Growing Web 3.0 One Project at a Time With Gabriel Anderson from TachyonAug 25, 2021
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HOST: Hey everybody. Welcome back to The Unstoppable Podcast. I’m your host, Diana Chen. And I’m here today with our guest, Gabriel Anderson. He is a managing director at Tachyon, which is an accelerator. It’s part of ConsenSys. It’s an accelerator for early stage blockchain and Web3 startups.
And I’m super excited to talk to him. He works closely with Shawn Chang who we just had on the podcast a few episodes ago at consenSys Mesh, and they were both also at Vayner together in the past. And so I’m really excited to have Gab here. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining me today.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Thank you. It is a huge pleasure to be here. Yeah, really excited to be talking with you and spending the next hour with you.
HOST: Awesome, Awesome. So before we dive into Tachyon and everything that’s going on over there, I want to know a little bit about your background. So obviously, you were at VaynerMedia before this. And then going, I sort of, like went even farther back and dug up your history a little bit more. It looks like you started your career in Finance and then sort of got into marketing, and through it all you were very much immersed in entrepreneurship. So tell me a little bit more about your background. Who were you before Crypto and then how did you get tugged into this Crypto World?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: I’ll give you the fast version, yes, super unconventional path, I think. So I’ve been an Entrepreneur. I started my first company when I was 17, started a webzine company called OC partyScene.com, you know, I was in college with two friends, we ended up getting acquired by a company called Lycos back in the days. I think Lycos ended up getting acquired by AOL or something like that.
But I always wanted to get into finance, finance was kind of, like my, you know, my dream job. I grew up lower income family and so, you know, the idea of breaking into the world of finance is really appealing to me. So, yeah, I started my career, I guess at a company called Merrill Lynch, institutional cash management, climbed the ranks through that but became really, really disillusioned.
So you know, here I was, 22 or three, something like that and I have landed my dream job. And it wasn’t at all what I wanted it to be. So I left finance side to go start what I would call like, my real first company. I won’t take you through the whole path, but it ended up being a failure. From that company, I started my second company, screwed up my cap table. That company ended up folding.
Out of the ruins of that company, I started my third company which got me into proptech. That company is called Real Solutions Inc. I made the mistake of turning that company into a profitable business, it was-you know, we were doing six figures in profits. Every VC told me I was unbackable. I was hugely depressed, you know, I couldn’t raise any capital, I built our business model and, and our business in a way where I just-I wasn’t venture scalable.
And so at that stage, I had been working on building that company for a number of years and I was just looking for something different, I was spending a lot of time on social media. This is the early days of like, Twitter and Facebook and I was really, really interesting what was happening, kind of like the emergence of technology and some of these social platforms.
Anyways, I had followed this guy named Gary Vaynerchuk for a long time. And, yeah, Gary was building this company called VaynerMedia out in New York. And I cold e-mailed him and I you know, showed a couple things I had done in my startup career, and randomly just flew out to New York to meet with him, you know, and decided to fold my company and go work with him for a couple of years. So I ended up at VaynerMedia. What I thought it was going to be a one year stint ended up being six years with Gary.
I started out in analytics then I built our growth engineering team. Gary was doing a lot of early stage investing back in those days, so I worked with a lot of our early stage companies back then. And then I kind of turned into EIR within Vayner’s ecosystem.
So I built our media publishing business back then called VaynerPublishing, which today has been gobbled up by a company within the VaynerX portfolio called The Gallery. I started our startup media business, which back then was called VaynerData now called the Sasha Group. And so, yeah, after six-and-a-half years, kind of, like, at the frontlines of growth, growth marketing, growth engineering in early stage tech.
In the New York scene I’d kind of, like done all the things that I wanted to do. I’d also kind of played in the underbelly of like social media and marketing, and growth. And I kind of knew how to-I was the person who was manipulating people in social platforms, right. So when I tell people like, why I came to crypto, I came into crypto to wash away my sins. My hands are dirty. And so I mean-
HOST: That’s a new one. I haven’t heard that one before. That’s a new one.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: It’s very, very much my path. You know, I was the person who was gobbling up all of the first party data that all these big platforms, Facebook and Twitter, and Instagram and Pinterest, etcetera, were using, and using that data to grow startups, grow large companies. And so you know, yeah, I was kind of getting tired of that, I knew how things worked.
I was a little disillusioned about what I was doing and my good friend, Shawn Cheng had been at this company called ConsenSys for a number of years. You know, he was the person that I kind of, reached out to any time I want to talk about a thing, like, what was happening in this crypto space. I had a finance background back then, this is like, 2017 so I’d already come across the Bitcoin white paper and super excited about what was happening with Bitcoin.
And then in 2017, all the ICOs were booming, and I was like, really skeptical about what was happening in the ICO space. But Shawn Cheng was the person that I would reach out to you and be like, hey, what’s happening in this Crypto world. And he just took me down the Crypto Rabbit hole, I mean-yeah, I was flying out to Toronto, and he gave me a couple of white papers to read.
I think the Ocean Protocol was the first white paper I read. And I just, for an entire weekend, I could not stop going down the rabbit hole. And so yeah, ConsenSys was in the early days of, I think, back then, you know we’re incubating a lot of projects, yeah; MetaMask, Infura, Gitcoin, 3Box, Decrypt.
And they were really looking for somebody to you know, come in and really help these companies think about what does it look like to take some of the Web2 best practices, like how to grow, go to Market, all the things that I had been doing previously in both my startups and in Web2 tech. And so I made the leap when it came to ConsenSys, started out, you know, working with our early stage incubation companies before taking over Tachyon which is our accelerator, which sure we’ll get into but
GABRIEL ANDERSON: So that’s super unconventional path how I ended up in this ecosystem.
HOST: I love it, I love it. I feel like honestly, like everybody has a pretty unconventional path ending up in this ecosystem because this is, kind of, like the wild west right now still, you know. Like what would be a conventional path of ending up here, there really isn’t one that I can think of.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: 100%. Yes, seriously. Yeah, yeah.
HOST: Okay. So, you first read the Bitcoin white paper back in 2017, you heard about it, you were super skeptical of everything-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah.
HOST: When was it that like a flip switched for you and you were like, okay, get it, I’m buying into it.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah, I’d come across the Bitcoin white paper probably close to 2016 and then 2017 I was really, like, I was highly skeptical about what was happening in ICO, in, in-what was happening with the ICOs. And the thing that I was worried about was I believed in, like I was really excited about blockchain, the technology. I was really concerned that aspeculate of bubble would kind of burst and that we would lose, kind of, like the really interesting aspects of more of like, distributed ledger technologies.
But it’s when I started going down, you know, very-when I first started reading various white papers and starting to, you know, read about different business models, and, you know, I think reading some of the early blog posts from Vitalik and kind of, like some of the things that he was starting to talk about, I was reading about what was happening in prediction markets.
And then a lot of people were talking about Auger, and then, you know, what you could do, you know, in like, completely retooling insurance markets using prediction markets, for example. So I was always interested in trying to find those use cases that would actually touch real businesses or introduce new businesses models.
And so, you know, those were early, early days, there are, you know, all those early white papers I was reading, it was still very highly experimental, but I could see the promise of this technology. And I think that, you know, for me, at the end of the technology I’m always looking for the end user and the end market.
And I could start to see that there are real large market that this technologies could actually touch and real users and consumers, whether they be it a C, be it a B, be it a D that could really start to open new possibilities and got me really excited. And again, like, I was in the underbelly of want to Web2 tech, like, I knew what was happening, you know, in terms of like how this platforms are utilizing first party date. I knew we needed different models, a different system. So yeah.
HOST: Now are days, it’s, you know, people who are getting into the space today are luckier in the sense that there is a lot more resources for them. So even if they don’t have a Shawn Cheng to you know, onboard them onto web 3, they have maybe more resources out there. What are your-I’m curious, like, what are some of your favorite resources for learning that you’ve seen in the space today, it can be like blogs, books, podcasts, Twitter people like, anything?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yes, oh my god, like, Yes, I’m sure I’m going to miss a bunch of people like, I love what Camila Russo has been doing with Defiant, I think she, you know, really made DeFi accessible. I love the Bankless team and crew and what they’ve been up to. You know, I think just tons of smart people, you know, on Twitter. I mean, the thing about this ecosystem that I’m always amazed with is just how smart everybody is and just how open with information everybody is.
I mean, there’s, you know, there is no shortage of resources or things in the Web3 ecosystem, in terms of like, smart people. So, I mean, just how-just looking at my Twitter feed, I think, you know, I think of a bunch of really great resources and amazing people that I think are just doing amazing things. Yeah, podcasts like this, you know, it’s just that if so much of this ecosystem is community driven, right, like it’s-and there’s so much sharing of information and knowledge, which I really love.
HOST: Yes, 100%, 100%. Twitter is one of the, well-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: It’s a fire house.
HOST: My main ways of learning about the space, I’m not going to lie.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Seriously, yeah, it’s a fire house. It’s great.
HOST: Yes, for sure. All right. Cool. Well, I want to talk a little bit more about Tachyon. I think everybody out there has heard of ConsenSys, but maybe not everybody has heard of Tachyon. So tell people a little bit more about what Tachyon is.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Sure, yeah. So yeah, for those that are unfamiliar with Tachyon, so Tachyon sits inside of the ConsenSys Mesh. You know, we’ve collectively at this point, incubated and invested in north of at least the mesh, north of 100 projects and companies, some of the key pillars in the Ethereum ecosystem, right, so these are companies like Infura and Metamask, and 3Box and Pegasus and Truffle and Gitcoin, and Decrypt and so many more.
Tachyon is our accelerator and it’s for the most ambitious early stage Web3 founders. And at this stage we have-we’ve launched five cohorts. We’ve been around since 2017, we’ve got over 70 active alumni. And we have the pleasure of working with just some phenomenal, you know, Web3 startups that we met in the early, early days and helped accelerate them. So companies like Myel, Idle, Transak, Outlet, PieDao, Multisafe, Parcel, Valist, so many more.
And, yeah, very simple, Tachyon, you know, twice a year-so what we do is twice a year we bring together the most ambitious Web3 founders for an intense 12 weeks sprint to hone their value proposition. So we help them test their assumptions with real customers and prepare them for the next stage of investment and growth which leads up to what’s called a demo day, where we help them get ready for, whether it’s raising traditional VC capital for that next stage of investment and growth.
A lot of our companies end up doing things like, launching a token or opening up a DAO and building their community. But whatever that model is, you know, it’s really a 12 weeks sprint to really hone and test their business and get them ready for that next stage of growth.
HOST: Got it. So when companies come to Tachyon, what’s the best stage for them to be at, is it at like, right past the ideation phase or like should they have some sort of like MVP out there or like, what’s the best time to go to Tachyon?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah. So most of the companies that we work with, at least the ones that we ended up accepting into Tachyon, a lot of them come out of various hackathons, you know, a lot of companies, a lot of projects started out at a hackathon, they’ve made multiple iterations. You know, we over index-I look for founders who are, you know, were at the stage where they are-they’ve got a working prototype, right.
Like, I want to look at some code or I want to see an early version of a product. It doesn’t have to be refined, it doesn’t have to be very clear yet, but I want to know that you can build something, right. So a lot of our-a lot of the companies that we end up working with, a lot of them are like the it-hackathon winners. And you know, they’ve made multiple iterations, you know, kind of working on a proof of concept. I think that’s kind of, like, the first filter.
You know, the second thing though, I think, just having been a founder myself and everybody on the team having been founders, we really over index on the team. So aside from- you have to be able to build. We’re way past the days of like, you know, getting accepted into Tachyon off of white paper. In fact, there’s only one company that I can think of in the last two-and-a-half-three years that came to me with a technical architecture, and they built a previous company before.
And so we already knew, we knew that they were builders, and all they had was a technical architecture. But for most companies, once you get past that, like, build stage, you’ve got a working prototype. Then there’s a couple of other filters that we start to look for. And for me, I really over index on the team, you know, is this a team that has domain knowledge.
You know, does the founder have a true north, do they have written persistence. Do they have a bias towards action, you know, especially at that zero to one early stage. I think the most important thing is the ability to push through and execute. You know building a company is very f-- hard, it’s probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do. And so, I think those are the two main elements we really look for, it’s-you know, you’ve got a working prototype, and we really over index on the quality of the team.
HOST: Yeah, that makes sense. In terms of the project itself, do you have any sort of like, maybe in the back of your mind, subconsciously, you’re looking for a certain type of project depending on what’s hot in the space right now or do you really take on like, all crypto projects, whether it’s DeFi, whether it’s NFTs like, all across the board?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah, great question. So let me give you this cohort that we’re in the middle of, right, we’re about halfway through this program. So they started in July, right. We are coming like right up in this NFT hot season. But for us, we’re trying to look forward to what the ecosystem looks like over the next 12 to 18 months. So if you look at the companies, you know, we tried to envision, you know, what does Web3 look like over the next 12 to 18 months not what’s hot right now.
So like we have a lot of NFTs companies in this cohort, but they’re what I would call Gen 2, Gen 3 NFT use cases right. So kind of past-they’re like aping into, you know, digital assets, unique assets. And what does the next version of NFT look like, whether that’s, you know, NFT, converging with gaming platforms.
Or NFTs converging with DeFi platforms or NFTs that are building portability across the metaverse. Or NFTs that are really hacking on the programmability of these unique assets in terms of continuing on the user experience. You know, we’re very open, we work with DeFi companies.
We work with enterprise and infra companies. I’ve got a couple of those in this current cohort, DeFi, NFT, gaming, you know, metaverse, you know, all that aspects that you would think of that are DAOs, you know, treasury movement, type of tooling, things like that, all the things that are typically right now. But we look for like, what’s right-what’s next, what’s the next version of what’s coming in our ecosystem.
HOST: And so speaking of that, what do you see as-like, what are the most important things that need to come next in order to-you know, when we’re thinking about ultimately achieving widespread adoption of crypto, what is the next thing that needs to happen? What’s the next thing that needs to be built that hasn’t been built yet that, you know, we really need in order to reach that ultimate goal?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: So what I’m really excited about right now is-so there’s two answers to that question, maybe. I think the first is, you know, crypto or Web3, It’s still very hard to onboard into, into our ecosystem, right. So the UX is not quite there yet in terms of mass adoption. So like, my parents aren’t in crypto, you know, my friends who have real day jobs or whatever, like, it’s hilarious telling what I do for a living, telling them what I do for a living by the way. It’s like I work in magic internet money. And work with early stage companies that are kind of building the frontier of future tech. They have no idea what’s happening in this space.
So you know, in terms of like mass adoption, I think there’s still a lot that we need to do in terms of abstracting away the complexity in terms of on boarding users into the ecosystem. But in terms of those of us that are already bought into Web3, I think there’s a really interesting and exciting trends starting to take place.
You know, obviously we were just touching on a couple of them. I think what’s happening within like, in terms of the convergence, the composability and the convergence of NFTs, DeFi, Metaverse and portability, like ecosystem development, whether that’s DAOs or DAO tooling, like, starting to see the convergence of these things start to happen, I think is the really, really- it’s the next level of composability, right. It’s beyond composability.
It’s when these ecosystems now start to converge and you get these new combinatorial you know, connections that you would not have otherwise imagined. That’s like the next frontier right now. So like, you know, aping into Bored Apes. That’s cool. I love that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super f-- into it.
But what happens when you start to hack NFTs in terms of their programmability and think about, you know, unlocking unique experiences in that full consumer journey and what that looks like as an N-1 asset, digital native asset. And then what happens if you can create that value via a gaming mechanism and then sell it on an open platform. or borrow against it, you know, as you hold it in your wallet, or stake it as you hold it in your wallet. Like this convergence is the thing that’s starting to get me really exciting-excited right now. Yeah, so, you know-
HOST: I totally, I totally agree with that. It’s like NFTs on their own are super awesome, DAOs on their own are super awesome, but there’s a limitation to what they can accomplish on their own. And then if you think about all of these super awesome things joining forces, then, you know, the sky’s the limit there.
I’m curious to hear like, what are some of the coolest projects you’ve seen so far that have been able to combine different aspects of NFTs, DeFi, DAOs, different aspects of crypto into one? And then also, if there’s any use cases you can imagine, you know, that haven’t been built yet, that you want to see somebody build, maybe somebody’s listening and they’re like, I’m ready to build just like feed me an idea and I’ll do it?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah. So I’ll try not to talk my book too much, because I think there are some amazing companies in this current cohort that are doing some really next level shit. In fact, I am gonna-I’ll probably shout out a couple of them. But if I’m if I’m talking beyond like, Tachyon companies, whom I’m excited about right now. I love what the Aavegotchi team has been doing in terms of like thinking through the convergence of like, defined gaming.
I’d probably actually put Axie Infinity in that same camp, in terms of like, thinking through, what does it look like for, you know, play to earn yielding true economic value, you know, using his DeFi protocols, but abstracting away like, having to be a yield farmer and just having the front end interface be kind of like a gaming mechanism. I think that’s really, really cool and really exciting.
I’m really, I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen around portability of NFTs outside of silos into the metaverse. You know, I think Decentraland was kind of, like the first, you know, real killer use case and I think that’s really interesting in terms of like a platform play. But I want to start to see NFTs have real utility, you know, and functions and then be able to interact with other NFTs, if we’re if we’re really going to create this open and interactive metaverse ecosystem.
So like, there’s a company in our current cohort right now called Xerox essentials. I love what they’re trying to do. The founder, there’s a there’s a guy named Sam, he’s got a bias towards action. He spins up proof of concepts all the time. He just launched a project called Wrasslers, which He’s spinning up like, an NFT wrestling competition to try to see if we can create utility and function across these different NFT ecosystems using a set of NFT standards to come into a metaverse type of environment. I love what they’re doing.
We’ve got a company in this current cohort called Nifty Royale that is building like an NFT battle royale gaming platform as a way to increase distribution of unique, one of a kind NFTs and kind of, like, a no-loss gaming type of play. I think that’s really exciting. I’m really interested to see what happens in terms of like, social tokens and social money and just trying to unlock new value. Like, especially as the creator economy start-continues to boom and emerge.
You know, what are the new funding models that are going to happen with creators? How are they going to utilize whether it’s their social money to unlock value for their key stakeholders or their followers? Or how are they going to think about creating unique experiences using, you know, their social tokens by either turning them into, you know, NFTs themselves.
And then re-fractionalizing them and that’s kind of, been like a really exciting an emerging trend that I’ve started to see happen in the ecosystem. Yeah, I don’t know, they’re like-I just-there’s so much happening in this space right now. It’s a f-- flurry. I mean, it really is.
HOST: There is so much happening and the thing that I love about it is that in-like, just based off of what you said so far, like, there were so many aspects of that. There is like, the technical challenges of, you know, how do we bring these NFTs and make them work in Decentraland, across all the virtual lands and crypto voxels instead of like, only having like, Decentraland NFTs or like, crypto voxels NFTs.
There is a technical challenge of that. And then with things like governance and treasury management and things like that, and DAOs, like, there’s another challenge there. And then, you know, there’s also this psychological challenge of like having to think about human psychology and human behavior, and behavioral economics, and like, what motivates people, what incentivizes people.
So, that is one thing I really love about this space, as I think, you know, no matter where you come from, you can come from-you could be a historian, you could be a psychologist, you could be a coder, like, no matter what your background is there something really interesting in it, like, a really interesting problem for you to solve in the space.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: 100%, yeah. And I think-yeah, it’s going be-you know, all these aspects of the ecosystem create kind of, like, this gravity swell to what you’re just saying of like, we’re really smart people with different you know, various domain knowledge, can step in and start to figure out like, where am I going to participate? How am I going to participate?
I think ultimately, you know, what I what I love about the Web3 ecosystem more than anything is you find a lot more missionaries than mercenaries, you know, people who really believe in trying to utilize this technology and create something really cool and really unique so that we don’t go back and create like, these individual silos like we did Web2, a Facebook silo, a YouTube-Google silo and Amazon silo. That’s not what I want to see, right. I want to see a more open, fair, transparent, interoperable world.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. And there’s so much opportunity too in this Web3 world for people to just pitch in and contribute their skills. You know, it’s so different from the world that web grew up in where it’s like, you have to have all the credentials in order to you know, land your dream job at Merrill Lynch, which, you know, you-it was like, looking back on that, pretty funny. Right, yeah. And yeah, so land your dream job there, so that what? So that you can basically be a slave to somebody else and have them tell you exactly what to do and what not to do.
Now, it’s sort of like, you go into the ecosystem, you go into these DAOs and you identify the problem and you identify like, what your skill sets are that match up with that problem, and you just go and do it and solve it and then you can get paid for that. And I think that’s, that’s, you know, just a really exciting structure and I think that’s how we’re really going to solve problems superfast.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: 100%. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. It’s crazy. I was at this event here in New York, I think it was put on by OpenLaw, where a bunch of people from DAOs had showed up and I was talking to a bunch of people who’d just recently aped into a number of these DAOs. And you know, you were just talking about like, the human psychology behavior. Like the main driving thing here is one, there’s a sense of agency, right, so I think kind of, dictate and create value, stepped in and create value where I see value that can be created.
And then two, I get to participate in a portion of the upside of the value that I create. Like, you don’t have to overthink this right, like you-it’s-and this is the thing that I loved about-this reminds me of the early days of Web3. But what got me so excited is ultimately these are these are incentive and coordination problems that we’re solving, you know.
And that’s kind of like anytime I get lost in the sauce a little bit about like what we’re doing, I always go back to the first principles like, that’s ultimately what I think we’re trying to build around the Web3 ecosystem.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. I don’t know if you know Matt Stephenson, I had him on the podcast-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: No.
HOST: - recently too. He’s a PhD behavioral economics-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Okay.
HOST: - person and he thinks about-he’s, like, has done so much research on like, incentive problem.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Matt Stephenson?
HOST: Yeah, I can connect to you after this, but-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, I’ll - -.
HOST: -he’s done so much research and thinking on like incentive coordination problems and what incentivizes people, you know, that are like, the social incentives versus the financial incentives and balancing that out. And I just think all of that is super fascinating and-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: It’s cool
HOST: -it’s, it’s something-yeah, I think when people think about this space still, they still think of like, a bunch of finance pros or like, you know, coders and things like that. And there is such a bigger human component to it than most people have any idea that there isn’t, so I think that’s super exciting.
Something else I wanted to ask you about is, you mentioned a lot earlier and you know, based on your background with startups and being an entrepreneurship basically your whole life, what are some web 2 best practices for creating a startup that we can apply to Web3?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Oh, I’m really glad you asked that question, yeah. So it’s funny like, when I first-so Tachyon was sitting inside of the mesh after we’d went - - before I took over, right. I took over in 2019 and rebuilt the business really from the ground up. Ultimately, the mission and vision of Tachyon is, you know, we believe that Web3 will be synonymous with the internet in the next 10 years. And what we want to do is we want to find and accelerate and help support the future founders of that world.
And so when we-when I set out to redesign Tachyon from the ground up, what we asked ourselves is what does a need of Web3 accelerator look like, and how do we 10x our impact. And so, a lot of that was going back to first principles, you know, first of all, Tachyon was built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. We have been founders. We have been in the trenches, our advice is not based on some theoretical bullshit, or some blog or some theory.
We are in the trenches with our founders and we’ve been there. And so, there’s - I think there is this tendencies with people who have not built companies previously, who are coming into Web3 to maybe like want to throw the baby out with the bath water.
But I think there are some really, really good first principles that you can borrow from Web2 and then layer in the nuances of Web3. So when I think about the best practices, the fundamentals of building a high growth startup, a venture backable start up. I think it starts with what we would like to call the lockbox.
And the lockbox for us is simply, you know, you start with, you know some people call it problem solution fit, different than problem market fit, but it’s, you know, you start with identifying a problem, you know, where a set of users or customers, there’s something that they are trying to accomplish. And a good problem has both an insight and intensity.
So what does it mean? Like, you want to identify, like what’s the problem that your particular users have? Who has this problem? How often do they have the problem? How painful is it? What’s your insight into your users or your customers, what they are trying to achieve and how intense is that problem. I think once you hone it on a really good problem, the second key component is operating in a good market. So VCs will talk about, like how big is your market, the size of your market.
And then Web3 is not a big market right now. But I think there are really some key components to operating in a good market, which is, you know, what’s the size of that market, how fast is it growing. You can either get a small piece of a really big multibillion dollar in a market so DeFi is operating obviously in trillion dollar market places.
And so while, you know, while the DeFi ecosystem, it’s total town, total addressable market, might not be huge yet, it’s racing towards a really big market. That’s a big market, right. But the other way you can go is, you can try to get high penetration into a small, but really fast growing so the size of the market is changing really, really fast.
Because there are some key shifts and trends that are driving growth. So like DAOs, for example, right, like two years ago. I mean if you look at the size of DAOs, you know, and the size of, like, treasuries within DAOs for example, I don’t know, a couple millions.
Now, you are talking about like-you know, it’s orders of magnitude larger than that. That’s a fast and large growing market. And then the third component to the lockbox. So a good, you know, having a good problem which has insight and intensity, a good market. And then the third thing is a differentiated solution.
You operate in a marketplace and so, you know, do you have a unique advantage, do you have a unique insight into the needs of your users and your customers, and what their options are within the marketplace? Is it differentiated? Can you easily create value, you know, for the market.
And so I think a lot of founders, especially when you come out of-when we come out of the hackathons, we kind of fall in love with the technology. And especially if you’re a founder who is kind of building for your own thing, right, like the N-1 first business, you know, that you bootstrap, that’s fine to get you going.
But the difference between a project and a startup is a customer, it’s a user, and a set of users. And so you ultimately go from building for yourself to building for other people. So I think that those are like, really solid fundamentals in terms of like, getting-going from zero to one. And then from there it’s the good old fundamentals of, like, starting to demonstrate traction and prove demand, you know, what does your go to market look like.
And I think this is where you can start to get into some nuances around Web3 that are different and differentiated than, you know, what I would call legacy tech. And I think that’s really what separates Tachyon from like, a YC, for example. I think, while we respect the, you know, like, Y - - and what they’ve done, I think, they’ve done what they’ve done in the legacy tech world. And we’re building a pure Web3 experience for what we think, and accelerator for what we think Web3 looks like.
And so, you know, as startups start going through proving demand and getting traction, cause ultimately your, you’re, you know, you’re a high growth startup. You need to prove that demand. You know, there’s a whole play book around how you should think about going to market, starting to think about your customer segments, who are you serving, how are you serving, how are you serving them. What’s your unique value propositions, you know, what’s that customer experience.
Every startup, every startup competes on the same attack vectors, which are price, quality, delivery and customization. And so you need to think about what your differentiated solution is in the market, you know, what’s your channel strategy, do you have intermediaries in them.
What’s your business model, what’s your revenue model. And then as you start layering on the Web3 uniqueness, I think that the 2 killer features of Web3 in terms of uniqueness and in growing a high growth startup are composability and community. And you know, I have a blog post that’s just kind of, like sitting in the draft that I need to get up the door at some point.
But I think composability and community are probably the two strongest motes for Web3 companies, especially as they think about proving traction and going to market. And we spend a lot of time with our founders in thinking through those key elements as they begin to prove demand. But it kind of starts with the bedrock of, like, what are the fundamentals of building high growth startups.
HOST: For sure, yeah. I want to dive in of both of those things, because we are talking about Web3 startups here and composability and community, I think are a lot-are two of the things a lot of people listening are thinking about. But one quick question with, when you think about like, the total addressable market for say, like, a consumer facing product in the Web3 ecosystem, are you thinking-are you looking at that as you know, people who are in the crypto space right now? Or are you looking at that as, like everybody? Because like you said, you know, Web3 is going to be the Internet in 10 years. And so, in that sense, it’s like the total addressable market is-is that everybody that’s, like using the Internet today or are you only looking at people on the crypto space?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah. So in the beginning, all startups need to give a much more specific and much more niche. Get small to get big. So I want to be able to see that you can level up into a very large market that’s going to become a massive market ‘cause that’s how you’re going to become a large business, but we can’t start you there, right. Like I need you-only you tell me about a specific user, a specific customer, right.
Like, Huddle01 in our last cohort had a specific user. They are building decentralized video conferencing solution in emerging markets for users that are in the Edtech space. That’s a very specific user, right. So they’re competing against Zoom, Google Meet, that’s a huge TAM, like I can see what that’s going to go, but they’re starting with Edtech in the Southeast Asian marketplace.
And so for every good startup you want to start with your beach head, your initial go to market, which is your serviceable obtainable market, your song. It’s usually a very specific set of users that you can build a solution around, who are going to be very excited and enthusiastic about, you know, the problem you are solving for them.
And then your objective is to create raving fans within your initial song, get high market penetration. And then level that up into your sand, which is the serviceable obtainable market, serviceable addressable market. And that’s kind of the next layer, right. So like, if we are-if I’m looking at Huddle01, now, they’re going to move from, you know, Edtech to freelance workers in the Southeast Asian market place, right. And so eventually they’re going to level themselves up into a much larger ecosystem town.
But it’s got to-you start really specific, you start really small with that initial addressable market, that beach head. And it’s very hard to do cause we all have, you know, illusion of grandeur of like building these massive businesses. But if you can obsess about, you know, the first 10 customers or the first 100 users are like-they are the best, for every startup they are the best. And if you can obsess about those and build something that the first 100 people will love, I think you’ve, you’ve got the beginnings of a potentially great company, that’s the thing with the TAM.
HOST: Yeah, that makes total sense. That makes total sense. So I want to talk about the composability and the community. So you know, I think those are two things that you probably should start thinking about from day one as well, like even getting those first 100 users, you got to think about, like, how do I get the most loyal and dedicated first 100 users. And a lot of that is, you know, how you think about community building. So I’d love to hear your take on each of those things and best practices for building that, like, how it’s different, you know, focusing on those things on Web3 versus Web2. Like obviously community is important on Web2, but much more so on Web3 and maybe in a slightly different way.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yes. So I think the big difference is that, at least in my opinion, is so much about Web2 is-like, I think about early days of, like, Twitter and how they opened up their APIs and then, you know, the Twitter slap came down to developers and they started, you know, taking away APIs access because they went from, you know, building their community, open-sourcing everything and then everything became about valued capture.
And the difference between I think Web2 and Web3 is so much about ecosystem was built around open source technology in the beginning, right, we’re going back to, you know, Web--really Web1, the fundamentals of how the internet was originally going, based on protocols. And so composability is simply, you know, figuring out ways that your product can fit in the stack.
And what we’ve seen time and time again is that if early Web3 companies lean into composability, open sourcing early version of their product, trying to become composable, trying to become key pieces of the stack, that becomes a defensible mote, because now they are an essential part of a larger and growing ecosystem, that’s very much connected to the community building.
And so a lot of our emphasis and focus without early stage companies is building in public, like starting with-you know, find the first 10 users or 10 customers, figure out what they want to have built and build a community around them. So much of what-our founders in the building will end up being community driven, where essentially, your first customers are also your first couple of investors.
They are, you know, they become incentivized to, you know, spread via incentives word of mouth, it becomes so much of an exponential growth trend, if you can start to hack that from the very beginning. And it just, it naturally fits within the ethos of Web3 anyways.
And So I think we really-any time I have this conversation with especially our venture partners, who are either not pure crypto venture or they have investment pieces around crypto, they’re making come of their entry into Crypto, they always asked me, like, how are you thinking about-you know, what’s this thing with composability, how are you thinking about value capture with your companies? And we kind of have to educate them a little bit. You know, composability and open source and building strong communities and opening up, you know, the technology is a-it’s a defensible mote in Web3 and that’s the way you need to kind of think about it.
HOST: Yeah, 100%. And then with the community too, there’s, I mean so many Discords and some of the communities there are so much stronger than others and there’s-you know, it’s all across the board. But I think it’s like, what would you-If you had to sort of, you know, find the patterns and summarize it, what are the things that those strong communities are doing that the weaker communities are missing?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: It’s the vibes, right, it’s the culture. Like they-I think the really great communities, I think about, like Peter Pan, you know, now at 1KX, previously at Metacartel, you have OG in the ecosystem right. So much of the early days of the Metacartel squad or the - - squad was just like, if even one person was excited about what was happening, like, they brought that person into the fold, they nurture that person.
You know, they brought them into their culture. You know, we try to do the same thing with Tachyon, all of our founders, all of our alumni, all of our mentors and advisers, you know, we want them to feel the vibes. We want them to feel like they are part of something. We want them to feel nurtured, we want them to feel, like you know, they are a part of something bigger than themselves. You know, so much of the community is-they are the extrinsic motivations, right.
So like, when you join a DAO, when you join a community, there can be tokens, there can be financial incentives, you know, those are the extrinsic motivators. But I think so much more is the intrinsic motivation. I think we are living in a day in an age where people want to be a part of something, they want to be connected to something, especially, you know, coming out of the queasy weird Covid world that we just came out of.
You know, and not to get too philosophical here, but like, we want to be-people need people, we want to be connected to one another. And so much of this-we can, you know, so much of this ecosystem can be about being connected with one another and being a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves. And I think that’s what people are looking for. I think that’s why this is so exciting in such an exciting time right now within Web3.
HOST: Yeah, 100%. You recommend the companies that you work with Tachyon, like, if they don’t already have a community manager is that sort of a priority for them to get a community manager right off the bat? No?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: No, I tell all of our founders, like, hand to hand combat. Like until you are broken and you cannot engage with your community yourself, do not go out and hire a community manager. Like understand who your community is, do not try to out sources that. I think too many, especially, technical founders wanted to try to out sources that. I think that’s a terrible idea.
I’m the active, as the manager director, I’m active in our alumni slack, in our mentor and advisor’s slack. And you know, and in our Tachyon Discord channels. Until you cannot do it any more, I think you should stay very, very, very connected to your community, it is that important.
And if you are trying to build a community and it’s just not happening, first go be a part of other people communities and go be a good participant and try to add value to other ecosystems and other communities, you know, and people will get turned on to what you’re doing and what you’re building and what you’re about. And will slowly start to join your Discord or your Telegram or your Slack.
But I think it’s a terrible idea for founders to try outsource community management to somebody else in the beginning, like that’s your community, that is, they are there for you, they are there for your vibes. You set the precedence. You show them what the culture is within your community. Like you should be in control of that.
HOST: Yeah, yeah, I think that’s a really important point. And some might think that’s a hot take, but yeah, I think that’s a really good point. Last question before we dive into your tweets
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah. Oh shit.
HOST: This part always GETS people nervous, I’m not sure why. But you tweeted it, like, you should feel good about, you know, what you’ve said, but-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: I - -.
HOST: last question-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah.
HOST: -in your perfect world, like if everything progresses as planned, where will we be in ten years with-I don’t even want to say with Crypto, because, like Web3 is just going to be daily life, you know?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I hope-I can’t even imagine it, right. Like, I think about-I think it was Walt Disney who said, I maybe miss quoting, but I believe it was Walt Disney who said, I don’t know what the future is, but it’s bright and it’s shiny and its summer out there. like I f-- love that quote, right. And I lived my life that way, I hope Crypto and Web3 is that way.
I hope it’s just-I just hope it’s bright and shiny and it’s exciting. And I get surprised and shocked by it positively in ways that I cannot even imagine right now. That’s what I hope. I hope we’re not all aping into speculative NFT. I hope we move past that part. And again, not to shit on anybody’s NFTs, I love all of your NFTs. You know, I’ll show all of you, I love it, but like, I want to see what’s next.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. For sure. I need to stop wasting time aping into all this NFT avatars and like, do something legit.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: I love it.
HOST: All right. Okay. So it’s time for some tweets.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Oh shit. All right.
HOST: Let start with this one from April 7th 2021, you said, “fractionalized NFTs being transacted with social money as access to community/personalities that transact on L2 rails is going to open up some of the most exciting new biz models civilization has ever seen, It’s culture hacking 2.0. Okay. So there’s like a ton of words here, I don’t even know if people understood what I just said. But can you explain what you mean by that?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Woo-hoo. Yeah, so this is what we were talking about earlier, this is kind of like an early thread or idea that I was thinking of, like not just composability, but convergence. So one of the reasons why I think NFTs became so hot is because it’s what I call culture hacking, right. It was accessible by mainstream.
Mainstream for the first time could look at a crypto related project and say, Oh, I know that, I know what that means. And it has to do with what’s happening in culture, it has to do with what’s happening in the zite, guys. And so as I start thinking about, you know, the combination, the combinatorial, you know, convergence of things like social money and personalities now being able to tokenize themselves. And then as soon as, you know, these Layer 2 rails start coming that make transactions, the output of transactions much faster.
And then you can start unlocking the value of these personalities that are attached to these tokens, you know, via N=1 experiences, through defied typo of platforms. Like that becomes really, really interesting and really, really exciting as you start thinking about how creative are going to use that. How the creator economy is going to use those tools. You know, as soon as you introduce your tools sets to creators, you get all kinds of really cool amazing fucking things that come about.
And so that’s what I was trying to say, is like you can’t even begin to imagine what that world is going to look like, but you’re going to have all of these creators that are going to have access to these tools that are going to figure out new ways of gaining access and value not only to their communities, but with their communities gained access to them as well. And I think I’ll be really exciting.
HOST: For sure, yeah. I can’t wait for all of that to happen and to see it just play out. All right. So this next tweet I have got, this is from July 13th 2021. You said, “just met a bunch of dope folks working for and excited about DAOs. No way traditional companies survive.” A hot take. I didn’t look in the comments, but did people come at you for this? And do you really believe that DAOs are going to fully replace traditional companies in the future?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: They will happen side by side for I think a very long time. But again, you know, so much of legacy company organizations are hierarchal and they are top down. And what I think the magic of where I think DAOs really plays into, is again, its agency and its upside.
And, you know, abstracting away all the coordination components and making it very easy for people to come together and coordinate with one another. And having the incentive mechanisms that are layered on top, I think just creates the type of speed, the feedback loop, the cycle that becomes very, very hard to compete against.
And I think, you know, you’ll have some pretty, you know, Pretty fast moving companies in legacy organizations that will figure out how to disrupt themselves and try to keep up with this pace. But I think you’re going to see just a Cambrian explosion of DAOs and communities of that, you know, that can utilize these tool sets as they think about, like both the coordination and incentive mechanisms. I think that’s really become the magic of DAOs right now.
HOST: Yeah, 100 percent. I think there’s a lot that legacy organizations can learn from DAOs on. And I think, you know, if they can really learn from the DAOs and incorporate those practices into their systems, they can survive and we can have, you know-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: But I’m - - for that because for most legacy organizations, it’s not their DNA-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: it just isn’t. It’s the innovator’s dilemma, right. It’s not in their DNA and so-you know, I had a fantastic mentor back in the days who told me, Gabriel, there are two paths to enlightenment, the path of pleasure and the path of pain. Both will get you there. I think you’re going to have a lot legacy organizations that are going to go through the path of pain and I just don’t think they’re going to be able to disrupt themselves.
HOST: You’re right. I was just trying to stay positive, but, yeah-
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah.
HOST: -you’re probably right. Okay. And then I’ve got one more tweet for you. This is from August 3rd, so just two days ago.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Oh shit.
HOST: You said, and this is not crypto related, and this is really like, a selfish one to pull out ‘cause I want to know how you resolve this, but you said, “I just cleared out 3.5 weeks of e-mail replies. If I was behind on getting back to you, I’m sorry. Doing the best I can. Need better systems.” So I’ve got 250 unread e-mails in my work one, and then my personal e-mail is like hopeless. I’ve already given up on that. Did you find an-what’s the solution, I need help with e-mails?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Okay. Diana, I have tried it all, superhuman isn’t it. Let me just say that. I tried that. You know, hotkeys isn’t it. I’ve declared e-mail bankruptcy five time in the last six years. I don’t know, I don’t how to-I don’t have a good answer for you. Like, between the emails, the Slacks, the Telegrams, the Discords, I’m getting murdered, I’m absolutely getting murdered. Like, somebody need to-we actually have a company in the cohort called the convo space that I’m really excited about that’s building composable conversation in a decentralized manner.
The main reason we invested in them is because I want this, I want the solution that he’s building, yeah. But I don’t know it, you know, you know, I feel terrible that it took me that long to get back to people. If owed you e-mail, publicly here on the Podcast, the Unstoppable Podcast, I apologize. I’m doing the absolute best I can. I promise I will get back to you eventually. Thank you for your patience.
HOST: There you go everybody, you’ve got a public apology from Gabriel on the Unstoppable Podcast. Yeah, well, if you find a solution definitely hit me up, because I think this is like, the thing I’m worst at, and my jobs is e-mails. And this is unfortunately a part of every job that you will ever have in life. So I feel like I need to figure out a solution to this.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Yeah. Short of being able to clone ourselves, you know, I don’t know that they were going to have a great solution any time soon, but I’ll let you know if I find something.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. For sure. All right. Well, thank so much for taking the time, Gabriel, to come on the Podcast today. Before you go, just tell people where they can find you, if they want to connect with you personally. And then where they can go to apply for the next cohort of Tachyon, if somebody’s got a great idea, or just learn more about it. Or you know, anything Tachyon got plans coming up in the near future, feel free to plug all of that.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Love it. Yeah, 100%. So hit me on Twitter, gabrielanderso, no n. I thought it was funny and cute back in the days, but now this looks like a terrible idea, but gabrielanderso. If want to apply to Tachyon or learn more about Tachyon, you can find us at mesh.xyz/tachyon, T-A-C-H-Y-O-N. We’ve got demo day coming up with this cohort. You can go to mesh.xyz/tachyon to find out more and sign up to get an invite, it’s a demo day. That’s coming up September 17th. We’ll probably be doing a closed door private invite investor day on September 10th right before that, but yeah-or just send me e-mail, I know I just said three-
HOST: Don’t send him any-why did you say that?
GABRIEL ANDERSON: I know I said three-and-a-half week behind, but I promise you I will get back to you, it may be a while. But email@example.com is how you can get a hold of me via e-mail if you want to reach me that way too.
HOST: I think that’s a bad idea, just for anybody listening, probably - -.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: Stop. Bring them on, bring them on.
HOST: All right. Thanks so much Gabriel. I really enjoyed the conversation. Thank you everybody for tuning in. And we’ll be back again soon with another episode of the Unstoppable Podcasts.
GABRIEL ANDERSON: That was fun. Thank guys.