Today we interview Stutrepreneur Matthew Espinoza: A third year York University Compter Science student and founder of BlockPerks.io
NFTs are becoming increasingly popular with A-list celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian selling their own NFT collections. These digital artworks can be incredibly expensive with the most expensive NFT selling for $530 million! To expand our knowledge of the NFT marketplace, we have the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Espinoza, a third-year Computer Science major at York University and co-founder of BlockPerks (blockperks.io).
Question: “What is BlockPerks? & Why did you start this company?””
Answer: “Since getting interested in cryptocurrencies over the past year, I founded BlockPerks in 2021 as an NFT marketplace that allows creators to launch their own social tokens and currency and for fans to reward creators with these tokens.”
“Creating a human IPO did not exist over a year ago and I felt that current people using these technologies are not using it to the best of their abilities and are not scaling it properly. Hence, I started a landing page explaining what I felt was needed in the market and it looked like a PDF blueprint similar to what Bitcoin did as to how and why my company provides value. The page went viral and gained BlockPerks a much bigger following—basically, I hope to capitalize on the concept of social tokens as the cryptocurrency market continues to boom!”
We can see that Matt found a problem in the crypto market in that people did not properly utilize or scale creator coins to the best of their abilities. Matt saw the opportunity to enhance this space and began working on his landing page which went viral!
Question: Where is BlockPerks now in terms of traction, team and size?
Answer: “Interesting situation because my co-founder is 22 years older than me, which has provided a good dynamic between mentorship and gen-z perspectives, as he has much more previous entrepreneurial experience and more contacts in the cryptocurrency industry. He has great connections in the crypto world to bring together a strong advisory team. This can be combined with my knowledge in the gen-z era of the social token and NFT sector, which makes it a really awesome team dynamic. We have also created our basic MVP which shows what the platform looks like and have been actively raising capital as per the last couple of months.”
What is fascinating is that Matt has combined his younger knowledge and experience in the space with a more experienced founder who has a strong network base. Their relationship demonstrates the importance of choosing the right founder and utilizing connections towards the success of the company.
Question: “Does your team have any funding and, if so, what was the process behind raising this capital?”
Answer: “We haven’t secured any seed funding at the moment, although we are finalizing the paperwork for an $80,000 investment. The money would also help out with liquidity potential so investors can easily buy and sell tokens, just like stocks or cryptocurrency. We’re trying to raise money for the social tokens to gain attention for the creators and to raise equity through coins to continue building out the platform. This will also make it easier for future investors.”
Question: “What does a typical day look like for you balancing school and work?”
Answer: “Generally, my days are very structured and my Google calendar is packed to ensure good organization. I wake up at 6:30am, workout in the morning, then start to work. I’ll generally try to knock out the more “difficult” tasks in the morning whether it be startup work or school deliverables since I know I won’t have energy for these towards the end of the day. I’ll then spend the afternoon taking networking calls or meetings. I typically try to schedule these meetings back to back while I’m walking to get some air and clear my mind. At night, I’ll start hammering away at some school work and meet with other founders and friends. In general, I try to keep a healthy balance between school and startups everyday.”
Matt discusses the importance of having an organized schedule to help with time management. He also brings up a great strategy to get the "harder" work done early so that he has enough energy to get the important items out of the way first to avoid burn-out.
Question: “What are some challenges you faced with your startup, and how did you overcome them?”
Answer: “I think raising capital has certainly been the hardest part of being an entrepreneur. It’s not as simple as hopping on a call and asking for money—this has also been the first time I’ve tried to raise capital for a venture. There’s a lot of due diligence and preparation that goes behind it, and even though the venture capital funding market is red hot right now, investors are still very stringent about funding criteria. We’re still working on overcoming this challenge, but we have raised some friends & family funds and personal funds which is certainly enough for us to at least build out the platform for the time being.”
Question: “If you could give any advice to an aspiring student entrepreneur, what would it be?”
Answer: “Join as many entrepreneurship clubs and communities as you possibly can even if that’s through school—it’s incredible to see how much this can grow your network. I go through what I call a “rabbit hole trail”: I always ask at the end of every networking call if this person can connect me with someone else in their network to speak to. This strategy increases the number of connections you have and continues to foster a relationship with the original person you spoke to. I was originally in education technology, and never thought I’d end up in crypto and NFTs. In fact, BlockPerks only started because of this “rabbit hole trail” strategy, where I spoke to a friend of a friend who gave me the idea to start this business.”
Question: “Where will we see you in 5 years?”
Answer: “I’d love to still be in the startup world, whether that’s working or advising on other startups; maybe joining an accelerator program like YCombinator. I’d also like to finish my undergrad degree, and maybe take a gap year at some point to continue focusing on BlockPerks and other potential entrepreneurial ventures.”
Concluding Question: “Any other last words for aspiring student entrepreneurs? Want to plug your company and social media username?”
Answer: “I think cold emails are so underrated and important, you need to just list down 10-15 people in a space that you could be interested in, and send them a personalized message through email/social media. Most people are usually really open to conversing and providing advice. You can find me @mattespoz on Instagram, and my company’s site is blockperks.io.”
It is evident that starting a company in school is no easy task as we hear from Matt firsthand. Here is a summary of the key takeaways for those who are looking to start a company as a student or to get inspired:
Solve real life problems with innovative solutions
Create well organized calendars and to-do lists to stay on top of everything
Focus on the most important work early to maximize results
Create a strong advisory board with lots of connections
Conduct market research and understand the needs of your user or customers
Networking is key - LinkdeIn, school, twitter, fellowships
Keep a tight circle and be picky when choosing founders even if they are older
Focus on growth before trying to raise capital
Look into accelerators like YC and 500 startups
All of these takeaways can help aspiring founders make smarter decisions and become the best possible founder.
If you have any questions regarding this interview or are looking to speak with Matt directly, feel free to fill out the contact form on our “Contact Us” page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.