Questions: Monica M. Lawton
Answers: Aaron Siwoku
Follow Aaron on twitter, because he asked politely… @aaronsiwoku
Please introduce yourself
My name is Aaron Siwoku, I’m the Founder of an app called TOAST. This allows overseas foreign workers to send money back to loved ones in real-time, without it costing them lots of money, or time.
Where are you from?
I’m from the U.K, born in Liverpool, moved to Cheshire when I was 9 years old. My mother quickly had me in elocution lessons because of my thick accent. She believed that no one would give me a job, unless I rid myself of it. They still won’t, so I’m not sure how she how right she was to send me. I hated going to those lessons on Saturday mornings!
What brought you to Asia?
I actually ended up in Asia by accident, I was supposed to move to Dublin, Ireland when I was 23 (I’m half Irish and had never lived there). I’d sold my house, and car. I decided to volunteer at an orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for three months before moving to Ireland. That three months shifted my personal paradigm massively and I got very inspired and decided to stay in Cambodia and work with kids. I ended up being there for a year and half. That was nearly 10 years ago. I live in Singapore these days.
What do you do to relax?
When I get time to relax I like to be active and love to cook and watch movies at home.
I love sports, especially triathlon and surfing.
When I’m in Singapore I try to run 2/3 times a week, swim twice a week, cycle once a week.
On the weekend I like to play volleyball at the beach. If I can squeeze in Stand Up Paddle boarding and a Yoga class then that would be a perfect week.
Every 2 to 3 months I visit Bali for about 4 days to surf, that really is the thing that I treat the most like meditation. It settles me down and makes me happier than anything else.
In the future I hope to have more time for surfing.
What excites you?
I get excited when I think about the exponential possibility of anything, and everything. People, technology, business, ambition, education, and self-improvement.
Are you married, or single? Sorry, I had a few people asking
Haha, I’m single. For good reason too, I’d make a lousy boyfriend. I’m constantly distracted by work, and sport. I am becoming more conscious about finding balance. I do want to be a husband, and father one day. The thought of not having a wife, and kids in the future bothers me.
What is your company, and it’s mantra?
TOAST is really about democratizing finance through technology and good design. Through technology we can do so many things, and solve so many problems. Through design we can make it enjoyable and a pleasure to use. From a customer experience point of view banking is less human than ever these days and we want to change that; ironically through technology.
How, and when did you come into the knowledge of Bitcoin?
I’ve worked online since I was 23 and when you work online there a certain people in the Tech community that you communicate with regularly remotely. A good friend of mine popped up on Skype one day and told me to check out this new digital currency called ‘Bitcoin’. At the time it was $16 and he had bought it at $6 and seen it shoot to $16. He told me it’s really a cool thing and that in the future he thinks it could be worth at least $100 a coin. I trusted him as he was good at spotting tech trends, the sale of his previous company which was a porn tube site was testament to that ability! I did some reading and the concept of Bitcoin and the technology it was built on ‘The Blockchain’ really captured my imagination. This wasn’t just a currency, it was an application built on top of what is simply put ‘a new type of internet that can transmit anything with value’.
What future do you think your company holds?
I believe that we are in the right space at the right place, at the right time with the right team and the right brains. I think there are very few opportunities to get involved with something as monumentally big as what Blockchain based technology is capable of. This is as exciting as being involved with personal computers in 1975, or the internet in 1995. It seems these monumentous breakthroughs almost happen every 20 years to the dot!.