Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Charlie Jarvis grew up learning about the importance of creativity, community and giving back. From music lessons and film, to comedy writing for her high school newspaper, to seeing her dad spending his time making art in various crafts, working on his basement wood-shop or doing community work. It all contributed to her love for creating new things and impacting others.
She always knew she wanted to be involved in the act of creation. During high school, she was really into math and science. It only took her two years to go from being an engineering intern to co-founding a promising tech company.
And she did all of this after shying away from computer science in high school, thinking it was too late for her to pursue a career in technology.
“Both art and computer science are industries where there is not a lot of representation of people that look like me,” she said. “And computer science was also really intimidating because there’s always the archetype of the straight white male tech bro. Even in my classes at Stanford, I never had a black woman computer science professor. So it was hard to see myself there.”
Despite her initial hesitation, Jarvis is now the founder of Fairchain, a blockchain-based platform working on equity within the world of fine arts. Here’s how she got there.
For her college studies, she went to Stanford and started studying a major in design. She didn’t need to choose between art and engineering and she loved doing a bit of both. A no brainer, really. But after a successful and inspiring internship at Google, she realized she wanted to build apps. Despite her initial lack of confidence, she pursued a computer science major.
“What was really important for me was finding mentors who looked like me or finding other women in my life that were really pursuing computer science,” she said. Finding that community was really important to me, as well as succeeding in the workplace and my internships, and just feeling like this is something that I could do academically.”
Her next corporate internship with Youtube Music got her fascinated about how technology could influence creative industries, and she realized that she could work on the two things she loved most. She also started hearing and learning about blockchain and crypto around this time and met very interesting and like minded people.
During her senior year, she met Max Kendrick who was working on a project in the art industry and needed someone technical to help make it a reality. She loved the idea and they started working on the product together. While she was still finishing her undergraduate degree, they co-founded Fairchain, a blockchain-based platform that facilitates an equitable infrastructure for a better fine art market.
Fairchain has created a layer of trust to power ownership and transactions to the traditional art industry. An industry that has exploded in the past few decades and where the landscape has changed significantly, but there haven’t been frameworks in technology that have kept up with the changes.
”There are artists and galleries being left out of the secondary markets. And collectors often operate on handshakes most of the time, which make certain inefficiencies arise,” she said. “Fraud and disputes do happen and galleries sell to trusted clients to avoid all this, which means several other collectors have a lot of trouble getting access. Our goal is to open up a layer of access and protection for all parties.”
Open to any artist, they have to apply and go through a very thorough ID verification process that validates their identity. Once verified, they can start selling their art through their own studios or the galleries they work with. For collectors, the platform enables them to authenticate and demonstrate clear title to a work while also keeping their identities and activities private from third parties.
They support the sales of any unique artistic asset, which most often looks like physical work (paintings, sculptures, numbered editions of photography), but also conceptual art pieces which can take different forms.
Today, hundreds of artists use the Faircain platform.
It is important to Jarvis that she’s engaged in these spaces and that she continues to make room for others.
“A big barrier to entry is really just this mentality, this lack of confidence in the ability to succeed in these spaces,” she said.“ And once you get past that, you realize there are so many things about having an identity as a woman or as a person of color that add these really unique values.”
In five years, she hopes to have been able to grow the company successfully, integrating it seamlessly into the way anyone transacts artworks globally. She sees herself still very engaged with the creative and tech communities and paving the way for other people in the industry, creating as many opportunities as possible for people and helping others to see themselves represented in these spaces.
“Regardless if you end up coding or not as your career, the problem solving, the collaboration that you have to do in order to succeed in these classes or build tech products is absolutely invaluable and I use these skills every single day in building the company,” she said.
This is not financial advice. If you don't want to spend money investing in crypto or Web3 — you don’t have to. The intent of this article is to help others educate themselves and learn.
This article has been updated to clarify how many years it took Jarvis to found Fairchain