This is a guest post by Ryan Backus who interned at the ICON Foundation’s San Francisco office during the summer of 2018. He attends Babson College, where he is studying Business Management and Entrepreneurship with a focus on Financial Technology.
It’s midnight Tuesday, and as the summer pushes on, our team discussions about ICON’s new decentralized application accelerator program are heating up in sync with temperatures.
“How many ICON DApps are we inviting from Korea to our demo day? Three feels right, but it’s going to be hard to cut the list.”
A blockchain network is only as strong as those who build on it. At ICX Station’s San Francisco (SF) Launchpad office, home to the new accelerator sponsored by Korea’s most promising blockchain project, this principle is well understood.
Our aim is to provide seed funding and guidance for projects looking to build on the ICON protocol.
To provide the best guidance possible, we are working daily to find the best service providers. Deliberations over the best options have filled the room each day since we signed our lease three months ago.
We have also signed on several service providers that offer services ranging from legal counsel to community building.These non-technical concepts are often just as confusing and complicated as getting the code right when launching a decentralized application. Such counsel is highly sought after and often difficult to attain for an emerging blockchain project. But often it proves integral to a project’s long-term success.
This morning, an excited buzz filled the office as the business development managers began discussing the day’s meetings, presentations and material preparations. Scott Smiley and Daeki Lee, have been hard at work building relationships and tools for growth since the inception of the San Francisco branch of ICON.
The two bring real world experience to the nascent cryptocurrency industry.
Daeki worked for TransLink Capital, a Palo Alto based Venture Capital firm, before also becoming interested in ICON and making the switch. TransLink Capital focuses specifically on startups and early stage companies, much like many of those coming through the accelerator. Daeki provides a unique insight into the minds of the very investors these companies hope to attract for their ICO.
Scott worked previously as a credit analyst covering Asset Backed Securities at Deutsche Bank before Min Kim, Council Member of the ICON Foundation, noticed his passion for blockchain and recruited him to help launch ICX Station. As an analyst, Scott had to look into key metrics of what makes an investment successful. This lends itself to solving the many quantitative road bumps that come with early stage crypto startups.
“It took months for me to convince both Daeki and Scott to leave their comfortable jobs and work full-time on the ICON project. We need more high-caliber people like them with a passion for blockchain if we want to make a difference.” – Min Kim
The two managers carry a surplus of business acumen and experience, which will serve projects well. The management team also acts as an intermediary for projects and service providers who will supply founders with high-caliber advice on any necessary component of the coin offering process.
Experienced mentors are equally important as experienced staff, when assessing an an acceleration program. With the success of the ICON token offering, Min Kim’s advice will have innumerable benefits for founders who chose to walk the path of blockchain entrepreneurship.
As the afternoon approaches, the buzzing of conversations gives way to the buzzing of phones. Mark Thomas, founder of Zensports, a blockchain-based peer-to-peer betting platform and ICX Station Beta Test participant, has arrived at the office for a weekly check-in. Today’s meeting will focus on designing logically sound token economics, as well as some particular legal complications that come with running an online betting platform.
The SF Launchpad is merely the beginning. ICX Station is a global accelerator initiative with an aim of servicing decentralized applications. ICX Station is planning a Tokyo Launchpad, Seoul Launchpad, and potentially others as the ICON Ecosystem continues to grow.
“ICX Station’s goal is to provide a global connected platform where founders can easily test and launch their DApp ideas with strong support from the ICON community.” – Scott Smiley
As an intern working with the team in San Francisco, I have had the fortune of both bearing witness and making contributions to the birth of this movement towards a hyperconnected world.
Attending Babson College, a school for entrepreneurship, it is easy for me to empathize with the plight of an early stage blockchain founder. In fact, my motivation in joining the team is to understand the odyssey that accompanies starting an enterprise in unknown territory.
After attending meetings and preparing documents for the accelerator, I have an even greater appreciation for the immense value ICX Station brings to the founder’s toolkit. While I came in with a general understanding of the quams of a blockchain entrepreneur, I have now garnered an in-depth understanding through my involvement. I have observed that with the proper guidance, industry connections and underlying network infrastructure, founders can vastly increase their chances of success. I genuinely believe that ICX Station provides this combination and will help launch founders into the stratosphere of blockchain success.