The journey of an Indian bitcoin entrepreneur - What happened with flybit?
Many people have asked me the same question about flybit recently and my response was always short and related to issues involving investors and partners. I will try to write everything in details in this post how it all started and series of events until I decided to shut down everything one day.
Flybit was a project by Bitserve Technologies LLP, a website which could be used by anyone in the world to book flight tickets and we accepted only BTC as payments. The price of most tickets were less than any other famous website and this was first such project in India.
In 2016 when I was involved in Bitcoin and it has been almost an year of research about different things, Prakash contacted me to discuss an idea. He wanted to start a flights booking website and was confident that we can offer better services than others. I agreed to work on it and also involve Bitcoin payments in it.
I went to Bangalore, he came from Mumbai and we met my brother with his two office colleagues who were also interested to join us. We started researching more and discuss about launching such a website. It was difficult for me to convince them all about accepting bitcoin payments however we finally agreed to work on it. Few days later, I wasn’t happy with the involvement and dedication shown by them. I discussed about it but still wasn’t taken seriously and decided to work on it with only people who are serious about it. My brother also left me. I moved to a different place in Bangalore which was far away from city areas but had less rent.
We registered the company in few weeks following all the documentation required. Also went to different places like Airport, Shopping malls, AC coaches of trains etc. to ask people few questions about their flights ticket booking experience and knowledge about bitcoin.
We had less or no experience in flights booking business and Amadeus was first company which we discussed our idea with. Their office is near brigade road in Bangalore. I won’t mention the name but a guy there really helped us in understanding how this business works. He introduced us to TBO which is also in to this business and helpful for startups like us. TBO’s office isn’t too far from building which has Amadeus office. We had a meeting and agreed to their contract, paid the one time fees to get APIs, billing, admin panel, support etc.
Now website development was the most important part to execute our ideas. We went to Unocoin and Coinsecure’s office in Bangalore to discuss if they can help us with integrating Bitcoin payments in such a website.
I started working on website but had few issues with it as well so was looking for a developer. In the meanwhile, we had lots of time for our personal life in which I was drinking regularly and also used some of funds allocated for business to invest in some cryptocurrencies. No investor or other partner had invested anything and it was all my contribution. My partner had issues with both the things and one day left me. After hiring a dev online and working for few days I decided to leave Bangalore because it was hard to survive alone.
I came back home and still didn’t give up on the idea, worked almost every day with the dev to complete the website as I wanted it to be. We had lot of issues in between and once I had even gone to Bangalore for 2 days when website was almost done and I booked my own flight tickets from it. Got confirmation about few things and understood the flow of ticket booking for different cases involved to avoid errors in website. We had basically converted a WordPress website with woocommerce in to something else which isn’t possible by default and had to almost modify everything involved. We had to add lot of custom php code and scripts. For accepting bitcoin payments I could not find any good option and had to modify an open source WordPress plugin to change UI and also show price based on average of 3 Indian BTC exchanges. Profit on each flight ticket was based on default commission set by TBO and profit after selling BTC at higher price.
I guess it was July 2017 when I decided to move to Pune and work on this project with two other guys whom I met online and we had similar thought process.
We stayed in Swapnil’s flat and converted one room in to an office like place. There were lot of technical issues and we always tried our best to fix them asap. There was a local environment and live environment for website. Few other guys helped us in other things related to website. We had lots of parties almost every third day and that’s when I got carried away. And once had an accident after being drunk, my left hand’s elbow joint was seriously damaged. I was admitted in Columbia Asia hospital and surgery was done. I had no medical insurance and most of the money was in BTC. CEO of one of the famous crypto exchange in India helped me find a guy who sent money for paying hospital on time and I returned it after few days. I had to now manage everything with one hand and we had few issues between us in next couple of weeks.
Two journalists had also contacted me during this time period and wrote articles.
I had to use some of the profits I made from investing in BTC for paying hospital and wanted to recover it and also make more profit to use it for business. I was not experienced in margin trading but few people suggested it and I wanted to give it a try. I had no idea about TA or risk management at that time. This was a stupid move but I thought I have no options because no investors were ready to invest and other partners also had nothing much to contribute. I had few profit on a long position but lost it all during a 30–40% dump. I tried to recover losses from other funds but nothing worked. One partner had already left us when we had some issues with him. One day Swapnil decided to leave the place and said he will no longer be able to officially be a part of it. After couple of days even I decided to shut down company and website and go back home.
It was December 2017 or January 2018 when I came back home and was alone in a room for few months. Didn’t go out anywhere, sometimes had no food, won’t take bath for few days and was in too much depression.
I started leaning about TA and risk management during this time. Still sad about how it all ended but learnt a lot with such experience and feel more confident to trade, contribute etc. in crypto now.
I will soon be part of lot of new projects and will use my skills & experience to contribute more. I might have missed few things and also don’t care what trolls have to say about my experience but I will keep doing what I am passionate about.