The Top 10 Blockchain Startups to Watch in 2016
Over the course of 2015, I’ve had the opportunity, to either meet or talk to, some visionary technologists and business leaders who are making some of the most transformative tools and applications in the blockchain space. Although many of these companies and leaders are working on applications for financial technology, you will see from the list, that there is more to the blockchain than just “disrupting the banks”. I chose these companies not only for their creativity in showcasing the breadth and power of blockchain technology across industries, but also for their potential, their applied ideas, and their courage to innovate. This article originally appeared on The Intrepid Review
Lead by Jessi Baker, Dr Jutta Steiner, these two ladies bring some serious technological chops. Both have a deep understanding of supply-chain engineering and cryptography, which lends well to a very unique perspective on product “proof of existence” and transparency utilizing the blockchain. Provenance is a real-time data platform that empowers brands to take steps toward greater transparency by tracing the origins and histories of products. With their technology you can easily gather and verify stories, keep them connected to physical things and embed them anywhere online.
Being based in South East Asia, and although this is area host a few important financial services centres, an even larger opportunity for transformation lies within shipping, logistics, and commercial trade. The region is home to 4 of the top 5 shipping ports of the world; Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore and Hong Kong. Under this large industry umbrella, there is a variety of industry categories that would be well served by the provenance platform, one being the luxury goods industry. It’s been an on-going battle to wipe out the scourge of counterfeit goods, which Provenance seems primed to mitigate. Outside of this area, one can only imagine what they their technology could mean for the art world as well.
Coming in a close second on my list is a stealthy startup coming out of the MIT media lab called Enigma. Lead by Guy Ziskind, Oz Nathan, and advised by Prof. Alex Pentland, Enigma is a decentralized cloud platform that guarantees privacy. Private data is stored, shared and analyzed without ever being fully revealed to any party. It provides secure multi-party computation, empowered by the blockchain.
This is as futuristic and radical as the blockchain gets, and if proved, as it’s still in beta, could be one of the most important innovations to come out in the space as it solves some of the most difficult problems in technology today: privacy and security. This core function, layered on top of distributed cloud technology, is a dynamic combination that transforms how data is stored and retrieved; providing industries like finance, health, and civil services the underlying trust and security to truly unlock the potential of next generation mobile applications.
Under the stoic leadership of Joseph Lubin, Consensys is an antifragile organization that is steeped in the theoretical frameworks of Ronald Coase. A hub and spoke model, that nurtures a loose federation of blockchain technologists all working in multiple verticals, yet leveraging their collective understanding and skills. Some of the companies under the Consensys umbrella are good enough to stand alone here on this top ten list especially Uport and Ujo music.
Look for Consensys to build upon their success with Block Apps and the Microsoft collaboration on Azure, as their federation and core team grows to bring some exciting innovations in the blockchain space.
A small offshoot of the Ethereum Project, lead by the project’s Co-founder and core C Developer Dr. Gavin Wood. EthCore is an all star cast of hardcore developers and thought leaders, including Dr. Jutta Steiner and Vitalik Buterin, that aspire to enable businesses and organisations to capitalise on blockchain technology and benefit from the new opportunities it presents. They develop cutting-edge software solutions for enterprises and industries to unlock the full value of decentralised technology.
At the vanguard of blockchain technology, the Ethcore team is primed to be working on and driving alot of the change in the industry for multinational businesses and governments.
Warning this company is about 10,000 ft high on the hardcore tech-nerd scale, but is extremely important none the less. IPFS is short of Interplanetary File System, and it does just what the name entails. Think of it as rewiring and re-routing the entire internet so that trains run and stop on time and go where they need to go all while greatly reducing redundancy. Designed by the visionary technologist Juan Benet, IPFS is a peer-to-peer distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. In some ways, IPFS is similar to the Web, but IPFS could be seen as a single BitTorrent swarm, exchanging objects within one Git repository. In other words, IPFS provides a high throughput content-addressed block storage model, with content-addressed hyperlinks.
Look for more early stage startups and innovators to experiment with this open source technology to truly create some out next generation technologies.
One of the most thoughtful and ambitious projects in the blockchain this year, is lead by a former artist/designer named Jack Du Rose. Before Colony Jack was the jeweler who created the infamous Damien Hirst diamond skull. Jack and Colony are taking on “the future of work” and are dropping the future into our hands, and lap tops, now. They have created a beautifully designed decentralized autonomous organization, that replicates a company, except instead of being managed by fallible individuals, Colony harnesses the wisdom of the crowd using AI to make sure that the right things get done by the right people, at the right time. Now people can convene and collaborate on large scale projects, even startups, and have a way to manage and measure productivity, as well as provide the means for people to get paid. Colony allows creators to stock value in their own cryptocurrency called “nectar”.
Watch for startup accelerators, hackathons, and open source projects around the world start to take notice of what Jack and the Colony team have created, as it solves many of the organizational issues of talent and capital localization, as well as compensation for open source projects.
At the intersection of two of the hottest areas of technology today; IoT and blockchain technology. Slock.it explores how Ethereum light nodes embedded in connected cars, homes, and businesses could revolutionise the emerging Sharing Economy infrastructure by enabling anyone to rent, sell or share their property without a middleman. Lead by one of the Co-founders of the Ethereum project Stephan Tual and the Jentzsch brothers Simon and Christoph. The Slock.it crew has been at the vanguard of this intersection for a while, creating some interesting products around physical locks, mobility and connected devices.
Based in Tel Aviv with a well defined and broadly skilled team of engineers and thought leaders, Backfeed develops resilient technology and new economic models to support free, large-scale, systematic collaboration. Based on a distributed governance model, Backfeed protocols make it possible for people to easily deploy and maintain decentralized applications and organizations that rely on the spontaneous and voluntary contribution of hundreds, thousands or millions of people
Lead by Dr. Matan Field a theoretical physicist turned entrepreneur, who was also the founder of LaZouz a open-source and decentralized collaborative transportation system, is a founder that is challenging the notion of work and organizations in the age of globalization. Building on the emerging blockchain ecosystem, Backfeed develops grassroots-powered technology that enables scale-free human cooperation. The toolkits provided by Backfeed provide resilient infrastructure and innovative economic models that promote the viability and sustainability of decentralized communities as well as legacy organizations through equitable distribution of co-created value
As an analogy, if the blockchain can be regarded as the TCP/IP (communication layer of the internet), Backfeed is building a canonical protocol and platform (akin to the HTTP protocol and the web browser) to enable blockchain-based decentralized collaboration, as easily as one would deploy a website today.
Enough has been said about Ethereum and the precocious and visionary leader Vitalik Buterin, so I really don’t have the capability to add much more other than; the courage and verve of the project, and team, are inspiring and everyone should watch what the Ethereum puts out this year. I wish them the best in growing and scaling the project so that more innovation can spring from their insights.
These guys are small and just starting out, but I got a chance to talk to the founder Terek Judi and I really liked his focus and ambition. Plex.Ai is a automotive telematics platform that uses Ethereum, machine Learning and Artificial intelligence to give insurance companies real time, remote, diagnostics on a car and the driver.
Insurance is such a staid and very well monied industry and one that deserves more attention from the blockchain community, especially with the coming of automated driving.
So, there’s my list. all great teams and products working on some seriously interesting problems and opportunities to help transform industries and the world through the use of imagination and the blockchain. Anyone that has scaled a startup will know that it’s an unglamorous process that takes a significant amount of energy and coordination with no guarantee of success. I applaud all the founders and teams above for thier vision and courage.
I’m always interested in meeting blockchain startups, and Chief innovation officers who are creating transformational products, so please feel free to contact me on linkedin , or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Collin Thompson is the Co-founder, and Managing Director of Intrepid Ventures, a blockchain startup and innovation studio that invests, builds, and accelerates Blockchain and FinTech companies solving the world’s most difficult problems. Collin focuses on early stage investments, innovation and business design for corporations, governments and entrepreneurs working with blockchain technology.