This is a story that geeks can relate to everywhere: You have a very specific interest and you can’t quite find a community of people who share the same interest but you believe in the cause so much that you keep pushing on. You keep looking, you keep searching until you finally stumble upon “your” people, the people that understand your cause and you finally feel validated.
This is how Delaware native Dean Masley, now 22, felt as a teenager. Back in 2014, he started going to blockchain conferences. He’s known about blockchain before blockchain was introduced to the mainstream. When he started attending University of Delaware as a marketing major, he set out to find other students who had the same interests. He was eventually called “The Crazy Bitcoin Guy” on campus, which made it difficult for others to take him seriously. When he tried to create a cryptocurrency club, school administrators were skeptical; the only mainstream reference was the internet’s Silk Road, which used bitcoins to complete drug transactions and other nefarious deeds. So Masley worked overtime to educate those around him about the benefits and potential applications of bitcoin currency. Eventually, he won the administrators over.
As a college student, he was more familiar with the bitcoin space than most of his peers. But he had one gripe about it.
“A lot of them had terrible logos, terrible websites,” said Masley. “So I gave it a shot. I went on formboards like Reddit to see who needed work done. I would message 100 people to see if they needed help with graphic design. Every now and then I’d get a person or two that would bite. I started getting clients in China or Russia. All I knew was their username. So I’d do the work and they’d pay me in bitcoin.”
Masley went to enough conferences at that point to consider himself as a part of the blockchain community. After attending Bitcoin in the Beltway in D.C., he met the guys from the Blockchain Education Network (originally called the College Cryptocurrency Network), also known as BEN. The college campus network nonprofit was started by two students from the University of Michigan and as the cofounders, Jeremy Gardner and Daniel Bloch, started to near graduation, they began their search for a new executive director. Masley was their choice.
Masley has formulated a gamified three-step blockchain orientation process, so to speak, called the Back to School Blockchain Initiative. Here’s how it works: It starts in September, a bunch of money is raised to give away free bitcoins to new club members (this event is called a bitcoin airdrop). The idea behind it is technology adoption — if the students have it, they’ll find it less daunting and will be more likely to use it. In October, students will learn all about blockchain. Then in November, a worldwide hackathon takes place. Much like a remote LAN party, there are many sites such as Toronto and Chicago, but participants are invited to connect remotely as well.
This past summer Masley gave speeches in Dubai and Amsterdam.
Here’s a video of his keynote speech at Keynote 2016, a fintech conference in Dubai:
So what’s next for Masley? Well, he’s been meeting with Global Delaware’s director of corporate and international development, Andrea Tinianow, and attorney Marco Santori, who he describes as “a really prominent blockchain lawyer who’s been helping the state of Delaware.”
There are no firm plans yet, but conversations are happening and possibilities are being explored. He’s also emceeing the Bitcoin Conference in London Nov. 6-7.
We can’t wait to see what Masley comes up with next.