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Here’s what past participants have to show from the first Blockchain Bootcamp

We’ve launched open applications for our second Blockchain Bootcamp in partnership with the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) to support the boom of blockchain and crypto activities across the African continent. Our last Blockchain Bootcamp during fall last year saw a number of innovative solutions built on the Stellar network with a few of them launching soon as live products. To highlight these exciting developments, we hosted a panel with the Blockchain Bootcamp alumni to hear about how the bootcamp supported their growth and offer them a chance to give advice to other companies interested in exploring blockchain and crypto in Africa.

We’ve pulled out some highlights from the conversation, but you can watch the full recorded panel for all the details.

Panel Highlights

On being early stage, non-technical, and a female founder

Olufunto is the founder of Quidroo, an online factoring platform where transactions are streamlined and SMEs get paid within 72 hours by selling their invoices to investors to get fast cash at favorable rates. She describes herself as a female non-technical founder of an early stage startup and this gave her some trepidation coming into the bootcamp. But she decided to apply despite the barriers she felt and came away with this recommendation for other female founders considering applying: “Do it afraid, but do it. For female founders, I can’t say it enough — we don’t get as much support as I would like to see, but this [bootcamp] is a really safe space, this is a place where you get a lot of support. So I just truly want to encourage female founders who are on the fence to apply.”

For Olufunto and Quidroo, the decision to apply was in part because of just how early stage her company was at the time of applying. They wanted to use the bootcamp to make sure they were going down the right path.

“The bootcamp exceeded our expectations in making sure that the idea we had was not only legitimate but that it would work.” She added, “Not only did we finish the bootcamp, we got $5,000 which we were excited about and then we were able to transition into the [Stellar] Development Community and we were able to get additional funding that has allowed us to hire four additional engineers and we have some funding for marketing.”

The additional funding Quidroo received was from the Stellar Community Fund. You can read more about that fund and how Quidroo uses Stellar here.

On attracting new investors with a crypto offering

Ben, the founder of Stax, a universal money app for Africa that allows people to send and receive money and buy airtime all offline, just raised a $2.2M Seed Round and said that participating at the first Blockchain Bootcamp helped them to raise that money.

“It was really useful actually, coming out of the bootcamp, to just show that we were serious about our ambitions to get into crypto and that we were able to get a trustmark or seal of approval from the community. That actually really helped us raise money and got us in front of investors we hadn’t spoken to before. When you’re pitching traditional VCs that’s one slice of the pie, and then when you start pitching crypto, that’s a whole other big slice of the pie that wasn’t available.”

From bootcamp facilitator for Fonbnk to co-founder and Head of Growth of Fonbnk

Every team that participates at the bootcamp has a designated facilitator. At our first bootcamp, Michael was the facilitator assigned to Fonbnk, a DeFi company that enables billions of prepaid mobile subscribers in the global unbanked/underbanked south to participate in the global digital economy, when he met Chris, the founder of Fonbnk. Fast forward a few months and Michael is now a co-founder and Head of Growth at Fonbnk.

“It was a lesson for me on the role of such ecosystem building programs like the bootcamp. A lot of us might think about it in terms of coming to raise funding or accelerating products that they’re working on but for me the opportunity I got was matchmaking or finding other ways to benefit from this network and this cohort of great companies and great founders. That was the biggest lesson that I took away from the benefit of this program beyond just the old fashion tried and tested getting funding — it can be a place where you can meet potential partners, or co-founders like myself. Just look at it as a ball of value that you can exploit depending on whatever needs you have.”

On design thinking to help shape product offerings

Ope, the founder of Bonafide, had a different product when he and his team came to the bootcamp. The bootcamp helped them to really work through the design thinking process which allowed them to get closer to their mission with a simple quality product: a digital wallet to save, send and receive digital money. They’re still pre-launch but have been transacting millions of dollars with plans to go live soon.

In addition to helping them define and build a product that fit their mission, the bootcamp helped them strengthen their relationship with the Stellar ecosystem, in turn strengthening their product. “Beyond just the bootcamp itself I think the relationships we got — we got very good referrals to other players in the ecosystem that we could work with.”

On growth and traction after the bootcamp

Dominic, co-founder of Honeycoin, shared about his experience at the bootcamp. “The bootcamp was so much fun. We were able to lay the groundwork for something we worked on for months afterwards. Really grateful for the bootcamp because it allowed us to explore. We went with the question ‘How do we help our creators and their funds be able to send a receive crypto?’ and we walked out of the bootcamp wanting to build a whole NFT marketplace. And we have been able to do that — at least we have a proof of concept for each. This makes it easy for non crypto natives to support their creators.”

His co-founder David added, “The bootcamp forced us to have a sense of urgency. The growth and traction has been enormous up until this point. We’ve gone from pre-bootcamp processing maybe $1,000 a day on the high side to now we’re processing up to $100,000 in a single day. That’s exciting to us — the validation we were able to accomplish at the bootcamp and carrying that forward and building an end to end platform.”

What will your highlight be?

Applications are open for our second Blockchain Bootcamp until March 27th! This could be your opportunity not only to explore how blockchain can benefit your business and accelerate your growth, but also to connect with a community of people to support you along the way, or rethink a product offering, or overcome a specific challenge that you and your team have been struggling with.

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Alina Kaiser

Alina Kaiser

Communications consultant for @TheDFSLab, @FiDAPartnership, and @cariboudigital. Master of Communication from University of Washington.