Entrepreneurial Word: Jake Kuczeruk, Dispatch Labs
Was a Public Policy Major. Left the Midwest. Works in the cool but still rough around the edges San Francisco Mission District. Jake helps social impact companies use Blockchain to build their products and solutions at Dispatch Labs.
How does an IU public policy major, who worked in real estate, end up participating in one of the first 500 Startups batches?
Haha, well you know what they say- it’s all about who you know! One of my life-long best friends was actually working closely with 500's Paul Singh in San Antonio, and as the 500 Startups accelerator program first came online, they were eager to offer slots to teams they already knew had the chops to deliver. I got the call on a Monday in late July about flying out to join my friend (along with 2 other engineers on the team), and 4 days later I had moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Mountain View with them. We spun up Console.fm, a web/mobile app built for aggregating new music, and the rest is history.
What was the most relevant walk-away from your experience 500 start-ups experience?
Leave the office. Put your computer down on Friday evenings and go have a beer with the other members of your cohort. It’s imperative that you’re out there talking candidly about your company. Not only is it great practice for your demo day pitch- but often you’ll end up forging partnerships or expanding your ecosystem.
You are now director of partnerships at a blockchain protocol and incubator/accelerator, what does Dispatch Labs and The Bureau do?
Dispatch Labs is a platform, a protocol to build blockchain applications (dApps) on. We have zero transaction fees, are backward compatible with Ethereum, are crazy fast (~100k/tps in our testnet), and built to enable on/off chain interoperability…basically, we let you store large volumes of data or highly-secure information securely off of the public chain and leverage smart contracts to program against your data. We're helping cut out the need for AWS and the fees associated with centralized storage providers. The Bureau is actually the parent company of Dispatch Labs. We're an SF-based accelerator, advisory, and impact fund. We're also a Public Benefit Corporation, so are laser-focused on supporting products promoting social impact.
Can blockchain be the platform for democratization and/or positive social change?
Yes…as long as it stays decentralized/distributed. This technology was conceived entirely as a direct reaction to the global financial crisis and the growing lack of distrust in centralized, "trusted" third-party systems. Blockchain gives the power and the profits back to the people. Naturally, that old guard is threatened by this and are actively entering the space- so it's up to everyone participating in the blockchain ecosystem to keep these original values top of mind.
Who should be learning about blockchain: Old-line companies, college students, high school students?
Literally everyone- but especially college and university students (even if you're non-technical or have no plans to build a product). This is the most significant redistribution of wealth event in modern history. Cryptocurrencies can be lucrative. Get in early and be smart about who you're giving your money to, as more than a few bad actors are capitalizing on this movement. Blockchain technology, when properly integrated into specific companies/processes, can create far more secure and efficient systems that we've ever seen before. It's revolutionizing everything from supply chain management to digital collectibles.
Dispatch Labs is a public benefits company, why?
We're a public benefit corporation because we believe it's the right thing to do and we're committed to leaving this world a better place than when we entered it. This technology was always intended to democratize wealth and power. Doing anything else with it flies in the face of everything the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto (the anonymous founder of blockchain who published the original Bitcoin white paper that set that standard for what this technology could become…which may not actually be a single person but a group of individuals or even governments, corporations, etc.) intended it for.
What are two resources every entrepreneur should access when starting a company?
Their existing personal networks. Everyone gets so hot to move to the coast and start fundraising because there is the perception that’s where the REAL action is. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Be a voice in your own local community. Be that big fish in a small pond. You’ll find some of your earliest press, investors, and die-hard loyalist supporters will come from your own backyard…because once you do end up in Silicon Valley, you’ll just be another drop of water in a massive bucket having to claw your way up to relevance.
Second, I could get REALLY cliché here and say to read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, and while that may be solid advice, I'm sure you've heard it before. I'll go ahead and say business cards. Yes, we're moving to an increasingly more digital society, but a lot of the investors or partners you're connecting with are still old school. Look sharp and arrive early for meetings. The Zuckerberg/hoodie culture of a few years is long dead- and was never really a thing, to begin with (did you know he wore a suit and tie every day for a year in 2009?). A clean and professional appearance still helps open doors.
What's your favorite, quote, movie, or book?
The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.
- Theodore Roosevelt