Hashtag #BCSC16 on Facebook and Twitter
I am updating this article throughout the day as events occur. Pass by every now and then.
Today I am happily attending the Blockchain Startup Contest 2016. The BCSC 2016 is the outcome of 90 startups competing with each other to get the €15.000 bounty, where the last 20 could pitch today. Guests ranged from the well known Dr. Shermin Voshmgir from Estonia who is a blockchain advocate and other companies like Kapa Ventures.
The contest was hosted at the Energie Steiermark building, 10th floor, beautiful view over Graz. The whole event was well sponsored, for example by Kapa Ventures, eCounting, Graz Wirtschaft, Steiermärkische Sparkasse, Maker Space, Coinfinity, Ideen Triebwerk Graz, Groox, Energie Steiermark and Lab10. The organizer was Thomas Zeinzinger from Lab10.
Dr. Shermin Voshmgir - Blockchain Introduction
Initially Dr. Shermin Voshmgir from the Blockchainhub gave a great overview over the use-cases of the Blockchain, what it is, what technologies are building upon and how is it explained to others. She also gave an outlook of what the Blockchain technology will be used (or can be used) in the future. Like slock.it which is doing IoT and Blockchain smart access control or Augur a prediction market which is decentralized.
In short: the decentralized web, which is the idea of the blockchain, is to get rid of the middle-man. The technologies are very new, like ipfs, swarm, whistper or the language solidity, but there is a great community behind which is pursuing the idea of the re-invention of the web.
Challenges are all over the place, from scalability, idenity&privacy, business models, training&education. We are still building the protocol layer and we do not have an real wide adopted dApps. It's like 1990 for the internet - we don't know where it leads to, but we are working on it that the future will be more decentral than today - read more on blockchainhub's website.
Without further ado, here are the competing startups which remained in the contest. I am mostly summarizing directly from running video streams, so forgive me any mistakes in my writings.
ISBIT Digital Assets Market
International Payments are painfully slow. ISBIT can be the asset market in the origin or destination country. ISBIT is making money by applying a small fee. ISBIT will have ATMs, Webapps, APIs. They have 2FA and have more payment options than any of their competitors.
Why are ISBIT different from Bitcoins - what is the added value?
The only way to sell bitcoins in Mexico is with ISBIT or with their competitors. And ISBIT has an integration with a bank which makes it frictionless.
Are you an exchange?
Yes, we are an exchange and a payment platform. It can be used by companies, not only the end consumers.
How many people are involved in this project?
2 people, both with finance background.
How is it going to be marketed? Where are the initial customers coming from?
ISBIT is directly talking to import/export companies because this is their main target group. And Moneygram and WesternUnion.
Affiliate Smart Contracts (Name unkown)
They want to take on big players such as eBay or Amazon by moving the affiliate layer to smart contracts. Private and confidential data should not be stored centralized. They have a public prototype and a proof of concept within the next 3 months. They propose a lightweight and scalable platform to attract affiliate partners who can charge a few percent on transactions.
Is it correct that you are making affiliate networks in smart contracts on ethereum?
What is the business model?
We would provide ethereums to merchants for a fee. They can build an affiliate network and the affiliates would join the network for free but pay for additional services. And the customers (shoppers) have also access to services like browser extensions.
We are not talking about a volume fee, but a monthly subscription fee
Does that mean that the whole Ethereum network is validating the each interaction like clicks, or anything and everything?
What we basically do is to build an API that markets and merchants can sign the data through the smart contracts.
Such programs exist already, where is the value add here?
The value add is a lightweight solution to build a scalable solution that doesn't rely on 3rd parties.
AlphaAid or so (italian startup)
Insurance and charity flow on the blockchain. Lack of insurance coverage at charify flow costs billion of dollars. Using the blockchain technology peer2peer donation systems. Redesigning the aid-environment. For example when environment desasters happen and immediately allow donors to help. The Risk Sharing System is another system. There is an entrance fee. For people who do not trust their insurance or cannot afford one.
Go live in a few months. Aiming for huge media converage and initially 30k users.
How are you planning the 30k users by end of 2017?
We went around Europe and collected already 600 beta testers. We want to partnership with bigger companies. We want to make geographically referral activity.
Who are your competitors?
Donation: BitGive? an NGO started to promote the transparency platform. In europe PinAid?
Insurance: Timbella?! (I never heard of them, so forgive me mistakes)
How works the process of giving the money? The regional donations?
There an Earthquake and you collected one million Euros, how do you give them away?
There is a chain of trust and we give it to trusted 3rd parties and they distribute it.
Like 1password without password. Opportunity is eliminate all passwords by the use of the blockchain. The solution is multi-platform apps and multi-signature.
What is your business model?
Two password slots are for free and for more you have to pay. Also something like slack for teams (ssh keys on servers)?
When is it ready?
We will be ready in at least half a year.
Where are you using the blockchain itself?
On the blockchain you basically create public and private keypair. In our schema there is not really the blockchain involved, we are just servicing it.
Sun Exchange from South Africa
Solar energy finance for a developing world. Own and Earn from Solar Panels. The founder realized that there are very few solar panels on the roofs and its one of the sunniest places on earth. From where are they are going to get energy? Fastest and cheapest: solar panels. They enable anyone anywhere to invest in solar panels.
They distribute solar energy return through smart contracts. Even the company goes bankrupts - because its running on the blockchain in smart contracts you still receive the money.
You said you need transparancy and autonomy, why is that?
You might have concerns about my company. Setting it up in smart-contracts you can have the confidence that your returns are still running even if our company disappears.
What happens if the smart meter is removed from the solar panel?
There is a fund that takes care of such cases.
There is no risk?
Well, you still invest into the south african rand, which has a high inflation.
Who are your first investors?
A lot of our customers came out of the solar-project school we had. Our entry point is $10 which makes it very open for people from low-income backgrounds.
We also have institutional investors.
Backups are going into a new type of cloud. The box is a physical product and share your space for money.
When you backup your data into the new kind of cloud, its backed up and distributed with a specific blockchain. They evaluated a lot of technologies and build upon SIA.
They already have hundreds of nodes running today and the marketplace is liberated.
Its also cheaper: Instead of paying roughly 1000€ for cloud-backup space you earn actually money by renting out space on your box. The revenuemodel is to get money from the box, and transaction fees.
The first consumers are video producers etc. They were part of Zurich kickstarters and are fundet. Their team has people from IBM and the co-creator from Mycelium (Andreas Petersson).
I like the idea, but why you need the extra hardware box?
Today the tools are not easy to use: CLI tools, bulky, etc... We encountered a number of problems. So we created a dedicated software stack to do just that. And instead of offering an image or a virtual machine we just put in in a separate piece of hardware which does just that. Its like a turnkey solution.
We work with certified data centers in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. We enabled the solution to select only boxes for backup in certain countries and if you have an regulatory restrictions you can still do that.
Where are you at witht he hardware development?
We partner with HP and we do not develop the hardware actually. But we partner with other companies to have patches and fixes deployed even when we are not existing for some reason anymore.
Guarantuee international aid with blockchain technology. Already deployed aid to 500 Syrian Refugees. Partnered with the UN development program. Have a great team. Is also presented at the blockchain summit in Poland.
The technology can solve a lot of problems currently in Aid Distribution. Have clients in America, Switzerland. Won several competitions. [Its hard to follow]
The use case - the transparency issue - how do you solve that?
We created a blockchain (a permission blockchain).
What will be your competitive advantage?
We started the sales process already over 12 months ago. We are official partner of the UN, we meet with the government of Dubai and we are in the int. Red Cross Council.
Your customers are the governments?
Yes. The paying customers are the governments. And the NGOs give us access to over a billion people.
What is your timeline for project rollout?
We were in Serbia two weeks ago and the technology is ready to roll out. We are now improving the workflow and the process. We just can through the TechStar Accelerator.
Blockchain in Healthcare. Unified medical records with patient ownership. Telehealth supporting infrastructure. Teleker is an end to end solution for remote patient monitoring and more.
They fulfill a lot of purposes for different target groups with apps and specialized hardware for doctors. Have an HL7 Blockchain Bridge and its currently in Linux Hyperledger implemented.
Why use a blockchain instead of a shared database?
We are sharing the clinical information in the general ledger and we cannot give the permision to grant access to the information to an institution. We also use the consensus to validate transactions - for example IoT devices.
How far are you with the development?
We are not applying the full set, but we are validating solutions at the city level.
How big is your team and what experiences do they have?
We started using the healthcare solution with traditional encryption. We are working in the health care area for many years. The Blockchain solves a lot of traditional problems with remote medical. Our team involves 13 teammembers.
Smart Cities are missing something. We are missing the active participation of users and people have the need for privacy. Citylab is a local environment on the ehtereum blockchain. Small on-demand contracts. Citicen investment funds. The revenue model: 0.007% on healthcare transactions to 0.5%. 7 people are involved.
Insight what we can use it for practically?
Homecare for example.
Does this require a smart contract?
Yes, especially when it comes to privacy and security. Also the second example: Small investment funds.
Is that like a platform technology for local initiatives? Can I setup my own initiative?
You can on-demand use our smart contracts and drop them in a local lab.
But when I use your CitiLab I can do everything from Crowdfunding and Healthcare?
Yes, our services are very broad. And our competitors are next door.
Blockchain as a Service?
We are developing like a pre-written contract. And its on you to take that and put it on the Ethereum network.
Can I customize it?
We are thinking about it. But we are not sure about that.
I am not sure I completely understand your use case completely, can you elaborate on that? Where is the value add?
We are positioning ourself through the local NGOs. I have many years of experience working with local NGOs and NGOs have a lack of experience which the Blockchain solves.
[Break right now]
Keynote from Aaron van Wirdum from the Bitcoin Magazine is coming up
He is talking about the financial bubble on Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto was removing the trust problem with currencies.
- Open Source
- Double Spending Problem
The problem is that the blockchain and bitcoin is highly inefficient because to keep it immutable you have to burn horribly inefficient amounts of energy. Just to keep it secure.
Tackles problems like slow comunication, real time notes, direct communication and they are blockchain based.
CD Pod is currently evaluating their platform. End of 2017 they want to be ready to deploy.
What are you competitors?
We are not going broad. We have small competitors. But none of them are working on an interactive map where its easier to work with. But for example Deloitte and MedTech or NurseGrid. Also PeaceKeeper, but its more Messaging.
Smart Insurance Applications on the Blockchain. They built the Flight Delay dApp on the DevCon2. fdd.etherisc.com. Was on the mainnet for a few weeks and they gained a lot of feedback. Its currently only on the test-net anymore.
Together over 40 years of experience with IT.
How do you know if the flight is delayed or not?
We do a smart-oracle via a public available API from flightstatus.
Did you solve this via multi-signature as well - like the flight company has a signature and you have a signature and both agree that the flight is delayed?
We do this via a 3rd party company and we don't need that, but for our current application we don't do that. The question is also if you want to have a push or a pull solution.
Is this a proof of concept?
We had this in production for three weeks, but now we are extending this to external investors.
What are you competitors?
There are companies out there like inChain or Umbrella, but we haven't seen any real demos from them.
Is there resistance - for example from Airlines to implement that?
No, Airlines love this because they currently have a huge problem with customer satisfaction.
Decentralized auction network. They have an MVP and have already a first auction in the Odesa Area. They are also working together with banks. Especially they like the trust part which reduces the corruption from governments.
Who is behind this, only you or a larger Team?
Its like a larger team: One team working with the government and another team working on the technology.
What are you actually doing on the blockchain? Where is the smart contract coming in?
We are using the smart contracts to connect hosts. The hosts are putting the smart contracts online and we are connecting them.
How to use it? Do I have to register?
The product is used by two sides: The banks or auction platforms can use my open protocols to offer in real time in a distributed manner.
END FROM MY LIVE UPDATES
Unfortunately I have to stop here, becaue my battery is empty. More on facebook or twitter via the #bcsc16 hashtag.
Other Startups Presenting
After my battery went out there were a few more startups. Some of them were quite interesting:
is a browser, messenger, and gateway to the decentralised world of Ethereum. They were one of the winners.
I also found Caseangel quite interesting. They are having a portfolio of products, where one of them is made for the blockchain: Smartcontracts adapted to the real world.
Unfortunately I couldn't find a website or anything else about them. Happy to edit the post here.
Conclusion and final words
The whole contest was a great place to meet and network with all kinds of people from the blockchain world. Journalists, banks, venture capital, and most importantly: Startups. The atosphere was very open and nice and I definitely look forward to the next contest. Maybe again here in my hometown: Graz.
If there are any mistakes in the text you want to have corrected or you feel the need to reach out to me, feel free to use the comments, email me at thomas [at] vomtom.at or find me on twitter at @hncombinator