The cryptocurrency market is going through a rough patch as the market capitalization has remained under $2 trillion after having surpassed $3 trillion back in November. While many have seen this as a reason to stay away, others have doubled down on crypto and blockchain technology. Some of them are Tariq Bokhari and several Charlotte city leaders who partnered to found Meta Lab.
Tariq, a Charlotte city Councilman and serial entrepreneur, has grown over the years to become one of the most recognized people in the fintech industry. Having grown up in poverty and with an unstable family dynamic, he has used his awareness of financial inequality as a catalyst for most of his work. Wells Fargo, General Electric Capital, and FIS are only some of the companies in which Tariq has worked during his professional life.
About 5 years ago, Tariq started his entrepreneurial journey by founding Aggresant, a FinTech startup. These efforts would later continue with Carolina FinTech Hub, a startup with the mission of “Fueling the Future of Fintech in the Carolinas”. However, despite his success, Tariq is looking for more:
“I was at the peak of my career, however, I was flawed. I didn’t have the energy or passion to do the important things. I knew I didn’t want to be on the road anymore and wanted to spend time with my family. My mantra is Social Impact By Design. I joined the City Council to give back.”
Meta Lab is the result of collaboration between Tariq’s startup Carolina FinTech Hub and global innovator network MassChallenge, offering pioneers and visionaries an opportunity to bring their projects to life via the Meta Lab Startup Challenge. Those participating in the Meta Lab Startup Challenge partake in a $30k prize pool in travel and equity-free cash awards.
While money is great news for any founder, the true prize is being put in the spotlight of some of Charlotte’s biggest organizations, investors, and partners. Some of the challenge’s most important partners are Atrium Health, Barings, and Truist.
By founding Meta Lab and launching the Meta Lab Challenge, Tariq is looking to help Charlotte become a major global FinTech destination. Not only has the region become increasingly relevant on the national stage but FinTech (and Crypto) have also experienced more investing than ever before. Tariq believes he can contribute to helping innovation come faster:
“I started an accelerator creating upper mobility to impact lives. Two questions: Are problems getting solved? And how do you build a business out of the solution? That’s how Meta Lab came to be – innovation,”
Sure, the FinTech and Crypto industries seemed to be in a cryogenic status at this time but the fact that Andreessen Horowitz, Binance, and Canonical are doubling down, seems like good news. However, while these investments germinate, it is up to the efforts of those like Tariq to help entrepreneurs succeed.