Jed McCaleb has always worked hard to use his technological skills as a programmer to make a large impact to improve the lives of other people, and that is what he advises entrepreneurs to aim for. He tells other entrepreneurs not to focus on niches. With just a little bit more effort, they can tackle projects that affect the world. The reward for improving the lives of millions of people is much greater than just coming out with a marginal niche product.
McCaleb’s latest project aims to directly improve the lives of the 2.5 billion unbanked people. Most of them live in developing countries, and they are too poor or isolated to have access to ordinary banking services. They cannot save money. They cannot write checks. If they need to remit money to pay for goods or to help out a family member, they must pay a large fee that helps to keep them poor. When Jed McCaleb ran Mt. Gox, the first online exchange for the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, he discovered the transformative potential of its underlying blockchain technology.
After Mt. Gox, Jed McCaleb thought about other ways the blockchain technology could be used to improve people’s economic lives, and he developed the idea of using the distributed database network to verify transactions by consensus, instead of the mining used by Bitcoin. In 2011 he and Chris Larsen started Ripple, or XRP, a new kind of cryptocurrency that is still considered one of the major cryptos besides Bitcoin.
In 2014, McCaleb and Joyce Kim founded the Stellar Development Foundation to realize his dream of using the blockchain to link financial institutions together in silos that allow for the seamless transfer of funds. That would enable those banks the economic ability to provide services to the 2.5 billion people who currently lack access.
Jed McCaleb’s other advice to entrepreneurs is to focus only creating great products, not on marketing them. The Internet allows for news about great products to spread through word of mouth. But first you have to create a product so good it makes people want to tell other people about it.