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#StartUpSelfie #36

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Something about Blockchain and everything around it I just can’t figure out. The more I try to get informed, the less I know, it seems… The FinTech industry was under the loop throughout 2016 and even though many say all this is 10 plus years in the future, let’s agree that ‘the future’ is fast approaching.

So let’s start with the basics, so we can get a general impression of what this technology is really all about. A blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of ordered records called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. By design blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data — once recorded, the data in a block cannot be altered retroactively. In 2008 a core component of the digital currency called bitcoin was introduced. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a payment system and is created as a reward in a competition in which users offer their computing power to verify and record bitcoin transactions into the blockchain. On another side there is the controversial Onecoin cryptocurrency, which has been accused of being a Ponzi scheme, both because of how it has been set up and because of many of the people who are central to Onecoin having previously been involved in other such schemes…

In 2016, the central securities depository of the Russian Federation (NSD) announced a pilot project based on blockchain technology. Various regulatory bodies in the music industry have started testing models that use blockchain technology for royalty collection and management of copyrights around the world. IBM opened a blockchain innovation research centre in Singapore in July 2016. A working group for the World Economic Forum met in November 2016 to discuss the development of governance models related to blockchain.

Why is this a hot topic? Why is it fast approaching? Why should we use it? How should the people cope with this change? So many questions are running through my mind…

Recently, a former colleague and friend of mine, moved to sunny Sydney. Together with her partner, they were working on something big, testing, building, pivoting. I was excited to have her back in our hometown, couple of weeks ago.

Emma PK wanted to share her experience while building this FinTech startup with the whole community. But before the official event, we grabbed a coffee and talked about the next big thing – BronTech.

“Me and my co-founder Voidan Kardalev, know each other since high school and later on went to the same university to study computer science. We’ve always been interested in software and technology, and prior Brontech we both separately had tech companies. Last year, due to several occurrences in our country, our craving to see new parts of the world and some opportunities that arose at that time we decided to relocate in Australia and consequently co-found Brontech.

Several years ago, when I was doing my MBA degree, as part of the program I had to analyze the Global Financial Crisis that hit the World in 2007. That was also the time when I started reading more about money, how they are made and what are the implications of different financial policies on the society in general. We started discussing some of the concepts with Voidan and spent days talking about what caused the GFC and how it would have been prevented. That was the time when we really got interested in Bitcoin, the ideology that surrounded this movement and the strong social/political statement it was making. Yet at that time Bitcoin was still just money, cooler money- but still just money and at we couldn’t really do much with the technology that it was built on.

Then, with the second wave of blockchain that arguably started with the proposal for building Ethereum – the public blockchain-based distributed computing platform we really got interested in the potential of what this tool can bring when creating an overall software architecture. After building several DApps (decentralized apps), we realized that there was one thing that is essential to build a decentralized system and that is to have a decentralized identity. There wasn’t one that we could use out of the box, so we decided to build one.” – says Emma.

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Building something from scratch is never easy. This is probably one of the highlights for the wannabepreneurs. Behind a operating and growing startup there are a lot of challenges, sleepless nights, hard work. For a team of two, I was interested to find out what were their main challenges regarding Blockchain and what Emma sees as a challenge for being a startup, on a daily basis.

“The thing we like most about this technology is that it essentially represents a tool to decentralize power. The blockchain (or at least the public blockchains) is owned by nobody and everybody, is a platform without censorship and control and used in the right way can add value to the way we build applications, create value and profit from them. However, 2016 was definitely the year of the blockchain hype. There were so many assumptions and speculations of what this technology can do that it spiraled out of control. All of a sudden, there was so much noise and misinformation that it became difficult for us to explain to our clients and investors the real capabilities as well as the limits of the technology because of the overblown expectations that blockchain will magically solve all the problems in every vertical in all industries in the World.

With some exceptions, I think most of the startups are lacking a bold vision for transformative change. Everyone is building the next app and I am really keen to see the next company/organization that will shake up the World.” – adds Emma.

Mentioning investors, BronTech has raised their initial first round. What’s next with Brontech and what would be her ‘two cents’ to anyone interested in building something connected to Blockchain?

“After the holidays we are launching the My Bron platform and we feel super proud when people call us/email us that they want to be engaged in the My Bron development just because they believe in the cause. It has always been an imperative for us to build a business with strong social aspect and Brontech is exactly that kind of company. That makes us very proud.

If you are building something with blockchain, inform yourself about the advantages as well as the limits of the technology and its different implementations and derivatives. Do not believe everything you read online, the blockchain is not a magical sprinkle dust that you can put on the software you build to auto-magically solve all the issues with you app and the World. Be wary of quasi experts and blockchain evangelists, most of them do not know what they are talking about. Also, note that the technology is still in its embryonic stage and that means lots of bugs and issues, but also huge potential if improved in its next iteration.” – said Emma.

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Something to add… I’m definitely gonna follow the development of BronTech and Blockchain for sure. The future is near and we should all adapt to what’s coming next. Some people are probably just now using this technology to get Christmas gifts and New Years presents… Mind blown!

Happy Holiday Season 🙂

Cheers

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