Oct. 7, 2021

158: 3 is the Magic Number | Laura Walsh, Launchpool and Techstars

158: 3 is the Magic Number | Laura Walsh, Launchpool and Techstars

Laura Walsh is the COO of Launchpool, a digital asset platform with a mantra of egalitarian investing in blockchain projects.  In this episode, we talk through how Laura’s incredibly unique foundation as a teacher of English as a second language, as an international development operative, and as someone with a deep interest in how things work, led to her entry point into the blockchain ecosystem in 2017. We also dive into the mission of Launchpool and Launchpool’s impact as a platform for investing in blockchain projects, and also where things are headed with the Launchpool Web3 Techstars Accelerator landing in Dublin in 2022.


HIGHLIGHTS:

Laura Walsh on adapting to new cultures:

“Moving from Canada to Japan was not shocking, but it’s still a big culture shock. But then when you move from Japan to Thailand, it's another world.  It is quite the wake-up call if you've never been to Southeast Asia before and you come here with a three-year-old by yourself.”

“It just forces you to adapt. I think that's one thing I've always been able to do.  No matter what setting you find yourself in, you sit, you listen, you learn, and you adapt. And you find a way to make it work.”

“I think that’s what I've done with whatever industry or whatever position I've been in - you adapt and you make it work.  You find your niche, you find your role and you add value where you can.”

On her deep interest in figuring out how things work: 

“Back in high school, my friends and I were one of the only groups of kids playing around with computer programs. I'm not saying I'm a hacker because I'm not, and I couldn’t program now to save my life.  But back then, we had the old soldering irons, getting some chips on, building my own towers, and trying to figure out the motherboards.”

“For the life of me, I can't remember the specs, but that's what we did. For me, that technology has always held a special place and I guess I'm a geek at heart.”

On her entry point into the blockchain ecosystem in 2017-2018:

“I opened an office for NEM (a blockchain protocol) in Thailand, we built the representative office and we had a lot of conversations with the government. I taught a blockchain class with my daughter, teaching people how to make tokens - literally how to make your own token on NEM - and we taught a masters class as well.”

“It was pretty cool bringing my eight-year-old along. We launched her own project, and she was the youngest ‘blockchain CEO’ for a while floating around here in Thailand.”

On working for a blockchain platform vs a blockchain protocol:

“When you work for a protocol, you have to be an evangelist.  Sometimes that can be detrimental as it narrows your focus a little too much and you're not seeing the bigger picture. All you're seeing is the adversarial [positioning] and you're either playing catch up or you're trying to constantly ship to stay ahead of the competition.  It’s great for the ecosystem competition, but it doesn't let you see the bigger picture and what's actually going on.”

On Launchpool’s mission alongside the Alphabit Fund:

“Launchpool’s mission is egalitarian investing, as we felt that the little guy was getting screwed. The retail investor was not getting access to what the big guys were getting access to. I'm a retail investor myself, and so I knew exactly what they were talking about, i.e., how did that token go to that price?”

“Sniper bots are getting all of the IDOs [Initial Dex Offerings), and not only can you not beat the bots, but you can’t beat the funds. They've got the inside track, they've got the connections, and they've got the money. So, the Alphabit Fund and Launchpool found a way to get allocations from these blockchain projects and offer them through Launchpool to retail investors at the same price as the Alphabit Fund would get them.”

On bringing it all together with Launchpool and Techstars:

“Techstars’ unicorn status is pretty legendary, they’re up to 15 unicorns now. We also saw how they focus on founders and put a lot of thought and effort into making sure the team has what they need not just to survive, but to thrive.” 

“All of this really spoke to the ethos of Alphabit and Launchpool. We want high-quality projects, and we want to help them on their way. We've got the connections and the network to bring a traditional-style accelerator into blockchain and tokenized projects.”

On Laura’s quest to never stop learning:

“I’m really excited to see how a traditional tech accelerator is run.  For me, this all goes back to teaching and learning. Do anything you can do to never stop learning, no matter how old you get, because the more you learn, the better you will be.”

On the ‘why now’ element of partnering with Techstars:

“With COVID being what it is, and because Web3 is now, we can't wait. With things like the decentralization of data, AI, edge computing, this is the time to have a Web3 accelerator. If you wait any longer, it's passed you by. If you do it sooner, we're not fully fleshed out yet. I think this is the perfect time.”

On what she’s most excited about on the program being run in Dublin:

“I’ve never been to Ireland, so I feel kind of left out, but that's just the personal side of being excited about going to Dublin. From the professional side, you [Pete] and Charlie Taylor from the Irish Times opened my eyes to the tech scene in Ireland, and it's just phenomenal. I cannot wait to tap into that because it's just, London is London. But it's not Ireland.”

LINKS:

Episode title inspired by ‘The Magic Number’ by De La Soul.

Get in touch with Laura Walsh and check out Launchpool and the Launchpool Web3 Techstars Accelerator to learn more.

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Laura Walsh

COO, Launchpool