Victoria Arsenova (Vaughan) is a digital asset expert with an impressive track record of building industry-leading media companies within the blockchain space. Formerly the CEO of Cointelegraph, she’s now advising a number of leading businesses in the industry.

Today, Victoria shares the story behind her success, her growth strategies, and advice for entrepreneurs looking to enter the blockchain space.

When did you first come into contact with the concept of blockchain?

At a conference in 2012. I met someone who told me about blockchain, and he even gave me a physical bitcoin that looked like a token for a slot machine. Now I wish I’d kept it; it would’ve been the perfect symbol of things to come!

Later I read up about bitcoin and blockchain, trying to find all the information I could. At the time, there were no beginner guides to blockchain, like there are now – so I had to resort to digging through unfamiliar tech forums to figure out what it’s all about. Back then, the whole idea behind blockchain seemed so insane!

At your previous media company, you went from Project Manager to CEO in just two years. What’s your secret?

I believe that the key to success is being able to identify the factors which will bring results and focus all your efforts on them. Every morning I analyze each item on my to-do list. I ask myself whether completing a certain task will really bring traffic, revenue, or any other measurable value, and consider whether there’s anything else I could do to reach the same result faster.

I’ve noticed that many people tend to get into a routine and start mindlessly doing work which in the grand scheme of things is not very important. So when you manage a team, you should also be attentive and make sure people are not doing unnecessary things.

Another key factor is to always find optimal solutions to problems. Often, a problem can be solved with an X amount of effort – but many people have a tendency to over-engineer solutions and end up with 10X effort.

What are some of the most important aspects of your growth strategies? Can you share some tips on efficiently growing a blockchain-related media company?

When we were starting out, the industry was at a very early stage but already growing. People who believed in it were building their profiles as experts and gathering their audiences on Twitter, Medium, and other online outlets. We started partnering with people who already had an established presence and a following. Eventually, when we’d publish an article with an expert comments, those experts would share it with their audiences – who would then start following us.  We built a pretty big network of experts, enabling us to get industry insights while expanding our own audience.

One of the first things we did after launching the business was to build a dedicated sales team and begin monetizing our traffic. We avoided using Google Ads because of the extremely low rates it offered. Due to the lack of advertising space on other websites, we were able to sell for quite a high CPM and broke even in several months.

Next, we identified a number of websites built by industry enthusiasts which had good traffic that wasn’t being monetized – such as Coinmarketcap, Whattomine, Coingecko, and many others. I entered into partnerships with them for exclusive reselling of their ad spaces. One of the requirements for such a partnership was adding our news widget to their homepage. In this way, we became an agency with the biggest ad traffic in the niche. We also significantly increased our own traffic, as our partners started generating it – people who visited partner websites clicked on our widget and often became our returning visitors.

Later, when the industry became more mature and companies in the niche were ready to be advertised outside of the industry-focused websites (but in related fields such as tech and finance), we also built relations with a number of reputable media such as Bloomberg, Investing, and TNW, among others. Thanks to those, we were able to offer our clients a one-stop-shop for PR services. This gave our business a significant boost.

If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I would say it was all about successful partnerships and offering unique, in-demand services.

Many would-be business founders wonder whether they have what it takes to start a blockchain-themed company. What qualities do you think are needed to succeed in this field?

This industry is extremely dynamic. New trends appear every several months and the ability to adapt and be flexible is very important.

The space is also not regulated in many countries and there’s always a risk that you can have regulatory problems in the future – so I think it’s also important to understand potential risks and build a strategy to mitigate them.

Finally, understanding technology is extremely important when it comes to building a product. Just think how many exchanges have been hacked over the years!

Was there anyone in particular at the beginning of your career that inspired or motivated you? Did you have a mentor or a role model?

Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to always be surrounded by people from whom to learn. There were several very talented people on the team. Also, when I was restructuring sales processes, I hired a consultant who helped me get it right. Since he’d worked with companies from so many different industries, his level of knowledge was outstanding and it was a great experience to work together.

Of course, the owner of the company has always been a mentor for me. Although we’ve gone through a few rough patches, it’s been a very successful partnership overall.

Any last pieces of advice you would give to entrepreneurs looking to get into the niche?

You should be ready for volatility and balance the business accordingly. Sometimes the market is extremely active, sometimes “crypto winters” come when everything goes quiet. You should prepare resources in advance in order to survive the cold!