Hackers/Founders’ Jonathan Nelson recently launched a new fund called Hack on the blockchain: “I have 99 problems. Finding great tech companies is not one of them.”
Jonathan Nelson has had an odd career path that’s allowed him to see things in a different way: A former emergency room nurse, he founded Hackers/Founders in 2008 to gather engineers and founders together for drinks. The movement grew, and today some 300,000 people have attended Hackers/Founders events in 47 countries and 55 companies have participated in its accelerator program. Now Nelson, who is 44 and is a member of the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies, has launched Hack, a venture-capital fund on the blockchain that will use digital share certificates to get funding to early-stage startups. It’s a high-risk investment idea — in the U.S. only wealthy accredited investors will be permitted to put their money in — but it’s an intriguing way to get seed funding to startups. Nelson’s hope is to invest in 30 companies that already have products and at least $100,000 in annual revenue for every $10 million raised. In an interview that has been edited and condensed, he spoke about why he thinks venture capital fails startups and how Hack can help.