Nick Dazé is the co-founder and CEO of Heirloom, a company dedicated to providing no code tools that help brands create safe environments for their customers online through blockchain technology.
Credible infrastructure tools aimed at making it simple for brands to build on the Web 3.0 stack and launch their own dapps are increasingly important as the internet moves away from centralisation. Decentralised infrastructure is making entirely new types of products possible, and therefore creating transformational opportunities for businesses in every industry imaginable.
With a rich history in the tech industry, Nick is no stranger to innovation and disruption, having co-founded PocketList and being an early team member at tech companies such as Faraday Future ($FFIE), Fullscreen (acquired by AT&T), and Bit Kitchen (acquired by Medium as Knowable). Heirloom is his latest venture, and driving positive change is a critical factor in his endeavours.
In this interview, Nick discusses his motivation for starting Heirloom, the challenges of building a no-code platform, how blockchain technology is evolving, and the future of fintech. It’s an insightful conversation that provides a window into the mind of a seasoned entrepreneur and technology thought leader.
Nick Dazé (Full Q&A Interview)
Question: What inspired you to start Heirloom?
Answer: My co-founder, Julian, and I have been building digital products together for over ten years. Something that’s always bothered us is that our work is ephemeral. All digital products are, to some extent. But contrast that with the work of an industrial designer, for example. They might pour a lot of time and passion into a beautiful chair, and when they’re done, because they’re working with atoms, the chair exists and stands on its own. But we work with bits, and your work gets lost unless you constantly maintain and compile. This is sad to me because the creative impulse is the same between an industrial designer and someone building a digital product.
Blockchains change that. For the first time, we’re bringing immutability to bits. As long as the chain exists, the data on it still exists. And in a way, we’re bringing object permanence to the digital.
Heirloom exists to make this revolutionary dynamic easily available to brands and their audiences.
Question: If there was one piece of wisdom you could share with other executives in the fintech industry, what would it be?
Answer: Build things that are useful to people. It sounds so simple. It seems like it doesn’t need to be said. But it does. If you look at the history of finance and technology, these are tremendous forces for good in the world when they’re focused on solving problems for real people. They go awry when they turn in on themselves and become solutions in search of a problem (i.e., technology for the sake of technology; finance for the sake of finance).
Question: Why is it essential to pay attention not only to the finance industry adopting fintech but also to other sectors such as education and security?
Answer: Because revolutions are going on under everyone’s nose. The most fundamental layers of technology are evolving to empower the phase of digitisation. Identity creation and management for people, devices, and the transactions between them are key. The architecture that will support these systems is industry agnostic. Having a good handle on how a wide variety of industry verticals are addressing this gives us insight into the larger context. All systems will converge around identity in the next phase of internet evolution.
Question: Which blockchain use cases have stood out for you lately?
Answer: Employment smart contracts. These are super interesting because they lay the groundwork for DAOs to take on an important role in the employment landscape. Also, the idea of real-time payment to employees is exciting. Ultimately, the conversation with blockchain is about transactional efficiency – so thinking about pushing these efficiencies as far as they can go is pretty fascinating.
We’ve been exploring a few KYC/AML use cases with clients. We believe this use case will be fundamental for finance as we see the need for nuanced programmatic enforcement of regulations. Additionally, we are thinking a lot about enabling wallet addresses to prove KYC/AML compliance to an ecosystem without revealing any information. Zero-knowledge proofs (ZKs) will be the key to this, but having the infrastructure in place such that ZKs can be easily implemented is certainly important.
Question: If you could share one of your favourite quotes related to fintech, what would it be?
Answer: “When a technology has found its ideal role in the world, it becomes an active agent in increasing the options, choices, and the possibilities of others.” – Kevin Kelly – What Technology Wants
Question: What positive technological and scientific innovations do you anticipate in fintech over the coming years?
Answer: Zero-knowledge proofs are coming on very quickly. I also see that the friction between TradFi and DeFi is going to create serious fireworks. Banks are thinking deeply about how to get in the space, but it’s not that simple. We will see nation-states start considering these networks from a national security perspective. That will spur tons of interesting innovation. But above all, increasing the surface area of self-sovereign finance is extremely positive. Hopefully, there will be a spectrum from totally custodial to completely non-custodial solutions. That would be great.
Question: How do you keep up with developments in the industry?
Answer: Our team talks a lot internally. Even though we are geographically distributed, most of our team members are engaged regularly in the industry and within technology generally. We share these ideas and flag the ones that merit a deeper conversation. Personally, I talk to a lot of people. I also attend conferences from time to time.
Question: Please summarise your business life in three words.
Answer: Keep taking swings.
Question: What is next for Heirloom in the years ahead?
Answer: Listening to our customers, building, shipping. Repeat. We have a heck of an opportunity to put our heads down and build. The next quarters will be very challenging – it’s up to us to ensure that we drive as much value as possible for our customers as they consider the next evolution of infrastructure tools that the internet will require. This, along with macro conditions, presents a window for deep value to be discovered and scaled.
Question: Lastly, what is the one thing you want everyone to know about Nick Dazé?
Answer: I say this thing to my team so often that I get teased about it by them: “You haven’t had your best idea yet.” And I say it to myself all the time. It’s fundamentally positive, constructive, creative, and optimistic. It helps me remind myself that I am playing an infinite game with people I respect every day of my life. I guess that expression. That’s what I want everyone to know about me. And I want to say that to your readers: “You haven’t had your best idea yet.”