurrency space taking off in the next decade. I feel as if we are in the middle of the new dot com era. I say this because while some see the potential of cryptocurrency and decentralized spaces, many still do not see the value; much like the internet in the early 2000s. What I see happening is a pivotal shift in many industries completely revolutionizing the way we conduct business and interact with each other.
Just witnessing the evolution of cryptocurrencies throughout the decade is awe-inspiring. In 2017, we first came to terms that crypto could be used as a payment platform to send, receive and settle money on a blockchain. Not just a few years later in 2020, we saw the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi) that completely changed the way finance could be conducted. Time will only tell what the next 3 years and even decade has in store for us in terms of innovation and usability.
🔥Where can we go to learn more?
🔥Thank you, Shaz!
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