Read widely, and not just in your professional area.
CEO and Founder of Wachsman, David Wachsman is a world-renowned blockchain expert and thought leader. In 2015, David founded Wachsman to provide public relations support to the rapidly growing bitcoin ecosystem. Wachsman has since expanded to become a leading global professional services firm for the blockchain industry, with approximately 100 employees in offices across New York, Dublin, and Singapore.
David and his firm have represented more than 120 of the most indispensable organizations in the blockchain industry including Dash, Indiegogo, Crypto Valley Association, Bitcoin Suisse, CoinDesk, IOHK, Lisk, Rootstock, tZERO, Aeternity, Polymath, Horizen, eToro, Aion, Jaxx, Neo Global Capital, BitMEX, and Steemit, among others.
Before founding Wachsman, David led the day-to-day operations for a boutique public relations agency in Manhattan and held roles in advertising, political affairs, and biotechnology.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
After I started working with a bitcoin exchange in 2014, I recognized that the developing blockchain industry was full of brilliant ideas but lacked critical infrastructure. I founded Wachsman as a professional services firm in 2015. In three years, we’ve moved from one staff member in a WeWork to approximately one hundred people working from offices on three continents.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Given the rapid evolution of emerging technologies, my answer to this at the beginning of 2019 bears little resemblance to what my answer would have been last year. A typical day from the New York office begins with video calls to clients in Asia and Europe, progresses to meeting with team leaders and other directors of internal departments, then proceeds to a series of phone calls with existing clients or potential new business, and often ends with an after-hours panel at one of the New York tech community’s many events.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Wachsman’s mission as a company is to find organizations with brilliant ideas and help them achieve their goals; as a professional services firm, we do this through a variety of offerings and do it every single day. For instance, our Strategic Consulting team can help a company find product-market fit for innovative founders expanding globally, the Public Relations team can determine an optimal course of messaging, the Executive Recruiting team can source the ideal in-house candidates to fill a critical role, and the Events team can plan a worldwide experiential strategy, all at the same time.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I founded Wachsman because I believe that blockchain technology has the potential to improve the world. As our mission is to support the most exciting companies in the world through their entire lifecycle, the embrace of blockchain is a natural consequence. Although it’s most associated with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, as a technology, the applications for blockchain are much broader: We have clients applying it to art, music, the supply chain, event ticketing, international payments and more.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I actively rely on the expertise and professionalism of my staff, delegating as much decision-making and management as possible to those who have earned their stripes. This is the only way to scale a services business, and it’s a privilege that I have so many extraordinary Directors and Supervisors to rely upon and work alongside.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Founding a company requires a leap of faith, but the rewards are overwhelming. The personal and professional satisfaction of building a company is impossible to overstate, as is the value I feel from having so many brilliant clients to learn from on a daily basis. If anything, my advice to myself would be to start the company even sooner.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Technology is a means, not an end. But the pathway to transformation is worth fighting for, anyway.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Wachsman deals with emerging technologies, new business models, and innovative companies, so asking questions is one of the most important things that I do. It’s far better to ask questions than to fake a knowledge that you don’t have and shouldn’t be expected to have.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Wachsman has grown by leaps and bounds, and there’s always a temptation to settle when you need more people right this moment, but we’ve adopted a policy of smart growth. We’re willing to wait a little longer and conduct a few extra interviews in order to hire the best people.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Don’t fall for the “sunk cost fallacy.” In my experience running a growing business, I’ve made some investments that have worked out handsomely — and some others that didn’t. Although I understood the principle in theory, in practice, it was much harder than anticipated to scrap a business plan after we had made a large emotional and monetary investment, and that’s something I’m sure I’ll have to do again in the future.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As a general principle, the first thing anyone does with their money is buy back their time. It’s why everything from a washing machine to fast food has been so successful. Business ideas that I’ve toyed around with in the past revolve around this specific principle — if enough time could be saved, it can make an experience so much more efficient and graceful, and is worth the “switching cost” to try a new product or service. As technology improves and the cost of shipping is continuously reduced, I can see clothing and fashion becoming much more of a service than the current investment that it is. Rent the Runway is a brilliant business that I believe will spawn many successful follow-ons.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Because Wachsman has grown so quickly, I don’t get to interact with every member of the team every day the way that I used to. Just ordering bagels for the team on a Monday morning is one of the most effective team-building exercises I know. As everyone converges on the kitchen, ideas spark, people connect, and the company improves.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
PR practitioners have to stay ahead of every curve and know the news the second it appears. I have quite the list of Google Alerts set up, and they’ve proved very important to staying proactive.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend The Truth Machine by Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna, a must-have book on the power of blockchain technology.
What is your favorite quote?
Bono said it best at his commencement speech at UPenn: “Because we can, we must.” I feel that responsibility every day.
- New business models and new technologies are changing the world. Not every one of them is worth embracing, but don’t dismiss something out of hand just because it’s new.
- In emerging industries, a smart, agile, and flexible team is your single most important asset, and not being afraid to ask questions is your next most important asset.
- Read widely, and not just in your professional area.