An Interview with Elizabeth Kukka

We recently had the opportunity to interview Elizabeth Kukka, Program Director at ETC Labs, and wow, if there was anything you ever wanted to know about the incubator, here it is.

Below is an excerpt from our conversation where she spoke about her contribution to ETC Labs, the pilot program, future growth plans, and her thoughts on the ETC blockchain.

Can you tell us something about the pilot program? What is it all about and why did ETC Labs consider supporting them?

Our pilot program started on October 1st; we invited six companies to join us. Currently, these pilot projects get free working space, great coffee ;), and the opportunity to work alongside some of the best minds in the business. They will also have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a roomful of investors at our launch event on October 25th. The goal of this pilot program is to put the incubator model to work and get feedback from these initial teams before going live.

The ETC Labs incubator will kick off in the first quarter of 2019. There’s been a lot of interest and inquiries about the program — we have reviewed around 120 applications so far! We’re considering all projects that build on the ETC blockchain and we’re even trying to convince some projects that aren’t on ETC yet!

In the course of the work you do, you come across a lot of interesting ideas and concepts in the cryptocurrency space. Would you be able to share a few highlights? It could be anything, for example, the ideas that struck you the most, the ones you thought had the most potential, and so on.

We sorted through many companies interested in our incubator program, so there were quite a few great ideas and startups. However, some of them stood out for their uniqueness and growth potential. There was one startup involved in the organization and support of scientific research in the field of blockchain technology. They have their own blockchain and technology capabilities and help scientific researchers with fund raising. I came across another startup, which is actually a decentralized IoT platform that allows users to store IoT data in real time, without any support from a centralized authority. Another interesting one was a VR/AR collectibles app that focused on building on the blockchain. So yes, there were some really good ones and some that were not quite there yet.

Why Ethereum Classic? Is there any reason behind wanting to invest in startups operating in this space?

Ethereum Classic because there is a lot of security on the main layer, and it doesn’t really matter what sidechains are used in conjunction to this. Also, the Ethereum Classic space is very competitive, with a lot of good ideas and startups with immense potential for growth.

Can you tell us about ETC Labs’ future plans — how many startups do you plan to support, why and how?

In the near future, we plan to support around 20 to 24 startups per year, and that’s mostly due to capacity and how many we can accommodate at any given time. We would probably look at supporting 10 to 12 startups at one time. Support will vary depending on each project’s needs.

What are the characteristics you would look for in a startup that you would potentially like to support?

We look at the technical capabilities of the team and their ability to build on the ETC blockchain. Of course, great ideas and a motivated team are important too.

Can you tell us something about yourself?

I played competitive soccer until age 18. (Laughs)

You come from a background of startups and technology ecosystems. What made you join ETC Labs?

I am interested in blockchain technology and have been following it over the past four years. I now have a place where I can talk with people about blockchain without sounding like a nerd! Also, I wanted to get into the scouting side of the business and play an active role in making investment decisions and connecting investors and startups. I enjoy designing things from scratch, and ETC Labs gives me a great opportunity to do all of these things.

Anything else you would like to share with us about the incubator program or ETC Labs in general?

If you have a great idea, or are a startup looking to grow, talk to us. We offer great coffee, free working space, and some of the best minds you can work with. During the incubation program, startups have the opportunity for one-on-one guidance from industry leaders and developer mentors.

We’ll have regular bootcamp sessions with general blockchain training and how to build on ETC specifically. We also plan to host weekly meetups and monthly dinners. The weekly meetups will mostly be structured workshops with speeches by industry leaders from all sorts of different backgrounds.