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Crypto Investing Exercise

Introduction

As part of our onboarding checklist at Covalent, we assign a “homework” assignment to new employees. This is an assignment they will be able to perform on their own without too much input from us. This assignment is the only exception we make where we ask new team mates to work on something related to the company on their personal time.

Objectives

We had very specific objectives when coming up with an assignment:

  • Broadly applicable to all roles regardless of responsibilities – be it engineering, product, design, support, marketing or sales.

  • No need for specialized tools – the assignment shouldn’t require mucking around with new software or hardware.

  • Ability to ask anyone in the company for help over Slack. Half of our team works remotely, and it’s not always possible to meet in-person.

  • Tangentially related to the products or industry we work in at Covalent. For us, that would be blockchain, databases and data.

Benefits

The benefits are:

  • The culture around crypto is a bit insular. We want more people to have an opportunity to be exposed to the possiblities that this technology can bring forth.

  • Crypto has high barriers to entry. A lot of the content out there assumes a base-level of technical knowledge. A concise, jargon-free guide is much needed.

  • Crypto has poor UX – the experience is daunting. Being able to plough through bad UX gives an appreciation for the (lack of) maturity of the technology.

  • A sense of accomplishment! It feels really good to work through something you’ve never had exposure to and to end the week on a high note.

Goal

To understand the various types of transactions that are required when people use a cryptocurrency.

Steps

The Steps to complete the exercise are arranged sequentially as follows:

  1. Register with a crypto-exchange website supporting CAD↔ETH trades
  2. Fund your exchange account with CAD $10
  3. Convert the sum of CAD in your exchange account into ETH
  4. Download an Ethereum Desktop wallet client (preferably a thin client, e.g. https://www.exodus.io; non-thin clients will require you to download a copy of the Ethereum blockchain [300GB!] onto your machine)
  5. In the wallet software, create one Ethereum wallet (let’s call this walletA), and find the address associated with this wallet (let’s call this addressWA)
  6. On the exchange site, transfer your ETH to addressWA
  7. In the wallet software, create another Ethereum wallet (walletB), and find the address associated with this wallet (= addressWB)
  8. In the wallet software, open walletA and wait to see the sum of ETH you transferred from the exchange appear in it
  9. Send the sum of ETH available in walletA to addressWB
  10. On the crypto-exchange site, follow their process for funding an account with ETH—this should result in them giving you an Ethereum address to send to, let’s call it addressExch
  11. In the wallet software, open walletB and wait to see the sum of ETH you transferred from walletA appear in it
  12. Send the sum of ETH available in walletB to addressExch
  13. On the crypto-exchange site, wait to see the sum of ETH you transferred from walletB appear
  14. Convert the sum of ETH in your exchange account into CAD
  15. Withdraw the ETH from the exchange to your bank account
  16. Track the above transactions on etherscan.io by clicking on ‘View on blockchain’ in your Exodus wallet
  17. Send your manager your wallet addresses walletA and walletB

What we’ve learned

The big takeaway – providing a supporting and welcoming channel to ask questions or vent your frustrations can be a big deal! When people know there’s a safety net, they somehow find the motivation to power through any challenge.

We discovered some difficulties that were unforeseen:

  • Not always possible to deposit $10 through your credit card. A lot of banks block transactions to Coinbase and other crypto exchanges and there’s no obvious alternate way to make a deposit.

  • Not always possible to withdraw from an exchange. I’m not exactly clear why, but for some reason, a lot of exchanges block the withdrawl of your funds.