As investors and professionals in the growing decentralized tech space conduct their due diligence, the team behind any given project should be one of the most important considerations. More often than not, the strength, perseverance, and ingenuity of a team is the best indicator of whether or not a project will succeed — especially in a climate as turbulent as crypto.
So what does an ideal crypto team look like?
It’s a difficult question to answer in any professional context, but there are some added difficulties in assessing teams in an industry as new as crypto. For instance, how can investors separate promising projects from those most convincingly adept at startup fundraising? How might previous experience or education inform a crypto team differently than it might inform any other new tech project? In this piece, we outline a number of key observations and markers of success for this early-stage industry.
Two of the biggest names in blockchain technology have no real resume outside of their current work in the crypto space.
Vitalik Buterin was only 19 years old when he developed the concept for Ethereum, and he did so at a time when he had only been reading and writing about Bitcoin for two years prior. Similarly, Satoshi Nakamoto offers a similarly blank resume. By electing to remain anonymous, he belongs entirely to the crypto universe, allowing the world of blockchain to exist entirely apart from the influences of other industries or intellectual space such as banks, early internet endeavors, or academics.
While it is near impossible for projects to fashion themselves in the shape Satoshi or Vitalik, there are several valuable lessons that these models impart:
- Avoid cults of personality. The founder of a company inevitably becomes a part of the company’s lore. However, any founder who seeks to encourage that mentality waves a big red flag. The technology should always be bigger than the person spearheading its creation.
- Value concept over tenure. There is a great deal of value in being able to make a name for yourself in an industry that offers an abundance of funding and partnerships. However, without a useful concept and need for existence, projects without any purpose will wither and die regardless of who champions it.
THE DEV TEAM
As a team grows, it’s crucial to be able to attract the best and brightest players. While a resume cannot replace originality or passion in a leading role, it certainly helps in the supporting cast. Within the development team, resumes should directly correlate to the needs of the project. The accomplishments of the team should align with a number of critical questions: Which sectors does your project innovate in crypto and in the real world? Where do you see the great impact for your project?
Developers also need to have expertise beyond blockchain. Their knowledge should be specialized and practical to the project at hand, whether that means having a strong background in security, consensus, machine learning, big data systems, or fault tolerance. Ask yourself: Do your developers have real-world experience? What kind of companies have they worked for? Where is your tech weakest and what particular engineering expertise is needed to cover it?
As the worlds of automated contracts and blockchains continue to grow more intricate, a developer team needs to strategically reflect that. The difficulty lies in keeping your developer team grounded to the practice of engineering for the real world. Projects often slide into a kind of academic mindset where ideation outruns applicability. However, what the space needs now is a team that can bring its ideas and innovations to the world stage.
MARKETING AND BUSINESS
Unfortunately, most crypto teams don’t get far enough to make personnel considerations because of poor choices made by the executive and developer teams. However, marketing and business professionals run the final leg of this necessary first lap. Crypto marketing often resembles the “Wild West” as the space continues to combat bad actors. This is an area where friendly brand names and experience working at established companies with major brands, writers, and designer will help build a lasting audience for visionary technology.