“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” – Steve Jobs
And connecting the dots is exactly what these CEOs have shared with us. We interviewed 30+ CEOs and asked them what their “ah-ha moment” was when considering blockchain technology and moving their entire organization into the space.
The results aren’t what they seem. For entrepreneurs looking for the next wave of technology, you’ll quickly see that sometimes it takes more than a few knocks for you to open the door of inspiration.
Tech knowledge is helpful, but not mandatory
While areas like blockchain, AI, machine learning and can be very technical – it doesn’t take a technical genius to identify opportunity in the space.
Out of the CEOs we interviewed, approximately 60 percent of the CEOs did come from technical backgrounds or degrees. However, there were other background areas that led CEOs and Founders to create companies in the blockchain space.
The most notable of them: finance, legal, sales and media.
Some say opportunity only knocks once, and if missed, you’re too late. The CEOs and founders we interviewed shared otherwise – showing us that great opportunity sometimes knocks many times over.
70 percent of CEOs and Founders heard about blockchain technology before 2013 – this is when bitcoin as an example, was trading below $150. But even at this time, only 50 percent of them dove into the market. Keep in mind that blockchain technology had already been around for 4-5 years at this point meaning there was traction and a somewhat stable support system.
If you’re ever feeling like you’ve missed the boat, or it’s too late to jump in because “the technology has taken off” – don’t.
Marc Tavener from Bitfury, a billion dollar blockchain company said “I was aware of the blockchain industry, but hadn’t gotten into it. I was old enough to remember when the internet was not mainstream. My ah-ha moment came in approximately Dec 2013 when I got a call from an executive recruiter who was working for a very larger firm and said the following sentence to me: “Have you heard about bitcoin?”
It was at this point that he started to look at the industry — at the end of 2013, early 2014. And yet it still took him another 6-12 months to fully dive in. He would be considered one of the early adopters.
Opportunity is everywhere and technology trends are constantly changing and moving. Putting perspective on a trend is critical when considering when to get in. We’re still very much in the early days of blockchain technology.
Blockchain – if it turns out to be the disruptive technology it’s shaping up to be—will be a technology that will be around for decades to come. Being involved now is like being involved in the early days of the internet. From the launch of the web in 1991 to the first internet bubble, approximately 10 years passed.
And when the bubble burst, just about everyone thought the “internet was dead”.
But serious technological change didn’t happen until many years later:
- Facebook started in 2004.
- Youtube started in 2005.
- Instagram in 2010.
As 100 percent of the blockchain CEO’s and Founders have said, we’re still in the very early days of blockchain technology. There’s huge opportunity everywhere.
Opportunity knocks in strange places
Opportunity isn’t always dressed up as a chance to make a difference, an impact, financial or economic gain. Often it comes as a comment, a discussion or series of questions. Often, as was the case with most of the CEO’s and Founders we interviewed, it came with the question “What is blockchain all about? What is cryptocurrency all about?”
One of the common traits however is that when opportunity does present itself — it’s traditionally coming from someone you respect, admire, or take seriously. (And yes, sometimes, just like your parents, they have to say things multiple times in a row).
Common traits on getting to ah-ha moments from the CEO’s and Founders in the blockchain space that we interviewed show us the following:
100 percent were constantly having conversations with different people. This reminds us to stay open to connections, check industry news, attend new meetups and conferences when possible – as new insight can come from anywhere.
More than 80 percent had to hear about the technology multiple times before they decided to dive in. This is a natural human characteristic, to be safe, cautious and conservative. Yet when multiple people that you respect, admire or trust are all pointing to the same technology – perhaps that’s a time when you should listen.
40 percent heard about the technology from outside their friend circles. Clients, recruiters, conference attendees, colleagues — we can all find inspiration in interesting places.
Blockchain technology is poised to change the world. You don’t need to be technical to dive into the industry – you need to be open minded, willing to learn and eager to contribute to the changing landscape.
Don’t worry about missing the boat either. Sure, bitcoin itself may be at $3500 per coin, but it’s only one application of blockchain technology.
We’re still in very early days when it comes to impact and adoption. How will you contribute to the ecosystem and help make a change?