Field notes: Founder Institute Hosts Demo Day, Graduation

Shyft team has attended this years’ graduation and demo day hosted by the Founder Institute. The Founder Institute in Toronto is one of the prime international locations of the Silicon Valley accelerator, who maintains chapters in over 180 cities and more than 65 different nations across the globe.

Hosted at the swanky Coinsquare office in Toronto, the 2019 Demo Day brought together the graduating teams, alumni, and mentors from various industries like blockchain and fintech to share thoughts on entrepreneurship.

Background: In September 2018, Founder Institute partnered with the Co-Founder of Ethereum and Founder of Decentral, Anthony Di Iorio, to launch our first-ever “Blockchain Founder Syndicate” program in Toronto.

“There was no program on how to build a blockchain startup and that’s what motivated this program. Our goal was to inspire and support early-stage blockchain entrepreneurs and it’s great seeing all these businesses and MVPs coming out of it”, said Kyle Collier, co-lead of Blockchain Founder Syndicate.

Panel discussion on leadership feat. Anthony Di Iorio, Ethereum Cofounder and CEO of Jaxx/Decentral and Cole Diamond, CEO of Coinsquare.

“If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing”

The main panel of the night featured Anthony Di Iorio, Ethereum Cofounder and CEO of Jaxx/Decentral and Cole Diamond, CEO of Coinsquare. The founders of Class #11 learned from the best in the industry through an intensive three-months-long program to prepare products for market launch. 19 teams have graduated — with help from 120+ mentors.

The graduation kicked off with a statement from Anthony: “If it’s not fun is not worth doing.”

The conversation quickly turned away from the fun stuff to the reality of things. Cole and Anthony agreed that although last year has been lots of fun and driven by innovation, the bear market brought a change in the blockchain ecosystem.

“No matter what comes at us, we need to adjust to changing environments. Change happens, and we need to learn to accept it. The key is to learn from this and grow,” — Cole Diamond, CEO of Coinsquare

Anthony Di Iorio’s tips: Anthony took over the floor and shared more tips with the entrepreneurs in the room: “Figure out how to find the key people that you absolutely need in order to grow your business. And if you can’t afford them, wait until you can, or don’t go into the market.”

Cole Diamond’s tips: The important when building your business is, to be honest, and align yourself to the right people. You also need to be in the right place at the right time. Using an anecdote of his mom going to through challenges, he quoted: You need to feel the fear, you need to do it anyways.

On getting started and fundraising for your early-stage startup

Cole Diamond’s advice on raising money: Maybe it won’t be that hard if you reach out to everyone.

“For every three people that you meet, ask them to introduce you to more people. And follow up with them until they actually introduce you. Network like crazy and have a decent pitch. If you get to 200 people and 1% of them end up investing, it’s still good. Also, take the money when the money is available. Even if you’re making money right now.” — Cole Diamond, CEO of Coinsquare

Anthony Di Iorio had a different take on that vision: Bootstrap, bootstrap

“I believe in bootstrapping first and finding money that enables things to move quickly. So that as a business you don’t have to depend on investors. But if you’re in a situation where funding is necessary, consider family offices and crypto funds. Look for funders and funds that understand your business and the market, and won’t be putting unnecessary pressure in the next two years.” — Anthony Di Iorio, Ethereum Co-founder and CEO of Jaxx/Decentral

Click through to discover some of the Founder Institute blockchain projects:

Good luck to all the teams with your future ventures! We loved this event, and look forward to all the cool tech the new Founder Institute’s cohort will build.


Shyft is building a general purpose proof of sender protocol for instant trust generation and portability, for any definition of a sender, designed to integrate across organizations and governments with expertise in identity verification. Shyft is a credentials verification platform.

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