I had the pleasure to interview Michele Ostrander. Michele is a Colorado native and the co-founder of RevoKind, an intelligent internet infrastructure on the leading edge of technology. Recently named one of Colorado’s Top 20 Female Founders to Watch in 2018 and a Forbes Fellow, she brings energy and enthusiasm to everything she does.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?
Yes, absolutely! It’s honestly been a series of one opportunity after another. My path has been shaped by good friends, my co-founder, and a strong sense of curiosity that brought me into the tech space and eventually crypto and blockchain. Like so many others, I went from skeptical to intrigued, and then ultimately to the point of no turning back. That turning point occurred when I had the opportunity to showcase my startup company at the Nexus Conference in Aspen, Colorado. I met some extraordinary people with a collective sense for changing the world.
I think people who really understand the potential with blockchain and crypto end up seeing the world in a new way. It takes a lot of time, research, and contemplation to reach your own conclusions, and everyone’s is different. I guess that would be the lesson, to do as much independent reading and analysis of different technologies and perspectives as possible, and then formulate your views based on that. There is a lot of hype, scams, media, etc., and you must cut through all of that and look at everything with an open mind and critical eye.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Of course! The most interesting project is an IoT and blockchain demo that our team at RevoKind has been working on. The demo shows direct connectivity between autonomous IoT devices on an infrastructure-less ad-hoc mesh network, at extremely fast speeds. It integrates our blockchain consensus called Swarm Sync Protocol that process transactions at 3–4 million per second, the brilliant brainchild of our CEO Justin Caswell. We are developing our foundation network using tested technology from a University consortium project called Named Data Networking (NDN).
The combination of these technologies is very exciting and is sitting on the breakthrough edge of technology. We don’t have a name for this demo, but we already have interest from companies with millions of users that could benefit with huge cost savings and a competitive edge. It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, there is one friend/colleague that I owe a huge thank you to, and that is Aari Lotfipour. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have attended my first crypto/blockchain conference, and we also wouldn’t have our University research partners. Aari is not only a great friend, but also a visionary leader in the crypto space. His companyis doing awesome things in the crypto-gaming space with huge potential. Definitely check them out!
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
· Data ownership
In my opinion, data sovereignty is the one of the most important issues of our time. At a minimum we should be able to opt in or out of relationships with third parties at will. Currently, the metadata from a single transaction is shared with 300 or more third parties. That is unacceptable. Particularly with the advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning, ownership of data is so important and it must be controlled by the individual. That’s what decentralization is all about…reducing the concentration of power through information.
There are some 1.7 billion people that are unbanked and excluded from the greater financial system. Fifty six percent of them are women, and that contributes to recurring cycles of poverty. Blockchain and digital currencies can provide financial inclusion and a (potentially) more stable currency without the need for central banks. That, and the ability to send money internationally very quickly at a low cost is very exciting for our collective society.
Crypto economics / Tokenomics
There is a huge opportunity to create and capture new forms of value with tokenization. Imagine incentivizing people to pick up trash on beaches or parks and get paid in cryptocurrencies. Or the fitness app that rewards for completed exercises (this one already exists, it’s called Lympo). Everything from submitting reviews, to content creation, to data collection has value and can be tokenized.
A Better Food System
My first business was an organic farm, and sustainable agriculture is something I believe in wholeheartedly. Blockchain has exciting use cases in this sector, namely offering transparency and traceability with supply chains. Farmers typically make cents on a every food dollar, and I think more people would buy from farmers markets or sustainably-sourced if they had the data to support their buying decisions.
The internet is literally being transformed into it’s third stage right now, often referred to as Web 3.0. It’s a complete paradigm shift toward a more secure and decentralized internet (and society). The research consortium I mentioned earlier will have a profound impact on this. It’s called the Named Data Networking (or NDN) and essentially changes the routing of data away from IP addresses towards a name-based system. At RevoKind, we are building on NDN and collaborating with researchers to build a new internet architecture, which will ultimately contribute to this exciting new era of technology.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Honestly, there is not much that worries me about blockchain and crypto, especially from a technology perspective. I could easily share five more things that excite me than things that worry me. Even the current issues, such as market prices or the environmental cost of mining, will work themselves out. Bitcoin and the technology that has followed is the most exciting thing that has happened in my lifetime. Even if the tech isn’t quite there yet, it soon will be.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I think this interview is actually a good opportunity to bring goodness to the world by highlighting some awesome things people are doing on a local level. Colorado Blockchain and their organizers do an amazing job supporting a growing community in the Denver and Boulder area. There are meetups for different groups almost every night of the week. One is the Blockchain for Sustainable Development (B4SD) group, which is doing great things, and Decentralize Colorado that does Lightening Talks for quick presentations about cool things people are working on. ETH Denver is coming up, which was the largest Ethereum hackathon in the world last year. The year of 2019 is going to be awesome.
As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?
Sure, I would say to (1) keep doing what you’re doing, and do not give up. Working in blockchain means that you are a pioneer, so there will be many times when people doubt you, are intimidated by you, or are confused by you. Do not give up. (2) Make an effort to understand the history behind the industry. There is a fascinating history of the cypherpunks and cryptography, and it is important to understand these roots. (3) Have confidence and go after it! Focus on your strengths and walk confidently into that meeting or into a group of people and own your awesomeness. Speak up while you’re sitting at the table, otherwise why do you have a seat?
Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?
Great question. I think the best thing we can do is invite more women to local meetups, conferences, and conversations online. This is at least something I know that I could do a better job of, since most of my friends in crypto are guys. That, and bringing blockchain technology conversations into the classroom. I always felt like science, engineering, and math were readily available to me in school, but somehow the technology/programming/coding piece somehow got skimped over.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
One of my favorite quotes is a Steve Jobs classic: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do”. I love this quote because it’s true. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a vision for changing the world, even if it’s not clear what that means or how you’ll get there. This quote has always resonated with me because I’ve had this dream since I was a kid. I’ve envisioned a more equitable world with much less suffering, where the water is clean and people have food to eat. I am positive that we will get there in my lifetime, and that decentralization will play a key role.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
This article was edited from it’s original version, which can be found HERE.