With over twenty blockchain startups emerging locally, Seattle has become home to many companies at the forefront of disruptive technology and entrepreneurship. Techstars Startup Weekend organizes events to push aspiring founders to their creative and operating limits, which is why Seattle made an excellent setting for the very first Startup Weekend Blockchain Edition.
What is Startup Weekend?
Techstars Startup Weekend is a three-day event in which event participants form ideas, create teams, and develop a business model and an MVP (minimum viable product) all within 54 hours.
Throughout the process, teams are mentored by local leaders in entrepreneurship to compile their final presentations, which are then judged by VCs, angel investors, and local industry leaders.
The event was hosted and coordinated by the Seattle Entrepreneurship Club, a local organization founded by Chinese engineers and dedicated to creating a network for professionals, promoting innovation and establishing a platform for entrepreneurial endeavors.
Event coordinator, Man Zheng shared some insight into their organization’s goals:
“One of our main missions of the Seattle Entrepreneruship Club is to encourage people to step up and be an entrepreneur and do their own startup.”
Over the course of three days, twelve teams composed of over a hundred participants took to the drawing board and formed fresh ideas for a blockchain or cryptocurrency-related service or product.
From the wall-scaping Microsoft surface to the tables covered in leftover catering and laptop cases, the meeting hall of the Global Innovation Exchange was bustling with technical banter and business proposals.
By the end of the second day, teams had committed to their product ideas and began developing a working prototype and business model to present on the final day.
Those with technical skillsets took to their laptops, each spewing out code for their prototypes and user interfaces as fast as possible. Those on the business-side were seen pacing back and forth while trying to get in touch with potential customers and partners.
As dusk drew near, the teams fell into a productive groove – rushing to complete a comprehensive presentation and demo for their disruptive blockchain-based product or service.
On Sunday, May 6, presentation day had arrived, and the anticipation was high. From 3:30 pm onward, the twelve teams shuffled in and took their places near the stage to present.
Jonathan Gagliardoni, local entrepreneur and co-founder of SHOP, was the MC of the final presentations.
The judges composed of four industry leaders, including:
- Dave Parker, Venture Investor
- Lawrence Lerner, CEO of Pithia, Inc.
- Ken Everett, Director of Engineering at New Alchemy
- Joe Roets, CEO of Dragonchain
Starting with “Artisan Chain” and ending with “Sliver,” each team had five minutes to present (with no exceptions) and three minutes to answer judges’ questions. Some teams used their time on stage efficiently while others fell victim to the time constraints which often cut their presentations short.
The Winners and Honorable Mentions
Taking third place was BitIP, proposing a solution to digital copyright infringement and licensing by recording the timestamped files on an immutable blockchain for security and transparency.
In second place, team Sendmetokens offered a completely decentralized SMS payment system that utilized blockchain to send and confirm frictionless transactions between users.
Taking the cake and winning the competition, team Redditment revealed a machine learning-based software for analyzing real-time cryptocurrency market sentiment through data collected and classified from online forums such as Reddit and Bitcointalk.
Although the idea did not utilize recording transactions on the blockchain, judges felt the use case, and revenue model were significant competitive advantages in the emerging cryptocurrency trading markets.
For many of the teams, presentation day was not the end of their product development. Several teams expressed plans to continue working with their teammates on the projects beyond the scope of the event – showing great enthusiasm for what’s next to come.
Jason You, a student of Mathematics at UW and member of team Redditment, told CryptoSlate:
“We already made the plans for [the next] three weeks and will probably make the product online.”
It was clear that everyone participating in the event was glad to gain experience and network with like-minded industry professionals.
Following their team’s victory, Head of Technology at BlockQuant Capital and presentation lead for team Redditment, Ray Bao stated:
“I’m super bullish on the cryptocurrency blockchain industry, but I’m very very very mega bullish on everybody in this room that we are able to present and be a part of and do work with. I think that was just the biggest takeaway for me.”
Techstars Startup Weekend is active in over 150 countries internationally and has coordinated over 2900 events since its inception. Check here for more information on Startup Weekend and the Seattle Entrepreneurship Club.Posted In: Seattle, Adoption, Technology