Aside from cryptocurrencies, blockchain-based ventures have been all the rage of late. Coingeek.com's Stephanie Tower caught up with Zach Piester, chief development officer at Intrepid Ventures, and asked him about the process and methods of building well-designed products and services in the space. With recent news in the blockchain and cryptocurrency spaced being filled with welcome turns in terms of mass adoption and positive regulation, the industry is slowly but surely making bold steps for innovation in the space. CoinGeek.com asked Zach Piester about what he thinks are the challenges behind creating products and services for the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. “I think the biggest challenge is for startups and organizations to actually build things that matter,” said Piester, who currently heads Intrepid Ventures’ development initiatives. Piester noted that what people want should be placed as a priority into any design and development plan. Piester’s experience in both design thinking and venture management provides him with insight into the methods and processes behind what works and looks good at the same time. The practical vision of any cryptocurrency and blockchain-based startup should be “to build products and solutions and applications that people want,” reiterates Piester, adding that startups must first ask themselves a fundamental question: “Are you building something or have you built something that somebody's willing to buy?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?vl4BhZsXXG1A With a lot of products and ICOs sprouting up in the space, it’s hard to identify which has potential and which might be a waste of time. Nevertheless, Piester is hopeful regarding this trend because he sees these initiatives as the effect of the space’s democratization. “What's so exciting about the space is it does provide, should provide equal opportunities to all of us,” he said. Aside from regulation woes, cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based applications have another problem: design. As previously observed by Dr. Craig Wright, a lot of users may not feel too welcome because of complex interfaces which might hinder their use and reliance on the space’s new platforms. Piester, who has also worked on such organizations as the ART+DATA Institute, believes that solid design principles should serve as a product’s foundation, as well as a company’s core structure. “Design principles have to be part of the core of everything you do not only from a company perspective to be able to attract and retain good people, but from anything you put out in the marketplace, hire designers, hire good designers,” Piester said. Asked about ICOs and his perspectives about the hype surrounding it, Piester warned about bad practices in the space which might result to legal consequences, noting that “there's not a lot of principles and governance and structures going into a lot of these ICOs.” “The risks are huge, you do something wrong, that you either did unintentionally or intentionally, you have the risk of going to jail, you have the risk of significant civil and legal penalties, and ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law,” he said. As an experienced investor, Piester shared this advice: “The same diligence you would apply to investing in a public company, you should apply to a cryptocurrency company.” Piester’s belief in the transformative power of new digital interventions is based on his observation of how the ICOs and blockchain-based startups open a “unique empowering access to individuals all around” which will help uplift lives. “The way I look at things is how do we break these poverty cycles? How do we, you know, create the world's largest middle-class, which is by unblocking the institutions that don't allow the individuals to become empowered,” he said.