Hangtime with Bitcoin: An Interview with Paul Puey of Hangtime Climbing Company

Matthew Childs, in his Ted Talk 9 Life Lessons  from Rock Climbing, lays out how lessons learned in rock climbing can apply to life. Some of the lessons he talks about struck me as being applicable to the Bitcoin community and especially to those who are trying to make a Bitcoin related business work.baumgart-cutout

The lessons Childs’ talks about that seem to me to have the most relevance are:

  • Don’t let go.
  • Hesitation is bad.
  • Have a plan.
  • Fear sucks.
  • Strength doesn’t equal success.

“Don’t let go” struck me just because of the number of times that I have talked with people who have told me that Bitcoin is a fad, that it is just for drug dealers and money launderers, or that it is going to get crushed by the government. I even hear people within the community say that in ten years’ time, Bitcoin will either be worth a lot or nothing. They talk about rolling over into one of the altcoins if Bitcoin bottoms out. My one take on this is that Bitcoin is an emergent technology that has already passed its first tests. There are certainly going to be surprises and hard times ahead as Bitcoin grows in adoption. It is difficult to know what the final picture will look like, but “Don’t let go” does seem to be very good advice.

“Hesitation is bad.” I first heard of Bitcoin while listening to a podcast on my homeward commute; I thought that it sounded interesting and fun. I had just closed down an import business and was kind of thinking of trying something new. A new baby and the difficulty of explaining digital money to my wife kept me out of it at the time. If I had gotten in then, even a modest investment would have put my family on a better financial footing today. There is great growth potential for Bitcoin, better than with the markets. So, if anyone asks me now if it is the right time to buy Bitcoin, my answer is, the price doesn’t matter; now is the right time to buy.

“Have a plan.” This is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity for the Bitcoin community. There are so many unknowns, particularly in terms of regulation, but also in difficulty levels, banking, the meaning of Bitcoin anonymity, and so on that it is difficult for anyone trying to start a Bitcoin business to know exactly how to operate. This will get better, and the people who have the foresight to have the right plan are likely to get rewarded enormously. Which leads us to:

“Fear sucks.” ‘Nuff said.

**Get started with Bitcoin at Coinbase.**

“Strength doesn’t equal success.” Bitcoin’s path to success is not going to be a direct challenge to fiat currencies or governments. Bitcoin is like water. When governments throw up obstacles, Bitcoin will go around and under. They will chip away at the foundations until the governments buckle. Or, governments may harness the power of Bitcoin to make their economies more equitable and efficient. The governments themselves are taking actions that will make Bitcoin more attractive. Recent reports say that bail-ins are being seen by more and more governments as a viable, and less politically toxic, alternative to bail-outs. What this is ignores is that depositors are not investors like the shareholders or bondholders of a bank, but are customers. Requiring depositors to bail-in banks in trouble will set the stage for Bitcoin much more effectively than anything anyone in the community could do.

In the meantime, though, it is important to keep strengthening the community and doing what we can to spread adoption. One of the things that I look for when I am searching for Bitcoin related businesses to profile is how prominent their “Bitcoin Accepted Here” plaque is. For some businesses owners, though they would like the exposure to the Bitcoin community a plaque provides, there is also the feeling that one will alienate some of their other customers, the ones who too often see Bitcoin associated with illicit activities in the mainstream press.

Because of this, I was really glad to find the Hangtime Climbing Company and I asked owner Paul Puey to answer a few of my img_6948-300wquestions. Paul and his co-owner, Patrick Moore, are both experienced climbers and instructors.

I asked Paul what drove him to open a rock climbing school. He replied:

Hangtime Climbing Company is my labor of love and its main purpose is to introduce the sport of rock climbing to the masses of San Diego. I started rock climbing 13 years ago and about seven years ago decided to change my life and focus on this as a career. The look on people’s faces when they are able to accomplish things on the rock that they did not think were possible… that’s what gets me up in the morning and keeps bringing me back in this physical line of work. My primary customers are first-time climbers who have either never been rock climbing, or have only climbed indoors and are looking for their first outdoor experience. Second to that, I get a handful of climbers who are looking for specific skills to make them independent outdoor climbers.

I then asked Paul about how and why his business accepts Bitcoin.

I decided to take bitcoin payment primarily to help promote the currency. I didn’t expect to get a lot of inquiries, but I expect that to change over the next couple years. I currently offer a 5% discount for those paying in bitcoin, and a few clients have taken me up on that offer. I currently use Coinbase to send payment requests for deposits and blockchain.info wallet to take payments in person. I don’t exchange my bitcoins for dollars, so far that has been a wise decision.

I asked Paul what elaborate on what Bitcoin is.

Bitcoin means freedom to me, freedom from excessive bank fees, freedom to send and receive money from and to whoever you want. It is a way to support local and global businesses without putting my money in the hands of large corporations whose practices I don’t support. I am confident that it has a solid future and it will really start to take off once better merchant POS tools are available.

Finally, I asked Paul to share any Bitcoin stories he might have.

No funny stories about Bitcoin. But the one unexpected benefit I received has been all of the additional exposure through articles from sites such as BitcoinExaminer and BitcoinWarrior.

I want to thank Paul for answering my questions. I am always on the lookout for businesses, charities, and organizations that accept or use Bitcoin. If you are one or know of one, please contact me at editor(@)bitcoinwarrior.net.

 Please comment—we love to hear from you!

09/30/2013

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