Oct. 29, 2021

161: Money Talks#44 | Michelle Tsing and Mentoring in Blockchain from the Techstars Web3 Convo Series

161: Money Talks#44 | Michelle Tsing and Mentoring in Blockchain from the Techstars Web3 Convo Series

Michelle Tsing joins Pete Townsend in a special segment from the Techstars Web3 Convo Series of fireside chats driven by the Launchpool Web3 Techstars Accelerator program kicking off in Dublin in March 2022. Michelle is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in addition to wearing many hats as a lawyer, artist, entrepreneur, startup advisor, and self-described futurist, she mentors founders through the Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator and Singularity University Ventures.

In this episode, Michelle talks about her entry point into blockchain, the links back to her career with PayPal that shape how she mentors founders today, some of her own eye-opening experiences as an entrepreneur, her experience with DAOs or decentralized autonomous organizations, what she looks for in founders and how she works with startup teams, and what it takes to be successful in the Web3 space.


Michelle Tsing on her entry point into blockchain:

“In late 2017, I began speaking about blockchain after someone invited me onto a Facebook group on blockchain and thought ‘why is everyone talking about blockchain?’ because back in the day, no one cared.”

“So, I joined the group, and someone organized a conference in Vegas, and I went there mostly curious and just hung out with the people that speak about blockchain.  I noticed that there were a lot of men there, so I created a list of 200 thought leaders who are all women who should be able to speak about fintech, cryptocurrency and blockchain.  I put this list up on Medium and sent them to event organizers, and then I really got to know the community!”

On the link back to her PayPal career that’s relevant to how she mentors founders today:

“Back in 2013 [as an in-house lawyer at PayPal], I worked on a number of transactions, so I know who charges what and what the deals are.  I created a lot of the playbooks at PayPal, I worked with information security, insurance, licensing, procurement, distribution and marketing.  I basically supported all of those areas, and it really helped me develop a big picture of how to be successful.”

Michelle Tsing on one of the eye-opening experiences as an entrepreneur:

“When you create apps, you want to be featured by Apple and you want the world to know. I was talking to a man at a conference in San Francisco and he was saying the cover of your app should have eyes on it because people love eyes.  I think he wanted to charge me $150,000 to do that for me”

“I guess he didn't take me seriously, and I never saw him again after that, but I then went on to create apps featured on Apple with millions of impressions and downloads.”

“I’m really grateful for experiences like that because people might look at you and say, ‘Hey, she’s a woman and she doesn't look like an entrepreneur’. They don't take you seriously, but you know what you're doing, so you try anyways, and the universe makes it happen - never give up.”

On how she works with founders and startup teams:

“I give feedback on their deck, the revenue model, the business model, how they’re going to launch and how they're going to get traction.  You need to look at marketing and product at the same time as a lot of founders are product people and they don't know how to implement a plan to get traction.”

“I think the biggest competition for building traction is time.  The earlier you start, the more people will know about your project.  You will build that community, especially with a Web3 company, because you need a community that drives value and creates that passion for your project.”

On what Michelle Tsing looks for as a leading indicator of a fantastic founder:

“When I was negotiating transactions with companies that now don’t exist, I always sensed a lot of pride. A lot of people say that the number one reason that you'll fail is because you don't listen because you're too proud.”

“When I’m working with founders, the people who want to learn and who listen, they don’t have to execute your advice. I just want them to think about it and make a really informed decision after seeking advice from different people and seeking mentorship. But if they're not humble, it’s hard to work with them and they may not succeed.”

“There are founders who get away with that, but I love founders who are humble, who are gritty, they don't give up and they just keep on going.”

On what it takes to be successful in the Web3 space:

“I like to see people's philosophy and their passion and that they really want to change society, but a lot of founders are really secluded to themselves. If you just want your company to be successful, you could raise a lot of money, have your own company and just really excel.  But if you want to change the whole ecosystem, you need to collaborate with different companies and different founders.”

“Something that founders need to think about is this: in your lifetime, what is the value of the token that you're providing, what is the tipping point and how do you get there?”



Learn more about the Launchpool Web3 Techstars Accelerator and the Techstars Web3 Convo Series

Connect with Michelle Tsing here and check out her Laptop Radio podcast

Check out Michelle’s Tsing’s suggested must-read book here:  Games People Play by Eric Berne

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Michelle TsingProfile Photo

Michelle Tsing

Lawyer / Artist / Entrepreneur / Startup Advisor / Futurist