LA Tech Week: A Case for the CryptoMondays
Photo by Igor Rand on Unsplash

LA Tech Week: A Case for the CryptoMondays

Tech Week in L.A. is officially underway, and that sound you hear is drivers across the Westside searching for parking. Get in, losers, we’re sharing where we went and what we saw there.

Getting Prept For #LAtechweek

For a few lucky founders, Tech Week starts not with a bang, but a blow dry. Prept, a virtual styling and beauty startup that launched in March of 2020 out of Raleigh, North Carolina, has opened the doors of their Peerspace-rented West L.A. home to female Tech Week attendees looking for an aesthetic tune up.

The company’s energy is that of a Better Help or Airbnb, but for the beauty space. The Prept app matches clients with one the company’s 55 stylists or makeup artists, who design and source customized outfits and beauty looks. For the Sephora uninitiated, makeup looks also come with virtual application lessons.

On Monday between the hours of 3:00 and 4:30 p.m., women wander into the three-story house for hair, make up and styling appointments. Prept staff checks guests in on the first floor; vendors, snacks and beautification services are set up on the second. The third floor is reserved for bathrooms, but also ends up serving as a refuge for attendees looking to cram in a quick business call between events.

Founded by Nicole Teibel Boyd, Prept moved to L.A. from the East Coast about a year ago and relaunched the beta version of their app in February. Millennials comprise their target audience, and the company’s priorities are accessibility, affordability and sustainability. Nicole says Prept considers themselves label agnostic and is happy to work with whatever brands clients naturally gravitate towards.

Tech Week is only Prept’s tenth in-person event. In the two years since launching, they’ve held shindigs in cities like Atlanta and Indianapolis, but most of their work happens virtually. This part of their business model might be changing, however. In true Millennial fashion, Prept ascribes to a “we don’t say no to anything” philosophy when it comes to turning down work, and recently expanded into offering makeup consultations events for employees at companies like Lenovo.

Tech Week attendees are grateful for the beauty services, especially after the stress of trying to sign up for events. One founder says she struggled to find space, most notably in those events intended for female founders. She says she’s making it work by reaching out to old contacts, but the lack of access is creating challenges around meeting new people and networking.

CryptoMondays LA

“Are you here for CryptoMondays?” asks Kate, one of the organizers. “What's your crypto vibe?”

It’s the same question she’s asked every attendee who turns up at Clutch, a beloved Venice restaurant known for their Northern Mexico cuisine and weekly, outdoor crypto meetups.

Tech Week is temporary, but CryptoMondays are forever. Or at least for the foreseeable future. Originally founded in New York City in 2017 by Lou Kerner – who also happens to be one of the many attendees at yesterday’s L.A. event – CryptoMondays has flourished. In the last five years, independent chapters of the meetup group have sprung up in cities across the globe.

Answers to Kate’s introductory pick-up line about crypto vibes vary. The attendees tonight are builders, consultants, NFT fans, bitcoin investors, founders, Web 3.0 enthusiasts and diners who wandered over from Clutch’s adjacent patio to see what all the fuss was about.

Online, CryptoMondays describes itself as a "decentralized global community that shares a passion for crypto, blockchain and how it's going to change the world in dramatic ways." In person, Kate explains the group’s focus is on education and the meetup is intended for people of all levels of experience and involvement.

As Clutch’s back patio fills up, then overflows into the parking lot, Kate darts between the attendees, taking on the role of crypto matchmaker. She asks guests about their interests in the space, then introduces them to someone she thinks might have complementary goals. The first hour of the event passes in a flurry of networking, discussions about which blockchains people are using and misplaced cocktails.

On any given week, the L.A. chapter of CryptoMondays attracts between 50 and 200 nerds at a time. Meetups include a speaker, plus time set aside for attendees to mingle and ask questions. In past weeks, discussions have focused on DeFi crypto and decentralization and creating your own society. Kate says the group is committed to building community: political opinions run the gamut, but attendees are united by their view of what tech can do for the future.

The Tech Week event is standing-room only, but since the featured speaker, Jess Furman, only talks for ten minutes, it isn’t an issue. A music executive, creative strategist and a core member and co-lead of the Blu3 Angels Network for Blu3 DAO, Jess gives tips about early stage funding for Web 3 projects. She also discusses her passion project, which employs distributive ledger technology to create the first transparent music industry database, in an attempt to ensure unclaimed royalties reach the artists who rightfully deserve them.

Crypto vibes may vary, but the energy at CryptoMondays is undeniably positive. Going forward, interested parties can get involved with the LA chapter by attending a meetup and joining their Telegram group. The meetup’s organizers say they need to add people to the group in-person because – in true Telegram fashion – it’s recently been overrun by bots.

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Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.