What is Blockchain? What can we use Blockchain for? Why somebody would outsource Blockchain projects? What should we know about it? What industries are Blockchain going to disrupt in the upcoming years?
We are going to address these questions and many more.
Fabian: You're listening to The Kaizen Podcast, episode number two. Today, we're talking about Blockchain Outsourcing, so let's get started.
Fabian: Hey everybody, Fabian from Kaizen Softworks here. Welcome to The Kaizen Podcast. Thanks for coming. The Kaizen Podcast is produced every two weeks for your enjoyment. Show notes and links are found at podcasts.kzsoftworks.com. Come back often, and feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed, iTunes, Stitch, and Spotify. You can also follow me on Twitter at @kzfabi. Now, let's get into the show.
Fabian: I'm here today with Omar Saadoun. He's the Chief Commercial Officer of InMind IT Solutions. He lives here in Uruguay but he's French, in fact. Welcome to the show, Omar.
Omar: Thanks, Fabian. It's right, I'm French, and we just won the World Cup. The World Cup
Fabian: You are very happy about that, right?
Fabian: Also, you won the World Cup and you're here in Uruguay. How is that?
Omar: Yeah, well, it's a funny story. I'm here since I'm five years old. My parents, my mother is from Uruguay and my father is from Algeria, but he's French, and both, they met at France and they got married and they had me, and suddenly we've been living here in Uruguay. Don't know really why.
Fabian: Things about life, right?
Omar: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Really, I love Uruguay. I was a little bit sad when Uruguay didn't win the-
Fabian: How old were you when you come, you said?
Omar: Five years.
Fabian: Five years?
Omar: Five years old. '87.
Fabian: How old are you right now?
Omar: You don't have to ask me that.
Fabian: You're young. You're young.
Omar: Yeah, man, 36 right now.
Fabian: All right.
Omar: Yeah, yeah.
Fabian: Tell me a little more about InMind, what you do there, how many years does the company has?
Omar: Well, we've been in business for the last 10 years.
Omar: I was around software, like almost 15 years, I started really young with some coding.
Fabian: What was your first job?
Omar: My job was to work freelance with the first HTML pages with a website for education. That was around 2000, a lot of years ago. Before that, I started to play with QBasic. I don't know if you-
Fabian: I don't remember.
Omar: ... know about that. That comes with the
Omar: Yeah, QBasic.
Fabian: I don't remember.
Omar: That's one of the first visual version of Basic that came with MS-DOS.
Fabian: All right.
Omar: Maybe version
Omar: ... five. Yeah, really old stuff. Old school, but yeah. That was my first approach to programming and I started to love that and I started to study about that and here I am. Systems Engineer and working on software so far.
Fabian: So InMind has 10 years, and what has been InMind doing?
Omar: Well, we have a long story working with different technologies and platforms. We started working for other companies that were bigger than us, and, well, they needed some-
Fabian: How big?
Omar: Maybe 200 employees or more. We have some example
Fabian: How many are you?
Omar: Now, we have around 10 people, fixed. We work also with other freelancers and other companies. We're thinking more about work on the business because most of the InMind history was working on programming specifically, and now we're focusing on creating new business and developing business, so our focus is there and we try to work with partners to create all the software product.
Fabian: Do you have any specialization, technology?
Omar: Yes, actually we have been doing mobile. We were working on mobile for the last six, seven years almost. Now, we have added some Blockchain technologies to our-
Fabian: Which is the main topic today.
Omar: ... expertise. Exactly, exactly. We were working like almost two years now on blockchain.
Fabian: Two years working on blockchain?
Fabian: How did you get into blockchain? What attracted you to get into blockchain?
Omar: Well, at first I started to hear about blockchain and I didn't have a clue about that but I started to see everybody-
Fabian: Does Anybody has?
Omar: Yeah, now there are more people that know about that but still there is a lot of information that is missing or misunderstood, so I started to see that, that most of the people were talking about blockchain but most of the people didn't have a real clue about that. And how that could be impacting the actual technology that is something that will be changing everything or not, so that took my attention. I started to dig in and to explore, and even if I'm working more on the commercial side, on the business side of software, I can't take away from that little child that was working on programming and I still haven't done it, so I started to do some test and some trials and-
Fabian: Always learning.
Omar: Yeah, exactly.
Fabian: You have an article on LinkedIn. I read it, it was really good. You were talking about blockchain there. We all know that this is one of the most disruptive technologies of the moment. Why don't we start from the beginning? What can you tell us what blockchain is?
Omar: Right, yeah, I love it. The blockchain is a special technology that allows keeping like a ledger for taking the accounting notes, and where they have some specific characteristics. You can add something to that ledger, but you can't erase it or you can't change it. You're only able to add more information, and that's something that's really different from what we had before that, because we have databases, we have shared databases, distributed databases, but we didn't have anything like a database that can't be edited, even if you have administrator rights. Because somebody could be asking about, "Well, I can have a database which only access from..."
Fabian: Is it like something to avoid corruption, for example?
Omar: Yes, yes, there is a couple of keywords that appears every time that we talk about blockchain. It's transparency, it's immutability, it's trust. That's some aspects that appear. Also, difficult or even impossible to hack. That's something that we can see on Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the first implementation of a blockchain technology.
Fabian: So, the security that blockchain can give to the people is one of the key things that makes blockchain attractive, right?
Omar: Yes, really attractive because it's really hard to hack this. So far it's impossible. So far it's impossible, but we're going to talk about that, maybe later.
Fabian: Yeah, we are.
Omar: ...and the distribution that you can achieve with blockchain is unthinkable with other technologies or other platforms, so you have a really great decentralization, a real decentralization of thousands of servers around the globe.
Fabian: Does anybody can have one of those servers or how is it?
Omar: Yes, actually anybody could have one. You can have your own node for Bitcoin. You can have your own node for Ethereum for example. You can start to be part of that community. That's one kind of blockchain. That's open blockchain or ... Yeah, that's the best word to describe it.
Fabian: Now that you named some cryptocurrencies. Why is Bitcoin so tied into it? They aren't the same so how can you explain the difference to the audience?
Omar: Well, Bitcoin is an implementation of blockchain. Blockchain is a concept, it's a technology. How it's built, it's not one specific blockchain. Bitcoin is one construction over a blockchain technology, so a Bitcoin node, we have all the characteristics of a blockchain and specific to Bitcoin. You could have another cryptocurrency or you could have even blockchain technology without cryptocurrencies. That's all blockchain technology, the other implementation of blockchain.
Fabian: I read in your blog that blockchain has some basic characteristics and you already named a few. You said distributed data, security, inalterability, consensus, traceability. Can you tell us a little more about these areas?
Omar: Well, mainly, the first and more important thing is how this chain is built. You have that word blockchain, that composition of the word. That's the beginning of this stuff of blockchain. Everything starts with some transactions around. Like you take Bitcoin, for example, is a great example for that. You have a group of transaction around different nodes, and you have something that has to process those transactions. You could name that a miner example. That miner will search for transactions without a block. Will mount a block, and that could be the first block of the chain. Once I have that block, I will hash it. I don't want to be too technical on this but I will have a footprint for only that could be generated by this block and only this block with those transactions. The way we're going to build that hash, that's one of the interesting aspects. You may have heard about the proof of work and something that consumes-
Fabian: Yeah, that's something you hear a lot.
Omar: ... a lot of power, yeah. Well, that's a really interesting way to ensure that the person that made that block and added it to the blockchain has really done that job because this is open. Everybody could have the source code of Bitcoin and could have his own node, so why, they could change the source code. There is nobody that could avoid that. This proof of work is the best way to ensure that a miner is doing his work on adding a real block to the blockchain. That takes us to the consensus. There is a way that every node that could be around will be checked that that work has been done by a real miner, and if there is any other chain around willing to be added to the blockchain, they have like two versions of that. They will choose what's the longest to add it and make it the real chain.
Fabian: What about traceability? I understand that for example, if I made a change in the blockchain in one of these blocks, I could track back all the history. For example, when talking about Bitcoin, those Bitcoins, where they come from in the past and all the transactions related to them. Is that something related to that? How is it?
Omar: Yes, it's related because, with the possibility that you can't change anything from the blockchain once some transaction is in the blockchain, once they are validated nobody could change it, nobody could erase that. It's impossible to change that, so you'll always have a traceability from the zero-day to today, with all transactions that have been done.
Fabian: Like to look to every transaction involved.
Omar: Every transaction, every transaction. They are all there, and every node has it. That's another interesting thing because you have distribution, but that distribution is not a copy. When I make a new node, if I start with my computer a new node, I download, I will not download the last copy. I will download all the list of transactions from the first day and the first transaction. Those transactions will be processed again, and all the rules and all the mistakes that have been done with the chain.
Fabian: But can I create a new blockchain and start from zero or how does it work?
Omar: You could, you could. Actually-
Fabian: But probably nobody will trust it, right? Or how does it work?
Omar: It is not my description, but it is a great description. Blockchain is like the fax concept. If I have one fax machine, it's useless, but if I have a million fax machines, I have a communication way. With Bitcoin and blockchain and every crypto that could be around, it's the same thing. A crypto is interesting or a blockchain is interesting when you have many parties around because you have somebody that will be trusting on that info, and will be using that place to share information and to be sure that information is real and add more information. If not, information of the node or-
Fabian: If nobody uses it...
Omar: Yeah, exactly. There is a-
Fabian: It's like the Network Effect, right?
Omar: Yes. There are new blockchains every day. Every time we hear about a new crypto is really. There is a lot of probably that the new crypto will be done by a blockchain technology. That's, well, we hope at least, because that's one way to give trust to the user of that crypto, and you could have even ... Or blockchain technology around, but it depends on how many users you have over that. Ethereum that is the other blockchain platform that has interesting things more than Bitcoin. You have the possibility to run some small programs over Ethereum.
Omar: If Ethereum only has 10 users, it's not interesting, but if you have a million users around, and maybe-
Fabian: That's another story.
Omar: ... 3,000, 10,000 nodes, you have a network. You have a place, and you have a community behind that.
Fabian: Right. You say it is impossible to hack this thing. You talked about a lot of things that make you believe this is really, really secure and you make sure about that, but how is it possible when we talk about for example about Bitcoin that every once in a while, there's a case when a hacker steals millions of dollars of cryptocurrency. What're your thoughts on this? How is it possible that companies get hacked into this blockchain network and anything that they have to do to reduce this risk?
Omar: There is a risk and it is because to access your wallet for Bitcoin, for example, you need two things. You need to have a private key and a public key. When you're going to send me money or Bitcoin, you'll need my public key. That's what everybody could see on the transaction, but when I have to send you money, and also if you want to send me that, you'll need the private key. It's like the way you sign the transaction. If I have your private key, I have access to your funds.
Omar: Yeah, so it's like you have the password for your banking account, but if you lose that, there is nobody, no central entity, where to knock the door and say, "I have lost my private key." You're gone. The money is gone, the crypto is gone, there is no way to retrieve that. That's why it's so, so difficult to hack because the only way is having your private key, but what happens is that when you have like the exchange outside the Bitcoin network, and they have two, three private keys, and they have stored it somewhere, most of the time hackers try a way to find.
Fabian: They store the private key for simplicity of the user, right?
Omar: Yeah, yeah, for this. Yeah, sometimes
Fabian: So you don't have to remember it.
Omar: Exactly. Sometimes they store your private key, sometimes they store their own private key, and you don't have a real private key. You have a private key for the exchange, so they still exchange because it's easier, and they have to manage how to steal the keys of the exchange, and they are still in the exchange, not the Bitcoin blockchain. For attacking a Bitcoin blockchain, you'll need what is called like a 50 plus one attack. Bitcoin is made and every blockchain is made like that by node, and you need more than a half of the node to make one block of transactions real. You need to have that consensus, and that consensus could be done by the majority. So you have to hack more than a half of the blockchain network to make it think that you have the real chain, and that's the way you could be hacking, but there is an interesting stuff. The proof of work is made in a way that you need at least 10 minutes to process only one block. Imagine that you have to hack, let's say, 1,000 blocks. There is no way, no way, that something that is really interesting, there is a lot of stuff about how much power you need to process on the transaction and the ecological stuff, etcetera, but that's the main reason of how difficult it is to hack the blockchain and all the Bitcoins.
Fabian: When you hear the news that 25 million got stolen of cryptocurrency, it is wrong to say that blockchain was hacked.
Fabian: The truth is that the exchange was hacked, right?
Omar: The exchanged was hacked. They found a way to store-
Fabian: I think that it is important that the people get to understand that really well, because maybe sometimes the majority of the people is not so tech savvy, could get confused and have the wrong impression of what the blockchain benefits could be, and not because of an exchange made something wrong about security and got stolen.
Omar: Yeah, usually it's that. It's the exchange that has some issue about the programming or the software that we're using to send the transaction, that they have a bug and the bug could lead to stole funds.
Fabian: Talking about learning, about blockchain, we were talking about how you get into it, a couple of days ago we were talking about how all these events about blockchain always get to the same about what is blockchain and all the stuff, so what can you recommend everybody out there that wants to get their hands into blockchain, how to start with it? Where they should start learning?
Omar: Well, that's not an easy question because you have to read a lot at first. You have to understand.
Fabian: It's pretty complex, right?
Omar: Yes, it's complex. You have a lot of guys that made the job easier, but I think that the most important is to understand what you can take from that technology, and that needs to be more in depth with the main stuff about blockchain. An example, blockchain isn't that will change all the systems that we know. It's not that blockchain will change how we build software, not for now at least, but blockchain will add some trust and will make some business easier and will add some decentralization to businesses that today are totally centralized. That's why Bitcoin was so exciting and they have so much success because there is a lot of people that don't have a way to be in a bank or having a bank account. They have no way. Those people, now, they have a way to have like credit. You have something decentralized that gives the trust to the people, to two people, and for both parties, that could be having a monetary transaction with a cryptocurrency that is not in a bank.
Fabian: And anywhere in the world.
Omar: Anywhere. Anywhere. That's one thing that we have to understand how it works, because maybe I'm doing a monetary transaction or a crypto transaction, but I could be doing another kind of transaction, another kind of asset.
Fabian: Going a little back to the learning, and if you had to name one source of information to learn about blockchain, which one will that be?
Omar: I tried to avoid. I'm not sure that there is only one source of information. When I started-
Fabian: I'm not saying that you just need to just look at just one, but maybe which one helped you the most?
Omar: I didn't start to learn about Bitcoin at first... I started to see about Ethereum because of the way to run code with the same characteristics than blockchain. You can have code there running that you can't change, so I started to work there and to understand how it is and how it worked. There is a lot of community behind that, and you aren't so deep in the trading war, because here you have like two big worlds. You have the trading part. They don't know or they don't want to know much about the programming part, and you have all the part that is the real technology of blockchain and all the programs that you can do. That's why I started to learn about Ethereum first. There is a lot of guides about that. The first thing I would do is to go to Google and-
Fabian: Go to Google...
Omar: ... "Ethereum blockchain first steps and guidelines" and something like that.
Fabian: Read every blog you can.
Omar: Yes, yes. There is a lot of like the first things that you need to know about Ethereum and that's interesting to understand what kind of business around that because you have even the communities behind that and they have made some business on the Ethereum blockchain. That's an interesting place to start if you don't have a clue about.
Fabian: When you say all business as well, what are the other uses about blockchain? We know one of the main ones probably is these cryptocurrencies, but what other uses have the blockchain? You also hear about smart contracts. I don't know how much that has to do with businesses or what's the use of them. Are they related? Are they not?
Omar: There is a relation. The cryptocurrency has made a lot of noise when Bitcoin went to 18,000, I guess something like that last year. There is a lot of people doing a lot of money and getting a lot of attention, but that's only one part. You have the other parts, that for me, it's the part that will be changing, really changing the world. There is a way to program a contract. Like the same contract you used to do with customers when they will say that, "I am going to make this work for you and you're going to pay me this amount of money. If I make an app I'll store it on the App Store and Google Play Store so you have a way to check that this app was deployed. If that's been done, automatically the money will go to your account." That is something that you do every day by a contract that you have to execute manually. You have to call the customer and tell him, "Hey, I already made this app. You have to pay me now." The customer will say, "Let me check if the app is really there." I can program that in a smart contract. I can have it on a blockchain. Nobody could change that. Nobody will change those conditions. You can even have like a deadline. If I don't achieve that deadline to send the app to the App Store, you'll have a discount of 10%. Those rules that I could make on a contract, a written contract. I can program that and make it on the blockchain. That will be executed automatically without any interaction from a human.
Fabian: Those are smart contracts?
Omar: Those are smart contracts. Everything that could trigger some actions could be known as a smart contract.
Fabian: It's really interesting.
Omar: It's an interesting way to make the transparency to our contracts. When I have to sell a car, I have to, I don't know, transfer any asset that could be going from one hand to another, you can...
Fabian: Pretty much blockchain could affect every business out there.
Omar: It could
Fabian: Every industry.
Omar: It could but for good. It could.
Fabian: No, you're right. We have to.
Omar: Yeah, of course, but there is a lot of fear about how it's going to change the work of the people because you have notaries that have been working on that kind of stuff and suddenly you have a technology that, "Hey, why are we going to need a notary for that?"
Fabian: Yeah, I would be probably worried about that.
Omar: Yeah, they are worried but we still need them because I have to validate that process.
Fabian: For advice.
Omar: Yeah, for advice but also to prove that that process, that blockchain, that smart contract is for good, it's real, it's okay, it's trustable.
Fabian: Let's move a little to the main topic of blockchain outsourcing. Let us start by the beginning again, why somebody will outsource something to a company anywhere in the world but also to a company in Uruguay.
Omar: Well, first because this is a real new technology. There are lots of things that need to be researched. You need to do lots of research and understand how this could impact your business, what do you need to achieve a new blockchain, to use that blockchain. That is something that will change. I think that if you have a business, your core will be to maintain your business working, and this is the place we'll be moving
Fabian: Invest the time, a lot of money, research. I don't know how many months that will take me but if I have a third party that could be that work for me. Even a company that is already working on that. That's an advantage, right?
Omar: Yeah, exactly. That will be the first thing that came to my head. It's a technology that is working all around the globe but you have places where there is more attraction to start on blockchain technology, and this is something that is happening right now. If you have to build all the knowledge, that will take some time, so it's easier.
Fabian: Of course.
Omar: ... for your business to start.
Fabian: Why Uruguay, for example?
Omar: That's maybe one of the things I like from here. Uruguay, we have an interesting way to learn a lot of software. We have a tradition of software, and blockchain isn't something that is out of that because you have several companies that are working and understanding blockchain. You have companies that are making their own products over blockchain. You have an ecosystem working on cryptocurrencies. You have many, many, many lines of work around blockchain right now.
Fabian: So you have talent available to scale your business if needed, related to the blockchain expertise you find in the talent pool?
Omar: Well, that's something that we have to work but on all the software industry here in Uruguay. We have a really small population. We have great talent but we are very few, and that's something, not only for Uruguay but specifically in blockchain is everybody's problem. There are very few talents on blockchain all around the world, so that's interesting, and why here in Uruguay we already have that talent working. We're few but we have great talent working on the blockchain.
Fabian: OK. What level of knowledge a company that wants to outsource blockchain projects, what level of knowledge on blockchain should they have to outsource to you? Because I can imagine that certain amount of knowledge, they still need to have to understand what you're going to talk about and to transmit what they want from it. Am I right or is it okay if I don't know anything and I just want to go "Hey, I want to use blockchain, tell me how".
Omar: It's a great question. I'm glad that you asked it. I just wrote last week a new article around that topic, and everybody is looking for a blockchain, and nobody really knows if they need a blockchain for their business, so there is like a hype about the blockchain technology that will help us to get funding and stuff like that, but anyway, the first thing I will ask to the customers if they are sure that they need a blockchain, and maybe they don't know how to respond that. There is a couple of keywords that are important to know if a blockchain could help me. One of those is... Am I an intermediary for anything? Am I having some asset that could be tokenized? Tokenize it is to have a virtual representation of a real asset.
Fabian: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Omar: Do I need to have transparency on my transactions? Do I have to be trusted for the transactions I'm making? That's some of the keywords
Fabian: Good questions.
Omar: ... that you can make if you are answering yes to one or two-
Fabian: To start to understand if you need it.
Omar: Yeah, yeah, so that's the first thing. I have like four questions that could help any customer to know if their business could be attained or could be helped by a blockchain technology.
Fabian: What kind of projects are you currently involved with blockchain at InMind?
Omar: Well, we started like everybody. We started with some proof of concepts, starting to understand the technology, how it works, how much time it takes to create something. You have some characteristics that could lead to hard times because there is core that you can't alter once you had programmed it, you can't alter it and you have to deploy a new version somewhat else. You can't update. You have interesting stuff to understand, to get the time to develop. We started to like... It was called Medical Wallet. That was our first project. The idea behind that was to give the power of having the information, the real power of control the information about your clinic history. I could decide which doctor could have my information. I could decide who to share my information and when. That's one of the first projects we made.
Fabian: It's interesting because that's, I can imagine, if you have your medical history on blockchain nobody could alter or hack like you're saying, my clinical history, which is really, really important for everybody, right?
Omar: Yes, exactly. When I talk about that case, I talk about the Michael Jackson death, and all the things that are behind because Michael Jackson has a doctor and they are not sure if he was drugged, he was poisoned, and what was his story?
Fabian: There were doubts.
Omar: He was hiding a lot of stuff on the medical history and, hey, everybody could pay to somebody a lot of money and say, "Let's change those database rows. We have-"
Fabian: Because it is so simple to alter that database.
Omar: Yeah, you only need the access. On blockchain even if you have the access, you cannot alter it.
Fabian: Something that happened, happened, it's there.
Omar: Yeah, it's there.
Fabian: That's great. Another project you're working worth mentioning?
Omar: Yeah, last year we have been working, that's like a top secret but I will
Fabian: What can you tell us?
Omar: ...tell only that we have been working, doing like a satellite's API to process and send files over satellite, working with Bitcoin and some smart contracts around.
Omar: Yeah, cool stuff, really hard to do, but really interesting.
Fabian: If only blockchain wasn't hard, adding satellites to it, not easy.
Omar: The satellite part was really easy.
Fabian: All right. Your customers, where are they from?
Omar: Our customers right now, most of them are in the United States.
Fabian: Yes, cool. They're taking advantage of the time zone difference. Where are they exactly? Are they on the East Coast, West Coast?
Omar: We have coast to coast right now.
Omar: Yeah, yeah, that makes some troubles because I have to stay up some hours but
Omar: Well, because I have all those customers
Fabian: Because in fact with West Coast, we have like three, four-hour difference, and East Coast we only have one.
Omar: Yes, but I have some customer in Switzerland and then that
Fabian: That's another story.
Omar: Yeah, I didn't mention that, yeah.
Fabian: But the United States is very easy to work with.
Omar: Yeah, United States-
Fabian: We share most of these hours.
Omar: Yes, exactly.
Fabian: That's nearshore blockchain outsourcing. That's really, really good to hear that Uruguay is working on that, and that's something you don't hear a lot here. I think we already covered this, but what other industries do you think blockchain will disrupt in the near future and in upcoming years?
Omar: I think that that's pretty personal but I think that the banking industry has been changing without the banks because you have a lot of countries that have a lot of population without a banking account, and now they have a way to have credit, and to have a credit history, like a banking history on the blockchain, so that's something that's happening with or without our knowledge or at least banking knowledge. I think that all the finance industry will be hit by the blockchain. There is a lot of use cases really, really interesting, that could take a lot of advantage from blockchain technology. They're working on that between banks because you have a lot of things going on when you send a transaction. When you're sending money you have a lot of validation, when you send a check you have a lot of validation that has to be made between banks, and that's a way to have the trust, that little paper that you send or that your transaction is actually good and they have funds to cover it because you have to trust on that, and blockchain has that trust by design. If you have a transaction that says that this guy has enough money to pay that transaction, that's true.
Fabian: You told me that you're working with a healthcare company to make a wallet, and this other company which we don't know too much besides the satellites, so I guess maybe they are a telco, I don't know. Now, you mention banks. Are you specialized? Is InMind specialized in a vertical or can you work with any company, for example, from the United States that wants to outsource some blockchain project, and can you just take care of it?
Omar: That's a tricky question because yes, we have a lot of experience from our past working with banks, so we know how it works behind that, and that experience leaves us a lot of knowledge not only about the specific vertical but a knowledge about technology. Right now, we're focusing on blockchain technologies combined with mobile technologies, but I couldn't say that we're working on one specific vertical. We have a lot of knowledge from behind it, from our background, but we're still finding what is our vertical, right now. So far, we're working on blockchain technology. My approach to that is that is not a vertical. It's a technology that in like two or three years will be, I don't know if a commodity yet, but there will be more people working on blockchain so it won't be something so new. My work is to find and, or define that vertical, where we're going to work.
Fabian: Right. That's right.
Omar: Right now we're working on different projects and we're doing really well, so we have all our reviews and references from our customers that talk for us.
Fabian: That's important. How do you typically sell these services on blockchain? Do you use Time & Materials, Fixed Price, what's the typical agreement?
Omar: We have both. We have both. The last project was fixed price because usually, our customer has a budget that they want to use for that research. There are really few projects that are live on blockchain technology. That's a good thing because that's the-
Fabian: There's still a lot of experimentation.
Omar: Yes, exactly, exactly. There's lots of experimentation so they want to try it to see if there is a business, to see how it works and they have a budget for that. Usually, we're working on mainly fixed price for those kinds of projects. Sometimes we have to add more features, and that's the moment where we start to work on more time and materials.
Fabian: For a company like InMind, that you're 10 people, right? How is the team composition? Suppose that I am a company and come to you and I want to outsource my blockchain project, which team members will I see involved, what are the roles of them, are you involved in the project, how does it work?
Omar: Well, to make it short, usually I'm involved at first because I'm the guy that you'll find to give you that solution that you need, and we're going to give you like a project manager that will be the way to interact and to have every day.
Fabian: Like a synchronization.
Omar: Yes, exactly. You will have one point of communication, and we do the rest. That's the way we try to do these things. I have to be honest, we work with many partners, we care about the entire business, and we don't want our customers to deal with different developers or the designer. I do all that work for you.
Fabian: Provide the solution to them.
Omar: Yes, exactly, exactly.
Fabian: It doesn't matter how it works behind the scenes.
Omar: Exactly. If you have to care about how it works, it's because I'm not doing my work in a good way. Normally, you don't have to know about what is happening behind, but it's done under the hood.
Fabian: You mentioned that you're also in Switzerland, but still in the United States. Am I okay if I assume that your main market is the United States? Do you travel to the United States and do you get to meet with your customers? Does the rest of the team also travel? What can you tell me about that aspect?
Omar: Well, United States is our main focus right now. We have been working with Switzerland because of my knowledge of French. Yes, that's one of the main reasons we have some projects during the last years with France and Switzerland, but our main focus is on United States. That's where all our commercial work is done, it's where we travel.
Fabian: How often do you go there?
Omar: We try to travel like two, three times at least a year. We should be traveling more maybe next year.
Fabian: OK. Do you go to conferences about blockchain there?
Omar: Yes, last time I was in meetups. I missed Consensus. I have to go there next year. Consensus is the main event
Fabian: On blockchain?
Omar: ... on blockchain of the world.
Fabian: Where is it?
Omar: I don't remember you know. It was in New York the last time.
Fabian: Is it always in New York or do they rotate?
Omar: I don't remember.
Fabian: No worries.
Omar: I think so. I think so.
Fabian: How do you do that?
Omar: That is the main event of blockchain in the world, the Consensus.
Fabian: To start wrapping up, probably my final question, how do your customers pay for your services? Do you accept Bitcoin?
Omar: Not right now.
Omar: Yeah, not right now, yeah.
Fabian: You don't trust?
Omar: I trust, yes, but I have to pay salaries on dollars and Uruguayan pesos so...
Fabian: And the tricks of getting the money out and all that.
Omar: Yes, yes, that's something that we have to work. We still have to work on how to change cryptos to Fiat. That's the name of the company
Fabian: Did any of your customers already ask that?
Omar: Yes, they used to ask that, and my first answer was "I would like to but I still need to pay salaries with Fiat".
Fabian: What is the normal way of paying?
Omar: The normal way is wire transfer. You work with banks, sometimes directly, sometimes through a wire transfer on a company on the States, and that's the way we're working, we are getting paid.
Fabian: Cool. All right, so I think I already asked you about what you thought about the future, but I think it was more about the verticals on the industries that could get disrupted, so I want to ask this question maybe again, what do you think the blockchain future has for us in the upcoming five to 10 years? Did it come to stay, and how strong?
Omar: Excellent question. I think it came to stay. I think that we are going to see during the next year or year and a half, maybe two years, like filtering from all the noise that we heard about blockchain, there is a lot, lot of business that ain't doing nothing about blockchain but they say something like, so there is a time that we need to purge all those cases, all those works that are being done to grab money. That's the story, but I think that blockchain is here to stay. You have really, really big actors around that. You have IBM with the Linux Foundation working on their own platform, on blockchain platform that is called Hyperledger that also have the same concept about opensource, open code, a community working on that. That's another kind of blockchain. It's a permissioning blockchain, so you have big actors around that, and usually, when you have big actors, it's because that is going to stay. That's what I think. You'll have more and more use cases of a blockchain.
Fabian: Well, all right, like Bugs Bunny says, "That's all folks." Thanks Omar much for showing us today, thanks a lot for your time to share your thoughts on blockchain and outsourcing.
Omar: Well, thanks to you, Fabian. It was great. It's a pleasure to me to talk about this, and talk technology in general, but it's something that I'm really passionate about, and I think that it's going to change our life for good.
Fabian: Thanks everyone for listening to The Kaizen Podcast. This podcast has been brought to you by Kaizen Softworks. Check us out at kzsoftworks.com.