• Osa Iluobe & Harman Tutt

CrowdPad’s Joel Alexander: "I fell into a rabbit hole and haven't looked back"

Updated: Nov 18

In conversation with CrowdPad Founder & CEO Joel Alexander.

For a man in his early twenties, Joel Alexander is impressively somewhat of a renaissance man. An LSE graduate, founder, Web3 wiz, startup guru, and big-thinking optimist, it was immediately evident that Alexander had the intellect to back his impressive CV when we sat down for a chat. Alexander, taking our call from Dubai at 12 am, was full of energy and raring to go - A trait that’s characteristic of ambitious entrepreneurs who seemingly never tire. Everything from Alexander’s struggles at university to his plans to scale Crowdpad, a Web3 content creation-focused platform, was all discussed. It’s fair to say that we were given insight into the man behind ideas and execution.

I start by asking Alexander about his time at university. He attended the London School of Economics & Political Sciences (LSE) where he studied Accounting & Finance, a course that is infamously difficult to get accepted into by LSE, and equally hard to do well in. That Alexander didn’t enjoy his degree too much appears to be a takeaway point. ‘I did well at school, got into LSE, and did a degree that I found really dull in the end’. Despite not liking his degree, Alexander did do one thing that all career-driven students do as soon as they enter their halls of residence - Join university societies. For Alexander, this meant immersing himself in LSE’s Trading Society, Business & Investment Society, Finance Society, and more. His rationale for joining these inter-uni groups was clear - At least at the time. Alexander desired to be an investment banker, a career that many smart people end up in mostly by virtue of accident in their pursuit of the graduate big bucks.

Things changed for Alexander when he reached LSE. Academics were a toilsome challenge and this prompted him to reconsider his priorities, his views towards university, and how he would plot his next move. ‘The start of uni was pretty tough, especially because I’d always done well in school and education was always important to me’. Months of introspection followed. I note that at the time, Alexander probably had two options in the face of this challenge.

One would’ve been to have taken studies more seriously, therein becoming the archetype of an elite student at an elite university who knows not much beyond work and sees not much beyond their books. The second option, of which Alexander opted for, was to detoxify his outlook and the elevated status that academia occupied within it. He did. And he doesn’t regret it one bit. He says how, ‘In the end, university became a side-hustle’, highlighting the fact that challenge in a way gave him clarity and a newfound identity that was not tied to academic achievement. ‘​​I felt so small, but I learned that the world is actually so big and that changed things for me’.

Realising this, Alexander began to explore new things, and national lockdowns afforded him the time to do so. In May 2020, he co-founded ReShape, a Gen-Z consultancy that supported over 40 companies in the space of 12 months and grew to a team of 210. His motivations for stating ReShape as a project were more so for purpose, not profit. ‘At most jobs, you’re doing something to serve people who already have it all’ and a desire to serve those who don’t have it all is seemingly a common principle for action for Alexander. Indeed, CrowdPad, his latest project seeks to grant ownership and power to content creators by allowing them to tokenise their communities - The first project of its kind.

In doing so, Alexander intends to serve all content creators by allowing them to tap into their audience and get fair remuneration for their work. That this is a problem is evident, the most popular platforms that content creators feature on are getting a nice slice of their pie and are also the base upon which creators rely for their livelihoods. Creators are essentially renting on already-owned land and are paying a price for it. CrowdPad’s proposition is one that gets us excited for that reason, but how did Alexander get into Web3 in the first place?

As was the case with his initial ambition to be an investment banker, Alexander ‘fell into a rabbit hole’ with Web3 and has been going deeper into it ever since. The curiosity that characterises Alexander’s approach to doing things is one that I highlight as surprising and rare. Many people are curious to learn, but not everyone is curious to act. The key in this sense for Alexander is prioritisation. ‘Real builders prioritise the real impact of their projects and what they do’ - It’s for this reason that he never commits to too many things at once, and why when he does commit his curiosity to action, he needs to have full conviction.

Desirable traits no doubt, but what does Alexander look for in prospective employees when hiring? ‘Proof of work, in a literal sense. Show me what you’ve worked on, not your university certificate’. Such a response is indicative of the way that Alexander now views potential and how he’s burst the bubble of academia that once clouded his reality and wobbled his confidence.

With a refreshed approach, new project and ambition to succeed, one thing that we are sure about is that Joel Alexander is one-to-watch.

Joel Alexander's choice of Coffee: Karak Chai