Key takeaways from the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival


Key takeaways from the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival


This week, the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival brought a host of tech startups, innovators and leaders to Nashville. The event was created by Launch Tennessee in line with the organization’s mission to make Tennessee an entrepreneur-friendly state.

Waller was well represented at the conference, with two sessions featuring Kristen Johns. In the first session, titled “Jenny from the block(chain): Female tech talent,” Kristen was joined by Emmy Sobieski, CIO and cofounder of Alderan Capital, and Karyl Fowler, CEO and cofounder of Transmute. The second session, an “ask me anything” luncheon, featured Kristen alongside Dale Chrystie, blockchain strategist for FedEx.

Combined, the sessions covered a wide range of topics. Here are some key takeaways:

Defining blockchain and decentralized identity

Emmy Sobieski defined blockchain by dividing the technology into two categories: permissioned and unpermissioned. The latter is where innovation really exists; it allows people who don’t know each other or even don’t trust each other to all contribute to a distributed ledger, allowing all parties to trust the conclusion.

Karyl Fowler agreed with the two categories, but she focused less about blockchain as the end-all-be-all of a product and more of it as a tool in your tool box. The technology offers new kinds of functions, like portability, and ironclad trust enforcement.

More simply, Dale Chrystie defined blockchain with five words: digital ledger, permanent, transparent, shared.

In addition to blockchain, Karyl defined “decentralized identity for the enterprise.” The existing identity infrastructure is broken, something we see all the time in data breaches. Using blockchain technology can allow enterprises to grow their data without increasing their liability, i.e. decentralizing their data.

Blockchain in healthcare – present and future

Right now, the amount of effort required for individuals to access all of their healthcare records and put them all in one place is far too significant an effort for it to be reasonable. Though the security and accessibility would be of immense value, the effort outweighs the benefit. As Emmy pointed out, medical records are “a great example for blockchain but also an example of why it’s not moving forward.”

While technically this kind of medical record accessibility can be created via blockchain technology, “I don’t know how we get there from a regulatory perspective,” Kristen said.

Supply chain also represents an excellent use case for blockchain and is perhaps the most functional of the blockchain uses in healthcare. Transporting medicines, particularly those that must stay under a certain temperature, becomes much easier when companies can verify the medicine was transported properly via the scanning of RFID tags along the process.

Why should we care about blockchain?

The key word here is transformation. All four speakers shared this perspective, via a variety of different analogies. For instance, Karyl described the technology as "construction for the internet," building on how the current infrastructure operates. Dale described it as the design of a bridge – that it's not so much about the construction as it is the design. 

Dale made it clear that blockchain has a long way to go, that it's "not very scalable, it's not very fast, it's not very mature, yet." But, as it develops into more sophisticated technology, Dale suggested that it will become foundational, underpinning how global trade operates.

Words of advice for women, and really anyone, in tech

“Ask yourself…is that really a powerful statement – are you sitting in your authentic self – are you really bringing your best foot forward?” Emmy advised. “Just be yourself, that’s the best person you can be.”

Additionally, Emmy told listeners, “Start every meeting with ‘we believe,’ and if the other person says to you ‘yes, we believe,’ that gets you aligned with your mission, with whoever your audience is.”

Speaking more specifically to female leaders, Karyl said, “Be over-prepared. As a female founder, come prepared to flip the question...Don’t answer about risk if you know what they want to hear about is opportunity. I know the statistics about female founders, how much money they raise on the dollar, but I didn’t model based on someone. Go look for the data and model after that.”

To learn more about 36|86 Fest, go to the event page here. To see the full event agenda, go here.

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