Episode 43: Building Tech Solutions for Social Impact Using Blockchain Technology

Hello listeners, and welcome back to Tech Forward! This week, I spoke with Aishwarya Balaji, Founder and CEO of Impact Chain Lab. By using blockchain technology, Impact Chain Lab is focused on building equitable communities around the globe. Aishwarya became interested in the disruptive power of blockchain in her previous roles as a consultant and leader at Build Academy, and now identifies ways to apply this technology to create solutions in the global development landscape. On this episode, we discussed her entrepreneurial journey, and the various ways Impact Chain Lab uses blockchain technology to drive positive social impact.

As someone who knew from a young age that she wanted to go into business, Aishwarya’s entrepreneurial spirit is imbued with her natural curiosity and affinity for calculated risks. Her role as employee #1 at Build Academy gave her real time insights into the process of building a company from the ground up. That, combined with her firsthand experience in the venture capital and angel investing sphere, played a significant role in the creation of Impact Chain Lab. Aishwarya noticed that while support for impact investing has been growing, that increased interest has so far not been reflected in the flow of capital. With Impact Chain Lab, Aishwarya wants to use blockchain to funnel funds to social enterprises in a meaningful way.

Impact Chain Lab’s main focus right now is a project called Bystander, which Aishwarya summarizes as “a cross between Reddit and Wikipedia.” Bystander allows users to retain and to benefit from the digital assets that they create — a power that users of the largest crowdsourced platforms generally lose the moment they hit “submit.” Users on Bystander can share and discuss information around a variety of topics, and when the community decides that information is valuable to them, individual users are rewarded for collecting and sharing high integrity, reliable data. “On our platform, the people producing the data are also the people consuming it.”

Currently, the team at Impact Chain Lab is more than 50% female — which Aishwarya says was an intentional choice. “I’d like to keep building a team that is very diverse in all ways. In building any company, and especially a consumer facing one, it’s critical to have people on the team who represent the people you want using the platform. I want to make sure that we do that.” Her advice to other entrepreneurs who are ready to grow their team is to hire slowly. “Bring in people who are aligned with your business goals as well as your personal mottos and morals.”

Aishwarya, thank you so much for joining me on the show to talk about your work with Impact Chain Lab and some of the exciting potential of blockchain technology. As a note to my listeners, starting next week, Tech Forward will moving to a new release schedule! New episodes will come out every other Wednesday, and on the weeks in between, we’ll be rebroadcasting some of our earlier episodes we think you’ll enjoy revisiting. Thank you as always for listening, sharing, and reviewing the show. We’ll see you with a new episode on January 30th!


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