Venture Capitalists Talk Blockchain Startups

The moderator, Kelner, stated that ICOs have raised an “ungodly” amount of money for young companies. Monegro described ICOs as “Kickstarters with tokens” and believes that there has been significant overfunding of startups via ICOs over the past year. He pointed out that many small investors are losing money in ICO scams that puts the SEC in a tough spot with some regulation necessary.

Laughlin piled on, saying that there are a lot of “scammy, spammy crypto projects” right now with perhaps only 20 percent of the projects in the space that cross her desk even having a legitimate business plan.

However, she did add that many traditional companies are looking to integrate blockchain and crypto into their existing business models, indicating at least one way forward for the industry. She added that ICO-friendly countries in Europe are placing a pretty high tax burden on companies in the industry.

Crypto and Blockchain Startup Landscape

Kelner spoke a bit about the crypto and blockchain startup landscape in the U.S. but warned against complacency there. Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, Singapore—and even such lesser-known locales like Puerto Rico and Malta—have thriving ecosystems. He pointed out that a big opportunity in blockchain is to bring offline activities online.

When reviewing our notes and photos afterwards, it seemed that there were three different titles to the panel, none of which was really addressed.

“Will Blockchain Liberate the Netizens?”

“Breaking Down Blockchain”

“Blockchain: The Scary Bits are in the Details”

Fortunately, we were later able to get a more concrete idea about the applications of blockchain outside the cryptocurrency area.

Prize Announcements for Startup Competitions

Interspersed between the panels during the day were prize announcements for various student startup competitions. We caught up with one of the co-founders of one of the day’s winners, Shanna Crumley, of A4ED. She explained that her company is using blockchain technology to make education credentials—even for non-formal learning—portable and verifiable as a means to assist refugees and other vulnerable populations.

May Day will signal the effective end of conference season at area universities for the academic year, but there are still several excellent and free (or near free) conferences, panels and tech talks still to come before then. We will be searching out and attending as many blockchain and cryptocurrency events on campuses as we can.

This article has been republished with permission from Modern Consensus.