Roham Gharegozlou is the founder and CEO of Axiom Zen, an award-winning venture studio that specializes in emerging technology. Axiom Zen’s first public blockchain project, CryptoKitties, is the world’s most successful blockchain game. The company behind CryptoKitties, Dapper Labs is on a quest to support the next generation of killer games, apps and the digital assets that power them.
Let us have a glance at 15 things you did not know about Roham Gharegozlou.
Roham holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biological Sciences from Stanford University. He knows 5 languages: French, Persian, English, Spanish and Italian.
Roham was just nine when he made his first website but after that he saw a downhill. Having tried his hands at some small startups when he was at Stanford, he decided that he needed some time to mature as a leader.
On graduating from Stanford Roham joined Newbury Ventures which is a technology-focused venture fund.
3.Rising Tide Fund
Roham helped in starting the seed practice which is known as Rising Tide Fund today. He served as a partner, the fund was based in Silicon Valley and focused on seed-stage investments including AdStage, ZOZI (acquired by Peek), and Lucibel.
TechWadi.org is the leading non-profit organization that builds bridges between Silicon Valley and the Arab world. Roham joined it in December 2009 as program director. He was a part of the organization for three years.
Roham founded Axiom Zen in 2012 and has been on its board since then.
He left venture capital in order to start Axiom Zen which was a new kind of venture studio focusing on applying emerging technologies to unsolved business problems. More than 200 million consumers are using products developed by Axiom Zen. World’s leading companies like Facebook, Microsoft, NASA, eminent academic institutions and government organizations are also using Axiom products.
6.Recognition by Axiom Zen
Products by Axiom Zen have powered workflows of teams at some of the world’s leading companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks, and NASA JPL along with eminent academic institutions and government organizations.
Axiom Zen is the team behind Timeline, named Best App of January, Editor’s Choice in 10 countries, No1 Best New App in 88 countries, and No14 out of 25 Best Apps of the Year by Apple, and the creator of Toby, recognized as the Top Chrome Extension of 2016 by both Google and Product Hunt.
Axiom Zen’s work has been featured in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, Fast Company, USA Today, and Wired, to name a few.
Roham is the co-founder of ZenHub which was founded in 2014 and he has been on its board since then.
ZenHub is the leading project management platform built for software development teams using GitHub. It was built to solve a challenge that was faced by their own software development team: How to keep the team productive and focused while ensuring a project’s status was up-to-date so key business decisions could be made based on accurate and timely data.
With ZenHub, software teams can focus on doing what they do best: shipping amazing products.
Roham is the CEO and founder of Dapper Labs. It is the world’s leading blockchain entertainment company, funded by Andreessen Horowitz, USV, Venrock, and GV, among others.
In 2018 Dapper Labs was started with three goals in mind: introducing new audiences to crypto, showcasing a new approach to thinking about decentralization, and to move the narrative away from speculation.
9.Started work on crypto
Roham says he got into crypto because of the engineers at Axiom Zen. Dieter Shirley joined the company in 2013 and at that time he had been mining bitcoin. It was only in 2014 that Axiom experimented with bitcoin applications when their team won the Money 20/20 hackathon in Las Vegas.
They properly started working on CryptoKitties in 2017 and the non-fungible token (NFT) standard.
CryptoKitties is developed by the Dapper Labs and was launched in November 2017. It is a game where one breeds cats on a blockchain. Then the player breeds those cats with other cats, and so on. Every cat is unique, unlike anything else in existence, a “non-fungible asset.” The gamers can then sell their kitties for ether, thus creating value for their time invested. They are digital cats that can be traded on a public blockchain. The game became so popular that its users congested the Ethereum network. Axiom Zen raised $12 million in funding from storied venture capital firms, such as Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures by spinning CryptoKitties into its own companies.
11.Blockchain excites him
Roham says blockchain gives consumers unprecedented control, transparency, and choice in their digital lives. Control comes from having actual ownership over your digital assets and data. Transparency comes from immutable and publically-viewable commitments. Choice comes from permission less composability.
The aspect of blockchain that excites him the most is composability because it lets developers weave smart contracts as “open” services into new software and offerings, connecting the data and live state in multiple services to deliver cohesive new applications to consumers.
He feels composability has an important place in gaming and consumer entertainment more generally.
Roham ranks at no 39 in Fortune magazine 40 under 40.
Axiom Zen was named first among Canada’s Most Innovative Companies by Canadian Business.
13.Roham as a founder and investor
Roham’s seed investment portfolio includes customer communication leader Intercom, mobile photography marketplace Twenty20, and financial technology provider TeamPay, as well as sales technology platform Tout (acquired by Marketo), messaging app Blink (acquired by Yahoo!), sports media startup KYCK (acquired by NBC Sports), healthy living commerce startup Ecomom (acquired by Greencupboards), and location-based social network Urbantag (acquired by Tagged).
He co-founded a number of companies like Pipp, Sesame, TechWadi.org.
Roham is a regular speaker at conferences and to private audiences worldwide on topics including blockchain and distributed ledger technology, cryptoeconomics, innovation and corporate strategy, and the role of technology in health and sports.
15.Most important lesson he learned
Roham says it’s all about trust. When a company is small, you can move fast and without process, because there’s complete trust between the team. As a company grows, it’s important to continue to be intentional about nurturing trust instead of falling into the trap of replacing trust with process. He has found that the best way to cultivate trust is to keep team sizes small; align expectations constantly and explicitly; and keep communication protocols between teams open, clear, and simple.