BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

In the competitive world of tech startups, achieving the elusive billion-dollar valuation is often the result of a founder’s ability to innovate, challenge norms, and, quite simply, think differently. The remarkable journey of Andrew Masanto, a tech entrepreneur with a penchant for the unconventional, exemplifies the essence of innovation.

Masanto’s philosophy hinges on the power of divergence. He believes that the creation of groundbreaking companies lies in the ability to be contrarian, unique, and unorthodox.

His background is a testament to embracing the road less traveled. Born in Indonesia, raised in Australia, and having spent time as a monk in Africa, Masanto’s eclectic experiences span continents and cultures. Masanto credits his resilience and inclination towards the unconventional to his early experiences with bullying, which steered him towards seeking out and valuing unique and controversial ideas.

His professional journey is equally diverse, in addition to founding two unicorns, Masanto has practiced law in the UK at Linklaters to lead America’s fastest-growing pet startup (PetLab Co.), founded the ANONA artistic movement, and spearheaded a biohacking community of over 14,000 members.

This approach has clearly paid dividends, as seen in his ventures like Hedera Hashgraph. Hedera, a cryptocurrency based on the novel Hashgraph algorithm, faced initial skepticism and pushback for challenging the blockchain status quo. Yet, Masanto’s persistence and belief in the technology’s potential led to Hedera’s rise as a top cryptocurrency, valued at approximately $3 billion.

But Masanto didn’t stop there. His venture into tackling hyperinflation with the web3 startup Reserve aimed to create a stable value alternative to fiat currency, another concept initially met with skepticism. However, the project’s success in markets like Argentina and Venezuela, and its recognition as a top global cryptocurrency, underscored Masanto’s ability to turn “quirky” ideas into viable solutions.

Recent years have seen Masanto at the helm of other innovative projects such as Nillion, revolutionizing data storage and computation, alongside the interesting (yet highly profitable) venture of selling pet supplements, PetLab Co. His ventures into the digital and physical realms reflect a deep-seated belief in the value of non-conformity and the potential of unconventional ideas to drive progress.

Andrew Masanto’s story is more than a tale of tech entrepreneurship; it is a narrative about the transformative power of embracing one’s individuality and challenging the status quo. It serves as a beacon for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators in South Africa and beyond, reminding us that the path to significant impact and success often lies in the willingness to explore the unexplored and to cherish the quirky and contrarian ideas that can change the world.