Crummer Alumnus Looks to Revolutionize Tech by Funding Blockchain Startups
Crummer alumnus Sachin Jaitly ’02 ’03MBA has transformed the digital receipt industry and hopes to do the same in blockchain with Tessera Venture Partners.
It all started with the purchase of a Vitamin Water.
And one of those obnoxiously long paper receipts from CVS.
Sachin Jaitly, working in finance in New York City at the time, excelled at his job, but wasn’t exactly inspired by the likes of internal auditing, accounting and financial governance.
That receipt though, was his golden ticket.
“I looked at this two-foot-long receipt for the one product I purchased and thought, well jeez this has a lot of information on it,” said Jaitly. “Wouldn’t it be great if I had access to this in digital form? Wouldn’t it be great if I had access to all of this data at a later point in time?”
On the subway ride home, Jaitly couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The questions raced through his mind, “What if I had digital receipts? What if the world had digital receipts?”
That very night, while talking his then-girlfriend’s (now-wife’s) ear off about his idea, he literally found a domain and launched flexENGAGE as the Founder and CEO.
His next step was recruiting one of his best friends and fellow Crummer alums, Tomas Diaz ’02 ’03MBA, who is now the CEO of the Orlando-based company.
Today, flexENGAGE is responsible for digital receipts around the world.
“It became a data analytics company. We spread across multiple countries, and tens of thousands of retailers,” said Jaitly.
Today if you get a digital receipt, there’s a good chance it’s powered by the company Jaitly founded after buying that Vitamin Water at CVS.
Jaitly is now an investor in flexENGAGE and remains involved with the Orlando-based company, but he decided he wasn’t done disrupting the technology industry.
Finding (and Explaining) Blockchain Technology
After founding flexENGAGE, Jaitly joined Datalogix, a data company that takes aggregates data from loyalty cards across the country. The data then creates audiences, so groups of people could be targeted online based on their consumer habits.
Jaitly helped scale Datalogix and ultimately sold it to Oracle for over $1 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“There was nothing wrong with Oracle, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be for the rest of my career,” said Jaitly.
Jaitly, with a knack for being able to blaze his own path, discovered blockchain through his vast network of entrepreneurs, he organically expanded during his flexENGAGE and Datalogix endeavors.
Blockchain made its public debut in 2008, when an unknown identity of someone going by the name of “Satoshi Nakamoto” unleashed Bitcoin and ultimately, blockchain, the underlying technology that runs Bitcoin.
By definition, blockchain technology is a digital ledger that can permanently record transactions between two parties efficiently and securely. Think of your typical supply chain system working at light-speed with no errors, and the data of all the transactions being recorded.
It provided the answer to digital trust, it records important information in a public space and nobody can remove it. It is decentralized, transparent and even time-stamped.
Just like that night at CVS, Jaitly saw something in blockchain, and he wanted in.
“I think the biggest takeaway is this: if the last ten years is about technical architecture moving into the cloud, the next ten years will be about transitioning technical architecture into blockchain,” said Jaitly.
Jaitly launched Tessera Venture Partners, an early-stage venture fund with a strong focus on companies exploring blockchain technology.
“There was an enormous amount of value creation over the last ten years (in regards to cloud technology),” said Jaitly. “We believe there is going to be so much more value creation over the next ten years with blockchain technology.”
Blockchain Uses in the Mainstreams
Jaitly says the most common question he gets when he speaks on blockchain is, “What is the difference between blockchain and cryptocurrency?”
He says blockchain is the underlying infrastructure that cryptocurrency was built off of.
Essentially, cryptocurrency is the most successful and mainstream application built off of blockchain to date.
“They became one of the same, crypto and blockchain were inseparable,” said Jaitly. “Bitcoin became so successful, people started asking how this is being done, and how it can be leveraged in other applications.”
While the jury is still out on how practical cryptocurrency will become in mainstream usage, the underlying technology is what really excites Jaitly and Tessera Venture Partners.
“Now we are starting to see different applications emerge from it,” said Jaitly. “There will be things we are not even able to imagine that will come to be by some great minds over the course of 10 years that are going to be able to apply this in different ways.”
Jaitly says the technology is still very immature today, and there will be plenty of growing pains along the way, but the sheer power the technology has to revolutionize an industry like supply chain is what has many venture capitalists and business leaders excited.
“There are three cornerstones in my opinion; they are security, transparency and efficiency. Those three cornerstones are why people are thinking there is a stampede occurring from CTOs in every industry in relation to blockchain,” said Jaitly.
In the future, Jaitly says he envisions the front-end consumer will experience some of the effects of this technology.
Things will move faster, because they are more efficient without intermediaries. He also says consumers may notice transaction prices dropping, because operational expenses will be reduced.
However, he says the real value proposition is in backend operations and how streamlined they can become with this technology.
“I think it’s going to be a gamechanger in the world and now you are starting to get credibility with big players like JP Morgan, Facebook and other large multinational companies not only taking attention, but taking action on blockchain,” said Jaitly.