TRM Labs Creating Salesforce for Crypto
Token Relationship Management (TRM) is the software-as-a-service platform helping new cryptocurrency token issuers to grow their community, track relationships, and measure KPIs. I met with the company’s co-founders Esteban Castaño and Rahul Raina to learn more about their plan to become the Salesforce of the rapidly developing crytopcurrency world.
Sensing an Opportunity
TRM Co-founders (from left to right): Esteban Castaño and Rahul Raina
The founders of TRM, Esteban Castaño and Rahul Raina, met at McKinsey & Company in 2015 where they saw how blockchain was transforming industries from financial services to online marketplaces. Esteban, CEO, is a first-year MBA student at Stanford GSB who previously designed digital growth strategies at McKinsey. His co-founder, Rahul, serves as CTO and has worked in software engineering at OpenDoor and Amazon. As Esteban and Rahul started helping venture-backed crypto startups with their growth strategy over the past year, they realized that these projects had few native tools for data-driven growth. Noticing the demand, they built an initial version of TRM at the EthMemphis hackathon, taking home the first place prize whilst also receiving overwhelming interest from the community.
Since February, the two co-founders have worked full-time on TRM with some small pre-seed funding. According to Esteban, TRM’s main goal is “helping companies with a token grow their economy and stay compliant.” He sees TRM providing value to token issuers in three main buckets: saving time, helping them grow faster, and assisting in compliance with complex financial regulation. TRM has been quietly working with a few Bay Area projects as they iterate on their product.
“TRM’s main goal is helping companies with a token grow their economy and stay compliant”
– Esteban Castaño, CEO and Co-founder
Riding the Crypto Wave
The cryptocurrency world has been in a fundraising frenzy of late, even with the large drop in token valuations. In the first six months of 2018, there has been more than 100 ICOs per month, collectively raising $13.7B – more than all ICOs combined before 2018. Venture capital funds are taking notice, with Andreessen Horowitz recently raising a dedicated $300M crypto fund led by Chris Dixon and Kathryn Haun, while other top-tier funds such as Union Square Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners have also been heavily involved in the space.
In the decentralized world of cryptocurrency tokens, tokens only hold value if people are using it, which requires an initial distribution of tokens. One common method of distribution is an airdrop – massively distributing new tokens to those who already own other cryptocurrencies. Despite the prominence of airdrops, several industry observers, such as Yeoman Capital founder David Johnston, believe the process could be done better by intelligently targeting recipients in a “smartdrop.”
TRM aims to capitalize on this trend with their SmartDrops product, which allows issuers to verify user identities, customize their audience, and measure impact over time among token holders. As an improvement on airdrops, TRM believes their SmartDrops method of distributing tokens can resolve issues with other token distribution methods such as initial coin offerings (ICOs), which have been under intense regulatory scrutiny. Further, TRM presents a web-based dashboard to token issuers with key metrics including daily active addresses, total token holders, and market cap.
The Future of Crypto Token Distribution
TRM is still in early stages and has not yet settled on a monetization model, but they aim to be a pick-and-shovel play in the cryptocurrency world. Just as Salesforce, Stripe, and other SaaS companies rose to prominence creating tools for Internet startups, TRM aims to provide valuable tools to new crypto projects in what some are calling the next wave of the internet: the decentralized Web 3.0.
So far, over 25,000 SmartDrops have been claimed by people in over 70 countries, showing early signs of demand for TRM’s product. But the company needs to demonstrate meaningful traction within the crypto community and prove they can work with a scaled token project. Some projects, such as a16z-backed Dfinity, are already beginning to eschew ICOs in favor of regulatory-compliant airdrops. Dfinity handled the know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) verifications internally for its $35M airdrop – could TRM’s SmartDrops provide this service at scale someday?
In the future, TRM hopes to grow alongside the crypto market and plans to dive deeper into tools for compliance and predictive analytics. It also aims to one day open up APIs to provide services at true scale. It will definitely be exciting to watch TRM pursue their mission to become the Salesforce of the crypto space as the market rapidly evolves. You can learn more about TRM here.