CMO Lidia Yadlos Reports In From Digitex's New Home in Moscow
As most of you are aware by now, work on developing the Digitex Futures exchange is well underway in Moscow. The SmartDec development team is based there permanently. However, CEO Adam Todd and our Head of Marketing, Lidia Yadlos, are now stationed there full-time to work alongside SmartDec. Here, Lidia shares some of her thoughts and insights about working with the SmartDec team, plans for upcoming marketing activities, and how she’s settling into life in the Russian capital.
Q: So you’ve been in Moscow over three weeks already, what were your first thoughts as you touched down in Russia?
LY: Well, I flew into Moscow from Barcelona. I was there for a few days to check out the Finance Magnates BTC trading conference, where Adam was invited to present on the topic of zero-fee trading.
My first thoughts on arriving in Moscow? Totally psyched! I like the idea of living in a foreign city, it seems so adventurous. More so, I was really eager to meet the development team.
Ironically, I had never met any of the previous teams. I’ve always wanted to work more closely with our developers, but typically, they prefer to stick to their programming activities. Unfortunately, I feel that we missed this bridge of communication between the teams in previous marketing campaigns.
Now, I’m working side-by-side with the SmartDec developers. I’m fully up to speed with the day-to-day progress, which directly feeds into my work planning and communicating with our community. Luckily, everyone at SmartDec has been warm and welcoming.
Q: How are you enjoying it so far?
LY: Honestly, I love it! Never mind the weather, which has been just awful — literally no summer with an average temperature is 60F (around 15C)! Other then that, the team is amazing. Smart, super sharp, but also friendly and welcoming. There’s always yummy treats and chocolate all around the office, which is becoming a bit dangerous! And, everyone speaks some English which helps. I’m Ukrainian, so I can get by in Russian to an extent.
The office is pretty big, with a total of 57 developers. Everyone comes in at all hours of the day and night so you’ll never actually see everyone all at the same time.
The mood is extremely positive and I think this motivates us all to push harder. It’s also inspiring to see the white boards in different offices covered with Digitex notes - there’s meetings left and right with all sorts of Digitex development talks.
Of course, I always get pulled into meetings throughout the day to sit in with Adam, listen in and translate when needed. Multi-tasking my own work is a bit of a challenge! But I can honestly say, I enjoy coming into work, every single day.
Q: What’s it like working alongside the SmartDec team?
LY: Working with the team has been interesting, especially since this is my first time working side-by-side with developers. During the first week, I took some time to explain my role and the importance of marketing in making Digitex a success. As I said, developers tend to prioritize their coding activities, but for me, it’s critical that everyone understands how different roles all contribute to making Digitex greater than the sum of its parts.
Our exchange, being a zero-fee, P2P futures exchange will really be the first of its kind. This alone has the potential to be MASSIVE. I think most people get that once they come across the project, which is why we were so successful at marketing this in the first place. The product sells itself!
In building the Digitex product, development has always proved to be much more complex than anyone anticipated. Even with the best developers in Dublin (one came from NASA and another from Silicon Valley), we’ve learned that this project requires a highly specialized team of programmers which understands how to develop this sort of product to a high standard.
I can’t emphasize enough how Digitex is the FIRST and ONLY zero-fee, high leverage, cryptocurrency futures exchange. We have no precedent, so as well as the project being very complex, we are creating so much from scratch.
Quick side note, our lead project manager was an aircraft engineer, and even he said that with all his experience designing and building airplanes, “this is some complex s***!”
Back to stressing the importance of marketing, we’re all on the same page now. They see that if they do their job and we launch this as planned, we have every reason to become one of the top exchanges in the world. And to be able to achieve such a massive user base, a lot of back work goes into building campaigns and marketing the product. So in three short weeks, we have come to a level playing field, where we understand each other and we’re working towards the same goal.
Q: What are your main goals as far as working out of the Moscow office?
LY: I think I touched on this already - it’s crucial that we bridge communication between marketing and development. Ensuring that we have an aligned understanding of the development roadmap has become my top priority.
I’ve also learned that we have two teams. There’s the CEX (centralized exchange) team, which is the majority of the developers working on Digitex, plus the DEX (decentralized exchange) team. They work separately but meet twice a week with Adam to review their progress. On the DEX part, the team is doing independent research.
In a short time, I’ve learned so much just listening to both of the team’s research and development, and I’m really looking forward to sharing more of this with our community.
I’d bet many people know just the bare minimum about Plasma technology and the stage that the research is at globally. Believe it or not, Digitex’s team is at the forefront of this research. Unfortunately, decentralized blockchain technology is still in its infancy.
I’m meeting with the Lead Developer of the DEX this afternoon to do a Q&A for next week, and to share his insight on Plasma and zkSNARKS technology. Really interesting stuff, and I think our community will get a lot out of knowing more about it.
But back to the general day-to-day progress, it gives me a lot of optimism to see with my own eyes that we have a qualified team that’s diligent enough to successfully launch this exchange.
Q: Can you give us some insights as to Digitex’s marketing plans for the coming weeks and months?
LY: Soooo much is happening! It’s almost overwhelming but still very exciting. I love this company, and despite our setbacks, I’ve never lost any ounce of hope or enthusiasm in marketing Digitex.
That said, one of the things I’ve always wanted to do is localize our campaigns. All of our marketing efforts have always been geared at an English-speaking audience, and it just killed me to think we were missing out on so many potentially vast markets because of the language barrier. So, while we’re taking a few steps back with development and restructuring our team, I thought to myself why not do it now?
So, we’ve translated our website. As of yesterday it’s officially live in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and updated Russian. We’ll be introducing new social channels in those local languages as well. We’re also working on a new campaign… but can’t say more than that. It’s brewing, and it’ll be here very soon!
Q: Is Russia going to be a large target country for the Digitex exchange?
LY: Russia, but also all of Eastern Europe. I believe there’s so much potential here. There are quite a few big projects based here, as well. Surprisingly, I was getting my nails done and sitting next to me was the personal assistant to the CEO of EOS! Apparently, their office is nearby. Our DGTX listing partners Changelly are also based in Russia. So there’s a buzzing crypto hub here in Russia.
But, I’m even more eager to get the Asian marketing set up. I believe that the Asian markets have so much interest in crypto trading and futures, and this will open us up to a huge new audience. They are going to fall in love with Digitex! It gives me chills thinking about the massive potential there, and we’re right at the cusp of penetrating it.
Q: Why is it important for marketing and development to work closely together?
LY: Unfortunately, I think it’s one of those things we’ve learned the hard way, although I’m pretty sure we aren’t the first company to go through that realization. If marketing and development are working side by side, we have the best possible chance of ensuring that we can provide accurate and timely information to our community. We know we’ve missed our launch dates twice, but close collaboration between marketing and development will be one of the biggest drivers in helping us get past the post this time around.
I’m here watching everything to make sure all communications accurately reflect the current development status, in real-time. Because of the past, I think our community now realize that we’re very careful about what we say and promise.
Q: What are the main things you’ve learned so far?
LY: Well, I’ve been working alongside Adam for just over a year now. And I’ve learned so much from him personally. About the industry, about the market and its patterns, and about what it’s like running a tech startup. Many people have no idea how difficult it is to sustain a startup. That first year or even two years are the most difficult, and if you survive it then you’re golden. But nine out of ten businesses don’t make it, and I can see why. It’s incredibly tough.
Seeing how Adam has overcome so many challenges — starting with the 2018 market crash, to the development setbacks, to working remotely, to regulatory issues... There’s always a mountain of tasks at hand and Adam just has this way of being able to tackle any obstacle thrown at him. He makes mistakes, of course, he’s only human, but what’s more impressive is that he always figures a way out.
He’s not only a great visionary but also a keen businessman. Seeing our team be able to overcome all these challenges just shows me how strong we are and that we can overcome anything. Again, the launch is only the beginning and I still believe that the best is yet to come.
Q: When can we expect to see the new Digitex roadmap?
LY: Soon, for sure. But as eager as I am to spill the beans, it’s best that we let the developers do their thing. Only when they are 1000% confident will we see the product launch roadmap. Until then, we just need to hold on a bit longer. It’ll all be worth the wait!
Q: When launch?
LY: LOL, given everything I’ve just said about confidence, you know I can’t share that! But, coincidentally, I’ve shared my personal perspective as the Head of Marketing for Digitex twice already, just before our previous campaigns. So you can take that as a heavy hint ;)
LY: Cheers guys! A big thank you to everyone who has been so patient and supportive. And to those who have been lost along the way, we hope we’ll win you back soon. We know that we, as a brand, need to prove ourselves. Actions speak louder than words.
But I’m also confident that we will launch Digitex Futures, and the exchange will be superior in every way to what’s currently available on the market. So not only do I have faith that we’ll win those guys back, but we will also introduce our shiny new product to many new traders.
Catch you all very soon!