Following ICON’s token sale in September 2017, the blockchain startup has made great strides in just under a year. While the market has been very volatile, with the peak and slides of almost all cryptocurrencies, the team at ICON has remained focused.
ICON is resilient in its pursuit of tech advancement.
“Our goal was to go out there and best position ourselves for success, which means that we continue to build the technology, recruit the best people, go out there and win deals,” Kim told The Iconist’s editor during a phone interview in early August.
Investing to find the right people
At the time of its fundraising, ICON had a team of 30 people. Now it has expanded to over 100 employees spanning three countries. Developers, engineers, HR, lawyers, professional consultants… you name it, ICON has hired it. With an office in Singapore opening its doors in the near future, the startup is showing no signs of slowing down.
But hiring is not a simple process. “Money only goes so far when it comes to raising top talent. You need to sell them on your vision, you need to convince them that what you are building is beneficial to society. You’ve gotta make them interested in the technology piece that they are going to be working on. There are a lot of different factors that actually go into finding top talent out there and it takes a lot of time,” Kim explained.
Many believe that hiring left and right is an easy task after raising millions of dollars. However, Kim reminds us that investing time is key to finding the right people, those that will truly add value to your company. Case in point: ICON recently hired a senior banker and research analyst from Deutsche Bank, which took about three to four months to finalize. Described as highly intelligent and passionate about cryptocurrency and blockchain, Kim added, “You don’t find a person like him working in a regional investment bank, especially at a senior level and working for a bulge bracket bank. Finding somebody like him is extremely rare.”
ICON is focused on building a team worthy of innovation. Scoping out the very best is proving to be a lengthy task, but one worth the effort. “I think the most important thing is a shared vision of how, and what kind of world we want to create together,” Kim commented. Believing the industry is still very immature in terms of hiring top talent, Kim mentions that time commitment is most essential in finding people who will positively impact your project.
Growing beyond Korea
With its original roots in South Korea, Kim explains why ICON still heavily focuses on its domestic market: “There is a good amount of pressure from the top to explore this technology, so things move a lot faster in Korea.” Having support from the government to implement blockchain technology is enabling ICON to get the ball rolling at a much faster rate, hence the attractiveness of the country.
Despite South Korea’s high blockchain and crypto awareness and overall market appeal, ICON is not confining itself to one location. With teams already established in the US, Japan and shortly in Singapore, the startup is rapidly gaining ground outside its home turf and realizing its dreams of creating an inter-connected, open society.
“I feel very confident that we are able connect a lot of the Korean projects with the US and contributors, and really help them market themselves in the US,” said Kim. “In a sense, we are starting to connect some of the communities in the US and in Korea, and now with our Japan accelerator that is just launching, we are hoping to connect three countries. Then by the end of this year or early next year, we want to connect Singapore.”
Envisioning a borderless society
With plans to organize monthly demo days across Korea, the US, Japan and Singapore, Kim hopes to bridge the gaps separating companies and help them connect with one another. In practice, demo days across four countries would give startups the opportunity to market themselves and meet other communities at least four times a month. “It’s a very, very rapid way for you to increase your community and work with others just by using the ICON platform,” he explained.
ICON’s venture into new territories proves consistent with its vision – one founded on creating a society where different sized communities can connect with various governments from all over the world.
“We create sort of a borderless society and hopefully in the future, how we view this world, how we view communities, or the definition of community is [going to be] very different. In a sense we are creating a frictionless society, making it more and more easy for values and assets or whatever to change between people,” Kim said.
As expected of a company supporting a decentralized network, ICON is growing beyond the confines of its homeland, bringing to fruition its vision of a borderless society in the process. ICON’s meticulous talent recruitment and overseas expansion are the mere beginning, as it strives to develop its blockchain technology for the long-run.