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Boardroom Q&A: Derrick Thomas, Founder of Tech Runs DAO

Boardroom spoke to DT about Tech Runs’ mission and how his organization is onboarding more people to Web3 and crypto.

Crypto natives across the nation are using decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) to expand the power of blockchain technology.

That’s precisely what Tech Runs DAO aims to do as well.

Tech Runs is a Web3 native membership club for cultural leaders in sports, tech, and business. The organization brings its members together through pick-up basketball games, Web3 informational sessions, and private meet-ups.

Derrick Thomas (DT) founded Tech Runs and holds several roles within the growing community. The organization has a unique committee structure modeled after sports leagues like the NBA. For instance, Tech Runs’ global committee operates like the NBA’s governing body, while each regional city operates like an NBA franchise. Tech Runs has active cultures in Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Tech Runs teased a New York culture last month and will officially launch in the Big Apple on Jan. 29.

derrick thomas tech runs
(Courtesy of Chris Samson)

“It’s about owning the value we create, being exclusively inclusive, and democratizing access to knowledge and shared resources,” DT told Boardroom. “With our collective efforts, we hope technology will serve as a connecting tissue for the future that improves how we work and play together.”

DT created DAO Labs to incubate culturally relevant, membership-based communities built for sports activities like basketball, yoga, and wellness to draw crypto-curious consumers who shared an interest in sports, health, and wellness to join as members. Tech Runs is a product of DAO Labs and launched its first culture in Miami last year. TR refers to its various chapters as cultures to emphasize the type of communities it’s working to build.

New York Tech Runs will kick off on Jan. 29 at New Heights Gym in Brooklyn from 3-5 p.m. The event is free for all to attend, but eventually, NYTR will run as a token-gated community that requires members to hold an exclusive NFT.

Boardroom spoke to DT about Tech Runs’ mission and how his organization is onboarding more people to web3 and crypto.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MICHELAI GRAHAM: Tell me about your role at Tech Runs DAO.

DERRICK THOMAS: Beyond governance, developing the strategy, and signer roles, I am the global community lead at Tech Runs. As a global lead, it is my responsibility to set the culture and manage the vibe and the tone of the members. Within TR, community leads are ambassadors and spokespeople. They manage the cadence in the member chat and define, monitor, and report community engagement. The Community Committee works closely with Member Relations.

MG: When did Tech Runs launch, and what’s your company’s mission?

DT: In May 2021, Tech Runs launched its first community — Miami Tech Runs — with Auston Bunsen, co-founder and CTO of Quiknode, and Trevor McFedries, founder of Brud and Friends with Benefits ($FWB).

Our mission is to use Web3 as a tool to make the world our playground. By being the connector between culturally diverse communities and using our collective intelligence, we build new physical and digital economies: In the boardroom and the metaverse, on the fields and courts, in the studios, and on stages.

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MG: How is Tech Runs funded?

DT: Tech Runs is funded by its members and is incubated by my company, DAOLabs, a venture-backed platform designed to launch, manage, and scale culturally diverse communities using blockchain infrastructure. DAOLabs helps launch, support its economy with funds, and build IP and broker deals to drive the community to revenue. Once revenue is kicked off, and the community is self-sustaining, DAOLabs takes a backseat and supports less frequently.

MG: How does Tech Runs work? What are you offering members?

DT: Think of Tech Runs as an exclusive membership club for cultural leaders, builders, creators, and athletes. Many of our members describe us as where SoHo House meets the Drew League or a chief.com for cultural leaders in tech, business, sports, and entertainment.

To date, membership includes:

  • Bi-weekly private hoop sessions with cultural leaders in sports, business, and technology.
  • Monthly interactive info sessions from entrepreneurs, investors, and creators on Web3 education, digitally and IRL.
  • Access to an exclusive network of members to co-learn, co-build, and co-invest with.
  • Access to our private chats on Telegram and Discord, which are gated by our native crypto tokens.
  • Governance rights to make proposals on using shared treasury, programming, and events.
  • Discounts and preferred rates with our TR partners.

MG: How do you decide which markets to operate in?

DT: Traction. We follow the demand for a new city by looking at data we collect showcasing the highest concentration of interest and focusing our efforts there.

MG: How have you been able to find success with the other Tech Runs cultures?

DT: Success within our communities derives from how we develop and recruit each launch team which becomes the initial season’s leadership committee. We have a process called DAO seeding where we blend new crypto-curious members local to a specified region with seasoned, more crypto-native members who have held leadership roles within other Tech Runs cultures.

For us, it’s not about go-to-market strategies but rather, go-to community strategies with mental frameworks that evaluate the community as the product. We have playbooks that I’ve developed with aligned incentives for how we coordinate and collaborate. We understand our values and over-communicate them as mantras. “It takes a village, TR!BE, Competitive on the court. Collaborative off the court,” are a few mantras floating on socials. These are some of the values that are at the heart of our community.

Further, with such brilliant minds within the community, we approach every effort as a team sport. We are one body. And each culture or individual is like a vital organ that plays a role in the success of the collective. We also understand that when one organ is malfunctioning, other organs of the body will step in to overcompensate. We aim to ensure that we get that organ back up in functioning properly as soon as possible to stay healthy. For context, a malfunction could be a lack of engagement.

MG: Talk to me about the new culture launching in New York. What can the community expect?

derrick thomas tech runs
(Courtesy of Tech Runs DAO)

DT: I am very excited about NY Tech Runs. This is our fourth regional culture. It’s my hometown. It is also our opportunity to collectively use the knowledge we have gained from building three regional communities to make our executions smarter, faster, and easier.

The epicenter of business and sports culture is in New York City. Our members will likely be fast-moving, no-nonsense, and brilliant. We have an exceptional launch team from NYC that takes initiative and executes tastefully. Their backgrounds include some of the best tech companies, creative spaces, and they carry themselves with such elegance it is admirable. Mature leaders and brand builders support the community.

Before officially launching, they partnered with brands such as JDS Sports, New Heights Youth Inc., Round21, and Aime Leon Dior. As the fourth region of the United States, NYC will help put Tech Runs on everyone’s radar.

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About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.