A duo of Big Four partners – Ben Wylie and Yamen Sader – have departed the firm to launch Lab Eleven, a web3 and blockchain incubator focused on the Solana blockchain.
Wylie and Sader both joined Deloitte in 2016 when the Big Four firm acquired Sixtree, a software engineering firm which they co-founded back in 2010. Under their leadership, the IT consultancy grew to a team of around 60 professionals.
Now re-joining the start-up world to create Lab Eleven, the duo aim to contribute to Australia’s strong standing in the – volatile but still nascent – world of blockchain and web3.
“Twenty or so years and we still seem to get along,” said Wylie, reflecting on his time with Sader well before they embarked on their Sixtree adventure. “At Deloitte, we helped build one of the region’s largest and most successful software engineering businesses with a few hundred highly-talented engineers. At Lab Eleven we’re bringing this delivery and engineering pedigree to the web3 domain.”
Web3 is a movement that envisions a new, and better, iteration of the World Wide Web based on blockchain technology, which incorporates concepts such as decentralisation and token-based economics.
“With the speed and low cost of modern blockchains, it is possible to create the experience users expect these days. Web3 has the potential to make a huge real world impact,” said Sader.
Yet, as with most new greenfield technologies, adoption is slow and comes with its challenges. “Adoption is slow until it’s fast, and when it arrives for web3 it may be too late to respond,” said Sader. “It’s time to start thinking about this potential future now.”
This is where Lab Eleven comes in. “We partner with founders and investors to accelerate the web3 future,” said Wylie. “We aim to partner and co-invest in a handful of Web3 projects each year and, as a result, grow a stake in web3 businesses we are proud to have helped build.”
Lab Eleven operates on an “engineering for equity” basis. Web3 and blockchain visionaries can bring their ideas to the firm, and utilise its horsepower and engineering expertise in exchange for equity or tokens. The model is intended to overcome the two key challenges to getting web3 and blockchain products to market – capital and talent.
Unlike a pure engineering services firm, Lab Eleven plays much like an early-stage investor, working on selected projects to get them to market faster without compromising on product quality.
Notably, Wylie and Sader have decided to focus exclusively on the Solana blockchain. “Beyond being fast and cheap, it is designed for the scale of web3’s ambitions, focused on remaining affordable for all, determined to minimise its environmental impact, and is making a lasting impression on developers,” explained Sader.
“We believe it is best positioned to usher in the new web3 era. That’s why we are betting the farm on Solana,” he added.
Their jump back into entrepreneurship however coincides with one of crypto’s darkest hours in years. At the time of writing, Solana trades at around US$30, a fraction of the $US250 mark it hit in November last year. For Wylie and Sader, the current market developments at the same time offer an opportunity: “With the crypto world being turbulent and unpredictable, we hope we’ll be seen as a safe, proven and invested pair of hands.”
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