written with Alvin Leito & Luuk Weber
At Blockchain Talks #17, 14th March 2019, we welcomed springtime by hosting a variety of talks. Full recordings of the talks can be found here.
Firstly, Natalia Nowakowska, a freelance copywriter in crypto space, took the stage in order to share her copywriting experience after over 1.5 years spent in the crypto world. Natalia has a background in research: she graduated from Master studies in pharmacy at Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland and then moved to Amsterdam for a Ph.D. programme in childhood tumor neuroblastoma at the Department of Oncogenomics of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Even though the research past is still useful when it comes to writing, today, she is fully dedicated to her activities in crypto space; she is freelancing as a copywriter, content writer, and marketing advisor in the blockchain industry. Natalia’s professional activity covers a wide range of documents in crypto, from whitepapers, through pitch decks to business plans. In the environment, she is known as @copynat.
At the Blockchain Talks, Natalia shared her thoughts about what lies at the core of writing whitepapers in crypto. This is an art that requires a lot of skill at multiple levels. Primarily, a whitepaper aims at helping the investors to make the decision to invest in the project. And, as a matter of fact, we are often unaware of how we make decisions: a large portion of the process is subconscious and driven by emotions. You should build an emotional connection with the readers through proper design, storytelling, talking about benefits of using your product (rather than the raw product features) and using the ‘only yes’ strategy: focusing on the positives, and avoiding negating sentences. Therefore, a good whitepaper should not only be logically constructed and contain information about the project, but also touch the reader on the deeper, more emotional levels. In the whitepaper, you need to explain your concept (which is intellectual), but also inspire readers, gain trust and influence their decisions, which are all processes driven by emotions. As the project leader, you also need to be genuine when communicating with the users; being honestly passionate about your own project helps in building the community around the project.
Secondly, we hosted a last-minute presentation from the event host, Jana Petkanic, who brought back the inspirational La Bitcoineta story. La Bitcoineta is an original educational project which took place in Argentina in 2018. In this project, a team of educators trespassed five regions of Argentina in a car with a number of living facilities and live stream equipment onboard, in a pursue to educate Argentinian population about blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Choosing Argentina as a playground for this project is not accidental: the country is still struggling with hyperinflation, to such an extent that even the bubbly dynamics of the crypto market is less dreadful than the natural course of Argentinian peso. Somewhat surprisingly, during the project, it turned out that individuals highly knowledgeable about blockchain are spread across the small villages all around the country. After La Bitcoineta’s intervention, even more, Argentinians got hooked by the whole concept and it seems that we can count the project as a huge success.
In the interim between talks, we had the flagship session of Blockchain talks, Know Your Audience, in which every attendee is welcome to introduce themselves and their project in a form of a 30-sec standup pitch.
Next, we had the pleasure to listen to the presentation by David Moore, CEO & Co-founder of the Known Origin project. This project started in Manchester, where David was started his digital art gallery blockchain project. The concept behind Ethereum-fuelled Know Origin, is that anyone can become an artist and post their work on the online platform, and sell them with the use of Ethereum ERC-721 tokens through Metamask. They started small: with 10 artists and 15 artworks.
Today, the platform is used by 75 artists. The point of the platform is not only to sell art, but also to educate artists about the blockchain idea. Unlike in case of the conventional galleries, at Know Origin, both artists and buyers can stay anonymous, and there is only a minimal amount of personal data (e.g. email) required to access the platform.
So how does this trend to put art on the blockchain fit into the wider trend of merging blockchain with the entertainment industry? If we look beyond art, the next most obvious direction to go to in the gaming industry: in games, trading rare digital items is a big industry. There is a massive leap in this game industry, as due to blockchain, one can now truly own the digital items we purchase (rather than the trading platform itself).
Lastly, Daan Maasson, a director and Co-founder of Infloat, presented the talk on the tokenization of equity in the Netherlands. There are multiple benefits from tokenization of a company. Unlike the classic BV, tokenization frees you from specifying who owns the shares in the company. It is handy when it comes to transferring shares: you no longer need to change the deed every time the distribution of shares between shareholders changes. In this model, the receipts representing the shares are moved from the company to the Stichting Administratie Kantoor (STAK, the Dutch Trust Office Foundation), and they can be freely traded there. You can also split between economic rights and voting rights, and limit the rights of token holders to economic rights only while keeping full power over the company.
So, how to tokenize the company? Because you do with securities, you need to fill in the prospectus. There are certain exemption rules, e.g. if you have less than 5 mln initial capital, you can leapfrog this step.
There are, obviously, shortcomings of tokenization. There is an ongoing discussion upon whether or not Ethereum blockchain is suitable for securities, as this blockchain is prone to market manipulations. Another story is that voting on the blockchain is not as easy as traditional voting: submitting a vote is formally a transaction on the blockchain and requires payment. There is no secondary market yet for all the tokenized securities, and for investors, this is one of the biggest hurdles. Probably, there will be a lot of innovations in this area within the next few months.
And then, there is a valuation problem. We have seen a lot of crazy valuations in the crypto world. What is often forgotten, is the lifecycle management: once you issue a token, the work will just start — you have to pay dividends, you have to engage the audience etc. There must be an environment in which you can effectively manage the token. The right issuance platform can do this job for you.
So, why would you tokenize equity in the Netherlands? The law in the Netherlands is crypto-friendly. In Switzerland, for instance, moving shares requires a handwritten signature, so tokenizing securities is not possible.
Afterwards, a group of attendees ended the night at the Prael beer brewery & bar to have some drinks, get to know each other and discuss all sorts of things, from crypto to love and life in general.
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