Getting started: building a web3 business
Having a reliable sounding board or receiving technical advice from peers is key in an emerging industry, like web3. Peers help with problem-solving, provide valuable perspectives, and offer inspiration. Our members share which resources helped them discover peers and get involved in projects.
Web3 is a burgeoning industry disrupting business, money, and the very idea of the internet. While not nearly as widely adopted as web2 applications (think tens of millions compared to billions of users), web3 applications are considered to be the next significant technological innovation. According to Forbes, just under 50 crypto startups raised over $100 million last year and VCs have invested over $30 billion in crypto startups. That’s not a passing fad.
So let’s get into it. We spoke with builders in the Propel community currently working in or paying close attention to web3/crypto applications, asking them to demystify the space and help newer adopters get started in crypto. Meet Tiffany, Aditi, Abe, Felipe, and Zim:
Zim Hang works on Saddle, a decentralized automated market maker (AMM) on the Ethereum blockchain, optimized for trading pegged value crypto assets with minimal slippage.
Aditi Sriram works in product strategy at Celestia, a modular consensus and data network to power scalable, secure web3 applications.
Felipe Galvis is the head of strategic initiatives at R2, an embedded finance company focused on Latin America.
Tiffany Patterson works part-time on building a social impact platform, Cowrie, for BERG leaders primarily, but other social impact groups, currently managing programs to support founders of their affinity group.
Abe Anwar works on Superspace, an NFT community and collaboration platform for collectors of NFT avatars. They provide the tools for NFT collectors to work independently and collaboratively with other collectors and interested parties to create the future of their avatars by transforming them into characters through stories and other types of collaborations.
First, we asked the group to establish some basics.
Key benefits of web3 and crypto-based businesses
Blockchain technology enables:
- Self sovereignty
With token payment systems:
- Money and payments can happen immediately without a third party, i.e. a bank
- There is a borderless business approach - markets are no longer restricted by location
With DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations):
- Business will no longer be limited to those few who have access to funding - DAOs restrict hierarchical control, giving every stakeholder equal rights and minimizes the influence of a shareholder
What difference can peer support make?
Having a reliable sounding board or receiving technical advice from peers is key in an emerging industry. Peers help with problem-solving, provide valuable perspectives, and offer inspiration. Our members share which resources helped them discover peers and get involved in projects.
Abe: Over the last 4 years or so I’ve been connecting with entrepreneurs and developers in web3 so they have been a great resource for the company and me. With Propel, it’s been great to have access to people across various disciplines as we explore new opportunities for the product and for me personally in general.
Zim: OnDeck, Propel, Betaworks, web3 groups e.g. any time we collaborate with another project, we open up a Telegram group and discussions / support happen there. Also I’ll hop into another project’s Discord and engage there sometimes.
Tiffany: I’ve found more support connecting with fellow entrepreneurs or those running a fund. I previously left an incubator, of which a few fellow Black entrepreneurs attended, and noticed we were still moving a lot slower and with challenges than some of our counterparts. We needed a different cheat code and found that from other Black and Brown founders who navigated the system to work for them. I love Propel, of course! Besides Propel, I enjoy Black Women Talk Tech or the sprawling technical Telegram groups.
Who is financing and investing in web3?
This list is a good place to start researching VCs. Try to find investors who have experience helping entrepreneurs build in web3 or those focused on NFTs and community products. For examples of the different routes crypto builders are taking, consider our group:
- Abe is bootstrapping Superspace but is in discussions with investors
- Aditi’s company Celestia and Zim’s company Saddle are both venture backed
- Tiffany has a VC partner that is aligned with her vision and is hopeful she can avoid further funding for an MVP
What are the unknowns and challenges of working in web3?
A few commonly raised criticisms of web3 are to do with security, UX, and high barriers to entry with high gas fees on Ethereum. As a young industry there is time to figure these challenges out. We asked our builders at Propel what the most interesting opportunities are to solve.
Abe: For Superspace, as we evolve the product to include on-chain events, we’ll be looking to work with smart contract developers and other professionals in the space. Web3 also brings a lot of other opportunities with tokenomics and game theory that we’ll be looking to work with a few people on.
Zim: It’s the scarcity of solid talent. There is a need for technical talent to think about reducing gas/transaction costs and better implementing permissionless transactions of algorithms (e.g. different DeFi AMM algorithms, crosschain solutions that solve fragmentation of liquidity across networks). More formal community building is needed. Another opportunity is in the recruiting/hiring space, as well improving education for new users.
Tiffany: I can see how web3 perpetuates exclusivity that'll force those still catching up to web2, those who don't yet have access to mobile phones, or the underbanked, to fend for themselves. My prototype is focused on bringing DEI to leaders to support the diversity of management, staff, and in considering the user experience beyond the user experience for those who easily access it. My main challenge is seeking out the support in her development of an MVP - specifically hybrid applications.
In Part 2 of this series, we share the most important lessons these web3 builders have learned so far and cover predictions about what the next wave of web3 innovation will be. Sign up to The Propeller so you don't miss it.