Agreed. It’s a bit of a weird name and it’s hard to pronounce to be honest. Lab Eleven. It twists the tongue rather than rolls off it. Still, it’s different, and hopefully so are we!
My co-founder Yamen Sader described his journey on the Road to the Lab. Dipping his toe in the blockchain world led to a journey of learning, exploration and an intense desire to build.
As his colleague and friend for over 20 years, I watched curiously over his shoulder as I wrangled an engineering practice as a Partner in a Big Four consultancy (which I loved). Yamen’s curiosity was contagious. I felt compelled to take a deep breath and actually try and learn what this blockchain thing is all about. #olddognewtrick
Despite being a fairly technical chap, it had been somewhat convenient for me to dismiss blockchain. I had similar pre-conceptions and pre-fabricated responses. The alternative was to actually learn blockchain and that seemed too much like hard work. Sporadic bursts of investigation had taught me this technology was pretty weird and fundamentally very different from the tech I had leveraged throughout my career.
Eventually, after further polite nudging, I rolled up my sleeves and worked to get my head around the Solana ecosystem. Solana has operational qualities (throughput / latency / cost) that align well with the event-driven architectures I’m familiar with from the enterprise world. It felt like a technology that could solve real-world problems. Today, after a number of (confusing yet fun) months, I’m a converted man. I’ve drunk the crypto Kool-Aid and am very much on board with the spirit of the web3 movement and what modern blockchain technologies can offer.
So like Yamen, I left what was a challenging-yet-enormously-rewarding gig as a consulting Partner and I now find myself building a web3 startup. There’s an enormous amount of energy and momentum in the crypto domain so we are being careful to be respectful and play to our pedigree as founders who have:
- Started and grown significant and highly-respected software engineering teams
- Implemented (literally hundreds) of mission-critical, enterprise-grade distributed systems
- Amassed enormous delivery experience of sophisticated solutions with ambitious clients
Cut out the fluff and we land with our mission statement:
Lab Eleven provides engineering and delivery horsepower to fuel ambitious web3 projects on the Solana blockchain.
When shaping the Lab Eleven vision it was easier for us to agree on what Lab Eleven is not rather than what it is. After 20 years or more in the consulting game, I am hungry to play a role on the product side of the fence. This means pushing beyond the initial project to build sustainable products with ambitious founders with more skin in the game.
We’ve chosen a ‘lab’ dynamic explicitly to build and nurture a team of Solana specialists who will be recognised as masters in their craft. Through focus and engineering precision, we will develop and contribute to the Solana ecosystem whilst partnering with like-minded web3 entrepreneurs who have cool shit to build.
Lab Eleven will operate primarily through an ‘engineering for equity’ partnership model. We will invest our engineering time and delivery expertise (our capital) to ensure innovative web3 ideas we believe in make it to market. We will take ownership of the heavy lifting (blockchain / treasury / infrastructure / security / cloud / automation / quality) to let web3 founders focus on the killer use cases and delightful experiences that captivate users (which isn’t really our thing).
Our confidence in getting web3 solutions to market shapes our partnering preference to share both risk and reward. Rather than a ‘bums on seats’ mentality, Lab Eleven will truly partner with ambitious web3 projects and be rewarded in the same manner as founders and strategic investors. Partners with aligned incentives and shared ambitions quickly find great working dynamics which in turn surface the right engineering behaviours.
We are aiming to be the ‘go to’ partner for Solana development and delivery expertise. With our goal to keep the lab small, we recognise there will be times when we can’t support every clever web3 idea, hence we will prioritise projects which are:
- Solving an interesting problem (that’s not obviously solved)
- Have unique differentiation in the market
- Are aligned with an open-source mindset and the spirit of web3
- Have a valid and thoughtful business model (inc tokenomics)
- Have passionate, genuine and ideally altruistic founders
- Are using interesting technology (ie Solana) in an interesting way
There are plenty of fascinating ideas around and we’re excited about playing a part in them!
What’s in it for us?
Our engineers fundamentally just want to build cool things. Bringing an idea to life is what motivates our founders and developers. We recognise however that whilst we are very good at building engineering teams, those killer product ideas won’t all come from Lab Eleven. Hence we’re playing to our strengths. Bring us your web3 project and we will make it happen!
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. Obviously, we hope that with Lab Eleven’s engineering all these projects will do well. More obviously we hope some will do very well. Regardless we’ll be along for the ride and we’ll share the risks and rewards with the entrepreneurs and investors who trust us with their idea.
Really the first step is to evangelise and grow our engineering team. We’re focusing exclusively on the Solana blockchain. Masters of one trade. We will be training, enabling and certifying talented software engineers to grow the region’s (heck - the globe’s) most highly credentialed Solana Dev Shop. More than a community, more than a DAO (although we do like DAOs), we are a company offering permanent employees an opportunity to join a peloton of exceptional Solana engineers to build a career in web3.
So Solana engineering is the what, but our delivery pedigree underpins the how. We’ll be working more with web3 founders and investors to offer a Solana Delivery Partner that co-invests to bring innovative web3 ideas to market. With the crypto world being a little turbulent, anonymous and unpredictable at times we hope we’ll be seen as a safe, proven and invested pair of hands.
That’s what Lab Eleven is all about! Makes sense? Wish us luck!