Alex Miningham: “Let’s start a movement for every successful entrepreneur to mentor at least one new startup founder”

How amazing would it be if every successful entrepreneur mentored at least one new startup founder? Learning from people who have been in your shoes is incredibly valuable and something that everyone looking to start their own business should have easier access to. I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Miningham. Alex is a serial technology […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

How amazing would it be if every successful entrepreneur mentored at least one new startup founder? Learning from people who have been in your shoes is incredibly valuable and something that everyone looking to start their own business should have easier access to.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Miningham. Alex is a serial technology entrepreneur with over a decade of experience leading technology and data-driven ventures from inception through acquisition. Currently, Alex is leading one of the first security token offerings in the United States as CEO of Proof Network Ventures, a technology product development company building solutions for the global beverage alcohol industry. Apart from his role at Proof Network Ventures, Alex actively advises early-stage technology and blockchain enabled startups. A recipient of Business Observer’s 40 under 40 award, Alex studied business at Florida State University where he received both his B.A. and M.B.A.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?

From an early age, I realized that being an entrepreneur was the most optimal career path for me. I enjoy pioneering new ideas, taking risks and I thrive in a fast-paced and dynamic environment. Since 2008, I’ve been head down building technology startups in various industries including higher education, travel, digital marketing, and most recently, beverage alcohol.

Rewind back to mid 2016 as I was gearing up to raise a seed round for a new data science startup, I started seeing more frequent content pop up on cryptocurrencies, specifically bitcoin and ether. A few months later, after a push from my brother, I decided to get some money online and invest. As the market began to ripen, I fell down the proverbial blockchain rabbit hole and became fascinated with the underlying technology these cryptocurrencies were built on as well as the problems it could solve, particularly in the beverage alcohol sector where my startup was focused. After immersing myself in research for about 10 months, primarily as a byproduct of investing, I began putting pen to paper alongside my core team to determine actual use-cases where blockchain technology could improve existing inefficient processes within our industry. Today at Proof Network Ventures, we’re building solutions initially targeted at the global alcohol sector, to solve industry-related problems around multi-party information and data sharing, supply chain tracking, and consumer rewards and rebates.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

The most interesting project I’m currently working on is definitely Proof Network Ventures. We’re taking an inefficient and archaic industry hamstrung by age-old rules and regulations and catapulting it into the 21st century. Innovation has long been stifled in the beverage alcohol sector due to the suffocating laws that exist, particularly within the three-tier regulatory system in the United States. We’re working hard to build forward-thinking data and technology solutions that improve operational efficiencies that the entire industry ecosystem will be able to take advantage of.

Aside from Proof Network, there are two projects I’m currently advising that I’m super excited about. The first is a cryptocurrency mining company called Cormint. Their focus is on accumulating significant early positions in non-ICO, pre-liquid, proof-of-work coins. The second is an enterprise-grade, blockchain-enabled encryption and mutual authentication app company called Cyph. Their initial use cases center around private key storage for issuers as well as individual users.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There isn’t a single person but rather an entire team that I owe an immense amount of gratitude towards. I’ve brought along a handful of the same people from venture to venture that all share the same entrepreneurial mindset as I do. Everyone has made serious sacrifices along the way and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without their help, trust and dedication.

What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

1. In my opinion, the single most exciting thing about blockchain is the pace of change and the acceleration of innovation with regards to the improvement of the technology itself. Over the past two years, blockchain has evolved from something no one really talked about or understood into a global industry and a hot topic of general discussion. Educational courses are now widely available, blockchain-enabled startups are working to solve really neat problems, and Fortune level enterprises are racing to build out digital innovation divisions to figure out how to best take advantage of the technology. We’ve come a long way in such a short period of time so I’m anxious to see where we are two years from now.

2. Most current blockchain projects are open sourced which means that enterprises as well as individual developers can learn from each other’s mistakes which inherently promotes innovation. Open sourced code also promotes adoption, allowing projects to be spun up much more quickly without the need to build proprietary code from the ground up.

3. I’m very excited to see the speed and scale to which institutional capital will come into the space. We’re seeing the foundational pipes being laid now by some of the biggest players in the space (i.e. custody solutions), but I think we still have a ways to go.

4. The evolution of capital formation, particularly with regards to security token offerings or digital security offerings (STO’s / DSO’s), is fascinating to me. Historically, new entrepreneurs with a great idea but little track record have been forced to raise funding from family and friends within their close network before scaling their business and becoming appealing to outside angel investors and/or VC’s. With the advent of blockchain and the ability to tokenize assets, particularly equity, entrepreneurs can gain access a wider network of global investors and potentially take advantage of faster and deeper liquidity options post issuance.

5. Blockchain has the capability to disintermediate a lot of different business use-cases by cutting out centralized authorities. Finance, particularly global transfer of money and peer-to-peer payments, is something I’m incredibly excited to see evolve over the coming years.

What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

1. Consumer adoption will need to ramp up at some point. Currently, end user experience for blockchain-enabled consumer technologies, particularly decentralized applications, is clunky, full of friction and requires a good amount of technological intelligence. We’ll know when adoption is in a good spot when consumers are actively using blockchain-enabled technologies without knowing (or caring) that the underlying infrastructure is built on the blockchain.

2. Crypto has been on a wild ride these past two years. 2017 was primarily hype and speculation based with companies, in some cases, raising hundreds of millions of dollars overnight via initial coin offerings (ICO’s). Unfortunately, a lot of the issuers raising funds lacked the fundamentals for a good investment such as; operator experience, founder domain expertise and product-market fit. Now, as we get deeper into this 2018 bear market, we’re seeing a lot of these projects fail and/or go out of business. Some of the major narratives include mismanagement of corporate funds and consumer adoption and monetization challenges. Until regulators enact clearer rules and policies for issuance, I think we’ll continue to see startups pray on unsophisticated investors which paints a bad picture for the industry as a whole.

3. We’re seeing a lot of projects pop-up that are claiming to use blockchain without much thought going into the actual utility of the technology. Blockchain can be super powerful if used for the right purposes. However, there are myriad use-cases where traditional cloud-based solutions are more efficient and effective. The fact is, most businesses probably don’t need the blockchain. If you do need a blockchain, then it should absolutely improve whatever process you’re applying it to by orders of magnitude.

4. A good portion of the narrative over the past couple of years has focused on the term ‘decentralization’. Similar to my point above, there are cases where decentralization doesn’t make sense at all, particularly in enterprise B2B scenarios. There are other cases where decentralization might add value but not for an entire solution, in which case a hybrid approach might work best. Instead of forcing decentralization into a business model, focus on building a scalable business and applying decentralization only if and where it makes sense.

5. As with any speculation or hype cycle, we’re seeing malicious actors attempting to take advantage. One such case that I’ve seen first-hand are “advisors” engaging with startups in the space who promise the world but end up not delivering anything of value. Unfortunately, a lot of these advisors are demanding payments, often times up-front, which leaves the company in a bad position once they realize the advisor isn’t worth it. In some cases, we’re seeing advisors claiming to work on 50+ projects, often simultaneously. Although the red flags are obvious, I worry that issuers will continue to foolheartedly pay these fake advisors and buy into their false promises.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

Starting a new business from concept is a daunting task and having a good idea is only a small part of the battle. As a founder, you need to know how to raise money, build a team, take whatever you’ve built to market and then scale it. There are millions of roadblocks along the way and seemingly everything is working against you. For these reasons alone, I’ve always been an advocate for helping budding entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground through strategic advice, assistance and introductions where it makes sense. In a prior company of mine, we launched the “Paving the Future” scholarship which we created for college students in order to empower them to pursue their startup idea post-graduation. We received a ton of well thought out business plans and we had the opportunity to interact with some fascinating young entrepreneurs in the process.

What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?

1. Don’t be afraid to take risks and put it all on the line. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to face a lot of adversity including an immense amount of emotional highs and lows. At the end of the day, if you believe in what you’re doing, bet on yourself — even if that means sacrificing a salary for a given period of time.

2. Build with a long term mindset. A startup can be mentally draining for a founder. If you’re in the very early stages and building something while living on a shoestring budget, it might seem like a good idea to cut corners in order to get to market faster so you can start bringing in revenue sooner. Avoid these temptations as they will undoubtedly kill your business. Instead, think more long term and stick to your one and three year plans.

3. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you are. I can’t stress this one enough. As a founder, you can’t be good at everything — it’s impossible. Successful entrepreneurs know where they’re weak and strategically hire for those positions so they can focus on everything they’re good at.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. — Steve Jobs”

There’s no better time than now and there’s nothing wrong with marching to the beat of your own drum. Big risk often comes with big reward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

How amazing would it be if every successful entrepreneur mentored at least one new startup founder? Learning from people who have been in your shoes is incredibly valuable and something that everyone looking to start their own business should have easier access to.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Scott Brown: “Building a company is hard”

by Penny Bauder, Founder of Green Kid Crafts

When Entrepreneurship and Adventure are a Way of Life

by Michael Levin

Alex Tomchenko of Glambook: “Don’t complicate”

by Paul Moss
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.