Why I’m Betting on a Decentralized Future: Ni’coel Stark of Block 26

Why I’m Betting on a Decentralized Future is our new blog series that aims to get the inside scoop directly from the venture capitalists that are spearheading the development of Bitcoin/Blockchain infrastructure and betting on its future. Venture Capital funding of Bitcoin-related startups is on pace to reach $1 billion in 2015, and our goal is to find out why investors are attracted to this nascent industry, and where they see the future going.

We’re starting the series with Ni’coel Stark of Block 26. Stark co-founded Block26 to advance blockchain technology, which she believes to be one of the most creative and potent innovations of our era. With fifteen years experience in business development, marketing, company culture, and sales, she is also a biopsychologist and therapeutic analyst by training. By emphasizing cooperative business strategies and furthering market adoption, Stark has developed a coterie of unique and successful businesses in a variety of sectors.

What Bitcoin related companies have you invested in so far?

NS: Airbitz

What drew you to Airbitz?

NS: It all started with Paul, but the whole team has demonstrated an incredible rigor to solve problems continuously, which is a primary strength I look for in a team. The deep commitment the team has to the development of the ecosystem and each other is also impressive. I bet on Airbitz because they are so much more than what is commonly seen on the surface.

It is their Edge Security data model and its potential for applications such as Internet of Things, secure messaging, and a myriad of next-generation financial applications delivering security solutions that will disrupt traditional enterprise data security.

Airbitz’s Edge Security means security solutions for large corporations and banks, decentralized organizations, and everything in between. Airbitz is starting with revolutionary data security. Everything else will follow from there, and that is what caused me to invest.

Why do you believe in blockchain technology?

NS: After being introduced to the tech, I thought it was an incredibly sophisticated idea. The revolutionary potential was immediately apparent to me. I connected to the magnitude of future possibilities.

Nothing affects our human experience in this day and age more than technology. I have been looking for a technology to back in order to do the most good for the human experience. It’s important to me to be an influencer in a space where technology is having a profound and positive affect.

What do you think is the tipping point for blockchain technology?

NS: Blockchain technology has encountered enormous challenges; the ongoing survival is more of a tipping curve rather than a point. Experiencing the network effect and observing the human element within it drives the success curve.

What do you think are the biggest challenges holding back the industry?

NS: To eliminate the need for trust is an important problem to solve, but humans need trust. Bitcoin/blockchain relies on consensus. Perhaps it helps humans reach consensus, but we’re far away from creating that. Humans do not like consensus and reaching true consensus among human beings seems nearly impossible.

Realizing how blockchain tech can solve a true problem in society is not always clear or immediate. We need to be careful not to stuff blockchain tech into a problem hoping that it will be the solution.

There seems to be a widening gap between those who are willing to play the long game vs. those who are ideologically inflexible. Innovation and change is a process and we all need to understand how to remain influencers in the development of this technology. We all have passions, but we need to be able to work with each other if we hope to further the potential of blockchain tech.

What’s the best advice you can give to the community of advocates, developers, entrepreneurs, etc.?

NS: Focus on collaboration, not competition. Competition kills at this stage; it’s still so early. Stay agile and tolerant of all the projects going on. Be or remain as good listeners. Investors are often terrible listeners and developers and engineers are often know-it-alls. We all have so much still to learn from each other. It is not powerful to be impatient or tied to personal agenda.

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