When it comes to the highly renowned world of Silicon Valley startups, many of us have heard stories of people who dropped out of college and left everything behind to found their first company. In this article, we took some time to chat with Alex Masmejean, a passionate young blockchain evangelist who “dropped out” of 42 — a private, nonprofit and tuition-free computer programming school created and funded by French billionaire Xavier Niel — to focus on the propagation of Distributed Autonomous Organizations, better known as DAOs.
In today’s fast-paced blockchain ecosystem, many DAOs have been popping up to further the growth of the industry as a whole. Since moving to Silicon Valley this summer, Alex has been on the forefront of coordinating and evangelizing the movement as one of the core contributors to MetaCartel DAO (Ethereum applications), Marketing DAO (Ethereum marketing) and Secret SanDAO (secret santa using rDAI) just to name a few.
Without going into too much detail, Alex’s day-to-day consists of a convoluted number of tasks all geared at helping to spread awareness about the project(s) he’s passionate about. Whether it’s coordinating meetups, writing proposals to structure grant-giving or incubating interesting dApps, Alex finds himself fully immersed in a new paradigm of consumer-focused blockchain products.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the interview!
How did you first hear about blockchain/cryptocurrencies?
I first heard about Bitcoin in 2013 while I was in high school. At the time didn’t really do anything with it. It wasn’t until the summer of 2017 that I started getting serious about researching blockchain projects. I soon started using Twitter to stay up to date with all the news the industry had to offer. It was here that I learned about MolochDAO and saw the rise of MetaCartel.
When did you first join MetaCartel?
Unofficially I joined on July 31st. I remember getting super excited about MetaCartel and immediately tweeting about it after hopping off a Zoom call with pet3rpan, one of the founders. I put a ton of “skin in the game” by executing on a bunch of small tasks that I was either assigned or chose to do (for free). A month or two later I was formally granted a share in the DAO as recognition for my work.
What was so special about MetaCartel?
I’m a very startup focused guy. I graduated with a business management degree in the UK and had spent a lot of time organizing different entrepreneurship meetups for tech founders. When I first got into blockchain, I noticed that there wasn’t too much focus on the end-user.
What excites me about MetaCartel is the focus on customer products and high-paced experiments. Everyone has a bleeding passion to be on the cutting edge of building killer products which I immediately resonated with.
The community is people-focused, with everyone giving more than they’re taking. It’s a really powerful mindset once you get involved with it.
What was it like receiving a share in MetaCartel?
Getting a share in MetaCartel was a super memorable moment. While it is definitely possible to buy into the DAO by contributing 10ETH, receiving a share was a great way of knowing that all the time and effort I put into growing the community was truly being valued.
From my perspective, having a share in MetaCartel symbolizes much more than just access to the endless amount of valuable information the DAO has to offer. I felt like I had finally found a community of individuals who were passionate about a lot of the same things I was. Not only was I able to have a say in MetaCartel’s direction, but I was also able to work hands-on with grant recipients like Mintbase and Kickback to help their projects grow.
How would you describe working at MetaCartel?
What’s interesting about MetaCartel is there aren’t any “full-time” roles. Almost everyone in the DAO has a main project, meaning they choose to put time and energy into MetaCartel as they see fit. This is really cool because everyone is able to bring valuable insights from their primary focus to help grow the knowledge set of the community as a whole.
Luckily enough, there are certain individuals like myself who have more or less dedicated our efforts to MetaCartel “full-time”. This is to say that even though community discussions are happening 24/7, it’s been really exciting to be responsible for helping to organize and curate tailored campaigns on how to get involved.
Speaking of getting involved, talk a little bit about the MetaCartel meetups you’ve been organizing?
Right. So one of the very first things I did for MetaCartel was organize a meetup in SF with an awesome project called Audius. Seeing as I’m always trying to evangelize our grant recipients, I used Kickback as a form of ticketing/attendance.
More recently, I organized an event at San Francisco Blockchain Week, using another one of our grant recipients, Mintbase, to create 5 NFTs that represented sponsorships at the event. The meetup was focused on funding the application layer and we had some really great presentations on what we can do to make the onboarding experience easier for new users.
What were some of your key takeaways from the events?
The biggest thing I noted was that people want to get involved with MetaCartel! Owning the ground game works wonders. People seeing real people come out to support is that much stronger than just talking about things online. It really convinces them of the vision and what we’re trying to build. If you’re interested in setting up a MetaCartel meetup in your hometown, hit me up! I’d love to share some more tips and tricks that I’ve learned.
Seeing as you’re constantly contributing to new projects, what’s some feedback you might have to people building in the space?
I meet a lot of people who think the technology is not ready. Whether it’s scalability, cost, UX, there are obvious limitations if you really want to dig into it. The biggest advice I have is to go out and experiment with consumers using what’s available REGARDLESS of the limitations. If we do not experiment and gather feedback today we will never learn what works. We always need to be experimenting to find out what is useful and what is useless.
There are some really amazing things happening right now with MetaMask plugins, meta-transactions, composability, you name in. There’s still a ton of uncharted territory when it comes to blockchain businesses and I think we’re only just beginning. You’re never too late to get started!
Where can people expect to see you next?
I’m really looking forward to ETHDenver. I have a feeling there’s going to be a ton of energy and focus on DAOs. Seeing as it’s going to be happening just after the one-year anniversary of Moloch DAO, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a number of exciting events or announcements happening at the event!
Any last comments before we wrap this up?
I’m always trying to help grow the DAO landscape. If you’re looking for feedback on your project or are interested in getting involved with MetaCartel, hit me up on Twitter. I’m always chatting with people looking to do new and exciting things and would love to hear more about what you’re building!
This is the first of a series of articles where we’ll be introducing different members of MetaCartel. We hope you enjoyed and look forward to spotlighting another champion next week!