by Samuel Richards ~ VIP Contributor
Writer for Fortune Magazine, and Founder; Take Out Marketing
This CEO shares his journey from cannabis consultant to blockchain entrepreneur.
Samuel: Questions about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are some of the most common questions I get asked. I was curious about the market today, so I got in touch with Sacha Nemcov, Executive Director of Bayrock Group.
There are so many opportunities for entrepreneurs in cryptocurrency, so I’m going to ask you right off the bat, how does someone from the weed industry get involved in crypto?
Sacha Nemcov: When you’ve been involved with the cannabis industry for as long as I have, you learn that things don’t always go in a straight line. Rules are made, only to be undone and changed. One of the challenges the industry still faces is access to traditional banking. Although the clients that I work with are licensed and pay their taxes, they can’t walk into a Chase or Wells Fargo bank and open a bank account. They end up having to find loopholes or just pay everything in cash.
I noticed that more and more, clients and their suppliers are handling their transactions using cryptocurrency wallets. It’s so efficient and easy, that at first glance, one would wonder what’s the catch, but this is the beauty of crypto. The individual is able to have complete autonomy over their money without a third party making the decisions. It’s about being responsible for your own money, which can be a scary concept for some!
Samuel: A lot of entrepreneurs are struggling with whether they should go to school or whether they should drop out of school. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I don’t think anyone should go to school to learn entrepreneurship. Schools are great at teaching one how to become a contributing member of society, but the curriculum tends to fail students by shunning the ideals of entrepreneurship. What ends up happening is you have a business person who’s motivation is to give, while overlooking profitability. If this is the case, you’re better off starting a church or non profit.
I really believe entrepreneurship is something you’ve got to learn by doing. You can’t just read a book, or trust what a professor’s theory and hope to learn by osmosis. There is no substitute for real world experience.
Some of the most important lessons I learned happened in a business setting; meetings, hiring employees, learning how to fire people, working with mentors, studying trends and the current market etc.
Samuel: People ask me to explain blockchain, and I often struggle to effectively explain what blockchain is, or how to invest in blockchain. How did you get involved to be such a prominent figure within the crypto community?
Sacha Nemcov: I like to say it’s magic internet money, but the reality is that blockchain is an ownerless tool that makes the world more fair and transparent. That’s my Urban Dictionary definition.
As for how I got involved in blockchain, the story began when my friend encouraged me to buy Bitcoin in 2013 when it was $18.
I was skeptical and even thought it was a ponzi scheme. Three months later the price shot up to $150 and it got my attention. We ended up watching a documentary called “The rise and rise of Bitcoin”. I was sold and bought my first Bitcoin(s). Shortly after, I acquired other cryptos like Ethereum and Litecoin. I honestly didn’t know much about altcoins, other than these were emerging assets and the idea that I had more to lose by not investing.
Samuel: Did you tell other people to buy Bitcoin in 2013?
Sacha Nemcov: I didn’t. Well just my mother. I find when you try to explain Bitcoin to someone, it’s usually a binary answer. They’ll either say, “Yes, I get it,” or “This is stupid and sounds like a scam. Why does it exist when we have things like banks?”.
I always thought of Bitcoin as money, even though it’s become more of a store of value than money. I saw it as, “You mean I don’t need to get permission from the Bank to do what I want with my own money?” It just appealed to both my nerdy and businessman side.
Over time, my confidence in Bitcoin just kept growing because really high-level, technical Silicon Valley venture capitalist started coming out of the woodwork, talking about Bitcoin’s potential to become a future worldwide currency. A number of events came together and really strengthened my conviction that this was not just a fad.
Samuel: I have been hearing a lot lately about companies like Bayrock Group buying property with cryptocurrency, is this true? If so how does this work?
Sacha Nemcov: Think for a minute about all the things you have to do when buying a house. Even if you’ve never bought one, chances are that you already have an idea: you get pre- approved for a mortgage, then you find an agent, you shop around, you make an offer, schedule an inspection and then finally close the deal.
Now here’s the fun part, Blockchain and Smart Contracts are set to disrupt this “dance” we all play in the $217 trillion Real Estate global industry!
When you transact on blockchain using smart contracts, you cut out the brokers, banks and lawyers among many others; you deal directly with the seller or buyer.
This would save a considerable amount of money that goes into fees like escrow fees. Saving a 2–3% on the buying or selling price could be a considerable amount when it comes to real estate.
Smart contracts are agreements and transactions that are concluded and their execution guaranteed without human intervention through computer protocols. These same protocols verify legitimacy of each transaction; no agreement can be concluded if its terms do not meet the established standards. Smart contracts execute themselves automatically once the requirements are met. The terms of the smart contract are transparent to all parties involved. They are immutable and permanent. We just had a reddit blockchain user recorded that he had just warranty deeded his house using an Ethereum smart contract!
Samuel: Last question: Do you see blockchain surviving? Obviously, you’re investing a lot in it, but do you think there’s a chance that it couldn’t survive?
Sacha Nemcov: I think at this point it’s too late for anyone to stop it even if they tried. With the future launch of Facebook’s Libra coin, among other projects, the cat’s out of the bag. We’ve had entire governments from different countries scratch their heads attempting to “turn off” the Blockchain, only to realize its impossible.
You have to realize we in the internet’s early days of the 90’s. A lot of people didn’t like the internet. A lot of people refused to use email. A lot of taxi companies hated Uber. Today, some of the biggest critics of blockchain, like regulators, are actually embracing it. They’re realizing that it’s making their own lives easier.
For me, this is all a fun journey from shrink to entrepreneur. It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster ride. I’m just really grateful that the crypto community has grown substantially and is full of very smart and talented individuals. I’m very humbled to be a part of this.
You can connect with Sacha here: twitter.com/hollywoodshrink