Block party: meet the entrepreneurs brilliantly disrupting the world
An acceleration in digital transformation has led to a boom in blockchain business from supply chain to shares, money to music. Here, we take a look at 14 trailblazers leading the charge in this fascinating new arena of business...
Jessi Baker is the founder of the British Blockchain company provenance.org, which The Telegraph has dubbed “one of 10 amazing science and technology innovations to watch”, and The Guardian says is “starting a revolution in consumer understanding”. Provenance is a software service for businesses to easily share the story and impact behind their products and their supply chains at the point of sale without having to invest in bespoke web development.
A Cambridge University engineering graduate, Baker explains her vision: “I wanted to buy products from brands that are making robust efforts to better the environment and society, she says, adding her biggest achievement is being one of the first companies in the world to apply Blockchain tech to impact and supply chains.
Russian born and MIET educated, Elena Sinelnikova is a California-based technologist and entrepreneur, currently the CEO and co-founder at Blockchain tech company MetisDAO. She also advises on Blockchain for companies including insurance provider MaxGapPlus and Indian millennial banking project Vease Technologies. Notably, Sinelnikova is also co-founder of non-profit global Blockchain network CryptoChicks, which has members from 56 countries.
Although it started out as a meeting space for women to learn about cryptocurrencies and digital wallets, it has since turned into a wide-ranging educational hub for young women learn about Blockchain and AI. “Blockchain technology is borderless and we had an opportunity to connect women from different countries together... the more women we help, the better it feels.”
MIGUEL LINERA ALPERI & PABLO GARNICA DE JUAN
Miguel Linera Alperi and Pablo Garnica de Juan are the co-founders of AREX Real Estate Technologies. Their vision, they say, is to “fully digitalise the real estate transaction process for any user”, by providing smart real estate deal management, powered by blockchain technology.
As Alperi explains, “In developing countries I think there exists a huge opportunity for Blockchain, not only to provide transparency and security in Real Estate transactions, but also to grant access to new participants in the market.”
Zoe Adamovicz is CEO and co-founder of Neufund, a Berlin-based Blockchain platform founded in 2016 and which has been described as a “stock exchange without the operator in the back”. A graduate in Cultural Science from the University of Warsaw, the entrepreneur and angel investor, who has been named as one of Forbes ‘Five Female Rock Stars Leading the Crypto Scene’, has also founded numerous other startups, such as Xyo and Concise Software (providing software development), and has acted as an advisor for German and Maltese governments on digitalisation. “Blockchain is one of the greatest opportunities we’ve been presented with in modern history,” she says.
Grammy-winning British artist Imogen Heap (and 50% of British electronic duo Frou Frou), is the founder of the art and music collective Mycelia, a group that explores how Blockchain technology can be used to disrupt the music economy ecosystem and ensures fair pay for artists. She practises what she preaches, having released her album, Tiny Human, on the Blockchain Ethereum in 2015.
“Blockchain is the catalyst for change in the [music] industry,” she explains. “It’s a step in the right direction... Blockchains could enable artists to release their tracks themselves and gain greater control over the terms of the release and the profits received... To have that constant connection with and control over your music would be amazing.”
Carl Wegner is the CEO of Contour, a Singapore-based global trade finance network, powered by R3’s Corda. Part of his role is to improve transparency between banks, corporates, and technology partners, expanding Contour’s reach in the trade finance space.
Contour has also recently announced a partnership with CargoX, a blockchain platform for transferring data and documents. “Transforming trade finance can’t be achieved by a single company acting by itself,” says Wegner. “Collaboration is central to building a trade finance network that is truly global.”
SHAI DE TOLEDO
Shai de Toledo is the co-founder – along with Rafael Papismedov and Oded Mansori – of HB Antwerp, a technology company focused on diamonds, and based, as the name implies, in Antwerp.
A tech-savvy supply chain whizz, Toledo uses blockchain solutions for the diamond supply chain management, with an international network of diamond specialists on speed dial. He says he is now using that knowledge to increase trust and transparency in the diamond supply chain.
Having served in the British Army, Marcus Ralphs is founder and CEO of ByzGen, which uses blockchain for the security sector. Marcus says his fascination with technology was first sparked by the challenges facing the defence and security sectors when it comes to managing sensitive data. Prior to ByzGen, he’d been working on projects with the MoD using blockchain to track individuals’ security clearance.
“ByzGen is the first blockchain company to focus exclusively on the defence sector,” he says. “Enabling the Defence and Security sector to be at the vanguard of developing and adopting game-changing blockchain technology is really exciting.”
Twice-named as one of the UK’s top 25 fintech Influencers by CityAM, Bitcoin thought leader Diana Biggs is CEO of Swiss blockchain company Valour, which allows users to buy digital currencies through their local banks. She has also served as industry engagement advisor for the University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies, as HSBC’s head of business model innovation for the UK and Europe, and is on the board of the World Economic Forum.
Her previous company, Proof of Purpose, strived to aid in humanitarian causes via blockchain technology. “I have never seen this much attention to bitcoin and other crypto assets,” she says. “The time for decentralised technologies has arrived, and their potential is increasingly realised by institutional investors.”
Law graduate Marta Vallès co-founded Blockchain traceability platform Vottun in 2018. The LA-based firm aims to prevent data fraud via Blockchain technology. It has been especially successful in the education sector, with a customer base encompassing tiny schools to a whole country. Vallès describes Vottun as being “like a bank book: there might be the same amount in it, but every single transaction is recorded.
While a server, a government, or Amazon now has all your data, with Blockchain there are a thousand nodes sharing the same information, but without one person owning it. And your data cannot be misused.”
Gaurang Torvekar is the co-founder and CEO of Indorse, founded in 2017; an all-in-one platform to build and grow high-performing software engineering teams. An entrepreneur with over 10 years’ experience in the software industry, this is his second company in the Blockchain space, and he is considered a thought leader on Blockchain in the UK and South East Asia.
“We started Indorse because we believed that we could build a world where the only thing that mattered was your skills!” he says. He’s currently focusing on building and driving hackathons all over the world.
Software engineer, former journalist and self-described “Anarchopreneur”, Rhian Lewis founded London Women in Bitcoin in 2014, a popular meetup group for women working with Bitcoin. “I didn’t really appreciate the real-life possibilities of bitcoin until I moved to Berlin,” she told Digital Money Times. “It was amazing for me, being able to go out for the evening with my friends and pay for all our drinks in bitcoin!”
She is also the co-creator of an altcoin portfolio tracker called Count My Crypto, author of The Cryptocurrency Revolution, and a developer for the open source software, Ruby on Rails, at Unboxed, the service design and digital product development agency.
Counted among the top 50 most influential women in European startups, Maria Pennanen is the co-founder of Accelerator Frankfurt and former CEO of the crypto/blockchain startup Santiment, a data insights provider for crypto markets.
Today she is the founder and CEO at Mindclip Behaviour, which helps optimise micro-habits to enable behaviourial change for the benefit of teams and author of ‘How to F*ck Up Your Startup: Learnings from ICOs, leadership failures and egocentric founders.’
MANOUSH ZOMORODI AND JEN POYANT
In 2018, journalist and entrepreneur Manoush Zomorodi and broadcast producer Jen Poyant joined Civil, a blockchain platform, dedicated to trustworthy journalism. Through Civil they launched their podcast ZigZag, which details their progress setting up their own media company, Stable Genius Productions.
Poyant has since become 10% Happier's Executive Producer of Podcasts, while Zomorodi’s books include ‘Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self’, and ‘The Privacy Paradox,’ which aims to help people take back control of their digital identity.