Starting up Commonwealth Crypto

In August 2016, my research group at Boston University (BU) posted a paper online announcing TumbleBit, a protocol that provides fast, secure, and anonymous Bitcoin-backed payments through an untrusted intermediary (the “Tumbler”). Our work received significantly more attention than we expected. Organizations, not affiliated with BU or our research team, started contributing to the TumbleBit open-source project. Companies started to commercialize TumbleBit, and production Tumblers started coming online.

While all this was happening around us, my TumbleBit co-author, Ethan Heilman, and I had several conversations exploring the idea of other blockchain-backed protocols that we could design, build and commercialize through our own startup. We decided to apply to Highland Capital’s cybersecurity factory program. The program gave us the space, time, and money to think seriously about the services we wanted to build, and the markets we wanted to enter. We had great mentors who advised on how to connect with investors, how to position our services, and how to connect with the market.

After a summer of doing business development, we settled on developing a new service that allows traders to maintain custody of their coins while trading at a cryptocurrency exchange. Our technology ensures that no one, even a compromised or hacked exchange, has the power to take custody of a trader’s digital assets. Instead, traders can keep their coins securely housed in their wallet or custodial service, even as they trade.

Once the summer came to an end, we started developing our pilot technology and searching for seed round investors. Several months later, I’m thrilled to say that our startup, Commonwealth Crypto, just closed a $1.5M seed round lead by Underscore VC, an early stage venture firm based in Boston, along with Highland Capital and Notation Capital. As an exciting year comes to an end, we continuing to building out our pilot technology, while looking to bring new blockchain, full-stack and cloud engineers and business development folks onto our team.

We think our technology has the potential to have serious impact on the cryptocurrency marketplace, and we are excited to find out where the next step on this journey will take us!