I’ve been in the blockchain space since 2014 and judged dozens of pitch competitions. Last week’s Alchemist Blockchain Techstars Accelerator Demo Day was the best I’ve ever seen.

 

I’ve either organized, judged, or witnessed dozens of pitch competitions featuring startups and early-stage companies that had great promise for the blockchain marketplace. But last week, I was floored by the promise of each company selected for this exclusive accelerator.

For those of us that have been at the forefront of evangelizing and investing in bitcoin or blockchain startups for years, observing the industry maturation on display was impressive, and immensely rewarding. The high caliber of each company seems to indicate that the big boys are really entering the blockchain playground, which bodes well for those of us waiting for the crypto winter to dwindle.

Every single one of the companies had either already solidified partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, such as Oracle or Google, had developed massive revenue pipelines and/or had millions of dollars in LOIs and potential revenue within their grasp.

The transition from the early starry-eyed days of blockchain company’s focusing on ideation, white papers, and hopes and dreams over full business plans, fortune 500 partnerships, and high-quality teams — are long gone. The progress and quality of the entrepreneurs themselves have grown leaps and bounds, too. Each had developed sophisticated execution strategies, with mature plans for scaling and growth with revenue projections and polished, professional presentations.

Of all of the companies that impressed me, two specifically stood out.

Paperstreet

My co-founder, Ted Moskovitz, and I first met Paperstreet at dinner from the Techstars Mentor Madness in New York in February. We had a speed dating round with each company for 20 minutes and engaged in a mind-melding session as quickly and efficiently as possible. The purpose was to properly pair mentors with companies to see if there is a fit.

Initially, the Paperstreet team struck me as true founders and product professionals that understood the entrepreneurial dilemma of raising money from the right investors. They had a passion and desire to truly eliminate pain-points and streamline processes for fellow startups and early-stage companies to eliminate boundaries and barriers to entry and difficulties for founders raising capital. They expressed that they understood, all too well, that startups spend way too much time raising capital and not enough time with their product.

Nothing in the market streamlines that process. Enter Paperstreet.

As this piece explains, “Not only has Paperstreet integrated all the tools a business needs to execute a compliant token sale, equity placement, or security token offering, but we connect issuers with a vast network of qualified investors through our online platform. This way, issuers can spend more time building a great business and less time worrying about regulatory compliance and wooing investors.”

Between the cohort companies present at the Demo Day, all of them are using Paperstreet are using KYC/AML. Since Paperstreet is fundamentally a tool for accelerators, it’s not just for startups, it’s for people raising money, entrepreneurs and accelerators that can pass them for a vetting process.

I predict that they have a compelling and intuitive product and foresee them working with some of the largest and most prominent accelerators in the ecosystem.

Alkemi

Liquidity is one of the most important problems that blockchains’ tokenized money systems can resolve. I’m so obsessed with solving this problem (about liquidity) that I was one of the earliest investors in Securrency, a disruptive platform that provides for the issuance and trading of securities tokens. I’m also great friends with Galia Bertnazi of Bancor, and was present during the Bancor Tel Avi launch and monumental $152M raise.

Alkemi is one of the most promising and interesting startups that is equally passionate about solving this problem, too. Their on-chain liquidity protocol is a non-custodial solution for stakeholders to earn incentives on their idle crypto assets, providing the infrastructure required for the internet of value. This is huge. I knew that I wanted to work with them right after our brief interview during Mentor Madness. They did not disappoint at Demo Day.

During their Demo Day, as CoinDesk described, “Alkemi revealed a cryptocurrency liquidity pool deal to the tune of $16 million. The Alkemi app is scheduled for launch by 2020 after the protocol undergoes security audits, will eventually support bitcoin, fiat-backed stablecoins, XRP and a variety of other assets. Alkemi is looking to create a liquidity system for exchanges by making an accessible honeypot that service providers can dip into when demand increases faster than supply.”

I believe they can succeed and that their promising technology is the future of monetary and asset exchange.

The accelerator is designed to give a company one year’s worth of progress in ten weeks. The mission for Alkemi was definitely accomplished, and their fellow cohort companies with supportive of their progress and success. Rather than fiercely competing, these companies supported one another wholeheartedly. This goes with the blockchain ethos of collaboration over competition.

Some additional honorable mentions are Gilded, a New Orleans-based blockchain startup providing software to simplify the cryptocurrency accounting process. Gilded’s crypto bookkeeping and invoicing tools are used by ICOs, blockchain companies, and other businesses to ease back-office operations. We all need this in our lives. Crypto isn’t going anywhere and neither is the demand for accounting.

Two companies deserve an honorable mention.

Paperchain

Paperchain is also a very impressive concept. Paperchain is a New York City-based fintech company working at the intersection of media, finance, and technology. They aim to provide faster growth capital for digital media companies using real-time sales data. We will definitely stay focused on their progression into the marketplace.

Any Ledger

Any Ledger facilitates the integration of blockchain into IoT architectures. Unlike other potential solutions, users won’t be tied to a single specific chain or hardware as they support many chains and devices proven to be production ready. Industrial manufacturing, supply chain logistics, smart electric grids, and IoT devices are all areas that can all benefit from this technology. As the IoT continues to develop, solutions like AnyLedger have infinite potential.

Conclusion

Our overall first impressions of the Alchemist Blockchain Techstars Accelerator program was there were promising startups, but they needed a lot of work to achieve viability in this market. Every single company made tremendous progress in focus, direction, product-market-fit, and partnerships.

This is the first class of this accelerator. We can only imagine how further streamlined processes and procedures on behalf of the talented, experienced, and stellar Techstars accelerator team will provide mentorship to help companies further reach their full potential. The Demo Day was oversold and the room was full of hungry investors, ready-to-deploy capital, and eager collaborators. The blockchain industry’s trajectory remains forward-moving, and, I believe, these developments are a sound indication that the crypto winter is thawing.

If you are even remotely interested in the blockchain technology and its potential, these developments indicate we are in the midst of a massive boom the best and brightest transparent and transformative technologies developing in real-time.


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