Hitting The Bullseye On Your Blockchain Innovation With Stephen Meade

NTE 61 | Blockchain Innovation

 

Technology has evolved over the years that more and more businesses are enhancing their systems and processes. Stephen Meade, the Founder of Big Bamboo talks with host Tracy Hazzard about blockchain, and how and which businesses would benefit from this technology. Stephen also highlights a system they built called MonetaPro and some other types of use cases he is seeing coming out in the marketplace that solve a good problem and are great examples of blockchain.Listen to this episode as Stephen dives into how blockchain has innovated some of the biggest businesses today, including Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry.

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Hitting The Bullseye On Your Blockchain Innovation With Stephen Meade

I’m excited to meet you someone who helped me get a bit oriented. He may not have realized it but it helped me get oriented in the blockchain cryptocurrency space and start to understand it. He uses an analogy at every event, which I appreciate, which is that he talks about whether or not you understand the internet. How is it made? How is it created? How does it work? Thinking about that, most of us like we know. The reality is that we don’t know the understructure, we don’t know the code itself behind that. He likens that to the way that we think about blockchain nowadays. It helped to open my eyes and seeing the blockchain for the new super-highway, the new infrastructure as I call it, all the time here on the show that it’s going to be. We don’t have to know how it works. We don’t have to know the coding and the details.

I personally have the viewpoint that sometimes that’s bad that you know that much about it. That it makes you too much in the tech weeds and hard to understand what the solutions and things that are going to come out of it, that are going to become valuable companies and businesses and tools we’re going to use in the future. Stephen Meade is the Founder of Big Bamboo. It’s a holding company that accelerates ideas into the formation of companies. He’s also the Founder of the Beverly Hills Blockchain, which is a group and Meetup that I met him at.

He has been a CEO for multiple companies and executive advisor with dozens of startups. He has the ability to rapidly scale capital, revenue, and customers by building and training teams. He’s known as The BullsEye guy. He has a podcast called The BullsEye Guy and he has a targeted approach for problem-solving. He enables high-performing public, private and nonprofit teams to focus on the specific goals that bring them success. He is passionate about world-changing companies as a mentor and executive. His nickname is The BullsEye Guy as a result of his success at isolating exactly what organizations need and who they need to meet before they begin.

I can tell you he brings together, he introduced his networking skills for that to connect people together. His rigorous focus on using sales psychology to communicate simple ideas across a strategically targeted network of contacts evolved into what he calls the BullsEye Belief System. He has used it to create, incubate and architect nine different companies spanning the development of the internet, eCommerce, payment processing, and blockchain technology. I know I’m going to get them to talk about MonetaPro at some point here. That is the one company that I do want you to hear about what they’re building on the blockchain. I am happy to have you meet Stephen Meade.

Stephen, thank you so much for being here. How are you doing? I met you first at your event. You’ve been running some blockchain and cryptocurrency events for some time. Tell us a little bit about that.

I’ve always run my own private networking events. A friend of mine probably a couple of years ago made a joke that she had started a Meetup for blockchain Pasadena and had 42 people that signed up. I thought I should do a Meetup. I started not on a lark, I was interested. I started the Beverly Hills Blockchain Meetup. I posted it overnight, I had 150 people. Within 24 hours, there were 300 and it’s grown. There are 1,500 or 1,600 people. There was a lot of appetite for learning and knowledge and it grew organically and it’s been a lot of fun.

It was interesting. I went to one of your events. A good friend of mine, Dave Phillips, took me there. We walked in and there were some people who he knew who would be around who come every time you run it or every month. There was this large group of people who were like deer caught in headlights. What’s this thing? I talked to them at the networking afterward and said, “What made you come here?” Curious as to find out and they’re saying, “I hear about this blockchain thing and I wanted to know more.” When you get down to it, they’ve got interesting businesses and interesting reasons for being intrigued. Are you finding that yourself?

Yes. That was the objective of the way I structured the Meetup is because I come out of the entrepreneurial side. I’ve started eleven companies. I’ve had three public companies, OTP, small bulletin boards. I was fascinated with the crypto component, which to me is glorified penny stocks. Crypto to me was the investment vehicle of a new way to raise money. The blockchain component is completely different. Blockchain to me is a better form of a glorified database. The educational component of being distinctively different with something I wanted to share. You saw from my audience, I’ve got an eclectic but executive level of people and a lot of them trusted me enough to know that if they came, they would get an education. That was useful for them and not a lot of tech talk because I don’t do tech talk. I do use case.

NTE 61 | Blockchain Innovation
Blockchain Innovation: Crypto is the investment vehicle of a new way to raise money. The blockchain component is completely different in that it is a better form of a glorified database.

 

I’m always interested in the application of what’s going on. I love that you have been incubating and growing many companies over time and you’re a businessman. I love the title that you call it Big Bamboo because that’s such a great way to put it because you want to put your time in and then they grow and grow. It’s such a great metaphor for what the type of business you want to grow. Have you been seeing some great applications coming through? What have you seen merging from the networking group that you’ve been putting together?

A couple of things. One, I appreciate the Big Bamboo compliment and kudos. Thank you. A short story, since I’ve moved to and been in LA, a lot more people go, “Yeah, bamboo.” I have bamboo at my house in Malibu. I had to go, “No, I don’t sell bamboo. It’s a metaphor for growing trees and how long it takes.” For what it’s worth, I’ve moved my branding over and now I’m officially called The BullsEye Guy. Big Bamboos get too much. The BullsEye has taken this target of things and specifically drilling down to exactly what you want. That’s everything from exactly what you want from a business partner from a message. The segue though, your question was I’m a big proponent of targeting how things work as what it means is how it works for you, not how it works technically.

A lot of the things that were coming out in blockchain, especially in Hollywood and entertainment, everybody has got an idea. Everybody is selling something. Most of the things they were selling were bad scripts and movies. Everybody thinks their movie’s going to be the best. People thought, “My blockchain’s the greatest idea ever.” Most of them aren’t. I joke that blockchain is a lot of what I call B’s. It’s full of the baffle, babble and both beep. If you get past those three B’s, there might be something brilliant, but most of it is baffle, babble and BS.

How do you determine that when you’re looking at something and evaluating? What are some criteria that you have when you’re looking at the ideas that people are presenting forward?

First, one of the speeches I gave was unblocking the blockchain and I would trick people because I’m a trained speaker and say, “How many of you know how the internet works?” Everybody raises their hand. I put up a screen of HTML programming and I’m like, “That’s how the internet works. That’s program code.” I said, “How does it work for me? Here’s my website.” I know how a website works from a business application. I don’t know how the technology works. When people would come to me with these blockchain ideas, I would reverse engineer and I’d say, “How does this make what you’re doing better?” Trying to come in and say, “You’re going to earn crypto tokens for watching videos. You get paid to watch videos.” I would ask a simple question, “How’s that any different than points on YouTube?” “No, it’s crypto. It’s a token.” I’m like, “YouTube already has a video platform. People already watch it. If they gave you points for watching videos, explain to me how blockchain makes points better. How does it make tokens better?” When you challenge people on how it makes what you’re doing better, a lot of times it didn’t.

It was a buzzword that people were jumping in saying, “We’re blockchain.” The last point to that now is people look at them and me, because we have one called MonetaPro, “Are you a blockchain company?” I look at them straight face, “Are you an internet company?” To me, the internet is the enabler underneath all kinds of industries and ideas. We’re no more an internet company than we are a database company. We use JavaScript and Pearl and Comm objects. We use all this technical crap. It doesn’t mean we’re a blockchain company. We use blockchain to perform a certain task and that’s what I try and help people. How do you evaluate what that task is? Does blockchain make the solution and problem you’re trying to solve better? That’s something that they do.

New technologies are evolving to solve problems. Click To Tweet

As I’ve been evaluating it and part of the journey for why I started the show, why I started to be interested in it happened because I am interested in it as a solution to a part of my business problem. As I was looking at it, parts of it could easily be solved, which is a different type of database. Running your database a little bit different, running your systems a little bit different. There is part of it that I’ve come to recognize over time that a smart contract creates a level of trust and a level of service that’s unlike anyone else can do in the marketplace. It would run in a way in which it would be easy to manage where the accounting would be a nightmare otherwise. It would always be suspect, which happens a lot in Hollywood because I’ve talked to a lot of people calculating royalties and calculating who gets what and when it gets issued. There are many lawsuits that go around that. That’s the right place for a blockchain to be put in because of the problems that result from it. It’s not a total solution for my company. As you put it, it’s one of the many tech tools that I might use or the resources that I might use. It’s only one piece of that.

That’s a great example because for Hollywood and entertainment, the industry has been trying to solve DRM, Digital Rights Management, for a long time. How do you audit universal music to make sure you’re getting paid properly? These new smart contracts do something better than the internet and a database. They’re almost intelligent algorithms. Meaning, if a song is purchased, that program can delineate exactly who gets paid and there is no middle man. The payment doesn’t go to the label and then the label does it and pays the artists royalties at some point later. It’s this evolution of technology solving a problem. Blockchain will have a huge impact on DRM, Digital Rights Management, artist’s capability to sell direct, all the way down to micropayments. The distinction between blockchain and cryptocurrency and digital currencies, the opportunity for somebody to get paid $0.02, $0.03, $0.05, $0.08, $0.10 on a $0.99 download. The new technologies accomplish that. The internet can’t do it efficiently. Credit card networks can’t do it. These technologies are evolving to solve problems, but those are real-world problems. Tokenizing a pizza is not a problem that needs to be solved.

What other types of use cases have you been seeing coming out in the marketplace that you’ve been saying, “That solves a good problem, it’s a great example of blockchain?”

Not to be self-serving, ours is relatively unique. There’s a lot of press. We’ve won eight contests around the world. We built a system called MonetaPro. It’s not self-serving, but it’s a good use case for people to understand. Think of Amazon. Amazon is a big global marketplace. Amazon has done well. Amazon is not on the blockchain, it doesn’t have crypto or tokens. It’s a marketplace. We built a marketplace for large businesses, companies like Ford who trades cars for computers. We built a system where Ford can list cars, trade them to another company, get back electronic credits, not a blockchain or a token, a store credit, use that to buy other assets. It’s a closed marketplace.

When Ford transfers 1,000 cars, they have two problems. Problem one, they have an inventory module. Their accounting system is out of balance because they have 1,000 cars that are missing. We write our invoice. Any of you that go to Amazon, click on your order history. You get a history of your orders. That doesn’t do anything. Our order history writes to the IBM-distributed ledger component of the blockchain. It’s a better database. Our invoice communicates with their inventory module. When 1,000 cars are transferred, we can go into their inventory, remove 1,000 cars and keep them in compliance. It’s a balancing tool, but you can’t take $1 million of inventory out and not prove it went somewhere.

NTE 61 | Blockchain Innovation
Blockchain Innovation: We’re using blockchain in the underbelly of a marketplace to update inventory modules and provide an audit trail.

 

We use a lightweight smart contract, a blockchain contract, to prove those assets were transferred to a third party. It’s an audit trail. The smart contract is an evolution from a PDF. We could do a PDF, but PDFs could be open in Adobe Acrobat, broken, manipulated. That smart contract goes across with a timestamp and serial numbers, the way I explain it to people. If it gets changed and there’s a new serial number, something’s been modified. We’re using blockchain in the underbelly of a marketplace to update inventory modules and provide an audit trail.

It’s such a great example. You mentioned using the IBM business blockchain, which I interviewed Jerry Cuomo from IBM. He was talking about how they have a great sandbox over there to be able to build on it. How did you guys find that? Did you find it useful and helpful? Why did you choose IBM?

It’s a yes, no and a maybe. Let me reverse-engineer to it. This is from an entrepreneurial standpoint. It’s a good methodology of how we arrived at where we did. We wanted to have blockchain integrated into our marketplace, MonetaPro. Step one, we could build a proprietary blockchain. I’ve got some of the best technologists in the world. We could have built our own that would have given us enterprise value. If we go raise money, we could tell a venture guy, “We have proprietary blockchain technology.” It’s added value but not as much. Step two, we could build on existing technology. We looked at Graphene, we looked at EOS We loved the EOS team. It wasn’t ready. We looked at BitShare, we looked at MultiChain, we looked at IBM, Hyperledger and Fabric. We looked at 8 or 9 different blockchain technologies we could build on. Ultimately, my customers with MonetaPro are the largest companies in the world. We sell CFOs of big automotive companies, Ford, Caterpillar, United Airlines primarily. If I walk in and say, “We’ve got proprietary blockchain technology.” We’re kicked out of the box right away. They don’t understand it. We walk in and say, “We built our invoicing platform on IBM Hyperledger. We can communicate with SAP and Oracle. We move to the next level of conversation.”

Whether IBM was the best or not, wasn’t a concern of ours because we’re not using IBM for transaction speed. The blockchain purists hate IBM, “The speed is slow.” I’m like, “I’m using it for a specific function.” From that standpoint, they’re performing a function which led us to what you’re talking about. Adam Australia, the team that runs the IBM group out of New York. We did a three-day planning session with them. Went in, they whiteboard it, architect it, we figured out. The good news was it costs us some money but we were able to architect it into the IBM platform. The downside is, and this is entrepreneurial for anybody doing this, IBM’s job and goal are to sell services. We’re in whiteboarding out and they’re giving us, “You should do this and you need a private note and you need this and that.” I’m like, “No, we’re hiring you to build this. I know exactly what I want you to do.” We went in with a clear line of what we needed. To their credit, they want to stack all these services and all these things on top but in the end, it works great. I believe we’re the first company in the world to come out of test net with IBM and we’re running on Amazon web services. There are some cool things come in where we’re the first, I believe, enterprise blockchain running on AWS Cloud, Microsoft into SAP and Oracle.

It’s right because this is part of what I’ve been thinking about in my business and as I’ve been having conversations with IBM as well. Thinking about this is that my goal is to ultimately create a smart contract that makes big brand advertisement contracts. The connection with those big brands and then be able to make micropayments out to all of the different podcasters at all the different levels. When I think about that, I have to integrate into with their systems and that’s what in my research I’ve been coming back to. That being great criteria for you, that helps me validate what I’ve seen myself. Everyone out there who’s been considering that, these are the kinds of checklists in our head we need to go through. These are criteria that matter.

You have to reverse engineer it. WPP, IPG, Orion, trade group. These guys are all running complex accounting systems, primarily SAP and Oracle. They’ve got modules within SAP and Oracle. The small business world runs on QuickBooks and then the entrepreneur runs on a spreadsheet. If you’re trying to play up at SAP and Oracle, that big enterprise-level, you somewhat need a big enterprise company for the big companies to feel comfortable. That was why we landed on IBM. It was a little more expensive than if we built on multichain or built on our own. The credibility acceleration moves us into the conversation because the bullseye for me is who my customer is? My customer target is a Fortune 500 company that wants to do business with somebody they know and trust. It’s easier to say, “We’ve integrated into IBM to touch your asset modules.” I’d be careful too in the #MeToo movement. That wasn’t meant to be anything other than technical.

Thinking about the BullsEye Blockchain, I think where a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners start to struggle here is this business plan problem. I can say that I been ruminating over this for almost the whole year. At the end of the day, my business plan problem is the same that I don’t even know how much to plan for. How much should I plan in evaluation? Where can I go get good information about someone who’s not going to stack it all up and start selling to me? How do I evaluate what my realistic budget should be? I can put this in my plan because some of us do have outside capital funding or we have board members we have to account to. 

Feedback helps us refine ultimately what we're going to do. Click To Tweet

The BullsEye Belief System that I created. I read when I was 22, I went into sales training selling insurance, mutual funds and mortgages. To sell life insurance at night to your friends, you have to get good. To recruit people to go sell that, you have to get good. I read about 357 books in 6.5 years, developed this system and it’s ten steps. You’re talking about step 9 of my 10. Step nine for me is I take meetings early and often, meaning I get access to my potential customers, I get access to potential program or development teams, but the question I lead with is why won’t this work? I go in saying, “Here’s what we’re thinking about building. Why won’t it work within your organization? What would I be up against? What’s my competition?” I’m interested in soliciting negative feedback. The negative feedback gives you objections either within a corporation or the program teams. I can go to a program team saying, “I’m thinking of building on multichain or stellar, why won’t this work? If you were to be my development team, why won’t this work? What would you do differently?” We ended up getting feedback and that feedback helps us refine ultimately what we’re going to do.

That refines that plan to its nice, narrow detail.

By soliciting the negative feedback, I’ve learned that’s tremendous because otherwise we’re overselling. Look what we built and you know the advertising and isn’t this great? I can solve all these problems for you. I went in and saying, “Why won’t this work?”

This is in alignment. Most of the readers already know this, but you may not Stephen, my role over the last many years has been to design and develop products for consumer markets. I have designed lots of products that you buy every day at the mass market, on Costco, Walmart, and Target. This is exactly our success model. Our success model is too early and often connect in not with your fans, your followers, your friends and family on your great invention or your great product idea, but to connect with the end-user and the value chain through the process. The retailer, whoever has got to sell it, you’ve got to have chains for that. In that sales chain model, this is where we find out the biggest objections. Why won’t people put this on the shelf? Why wouldn’t you pick it off the shelf? At the end of the day, the earlier we get the negative feedback on that, the better we can design the product to succeed. It has flipped our model from the consumer product and it has 7 out of 10 failures. We have an 86% success rate, having done over 250 products in the last decade alone. Do you see the model shift?

I’ll give you one that you will appreciate along those lines. Years ago, we had a product we’re going to bring back to the market. It’s technically a consumer product for water conservation. It saves water, plastic, power, pollution, and money, 60 seconds, the consumer doesn’t change their habits. It’s a great story, but it was a box that goes in a toilet. It saves water and it had a whole story around it. The guy that I knew ran Walmart. He was head of Walmart merchandising. I met him at a conference when he was trying to pull Walmart.com up and didn’t have it. I had one of the first iPads ever and nobody had seen an iPad. I’m like, “Matt, here I’ll show you. Let me pull it up.” His website was broken and didn’t work. I ingratiated myself early to him. He had this product, he’s like, “I love it. We’ll put it on the shelves of Walmart. That will be great.” I turned him down and investors were like, “Why would you turn him down?” To your point, I’ve done retail before, I said, “Why won’t this work? If he put my product in Walmart, where does it go?” We couldn’t figure out. Is it in toys? Is it home furnishing? Is it in the kitchen? It didn’t have a category and if it had a category, it didn’t have an end cap, story, placement, or marketing. I’m going to have a product on the shelves that nobody knows what it is and then Walmart’s going to send them back to me in a buyback.

NTE 61 | Blockchain Innovation
Blockchain Innovation: The compression of technology and time has made development cheaper.

 

This is the biggest problem with innovation in the mass market. If it doesn’t have a place in the store, no one will ever see it. 

People who don’t understand like, “Why would you turn down Walmart?” I’m like, “Here’s a good example.” I’m smart enough to know, “I don’t have a category of where this would fit and I don’t have a story to drive the adoption within the retail market. It’s going to sit on the shelves and fail.”

New category development does happen. It doesn’t happen in the mass market. It doesn’t happen for free. This is what most people think. They would think, “Yes, but Walmart’s a win.” This is what we might think with any of our businesses, “It’s a win to be a part of this.” The reality is when it’s lost there though, it’s a business killer. That’s why you were smart to turn that down.

This concept of why won’t this work? I’ve had friends in retail and I’ve asked them, “Was this successful? Why not?” Walmart is a tricky one because they do force you to take back inventory and people don’t realize that. If you know where the pitfalls are then you can work around them. That’s one of my big tips is to take meetings early and often when you’re building a product, but go in humbly not saying I’ve got the greatest thing in the world. Go in and say, “We built this, it’s cool. Why won’t this work?” That’s your real feedback.

Back to the business plan side and the dollars side of things, have costs started to come down on the development side? Are you starting to see that shift over happen now that IBM is through a lot of its process and now they’re moving into more gaps?

The system we built in MonetaPro is running on when we first built it, it was many years ago. It’s almost $6.5 million to build the hosting on. It was $50,000 to $80,000 a month. They didn’t even have remote hosting. Between cloud services now, between development tools, between off the shelf software, between the red hats of the world and the ability. I joked before the internet there was no internet. The internet enables you and me to talk on Skype and things like that. We’ve got development teams. I’ve got a dev team in Argentina because they were the best programmers for what I needed for one. We’ve got another dev team in India. We’ve got a third one in Belarus. Technology enables you now to drive your costs down, but still get a better level of service.

The outsourcing with hosting, whether it’s Amazon web services, which we love. Azure, which is pretty good, you can run a system. We’ve got Magma or photo-sharing tool runs out on Microsoft Azure for under $100 a month. We would have a dedicated server for thousands of dollars. Technology compression has happened. Communication like this, the compression of technology and time has made development cheaper. I’ve got a pretty Vango home. My point is the graphical tools exist now where you can do graphical mockups of websites and clickable prototypes. There are many things you can do in the graphic form before you go to programming. You used to have program stuff to see if it’s going to work. Now, you can build a clickable prototype and go to potential investors or customers saying, “Here’s what I’m going to build. What do you like?” It’s easier to move a button on a template like a PDF than it is to move the programming.

My partner, my co-host, Monika Proffitt, it was maybe twenty episodes ago or so, but she was excited to show off her prototype. It has none of the functionality underneath it. It’s not coded in.

It’s a play clickable prototype. You know where the clickable buttons are and it flips to a page.

It gives you this reality of, “This is what I’d be buying. This is what I’d be building.” It’s valuable both on your end that you achieve your goals before all that coding happens. It’s valuable in doing what you were talking about and getting this, “Why won’t it work?” That’s the great feedback loop you can get.

Find good projects, find things that are coming to market that you believe in, but keep investing. Click To Tweet

This is where it gets fun. If you have a clickable prototype, you can go to your developers and get costs and quotes. I can send a clickable prototype to a developer. They come back not only with the quotes, but the feedback of things they can do different languages, modifications. I might have 6, 8, 10 teams that are looking at it. I’m getting feedback and refining it every time. By the time we go to development, we’ve had multiple people look at it and we’ve refined the technology and terminology. We’ve looked at what language it should be written on. In the old days, when you asked to pick up quicker, it’s quicker and better now. The graphical tools are a huge part of it.

Things like eCommerce and how that all fits in the system, you definitely don’t want to build this stuff twice. You want it to be right, it needs to be smooth, it needs to be trustworthy. All of those things have to be built in nowadays. I recall creating carts from scratch back in 1998 for our first business and the scariness of what we did.

You’re talking about shopping carts. March of 1996, I was getting out of financial services. I wanted to write a book for networking. I wanted three things, BullsEye, Target, I want somebody to build a website, process credit card orders like my 800-service, send me checks and mailing labels. I want to talk on stage and cash checks. I’m good at talking and caching, everything in between. It didn’t exist. I’m all the way in early 1996, we launched our company Virtual Sellers. We built one of the world’s first proprietary shopping carts. We used our merchant account to process the credit card orders. I could have a company up online in under an hour, ten products, $100 under an hour and we were using neuro-linguistic programming. We were moving buttons around, left-right brain symmetry. I built the company and took it public in March of 1999 with a proprietary shopping cart and transaction processing. That’s what went on to become PayPal. You were still trying to solve it in 1998. We started working on it in 1996 so people don’t realize back then, there were no shopping carts, and there wasn’t security. You didn’t have internet-enabled merchant accounts. We were the first in the world with that.

Whenever my clients complain about, “WordPress is complicated.” I look at them like, “You’re nuts. This is nothing.”

That’s what I said. The tools have come a long way which makes things a lot better. WordPress and the clickable prototypes, PSDs and Photoshop, you can build a lot of things before you actually build anything.

You’re The BullsEye Guy. It’s such a great term for it. Having met you multiple times and seeing you speak at events, I’m like, “This totally makes sense to what you’re talking about.” It’s a much better brand for you. Are you helping companies? What is it that you’re doing in the business? How does that tie into the networking events that you run?

I don’t do a lot of outside capital. We fund our own products internally. I do some work on advisory boards, but what I’m good at is I’m good at an hour with somebody to sit down and refine their message, figure out what they need, who their targets are. I can do that with friends of mine, but it’s not scalable and duplicatable. No self-facing plug here, but TheBullsEyeGuy.com, I have a podcast out there and I’ve got these podcasts designed to transfer knowledge to other people. I like building companies that help other people be successful at what they’re passionate about. Transferring this knowledge is what I’ve tried to do is take these techniques and say, “Here, you can go learn how to get better. I want to help you get better.”

This is where I lie with my product business. Product Launch Hazzards, as many people do know, is where I give away all my product knowledge because I will no longer take consults, I no longer do that. I’ve got to transfer the knowledge to them because it would be valuable to many people. That’s fabulous that you’ve decided to pull that all into a podcast and move that out for your audience and for all the people who value it. 

NTE 61 | Blockchain Innovation
Blockchain Innovation: Bitcoin is like a glorified brick of gold. It’s an investment asset.

 

Scale and duplicate and give back.

Are you continuing more with the Beverly Hills Blockchain group? What do you see the shift of it happened now that we’re farther in blockchain and crypto than we’ve been before?

The format that I did was one I had never done before. The format for the Beverly Hills Blockchain was three presenting companies, 5 to 7 minutes because at the time these ICOs, it needs things raising money were hot. I would try and bring in one that was early, one that had a little bit of success and then ones that are raised money. We brought in EOs that have raised billions of dollars and the guys out of the UK had raised $100 million. The format was representing companies and then 20 minutes on knowledge, not selling anything but transferring knowledge. The problem within the blockchain industry is that a lot of that enthusiasm is collapsed around the finance and the ICO side.

I’m not an event guy. I did those because I wanted to give the knowledge back, not sell sponsorships and try and sell things. That particular format, the only way we could relaunch it is if somebody came in that wanted to try and get sponsors as an event person. That’s not me. We’re still doing and we’ve done 1 or 2. We still do a Meetup type of happy hour, but it’ll be more organic. It’s 5:30 to 8:30, get good people in the room, make a qualified, tangible, targeted introduction. You at least meet the right people when you’re in the room and they’ll bounce around wondering who’s there. We’re still getting people together. The format had to change because the industry changed. It was hot and then it’s not.

Thinking about your number nine, you’re getting meetings early and often and breaking stuff down. What do you think is not working in the blockchain and the crypto and this breakdown here? What do you think is not working that people need to change? 

There’s a ton of things, but some of the top-level ones are messaging. The messaging screwed up because the people doing the messaging are idiots. To call everything cryptocurrency when they’re not a currency is a misnomer. To call things crypto and Bitcoin and blockchain all the same, they’re not. Blockchain is the underlying framework of technology. We use blockchain to update an inventory module. You may use it for digital. The people conflate everything together. They say everything’s crypto and it’s not. The messaging’s been screwed up. Bitcoin to me is like a glorified brick of gold. It’s an investment asset. A certain unit, whether it’s $10,000 or $100,000, I don’t care because I can only afford $50 of it. That runs on a blockchain, but Bitcoin is its own animal. Cryptocurrencies are not currencies. They’re tradable tokens. They’re like glorified penny stocks. I did a podcast. I’m not trying to promote my podcast, but I get this information out. Investing is speculative. If you’re an angel investor, nine out of ten investments don’t make it. If you’re early series A, you’ve got a better chance, but it’s higher risk, less reward as you move up. OTC bulletin boards, penny stocks, they’re risky, but it’s easier for a penny stock to go from $0.02 to $0.04 to $0.10 and you can get liquidity. An angel investment, you don’t have liquidity. Above the OTC, you’ve got NASDAQ. Above NASDAQ, you’ve got the stock exchange.

Do you want to be safe? That’s great, go buy Apple or Amazon and hope it’s not the next Blackberry. They’re all risky. People have pushed the crypto world down as though it’s all risky and speculative. No, it’s an asset class that is historically risky. In my opinion, it’s like the bulletin boards, these pink sheets, they’re risky. A crypto token gives you potential liquidity where angel investing doesn’t. My biggest frustration is two-fold. One, messaging and two, the biggest challenge for startups, the reason the majority of them fail is not market or management, it’s money. They don’t have enough money because we, as entrepreneurs, are always begging angels to give us money. We’ve got to go beg for a series A and then we’re up in Silicon Valley begging for more. We’re always begging for money and the guys are beating us down. It’s horrible. That’s the nature of capital. Blockchain crypto token world potentially breaks that out. A lot of these projects raised $20 million, $30 million, $50 million, $80 million, $100 million. I wish there had been and hopefully will be more successful projects that came out of this first round of ICOs. It’s back like the internet. There were a bunch of early things that didn’t work.

It got everybody scared. This is the thing that I like in this too and I gave a speech about it that I saw the same thing in other disruptive technologies. We look at that with 3D printing. That’s how I got started in podcasting although I’d been 3D printing for decades. In our businesses, that’s how we prototype. We had more experience than most people on it, but most people were whining and complaining that the capital is drying up and now all this great text is not going to make it to market. I was sitting back with, “You have a bigger problem.” The reason it’s not making it to market is that there’s much that won’t work that hasn’t been rebuilt in the chain. How it’s going to get to market that it’s not going to happen. I looked at it from a different way for failure, but this is the same thing that happens as it hits that point where there are many failures. Money does dry up.

Find good projects, find things that are coming to market that you believe in, but keep investing. Click To Tweet

At the previous stage though, this is where things went wrong. That’s what I see is that if they followed your model and they followed mine, they would get a product-market fit dialed in. That’s where about in my research, it’s 56% of failures happen from a mismatch between the product fitting, how the market needs to buy it or accept it or do that in your model and/or they have a great market, They booked the wrong product for it because they didn’t ask them any questions. Those fit, if they fix that, they wouldn’t have had many failures in that early days. They sit in their tech bubble and they didn’t reach out and ask those questions and get that feedback. They built the right thing that could succeed from the beginning and they heard the marketplace for everyone. 

These are all things that I’ve talked about as well because you hear the classic, “I don’t bet on the horse. I bet on the jockey.” I’m like, “Really? I bet on the market?” I said, “You can put the best jockey in the world on a donkey. He’s not going to win the Kentucky Derby.” Meaning if the market’s not big enough, I want a big market that even if other good jockeys come in, you have a chance to win. People look at management, I get it. To me, market, product, customer fit. Who’s your customer? Capital follows customers like customer acquisition has to be number one and the size of the market allows you to capture it.

Amazon is a good example. We compare ourselves to Amazon and my joke is, “MonetaPro, if that works, we’ll be bigger.” People go, “How do you compete with Amazon?” I say, “I don’t.” Amazon is in a $20 trillion market of what’s called retail commerce. Amazon’s total revenue is about $240 billion. They have 1.5% of their potential addressable market. Amazon is insignificant out of the total $20 trillion. As a market, they’re huge. We’re going after a $17 trillion market and there’s no marketplace for it. I looked at the total addressable market and backed in going, “Who can be the players?” If you look at Amazon, there’s Amazon and Alibaba and eBay, multiple players in a big market. I’ll take that over a great jockey. It’s a horrible market.

Stephen, is there anything else you want to let us know before we go? Anything, risks, things you want the market to know about that the businesses out there to pay attention to?

A lot of my information is on TheBullsEyeGuy.com. Anybody that wants to learn more, they can go there. Do yourself a favor. If you’re an investor, don’t give up on the industry in the market. Find good projects, find things that are coming to market that you believe in, but keep investing. Understand the distinction. Crypto and blockchain are not conflated. They’re mutually exclusive. The crypto assets run on top of the blockchain like enterprise software, like financial transactions, like Digital Rights Management. Learn the industry and then find things you’re passionate about. The last one is asking how blockchain will make that process better. That’s what you need to understand. You don’t need to understand how it works technically. How does it work tactically to make something better because that’s the real problem people need to solve?

When it’s solving a problem, it always has a better shot at success than something that isn’t. We think we have a problem, we’ll educate the market on that and we don’t want to do that.

We’re creating a problem that doesn’t need to be solved.

Stephen, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. It’s a pleasure. Thanks to our audience for reading. I’m Tracy Hazzard and I’ll be back next time with a cool and interesting person to talk to in blockchain innovation. 

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About Stephen Meade

NTE 61 | Blockchain InnovationChairman & Founder, BigBamboo LLC
STEPHEN MEADE is the founder of Big Bamboo, a holding company that accelerates ideas into the formation of companies. As CEO for multiple public companies and executive/advisor with dozens of startups, he has demonstrated the ability to rapidly scale capital, revenue, and customers by effectively building and training teams.

He is currently the CEO of MonetaPro.IO, which is a FinTech Blockchain company for Global Companies to participate in Corporate Trade. MonetaPro.IO competed in and won the Silicon Valley d10e Global ICO contest, which to date was the largest ICO competition in the World featuring 32 companies. MonetaPro.IO also took 3rd place at d10e (Seoul, Korea), 4th place at d10e (San Juan, Puerto Rico), and 2nd place at d10e (Malta). Most recently, MonetaPro placed 3rd at CoinAgenda Europe 2018.

Stephen’s nickname, The BullsEye Guy, is a result of his success at isolating exactly what organizations need and who they need to meet before they begin. This rigorous focus on using sales psychology to communicate simple ideas across a strategically targeted network of contacts evolved into The BullsEye Belief System which he used to create, incubate, and architect 9 different companies spanning the development of the internet, ecommerce, payment processing, and blockchain technology.

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