Matt Gould & Braden Pezeshki
BRADEN’S AGE AND INTERESTS: 20 – Hiking, kayaking, & skiing
How did you come together/meet at 42?
Matt: We all met through our October 2016 piscine. The other members of our team are Tim Jose, Ryan Le and Max Burson. Cryptocurrency and blockchain had blown up, and everyone was looking at cryptocurrency charts. Braden and I were discussing it from a technology perspective. We saw some products that move domain names over, so it made sense to record it, especially digital items. There are a lot of pieces of the current internet infrastructure that are broken and DNS is one of those pieces. Most of these problems are not common knowledge yet, but these problems are just becoming bigger and bigger. For example, people lose money when DNS infrastructure is hijacked, which is a form of phishing.
What did you like best about your 42 experience?
Braden: The people that we were able to meet while we were here was the reason it sold me. The piscine was also awesome. That is what I came here for, the full immersion experience. I thought that was better than the alternatives. After high school, I came out here and wanted to code. I feel like the best way to learn is to Google it.
Matt: I have experience in a traditional college setting and got a degree in finance. I liked that the 42 program was self-directed. It helps to motivate me when I’m working on things that I choose and care about.
How did 42 prepare you for starting your own business?
Matt: Everything at 42 is self-directed and starting your own business is very self-directed. We don’t have someone telling us what to do, we have to do it. It is exactly the ethos that 42 instills in you. That’s what I loved about the piscine. In the piscine, it was like go out and figure it out, at a traditional college the information was spoon fed to me. It’s really about learning radical self-reliance.
Tell us more about your origin story in relation to your startup, how did it all begin?
Braden: It was just me and Matt in the beginning. The original idea focused on the question, how do we interact with the blockchain and reserve names? How do we build a process, because we think it will be worth more in the future. After learning about the process it kicked off our thinking about the meta-issues surrounding asset transfer around the blockchain. Then we focused on connecting real-world data and connecting real-world DSN to the blockchain. And how using the advances of blockchain could solve user problems such as phishing.
Matt: We got a $25,000 grant through the Ethereum Foundation which will help us build the “browseth” open source library. We also received funding from BoostVC and will be in their next startup class in San Jose this fall.
What does your startup focus on?
Matt: Our startup, Buyethdomains.com, is basically like a GoDaddy for blockchain based domain names and all of the services around that. Our database is secure because it is on a blockchain. The easiest way to explain it is from the perspective that we are building software to prevent consumers from being victims of phishing. The tools we develop will directly help to prevent these types of hacks by allowing users and businesses to register names on the blockchain. Using DNS text records, we will enable users to verify their social identities and website ownership, which will help reduce phishing scams. We started a year ago and thought we would do it in a month. But we saw that there were a lot of technical pieces, so we built middleware, we built some software to make it easier to interact. On our winding path journey, we ended up building a lot of tools that we think will make building this a little faster.
What does your typical workday look like?
Matt: Everyday is a Saturday, every day is exactly the same. Everyone assembles by 10 am or 10:30 am, we do our standup meeting with the team to go over what we need to do, review what we did in the past 24 hours. Then we break off into groups and work on our piece of the code.
Braden: That goes on until 7 pm, and after that, I watch tv and code again. We play basketball and go places together, Red Rock Canyon is close by. We are able to get out of the noise, and not get contacted or get distracted.
Matt: Also crypto is more of an international phenomenon. With cryptocurrency, you can do it from anywhere. Even though we are located in Las Vegas we are still close to Silicon Valley.
How do you work as a team?
Matt: The same way that we would work when we were coding at 42, we know our strengths and weaknesses, we tackle what we are good at, we brainstorm together. We have a rule if you get stuck for more than 30 minutes on a problem you need to consult with others. We do code review just like we did at 42, the difference being that it is more difficult because we are doing it out in the wild. The code review we did here at 42 transfers directly to what we do now.
Would you recommend the 42 program and if so, why?
Matt: I would recommend it to people who are very self-motivated and know what they want.
Braden: I wouldn’t have been as successful if I had not been totally dead set on coding. It was an effective program because I blasted through everything.
Matt: I think 42 is a great place to go if you want to learn programming.
Do you have any advice for 42 students when it comes to entrepreneurship or who want to pursue a startup?
Matt: First of all we are really early in the process of developing our startup, we have just started building things. My advice is to follow your passion and what you are interested in.
Braden: The whole time I was at 42 I was building stuff, so that is a great way to start exploring.
Matt: We built several blockchain apps before settling on this one.
What are you hoping is the next step for your startup?
Matt: We just launched our website! The next steps for our company are to finish out our work for the EF on the open source Browseth project and continue to iterate on our domain name product based on customer feedback.
We recently spoke to students at Stanford University and we are officially mentors for that class, we talked about fault-tolerant applications on the blockchain. Communicating what all of this is and trying to explain why it matters is important to us. One issue with blockchains is that they aren’t scalable yet, and that is what we talked about at Stanford. Braden and I are also mentors for the upcoming ENS Conference in London and will be flying out this week. In October we will be speakers at a blockchain conference in Santa Monica called BLOC-CON.
Update from Matthew Gould, Founder & CEO of Unstoppable Domains:
We now have 15 employees, closed a multi-million dollar funding round (4M from Draper & Associates) and are doing hundreds of thousands a month in sales. We’ve also done a lot of firsts in the tech space with what we’re building.
Photo by 42’s in-house photographer, Priscilla Vongdara
Interview by: Stacey Faucett
published by Stacey Faucett – August 1, 2018