A Tar Heel and a Blue Devil came together to form Kaleido, a leading company in the blockchain space based right in Raleigh.
Kaleido is forging the path forward for businesses to understand and utilize enterprise blockchain with greater efficiency. The startup now has over 2,000 networks running on its platform and is in production with companies like Shell and World Bank.
CEO Steve Cerveny, a Duke MBA graduate, and COO Sophia Lopez, a UNC MBA graduate, founded Kaleido in 2017 out of HQ Raleigh. After working at IBM, they realized how they could help businesses struggling to use blockchain. Blockchain allows for the recording of transactions on a public, distributed and decentralized ledger to avoid disputes and get rid of third parties. This faster, safer technology is most commonly associated with virtual currencies like Bitcoin.
“We were both very early in the blockchain space, really from the beginning of enterprise blockchain,” Lopez said. “We were at IBM leading the efforts there and saw that clients were really struggling to get their arms around the technology and adopt it. We saw the amazing promise of the technology, but felt there was a better way and had a different point of view about how we should approach solving the clients’ problems. So we left to form Kaleido.”
Blockchain technology was not new when Cerveny and Lopez created Kaleido, which is one startup in a family of investments made by global blockchain company ConsenSys. But Kaleido was built with the concept that clients can use the blockchain to do things an easier, standard way and then turn to more advanced options as they gain comfort and have broader needs. Kaleido offers four offering tiers, the first of which is free, as part of their software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model.
“We came in and we said we’re going to use the latest cloud technologies and engineering,” Cerveny said. “We’re going to partner with the largest communities and ecosystems, and we’re just going to build that ‘easy button.’”
Starting With Splash
Kaleido’s public launch in 2018 came as they announced a partnership with Amazon, which had not done anything in the blockchain space until then. Lopez said this catapulted their young startup into the public eye.
She said Kaleido’s name comes from ‘kaleidoscope’ and the idea of disparate parts coming together to form beautiful outcomes, which she sees as companies come together and form new ecosystem economies.
“Enterprise is in our DNA,” Lopez said, “but we also wanted to bring in that really high-quality user experience, that ease of use. That’s a big part of the ‘easy button’ that we’re providing for people.”
Cerveny said Kaleido wants to help its clients reinvent themselves. The 25-employee startup received attention earlier this year from the Blockchain Research Institute, which presented Kaleido with an award for the most innovative enterprise blockchain company.
“A lot of the fun in our job is getting on the phone every day with just a wide variety of companies who are really interesting—to see the same problem in so many different contexts,” Cerveny said. “There’s many parties involved, so many organizations involved, and there’s just a fundamental lack of transparency.”
Kaleido works with clients and empowers them to make an impact, whether it be running tuberculosis disease surveillance with the Centers for Disease Control or the Worldwide Wildlife Fund making better use of funding for projects.
“I think it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the job,” Lopez said. “We’re very mission-driven. It’s all about helping society and people get the benefits of blockchain. We’re doing that by providing this general-purpose platform and really working closely with clients.”