Mentat enables anyone, from anywhere in the world, to offer their skills and knowledge in exchange for instant payment. Yes, you read that correctly. Mentat is an exciting project and one of those that makes you appreciate the vast potential we have as people and how, when done right, can be supercharged with technology. Using human agents, we can work together with applications to create powerful blockchain-backed intelligence.
Headquartered in New York City, the team is gearing up for an upcoming private sale in June following the successful release of its prototype last month. We had a chance to learn more about the project and founder Mitchell Sapoff.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in blockchain?
Prior to founding Mentat, I was an operations and biz dev focused co-founder at a software development studio that built and scaled MVPs for early-stage startups, guiding them through the product development cycle. In 2017, around the same time as the crypto craze, we started getting more and more inquiries from clients about building blockchain-powered software (bots, exchanges, dApps, tokens), so we gained lots of knowledge and passion for it through our consulting work.
I saw the disruptive power of the technology, as well as its unfortunate misuse and abuse by many illegitimate ICOs last year, which opened up an immense opportunity to do something actually meaningful in this space. That was the driver behind starting my own blockchain project.
2. What was your inspiration behind the project? How did it all start?
Once my partner from the dev shop (Sam, a talented coder and product manager) and I knew we were going to build our own blockchain-based solution, we decided it was going to be in the travel tech space since this was clearly an industry ripe for disruption. Our initial sketch was a tokenized flight re-accommodation app, but we needed some help aligning the app’s economic model, so we brought in an investment banker-turned-crypto economist named Ben.
Together, we were able to solve this problem by introducing an extra party to the ecosystem: “distributed agents” that would function as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) working on behalf of airlines to handle their customer service. Soon enough, we realized that the power and potential of such a DAO stretched way beyond travel, that airline re-accommodation is just one of MANY applications that can benefit from this system. So we abstracted the concept one layer, from an application offering decentralized customer service for airlines, to a platform offering decentralized human intelligence for applications, and haven’t looked back since.
3. What is your competitive advantage?
Team, team, team. We see a lot of projects today either with a group of engineers running the show, or business people with an outsourced tech team, or seasoned vets who don’t do the grunt work themselves, or young guys with ambition but no ability to execute. What the team at Mentat prides itself most on is their versatile backgrounds, experience levels, and competence in both business and technology.
Most of us have built and shipped code before, we’ve worked across verticals in finance, marketing, consulting, entrepreneurship, design, and engineering, and our years of experience range from 5 to 25, yet everyone is a doer.
4. What is the biggest problem currently in the market?
As a response to last year’s mayhem, investors have looked to establish stricter portfolio guidelines. However, it’s tough to properly vet projects’ tech feasibility and commercial viability due to lack of precedent, so they resort to measures of “hype” as indicators of business strength. This form of “caution” only exacerbates the “not enough functional tech” issue in the space by forcing dollars into marketing that could otherwise be spent on engineering.
Our core challenge will be to avoid this vicious cycle by demonstrating that a token-based business can be structured as a compelling investment instrument (and this includes appropriate securities registrations).
5. What does 2018 have in store for you guys?
If the first half of 2018 is any indication of how fast we move, there’s plenty more to come in Q3 and Q4. We started operations in February of this year, yet we’ll already be on the testnet by July. Our private sale is happening this month, and that will fuel product development and marketing as we gear up to take this thing to market. The rest of the year will be filled with user testing, community management, partnership development, and of course, lots of coding.
6. Thanks! Is there anything else you would like the community to know?