At a formative age, your first workplace and work family can shape you into the entrepreneur you become. Learning from mentors and role models at the office, can instil entrepreneurial values and a sense of anything is possible.
When Steve Bassi, founder and CEO of Blockchain company PolySwarm, was eight years old his father brought home a computer and Bassi began teaching himself about the nascent early internet. From here, still a child, he started hacking into the networks of firms and offices in the area, as a "way to have fun and play the games they had online". By understanding how systems worked and where the vulnerabilities lay, an early passion for security was ignited.
While still only 13, Bassi was caught hacking into and playing on the online network of a local company. Fortunately, the IT managers at the company were impressed enough by his skills, that they made him an offer to come work with them, in cyber security. This is how as a teenager, Bassi found himself going to high school with his peers during the day, and in a corporate office at night, fighting viruses and malware. It was while working with developers and hackers in this office that Bassi truly began to feel he had found a second, workplace family. The IT department took him under their wing, and instilled in him not only entrepreneurial and work values, but also a sense of confidence.
Bassi relates how when he would go to meet with clients and anyone outside the IT department, they would laugh and ask whether it was a joke that a 13 year old was coming to help them fix their software problem. His close team members within his workplace family, taught him to stand up for himself and shake it off to get the job done. It was this attitude of "can do" and perseverance that has stood him in good stead through his entrepreneurial career. That feeling of not being taken seriously was what led Bassi to work extra hours and through a sense of determination, prove any detractors wrong.
Despite being so young, Bassi says his workplace family also taught him to always be accountable for his actions. On the occasions he would break something or mess up, his colleagues showed him how to stay focused and keep going until he had come up with a workable solution. Again, creating a foundation for his entrepreneurial career.
20 years on, Bassi leads his own team at PolySwarm, a Blockchain technology startup where security experts compete to solve worldwide security threats. Leaning heavily on his teenage career of fighting malware and security issues online, Bassi has now created a decentralised, distributed marketplace for protection from cyber threats. Where it becomes particularly compelling and scalable, is that the system is borderless, with security experts coming from everywhere from Sweden to Swaziland. After all, security threats are identified in code by ones and zeros, opening the playing field to specialists of any nationality, speaking any language.
The groundwork for this game changing startup began with Bassi's first workplace family who taught him grit, tenacity and that anything was possible. They opened the scope of his vision, mentored him and gave him the confidence to go out on his own, building a revolutionary technology, and a category defining team.