An inside look at a ConsenSys-funded web 3.0 accelerator [INTERVIEW]
We interviewed Gabriel Anderson, the Managing Director of Tachyon, an accelerator for startups utilizing blockchain and web 3 technologies, funded by ConsenSys.
Tachyon is a 12-week program that helps founders rapidly validate and grow their businesses.
Prior to that, Anderson held various roles as founder/co-founder of several real estate tech and fintech startups, lead growth for VaynerRSE a venture-backed incubator where he built and ran the Growth Engineering team, as well as being the head of multiple startups he founded as an Intrapreneur-in-Residence at VaynerX.
What is your background and how did you get started in the blockchain space?
GA: These days, I call myself a full-stack entrepreneur/operator. I’m a serial entrepreneur who has built companies in the real estate tech and fintech verticals. Prior to joining ConsenSys, I was an Intrapreneur in Residence at a company called VaynerX, where I was tasked with building startups under the umbrella of the holding company, one of which scaled to over 20 million monthly active users. I started and ran the company’s growth engineering team while overseeing the growth and user acquisition for a number of incubated start-ups. One start-up, Resy, was later acquired by American Express. I have a heavy bias towards early-stage growth, customer acquisition and biz dev.
Prior to my entrepreneurial days, I spent years of a misspent youth in finance at Merrill Lynch, so I tend to look at things through the lens of market dynamics. In late 2018, I was having wine and Thai food with my good friend Shawn Cheng, who is a partner of Consensys Labs, the investing arm of ConsenSys. Over a spirited debate about cryptocurrencies as an asset class (I was a skeptic), Shawn gave me a couple of whitepapers to read based on my interests in blockchain business models. One of them was the Dharma whitepaper. I was flying out to Toronto the following day with my partner and I ended up holed up in our Airbnb for 3 days consuming whitepapers and making a bunch of notes. I was hooked. Just a few months later, I joined ConsenSys to advise our portfolio of companies on growth and go-to-market strategies. Now, I’m spending some time building a team to help me design a new iteration of our world-class accelerator, Tachyon III.
What is the mission of Tachyon and what is ConsenSys’ involvement?
GA: Tachyon’s mission is to accelerate the growth of the Web 3 ecosystem and build the next generation of technology startups. Tachyon is part of Labs, ConsenSys’ investment arm. As your audience probably knows, ConsenSys is an Ethereum software technology and venture capital firm building the infrastructure, applications, and practices that enable a decentralized world. Consensys Labs has incubated and invested in more than 100 projects and companies, including key pillars of the Ethereum ecosystem — Infura, Metamask, Truffle Suite, Pegasys, and Nuo. Tachyon is a 12-week accelerator program to bring the best Web 3 technologies to market.
Why is it important to have a web 3.0-specific accelerator?
GA: I love this question. I’d actually start with answering a slightly different question, which is: “What parts of Web 2 should Web 3 founders be borrowing liberally from?” I think there is a tendency to reinvent everything, starting from scratch. But there are some really good business fundamentals in Web 2 that Web 3 founders should focus on.
To choose one in particular: Companies should have a relentless focus on customers, their needs, and how to satisfy them. That’s the surest path to building a thriving ecosystem, market, or business. That involves getting out of the building and talking to your customers, building a product that addresses a need/pain point of your customer and measuring how your product is delivering on that need, through KPI’s like your unit metrics or economics.
That’s where I and the other program directors spend most of our time in building the programming for Tachyon III. Once those boxes are checked, there are specific nuances where a Web 3.0-specific accelerator really adds immense value. Those are technical elements, like smart contract diligence, or the systemic elements like the legal implications for a global value-exchange system. And, that’s not to mention our in-depth market understanding of where the ecosystem is heading and what new business models will be made available as a result of the technology. These are nuances that only a company like ConsenSys can deliver on, because of our full-field view of the marketplace.
What can Tachyon companies expect to receive from participating in the accelerator?
GA: Founders join an accelerator for two things: capital and a network. At the heart of Tachyon, we’ve built a program that gives founders the capital they need to get early traction and the network they need to unlock the potential value of their company. We invest $150,000 in each project for about 7-10 percent equity. This makes us partners with our founders and ensures we open our network to give them every chance to succeed.
We’ve pulled together one of the best networks in the open finance space, with participants from within ConsenSys and the broader industry. The programming is built around one-on-one coaching and mentorship with investors, subject matter experts and initial customers. A network allows you to shortcut missteps and build a company that has external market signal. The program culminates with an Investor Day, a closed-door, end of program meeting series with a highly curated group of early-stage investors.
What specific areas of blockchain is Tachyon targeting?
GA: For its third cohort, Tachyon is dedicated to founders in Open Finance building more open, interoperable, and programmable financial systems and services. We define Open Finance broadly: Open Finance enables a financial system with greater accessibility, resiliency, efficiency, and interoperability, with the opportunity for new business models built on direct, trust-minimized relationships between participants.
We’re interested in a wide range of projects, including new approaches to:
- Distribute Value
- Transfer Value
- Bypass Intermediaries
- Manage Assets
- Manage Risk
- Manage Identity
- Create new relationships between stakeholders
- Develop new financial instruments
Who are some of the notable mentors in the Tachyon network?
GA: The network we’ve built for this cohort is second to none. You can see the full list of mentors at: https://labs.consensys.net/tachyon/
What are the important dates for participating in the accelerator and how does one apply?
GA: Applications are open from August 1st through September 16, 2019. The program kicks off in early November in New York, and will run through February 2020, with a short break for the holidays. To apply you can visit: https://tachyon.submittable.com/submit. Or, to ask any questions, feel free to sign up for office hours with our team here: calendly.com/tachyon
What kinds of support does Tachyon offer once the program has concluded?
GA: We continue to support founders after the program in raising an up-round. Tachyon will guide founders, but it is the team’s job to make decisions and move quickly as they see fit. We strive to give teams the best chance of fundraising coming out of the program.
How will blockchain be impacting our lives in the next 5-10 years?
GA: We’ll stop saying things like “this is a blockchain company.” I’m extremely bullish on companies that start to sweep blockchain under the rug, so customers stop interacting with it, and instead use the technology’s inherent competitive advantages to build businesses that compete with the very best in the global market.
Is it possible that decentralized apps will usurp their centralized counterparts in the future? If so, what future dApps would you be most excited about using?
Yes, absolutely. I’m looking forward to the day when we have end-to-end automated, decentralized value exchange pipes that don’t require users to interact with dApps. Instead, self-sovereign identity will be connected to wallets and automated.
In that world, I hope I don’t have to interact with a dApp, except maybe my AI assistant and all the interactions that happen in the background. In order for this reality to come to life, I think there are some killer dApps that can/should be built in the next 18-245 months: smart contract insurance, identity, more seamless and easy on/off ramps. I’d love to see the Web 3.0 equivalent of Plaid be built.
For more information on Tachyon, click here.