After 15 years of writing about startups, tech journalist Monty Munford decided to become an entrepreneur. More than a decade of vetting story pitches and connecting founders with investors and buyers gave him the motivation to pursue his own successful startup as co-founder of Sienna, a platform Privacy-focused, cross-chain DeFi (decentralized finance) that enables the private exchange, lending, and conversion of crypto tokens into private equivalents. The platform is part of an industry push for more secure financial blockchain products to address “front-running” risks, where future transactions can be eclipsed on public DeFi blockchains.
Munford’s pivot from journalism to entrepreneur didn’t happen overnight. While filing for Forbes, The Economist and other outlets, Munford straddled the media and startup worlds, when he created Mob76, a consultancy working with no more than a handful of companies at a time. to help raise a company’s profile and make high-impact introductions. fueling funding (AD) rounds and leading to multi-million dollar outflows.
It was Munford’s skill for effortless networking that helped him the most, holding regular gatherings in central London driven by business interests, but always in a relaxed social environment. He also became a sought-after speaker and moderator at global tech events, increasing his network tenfold. Ultimately, her super-connector status paved the way for her role with Sienna.
As co-founder and chief evangelist, Munford continues his work to raise the company’s profile, including his recent launch of SiennaLend, a private crypto lending platform that claims users can earn interest and borrow on the platform. In a recent interview, Munford explained how he became a co-founder and offered advice for other journalists looking to make the switch.
Amy Guttman: What initially made you decide to move from full-time journalism, to VC and then to entrepreneur?
Monty Munford: I had had enough of a dying profession. Also, the VCs and entrepreneurs I had met and interviewed certainly didn’t seem any smarter or more driven than me and I was sick of being poor and being treated like one.
AG: How natural was the change?
MM: Not really natural at all and it took a while, but it didn’t take long before I was going to conferences as a speaker, emcee or moderator. It certainly sped things up and being naturally curious as a person meant change was quick, if not entirely natural.
AG: What surprised you most about becoming an entrepreneur?
MM: The instant recognition that you weren’t a journalist people didn’t have to worry about.
AG: Biggest challenges?
MM: Not writing regularly, something I still miss and obviously starting over as an older person. Also, people wanting to share investor presentations instead of press releases were more or less similar, but took even longer.
AG: Did you have to kiss frogs before you found the right opportunity/partners?
MM: The frogs I had to kiss and the nonsense those frogs croaked; there were ponds of them. There are so many dumb, dumb people in the world of VC and entrepreneurs who really think they talk like gods…and they’re 99% white males. I’m also a white man, but nothing like many of them. However, princes and princesses when you find them are remarkable and inspiring and make me better.
AG: Why Siena? What made you know you might have a winner?
MM: I never expected to be part of something like Sienna Network and certainly not crypto. I had previously had $500,000 stolen from my online wallet at the Binance exchange, which still refuses to refund me or accept any liability. I thought crypto was a nest of vipers.
Sienna’s team of advisors convinced me to go back; the smartest people who knew way more than me and who literally believed in changing the world for the better and believed in privacy in cryptography, very different from anonymity. We raised $11.2 million when we were expecting $500-700,000.
We then did what we promised, launched a decentralized exchange called SiennaSwap and last month SiennaLend, where users can borrow and lend crypto privately in the same way without others watching what’s happening on a blockchain and hijack and disrupt these transactions.
AG: What advice do you have for other journalists looking to make the transition?
MM: Be authentic and say what you think. Be free, don’t care what other people think, even if you’re new to the game. Keep building your network so the transition is quick. If you think someone is an idiot, don’t tell them or anyone else. Keep it to yourself, but never work with them. Don’t gossip… as journalists like to do.
It’s always thanks to the network you create and a reputation as an authentic person who is never afraid to speak his mind without being offensive.
GA: Future goals?
MM: I would like to do this for a few more years, but the dream would be to make the transition to the art world, not only to own or trade beautiful things bought from artists at the start of their career helping their development, but for everything know about it.