Erick Calderon is an entrepreneur down to his bones. In college, he opened a snow cone stand across from the University of Texas at Austin. For the past 18 years, the 40-year-old has run a business in Houston that imports high-end porcelain and ceramic tiles from Spain and Italy. But both ventures pale in comparison with Calderon’s success in his most recent and improbable career twist: crypto entrepreneur.
A year ago, Calderon launched a platform called Art Blocks that allows artists to create and sell computer-generated art stored on the blockchain. To his surprise, Art Blocks took off—its total sales volume has surpassed $1 billion, according to data provider CryptoSlam—and the resale value of its pieces has exploded on the secondary market. For Calderon, who has raised $6 million in venture capital funding for the buzzy startup despite never having worked in tech, the experience has been surreal.
“I’m the first to admit that I actually don’t know what I’m doing,” said Calderon. “I’m just blindly navigating what feels like a pirate ship with all these crazy people hanging on to it.”