Who is Virtual Labs?
Meet the Team Delivering Free Gas in Web3
José.virtual | Sep 06, 2023
Virtual Labs is a company of people. A Yale Dropout, a cryptography Ph.D., and an entire team of killers, united by a dedication to our vision. Today, I’m excited to share who we are and a bit about our story. Strap in!
As I write these articles (and am hopelessly addicted to X), you are probably already familiar with who I am. But for the uninitiated, my name is José Betancourt and I began working on what would become Virtual Labs in January of 2022 with two friends from Yale. Focused on building a verifiably fair game ourselves, we worked part-time through our Sophomore year and moved to Bulgaria in the summer to flesh out the vision.
When school came into session, we amicably departed as I decided to take a risk and drop out of university, taking Virtual Labs full-time. It was then when I pivoted to an infrastructure mindset and renamed Virtual Labs from Heliocentrix.
I became more involved in the ecosystem, attending Devcon in Bogotá, which catapulted my enthusiasm and network in the industry. It was shortly afterward that I applied to and got accepted into Binance’s Season 5 Incubator as only one of 12 accepted projects from a pool of 1,000.
What could be considered as the beginning of a modern Virtual Labs is December 12th, 2022, when Dr. Alexander Atamanov joined the team as CTO. The two of us would build for the next five months before accepting venture capital from several top firms, propelling our capabilities. We quickly brought on five amazing partners: Arya as a Business Developer, Nadeem as a Senior Blockchain Engineer, Shumaila as a Product Designer, Jeremiah as our Sales and Marketing Lead, and another engineer. We are also incredibly lucky to boast two hyper-involved advisors from Manta Network and a top Web3 VC.
It is not easy working across five different time zones, but it has been so rewarding working with a truly global and decentralized team.
Our Team Culture and Vision
Virtual Labs, Virtualizers, and our partners are primarily united by our desire to improve Web3 UX by eliminating gas fees and removing latency. Further, our corporate culture reflects a few other traits we share-agency, transparency, and the ability to take responsibility for mistakes.
Agency is initiative, not needing to be told to do something but capable of self-motivation. I reckon our screening process is one of the toughest in this industry due to our front-loaded deterrence. Virtual Labs' policy is to induce friction by way of self-evaluation and a lengthy testing process that results in many applicants opting-out. Some experienced candidates fail to attend first-round interviews, prompting our agencies to ping them. I decline this as a candidate who is not responsible enough to join an interview with good internet will make an employee who must be reminded to turn in work. Our acceptance rate is probably below 1% for engineers and 0.1% for marketing and sales.
Transparency-radical transparency, in fact-is practiced by myself as company policy. Successes and failures are shared with the entire team and an honest accounting of our situation is made known to everyone. I believe that corporate secrecy is generally counterproductive as transparency is not only good for employee longevity, but also for efficient blind spot discovery from multiple minds-it’s great to have your employees be entrepreneurs too. I run Virtual Labs with our team, being aware of all events that are practically and legally possible to share. I extend this to you through these weekly blogs, and our X. Virtual Labs is a doxxed team with a legitimate vision and path to achieve it.
Finally, if I had to pin what my unique “founder ideology” was, it would be the ability to admit mistakes. Someone who cannot admit when they have faltered, and plays the blame game, is not a partner with whom anyone wants to work. This combination of agency and transparency does not overly punish slip ups, but does require reflection and improvement for these errors. As CEO, I practice this by regularly admitting and apologizing for my mistakes, and I expect this from my Team as well. A Company that quickly self-corrects with little internal friction is one that will efficiently out-pace all others.
Virtual Labs is always looking to join forces with new talent, especially those with Rust and Typescript experience and a genuine understanding of our vision.
Over the upcoming weeks and months, we plan to host AMAs, physical events, and collaborate in interviews, shared articles, and video series. If you’re a partner interested in working with members of our team across our shared audiences, my DMs are always open on X!
We look forward to getting to know you better and having you learn about us :).
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