Accelerating Blockchain Startups

Neil Hallmark


Accelerating Blockchain Startups

mentoring two early-stage, impact-led blockchain startups

At the end of January I embarked on a mentoring programme to help develop the next-generation of blockchain startups. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Block Dojo Startup Showcase, the culmination of 12 weeks of hard work by 10 early-stage startups, refining and validating their ideas, developing their MVP, and establishing their commercial models.

Block Dojo’s incubator programme connects innovators to investors who finance the projects, helping the founders to deliver their products and services to market. The programme involves mentoring, pitch rehearsals, market analysis, and technical development.

Being a mentor in this cohort has been an incredible experience, getting to share my knowledge and expertise. The progress made by each startup over the 12 week programme has been very impressive.

Having kicked off the process back in January with ‘speed meetings’ with all 10 startups to see if there might be chemistry between us, I was very fortunate to be selected by two of the startups to help mentor them - GudItalia and Repolify. I was really excited to work with these startups and their founders as they both had a clear purpose at the heart of what they were trying to achieve.

  • For Jonathan and Giorgio at GudItalia, it was all about championing small-scale food producers who sustainably produce high quality, authentic products.
  • Artur, Emilia and Kostya at Repolify wanted to bring greater transparency and trust to political discourse, putting the power back in the hands of citizens to exercise their democratic rights.

It’s been a really interesting process to participate in, providing support and advice around how they can best communicate who they are, what they do, and why they’re doing it. With much of our brand strategy work at Outliers done via our ‘done for you’ service, being a mentor requires a slightly different approach by stepping back and providing guidance. However, many of the skills involved are very similar - building a relationship with the founders, listening carefully, challenging assumptions, asking (and answering!) lots of questions, providing constructive feedback and drawing on my experience and network where appropriate.

Given the intensive 12-week programme, time was short so it was very much a case of trying to help the founders think about their brand both from a short and long-term perspective and put a few simple things in place to help them articulate their core messages to potential investors, partners and customers. Although a full brand strategy process is possibly overkill for early-stage startups, thinking early on about your core positioning, value proposition, vision and mission, can help give you an edge in increasingly competitive markets.

For a startup, having a well-defined brand strategy is especially important because it provides a roadmap to follow as you grow and scale your business. It also helps to make informed decisions about how to position your brand and what messaging to use, making it easier to attract investors and partners, as it shows that you have a clear plan for building and growing your brand.

Although the showcase represented the end of the Block Dojo programme for Repolify and GudItalia, it’s really only the beginning of their journey as they open their seed investment round. They’ve done a fantastic job to get to this point and I am so proud to have been involved in this.

Shout out to Jonathan and Giorgio and Artur, Emilia and Kostya for putting together some incredible investor pitches (see below). I look forward to continuing our chats and hearing about the next phase of your development!