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Cleveland is hungry. 

It’s 7:30 a.m., and the nametags have been affixed, the Starbucks coffee poured into half-sized cups, and Bernie Moreno has finally made his way to the front of the huge ballroom. As the still-groggy crowd nibbles on pastries and melon, the room hums with anticipation. 

Big ideas rarely pull into Cleveland. So while this is the second stop in a week on Moreno’s roadshow, the Greater Cleveland Middle Market Forum breakfast is a sellout. In fact, it had to be moved from the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s headquarters to the Global Center for Health Innovation.

On a raised stage, Moreno and Joe Roman, the economic development group’s CEO, take seats beside each other as if for a fireside chat. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event with Bernie where there’s lots of people, an open space and none of your cars are here,” Roman jokes. “Normally, you would have brought 10 cars with you.”

Moreno laughs. It’s true. From his pinstripe suit to his high-wattage smile, Moreno is a car guy through and through. In just over a decade, he’s built a single Mercedes-Benz dealership into a powerhouse auto group that he says topped $1 billion in sales. 

But he’s not here to sell Buicks or extended warranties. Moreno is pitching “Blockland” — a big, growling, 250-horsepower idea that couldn’t be farther from a car. 

“It’s a normal transition from being in the car business to technology,” Moreno says with a touch of his sometimes-wicked sarcasm. “That’s a normal career path.” 

A laugh ripples through the crowd. “Maybe it’s not a normal career path,” he says.

Moreno is following it anyway. In late 2016, he sold off most of his car dealerships and began investing in startups. In particular, Moreno has focused on companies that use blockchain, an emerging distributed ledger technology that he thinks could be the next big thing, the kind of innovative tech that could transform the internet, like e-commerce and social media in the early 2000s. 

But like a Maserati in a snowstorm, the thought of creating such entrepreneurial tech companies seemed incompatible with our risk-averse, capital-starved Midwestern city. “The question came: ‘You can never really build a technology company in Cleveland,’ ” he says.

Better to take your seed capital and ideas to Silicon Valley, New York or Boston, where he’d spent most of his career before arriving in Cleveland. “I didn’t want to just be another cliche,” he says, “come here, do well, then leave and go somewhere else.” 

Moreno looked around, saw Cleveland’s almost total lack of tech cred and decided it was an opportunity. He wouldn’t move his companies out of Cleveland. No. He would mold Cleveland to fit his companies and do the economic development folks a favor in the process. 

He started calling it “the movement.” 

Moreno envisioned Cleveland as a blockchain tech mecca, a place just as attractive to engineers and investors as Santa Clara, California, or, God help us, Pittsburgh: blockchain conferences, programs to train coders, angel investors and venture funds, a huge tech hub building, permissive regulations and new companies galore. In short, the Midwest Silicon Valley that everyone seemed to talk about, but no one could figure out how to pull off.

That was four months ago. Now, the Middle Market crowd is along for the ride. Moreno flips through a few slides to show off what’s happened already. 

A December conference is scheduled, an investment fund (he dreams it could be worth $1 billion) is expected to be assembled soon, programs for coder recruitment and training are on the drawing board, sites are being considered for a 300,000-square-foot tech center, and 10 committees headed by a who’s who of local names have been assembled to get it all done. Blockland is zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, screaming down the highway like a Porsche 911. 

After about an hour, however, it’s time for questions and a chance to pump the brakes a little. No doubt, Clevelanders are accustomed to watching ambitious ideas chomp dirt. So when a guy gets up to ask Moreno what the biggest potential roadblocks to implementing the plan might be, Moreno answers without hesitation: “Naysayers. Being honest. That’s the biggest impediment.” 

The naysayer in me ticks off the others: Cleveland’s aversion to risk, its thin entrepreneurial ecosystem, our lack of coding talent, investor bias against the Midwest, blockchain’s still-tenuous foothold as a business tool and the city’s many past failures. 

But in his office a week earlier, Moreno seems to have gamed it all out.

“The reality is being a naysayer is really, really easy. You can do that from the comfort of your own home,” Moreno tells me. “Doing something is much more difficult, much more risky. Do I think that Blockland has a 100 percent chance of success? Of course not. Is there a risk? Of course. But the reward is gigantic.” 

Moreno has been hatching business schemes since he was 14 years old.

In 1982, he penned a letter to Roger Smith, the chairman and CEO of General Motors. As a young car fanatic, he dreamed of moving from his home in sunny South Florida to Michigan. He wanted to be nearer to Detroit, where cars were made and where Smith was attempting to drag GM out of what would be a decadelong slump. 

In a teenager’s version of a hostile takeover, Moreno’s letter to Smith outlined nine ways GM could improve. 

“He actually responded, and went point by point,” Moreno recalls. “It’s funny because a lot of those things” — such as improving the quality of GM cars and combining Chevy and Pontiac, Automotive News reported — “he actually did,” Moreno says. “It’s kind of crazy.”

Moreno’s ambitions led him to the University of Michigan, then a three-year stint at Saturn before managing dealerships for Boston dealer Herb Chambers. In 2005, he arrived in Cleveland to kick the tires on a struggling Mercedes-Benz dealership in North Olmsted. The 38-year-old Moreno mortgaged almost everything he had to buy it. 

“I came to Cleveland as a millionaire with a negative sign,” he jokes.

The dealership had sold 24 cars in five months. A representative of the previous owner came in on the day Moreno closed the deal. “Get used to doing nothing all day,” Moreno recalls him saying. 

“The idea that he looked at me and said, ‘You just bought the world’s biggest turd, you’re going to fail so badly,’ that motivated me,” Moreno says. In the next 21 days, the dealership sold 80 cars. 

From that one North Olmsted dealership, Moreno launched roughly a decade of expansion, eventually building a 21-dealership chain in Northeast Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts and Kentucky. He bought into other interests too: He acquired printing company Hotcards in 2015, a hotel booking website and an airplane charter company.

Chris Sanner worked with Moreno in Boston and followed him to Cleveland in January 2006. He spent almost a decade with Moreno’s company (which advertises in Cleveland Magazine) before returning to Boston in 2015. 

Sanner says part of the company’s success was its ability to make buying a high-end luxury car approachable for Midwest-minded Clevelanders by sticking to advertised prices and running a fair service department. It led to good word-of-mouth.

“Their experience dispels any hesitation about doing business with a Mercedes-Benz dealership,” says Sanner, “[with] snobby, uppity salespeople that just don’t have the time of day, can’t be bothered, unless you’re buying an S-Class.”

Despite topping $1 billion in revenue in 2016, Moreno came to believe owning a large chain of car dealerships might be an unwise long-term investment. “What does this business look like in 25 years?” Moreno says. “I was firmly convinced that it just won’t exist. It’s not a 25-year business.”

His youngest son, Kevin, had expressed an interest in joining the company. But Moreno worried about passing on a dud. “It’d be like if you inherited a newspaper,” he says. 

As Automotive News put it, this was an unexpected U-turn. Moreno sold 13 of his dealerships. The eight he kept included luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Maserati and Bentley. 

Yet Moreno’s entrepreneurial engine isn’t one to sit idle. He and his son were continually searching for the next big thing. 

“What we call billion dollar ideas,” Moreno says. 

In 2016, the 20-year-old threw out, “Dad, one word: bitcoin,” Moreno recalls. “I was like, ‘What the hell is bitcoin?’ ”

Moreno found out bitcoin was a new kind of digital money — a volatile cryptocurrency. Although his financial adviser warned him against investing in bitcoin, he pointed Moreno at the technology underneath bitcoin, the system of data storage and encryption that made it work, called blockchain. 

The more Moreno learned, the more he liked it. Blockchain, he thought, could open up a huge market in all kinds of database technologies, authenticators and the like. It also fit with one of his core beliefs as a business owner, one of the 10 commandments printed on cards handed out to his employees on their first day: “Thou shall embrace technology.” 

Blockchain felt exactly right.

In March, Moreno made his first blockchain investment. He bought a minority stake in Votem, a Cleveland startup using blockchain to securely digitize voting. He also founded Ownum, an idea accelerator for other blockchain startups, such as a company to put car titles on the blockchain. 

But as Moreno started running his investments past his financial advisers, he heard a common refrain: If he was serious about blockchain, he should skip town. Cleveland simply wasn’t equipped to nurture high-tech startups like these.

“The question became, ‘OK, I can accept that and just move back to Boston,’ ” says Moreno. “Or I can say, ‘I came to Cleveland as nothing. My wealth was made here. I’ve got to give back to Cleveland. So how do I change the conditions on the ground?’ ”


Two days before the Middle Market Forum, Moreno sits in the front row of a classroom at DriveIT, his crossed feet squirming with energy. 

He’s presenting his Blockland idea to an overbooked crowd of tech types who are rapidly filling the 30 available chairs. But first Eric Ward, co-founder of the digital skills training firm, gets up for a lesson. 

“I’m just going to talk about three things. I’m going to talk about keeping track of stuff, trust and about pickup basketball. OK?” says Ward, sporting a goatee, glasses and a DriveIT shirt. “And they’ll all relate to blockchain at some point. I promise.”

A former high school teacher, Ward flips to his first slide: “What is blockchain?” The technology is often associated with bitcoin, Ward says, a digital currency created by a pseudonymous person or group named Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. That money made of bits and bytes can be transferred among a network of computers, all of which record the transfers on chained blocks of data (thus blockchain), which are secured cryptographically. 

Tech types fell in love with bitcoin because it mirrored the democratic, almost anarchic, original promise of the internet: No one government, person or organization controls the network. The U.S. Treasury might issue dollar bills, but nobody issues bitcoin. Coins are created through an energy-intensive process called mining that involves putting your computer to work solving math problems that verify the chain’s integrity and “unearth” coins. (One engineer I met claimed to heat his house by having his computers mine the stuff.)

But why businesses are interested, Ward tells the group, isn’t the electronic currency, but the checkbook on which all those transfers are recorded. 

Blockchain acts as a shared ledger that any computer on the network can view (with permission), but no one computer owns. It’s as if the whole entire family carries around identically balanced checkbooks for their joint account. There are public checkbooks, such as the one used by bitcoin, that anyone with a computer can access, or private ones, that only a select few computers can access. 

Both types benefit from referring to the same, constantly updated checkbook, which lives on every computer on the network, rather than on one, and is secured by a cryptography scheme. 

You can check, for example, that your payment actually went through. So can the person you’re paying and your mom, even your accountant, if you give them permission.

Trust is also central to the blockchain protocol. Generally, we use an intermediary to do that: Governments issue identifications, titles and deeds, or Visa guarantees the money gets from your bank to the grocery store’s when you swipe your debit card at the supermarket. 

Blockchain has the potential to cut out some of those middlemen. Independent verification makes the network trustworthy on its own.

Now, to basketball. While it’s an imperfect analogy for blockchain, says Ward, there’s a big difference between a pickup game and an organized one.

In an organized game, the coaches control the rosters, so it’s open only to select players. Trusted third parties — the referees and scorekeepers — regulate the game. But they have to be trained and paid. All of it slows down the game. Worse yet, it’s tough luck if you disagree with the ref’s call. That, Ward says, is the game we’re living in.

A pickup game is more democratic. Anyone can walk up to play, and the game is self-policing. After a basket, you shout the score when checking in the ball. If there’s a disagreement, a foul or a question, then majority rules. That’s the game, post-blockchain.

“With that,” Ward continues, “I’m going to hand it off to Mr. Moreno.” Moreno gets up in front, to applause. 

Blockchain, Moreno thinks, is teetering between being a Wild West technology and being widely adopted. Tech giants Microsoft and IBM are investing massively in blockchain research, according to Bloomberg, with IBM tasking 1,500 staffers with investigating the technology alone.

Corporate America, though interested, has yet to glom onto blockchain more broadly, however. A July Forrester Research report estimated that in 90 percent of cases, blockchain experiments won’t become part of company operations. 

Still, the International Data Corporation estimated in July that worldwide blockchain spending is expected to reach $1.5 billion this year, twice the amount spent in 2017, and is forecasted to reach $11.7 billion by 2022.

In the blockchain world, only one thing is certain: No one knows for sure what potential the technology holds. To Moreno, that uncertainty spells opportunity for Cleveland. If the city steps in quickly as a magnet for developers and businesses, and the technology begins to make inroads  — both big ifs — Moreno believes Cleveland could become Blockland.

“We’re here at this stage just before [blockchain] hits major mainstream adoption,” Moreno says as many in the audience scribble in notebooks or type on phones. “Which means we have a shot.”


Moreno flips to a slide with 10 circles, all of them shooting out from a center, larger circle with the Blockland logo. 

This is the organization Moreno is building. Already, more than 1,200 volunteers have signed on to one or more of the 10 offshoots, called nodes. Each node handles a different part of the plan: organizing a conference, pushing blockchain-friendly legislation, building a physical tech hub, reaching out to young professionals, recruiting companies and so on. 

The Blockland organization eventually plans to be registered as something akin to a nonprofit. But like a blockchain itself, it’s not built around a single person. In fact, Moreno’s name appears nowhere on the chart. 

“This isn’t a Bernie effort,” Moreno says. “If Blockland’s about me, it’s over, the presentation’s done. This has got to be a full, regionwide movement with incredible urgency to get it done.”

There’s no denying that without Moreno behind the wheel, however, Blockland would likely be seen as a quixotic lark. 

“I really like his risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit,” says Destination Cleveland president and CEO David Gilbert, who also co-chairs Blockland’s Thought Leadership node. “Certainly that’s what his career has been about in building these car dealerships.” 

Pete Martin, founder and CEO of Votem, has seen those qualities firsthand. In March, Moreno read a news story about Votem, set up a meeting with Martin and asked to invest after just an hour and a half. Two weeks later, he bought a sizable minority stake in the company. 

“The guy is just a force of will,” Martin says. “I think comparing it to a lot of other big initiatives in the city — I’ve been here for almost 30 years now — a lot of them didn’t have a guy like Bernie driving it.”  

While Moreno was building his business, he was also banking influence. For the last two years, he was chairman of the board of Cleveland State University. He sits on the boards of the Cleveland Foundation, Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. He is also a member of the 50 Club of Cleveland, a secretive gathering of Northeast Ohio’s top executives which has counted KeyBank CEO Beth Mooney, attorney Fred Nance and Case Western Reserve University president Barbara Snyder on its board of directors in recent years. 

“He is in that unique position of having that respect, having that past success that has given people more of the desire and maybe the comfortability to jump on board and see where this goes,” says Gilbert.

Moreno’s connections, and the excitement he has instilled in business community leaders, are why Blockland has started so quickly.

“It’s not about making a committee and discussing. It’s about, ‘Let’s get it done,’ ” says Steven Santamaria, CEO of Folio Photonics and a Blockland node co-chair. “This is a startup mentality. This is a Google-ish mentality. Fail fast. Start up. Try it. Throw it against the wall. If it sticks, great. If it doesn’t? Move on to the next thing.”

“Not to brag,” says Martin, in his Votem office. “But the name ‘Blockland,’ I coined it.” Outside, a half-dozen coders huddle at communal desks, typing away. Votem rents space inside StartMart, a 35,000-square-foot coworking space in the Terminal Tower that features a Zen room, maker space, recording room and kegs of beer in the kitchen.

Votem is Martin’s fifth company. The serial entrepreneur came up with the idea at a conference when, as part of a brainstorming exercise, attendees were asked to dream up something to positively impact a billion people. Martin scrawled “mobile voting.”

“The more I looked at these two words, I’m like, ‘Why the heck are we not doing that? It just makes so much sense,’ ” Martin says. “Voting sucks. It’s stuck in the Dark Ages. The fact [that] you have to go down to the polling place and fill out a paper ballot, this is just ridiculous.”

In places like Kenya, most financial transactions are completed between two people using their phones, using services such as M-Pesa. Around the world, people walk for miles to cast votes and hold up ink-stained thumbs, even as, in the U.S., turnout lags. 

To Martin, making voting more convenient and accessible, akin to M-Pesa, wasn’t just a matter of convenience or a moneymaking opportunity. He saw it as a moral prerogative.

But he didn’t have the technology to make it happen. So in 2015, Votem held a global tech challenge with a $230,000 grand prize to crowdsource a solution. About a third of the ideas submitted were built using blockchain. 

The blockchain solutions seemed like the most promising of the bunch, but Martin was initially skeptical. Then he saw Microsoft and IBM making large investments in blockchain research. 

“We’re building a company for the future, not the past,” says Martin. “We were convinced blockchain is clearly the future.”

Votem has run internal elections for unions, the Ohio State Bar Association and public elections for military service members overseas. After bots polluted the 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fan vote with bogus submissions, Votem took over administering it.

The process is relatively simple. After verifying their identity, voters cast their ballots in an app or on an online webpage. Votem’s software, built using blockchain protocol, tracks and checks the ballot from submission to when it is counted. Since the blockchain network is transparent, voters can track their ballot from casting to counting too. 

Still, voting in government elections is a fragmented market. Every state, county and city has different rules, which might slow adoption. Due to concerns about security, voters might be initially wary, Martin acknowledges, and some may never abandon in-person, paper voting. But this year in Los Angeles County, California, Votem and voting machine maker Smartmatic plan to conduct their first large-scale public election. It will be an early test of voter enthusiasm.

A voter fills out their ballot in a Votem-made app, brings their phone to a polling place and scans a QR Code. A machine reads the code and prints a paper ballot, which they review and physically submit to be counted. 

“It starts to create this groundswell,” Martin says. “Then the next phase is, ‘All right, let’s go all the way, maybe some other constituencies, to actually voting on a mobile device.’ ”

Moreno sees Votem as a way to make the democratic process more transparent and increase turnout. “Why are most laws targeting the 50 and older?” says Moreno, who is 51. “Because that’s who votes. Why don’t young people vote? If you can send them a ballot to their iPhone, they’ll engage. They’ll engage every time.”

Martin, who has been involved in Blockland from the beginning, is excited about what it could mean. “I’ve seen Cleveland 2020, Cleveland 1980 … all these visions,” he says. “None of them have been implemented based on the original vision.”

Past civic visions have often focused on big, shiny panaceas. Tower City Center was supposed to usher in an era of luxury shopping. The Medical Mart was supposed to attract an entire national medical innovation sector. New stadiums were supposed to revive downtown. 

A fancy idea catches Cleveland’s eye every decade or so. In 2006, two professors, the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Dan Cuffaro and Cleveland State University’s Ned Hill, proposed to make Cleveland the “Milan of the Midwest.” They wanted to build a product design district near the Cleveland State campus that would attract companies and designers the world over. 

They made presentations across town, pitching their plan as a way to kick start the city’s arts and innovation culture. The Greater Cleveland Partnership hopped on board, as did 120 volunteers and many other civic organizations. But more than 10 years later, non e stato cosi. 

Blockland is more pragmatic, Martin says. For one, it isn’t another boosterish play to emulate another big city; Blockland is something to call our own. It has hard and fast deadlines and buy-in from a wider swath of organizations from Cleveland State to KeyBank to the Cleveland Foundation. It’s a bid to lead in a nascent market, sparked by an entrepreneur, he says, instead of chasing on the heels of sure things when they’ve already passed us by. 

“If it is successful, it’ll be pretty amazing. Selfishly, we’re looking for developers all the time, and we struggle to find the people and talent that we need,” says Martin. “If an initiative like this is successful and Cleveland becomes a home for blockchain innovation and thought leadership and development, that’s really cool.”


On June 18, Moreno flew a bevy of notables to the Blockchain Research Institute, a think tank in Toronto. 

The group of eight — including Destination Cleveland’s Gilbert, Cleveland State president Harlan Sands, Cleveland Foundation president and CEO Ronn Richard, Cuyahoga Community College president Alex Johnson and KeyBank CIO Amy Brady — flew in Moreno’s Hawker 800XPi charter jet. 

Moreno, the ninth passenger, rode atop the plane’s toilet. He was separated from the others by a wall as the Hawker zipped on its puddle-jump over Lake Erie, unable to hear what the rest of the group was discussing. Moreno had called in a lot of favors to put the trip together and was certain they were skeptical.

“I’m sure that on the way there, it was Amy thinking, God, he’s a good friend of mine so I’m doing this for him. Harlan is like, Well, he was the chair of my board, so I’m doing this for him. Alex Johnson: Well, he donated a bunch of money to Tri-C, I’ve got to do this for him,” says Moreno. “I’m being sarcastic, but I’m sure there [was] some element of that in each of them.”

Sands admits there was plenty of questioning on the flight, but mostly centered around the mission of the trip and how to partner. 

“There was a good amount of healthy discussion,” he says.

On the return leg, though, CWRU’s Snyder had to catch another flight out of Toronto. Moreno joined the group up front and spent the flight to Cleveland talking through what they’d learned during their meeting at the think tank. 

“The flight back was, ‘How are we going to make this happen? What’s the timelines? How?’ ” Moreno says. “The work was done. There was no ifs, ands or buts from everybody about whether we do this or not. That was erased.”

Sands offers the same assessment. “I walked away with a healthier optimism about where we can go with this,” he says. 

A conference, dubbed Solutions, has been scheduled for Dec. 1-4, aimed at drawing blockchain developers and businesspeople to Cleveland. Speakers and the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland are booked, the latter paid for by an in-kind donation from the Cuyahoga County government, which also donated $50,000 to offset food and lodging for students. 

A plan to build a 300,000-square-feet blockchain startup incubator, with space for 2,000 desks, is also taking shape. Three sites are being considered. There’s even talk of creating a K-8 school on the incubator’s still-hypothetical campus with blockchain internships for local high school students. 

Six months ago, Blockland was just an idea in Moreno’s head. Now, with every passing day, it’s hurtling forward. “The question is: ‘Can we do this in hyper-speed, in a manic pace, in an insanely collaborative way?’ ” says Moreno. 


The Cleveland metropolitan Bar Association auditorium has the ambience of a college lecture hall, with gently sloping walkways, a projection screen and chairs deflated by the weight of a few too many khaki-wearing butts. 

Moreno’s assistant hands out free Blockland-branded T-shirts and stickers from a merch table outside. Moreno sits near the front to emcee this Aug. 21 public gathering of the Blockland nodes. 

Each of the 10 nodes sends a representative to the podium, where they motor through quick slideshow updates. The vibe oscillates between lecture, shareholder presentation and naptime until all the node co-chairs line up onstage to answer questions.

A guy up front stands. He wears a baggy tan suit and blocky glasses. His head is bald, but his ample beard is shorn so it ends in a point fine enough to cut glass. His name is Waverly Willis, he says, owner of Urban Kutz barbershop. 

“My question to you guys is, as a regular ordinary guy that has the capacity to reach a lot of people every week,” Willis says, “how can I serve to help build Blockland, blockchain technology for Cleveland, representing just the average, ordinary blue-collar guy?”

There is a brief moment of panic. What can an ordinary guy with no technical skills do? Where does a barber fit into this brave new Blockland of coders, capital and cryptography? Oh shit: Does he at all?

“Steve?” someone says. A wave of nervous laughter. The microphone is handed, game-of-telephone-style, to Santamaria, co-chair of the Thought Leadership node. He muddles for a second, trying to find the right words.

“As a person from Cleveland, with a business here, you are our evangelist,” Santamaria says, finally. “We ask that you look at this technology, that you learn what you can, and you embrace it, you spread more, that’s how this happens.”

MetroHealth CEO Akram Boutros takes the microphone and tells Willis he can encourage the young men who come through his chair to pursue careers as coders. 

If your clients encounter any social problems that might be solved with blockchain, be sure to pass the word along, Cleveland Foundation CEO Ronn Richard adds. 

Dorothy Baunach, CEO of DigitalC, stands toward the back to make a point. There is a pretty obvious lack of diversity in the Blockland group, she says. 

“Also think about the population that isn’t even connected to the internet, that you’re kind of leaving behind in terms of recruiting them for this,” she says. “You need to do some deeper dives into the neighborhoods to do that outreach.” 

Another pause settles in. The people onstage dance the microphone shuffle. Richard responds, again, to say that the number of women involved in Blockland heartens him. (From the back, Baunach agrees.) Entrepreneur Steve McHale emphasizes the importance of diversity. Attorney Jon Pinney suggests meeting with DigitalC. But Baunach’s second point is largely unaddressed. The meeting ends.

I go down to the front, to have a word with Willis. He hands me a card. He’d heard about the meeting from a client who works at the Cleveland Foundation. Based on what he heard today, he thinks blockchain could be groundbreaking for Cleveland, he says. But Willis is refreshingly honest about why he showed up.

“I’m a barber, so I want to know what’s new. Hopefully, if I give my cards out, I’m going to learn, No. 1, more about blockchain and Blockland,” Willis says. “But maybe I’ll get more clients out of it too.” 

Through the beard, he breaks into a winky smile. 

“That’s always the motive.”

After we talked, I gave Willis a card. He emailed me a day later. 

“Traditionally people in urban areas are left behind when new and innovative ideas are birthed because of fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge,” Willis wrote. “I will change that for the urban community.”

He also wanted to share some news.

Urban Kutz now accepts cryptocurrency. 

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