Attending the DNA Fund Weekly ICO Pitch Day in Santa Monica
Walking into 41 Ocean in Santa Monica I was immediately taken aback by the diverse crowd. People in suits, t-shirts, and this one guy who looked like a modern day Indiana Jones.
The crowd consisted of people from all walks of life. There were successful businessmen and women with several projects already under their belts, as well as a younger crowd. A crowd I can only imagine was filled with developers and blockchain savants all hoping to be the next Vitalik.
Let me back up a little bit.
I was recently introduced to Marc Weinsten from the DNA fund. The Distributed Network Advisors Fund invests into blockchain projects at early stages, and helps nurture them along their path to launch. The Fund is run by a team of blockchain experts who help entrepreneurs launch Token Ecosystems.
DNA describes their selection criteria in this recent blog post:
The DNA criteria
The Six Keys DNA Looks for in Blockchain Projects
- Structural Competitive Advantages aka “the lighthouse”
- Unique inventive solution or defensible technology
- Clear need for a token and distributed ledger technology
- Management Team & Advisors
- Competitive landscape and opportunities to enable them
- Decentralized Governance Model
You can read the more about “the lighthouse” in this article from their blog.
I’ve been advising ICO’s on their white paper generation/design, so as you can imagine, I was enthralled. Marc let me know that every Tuesday they have an ICO pitch day in Santa Monica. Where companies hoping to join the fund pitch their business models and use cases. In hopes of gaining access to capital and resources.
I was intrigued. I consider myself adept at networking online. Forcing myself to leave the house and meet people IRL, is a completely different story. It’s easy for me to get lost in my computer screen. Spending days upon days churning out articles, charting, doing research into promising coins. I have the pleasure of being able to work from home. Which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, well, I get to work from home. A curse because, well, I never leave the damn house. I’m a crypto hermit. Especially recently. I’ve started reading 5–10 white papers a day to determine best practices for a series I’m writing. The series will cover all the elements of the perfect ICO recipe, and has completely consumed me.
Although I was nervous to leave the Bat Cave, my Fortress of Solitude, if you will. I was also excited to finally get out and be able to meet the blockchain community in Los Angeles.
Confession; I’m not the most clean cut guy. I’m rarely shaven, my hair is down to my shoulders. I look like Tarzan, fresh out of the jungle. Working from home allows me to let myself go. I never thought to myself, “I’m going to grow my hair out”. I just started a business, looked in the mirror 6 months later and realized I looked like John Snow’s brown cousin. Or Khal Drogo if he stopped going to the gym for…ever.
Before heading to ICO pitch day I shaved, put my hair up, and put on my fanciest t-shirt.
Who’d have thought I’d be mildly over-dressed for the occasion.
This is why I love crypto. No one is pretending to be something they aren’t. People in this room are here because they’re the best and brightest in the space — they were brought onto their respective teams because of their skill, not their appearance. Not their ability to climb a corporate ladder that promotes psychopathy. They’re here because they drive results.
Crypto doesn’t give a damn what you look like.
Anyways, I get to 41 Ocean and almost immediately run into Marc. He quickly gives me the rundown about what’s going on and where. I scurry over to the bar because it’s approximately 1 PM PST, which means it’s 4 PM EST, which means it’s acceptable to drink a beer.
The room filled up as my drink emptied, soon the first ICO of the day took the make-shift stage. I’ve been to plenty of pitch days before, never strictly for Blockchain focused companies, but I’ve seen my fair share of pitches. The environment at the DNA Fund Pitch Day was the most calm and casual one I’ve seen. These founders were pitching for a shot at millions of dollars, a chance to turn their dreams into realities — and they were all surprisingly nonchalant about it.
Over the course of the day I watched four ICO pitches. In this article I’ll be covering the first two. I’ll follow up in the coming days with a piece about WaterChain and Impact PPA — the projects I didn’t get to cover in this piece.
What is AlphaToken?
AlphaToken or ATK is a blockchain currency for digital content. The alpha browser rewards you for your time and attention when creating or consuming content. It sets up a peer to peer content trading platform that allows producers, consumers, and advertisers — to interact directly without going through a third party.
Content creators can put up free or paid content, and name their price — consumers then view the content paying (if necessary) with AlphaTokens. Advertisers benefit from the platform because consumers are incentivized to share more information about themselves, allowing advertisers to engage more intimately with their demographic. As an added benefit to the consumer, they get paid directly by the advertiser for watching ads.
The Case for AlphaToken
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Wallace Lynch, the founder and CEO, after his pitch. During our conversation, I’m pretty sure Dr. Lynch had a smile on his face the entire time. According to his bio, Dr Lynch is a,
“Serial entrepreneur, Columbia University Ph.D., seasoned tech-media expert, startup community connecter, founder of HSHub, MenuMeet, JianyueApp, and Cofounder of Svinsight, SVACE.”
I’m not sure what he obtained his PHD in but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Psychology given his warm and welcoming attitude. His patience with the barrage of questions I shot at him, and his ability to convey complex topics in simple terms.
I like AlphaToken for a few reasons:
- They have working product. They’re currently on their private beta, Dr. Lynch will be giving me access so hopefully I’ll be able to update you guys on it soon!
- They have a strong team.
- They have strong advisors.
- They’re addressing a pain point that affects a large demographic.
My background is in digital marketing, I’ve spent countless hours crafting influencer campaigns for brands. As well as ideating products for influencers to sell, in efforts to monetize their followings. This might not be a popular opinion, but being an influencer is a scary profession. You have no idea what your shelf life is, and although you might have a huge online “reach” (following, audience, etc), it can be difficult to find ways to turn that into a living. In influencer marketing you often run into one of two situations. Either influencers are charging exorbitant amounts because they’ve been indoctrinated into an agency that’s taught them how to sell at a premium, or they get taken advantage of because they haven’t figured out their worth. There is rarely a middle ground.
As a content creator myself (this article believe it or not is, “content”), I see the appeal in a platform like AlphaToken. Being able to set my own price for people to consume my content; that sounds like an idea I can get behind.
What really piques my interest about this project however is something Dr. Lynch said about the consumers.
“We’re calling this the Uber Killer. When we launch, people will be able to make more money sitting at home watching advertisements on our platform than they do driving for Uber”.
I was both excited, and a little concerned; since I had taken an Uber to the pitch day and was hoping he didn’t drive their business into the ground before I got back to Hollywood.
Coral Protocol just launched their website today! (March 5th) Check them out at www.HeyCoral.com
What is Coral Protocol?
The first thing I learned when Coral Protocol took the stage is that I’ve been spelling “Coral” wrong my entire life.
The second thing I learned, is that this industry needs companies like Coral in order to scale and encourage mass-adoption of blockchain technology.
They address a problem that before, I thought was simply a drawback of decentralization. An unfortunate issue that would be impossible to avoid without the induction of a 3rd party regulator.
The Coral Protocol protects against blockchain-based fraud. Coral assigns blockchain trust scores to cryptocurrency addresses, and offers Blockchain Payment Protection to provide restitution to phishing victims.
“Crypto transactions are dangerous. If you send crypto to an incompatible wallet, poof. If you mistype a wallet address, poof. You’re money is gone.”— David Kuchar
The Case for Coral Protocol
One of the biggest barriers to entry for the average user is the black hole that your hard earned money can fall into with the simplest of mistakes. Like David mentioned in the quote above, a single character out of place when typing a wallet address can result in the loss of everything you’re attempting to transfer. As Americans, we have our hand held a lot. The government nurtures dependency. To you, it’s just the way things work. Something is broken? Call your insurance company. Someone steals from you? Take them to court or call the police. There are systems and regulations in place that give us vehicles to right wrongs we feel have been committed against us. This doesn’t exist in cryptocurrency.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing, “Crypto Twitter”, you’d know scammers are abundant. For every genuinely helpful influencer on Twitter, there are 3–6 (conservatively) fake accounts that will pose as that influencer and try to trick Twitter users into sending them cryptocurrency. These are called “Phishing Scams”. Coral Protocol is aiming to take Phishing scams out of circulation.
At the moment, If you do fall victim to fraud, you can’t get your money back. It’s a fallback of decentralization and lack of regulation.
Coral is company thats needed in our space.
“Digital currencies as a medium of exchange has remained limited due to lack of payer protections. The most important of these protections will be a universal and anonymous system of trust. Coral is an interoperable blockchain protocol that offers payers of cryptocurrencies a decentralized safeguard against fraud. Coral creates a trust score for every cryptocurrency address, enabling senders to know whether the recipient address is trustworthy while preserving user anonymity and autonomy. This trust score provides a baseline system of trust upon which other security layers may be built, including Blockchain Payment Protection.”
Making crypto payments is scary.
Sending money to a fraudulent address results in total loss of funds. Current scam prevention methods are abysmal, resulting in nearly $4M in ETH and BTC being lost every single day. The Coral Protocol protects against blockchain-based fraud. Coral assigns blockchain trust scores to cryptocurrency addresses, and offers restitution to phishing victims.
Current scam prevention methods are abysmal, resulting in nearly $4M in ETH and BTC being lost every single day.
I was genuinely blown away by the simplicity of Coral Protocols presentation, and the fact that no one had thought of this before. Again, up until hearing about Coral, I thought the only solution to fraudulent activity in cryptocurrency was to engage a 3rd party regulator. While Coral is in a way a method of regulation, it’s decentralized — using smart contracts to remove the need for trust.
Coral is launching their website today. Another facet of the Coral team that gives me a positive outlook on their future is their “Product First” mentality. Before launching their site: they’ve already built out their API and started speaking with potential clients.
Disclaimer: I don’t accept payment for articles and I am not invested in OR involved with any of the companies mentioned in this article.