Conversation and crypto with entrepreneur Mark Cuban

If Mark Cuban could play a superhero, who would he be? Unsurprisingly, a character of his own making: FIM or Failed Ironman. “He’s the person who invents things that always fail,” Cuban said. “He fails so much that he learns some really good lessons and he uses those lessons to help people.”

This was just one of the fun takeaways from Mark Cuban’s recent virtual tour with Wharton School students in an online ‘fireside chat’ with Sarah Hammer, Executive Director of the Stevens Center for Innovation. in Wharton Finance.

The Stevens Center is preparing to launch the Cypher Accelerator in spring 2022, a program designed to provide mentorship, education, and financial support specifically to blockchain and crypto-related start-ups.

Cuban, an entrepreneur, president of Cuban companies, a regular investor of the TV show Shark aquarium, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, and more, is also a blockchain and crypto investor and expert – and a senior advisor to Cypher Accelerator.

During the chat, Cuban looked further into DeFi, short for Decentralized Finance, which is used to describe the system of financial products available on the decentralized blockchain network. (Check out the infographic with this story for more on the language of crypto.) But not before talking about his first entrepreneurial venture at age 12, involving low-tech trash bags.

Like any good post-game Mav report, here are the highlights:

Mark Cuban on the essence of entrepreneurship. “My first experience in business was when I was 12 and wanted new basketball shoes,” he recalls. “My dad played poker with his friends. I said, ‘Daddy, I want a new pair of basketball shoes.’ He said, “These shoes on your feet seem to be working very well. When you have a job, you can buy whatever you want. One of the guys he was playing poker with said, ‘I have these boxes of trash bags. Why don’t you go out and sell them? And that’s what I did. I went door to door. I knocked on the door and said, ‘Hi, my name is Mark. I am your neighbor. Do you use garbage bags? It helped me a lot because [I began to understand] differentiation: yes, they needed it; I am cute and you will help your neighbor; and it was convenient. I think people confuse selling and convincing. Selling is not convincing or selling ice cream to the Eskimos. Selling is about understanding the value of your product and helping people understand how your product or service can help them. If you’ve got a product or service that’s really valuable, then you’re really going to be able to make an impact.

Garbage bags and crypto. What does selling trash bags have to do with the emerging crypto industry, with everything from digital currency like bitcoin and NFT (non-fungible token) collectibles, to blockchain and to the Solidity programming language? “The analogies with crypto are huge right now,” Cuban said. “A lot of people see crypto as a technology-driven environment. It’s not. The technology around cryptography is the simplest thing there is. Blockchains – they are all basically forms of each other. There isn’t a lot of innovation out there… You have to understand what will push people to use it. It’s so easy to clone everything out there that you really have to figure out how you’re going to get adoption. If you don’t have an adoption, you don’t have anything.

Lazy on NFTs. Mark Cuban is an avid NFT collector who spends time researching online marketplaces like Mintable in search of “great art” he wants to own. But where to showcase all these digital masterpieces? So he and a programmer created Lazy.com, “the lazy way to show off your NFTs”. It’s a simple way to display digital collections. “If you want to see my NFT collection, go to Lazy.com/MCuban,” he noted. “If you want to add your NFTs to the site, all you have to do is log in [your crypto] wallet, pin the ones you want to see first, and you’re done. We added the ability to buy and sell, which gave us income. The concept was: Now you have an easy URL to put in your social media bio or put in an email to send to someone. “

The value of digital assets. For skeptics still wondering whether or not digital collectibles are valuable, Cuban has a case. “Which image from your phone do you want to delete when you are running out of storage?” We place as much, if not more, importance on digital media than we do today on physical media. NFTs are just an easier to use collector’s item. And yes, the basic laws of economics still apply, even to your growing CryptoPunk collection. “In anything you do with collectibles or stores of value, supply and demand are undefeated. It doesn’t matter what you think, say or do, all that matters is that if there is more demand than supply, the price goes up. If there is more supply than demand, the price drops. If you look at historic baseball card prices, it’s a roller coaster… The same goes for NFTs.

Notice to future entrepreneurs. Soon, the team at Wharton’s new Cypher Accelerator will be interviewing many early stage candidates who want to be a part of this crypto support community. Cuban will be on the lookout for the next big thing. He wants aspiring entrepreneurs to know that when it comes to the crypto industry, now is your chance to contribute to a flood of disruptive ideas. “It’s so easy to find ways to manage digital media to simplify things and create a new path of least resistance for consumers or businesses. We haven’t started to see applications in different industries, ”Cuban said. “It’s not even the first round of the first preseason game. They haven’t even brought out the bats and balls to practice yet. This is how early we are in crypto.

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