What’s the best way to turn an idea into a viable startup business? It’s a combination of face-to-face networking, the best available advice, and the freedom to focus on building great products without being distracted by administrative tasks. That’s according to Craig Massey, the chairman of Satoshi Block Dojo—a soon-to-launch incubator focusing solely on the BSV blockchain. Block Dojo is seeking the best BSV business ideas to participate in its 12-week program, which Massey describes as “an ongoing hackathon.”
CoinGeek spoke to co-founders Massey and Richard Boase about what the Block Dojo wants to achieve, what it will take to make BSV startups work, and how they intend to utilize their experience in both Bitcoin and startup-building to do it better than well-known incubators like Y Combinator and TechStars.
Networking and matchmaking are key features of Block Dojo’s program. The incubator has its own co-working space for teams to gather and work, and plans to leverage its location in London and access to a broad network of business angels and the large local BSV enthusiast community with a series of meetups.
We are excited to announce our debut in the BSV space!
Our mission is to nurture, train and mentor the best start-up entrepreneurs & developers in the BSV space.
Think your start-up has what it takes?
Put your ideas to the test!
Apply at https://t.co/626CWprDUb pic.twitter.com/yTAazWxCOY
— Block Dojo (@Block_Dojo) July 9, 2021
Boase and Massey’s calculations say Block Dojo can potentially pitch the idea to as many as 60,000 individuals in the London region. The U.K. itself is an entrepreneur-friendly jurisdiction, with generous tax breaks for investors and a startup-oriented culture that made the U.K. home to more startups than the entire European Union. “Yorkshire had more startups than France,” Massey said.
“I think our model is very different to a Y Combinator or TechStars. The others (basically) do an introduction service. but we’re really hands-on.”
Block Dojo also plans to take care of the more mundane aspects of business formation while teaching founders how it’s done, so founders can focus on the most important task: creating the product. The team will take care of initial legal contracts, account bookkeeping and payroll, competitor analysis, target customer databases, grant applications, and team building. It will provide two specialized mentors for 24 hours of advice (as well as access to Block Dojo’s own advisors), and even handle tech-related issues including social media presence and website creation, emails, hosting and SSL.
The structure comes from Massey’s own experience building and launching startups, which includes seven exits (four of which were technology companies and three were SaaS businesses). He described his own career as “not a real tech background, my skillset is in building companies.”
“The one thing I figured out with entrepreneurs is, you get bogged down in absolute BS, trivial nonsense, legals, HMRCs, accounting and payroll, etc. If you can focus purely on solution & the end clients, you have something real and tangible. This gives great comfort for the investors.”
Having a solid support network for experienced advice is key, and this drove much of Block Dojo’s program plan.
“Having started companies on my own and with a team… it’s a world of pain doing it on your own. There’s no-one’s shoulder to cry on,” Massey said.
Once selected, startups receive a GBP10,000 “golden hello” and participate in an intensive 12-week program. This is a series of training and mentoring sessions known as “Sprints,” and during this time teams will need to find a real-world R&D client to work with. At the end of the 12 weeks, they present their product or service to Block Dojo’s investor partners of business angels, who give them the thumbs-up or down.
Successful teams then receive GBP140,000 in SEIS funding that lasts 12 months. Massey has one condition for this amount—that start-ups do not use the money to employ salespeople.
“One thing about sales guys, they never fail to disappoint,” he said.
The aim is to have the initially-funded startups go on to finish building their product and secure their first paying clients. After a year, they present again to Block Dojo’s business angel partners in the hope of securing a further GBP1.3-1.5 million in EIS funding.
The initial 12-week program itself represents at least GBP70,000 in value, Massey said.
Not all employees in a startup need to reside in London to complete the program; however, there must be at least one team member who can attend in person to gain the full benefit of Block Dojo’s face-to-face business experience. In fact, Massey urges founders to hire remote workers:
“We want highly ambitious and talented people. We want to encourage developers from around the world, though. Build your team with developers from anywhere, we urge startups to have remote development teams.”
Block Dojo has assembled what Massey calls “the strongest team of management co-founders I’ve ever seen.” As well as himself and Boase, it also includes CTO Robin Kohze (CEO of Vaionex Corporation and president of the Metanet Society at Cambridge University), Ross Power (blockchain specialist at Accenture), investor Kan Ranjan, and former TechStars UK CEO Max Kelly.
As well as a sizeable investment from his own funds, Massey is looking to raise around 2 million GBP from his own network of investors and from within the BSV ecosystem. There’s also a planned outreach to other corporate sectors like automotive and agriculture, inviting representative to attend events and assist in brainstorming potentially untapped areas where BSV’s unique capabilities could help.
By necessity, this will include information sessions and education on BSV itself. Massey sees BSV as having the same “chicken and egg” problem as the rest of the blockchain industry, but said he thinks Block Dojo can be the solution to that problem.
“The rest of the crypto industry is all asset-based, they’re not building anything,” Massey said. “We tell our investors: think of this as a nascent industry, but not dissimilar to the internet in 1994. It could potentially be big. You don’t need huge volumes in the early years of these companies. You’re crafting a solution, iterating, building up around half a dozen clients.”
The BSV ecosystem has a lot of companies working on infrastructure-type projects, but without enough sitting on top of it. Massey would like to see more reaching out to consumers, filling a gap in the type of services available.
This all involves a lot of in-person consultation, brainstorming, questions, and conversation. With its hands-on focus based on experienced advice, network-building and meetups, Block Dojo plans to create BSV companies and services the world’s economy actually needs.
To join Satoshi Block Dojo’s 12-week intensive training program, sign up here.
Watch: CoinGeek Zurich panel, Building Business Applications on BSV: How to Get Started
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