There’s no denying that Web3 has been on a rollercoaster ride for the last several years.  

Late 2021 and early 2022 seemed like the golden age of crypto and Web3. Bitcoin was soaring and Bored Ape NFTs were trading at all-time highs.

Then things plummeted… quickly. 

Drew Beechler and his company Holder have held on through the hype and are still bullish on the burgeoning industry that is Web3. 

In this episode, we talk to him not just about Web3 and crypto—but also about the challenges of being a startup CEO through the good times and the bad. 

This conversation is full of practical advice and vulnerable, authentic insights from a true startup CEO. 

Whether you are a crypto whale 🐳 or a Bitcoin non-believer, this episode has something for you

Drew Beechler is the Founder and CEO of Holder, a web3 CRM and marketing automation platform that powers customer data for the tokenized world.

Before starting Holder, Drew was the Director of Marketing at High Alpha Venture Studio where he helped launch 35 companies in his 6 years with the firm. 

Drew has also been part of more than $3 billion dollars of tech exits throughout his career. 

Be sure to check out these great clips from the show:

  • 01:43 Understanding Web3 and Wallets
  • 08:33 The Future of Marketing in Web3
  • 10:38 The Role of Blockchain in Business
  • 12:37 The Impact of Web3 on Consumer Behavior
  • 17:25 Successful Traits of B2B SaaS Startups
  • 19:46 The Journey of Building Holder
  • 24:00 The Challenges and Opportunities in Web3
  • 28:41 Challenges of Starting a Startup in Current Times
  • 29:03 Understanding the Value of Web 3 and AI
  • 29:20 Pivoting to Next Gen Marketing Tech and Messaging Platform
  • 30:01 Surviving and Thriving in the Crypto Ecosystem
  • 31:17 The Importance of Building a Good Business
  • 31:56 Understanding the Crypto Market and Marketing Spend
  • 33:29 The Role of Web 3 in Marketing
  • 33:59 The Impact of Innovation in Different Sectors
  • 34:28 The Reality of Startup Success Rates
  • 35:10 Advantages of Being Based in the Midwest
  • 35:50 The Power of Local Team and In-Person Work Culture
  • 38:58  Web 3 and Crypto Potential Web 3 and Crypto
  • 43:29 The Success Story of a Major Wallet Provider
  • 47:11 The Impact of Orr Fellowship Program
  • 48:03 The Importance of Branding and Marketing

Get IN. is the show focused on the unfolding stories and most extraordinary innovations happening in the heartland today. Get IN. is brought to you by Powderkeg and Elevate Ventures.

In our conversation with Drew, you will learn about:

  • The Power of a Founding Team: Drew emphasized the importance of a strong founding team in the success of any startup. His experience at High Alpha, a venture studio involved in over $3 billion of tech exits, has shaped this belief.
  • Blockchain in Action: Drew shared examples of brands like Nike and Starbucks that are already leveraging blockchain technology. It’s fascinating to see how these brands are creating unique consumer experiences using this technology.m.
  • Web3 and Marketing: We explored the potential of web3 in revolutionizing marketing. Drew believes that blockchain can shift the power dynamic between brands and buyers, giving consumers more control over their data and privacy.

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Episode Transcript

Matt: From the crossroads of America in the Hoosier state of Indiana. This is Get IN the podcast focused on the unfolding stories and extraordinary innovations happening right now in the heartland. I’m Matt Hunckler, CEO at Powderkeg, and I will be one of your hosts for today’s conversation. I will be joined in studio by co host Christopher “Toph” Day, CEO at Elevate Ventures, and none other than Nate Spangle, head of community at Powderkeg.

On the show today is Drew Beechler, founder and CEO of Holder team you know what I mean? And who you have in the founding team is also just like, that’s always really what makes or breaks any idea to

Drew Beechler is the founder and CEO of Holder, a web three CRM and marketing automation platform that powers customer data for the tokenized world. Before starting Holder, Drew was the director of marketing at Venture Studio High Alpha, where he helped launch 35 companies in his six years with the firm.

Drew has also been part of more than 3 billion dollars of tech exits throughout his career. So on the show today, we’re going to cover a lot of really interesting topics, including marketing essentials for all kinds of executives, practical applications, and the future of Web3, as well as startup founder do’s and don’ts.

Here’s Drew Beechler, founder and CEO of Holder. Drew, welcome to the show.

Drew: Thanks so much for having me. This is a blast. So good to be with three friends and fun people. So hopefully, uh, listeners as well have a lot of fun listening to this. Gonna be a good time.

Matt: It’s exciting to have you here. I know you have your own, uh, podcast, uh, focused on all things Web3.

Uh, called Hold On For Dear Life.

Drew: Yes, we do. It’s kind of, you know, a play on our company name holder. And then there’s, you know, this moniker in the industry, you know, and actually it’s probably, it started with like. Uh, Wall Street bets and that sort of thing of like the hodl somebody misspelling hodl and then all of a sudden it became like, Oh, hodl means hold on for dear life.

And so, uh, yeah, we decided to name our podcast that. And so we typically, it’s more, yeah, news round table kind of let’s share some highlights on things happening in web three and crypto. But yeah. So that’s good. Good marketing. Super excited to, to get to chat with you all.

Matt: For, for those that don’t know Holder, do you mind just giving a quick flyover of what the business is and I know you’ve had some pivots along the way, but talk, talk to us about the business today.

Drew: Yeah, happy to. So Holder is a marketing tech platform for the blockchain vertical in kind of the most basic sense. We are specifically kind of our wedge is messaging, uh, and kind of CRM technology. So we are, uh, we can probably talk about this too, but like, if you’re in the Midwest or from Indianapolis, you probably familiar with the exact target in many ways.

We are just exact target. Instead of sending emails to people, we send a, what we call wallet messages to someone directly in there. Uh, inbox and their wallet inbox. And so it’s kind of this new web three messaging, um, vertical and marketing channel. So marketing tech for the crypto vertical, can we go deep into wallets for a second?

Yeah. So I, yeah, I got to pull mine out.

Toph: So, um, Talk to us about wallets. What is a wallet and what’s the difference between all these different wallets out there? And why would I choose one versus the other and why should I merge stuff and just go deep into that for a second?

Drew: Oh, yeah, definitely, you know wallets are And there’s a handful of ways.

I mean we talk when we talk about kind of like a crypto wallet. It is a account basically that you own and you are and this is kind of one of the basic premises of Cryptocurrency of blockchain as a whole I would say is around Uh, kind of ownership. And so a, there are kind of two major types of wallets.

There’s one, this is going to get real technical, but one called a custodial wallet. Uh, and so this is, I create an account with coinbase. com and Coinbase essentially owns the wallet on my behalf. Uh, so essentially think of this as a bank, you know, so I go to chase and I create an account with chase chase actually holds the physical dollars that.

Or in my account, that is a custodial wallet, they are the custody.

Toph: So custodial wallet, Coinbase, so, uh, but I have to, I would have to go set up a Coinbase wallet. Do I automatically have a wallet if I just sign up for Coinbase?

Drew: Under the hood, yes, actually, there is a wallet that holds those assets. You, there is kind of, this is more in kind of cryptography, uh, there is a, um, kind of, uh, product called, uh, uh, secret phrase, secret seed phrase, uh, kind of, and this is like just standard, uh, kind of encryption level stuff, but basically Coinbase is holding onto that phrase for you in more, more, more or less.

And then the, this version of the non custodial is you are custodying that. Uh, you know, private, uh, seed phrase. And so you are the bank yourself in this, in this kind of realm. And so, uh, this is where there’s lots. And so basically that is all run by the blockchain itself. Like that’s all just kind of code and technology managing this.

And so all of these like different wallet providers, quote unquote. Are just different UIs on top of the same exact data, basically, but the keys themselves, like that’s actually what the wallet is, because that actually has access to the things that are held in that wallet.

Toph: If you forget your phrase, is it true that you’ve lost your wallet?

Drew: Uh, yes, yeah. Oh gosh. There are, yeah, it’s gone forever. I’m never going to get my horse back. Yeah, yeah, that’s all these like, the like, you know, people losing bitcoins and things like that on old hard drives. Uh, that is kind of that, but if you always have that phrase, uh, locked up somewhere, written down somewhere, uh, you can always kind of recover that in any, you know, UI wallet application.

Uh, there are definitely like some, some interesting startups too. They’re doing like. Ways to protect that, but also like back it up in a way. And there’s lots of like, uh, past keys on, on iCloud and things like that too. That kind of back all that stuff up to that’s, that’s interesting ways to kind of do it.

Um, or like etch it into like a metal card. I don’t know. There’s like some high end kind of things are just like unique ways to store these. But yeah, if you lose those, that 12 word seed phrase. Uh, it is essentially gone, which is why, uh, it’s not for the faint of heart, but also, you know, um, then there’s lots of platforms and products like Coinbase that have easy ways to do this and you don’t need to be your own, own bank, but also kind of engage in the ecosystem.

Nate: If I lose my, if I lose my phrase, do I only get one wallet? Am I just out of the Blockchain economy.

Drew: You can create as many wallets as you want. That’s kind of part of like the challenges our business do is like, you know, one individual could have 15 different wallets. And so how do I consolidate these identities?

Like what does a CRM look like when someone engages with my brand and that many different ways and that many different accounts, you know, identities in many ways. It’s more like a wallet is more like an identity and in some ways because all of you know what you’re doing on this blockchain with that wallet is all Cemented, you know forever on that like literal blockchain well,

Matt: And one of the things that is key in a core value of web 3 and blockchain is this idea of decentralization and That’s literally What they’re talking about right when they say you can have your own wallet.

You don’t have to have it at a bank You don’t have to have it on someone else’s account. You can actually own that on a flash drive or on your laptop, and that is your own bank.

Drew: Yeah, exactly. I know that’s core to your business model. And it’s, you know, like, even back to Bitcoin, the original kind of cryptocurrency, like, it was born out of the 08, 09, uh, crisis, you know what I mean?

This is like, what is the world, uh, oh, the Great Depression, that’s what I’m trying to think. Yeah. That’s the first time since like the Great Depression, really, that we saw. Uh, like banks collapse, you know what I mean? And like, like real, like from that perspective. So it kind of gave rise to this idea that like, and especially outside the U.

S., like, uh, that might be underbanked more or might not have access easily to banks. Um, could we build a currency system, a financial system that is purely decentralized and trustless where I don’t have to store my money in the bank. I can store it. On code, and because the code cannot be hacked or broken or whatever, um, that money is secure.

Uh, but then, it kind of has some of the trade offs where like, you are your own bank then, so like the security that a bank has. You kind of have to operate or think about it in that realm.

Nate: We’re five minutes into this podcast and I don’t want to lose any listeners out there that are like, Oh, Bitcoin, I’m out.

I’m not into that. Could you just talk quickly about a few of like, I know Web3 is so much more than Bitcoin, but are there, to the person that doesn’t care directly about Bitcoin, how does Web3 still going to affect their

Drew: life? Definitely. I think, you know, this is more just, uh, it’s just a different kind of technology for how data is stored.

And so if you’ve been in, if you’re, you know, been in technology, you know, understand what a database is, a blockchain is a different kind of database and how the record is stored. So, uh, there’s lots of products that are built on these databases that consumers interact with in many ways today, you know, millions of consumers are using these products.

in kind of fun and engaging ways. So I think that’s where we’re leaning a lot in more too is like, how do we help a lot of these consumer forward companies, uh, just engage with their customers in more unique ways. And so, um, yeah, some like fun examples, like just like recently, and a lot of these are around, like, how do you leverage, there’s some unique things because it’s tied to.

Open marketplace, open trading. So you get a lot of the financial kind of incentives, which is what led to a lot of the bubble of people just betting on coins or, you know, pictures of apes or whatever. But, um, but it is like kind of quarterly. The product itself that there’s like a free market that I can go and sell this asset.

You know what I mean? So there might be a price worth it. This asset. So anyway, there’s like, uh, one new product called friend tech and it’s basically, um, you buy access to someone’s kind of Twitter feed basically. So like I can post updates or it’s almost like a Patreon really. So I can post updates to it, but you have to like own one of my keys, but I can also sell and trade that key at any time and it’s on a bonding curve.

And so, you know, the first person who buys it, uh, if they sell it to the hundredth person, then it’s, you know. exponentially higher what they’ve made on that, like key and things like that. So there’s just like some interesting, fun, you know, ecosystems like that. There’s a. Uh, uh, a really popular, um, dating, uh, kind of experience called the unlonely recently now and you can like basically wager based on like whether people should have like a second date and it’s just like a live stream version of like a zoom date and I have not like engaged or watched it that that much.

So I’m like probably butchering a lot of the explanation of it, but like just how do you use this like unique technology around like. Um, you know, buying and selling digital assets and goods. And I think writ large, like maybe to take a step back, more and more of our lives are moving, you know, digital online, uh, and like more and more of the goods that we collect, the goods that we buy, you know, whether it’s my Fortnite skin or, um, you know, back to the early days of like buying MP3s and videos on iTunes, um, you know, more and more of like the, the goods we buy and the things we interact with live.

On the internet. And so that’s where it’s just like, this is just kind of a, a unique and better way to manage a lot of those goods. Um, and so that’s where I think kind of the future of, of more of this is just, um, where we’re heading. And it’s just kind of, this is the underlying technology. We talk about wallets, like it’s like talking about IP addresses, like nobody knows what the IP address is for your website.

You just know, you know, you go to holder dot X, Y, Z, or powder tech, or whatever. Um, you don’t know what the underlying IP address is. None of us are talking about. You know, IP addresses now.

Toph: So do you think this will get us closer to a place where like marketing is just totally flipped upside down?

Right, so historically you go way back and like we’d put up a billboard, right? Well, you put the billboard near a town because that’s where people congregate, whatever. More people are going to see it. Things fast forward over what, the last century, let’s say. And then this thing called the internet comes around.

But markers are always trying to find you, right? How do I find you to buy my widget? And um, how much more efficient would it be if, if, if I didn’t have to, you didn’t have to find me. What if I could just tell you? I’m ready to buy a pair of blue jeans. I’m ready to buy a 60 inch TV and all the people who sell 60 inch TVs are like Right there buy right now.

Here’s my price and one click so I don’t have to search

Nate: I think toves pitched this business before on this podcast.

Toph: I have i’m bringing up again I’m, really passionate about this Somebody needs to solve this issue and I think you might be the one to solve it But like why why can’t we do that as a consumer?

Why is it so hard? Why do we have to go search this thing called the internet anymore?

Drew: Yeah. Yeah in the like It’s that, like, power dynamic between, uh, brand and buyer. And, like, that’s what, like, got me all into this around, like, the marketing side of things is I think that this is a unique opportunity to completely shift that power dynamic between the buyer and the brand or the buyer and the…

You know, the producer of the product, the advertiser, if you will, and I think, um, in many ways, yeah, like marketing’s been, we’ve been evolving and kind of the, uh, the digital marketing era into just tracking everything, but yet still, like that is also like the biggest pain for most marketers is like, I still don’t really understand what works or why and like where, you know, some like leads are coming from, though I’m tracking.

Everything, you know, so much data and like I just buy products to help me manage the data now, but I’m not actually getting any better at, you know, at that. And that’s where like I saw in marketing was like, we’re just in this inevitable death spiral to like, you know, Optimizing to the nth degree my Facebook ad campaign and it’s just not fun or interesting to me anymore as, as like a marketer.

And like, this is kind of very interesting of, it changes the power dynamic where the users think like cookies are going away, the move toward digital privacy, uh, the move towards like more and more ownership. There’s lots of like way outside the web three world of like research that’s showing this, that like consumers want to own their data.

Consumers want privacy. And, um, and I think that there’s another story for like. What we say versus what we do, but you know, this is the trend. And so we’re seeing like the, the cookie die, whether it’s in like EU regulation or, uh, CCPA and many others, but this is kind of like bringing about this, like brands need a better way to engage with customers, but also I think customers really hold the keys, you know, pun intended, but the customers hold the power of like my data and my relationship with the brand.

And so I think this is just a technology that has the opportunity, at least. To be the middleman that manages that relationship between when I am a buyer and I want to give my data or give access to my data, my interests, my purchasing kind of behaviors. Um, I can manage that on a blockchain. I can revoke that at any time the brand has.

You know, transparent open access to this and so that that’s kind of, yeah, if I were to, you know, talk about a mission statement for us, it’s how do we make marketing more transparent, open and creative?

Matt: What are some of the brands that are doing this well today in your opinion?

Drew: Yeah, I think, um, there’s, there’s kind of two sides, but there’s definitely some that are leaning in more like I’m a traditional brand leaning in today into kind of web three like Nike is, uh, Nike and Starbucks are probably the two like just major kind of, they get a lot of headlines, but also they’re just doing things in really unique ways.

Nike purchased a NFT brand called Artifact, um, it was probably about 18 months ago, a little over a year ago, and um, for hundreds of millions of dollars, millions of dollars, it was Um, undisclosed, but like, yeah, major and it was at the bowl. So, you know, they, uh, they cashed out at a good time, but, um, the, the peak, but like they, so they’ve done the acquisition approach, but then they’ve also like built a whole internal team and kind of program called dot swoosh.

And all of this lives on the backbone of a blockchain. But like, if you were to engage with it, you’d have no idea. You go and you sign up for a dot swoosh account. You are now part of this like ecosystem. And it’s very focused around. Um, kind of co creation of, um, Nike products and like heavy, like Air Force One culture and collectibles.

You know what I mean? That’s just like part of that ecosystem too and sneaker culture. And so it’s a community. Yeah. And that’s where like they’ve leaned in heavily on that front and I think are doing really cool things around collectibles, giving exclusive access. You get to co create the next, you know, design of the Air Force One or put some cool designs on top of them.

Um, and they’re starting to kind of layer that into with their purchase of artifact. I think they’re doing some really, really cool things. Starbucks is also leaning in heavily, um, a whole brand new loyalty program that sits us alongside their existing loyalty program. You know, all of us have used it, the stars and the app kind of thing.

Um, they have a similar program. It’s called Odyssey. A few hundred thousand users in the beta right now and all of it’s just a loyalty program, but the, the, uh, database that they’re using is a blockchain. So all the assets you’re collecting, all the points are on chain and I can, you know, essentially sell and resell these in an open marketplace and kind of reuse them in any way.

We want so, you know, when I think about, um, you know, the, uh, future state of a lot of this is, you know, when we think about digital goods or whatever, and like, what does this enable? It’s like, yeah, all of my Delta points are on chain. So when Delta makes a decision that, you know, I can’t go into there, you know, that I don’t like with their like loyalty program, I can just sell all of my Delta points for whatever United points or, you know, or something, or sell them for Starbucks points and go and buy some, some coffee with it instead.

But it’s all in this. Open kind of access market. Those are cool examples. I really liked that.

Matt: Well, and we’re talking about brand, uh, which I think is really relevant to some of your past experience working at high alpha, uh, venture studio really focused on brand centric. Um, and I’d be remiss if we didn’t take at least a few minutes to talk about some of your experience there, because I imagine it largely influences what you’re doing now at

Drew: Holder and how you’re going about things.

Oh yeah, a hundred percent. It was absolute, uh, it was a dream job to get to work there. And with that team there, you know, some of the smartest people, Uh, that I know and in the world kind of, uh, leading and building that company. But yeah, I, um, I joined it. So high alpha was, uh, the original kind of like created coined the term venture studio in 2014, early 2015, when they first kind of started thinking about this and fundraising, I joined kind of as part of the.

Uh, the initial kind of early team and, and led marketing there from 2015 to 2022 before I jumped out to do Holder and, um, yeah, just kind of an amazing place. But the whole, uh, kind of essential, like, um, innovation that they had was, uh, we love building companies. So the four co founders and partners, um, you know, we’re all entrepreneurs, CEOs, founders in the past.

Like we love building companies. And, um, and we want to invest in these companies as well. And kind of, is there like a dream job that is like we’re building companies and investing in companies at the same time? And, and that was kind of the birth of, of Holder and you guys have had, you know, or the birth of, sorry, that was the birth of High Alpha and, uh, you guys have had lots of other High Alpha, uh, kind of CEOs and other people on the, on the podcast, I’m sure.

But like they had, it was kind of funny, they’d started doing this nights and weekends with, you know, companies like Tinderbox, which we branded Octiv and sold to Conga and, uh, Lessonly and, uh, Visible. Um, and a couple of others. And so they, they were kind of doing this nights and weekends. It was like, Oh, what if like this was a model we could build out that like we would raise a fund that could invest in the companies that were like starting out at a studio.

And so it was essentially just a company, uh, a company to start companies. And so that was the mission statement of the company was. And we’re going to start 10 to 15 companies over a three year period. And, uh, they’re still rocking and rolling, but it was an incredible experience to get to like, yeah, our, we woke up every single day, figuring out how to start new companies.

And so we’d start somewhere in the five to 10 companies a year, um, range while I was there. And, uh, all kind of with this lens of B2B software. And, um, that’s what we know best. That’s what all of our experience and background was. B2B software companies are a little less, um, you know, uh, they’re a little more resilient and not quite as tied to market conditions, consumer appetite and trends and, and that sort of things as consumer and B2C brands.

And so there’s more of a, like kind of repeatable playbook that we could run. And so that was kind of the, the original model and, um, yeah, it’s been working. Really well, you know, it’s always kind of hard because it’s these are this is like pre pre seed stage companies So like the lifespan of something like this is gonna be a decade plus to really know like is this working?

We’re like a typical venture fund, you know, you have you know by fund two and a half you kind of know like what is you know, your Real return gonna start to be for these funds and are you good at it or not? But but they’ve had you know enormous successes and exits already and I think they’ve probably started a little over 40 companies now but there’s Uh, 45 or so, I mean, I got to be part of at least 30, 35 companies.

I was there during that seven year span

Matt: Out of seeing all of those companies that were launched out of there. I know those, those were whittled down from hundreds of potential ideas of things that you could probably thousands. Yes. That you could have pursued, um, out of seeing all those different patterns.

Is there something that you would say that. Uh, B2B SaaS startups consistently have to be a, a good idea that’s worth going after.

Drew: Yeah. And I think these are the same kind of, uh, examples or, um, things that like a typical VC would like 0. 22, like market matters and the market size matters so much. And, you know, and is this a push versus pull kind of, you know, ecosystem and market, are people asking for this?

Um, How big can it get, you know, and like, and those are like, um, I don’t know, they’re kind of tongue in cheek because I kind of hate that, you know, when you hear that from an investor and you know, now sitting on the other side of it, like, it’s like, you know, cause you were like, this is the biggest thing in the world.

Like, you know, this is going to be huge and like, you just can’t see it yet. You know what I mean? But like it does, it does really matter, you know what I mean? In terms of like, and it’s, and mostly it’s just, it’s easier, you know, like in terms of like, you can point to a real kind of trend and clear direction.

So it’s like, what is the The momentum, you know, basically in the world that’s meaning this is like the right now period for this idea in this business Like that is like kind of an ultimate trump card in many ways Team, you know, I mean who you have in the founding team is also just like that’s always really what makes or breaks any idea too is like do we have the right team in place because You know, I don’t know the stats, but whatever the amount of companies that aren’t doing what they originally set out to do, you know, it’s in the very, very high percentage.

So you have to be able to, yeah, it all comes down to is the team able to kind of be resilient and figure out what’s the right path. And, and I think that’s probably like a, um, just even a lesson of that time period too, of like the most successful companies, the most successful, you know, entrepreneurs and founders.

Um, you know, they are resilient and flexible, you know, I mean, and they, like, are kind of willing to, um, have a very strong, you know, opinion and point of view and not kind of be, like, pushed around, but also be flexible in that, like, we’re going to find, you know, what is the true opportunity here and, um, yeah, it’s, it’s really, it’s, it’s really a special skill, uh, that I don’t even know if I, if I truly have it.

Matt: Uh, would you agree Toph as the, the resident VC at the table right now?

Toph: Oh yeah. I mean, a hundred percent. Right. And I think the background of being at High Alpha 2, right, for seven years and seeing all that stuff develop as a real asset, right, as a startup CEO, um,

Drew: It’s still very different from being in the seat for sure.

You know what I mean? Like, it’s, it’s, it’s, that’s still like night and world different, but it was fun where it’s like, we were building companies and getting to see a little bit of, You learn through osmosis for sure.

Nate: If you had to pick three traits that you saw, 30, 35 companies launched, if you had to pick three traits that founders had that you try to incorporate at Holder, And we’re in yourself, what would those be?

Toph: I’m going to see what Drew says on this, but Hal, if I actually did a study, and there’s two words, but I want to see what Drew says first.

Drew: Yeah, yeah, I, uh, It’s kind of fun. Yeah, I love it. I don’t know, the… Um, Scott Dorsey, one of the partners, he loves this word and I think it was, I can’t even remember the year it was, but, um, it was like the winning spelling bee word, indefatigable, indefatigable, basically like, unable to be fatigued.

You know what I mean? It was, it’s like the definition of this word. And I think, and we talked about whatever that year was like quite a bit, but I think that it can just like. That resounds in my head of like, you are like relentless and like resilient, I think. And like, I think a lot of, I’m a big runner.

And so I think a lot of like, you know, this is a marathon and like that kind of like mentality and just like the parallels there. And so I think that that’s like just huge is like the indefatigable ness of a founder of like, you know, you’re just like, uh, can, can run through brick walls. I think too, um, I don’t know what the right word, but this is kind of like.

Uncapped ambition, you know, like you, you, there is no like limit to, you know, and this kind of, I think applies to a lot of things. Maybe the third thing I would say is actually just like, uh, an insatiable learner. And I think kind of the uncapped ambition kind of applies to that of like, there is no limit to like what I don’t know, you know, I’m always learning new things.

Like I love being the dumbest person in the room, you know what I mean? I think like, or people like that are like the people that I want to attract in my company, the people that I think make. Um, you know, and I think that leans into Midwest humbleness too, but I think, you know, just, I’m always learning new things and I have like this ambition level that, Um, you know, that is uncapped.

I don’t know if any of you listened to, uh, the Acquired Podcast, Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal, just one of my favorite podcasts. I mean, they had, um, the, the CEO of Nvidia on recently this podcast. LinkedIn. I reposted it anyway. So everyone’s probably seen this, but like, he asked him like, Oh, would you do this again?

Like if you’re sitting down with like three of your closest friends tomorrow and he’s like, would you do this again? And he’s like, Oh, hell no. Like I know. That’s right. I know he said, hell no. And he’s like, and it’s just, it’s too hard. You know what I mean? Like, I know now. Uh, what I didn’t know then. And he’s like, and he has this trick of like, just, it, the entrepreneur just always has this idea in their mind of like, how hard, how hard could it be, how hard could it be?

And it’s like, and I just keep telling myself that. And I think that’s like, I don’t know, there’s a lot of that incorporated there too, just like this, the, uh, entrepreneur’s delusion, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to write and coin a post around that or something sometime, but it’s just this like level of delusion almost that like, this is going to happen, you know, and the world is this big and like, This needs to exist in the world and not to the degree that like build it and they will come but That I’m willing to do anything to kind of make it successful almost

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Drew: Uh, yeah, what was the, what was your take on the two words?

Toph: They’re not nearly as fancy as your words, um, but it comes down to grit and creativity. So, and you described all that stuff, right? So, grit, one foot in front of the other, you just, you just gotta stay after it. And creativity, being willing to change, open minded, right? You gotta find that right path, that product market fit, et cetera.

But like grit and creativity, well, it sounds simplistic, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a manic bipolar world.

Matt: Yeah. Well, and speaking of grit, I would imagine this has been challenging for your business. And the last you talked about the bull market and the peak, you know, 18 plus months ago, uh, you know, learning to fundraise through that, learning to manage a business. in a, in a market that still has so much potential with, with Web3, but certainly didn’t get positive headlines last year. How did you manage all of that and, and at the same time manage the like, what’s the total addressable market of this thing that’s evolving right now and is clearly a blue ocean, but you have to kind of balance that.

Drew: Oh, yeah. That’s such a hard question. The, the TAM question. We should, we can come back to it too. I think it’s been… It’s been a blast. I mean, like in many ways, yeah, like incredibly, uh, this has been the hardest time period, I think to start any startup in the last like 10 years period, you know, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in web three, even if you’re in AI, like, and you’re like the hottest thing, like, it’s still like the hardest time periods ever.

Oh, we’re all in AI right now. Right?

Toph: Well, this is, this is a massive moment opportunity where you’re betting on jockeys, right? So a lot of this early, early AI and web three by like web three is not all great equal, right? There’s all kinds of things that add real value. Um, it’s I think sometimes people paint too broad of a picture, like they hear web three.

Well, that’s not cool anymore. It doesn’t work Well, hang on. What are you talking about in web three, right? Yeah

Drew: And that’s what like it’s like can we pivot like or talk about ourselves that we’re a next gen marketing tech and messaging platform Yeah, you know and it just happens to be It’s through this vertical of you know, crypto users only is who we target And the message, this is my sales pitch now and the messages we’re sending are 10 to 15 X better than anything they’re out sending on any other channel.

Uh, do you want something that converts at 10 to 15 X better? It doesn’t matter who you are. I don’t have to talk about crypto. It’s just like, this is the way you reach a consumer. And, um, so anyway, like it’s got, that’s evolved. Like we had to evolve, like, how did we get out of like. Being a cool technology, you know, into being a, we solve a problem, we bring new revenue in, you know, and I think businesses at large have had to figure that out.

Um, and then I think too, like we, in our industry, it’s kind of, um, uh, washed out as maybe like too strong of a word, but like we’ve just seen kind of, uh, the pruning of the branches, you know, if you will, in, uh, the, the Webster kind of crypto ecosystem. But people that either weren’t in it for the right reasons or.

Um, the ideas just weren’t great, you know, and we’ve seen this across, you know, lots of verticals, but I think in, in many ways that’s made it good where, you know, our business is still here and around and kind of, we’ve been building now for 18 months until we have lots of real product, real use cases and case studies.

Um, and we have lots of, you know, folks, competitors that raised 10 plus X, you know, what we did in and out of business and, and, um, and so there’s, you know, it’s just kind of like separated, you know, who’s in it for the. For the long haul and who was not and so I think because of that, we’ve, we’ve, uh, been able to kind of move at like a, just a different pace where it’s not quite as much hype and kind of, we can focus really on like, well, how can we drive value for your business?

Um, how can we really help, you know, and it’s not just kind of, uh, people were able to also just slow down a bit more, you know, where, like when things are, uh,

Um, everything was like a kind of, you know, pseudo hair on fire problem. And so now it’s like, we’re getting back into like, well, how do we just build a good business, you know, and how to not, we just like chase a hype cycle. But like, you know, let’s get back to the fundamentals a little bit. And I think that all of that’s writ large, you know, good, uh, for us, for the industry, the ecosystem as a whole.

But yeah, it’s been, uh, an incredibly great learning experience. So, you know, the last 18 months have been fun. Our team is incredible. They’ve all, You know, hung on, um, that, you know, uh, the huddle, uh, kind of motif and pun is, is really fun. Cause that’s exactly what I feel like, you know, our team, the builders in the space are doing.

How did you talk about Tam? Yeah. And then, you know, Tam is, um, it’s difficult, you know, and so like the, the, the most recent version that talking about it is people don’t really understand this, but like the crypto market and let’s not even talk about like, I don’t know what it’s at today, like over the last week, you know, whenever we’re talking about this.

Bitcoin and things that had like a 15 percent jump because there’s lots of trading speculation based on ETF So like before all of this this was still like a 1 trillion dollar Market, you know in assets like the buying power within this ecosystem is Is massive the like user base, you know per buying power like that kind of like per capita is just like wildly different And so if we just look at like the revenues that’s happening In crypto is 30 billion plus or so, usually 10 percent of her revenues are spent on marketing expenditures.

That’s like 3 billion of like marketing spend. That’s kind of how I talk about like Tam, you know what I mean? In a like very tiny ish market. And that’s only, you know, 30 billion or so revenues, but then like a trillion dollars of like pure buying power and kind of market cap essentially, I don’t know how it lands, but that’s kind of like the most recent.

Kind of way of thinking about it of like trying to kind of boil it down into What do what do companies typically spend on their marketing spend and we are part of that? Spend like writ large if people are actually spending that on on us today. You’re on technologies like us today Eventually, that’s where it’s gonna net out to because it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in You’re like somewhere in that like seven to twelve percent.

Toph: Like do they treat it like a channel today in a sense?

Drew: Yeah Yeah, yeah, it is Alongside their email marketing newsletter, you know, or, or we do their email marketing newsletter with them, um, because we have an email product, you know, or it’s alongside their discord channel or things like that. It is, and a lot of it for us today is like evangelizing this as a new modality and new channel to, to reach customers because that’s exactly how we want to.

Toph: I want to go back real quick and share something. I can’t remember if we talked about this on a previous podcast or not, but, um, there’s a guy named David Adams that did a bunch of work around innovation over in Cincinnati, and they stood up 400, 000 square feet of innovation space. Working with the big corporates, you know, the PNGs and all those kinds of fun things.

He came back to Indiana and um, but he shared some numbers with me recently that Stanford, now this is a little bit different than, than like the Venture Studio, you know, high alpha or just general startups, etc. But, so this is more tech transfer. So, but, but people think about Stanford, right? You think… And they are.

Sophisticated, a lot of smart people going there, all that kind of fun stuff. Over the last, I think, roughly 30 years, Stanford has had, uh, they’ve, they’ve, uh, tried to commercialize 6, 000 companies. 6, 000. 1, 440, or 1, 443 roughly, of those companies ever made 1. 53 of those companies ever made over a million.

So it just, it just goes to show, right, how, how, especially when you’re, you’re diving into a new technology, a new world. Right. Um, and

Drew: That’s like the cream of the crop is really insane.

Nate: We know crops around here.

Drew: It’s really some insane numbers.

Nate: You know, that brings you to a point that I wanted to double click into was you talk about your competitors raising 10 X of what you raised.

How many of your competitors were based in the Midwest?

Drew: Um, Oh, I don’t know, a couple, maybe one or two. Yeah, but like a direct competitor, probably like zero,

Nate: Like more than likely they’re on a coast somewhere.

Drew: Yeah. The, the one, the ones that raise big funds, definitely on a coast somewhere. And then this place too is just very, and this is more like a, um, kind of the personality of the industry.

incredibly global, uh, and incredibly remote too. And so like, um, yeah, we work with lots of people, just they live around the globe. You know what I mean? Oh, no, we’re very like in person focused culture too. Like we love being in the Midwest. We love, you know, all of our team members are based in Indianapolis.

We love. Um, having a local team, um, I think it’s a huge competitive, competitive differentiator for us.

Nate: Why? Why is being based in Indianapolis a competitive differentiator for your Web3 company?

Drew: Yeah, that’s, that’s a good question. I probably get that, or I get that often. I think one, like one, the, the fact that we’re in a kind of, uh, all local and, um, mostly all, like our default position is like in the office kind of like IRL work and, um, that is a competitive differentiator.

Regardless of where you’re based, I think, you know, you’re a startup, like there’s so much extra, uh, exhaust and like lost and just like extra work you have to go through to make a remote, remote culture work. If you’re a startup and you’re just fighting death every day, like why put in all that effort when like, if you all just get together in person, like you don’t have to worry about all that stuff.

It’s just like it removes so much overhead and I don’t, I. Yeah, and unless you’ve like worked with that team for like decades or something like that in the past I’m just like default if you’re a startup like be in person That’s my opinion But um, it’s working really well for us and I you know I talked about as a differentiator for us we move 10x faster We you know are the trust within our team is so much higher and then I think you know on the Where we’re located here in Indianapolis side of things Um, like easily, I would say subjectively, you could argue this is one of the best markets in the world for marketing tech talent.

And I think, um, you know, you’ve, you’ve seen that firsthand as well. So, and I, I wholeheartedly believe in that. And so I think we’re building a messaging and marketing tech platform. Um, this is an amazing place for talent that have built. Systems at that scale before and like understand that and um, yeah, granted.

We’re not in New York It’s like the advertising capital and the the web3 kind of crypto crypto capital right now either or San Francisco But I think when we think about just arbitrage opportunities when we think about you know the cost it takes to run a business and being here in Indianapolis and just like Absolute world class kind of marketing talent and marketing tech talent.

Matt: Um, you can almost agree that you can almost look at it through the same lens as technology in the decentralization of. When you look at, you know, historically a large portion of, uh, innovation, 75 percent of venture capital primarily go into three states, you know, Massachusetts, New York, California, where you’re seeing that trend where there’s huge opportunity in the decentralization of things.

And I think Holder’s a great example of


Toph: You know, you know where the, where VCs get the best return. On their money.

Matt: I’m guessing it’s the Midwest.

Toph: Amen. Amen. There’s a study that was just done in the middle quarter outperforms the coast on return of capital to VCs by, um, it was a few points. Yeah.

Somewhere around, I think one and a half to 3%, something like that. We’ll

Drew: link it up in the show notes. Midwest is best. Yes. Exactly. Best Coast. Best Coast.

Nate: I wanted to dive into one more thing about, about Web3 before we kind of, I want some founder do’s and don’ts questions that we have for you and I know we’re getting pretty close on time, but what do you think the most common misconception about Web3 is?

Drew: Oh, that’s good. And in part, partly some of this is like, it’s rooted in truth. So this is hard, but like, I think a lot of people just view Web3 as like, Oh, that’s like that scam thing or, you know, that is, um, you know, uh, a get rich quick kind of scheme. And so I think that it’s just as a very bad rep because of the NFT run up because of, you know, massive price increase, people losing a lot of money because of that, because they’re getting caught up in the hype.

And I think kind of looking back now, hindsight 2020. Uh, people just really like to gamble, you know, and this was just another way of gambling and like look at sports betting and like all of that. It’s just like, it’s kind of, that was really what like was driving a lot of the, the PMF market, market fit and demand of kind of that cycle.

And so my like argument is just, I think from the outside looking in, that’s just kind of what people like label all of it as. And I think they don’t necessarily see the true innovation around the, the technology and Um, you know, and there’s also huge headlines like SPF is in trial right now and that’s all over, you know, all of the Axios headlines and things like that still.

Um, so there’s just like bad actors because this space was growing so much and because There were like no rules, no regulations. I mean, it happens in every gold rush though. I mean, there’s a reason there’s something called fool’s gold.

Toph: I think there’s a, there’s a direct correlation to the bomb, com days.

Yeah. bomb into, into this web three thing. And, and I think it’s eyeballs and in cartoons. Mm hmm. Right to your NFT comment, it’s just like everybody with all these eyeballs right back in the dot com days when it’s all coming about and then everything crashed because people were just they didn’t know how to monetize anything and now all these other capabilities come around and so people start making cart I’m oversimplifying right but they start making cartoons and getting people to buy and sell them or whatever and then that just crashes series like what and then but then now you have the holders coming up And saying, Oh, no, no, this is this is real.

There’s real pain here. We can leverage this technology in a much different way. Much better ROI. And we’re gonna see some massive And I think that’s where a lot of

the winners come out of this.

Matt: One of the things I love about Holder is it’s, you know, what do you want to do during a gold rush? You don’t want to go after the gold.

You want to be selling the shovels and pickaxes.

Yeah. And it’s, it’s very much that kind of business where it’s like, you went to work building utility.

Drew: Um, and I think that’s real. Right. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, um, how do you help the builders? You know what I mean? And that’s where like, we’re just seeing lots of success too.

Like right now. In particular, like just working with builders, like even more directly with, you know, CEOs and smaller teams. And granted, like it’s a smaller deal size. I mean, those aren’t the enterprise deal sizes and like, yeah, you can’t make that ACV. You know, math workout and to the tam question, but like, I go back to like ExactTarget all the time.

Like Marquee customer, you know, Groupon and like Groupon was using them and they were sending, you know, a hundred emails or something, but like they grew with Groupon until they were sending millions of emails a day. A hundred percent. Everybody forgets that, and that’s what we’re, then, that’s what we’re building for is like, can we just be the go-to place for builders?

You know, that I just need a CRM or I need a messaging, uh, toolkit, or this is just part of my marketing stack. And, um, and, and that’s where it’s like, you know, grow with the industry and kind of, um, be ingrained with the people that are building like truly novel stuff. And that’s just what I love is like hopping on the phone with, you know, a customer or a prospector when they’re doing something that just like blows my mind.

And I’m like, you can do that. And that’s, that’s, that’s what I love about it. You know. And so that’s what I would say, like, is like, um, there’s a lot of it that’s just still very technical. And so like, to me, I’m like, I nerd out on that stuff and I’m like, you can do, you know, X, Y, and Z and to any other normal person, it would be way over their head.

But I think definitely like lean in and kind of like try to squint beyond the, the riff raff and kind of what we’ve seen happen in this space. Cause I mean, the same thing happened with, you know, Uh, GameStop and you know, yeah, Stonks.

Toph: So is there a, if you have to leave names out of it, that’s totally cool.

But so for the listeners out there and everybody has friends or marketers and working for, you know, companies there, is there one case study that you can share if you gotta leave names out of it? Fine. But but one example or a case study of one of your customers and like BAM This is this is what we did for them.

And this is what happened.

Drew: Yeah. Yeah, we work with one of the major I would call it like a top ten, you know wallet providers so they are one of these you eyes where I can like manage all of my all of my money and crypto assets and things like that in and you know hundreds of thousands of monthly active users a very popular product They struggle with like lots of businesses in this space of, I have really engaged, uh, community.

I can’t tell them about all the new cool stuff that I’m doing because I have no way to reach these people. And so we were, they were launching a new product feature. They had this wait list of, you know, call it a hundred thousand people. They’re on this wait list. We’re trying to reach these people on the traditional channels that they were using, Discord and email and stuff and just unsuccessful.

And so we started running some campaigns with wallet messages around this new. Uh, browser extension they were launching and we’re seeing 10 to 15 X, you know, the average daily new user signups kind of from when we were sending out the messages. And so that’s a lot of like, it’s just, and that’s like batch and blast, you know what I mean?

Like just I’m sending this out to 10, 000 people, um, you know, not, uh, personalized, automated, like dynamic, like.

Um, yeah, and it’s just like we’re just able to reach an audience that we couldn’t before and in a more digitally native way. Um, and, and that’s really huge. Yeah, that’s amazing.

Toph: It’s amazing.

Drew: I think it might be about that time, Nate.

Nate: Is it time for the lightning round? I think it might be time for the lightning round.

Drew, this is my favorite part of every show where we get to go through just some, some rapid fire, quick questions, um, and, and just talk through lightning round, you know? So, um, we’re going to get started here. Outside of the amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem, what is Indiana known for?

Drew: Is this the like, I have to say, the first thing that comes to your mind?

First thing that comes to your mind. Yeah. Uh, racing for sure. Racing. Racing or corn though, like I think corn is just back to that. It’s a, it’s a Uh, it’s not accurate, you know, it’s just a branding problem. , it’s a, it’s a branding problem. It’s a marketing problem. Yeah. It’s a mark. But I love speed. Uh, I would love for people Yeah.

To say, I don’t know, maybe you or someone else has said that at, at some point. Speed’s. Good. Speed is what we want. Indiana. No point. Absolutely. Speed.

Nate: I like that. Um, what is a hidden gem in Indiana?

Drew: Um. Oh, we have our, uh, our marketing person on the team here with us just hanging out and she is from Taylor.

So this will, this will be from, fun for her. Uh, there’s a spot in Upland called Ivan Hose. Have any of you been there? Ivan Hose? Yes. Uh, Darian. Uh, dear Mikel. Yeah, he, he, he said that that

Nate: was his Oh, really? Ice the ice cream spot,

Drew: right? Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. I dunno, it’s just like a random, they have like 200 flavors of ice cream.

Oh. Or like ty types of like, sundaes, kind of like on the menu. And maybe we can hit that up on our way up to, I was just saying, up to Sweetwater. Yeah. Is there a, there It’s dried off 69. It’s great.

Nate: Is there a competitor that IUU has in Marion, like a different ice cream shop? I’m pretty sure.

Drew: I mean, it’s like 15 minutes or so from my woo.

So it’s probably not, it’s, it, I don’t know.

Matt: We’re going to show up for our interview with the CEO of Sweetwater. We’re all going to like, need to take a nap.

Nate: Yeah, I love it. I tried all the, all the flavors of Ivanhoes.

Drew: There’s lots of like nostalgic, like going there when I was a kid and stuff. That’s awesome.

Yeah. So, you know, that’s, that’s probably why I also think of that. That’s a good answer.

Nate: We got to go to Ivanhoes. And who is someone that we need to keep on our radar? Someone who is doing big things.

Drew: Oh, um, Darian is a great example. Uh, I love Darian and what they’re doing at qualify is great. Um, you know, I think, uh, I don’t know, we’ve got a handful of Orr fellowship alumni here on, uh, in the room too, but maybe like, I would just say like that, like program and the kind of the, the talent that they’re cultivating, like not to shout out like any one individual person, but I think, um, the impact I think that that program had on my life, huge.

I think the impact that program has had on. Indiana on the entrepreneurial ecosystem here on the startups here. It’s huge. And so, um, just maybe like writ large, I think, um, that program, the alumni and that program, the current or fellows. Uh, don’t, don’t sleep on or follows me. That’s what I would say. Don’t sleep on.

Don’t sleep.

Nate: I, I’m, I, I outwardly say that program changed my life and I wouldn’t know, you know, Matt, I wouldn’t know you. I mean, maybe I would know you, but not, we has this unspoken bond, you know, the unspoken Orr fellowship bond.

Matt: Agreed. Well, we have one more thing. We need to shout out as

Nate: We wrap up talking about people that are doing big things for our listener or for our viewers, anyone who’s viewing at home, you’ll see me, Toph, Matt, we’re rocking the home.

Drew: And for those who are listening, what is home field?

Nate: Homefield is the, I’ll say the greatest collegiate licensed collegiate apparel company. We had Connor on the podcast a month or so ago. Founder of home field. Connor is a founder of home field. If you don’t listen to that episode, what are you doing? You got to go listen to it now.

They’ve built an amazing brand around licensed collegiate apparel all here in Indianapolis. Their headquarters is over. Speedway they make incredible shirts similar to this. What is it? This is basket Paul But it’s like the holidays are right around the season you’re looking for a good Christmas gift You need to go check out Homefield Apparel get your cousin get your aunt your uncle your mom your dad Whoever a cool licensed college teacher not just the generic, you know, throw an IU logo on there and Whatever.

No, it’s going to be something that’s cool. You need good for the holiday purchase. And Connor said, if you go like my LinkedIn post from a month or so ago, that maybe we could get a moan on ball game, exclusive shirt. So for any Wabash to Paul listeners out there, go, go check it out.

Matt: Love it. Good shout out.

Drew: And maybe we’ll be wearing some holder gear on a future episode.

Nate: I do actually wear

Drew: the holder. You wrap the whole day.

Nate: Actually I was, I was out. I don’t know where I was. Uh, out of Indiana, someone came up to me. This is, I don’t know if you get this a lot, so I’m just going to be candid with it. Someone comes up and says, Oh my gosh, I love that brand.

Took my hat. I’m like, Oh, you like Holder? And they’re like, Holder? I thought it was Hurley.

Drew: It’s the, it’s very similar to Hurley.

Nate: If anyone knows, it’s a brand that was really popular with like surfers. And, you know, your age, Matt, like it’s, it’s like vintage for me, your age, Matt.

Drew: I think it’s still around Hurley.

I think I still have a pair of

Nate: I proceeded to give them the, no, no, no. We’re talking web three. You got to check out holder way cooler. Yeah, absolutely. So Drew, appreciate having you on today. This was awesome.

Drew: Thank you. Drew. Thanks for all you do for Indy. Oh, thank you.

Matt: This has been Get IN, a Powderkeg production in partnership with Elevate Ventures.

And we want to hear from you. If you have suggestions for our guest or segment, reach out to Matt or Nate on LinkedIn or on email. To discover top tier tech companies outside of Silicon Valley in hubs like Indiana, Check out our newsletter at And to apply for membership to the Powderkeg executive community, check out We’ll catch you next time and next week as we continue to help the world get in. Since you just listened to this podcast, you might be thinking about starting one for your company. Lucky for you, our partners over at Casted have you covered. Cassid is the first and only podcast and video marketing platform made specifically for B2B brands.

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