Page 4 of 5
Alvarado admits that hackers are always going to attack the site. "People will want to get this money," he says, adding that the Klinkathons are going to be regular occurrences to keep him on his toes. He has already seen attempts in China and Russia to crack the site. The attempted attacks may not be all bad, Alvarado says.
"In Russia, we don't have carriers," he says, "so that makes me think Klink Mobile is starting to be somewhat popular in the European continent."
Before anyone can try to steal Klink's money, Bishop needs to raise it. (She named her company Klink because "that's the sound money makes.") Bishop says there are several reasons that venture-capital firms might pass on her company. For starters, the concept — creating a virtual currency that is transmitted over the phone — is difficult to explain.
"What we're doing is so high-risk and so far out there," she says.
Plus, focusing on Afghanistan, a country battered by war and viewed as a Taliban stronghold, could throw off some investors.
"Transferring money from the U.S. to a person in Afghanistan, that's a hard thing convince people that that's something they should participate in," Bishop admits.
Also hurting her cause: That country's uncertain future once American forces are withdrawn from the country.
If investors are worried about terrorists using Klink, Bishop says, that's a bogus concern.
"Terrorism, drug cartels are never going to go away," she says. But, she adds, because Klink transactions live on the phone, the company can track where money goes after it's sent. "Should it occur, we're going to be in a better position to address it than the current banking institutions are today."
Maybe there's another reason for the lack of investors.
"People have a hard time with these baby cheeks, I think," she says, pointing to her face.
Or maybe Bishop is more cautious now. She says she's looking for the "right money." But to someone who hasn't drawn a salary for more than a year, logic might dictate that any money is the right money. Bishop says that isn't true.
"There are so many people that I've started to do due diligence with," she says. "Halfway through, when they're about to put a deal on the table, they're like, 'Oh, by the way, how would you feel about us putting our boy in as the CEO?' You have to be really careful about what money you take."
She adds that she isn't looking for potential investors who want to hear only good news.
"A lot of investors want to be told lies, I think," she says. "They want to hear that everything is really good all the time. ... I'm going to tell you when it's really bad, and I'm going to tell you when it's really good. If you can't handle that, you're not the right person for this company."
As Bishop and her team prepare for their text campaign in Afghanistan, they're in an odd position. With limited resources to cover all transactions, the company can't afford for its initial push to be too successful.
"I'm worried we won't have enough money to fund the transactions," she says.
But this is the moment that Bishop needs. She's closing in on a professional rebound. If the text campaign succeeds, Klink will be far more attractive to venture capitalists, she says. Only then can she finally stop bootstrapping.
"If everything goes as planned, we'll be extremely successful," she says. "And I don't think we can bootstrap anymore at that point."