Xcelerator June 2021 Updates: UC Berkeley’s first Nobel NFT Auction starts June 7, Bit.Country, ParaState, Revix & Supra-Oracles raise $4M+ each
The Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator team is incredibly excited to share this month’s news from our teams and ecosystem! The Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator is a blockchain-focused startup accelerator at UC Berkeley, run by Blockchain at Berkeley, Berkeley Engineering (Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology), and the Haas School of Business.
Note: Xcelerator companies will be labeled with their batch number, Sp 21, Sp 20, Fa 19, or Sp 19. You can find a list of our portfolio here.
Berkeley Ecosystem Updates
UC Berkeley Mints First NFT with Foundation on Noble Prize Winning Research for Cancer Treatment “The 4th Pillar” — Auction June 7–8, 2021
UC Berkeley has minted the first NFT from the University! This NFT brings together Berkeley’s groundbreaking, Nobel Prize winning research and our more recent leadership in the blockchain space to create an artistic interpretation of first Jim Allison’s invention disclosure form for the innovation that enabled cancer immunotherapy treatments. A second, follow-on NFT is planned for Jennifer Doudna’s CRISPR-Cas9 work.
Bidding will be on the Foundation website here and be open for 24 hours on June 7th at 12:00pm PT. This effort was led to a large extent by Mike Cohen and Rich Lyons from I&E and Blockchain at Berkeley alumnae Maggie Valentine (creator), Justine Humenansky and Medha Kothari as key advisors and connectors to Foundation, the NFT platform used by Snowden and the NYTimes.
Xcelerator Company Updates
Supra-Oracles team receives over $21M in pledged contributions
Supra-Oracles (Sp 21) has over $21m in early commitments to their project, with several reputable firms leading their seed rounds (to be announced soon). Their international organization is composed of over 23 Rust developers, cryptographers (DKG and MPC PhDs), economists, and consensus algorithm researchers. Building on the Substrate framework with their novel consensus protocol, Supra’s goal is to become an indispensable middleware infrastructure to facilitate the emerging multi-chain future.
ParaState successfully closes a $5M strategic fundraising round led by the KNS Group
ParaState (Sp 21), a multi-chain smart contract platform builds on top of the Ethereum network using the Substrate framework, is thrilled to announce the successful close of a $5-million strategic fundraising round led by KNS Group, along with Alameda Ventures. ParaState provides developers with a next-generation smart contract virtual machine to make any Substrate-based blockchain Ethereum-compatible while also taking full advantage of the modern WASM ecosystem.
Bit.Country Raises $4M in Seed for Individualized Metaverses
Walsh Wealth Ventures co-led Bit.Country’s (Sp 21) recent round by bringing a powerful network of key opinion leaders and influencers who reach 200 million fans on classic social media platforms, such as CryptoGodJohn, Mr Beast, KSI, Tobias31, LazarBeam, MrFreshAsian, LachlanYT, CryptoWizardd and others. A global leader and a unicorn in blockchain gaming, Animoca Brands took part in leading the fundraising round, bringing vast knowledge and connections to metaverse games. Top funds in the Polkadot ecosystem, Hypersphere Ventures and Digital Financial Group are the co-leaders from the Polkadot community, and they bring us a clear future of the internet of chains and the composition of chains on Polkadot and Kusama. Visionaries and trendsetters, Anti Fund, backed by Geoffrey Woo and Jake Paul, who have 20 million subscribers on YouTube, and Cao Yin of DRF.EE, the first crypto art collector in China, were all sound supporters in this round. Read more here.
Crypto index player Revix raises $4M ahead of move into EU market
Revix (Sp 21) raised $4.1m for its EU expansion in Q1 — The fintech has grown revenue 30x over the last 12-months and is seeing strong >25% month on month growth — The crypto start-up was one of 11 selected FinTechs (out of 500 applicants) for Wave 2 of the Qatar FinTech Hub’s (QFTH) Accelerator Program — Revix successfully launched its behavioural based loyalty and rewards program in Q1, where customers can earn points that can be redeemed for Bitcoin.
OnFinality Scales to 100 Million Free API Requests in a Single Day
In April, OnFinality (Sp 21) hit a long term goal of 100 million in a single day, in fact they smashed it with 127 million requests in 24 hours (almost 1,500 each second). At the end of May almost 5 Billion requests have been served from OnFinality’s public Polkadot, Kusama, Rococo and Westend public nodes. This scale was achieved without interruption due to a recent implementation of intelligent routing that allows us to maximize the use of different clusters of nodes across our user base in different geographic regions.
Stake Technologies Submits THEMIS RFC&C Proposal
The Brave research team is working on a THEMIS, a protocol to progressively decentralize the Brave Ads infrastructure, and requested for suggested improvements. Here is Stake Technology’s (Sp 20) proposal:
Parity, Polkadot & Plasm: The Parity and Plasm (Sp 20) teams submitted three proposals that leverage Substrate and the Polkadot ecosystem to implement THEMIS. Proposal 1 consists of using Substrate to verify BBA proofs and parallelize reward verifications of pairing processes of the BBA. In addition, proposal 1 suggests implementing Aztec 2.0 scheme on Substrate to achieve privacy-preserving payments with lower costs and higher scalability than currently enabled by Ethereum. This solution leverages Polkadot as the data availability layer and computation layer for reward proof verification. Proposal 2 consists of using one-way HTLC payments channels with ZK proofs to cut costs associated with reward payments. In this scheme, advertisers and/or Brave deposit BAT on the campaign payment channel with ZK-UTXO and set the HTLC payment to be dependent on submitting a valid proof of reward calculation. In addition, this proposal relies on fraud proofs to prevent double rewards attempts. Finally, the 3rd proposal consists of introducing TEE on the server-side to prevent malicious ads provider (i.e. Brave). In all proposals, both Substrate and Polkadot have a key role in ensuring that THEMIS runs correctly, at scale and in a decentralized manner.
How the DarkSide Attack Made $10M from AnChain.AI
AnChain.AI (Sp 19), a San Francisco based blockchain cybersecurity company, has been tracking the notorious DarkSide ransomware that disrupted the 5,500-mile Colonial pipeline, causing fuel shortages throughout the southeastern United States. Partnering with leading cybersecurity law expert and co-founder of legal technology firm Law & Forensics LLC, Daniel Garrie Esq, AnChain.AI has revealed the most in-depth blockchain forensics timeline, as well as how DarkSide obfuscated the bitcoin ransom using Coinjoin mixing tactics. Using their Auto-Tracing AI, AnChain.AI was able to reveal the Coinjoin tactics and trace down its complex money laundering pathways, as shown in the image and article linked here.
SubQuery Releases Self Service Tools
Over Spring, SubQuery (Sp 21) continued to deliver its product roadmap to deliver a complete set of self service tools to enable and empower partners to explore, create, run, and then publish SubQuery projects all on their own. Before you could create and run your own SubQuery projects locally or in your own infrastructure. Projects allows users to publish their projects to the SubQuery community and we’ll run them in a high performance, scalable, and managed public service — for free! SubQuery Explorer allows users to browse other projects and test queries directly in their browser, or get API endpoints for different use cases. Check out their twitter for more! Checkout their product here!
Manta Network Releases Privacy Transaction Testnet
In Q2 of 2021, Manta Network (Sp 21) made a lot of progress on both the product and marketing side. From the market side, it has completed the first milestone of its W3F Grant, and submitted that successfully to the W3F team. It has also successfully connected its testnet to Rococo, Polkadot’s testnet. The testnet allows users to mint private tokens, transact those private tokens, and reclaim the original tokens from the private token.
Kanbee launches app alpha in June
Kanbee (Sp 21) is launching their app alpha in June. It will be available in the app store for people to download and use to automate their budget. Simply enter your pay check and bill amounts and dates and Kanbee will automate the rest. Coming shortly after this fall, budgets will be able to earn interest on blockchain.
Litentry parachain auction strategy and development process
Litentry’s (Sp 21), which focuses on decentralized identity while preserving user privacy and data sovereignty, main focuses in May were: parachain auction and module development, community events, and various builder-support programs. — They introduced a functionality-first strategy for parachain auction, which means that their key modules will be ready to run on Substrate and one parachain is developed for the auction. — New community events: “Ten for Litentry”, a youtube series where Litentry answers questions from community members; “Litentry & Friends”, a live stream featuring Litentry and one guest project talking about trending topics in blockchain. — Litentry is actively involved in Substrate Builders Program and Web 3.0 Bootcamp to accelerate the development of Web 3. They just finished the first milestone for the SBP, which includes connecting to Rococo Parachain and identity linking with Ethereum, Substrate and BSC. — Product wise, Litentry is building “my crypto profile”, a tool that verifies and embeds crypto and NFT collections to a user’s Twitter profile; and IDO whitelisting services: they researched IDO participation on certain IDO platforms and effectively found suspicious cheating transactions.
Automata paints the future of privacy at Polkadot Decoded
On May 20, Automata Network (Sp 21) had the pleasure of speaking at Polkadot Decoded, one of the largest and flagship events within the Polkadot ecosystem. Making it to the main stage on Day One, the project brought to life its vision of a privacy-driven blockchain future with various products across its middleware technology stack, including Witness, an off-chain governance tooling solution, and Conveyor for MEV minimization. If you’re new to the term, MEV refers to Miner Extractable Value. At present, Automata has been making great strides towards real-world progress with numerous partnerships inked with projects to support Witness: Bounce, Crust, Clover Finance, and Plasm, just in the past month. If you’re interested to find out more about Automata or their solutions, send the team a message at email@example.com!
Utrust Reveals 60% Monthly Growth And Two New Product Features That Will Make History
Utrust (Sp 21), a blockchain native payments ecosystem allowing businesses to accept payments using cryptocurrencies, is currently growing 60% month over month. It surpassed 2020’s transaction volume of $25M in the first quarter of 2021. Utrust’s native token (UTK) has also appreciated 1100% in 2020, thus surpassing a 200M USD market cap. Now, with a solid merchant base including elite brands such as Lotus Silverstone, Nikola Brussels, Alternative Airlines, Antalya Homes, Arms&McGregor, Ivan On Tech and many more, Utrust is seeking to provide even more benefits to their trusted merchants leveraging partnerships with FinXP and Swissborg.
Etherize Receives Grant from Edgeware for Entity Formation
To bring legal entity formation to the Polkadot/Substrate eco-system, Edgeware has issued a grant to Etherize (Sp 21) to develop a “LexBridge”. Similar to a bridge to Eth, the LexBridge is designed to bridge the Polkadot ecossytem to the legal world through automating document notarization related to company formation. Edgeware has been rapidly porting Ethereum smart contracts to their chain, and DAO functionality is included in the final milestone of the proposal.
Kylin Network launches their first Testnet!
Kylin Network (Sp 21) recently launched their first testnet! Aside from their Web3 Grant and our TGE, this next milestone is extremely important for the team at Kylin Network. The testnet launch represents the first ‘real’ step toward product and functionality that the team envisioned from a very early stage: that is to say it’s a vision that involves their community members directly and also underscores the flexibility and power of decentralized data architecture: an open sandbox where innovation in this new area is only limited by imagination. On an ad-hoc and case-by-case basis, Kylin Network will provide incentives to this early group of pioneers to support their work through Kylin Labs and our Ecosystem Development Fund. All are welcome to experiment, and the best OPs out of this group will be given their direct support and interfacing as they move to mainnet and interface with partners, projects, and enterprises alike.
HydraDX launching Canary Network and incentive program for researchers and builders
After the most successful LBP on Balancer (at the time) HydraDX (Sp 21) transitioned the token onto its native Substrate chain, launching staking and the incentivized testnet rewards for the community, researchers and builders. Recently, team HydraDX has announced a launch of its sister chain on Kusama called Basilisk. Basilisk is a complementary product to HydraDX and its custom AMMs will focus on bootstrapping a long tail of assets. Basilisk will bid for one of the first parachain slots. More about the role of Basilisk can be found in this short thread.
CryptoIndexSeries recently deployed v2.0 of their flagship product, CIS Trader
CryptoIndexSeries (Sp 21) just launched the CIS Trader v2.0, an AI-driven data, analytics and trading tools Platform for Crypto Markets specifically designed for institutional and professional traders. The new version has advanced news sentiment analysis for the market, customized price & news alerts, portfolio analytics, sectoral indices, to name a few. CIS Team also informed that there are more exchanges in the Platform now, so traders can compare the performance of assets on multiple exchanges before trading on the Platform. The new Portfolio Screens in beta allows the users to track multiple accounts under one portfolio at the same time and even create simulation accounts.
Developer Grants for open-source projects around the XRP Ledger
XRPL Grants funds individual developers and small (1–4) dev teams, in the earliest stages of building the next big thing. Many blockchain projects don’t have a clear business model. Also, the XRP open source community needs developer tooling, technical standards (e.g. NFTs), and protocol upgrades (amendments). They are looking to support these projects, as well as enable innovative use cases of the XRPL technology. Did you know that NFTs have already been created on the XRPL? It’s true! Specifically XRPL is looking to fund NFT-related projects like a marketplace, issuance, or wallet support. The XRP developer community is large and growing, and the XRPL team is accelerating that growth and ensuring that developers have the resources they need to bring their ideas to life. Have an idea in mind? All developers are welcome to apply through the open application process. And if you’re still thinking about what you want to build, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job Opportunities from Portfolios and Ecosystem
Visit the Xcelerator Jobs Portal to apply to every portfolio company within 1 application!
She256 partners with leaders in the blockchain space to launch the Komorebi Collective, an investment DAO which aims to support female and non-binary founders.
Forte, founded by Berkeley alumni Kevin Chou, recently raised 185M for a 1B for their blockchain gaming platform.
UC Berkeley hosted a segment on digital assets and cryptocurrencies as part of the Innovation X Roundtable series. Panelists for the event were Alana Aldag Ackerson, CEO at Digital Currency Group & Co-Founder of Figure Technologies & Provenance Blockchain; Mike Li, Co-founder, Rally; Eric Sibbitt, Capital Markets Partner and Head of Financial Technology Industry Group, O’Melveny & Myers LLP; and Sina Nader, COO at FTX.US. The event was moderated by UC Berkeley’s Chief Innovation and Entrepreneurship Officer, Rich Lyons.
More details and the YouTube can be viewed here — https://innox.berkeley.edu/event/innovation-x-roundtable-whats-next-for-digital-assets-and-cryptocurrencies/