2018 has been a great year for Insolar! Since our token sale closed at the end of last year, we have been working hard not just to develop some great tech, but to make sure it gets used by the right people. Here are some of the highlights.
When our token sale closed on Christmas Day 2017, it left us in a strong position to develop what we were then calling the INS Ecosystem: a platform to connect consumers directly with producers, cutting out retailers and wholesalers, along with many of the abuses and inefficiencies of the grocery market.
Well, we have come a long way in just a year, and although our core approach and belief in the benefits of blockchain technology have only grown stronger, our model has evolved to meet the changing demands and opportunities of the space.
Pivot and rebrand
As we began building our product for INS Ecosystem, it became clear that no existing blockchain platform was fit for our purpose. The inescapable conclusion was that we would have to create our own platform — open source, in the best tradition of the blockchain community, but business-friendly and addressing problems of scalability in a way that no other platform has managed to date. In practice, this means guaranteeing a series of key features that include capacity, consensus and compliance.
Our platform offers flexible governance that allows users to choose between an Insolar public network or creating a domain with its own rules, whether that means a stand-alone private network with its own servers or a permissioned network with resources provided by ecosystem members — enabling Distributed Business Networks where everyone can select the features that best meet their needs. Our network is organised with Storage and Processing nodes that carry out different functions and enable the platform to operate more efficiently. Insolar’s smart contracts are designed for enterprise developers, are streamlined and easy to develop using Golang and soon Java. Finally, we are fully compliant with GDPR when it comes to data storage, encryption and even deletion.
In short, Insolar is a wide-ranging blockchain platform and ecosystem for enterprise, designed and built from the ground up to solve real market needs. As we go into 2019 eyeing our platform’s launch into the market, we do so confident that we are both qualitatively and quantitatively different from other solutions, with our ‘Blockchain 4.0’ approach reflecting the technical, business and regulatory demands we see in the current landscape.
Trust is expensive, and in a world of exponentially-increasing data, it is becoming harder and harder to store, share and critically verify data securely across organisations and platforms. This reality underpins research by Gartner that forecasts that the value added by blockchain for businesses will increase to $38 billion by 2021, $360 billion by 2026, and to an incredible $3 trillion by 2030, just over a decade away.
Insolar’s vision is to facilitate seamless interactions between companies, distributing trust to open new opportunities for growth. Our platform is built for enterprise, combining blockchain, distributed and cloud technologies to introduce dozens of industry-first features. The functionality we are building make Insolar the most comprehensive and secure blockchain toolkit available. Our goal is to give businesses access to features and services that enable them to launch new applications quickly and easily, whether they need an MVP or full-scale production software, and we are delivering on that commitment.
This pivot is one of the reasons behind another one of the big stories of the year, our recent rebrand to Insolar. Our vision for what our platform could achieve has expanded, and we wanted a brand that reflects that.
We have dubbed Insolar a ‘fourth-generation blockchain’ platform due to its seismic steps forward from earlier solutions, but despite that name, it’s far more than just a blockchain. We grasped that businesses needed more tools and services than just a distributed ledger. Insolar is dramatically faster than existing blockchains, supports smart contracts and public/private/hybrid networks. But it also runs on blockchain-based clouds that remove the need for investment in special hardware and training. The Insolar platform integrates easily with legacy systems. It can be deployed on top of the Hyperledger blockchain platform and can run its chaincode.The result is a full-service approach that allows companies of any size to deploy and use blockchain technology quickly and effectively. In other words, it is a blockchain that is fit for purpose in the context of global enterprise.
Our Team is a collection of 68 experienced professionals, over half of whom are engineers — something reflected in Insolar’s world-wide #1 rank among blockchain projects for development activity. These are supported and complemented by five business development specialists, a ten-strong marketing team, an active research division and our legal and administrative employees.
Right from the start, we have prioritised both exceptional technology and business acumen, and our founding members have a strong track record in industry. Peter Fedchenkov (co-founder) is a mathematician who received his MBA from Harvard Business School. His role in Strategy and Business development is underpinned by a successful track-record of managing sales and relationships for some of the world’s largest retailers and CPG players, including Metro AG, Auchan, Unilever and PepsiCo.
Our CEO and co-founder Andrey Zhulin worked in Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking Division before founding Instamart, a major Eastern European online grocery store. The experience he gained at Instamart, forming a first-class engineering team and building a cutting-edge scalable tech platform, are keenly relevant to his role as tech and business development co-ordinator at Insolar, and he brings a wealth of both technical and financial skills to the company.
Co-founder Dmitry Zhulin, who is responsible for strategy, marketing, communications, operations, legal and finance, is also a successful entrepreneur. An early bitcoin investor, Dmitry recognised the potential of blockchain from the start — something informed by his background in both industry and finance. Another successful entrepreneur, he co-founded Instamart and has extensive experience in venture capital and private equity from VTBC Private Equity, Rothschild, and PwC.
Similarly, our core tech team is well-equipped to tackle the considerable challenges involved in building a world-first platform. Chief Architect Kirill Ivkushkin is a global leader in the deployment of blockchain systems for real-world applications. He has considerable experience in finance and banking technology, with expertise that covers multiple industries and disciplines. Our CTO, Pavel Scherbinin, has over a decade of experience in IT and was formerly CTO for Mail.ru, during which time he was responsible for building high-load systems used by over ten million customers.
In short, there are few if any other teams in the blockchain space that can claim the breadth of experience and expertise in finance, business and technology that Insolar brings to the table.
One of our biggest announcements of the year, in tandem with our rebrand and our pivot to create a comprehensive, business-ready blockchain ecosystem, was our launch of Insolar Research — a group of ten global and highly-respected academics whose role it is to act as a bridge between the theory and practice of blockchain technology, identifying the priority use cases and benefits for society and business globally.
Insolar Research is headed by Professor Henry Kim, who is co-director of York University’s Blockchain Lab in Toronto and one of the foremost North American scholars in his discipline.
He is joined by Professor Alexandru Butean, Senior Lecturer Professor in Computer Science and architect of the Blockchain Society in Estonia. The group boasts eight further academics, whose areas of interest and expertise range from blockchain and cryptography to security, IoT, and artificial intelligence/ machine learning.
Alongside our development schedule and these big-picture decisions, we have also been out there around the world, connecting with other blockchain initiatives and relevant forums and communities.
Examples include our participation in a series of events and conferences which enabled networking with potential customers interested in projects in the blockchain space, such as at the “British Brands Group Meeting” in London in spring (major FMCG brands) and in summer in Milan at the World’s Leading Food Innovation Summit, “Seeds & Chips”.
In September, two of our founders, Peter Fedchenkov and Dmitry Zhulin, flew to Shanghai to meet with local business, blockchain enthusiasts and funds — including Vincent Zhou, founder of FBG Capital. We networked with dozens of other businesses in the space at Blockchain Expo North America, and most recently attended the World Digital Assets Summit (WDAS). It was not just the blockchain sector in which we have been active, though. Last month we also headed to the Jefferies Consumer Conference in California, where we presented our tech to some of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies with the intention of lining up future collaboration.
In terms of partnerships, we were thrilled to be listed on Bithumb Global, South Korea’s no. 1 crypto exchange. This is a highly strategic move for us, making our token and platform widely available in Asia and putting us on the map for a vast crypto community. Thanks to further listings on Binance, OKEx, Liqui, Mercatox, and Kucoin, we are in a strong position for next year and the INS token is readily available against several major crypto and fiat currencies.
In summary, it has been a fantastic first year and we are very much looking forward to what 2019 brings. Merry Christmas to our community, and a happy new year!
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