7 Founders on What It's Like To Run a Blockchain Startup

Blockchain: The Future of Connectivity

Joe Hunt

1. Haters Gonna Hate

"Running a blockchain startup means taking up the challenges of getting things done in an incredibly squeezed timeline, proving to the world their perceptions are fundamentally wrong and enjoying the unparalleled excitement of creating a new era!" - Xinshu Dong, CEO of Zilliqa

2. Work Hard Play Hard

“It’s probably twice as hard being a founder of a blockchain project versus a regular one, but also, twice as fun. Some critical infrastructure might be missing or in a prototype phase and the crypto market is highly volatile and regulations are uncertain. But we’ve got some of the best minds working on the tech that will shape the future, making it an awesome time and exciting space to work in.” - Alexander Demidko, Co-Founder and CRO of Fluence

3. Mr. Robot vs. Wall Street or Both?

“Perhaps the most challenging aspect of building a company which resides in the millennial chasm between the “cyber-punk-lunatic-fringe” and the “Jamie Dimon-Warren Buffet Club” is wrestling with marketing. Who are you marketing to? What's your demographic? How can you make the technically complex simple to understand? There is a constant back and forth, and a perpetual, tedious revisiting of basic messaging. In a flash of late night inspiration, one of Uphold's senior engineers (for whom English is a second language) blurted out an unforgettable revelation; one that managed to capture the simplicity and elegance of a universally understandable message, that conveyed the right intent, and excited the imagination: "We are the decentralized sperm of the future!" And thus was born the greatest tagline that will never be used.” - Juan Palo Thieriot, Co-Founder and CEO of Uphold

4. Running a Blockchain Company Like a Blockchain - Decentralized

"Running a project like Kyber is more like running a community than a traditional company. We need to build and engage with our community, especially our developer community to encourage more developers to build an application using Kyber's on-chain liquidity protocol. Though I am mostly based in Singapore, the team is actually quite distributed globally so we can reach out to and interact with our community everywhere." - Loi Luu, Co-Founder and CEO of Kyber Network

5. Constructing an IKEA Chair for an Alien With Seven Legs

“Imagine trying to put together the most complex piece that Ikea can produce, without the instructions, without the full package, with a lot of money being offered for it, with a ton of people offering their “expertise” to help you out, though only a handful have actual, measurable experience, and with ideologies on how furniture should actually be used, while you are trying to create a marketable product with real-world applications. Imagine all that, and you’ll barely scratch the surface of how difficult it is to set up and run a blockchain startup. Responsibly, that is.” - Juan Aja Aguinaco, Shyft Co-Founder and COO

6. Anything but Normal

“Running a start-up is a lot like running a publicly-traded company but without all the resources of publicly-traded companies where you need to worry about audited financial reports, investor relations, media relations, and treasury management. It is also like trying to run a city, a government, and a federal bank where you are drafting the constitution, creating a new political system (e.g. voting, DPOS), and building a new economy through a new monetary system. Then, you realize that you are trying to navigate the complex regulation in multiple regions and that you need to figure out a way to please your community also in multiple regions.” - Min Kim, Founder of ICON Project


7. Basically, Like Running Between Parallel Universes

“Have you ever felt like you were falling only to wake up suddenly? That’s kind of like running a blockchain startup except you’re sometimes falling up.” - Dan Schatt, Co-Founder and President of Libra Credit