On Bitcoin and Startups
I was at CoinSummit last week, lucky enough to attend Pamir’s incredible showcasing of the thought leaders in Bitcoin, which included Marc Andreessen, Chamath Palihapitiya, Balaji Srinivasan and Naval Ravikant among many others (watch the videos here).
(Image courtesy of CoinSumm.it, March 2014)
A thoughtful question was posed to me when confronted as to my position in Bitcoin. The inquiry: “Have you ever even been in a ‘third world country?’”
It struck me as both indicting and liberating at the same time.
Technically, I’ve never ventured into a third world country—So the argument must stand that I have no idea what obstacles are faced on a daily basis. While I’ve dug 20 foot deep holes for outhouses or built structures for the homeless, I’ve never have been faced with the reality that I might not have any locally available running water or other infrastructures we take for granted in the US and other “first world” environments.
Ironically, the term, “a third world country” is often intertwined with what I believe to be the gist of most statements when it’s used in relation to describing a “developing country.”
For me, Bitcoin represents an opportunity to uniquely and decisively offer opportunity for many people in the world who would ordinarily be stratified within the social statuses, political environments and the lack of mobility imposed upon them.
Whether it’s due to over-arching governments, or the lack of access to internet (or even electricity), I am very privileged to have grown up surrounded by luxuries often unparalleled—especially having had the lifestyle imbued on those in living in Silicon Valley.
However, I can understand opportunity. I can understand that certain solutions might mean a new business or merely an avenue to raise living conditions for a respective community.
With Bitcoin, all you need is a cell phone. Not even a smart phone—and as cell phone services penetrate the global economy, Bitcoin becomes even more tangible and ubiquitous. And just like the cell phone leapfrogged a high-stakes and large capital asset entry requirement, I believe Bitcoin will do the same.
(Image courtesy of eMarketer, Dec. 2013)
Here is my quick list of why Bitcoin is incredibly important and what it means to the world:
1) …commerce is available directly to any merchant and is comparatively cheap.
2) …value is available to be stored without any middleman.
3) …security is enforced without any oppression.
4) …a trustless and financially transparent infrastructure is available for nearly everyone.
5) …financial services finally have competition.
This is why I’m working on Bitcoin.
And if all you’re concerned about is Bitcoin’s price, you’re missing the point. Bitcoin, the currency, is just one application built upon the protocol: the decentralized blockchain technology is the true innovation.
Of course, I’m not alone and I’m honored to have the ability to work with some of the best in the business. Yesterday, Andreas Antonopoulos was kind enough to lend his time in helping our startups road map their security for product development.
Last Friday we had Terrence Yang, Vivy Chao (of Yang Ventures) and Chris Haroun (of Artis Ventures) speak on early stage startups and the obstacles involved in fundraising. Today, we had Juan Llanos outline the compliance and regulatory landscapes.
Juan Llanos remotes into our Mentor Session April 1st, 2014
Next week, we’ll have Pete Dougherty speak on AML/KYC and David Chen of Lightspeed Ventures detail the fundraising strategies and obstacles Bitcoin startups face.
The best companies solve big problems with lots of help.
I believe there is an incredible opportunity for those who can develop solutions for people who are either unbanked or under-banked. Where there are locations with incredibly restrictive capital controls or hyperinflation, Bitcoin can optimize the current or the lack of infrastructures.
With this paradigm in mind, I am incredibly proud and pleased to present Plug and Play’s inaugural class of Bitcoin startups, who are working on optimizing Bitcoin solutions for a better, faster and more powerful global economy:
37 Coins is your global Bitcoin wallet. It makes financial transactions as simple as sending a text.
CryptoTrustPoint: Instantly get your money when you buy, sell or trade Bitcoins, Altcoins and Dollars.
Purse.IO: Get and spend bitcoins!
Join us tonight to meet the teams at the Silicon Valley Bitcoin Meetup.
If you’re a startup or have an idea for a bitcoin solution, apply today for our next batch due to start in Q3 later this year.
Have questions? Shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org