At age 25, Min Kim already gets approached to advise blockchain and crypto startups on a regular basis. After working in marketing and partnerships with Tim Draper at his pre-accelerator Draper University, where a number of blockchain startups graduated, she began handling PR, marketing, and events for top alumni companies including QTUM.org and BitClave. She’s now the founder of Blocultural Studios, a blockchain investor relations and events boutique shop, advising 17 startups including our endeavors at AIKON.
Min’s connection to the potential of blockchain goes back further than her Draper University days. One could argue it started before she was even born.
“My parents met at a people’s protest rally,” Min says. “They named me Min because that means ‘the people’ in Korean. My mom dropped out of college to tutor factory workers how to read. So they [my parents] were really interested in making sure there was economic equality in Korea. I feel like it’s great that I’m in crypto, and bringing power to the people in a different way than my parents did when they were in college. I like the fact that with crypto you’re able to actually raise funds from people who are not the top one percent, and it gives you international access right away.”
While she’s admittedly young, Min understands the value of experience, especially in the current crypto climate where every blockchain startup is trying to break new ground.
So how does she decide which startups to advise? She says it’s all about the people.
“I’m interested mostly in the team, because a lot of the times when you see a white paper, the product is not fully flushed out yet,” says Min. “There is something that I could probably test, but it’s not really fully developed. And a lot of the ideas right now are started by people who are in their mid or early twenties, who have never really started their own companies before, so there’s just so much risk.”
As a marketing maven, Min is especially tuned in to how teams develop and brand their product.
“A lot of people think that if you just create some really good technology the whole branding thing will figure itself out,” she shares. “That’s definitely not the case.”
She attributes AIKON’s brand to the leadership of AIKON’s Chief Product Officer Marc Blinder.
“Marc is very mission driven,” Min says.“He and the company are all about being democratic and empowering anyone to easily monetize their work. I just love that. Marc’s really great at breaking down the concepts for a wider audience, whereas when I talk with some people about blockchain and cryptocurrency, there’s just so much jargon and so many abstract terms that unless you’re a developer you really don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
Min is no stranger to the concept of using technology to level the playing field for people. Her first job in college was working as a finance analyst at Elance, which is now part of Upwork.
“Elance was all about empowering freelancers, who didn’t really want to be tied to the hierarchy of a corporation or just a job,” she explains. “They just wanted a lot of freedom to make money in their own way, and to define their own lifestyle and increase their quality of life basically. It didn’t matter if you were in the Philippines or in India, you could still have access to a lot of these great projects that were changing the world. It was a platform that really enabled people all over the world to connect and to define what type of work they wanted to do. It’s the same concept with AIKON’s API marketplace. But I feel like on blockchain it’s so much more efficient, honestly.”
As a finance analyst, much of Min’s time was spent looking at fraud, and seeing whether or not people were trying to launder money through the platform. Today, she’s happy to see that a lot of processes that she analyzed can be automated through smart contracts and blockchain.
My goal is really to add as much value to the entrepreneurs I advise at the lowest cost,” Min shares. “I was employed full time before I did all this. It’s just really my passion. I would do it without any money involved. And it’s something that I feel like I am okay at and getting to be more skilled at doing.
As for any advice for early-stage startups out there, Min has one main takeaway.
“Define your core values because in the end that’s going to drive so many things,” she says. “It’s going to drive how your website looks, what colors you’re using, how are you going to approach investors, how you write emails to people, to your potential customers. A lot of what marketing is, in my opinion, is blasting the same unified message over and over again through various channels, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, email or graphic design. It always has to be a uniform message.”