The BlockBeam Experience: Zach Goldstein

6 min readJul 15, 2022

Hi! I am Sam Scribner, the new content lead at BlockBeam. As our ecosystem grows, I have been having conversations with program graduates to showcase their Web3-related accomplishments. I recently spoke with Zach Goldstein, a founder of Syracuse University’s blockchain club and perhaps one of the most involved BlockBeam members to date! Here is his story:

Sam: Hey Zach! Tell me about yourself and what you do in school.

Zach: Hey Sam, great to speak with you. I am from the Boston suburbs and just graduated from Syracuse University with a major in Information Management and Technology and a concentration in Information Security Management. I am going back for another year to pursue a Masters in Information Systems and do blockchain research.

Sam: Could you elaborate on this research opportunity?

Zach: It is with Professor Lee McKnight. When I was applying to colleges I saw his video on blockchain which piqued my interest in Syracuse. I even wrote my college essay on the future of blockchain and Bitcoin. During my junior year, I saw a class called Blockchain Management on the course registrar and it happened to be with Lee McKnight. Long story short, I enrolled in the class and loved it, and ended up developing a great relationship with Professor McKnight. I ended up becoming VP of his club, WiTec (Worldwide Innovation Technology), as well as earning a spot as a TA in his blockchain class and co-founding CryptoCuse, Syracuse’s very own cryptocurrency and blockchain club.

Sam: Tell me more about CryptoCuse!

Zach: So it actually all started when I met the other co-founder in the Blockchain Management class that Professor McKnight teaches. We were in a group together, collaborating on a project similar to BlockBeam’s VC pitch. We both love crypto and were the top students in the class but saw a problem: there was no formal space on campus to discuss crypto and blockchain. We ultimately decided to take initiative and create a club that would allow us to have a formal organization for collaboration and education on anything and everything crypto and blockchain. We try our hardest not to make it another class by only having a few slides to set the topic up and then the rest of the meeting being designated for open discussion. We have had conversations on DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, and blockchain fundamentals in addition to hosting guest speakers. The best thing that came out of this club was that my teammate and I learned a lot about ourselves and how to lead, but also how to be active listeners and learn from others in open discussions. As of today, we have over 130 members in our Discord community and around forty students regularly attending meetings! If you don’t have a crypto/blockchain club at your school, I highly suggest you try to create one and reach out if you want some help in forming it!

Sam: That’s impressive how you guys went from recognizing a problem to taking the initiative to create CryptoCuse. You also mentioned writing your college essay on crypto. How did this early interest in blockchain begin?

Zach: In 2016 or 2017 I got immersed in crypto after my cousin recommended I read “American Kingpin” about the Silk Road. Also, being involved in some sneaker Discord communities, I got exposed to many crypto projects since this was the era of the ICO craze. I initially just wanted to make a lot of money very quickly, but soon learned my lesson after getting burned multiple times. These experiences humbled me and pushed me further down the rabbit hole, as I learned I had to do my due diligence. I became immersed in reading books, listening to podcasts, and understanding the core tech behind blockchain projects.

Sam: I would love to hear about your internship experience in the blockchain industry. Could you shed some light on what you were doing?

Zach: I worked for SIMBA Chain, short for Simple Blockchain Applications, which is a smart contract-as-a-service company. Their main product allows users to draw up all the aspects of smart contracts visually through a GUI (graphical user interface). Once your smart contract has been drafted, SIMBA chain automatically converts the visual into Solidity code. I worked there for 8 months doing 10 hours a week and rotated through 3 different teams: cybersecurity, developer operations, and blockchain research.

Sam: That’s an amazing experience, I love SIMBA’s vision of making smart contracts more accessible and interactive. How did you get involved with BlockBeam?

Zach: Professor McKnight was friendly with members of BEN (Blockchain Education Network) which had connections to BlockBeam. I ended up joining the Discord group for Northeastern’s Blockchain Club and joining Gateway to Algorand Cohort 2. Now I am teaching and coordinating the program for Gateway to Algorand Cohort 3 as well as participating in Gateway to DeFi and the Reach bootcamp.

Sam: What has been your experience as both a BlockBeam student and coordinator?

Zach: The apprentice becomes the master! I was impressed by the curriculum and was always the person who spoke up and asked questions. The program reminded me of my blockchain class at Syracuse, as both require students to learn the concepts and then apply them to a final project or pitch. I was highly immersed in the material and wanted to get more involved which naturally led me to become a coordinator.

Sam: Who was your favorite speaker and why?

Zach: Ollie from Cudos. He is so enthusiastic and clearly loves what he is doing. I really like how the company can use blockchain and a decentralized model to solve a large-scale issue of wasted computing power.

Sam: What did you do for your final project and what did you learn in the process?

Zach: My project was Algonnect which aimed to provide a better solution to NFC (Near Field Communication) tags. For example, someone can tap their mobile device to the tag at a checkout register and it will bring up their membership card or coupons. Algonnect aimed to transition this process to the Algorand blockchain to reduce wasteful physical cards and coupons as well as make the NFC technology more efficient. While our business wasn’t what the judges were looking for, as we weren’t solving a sustainable problem in so much as providing an intrinsically sustainable innovation, it was still an invaluable experience. Simply pitching to the judges was incredible presentation practice and being on a team allowed me to fine-tune and showcase my leadership skills.

Sam: What about the program is most beneficial for a career in Web3?

Zach: The business pitching and concept formation both really challenged me and allowed me to get hands-on experience with skills that employers look for. Additionally, the general structure of the program, with a mix of independent and group learning opportunities and a schedule of deliverables, very much mimics a routine you would find in the industry.

Sam: What advice would you give to people just starting out on their crypto or web3 journey? What about those looking to apply to BlockBeam?

Zach: There is so much information out there so don’t be intimidated if it takes you a while to learn and grasp concepts. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert and am still constantly striving to learn. I would recommend BlockBeam because you are gaining access to a vibrant community of individuals who are like-minded in their passion for crypto but diverse in terms of what they bring to the table. Additionally, the talent portal that the team is working on looks incredible and will provide graduates with tangible benefits for completing the program.

Sam: Any last words of wisdom?

Zach: Try to learn something new every day. Read articles, watch YouTube videos, and listen to podcasts like Bankless. If you ever have any questions feel free to reach out to me (my discord is @ZGinc#1783) or anyone else on the team!

Link to Zach’s Medium page

Link to Zach’s LinkedIn

Link to SIMBA Chain

Link to CryptoCuse

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