#20 - Kian Bröse - A completely self-taught programmer earnt a million SEK in a few months with Passtider Snabbt

Av Anna Leijon / 8 september 2022

Anna Leijon interviews Kian Bröse, a completely self-taught 20 years old programmer who built Passtider-Snabbt and earned a million SEK during a few months last summer. He started out building bots in computer games such as Iruna Online, created a Youtube channel where he teaches some of his methods which then lead to receiving a lot of freelance gigs. Thus, I call him "the bot king". He wanted to solve problems he saw in society and helped tens of thousands of people to get their passport booking in time before their summer vacation when the government's own system failed to do so. It was a stressful summer and a constant battle between the Police's booking platform who constantly wanted to hinder them, competition popping up, the bank questioning the money's origin (since they had not started a company yet) and so forth. You need to hear his story as he is a super fascinating being and do not forget to subscribe to the podcast!

Good links:

  • Kian’s Youtube channel
  • Kian's Linkedin
  • Passtider snabbt's website (now permanently shut down, probably)
  • This episode's sponsor - Ingenjörsdagen! Den är till för alla som har ett intresse för tech och i år går det av stapeln 21/9 i Malmö, 25/10 i Luleå och 9/11 i Göteborg och nästa år igen i Stockholm. Kom och häng på Ingenjörsdagen - jag kommer att vara där - tonvis med inspiration, socialt utbyte och nya lärdomar inom spännande techområden utlovas. Gå in på ingenjorsdagen.se för att läsa mer och anmäla dig (det är helt gratis) och glöm inte att du kan nominera grymma techpersoner till Stora ingenjörspriset!

This episod is in English since Kian was more comfortable speaking English than Swedish.

*Correction* Kian said in the episode that they did not have a functional product when he joined, but Morris has confirmed that he did and which he helped several customers with. It was not an optimal product and customers hade to be hard coded and it was built in Python Selenium. However, when Kian joined, they instead built it with post requests in Python. So the functionality actually was there at the point when they were first making sales, contrary to what was said in the episode.*end of correction*

Kian has no formal education in tech or IT and is completely self-taught. Mostly via Google and other sites on the internet. He started out wanting to have fun in games and he was trying to automate things in Python. His skillset is a bit unusual and mostly one time jobs. He is programming bots and automating services in games. Through the Youtube-channel he received requests. People wanted him to build bots for 500 dollars. He received some jobs here and there and eventually he managed to land some decent jobs and good pay. It was a form of freelancing. Accidental freelancing, as he says himself.

He went through gymnasiet at 17 years old and is in university now and in his 2nd year at 20 years old. He is doing side gigs besides his education. His customers usually wanted bots for games - like Iruna online, League of legends, World of warcraft and so on. He built bots which automatically leveled up accounts for the users in order to sell them, or just to automate the farming of items by randomly clicking the attack button and so on. One gig he did was on Twitter and regarding NFTs (which is a modern way of proving that you own an image). It was a bot that grabbed thousands of user names which tweeted about NFTs in order to target them in advertising about NFTs.

The games themselves obviously don’t want bots in their game. You get banned if you get caught. That is an issue for his youtube channel. Most scenarios are not allowed to be taught. It is not illegal, but copyright strikeable. You get immediately taken down from Youtube if you publish such a video and you have no right to appeal to that. It is causing some kind of damage to the game - kind of flooding the game - causing hyperinflation - if you farm 24/7 at inhuman speeds, for example.

He started doing everything in Python. It is an adaptive language. Only recently he has started hitting issues related to speed since it is not meant to be a fast language. He is slowly trying to transition to Rust instead, which is one of the fastest working languages in the world. I say that he is the “bot king”, a name which he does not seem super happy with.

Then we talk about what he is studying. Initially, he went to a study program, in Swedish called Inbyggda system, in which you program and build electronics for circuit boards for hair dryers and other home appliances and general items. He did, however, realize that he was not learning anything useful in university. He thinks that you learn more by doing things yourself. University ends up killing your love or creativity for that area. They force you to do something and make you hate something that you used to love. It is also not useful or applicable what you learnt from university. You are learning things for the sake of learning, which cannot be applied in a real life scenario. When you are learning on your own in order to build something yourself - you need to learn it. You need to see what you want to achieve. You will remember why you did it and how you did it. You do not just remember it in order to spit it out at a test.

I ask him about what he wants to do when he grows up - id he has a life goal. Kian says that he just does not want to be bored. That is about it. He has no further goals or expectations.

He has a friend called Morris and it was a normal friend relationship in the beginning, but after gymnasiet they started to really work together. He had an idea of making a similar bot/program but for car licenses (and not for passports initially). The problem was that it was so difficult to get the appointment to get your driver’s licenses in Sweden. You need to wait a couple of months and then wait again if you fail. It is called “Boka förarprov”. However, they never got anywhere with that idea because of technical difficulties.

But, at the start of this year, they saw the problem with booking passport appointments as well - which was similar to what they were already doing. Morris asked if he was interested but Kian said no from the start because it felt like it would be a huge workload. Morris went on and built the website, did the marketing, started paying for ads and people started paying for the service. However, they had no functional program at all - nothing was working. No functional program. Morris then reached out to Kian and said that the customers have already paid. There is a demand for this product and the acquisition cost is very low. They paid around 10 kronor for 300 kronor input. He argued that it was worth doing this. Kian then jumped on. They settled around how much percentages they were going to get each. Then they started working and in a couple of days they had the functionality in place. Everything was built in Python. With Python, it is easy to get something to work quickly. It kind of works ‘just enough’ - good enough, says Kian.

They paid for the marketing from their own pocket. At the start, they used Google adwords, which is a kind of advertisement on google search results, Kian explains. They paid for the words “boka passtid” or “boka pass”. At the beginning, there was no competition so it was really cheap. They paid 100 kronor and got 10 000 kronor back or something along those lines. However, right now everything is dead, since the problem does not exist anymore. The vacation time is over.

During the pandemic no one traveled. Everyone forgot to renew their passport. There is really no point in renewing if you did not use it. It was a build up of 2 years of people who did not renew their passports. So when the restrictions were lifted and hundreds of thousands of people needed to renew their passports all at once, the queues lined up to 2023. It was impossible to get a time no matter what you did.

The amount of people who don't know when their passport is going to expire is astonishing, says Kian. In their chat support people could say “Hello, I need a passport. My flight is leaving in 3 hours.” Multiple people were like that. They reached out the same day, or with a few days in advance. That was really unreasonable. They message them through their chat support. The booking itself was not difficult to get, but the bottleneck was the production time at the police station.

Some customers would ask for refunds, even if they completed the service, since the production of their passport time was so long. It was not Morris or Kians fault that the police’s execution terms had changed at their end. As far as they were concerned, they had completed their commitment. The Police went from 1 week to 5 weeks for the production time, which was extreme. Kian says that they even had people from the Police using their service. People with official Police e-mail addresses. They had registered and gotten passport times for them.

Either way - they of course needed to send a refund if they were not able to execute on their commitment. Nothing was illegal. It was maybe against the terms of service. People who were a bit socialists, in Kian’s opinion, claimed that “it is not right that people are using your service and getting ahead of everyone else (and skipping the line)”. Kian and Morris call them social justice warriors. They claimed that everyone should have the same chance and “think about us normal people”. Kian’s opinion is that they are providing a service - whether or not it is right or not is unfortunately not relevant. It was not a guarantee that they would find a time either so sometimes they failed too.

In order to get a temporary passport in Sweden, you had to stand in a physical line at the Police station and people were literally camping out there. I had heard of a friend who had paid someone to stand in line for her for the whole day, which is kind of the same thing as Kian did, in my opinion, only he did it automated. People who value their time and have the money to pay for it, will do it - we live in a capitalistic society, after all. As long as there is someone who is willing to pay for it, someone is going to be willing to solve it for them.

This was of course a massive embarrassment for the government that they had only one place in Finland to produce their passports. Kian claims that the government could have sent a text message to inform people that their passports were expiring and give people a nice heads up. But instead, they did a lot of sneaky things, claims Kian. For example, in June they implemented a system so that it was not possible for people with a valid passport to book a time until 14th days later. People did not know this - the Police were not transparent about it. This block from the police created a massive confusion on their part. It was not possible to book a time for a person with a valid passport until 14 days ahead in the future. It was only possible if someone else, with an unvalid passport, would book it for you. People did not understand this and the police did this under the hood. People complained about this to Kian and Morris but they could of course not do anything. They had to remake their own system to adapt to this particular change and 14 other times throughout summer as well.

The Police did things in order to try to block us, to change things and make it more difficult, but they were always one step ahead, says Kian. There was a constant war with the company who managed the booking system - NemoQ. Those are the guys at the airport who also provide a system with a paper with a number on it. Their system was awful, thought Kian. They made it worse when they were trying to stop us but they failed miserably. The website looked like it was made from 2010. It would have been easier to make something better than what they had made in a week, says Kian. They thought of rebuilding the whole thing and creating a better booking system than NemoQ was able to build, but realized that the Police would never buy it from them. Probably something related to contracts, says Kian, which would have stopped it. But they really did consider building a better booking system, but the Police do not want small contractors as they see you as a liability or security vulnerability, in that case.

The way everything was managed was a disaster, says Kian. They did not even have a company registered. They were earning so much so it was not worth it to have an “enskild näringsverksamhet”. They needed an “aktiebolag”, but the registration process took months. They did not have months. Everything was going to collapse when people gave up on their summer vacation so they did everything without a company. They had to declare everything later. They were not even able to take out any payment for themselves. They were not allowed to take out any money if they did not make a declaration as well, which they only could with company, which they did not have.

The banks were a real pain too, says Kian. They had deposits coming in of 100 000, 200 00, 300 000 SEK a week. The bank wanted them to prove that they were not terrorists. They asked “why are you receiving all this money?”, and he had to send in documents to try to prove why. He filled in 20 different papers about “why am I doing this” and “Kundkännedom”, or KYC (Know Your Customer information, which is mandatory for every bank to have of its customers). It was horrible and there were lots of big payments, says Kian.

In order to be able to receive money online, you have to use a payment processor, which is equivalent to a card terminal in a physical shop where you can enter your card number and so on. A payment processor is kind of a secondary bank which receives the money, says Kian. The money stayed there for a couple of days and after that Kian and Morris received a super big chunk all at a time and everything to their private account. Handelsbanken aksed if they did drugs and so on. “Why are you doing this on a privatkonto?” and they had to explain that Bolagsverket was so slow in creating their company that they had no other choice. They had done all of the proceedings, but it takes some time and they did not have a choice there.

They also had to pay massive advertisements bills every day as well. They used the payment provider Stripe to process their customers’ purchases.It was convenient and everything fully automatic. The customer had to fill in a couple of forms and they did not have to do anything.

However, there was one other person who created an open source version of their service called “Pass för Alla”. This person claimed that “a passport is a right”. He thought that Kian and Morris were scamming the people and tried to shut them down. The problem with his service though was that it technically worked, but it was bad. In order to use it, you had to know how to use a computer. 40 year olds do not know how to use Google or a computer. Not the least of which is how to use Tamper monkey and run a javascript file. It is like teaching your grandparents how to install a printer driver - it is just not happening, says Kian.

The problem, says Kian, is that most people refuse to even try. They say “I do not want to know - just do it”. Their competitor, with his open source version, was appealing to the people who knew how to use a computer or follow instructions, but most people do not. He was more of the open source side - did not pay for advertising, but got traffic from articles. No one wanted to publish an article mentioning Kian & Morris’ Passtider snabbt, they just existed. However, the open source service developer got headlines like “open source developer creates solution to passport problem” and so forth.

They were reporting a lot about this on the news. The open source guy got meetings, but they got to pay for ads, says Kian. He would not pay for ads since he was not making any money out of it. Kian wonders why he put in all that work and why he was doing it. I claimed that, if everybody has this booking service - nobody has it, and it will be the same problem again.

Everytime the media reported about the problems with booking passports, Kian and Morris got massive boost of sales. People of course checked their passports then and saw that it had expired and found Passtider snabbt as a convenient way of solving their immediate problem. Sometime they got so many customers that they could not book them all. For some reason, our speed was limited and they could not book more customers. They were able to acquire 100 bookings only per day even if there were 500 people paying for the service. The police only let go of 100 a day and they fulfilled 100 a day. This was due to the amount of bookings available on the website - whether or not the police wanted to release new times or not, only 100 got out. They released only 100 a day. Therefore this created issues for Kian and Morris as there were too many people with too close of a time frame. The number of available time slots depended partly on how many people reschedule. At the start,there was no security and they were able to book a time with fake details. You only had to put in name, phone number, email etc and people created fake accounts. There were many fake bookings, which were not being used. People had made bookings, but at the Police station no one showed up.

Sometimes people sold those bookings details individually to others, but there were a lot of empty passport places because people did not use the times they booked. They pre-booked but never intended to use them. They booked with different email addresses, names, phone number and so on. They had a lot of booking times in august. After that, the Police made sure that they were not allowed to book more than one time with the same phone number or email address. But people were trying to have two bookings - one at the police but simultaneously reaching out to Kian and Morris about a new time, which resulted in trouble for them. Passtider snabbt then got blocked from finishing the booking since it was obvious that they already had a booking with those details. Kian and Morris therefore reached out to the customer and said that “you need to delete your booking”. It was miserable, says Kian, working all summer with this. Kian and Morris were also trying to hire people, but in Sweden hiring people is super difficult, claims Kian. You need to have Skatteverket, f-skatt, and a company up and running, neither of which they had. They could not hire people at a company they did not even have yet. It was not registered yet, and after that they had to learn how to pay out bidrag, their own taxes, social stuff and so on and they did not know how to pay taxes. All they wanted to do was to hire a customer support person since that was taking so much time from them.

Every single time NemoQ was implementing some new security feature (which happened a lot), they were doing it at 2 in the morning. Kian woke up at 2 in the morning when he received a message that everything broke. He then pursued fixing the problem and stayed awake from 2-8 to fix everything. He did not get a lot of sleep throughout this summer. He was constantly up fixing problems for the next day. They fixed something which they released during the night, he fixed their fix during the night and in time for them to wake up. It was a constant war back and forth all the time. For example, they started by adding Captchas, then other things, such as Bankid, and kept making the service worse and worse to try to stop Kian and Morris. But they were failing constantly, says Kian, who always found a way around their security fixes. NemoQ was trying to stop them. It was a war on the web.

They first added the captcha, then added bankid, then emoved the captcha when they saw that we could bypass that as well, then they added bankid AND captcha, says Kian. They also added rate limits and IP bans. It was full-scale war and they did not get enough sleep. They also had customer support errands all day. They received about 2 messages every minute and had a lot of separate parallel conversations going on at the same time. They constantly had to try to explain that it was not a scam even though they technically was not a company yet, which is very fishy by itself. Some customers threatened to sue them and they said “if you want to sue us here is where we live”. They could not prove that they had done anything wrong. If they were not able to fulfill their part of the deal, they always paid the refund. They received some complaints and people did try to report them to the authorities.

Kian’s logic is that - the person who said that the customer is always right must have been a customer, because that is absolutely not the case. We were contacted by people who I do not understand how they even survive in society, says Kian. To ARN (Allmänna reklamationsnämnden) customers can report companies that have been fraudulent, but Passtider snabbt had a 99 % satisfaction score in their reviews at Trustpilot. They had super positive reviews for a semi-fishy service. It was super smart to use Trustpilot to get some trustworthiness. They used Kian’s personal number instead of a organizational number on their website, which caused a lot of questions. The super positive reviews on Truspilot sometimes looked like a bot. People were asking them “Why are you faking reviews on Trustpilot”, but they were succeeding so well that it looked fake. They had 150 reviews and not a single negative one. 5 stars, which in itself was mildly suspicious. A little bit fishy to start with and not a single negative review. Also, most of the accounts were “one review accounts” and newly created, which did not help the fishiness feeling. It was an overall mess, but the best way that they could prove that this was not a scam.

When it comes to the tech stack, such as hosting and so on, their main technology - in the initial version - was simply made off Wordpress on the internet and with the oxygen plugin, which helped make the site look acceptable and it could be made available asap. They started out accepting payments through Woocommerce and Stripe integration together with Paypal. However, they were severely limited by that. Woocommerce could not behave the way they wanted it to. For example, they had no way of validating a person’s personal number, or “personnummer”. There was no way of doing that. If the customer missed a digit, they were screwed. They could not do anything without the full personal number. If they missed a digit in their phone number, they had no way of contacting the customer and could only act if they contacted them.

Regarding the tech stack, they used Wordpress, Woocommerce and Oxygen for the website, and in the background Python was running the service and they used Bash for the SMS API. That was the way they contacted the customer. Not email, since email is a bit of a pain, in Kian’s view. It is built on old technology. It should not be as difficult as it is to use email at this point, in his opinion. But it was easier for them to figure out how to make a phone programmable instead of using email. They installed custom software on an old broken phone and put in a sim card. Just a random average Comviq prepaid sim card, and then, from the computer, they could send messages to the targets. They were able to send the messages programmatically through the software to the destination via a custom software. They were doing this to avoid the cost from someone else who was doing the exact same thing.

For example, Twilio is a normal and commonly used solution for sending SMS. However, they charge you per message segment - which is the amount of letters in a message. They charge 2 kronor for a 160 characters message. Every single message is very expensive. They did not want to pay that and honestly they could do it themselves instead, said Kian. They were able to send unlimited messages with zero cost whatsoever. They were controlling the phone through code. They routed the phone through running a terminal and listening for a request coming from the search program. They then commanded “send this message to this target”. They could send any kind of message that the customer needed to know. The number of SMS usually is unlimited today, according to the companies selling these sim card. Kian and Morris really put that up to the test. They were sending thousands of SMS per day and proved that it was not as unlimited as they made it seem. They started off with the provider Hallon, which was technically unlimited, but has a cap of only a certain amount per day. So, technically not unlimited. Of course, no average person would ever try to send that many messages, but still, Kian and Morris thought that they were victims of false advertising. They considered suing for false advertising or reporting them to the ARN, but did not, since technically what they were doing was not allowed to do, when they were reading their terms of service. You are not allowed to programmatically do something with the phone, says Kian. But is was saving them so much money and it worked so well so they did it anyway.

They got more problems with Hallon since they had way too many customers. It looked like they were a spam bot. There was also a virus circulating around the internet, which was sending messages everywhere, which kind of looked like what they were doing. Hallon then implemented something that blocked numbers that were having this behavior, which of course included them. They thought it was a scam and blocked their number so they were banned from using their network. At this time, the issue was not to find the passport bookings, but that the customers were not being contacted at all. Thus, they had to put everything on brake. They did not send anything for 3 days while they switched providers to Tre instead of Hallon. They said that they had “driftstörningar” and sent the messages when they were back online. People wrote in the customer support “I did not get my beställningsbekräftelse” and so forth, but soon enough they did. They reached out to Hallon who actually could disable the block, but they said that even if we take it away now it is only going to come back again later, which was not helpful to them, so they switched to Tre. With them, they had a lot fewer issues. Kian says that it is not hacking, they only use a program to control it. To automate it, and it is called android debugging bridge or ADB. That is how you send commands to the phone through developer mode or the debug mode for the phone. All is built in already, but so few people know of it. It is not hacking.

Kian had built bots with ADB before and knew that it was possible to control a phone via USB using ADB commands. At one point his computer was not powerful enough to run the bots he theoretically could. Therefore, he got a bunch of phones (real phones) to try to control them the same way as he controlled the emulated phone on the computer. Through ADB and sending commands he made the phones take screenshots, move here, click that button and so on. It was just an additional functionality for SMS, which was not more difficult than that.

Regarding his Youtube channel, he had always wanted to teach everything he knew, but was limited by Youtube’s rules. His first video, on how to build an image recognition bot in Python, blew up. At the start, he thought that it was one of the things which a lot of people could use and save time everyday with so he thought that he could teach how to do it in a simple way. He never expected it to get big. It was above good for tutorial standards. They are not edited at all usually since you can hear background noise, fans, and they tell you what to do with an indian accent - that is the average tutorial video and, do not forget, the bassy microphone. He was learning the technology and wanted to create well edited tutorials. The first video really blew up, it exploded, and he got 15 000 subscribers per week. After that, he wanted to put more effort into it. In reality it is very simple to build such an image recognition bot. It was the next level bot from the one which only does one thing repeatedly.

He also has a video explaining the different types of bots there are. They can take in a condition - an image, a button - and press that button, for example. Another bot could not be able to tell this. To a dumber bot you could not instruct it to “wait for this button to appear”. It was also a good way to click bait, it sounded good in the title. There were very few people saying it is not advanced and generally speaking it was good enough. He has done no marketing of his Youtube channel. It just kind of happened one day. In the beginning, he made three videos and got 3 views a day. Later, he got 1 000 views one day and then 10 000 views the next day and it was absolutely random. It was a pretty good dopamine hit, says Kian. It is like seeing your sales go from zero to a million. The first 1 000 subscribers are important, but it all stopped at some point. It probably was the Youtube algorithm which was trying something out and it worked. He then got the motivation to keep on creating videos. I recommend the listeners of this podcast to subscribe to him at Kian Brose. However, Kian says that subscribers do not mean anything on Youtube. If you do not get views, it does not matter how many subscribers you have. It is like the hide like count on instagram, says I. On Youtube they have even disabled the dislike button! It is super sad, thinks Kian, since it was a good indicator if a tutorial was worth seeing or not - to check out the like/dislike ratio. If there were too many dislikes, you went looking for something else. Kian always had a 99% like ratio, which is a good selling point. It kind of says “hey, stay, it is worth it. It is good info.”, says Kian. Kian compares it to “before you were allowed to have an image, but now only text, as an example or comparison - we are losing a dimension here. Youtube also had some lame excuse about hate speech, but that is probably all a lie. They want to protect the corporate channels or the Hollywood lawyers, as I said. That was their official excuse and that small channels were harassed by the dislike button. The platform keeps degenerating and the copyrights keep getting worse, says Kian.

I ask Kian where he hangs out on the internet and he says that he is not active in any forums. However, he has his own discord server for his Youtube channel. He sees a problem talking to other people - either you do it for fun or to help them - and most of the time it is neither. They are always asking for the kind of help you do not want to give, says Kian. After they have watched the tutorials, they message him and say “hey i need help”. That is like going to the mechanic saying the car does not work, says Kian. It is not helpful information. Kian then asks them “Do you have an error?”. He wants them to “help me help you”, but in reality he thinks they are saying that they want help, but in fact they want him to do it. That is a different meaning of help.

He also hangs out at private hacking, reverse engineering communities, which are closed communities with member recommendation only. Those are the kind of people who have built incredible stuff. For example, they might have built a private server for a game mod menus, scripting network, all of that. It is fun being around them, says Kian. Those are the kind of people who know what they are doing with technology. They have the ability to figure out something by themselves. It is useful to know what they are doing and see them do their stuff.

For example, how to reverse engineer how to break Twitter. They explain it out loud, which is interesting, says Kian. Both Kian and those in those communities are very motivated to teach. He says that it feels good to tell people about what you have done - often stuff which you cannot say on Youtube or you will be terminated tomorrow. For example, Kian has created bots who created thousands of Google accounts and lots of cool stuff. That you can show in the private community. On the Youtube channel, however, you have no legal say if they decide to randomly terminate your channel. On those kinds of platforms you are not in charge of your own content and fate. Kian has seen it happen. When he was reverse engineering one of his favorite games he came across some unreleased music files. He sent them to a friend who is obsessed with knowing everything about that game. He then published them on youtube and his entire channel got terminated. He could not appeal it, since either you succeed or you get a strike. It is like arguing with a drug dealer you owe money to - it is not a situation where you win, says Kian.

I ask him about what the people in those closed forums do for a living and he says that most people do not talk about finances since they often avoid taxes. The consequences of leaking about how much money you are making, you could get reported to your government. The consequences are pretty big and not worth it. They do not want to risk doing that. A guy Kian met at the forum had come in crosshairs with Twitter, but he did not trust him. He was exploiting Twitter to prove a point and he risked going to jail. That guy was capable of leaking their user database, which is pretty serious. If you get 5 000 dollars hacking for a company, you gain nothing by sharing that information with others. You can hint, but you do not want to leave any concrete proof.

We also talk about “taking down a website”, which Kian says is easy. The problems are with the consequences that come later. You just need to DDoS it. You could basically use a computer, or a series of computers, a bot net, thousands of devices, which are infected by a virus and which you can command at will. You can tell them that at exactly this time, spam the government’s website. Then their website becomes very slow and unresponsive. They either do not have the bandwidth or are not powerful enough to respond to all of these requests. However, these are easily detectable attacks, the Ddosing attacks. It is a pretty big problem, unless you have a government behind you. In the forums he hangs out at he says that most probably do at some point. The government itself is within these hacking forums and on the darknet. There are several pages the government itself controls. The governments for example shut down the website Silk road. It is easy to find where the website is. The government hangs out at these forums in order to recruit people - it is an allowed place to some degree so that they can see the talent or throw them in jail.

We then talk about what advice, crises and experiences he can share with us, us who also want to build our own tech products. He first states that you have to have your terms of service in check and specifically the terms of refund. It is inevitable and if you deny refunds, there will be issues. Then you can take it higher and state that the customer agreed to this, as long as you have it in print. You need to say specifically that these are the terms. That is the most important part, in his opinion. Second most important is the taxes and accounting. Due to the sudden surges of demand for their service, which as created by the news channel reporting about the passport problems, they got 100 % extra customers than they usually had. They were thus not able to fulfill their commitment. Therefore, they increased their prices. They lowered or increased their prices based on the demand every single day. However, they did not keep a record of when they did these changes or who paid what. They would have needed a list of customers and who paid what, but they had just a chunk of money. All have paid different things. Among other reasons, that is why they shut everything down about a month ago. They needed to get things sorted out so that it does not keep on getting worse. They state on their website that they have “permanent maintenance” - also due to that the demand is super low now if even existing since the vacation period is over. People have given up on their summer vacations long ago. They also had lots of competition who was trying to low-ball their service with their prices. They left their website up and running up until no one could technically have the right to ask for the refund anymore. It had said 30 days to ask for cancellation and refund in their terms of service. You cannot come 3 months later to ask for a refund. 30 days is what they had which is already twice the amount of days legally required, says Kian. Now it is too late to ask for a refund. It was enabled up until a couple of days ago. Now they have permanently closed any kind of chat support.

I ask Kian if he is working on something right now and he is not. He awaits the next opportunity to pop up. He considered doing the driver’s licenses thing again but the problem is, unlike with passports, you pay on the spot. The problem is that they are not going to pay for the customers. In that case they need to pay us then pay them, which is a nightmare, says Kian. It also is a lot more money involved than with the passports. About 1500 sek for a fishy order, which is a lot more than 300 for a fishy order. It complicates things for the accounting parts. It is technically not an expense, the 1250 sek he thinks it costs to book the förarprov. They did create a service which scanned and sent a message when a booking was available, but they could not book it and once the person got on their computer, it was always gone. People were there all day and refreshing the site to try to get a hold of a time slot.

Kian says that he is a cheap person and can live off 8 000 sek a month, including rent and everything. With everything that has been earnt - we cannot touch it until april, says he. He could probably survive for a couple of years, or even 10 years, with that money. However, they still do not know what the proper way of getting the money out of the company is, with the minimum amount of having to pay in taxes. Either they can take it out as salary or as schablon utdelning, says Kian. But there is time to figure that out. I also say that they can invest in new projects. Kian says that most stuff they know how to make depends on the existence of something else. They base their service on something else and simplify it. They are not in control of the actual passports, driver’s licenses tests or whatever. If they shut down, we shut down, says Kian. With the drivers licenses, for example, they could make a change that wiped out our programs and owe a lot of money to the customers, which could happen any day. Also with the passports, there was a competition among their competitors regarding when NemoQ implemented the BankID to see which one of them cracked it first. Kian and Morris had a solution and were up and running within half a day. The competition got stuck. The result was that hundreds of people were not getting their time.

I ask what is motivating him and he says stuff that is interesting and that most of the stuff he learns by doing it. Therefore, he will not forget them. Whether it is entertaining, fun or weird (like some of the chat support conversations he will never forget), he generally does things to not be bored. It is not so important whether or not he makes money off of it. He is also invested in a couple of non-profit projects, which are losing more than 50 times what they earn, but he finds it entertaining. Making money is nice, and a lot of money is even nicer, but to not be bored is most important, says Kian.

Lastly, Kian says that he does not want to underplay the importance of his partner in all of this. He could not have done anything without him and vice versa. They have a mutually beneficial relationship. No matter if you know how to do it or not, you may not have the time to do everything. In their case it was the chat support, the technology, which Kian was mostly responsible for, and Morris did the finances and marketing. All of that was handled by him and it would not have worked otherwise.

Kian also states that he wants me to interview the competition, which is called Passakuten, about their parallel journey. However, there is no public way of contacting him, says Kian. during the heat of summer, they were constantly spying on each other. He was in our chat support and we were in his. Both of us posed as customers. For example, he contacted us and said “this sounds fishy, but if I am going to order I want you to be 100% transparent about how everything works, including the bankid. Therefore they knew that it was him since NemoQ had just implemented that security measure. At that time, Morris and Kian played a game of misinformation - they said to him that they bypassed the bankid very easily. It took them 5 minutes and their method is this completely wrong approach. This was going to delay him slightly, which was good for us, says Kian. They tried to delay him like that. We were in his chat seaking information as well, says Kian. We were both posing as a customer, and posing as a normal chat support with no false answers. Kian further says that the competition had done some fishy projects, which they could see when they were investigating him. They considered trying to take him down via weird methods. They discovered he hosted illegal services, such as streaming services. He did a mistake on his website so that they could see the configuration and link it to other stuff he had done. For example, he had made advertisements for his own service (which was the copy of Passtider-snabbt) in his own illegal streaming service. Thus, incriminating himself, says Kian. They thought about doing something about it to kill the competition, but let it go because it was going to be too much work. But he managed to copy us decently well so good job on him, says Kian.Kian says that I can reach him through his chat support and that he usually replies within 15 seconds, if I want to get a hold of him. To be continued!

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