I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Sosa. Jason is an experienced entrepreneur, previously founded a venture-backed AI/machine learning company in New York City which sold in 2015. He was also an EIR/advisor to a $20m early stage VC fund and is presently founder of a blockchain-based talent sharing ecosystem Blackbox AI.
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?
Igrew up the son of a migrant farm worker. I’ve gone from a minimum wage factory worker to being CEO of a venture-backed company in New York City. I’ve raised millions of dollars in capital, establish companies in NYC and Singapore and attracted major corporate customers. As an advisor to a venture capital fund, I’ve mentored dozens of startups throughout the product development, go-to-market, and fundraising process. Here’s my journey.
As a spot welder, I assembled school furniture at a factory. Feeling frustrated and bored out of my mind, I educated myself and learned to code after a grueling 10-hour shift.
Keeping the factory job part-time in order to make ends meet, I made the transition to freelancer. Within the first 60 days, grew my income 3X by initially offering to work for others for free. Ended up landing projects with Herman Miller, Ford, Accenture, among others.
It’s the worst economy since the great depression. Inspired by Jeff Han’s TED talk, I dived head first into computer vision learning to build my own multi-touch walls. This leads me to assemble an 8ft (120-inch) custom multi-touch wall prototype with Haworth R&D in 2009.
BOULDER CO PURSUING MY DREAMS
Selling 90% of our possessions, I moved my family to Boulder CO and began experimenting with face detection and computer vision. Interviewed by Robert Scoble on early prototypes.
TECHSTARS NYC — IMMERSIVE LABS
Accepted into Techstars NYC (1% acceptance rate), featured on Bloomberg TV, ABC News, CNN and Fox Business. Mentors included Fred Wilson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brad Feld, and Dave McClure. Raised millions of dollars from top investors in NYC and Silicon Valley. (Acquired 2015)
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Now I’m building a talent sharing platform on the blockchain. Blackbox makes it easy for people and organizations around the world to share talent, reduce bench cost, and find rewarding projects as part of an ecosystem of business trust.
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?
It is the people that believed in me when it wasn’t easy. Friends, family, and a broad community of support around the world help to sustain the spirit of being an entrepreneur. So many people have helped me along the way. Some notable people have been Mike Morin, David Cohen, Brad Feld, Dave McClure, Dean Whittaker, Jerry Colona, and many Techstars alums that shared their lessons learned along the way.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Blockchain fundamentally unlocks new business models in a way not seen since the early days of the Internet. In the average human lifespan — ⅓ is spent sleeping, ⅓ working, and ⅓ living — we orient life around unspoken and unconscious mental models for how “work” should be done, for how organizations “should be” structured, and rarely question the systems, incentives, or methods themselves or seek to improve upon them. We operate based on habits without taking into account how much the world has truly changed. Blockchain opens the doors to new possibilities.
Our long-term vision is simple: Democratize the enterprise.
· Everyone is part of a community that makes up the workplace
· Democratize the experience and provide interoperability across inter/intra silos for mutual alignment
· Consensus-driven governance to improve accountability, reduce risk/costs, and create a better outcome than we have today
· A quality experience for all human beings that give themselves to this activity
· Produce value in the form of good/services for the benefit of customers
· Distribute gains in proportion to the value contributed
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Worried that blockchain will be a continuation of centralized/top-down structures under the control of private groups
- Worried that blockchain will be used as a tool to marginalize rather than empower people
- Regulation, governance, and compliance will slow innovation and impede progress
- Worried that criminal activity, scams, speculation and pay-to-play practices will continue to delegitimize blockchain for the masses. It’s a lot of noise making it harder for quality projects to stand out
- Worried that people will only focus on creating decentralized clones of today’s centralized concepts
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
Giving back as much as I can in the form of speaking, mentorship, coaching, and teaching by letting others know that there is another path. I’m living proof that it’s possible to dream, strive, work hard and rise above the limitations set on you by others. I try to share those lessons whenever and wherever I can.
As you know, there are not a lot of people of color in the tech sector. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other men and women of color in the tech space to thrive?
Your unique point of view is needed in tech! We need role models and examples to point to in the tech industry. Especially women and people of color that help shape the conversations, tools, and systems which will run our lives in the future. To thrive, it’s critical to be confident in telling your story, let your voice be known, focus on growing a network around a niche with other passionate people.
Can you advise what is needed to engage more men and women of color into the blockchain industry?
The blockchain is a way to bypass the middleman, upend power structures, and democratize the way work gets done.
Technology, like capitalism, is a tool. Artificial intelligence isn’t magic that solves society’s ills. The blockchain isn’t a feature to be bolted on. It is a fundamental shift in understanding trust, how work gets distributed, implemented, rewarded, and managed. The policies and processes for what worked in Corporate America simply don’t translate into the new economy. A new framework has to be created. The purpose of a new system is to align and balance human self-interest with governance around a cooperative model, shared by many, in a way that is self-sustaining for the whole.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
“It’s not about the goal. It’s about growing to become the person that can accomplish that goal.” ― Anthony Robbins.
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” — Jim Carrey
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. 🙂
For the first time, technology is available to experiment rewriting the rules of governance, currency, and ownership.
New paths require we break the mold of traditional ideas and learn lessons of the past. Melding together what works for today with a plan for a better future that takes advantage of new tools. This goes beyond the traditional arguments of capitalism vs. socialism. We need a brand-new framework for a modern digital age. What movement would I start? I’d argue that we should bring democracy to the workplace.
How can our readers follow you on social media?