The Ultimate Guide to Building a Massive Blockchain Company

Discover the inspiring journey of Nathan Williams, Founder and CEO of Minespider, as he shares his entrepreneurial experiences and insights on building a multimillion-dollar blockchain company.

how to build a block chain company Nathan Williams

A warm introduction

Hello Dear Reader,

Welcome back to my daily blog🌻

I’m so grateful that the universe has brought you to my little corner of the world. I sold my startup in 2022 and I love sharing daily blog posts on the lessons I’ve learnt along the way and all the new things Im still picking up.

A little while ago I caught up with the Founder and CEO of Minespider, Nathan Williams

When starting out in the industry, Nathan launched a successful podcast and interviewed hundreds of leading figures in Blockchain. His podcast was an effective way to network and grow a multimillion-dollar Blockchain company, Minespider!

You can learn more about Minespider here:

For those that prefer reading rather than watching check out the transcript here 👇

Welcome Nathan! How Did You Get Started?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. And I remember in my twenty s I tried many different things. I tried selling jewellery with my wife, I tried starting a teen drop-in centre. I tried doing many, many things.

And eventually, I went back to school to get my MBA because I realized I wanted to learn how to think strategically and how to run a business properly as opposed to buying the seat of my pants. And I think that that was really a turning point in my whole career.

Afterwards, I moved to Germany because I heard there was a growing start-up scene here. And I love tech. I’ve got a background in computer programming and I wanted to be part of a digital startup scene. So I moved here, I started a couple of different companies, and when I started Minespider, the first thing I realized I needed to do was to do a lot of research and learn about the supply chain side of things involved in talking to experts.

But learning about the blockchain side of things is a little more difficult because it was hard to get in touch with the right people and get time. They’re very busy. And in 2017, 2018, there was a lot of money to be made and so how do you attract attention?

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So I started a podcast, and so my podcast was called Analysis and Chains. It ran until 2019. I started it with a friend of mine and we would just talk about and learn about all of the different blockchain projects, cryptocurrencies, and everything going on to try and understand this space.

And then I just started interviewing people. And I interviewed about 80 or 90 founders, asking them about how they designed their blockchain, why they designed it in the way they did, what problem they were solving, how a decentralized or a blockchain solution looks different from a traditional business.

And to try and really get my head around this sort of new concept of decentralized systems. And that helped me a lot when I started designing Mindspider and I had the input of some really high-level people in the blockchain industry that I just took out to I met because of the podcast and then took out for drinks and said, so if you were designing something like this, how would you do it?

And got some really good input that way. So Mindspider is a blockchain traceability platform. They. We got our start back a number of years ago when we were looking at the problem of conflict metals, and how to know that the metals that go into the products that we purchase weren’t coming from at-risk areas of the world with high amounts of child labour or environmental damage.

We did some pretty big projects with global brands, so we worked with Google and Cisco and Volkswagen in the early days to track metal from when it was extracted to the end. And we built up this system that’s a blockchain-based system for doing this traceability.

And we do it by creating digital materials, and passports, so you can just scan a QR code and see all of the stops that the material made along its journey, where it came from, and all the certifications and documents that you need when you buy this type of material.

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How Did You Generate Funding for Minespider?

We got a lot of help from angel investors. Now, a lot of them we had previous relationships with. So I and my founders had a network of people that we knew were investors, and this, in a way, friends and family. But they don’t just invest because they like us. They invested because they believed in the project. And we had to explain to them what our vision was, how we would make money with it, how we would grow, and all of those things. Everyone knows in the early days that the vision can change multiple times, but what’s important is that they understood that we thought through who our target was, what problems they had, and how we would solve them.

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And this is something that happens a lot with young founders the first time, is that they don’t think of their startup in terms of a problem to be solved. They think of it in terms of a startup idea.

And the reason that that can be dangerous is that people will pay to solve a problem, but they won’t necessarily pay for an innovative idea. You can come up with innovative ideas very easily. I want to make Facebook for cats.

Oh, that’s an innovative idea, but who is going to be the customer? Who pays for it? Why do they pay for it? How does this help them? And how big a problem is it? And is it big enough that they would pay for it?

These are the questions that investors need to have answered. In the early days, I was actually doing a lot of research, and when we started, it was 2017, and I had talked with a number of people, including my father, about a couple of interesting developments I saw happening in the world.

One of them was that Bitcoin had just crossed the $1000 mark, and everyone was excited about this new technology and how you might apply it. And then the other thing that happened around the same time was that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, or inaugurated rather.

And around that time, there was a Washington Post article that was talking about how there were concerns in the electronics and automotive industry that his administration would roll back conflict mineral regulations.

And that is actually what happened. So what I did is I said, well, what’s the problem with conflict minerals? My background was in big industry technology, and I was interested in trying to solve a problem that these big industries had.

So I contacted everybody who was named in the article and asked them what they were struggling with, what had been tried, what had worked, what didn’t work, and what were the unintended consequences of what they tried.

And. It takes a lot of thinking through. Your first inkling of the problem isn’t necessarily the one that you need to solve. What people told me at first was it was difficult to know where materials had come from. But that isn’t the whole story. Just because something comes from an at-risk area doesn’t mean it’s not responsible. The real question is, how do you know that children aren’t working in the mine? Or that you didn’t fund terrorist groups? So you have to ask, why is this a problem? What sort of things would help solve it? And are we trying to eliminate and embargo those areas or are we trying to give them a way of accessing the market in a proper manner?

And so these are important and difficult questions, and every business will have that process. Usually, companies that have a problem or people that have a problem, it’s a little bit like going to the doctor. You need someone to help you diagnose what the real issue is. Everyone knows they have pain, but they don’t necessarily know the best way to solve it.

How Did You Approach Investors?

I think the most important thing to remember in the earliest of early days is that investors will believe in a founder or a group of founders or a team. And it’s important to put focus that you are the team that can pull this off. Imagine that you had extra money, right? Imagine that you’ve been working and you maybe made some good investments and you had a bit of money lying around.

One of our first investors wasn’t Rich Man. He put in just a small amount of money, but he believed in us. And imagine that you had a little extra money and you were going to put money into a startup that you believed in.

What would make you believe in it? A problem that was being solved may be tenacity. Knowing that situation was thought through properly. If someone came up with just this great idea then that might be valuable.

But if you knew that they understood the problem enough that they could take action and solve it, it would be a little more comforting. I once heard someone tell me that the difference between a salesperson and an expert is that a salesperson understands a solution but an expert really just understands a problem.

And if you think about it if you ever hear experts talk in academics or anything like that on TV, they don’t necessarily know what the solution is to these global problems but they know in depth what the factors creating the problem are. And so as you become an expert and understand the problems you can then start to add a little more meat to this salesman side of things and make it more believable and backed up by something real. The funny thing is that it’s not a cut-and-dry process.

I think it’s more of an art than a science but it’s a process of trying to bring in other perspectives instead of just your own. So usually if you talk to a client group or a group of companies or people who have a certain problem they will have experts that understand stand sort of the problem from their perspective. And if you’re an outsider you will be at a disadvantage in understanding the problem from their point of view. But you’ll be at an advantage maybe for bringing in a perspective from a different industry, a different background. And so usually if I’m going into a new context and this happens even years later when I’m meeting clients from a very specialized industry, I might know mining and metals, but maybe I don’t know everything about one type of metal or the ins and outs of the finance side of it or other things.

And so what I will do is I’ll say, well, we tried this in a different industry or with a different client. Would something like that fit here? Why or why not? And it’s much more of a sort of working together and problem-solving process rather than, I’ve got your solution, here you go. I mean, the hardest part in the early days is that you don’t have these clients to talk to and the most important thing that you can do is to get in front of them.

And it might come down to just cold emails. Cold calling is usually not as chic nowadays as cold emailing, but however you get in front of them, going to events, that’s how I did. Or you can do content creation where you interview people for a show or a YouTube channel. That’s always very good. Everyone loves being a part of an audience or in front of an audience. These are all techniques that you can use to get in front of the people that you need to talk to.

how to build a blockchain company

Where Do You See Minespider Going in The Future?

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I think that when you’re building a startup, it’s important to actually look up every so often because usually you’ll be focused on the immediate steps in front of you.

I’ve got to make the next sale, I’ve got to hire the next people, I’ve got to, you know, get this next project underway and but you know, as. Go forward, especially if you’re going out and getting investors, then you need to have a larger strategic plan.

I want to expand into the US. I want to go into the battery industry and there are specific problems that I’ve got a solution for that can help in those areas. Now, for me, I obviously want to grow the company, I want to bring on other investors.

But I see that there’s a huge opportunity in front of us for addressing the climate crisis, especially with decarbonizing the metal supply chain. This is one thing that I would like to move into both because it’s a very pressing need.

There’s a large market behind it, and we’ve got sort of a unique approach to this solution where we can use our technology to basically track the metals and materials that we need for the green transition and say how much carbon was emitted to produce them and has it been offset, and is it a reduced or a high carbon process?

And so you can end up having low carbon or carbon neutral metals and you have proof of that. And these are important steps and it’s important to me, not just because it’s a good business opportunity, but because I have a child and I would like her to grow up in a world that is nice to grow up in.

There was a really good tip I received early on in my journey and it was not helpful at the time, but years later is very helpful. And my question at the time, the problem I was trying to solve was.

How do I find a team that I can start a startup with, how do I find my co-founders?

Because everything is about the team in the early days and I asked a successful founder this question and his response to me was not helpful.

At the time, it was, I keep a short list of everyone I can work with and everyone that I could see starting a company with. I was like, well, that doesn’t help me today, but years later, it helps. So the thing is, in your career, you’re going to meet all sorts of different people and some you can work with and some you can’t.

And knowing who you can call and who you would trust and who you would be comfortable working with is really, really important. And if you’re not keeping this short list, then today is the day to start Because any other way of finding a co-founder is going to be rolling the dice. You’re going to meet them through school, you’re going to meet them through founders’ events, you’re going to meet through advertising, maybe, and you have no idea if they’re good or bad. You can advertise a job, and you can ask them questions, but knowing if there’s chemistry there, knowing if they’re trustworthy, is only something that comes out from working with them. And so it’s like that old adage, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today. And when you’re growing a founding team, that takes time, and the best time is in the past. But it’s worth it to find and keep track of who you can work with. Because when you go out and find people that to work with, its role, the dice each time, you might know their background, you might know their personality from a first meeting, but you don’t know what it’s like to work with them.

And so think of entrepreneurship as a career journey and the process of building up a team that you can work with as. Building your foundations as an entrepreneur. And I think that that’s the most important thing that you can do.


Thank you so much, Nathan, for taking the time out of your very, very busy day to be part of the show. Thank you very much for having me Fortuna.

You can learn more about Minespider here:

I’m here every day folks! See you tomorrow sweeties! xx

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