This month we meet Joel Camacho (MBA ’20), Co-Founder of blockchain VC Decipher Capital
- What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
Technological advances provide opportunities for wealth creation. Blockchain promises to democratize access to capital, but that will not happen if the founders receiving funding do not represent all segments of the population. Decipher Capital is a blockchain investment fund that checks its biases at the door and funds companies without racism, sexism, or homophobia getting in the way.
- What is your solution?
Decipher Capital is a minority and women founded venture capital fund investing in blockchain-enabled companies and projects. Besides capital, we provide founders with plug-and-play business solutions to help them scale their businesses. We often hear that our approach is too hands-on and not scalable. We disagree. To scale, we have to be diligent in collecting data from our founders to create low-touch, high-impact business frameworks that support our founders. We don’t think of venture capital as an ivory tower and gatekeeper, but rather as a business that exists to better serve its target customer: founders.
- What was the inspiration behind your company/idea?
At the core of Decipher Capital is the belief that everyone should have equal access to capital. We noticed that the blockchain start-ups being funded have been founded by the same type of individuals that received the most funding during the dot com era. We want to be on the side that changes that and gives minorities, women and LGBTQ founders the opportunity to start their own companies within a technology that is founded on the ideals of equal access for all.
- Who is the team behind your startup?
The Decipher team consists of Harshitha Kilari, Jonhnson Nakano and me (Joel) as co-founders. Prior to Decipher, Harshitha did a stint as the CFO of an edtech startup and spent three years in the prestigious TAP program at Capital Group. She holds a B.A. in Economics-Mathematics from Columbia University, which she completed in 3 years. Prior to starting Decipher Capital, Jonhnson was a senior engineer at Salesforce. There he focused on building large scale applications for Salesforce’s biggest customers. Jonhnson holds a B.A. in Industrial Engineering, from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. As for me, I was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in the Real Estate and Tech, Media, and Telecomm (TMT) groups across NY, LA and SF. We all divide our time building out our fund operations and sourcing potential deals. I received my B.A. in Financial Economics from Columbia University.
- How did you get started?
Jonhnson and I had the idea for Decipher Capital when we noticed the lack of thoughtful investors back during the ICO craze of late 2017. Our vision was to build a fund that invested in innovative blockchain projects led by promising entrepreneurs rather than just flipping ICOs for profit. We wanted to actually add real value to our portfolio companies and make an impact in the blockchain community. Resonating with our mission and investment philosophy, Harshitha joined Decipher as a co-founder the summer of this year. Since the summer, we have spent our time talking to founders as potential investments, but also to learn what issues they are facing outside of raising capital, educating the community through our Deciphering Blockchain series, and building partnerships with law firms, marketing agencies, and other investors in the blockchain space. We hope to leverage the community we built to further assist the founders we back.
- What’s next?
We have been self-funded up until this point, which has given us the flexibility to iron out our mission statement and investment philosophy. We are currently looking to add VC and blockchain veterans who believe in the democratization of access to capital as advisors. We plan to raise a full fund by the end of Q2 2019.