Auston Bunsen, Co-Founder of CBlocks, Learns Something New with Each Book Read
If you’ve ever heard of the subscription box business model, then you probably have a pretty good idea of what CBlocks does.
This is how it works: after you sign up, the system automatically picks and buys five different cryptocurrencies. Then, it encrypts your wallet credentials on a CBlock USB with 256 bits – the AES (advanced encryption standard) used in banking networks and considered one of the top secure encryption methods. The last step is when the easy to use CBlock USB is delivered to your door, loaded with your cryptocoins, and you can use it to track the value of your holdings.
CBlocks was launched at the beginning of this year and is used typically by non-technical people who are looking to learn more about crypto, want to see, feel and hold their cryptocurrency in their hands. Because of the large influx of orders and the complexity of fulfilling them, CBlocks currently paused accepting new orders and opened up a waitinglist.
On Indie Hackers, Auston mentioned that CBlocks started out as a social experiment. Both him and his co-founders wanted to know if people would trust CBlocks to buy crypto, generate their private keys and ship it to them. The idea was built on Auston’s seven years of learning more and more about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
This is not Auston’s first “meddling” with entrepreneurship, since he was also the founder of UserPath, a tool that helped companies acquire and retain customers. He was also the CTO of a $160m/yr company called 1Sale.com and founder of SuperConf, a Miami tech conference.
In addition to his reading habits, Auston talked to us about the books that opened his eyes and changed the way he thinks, the ones that helped him with the practical skills of being a self-taught programmer, and also common misconceptions in regards to cryotocurrency.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
This is a really really difficult question! I guess if I had to pick, I’d say “Thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman – that book really opened my eyes and changed the way I think. I try to open it and read random parts every now and then so I can just remind myself of some brilliant anecdote that illustrates one of his points.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
This happens with pretty much every book I read. Most recently it happened to me when I was reading “Mastering Bitcoin” by Andreas Antonoupolous. I had no idea what the components of a Bitcoin wallet address were and he elegantly explains them in detail in chapter 4. It’s particularly relevant because we started CBlocks and we focus almost exclusively on wallet generation for our customers.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
I’ve got a few, one book that really impacted me early on as someone coming from a middle-class family was “Rich dad, Poor dad”.
Since then I’ve read many books but one that really stands out is “How not to be wrong” by Jordan Ellenberg which really reignited my appetite & appreciation for math.
I also really loved “The doors of perception” by Aldous Huxley.
What five books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
I’m actually a self-taught programmer, so these books have really helped me with practical skills that I could put to use & yield results. The return on investment for these kinds of books is off the charts for me!
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I usually read for about one to two hours a week. It’s hard to carve out time, especially with the amount of online articles that are being published. I prefer paperback books. They’re designed for wear and tear as well as portability (for when I’m in a Lyft or on a plane or dog park). I’m not a big fan of audio books although I do have an audible account. I also really couldn’t get into the ebook thing, even though my friend Jesse Lamb got me a Kindle (thank you Jesse).
How do you make time for reading?
Usually I squeeze it into a chore, like taking my dog to the dog park or in between laundry loads. If a Lyft ride is longer than 30 min & I’m alone I’ll use that opportunity to read.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
My technique is just to read slow. I won’t crush more than like 15 pages in any given hour of reading. I’m not interested in trying to slam as many books as I can. I prefer to absorb as much as I can from the books I read & sometimes I give them a second or third pass to make sure I soak it all up.
How do you choose what books to read next?
At this point I have a queue, I already know what my next 5 books are. I usually just go with topics I’m interested in (like cryptocurrency) but sometimes I read gifts from friends and other times I’ll read because it’s a popular book (this is how “Zero to One” got into my book queue).
Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
Only recommendations from friends. I’m not aware of any Siskel & Ebert of books.
What book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
What are the biggest aspects that people can’t seem to understand on the topic of cryptocurrency?
Oh wow. There are so many, a lot of people seem to just think “it’s a scam”. You can’t pay for stuff with a scam. I’ve personally been able to get smoothies, pizza & other cool things online with cryptocurrency. I know people that split their restaurant bill using cryptocurrency. This is definitely not hard to understand, it’s just a general myth.
Another one is “only criminals own cryptocurrency”. That’s definitely another myth, some of the smartest and richest people in the world are investing in as well as using cryptocurrencies every single day now.
I guess one real problem is that people have to adapt to a new mental model of financial responsibility with cryptocurrency which is that you are 100% responsible for your money, which is to say that there is no bank that can say “oops we need this to bail ourselves out” or “no you can’t withdraw $10k of your money today”. At CBlocks we’re trying to make it easy to get people started by helping them set up their first wallet, funding it with some coins to learn about & securing it with 256 bit encryption. If you’d like to get started then definitely sign up for our waitlist: CBlocks.io.
If you’re interested in learning more about cryptocurrency and blockchain, here are a few more of our interviews with entrepreneurs or investors from these fields:
- Antonio Eram, CEO of NETOPIA mobilPay, Shares the Books that Help Him Change, Rediscover, Reshape
- Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings, Talks About the Paradigms That Books Shifted in His Life
- Lex Na, CEO and Co-Founder of Bountie.io, on How Books Molded His Character
- James Stanley, Founder of SMS Privacy, on How Books Can Change the Way We Think
Links where you can follow Auston Bunsen or find out more about his projects:
- Follow Auston on Twitter | LinkedIn
- IndieHackers: ‘Getting Ahead of the Cryptocurrency Wave and Generating Early Revenue‘
- Starter Story: ‘Earning $32,000 in 30 Days With a Crypto-Filled USB Drive‘
- The Next Web: This startup wants to send you a mystery box full of cryptocurrencies
- Forbes: ‘CBlocks Is A New Mystery Box Service For Crypto Coins‘
All books mentioned by Auston Bunsen in this interview:
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg
- The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley
- Learn Ruby the Hard Way: A Simple and Idiomatic Introduction to the Imaginative World Of Computational Thinking with Code by Zed A. Shaw
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
- Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld, Jason Mendelson
- Mastering Ethereum: Building Smart Contracts and Dapps by Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Gavin Wood
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters