Before the record-breaking fifth iteration of CoinGeek’s flagship conference in London, the Bitcoin Association held their second BSV Venture Pitch Day, where a selected group of start-ups from the Bitcoin SV ecosystem presented to a group of seasoned tech investors, pitching for a possible cash injection to help them take their businesses to the next level.
Held just six months on from the inaugural Pitch Day in Seoul, South Korea, expectations were high from the investors in attendance, who had travelled to London from all over the world in search of the next great innovation to be built on Bitcoin SV.
‘After the success of the first Pitch Day, there was a noticeable uptick both in the number of applications we received, as well as the diversity of the BSV ventures,’ says Jimmy Nguyen, Founding President of the Bitcoin Association.
‘We had 50 applicants this time – double the number from our 1st Pitch Day. That made it a tough job for our screening panel to narrow the field down to just ten ventures, who were invited to pitch in London to the investors.’
For the ten ventures who were selected to pitch, each were allotted 15 minutes to present to the room of assembled investors, followed by a ten-minute question and answer session from the floor. Those presenting came from a range of different backgrounds, with proposals encompassing everything from event management to personal data management using the BSV blockchain.
‘The diversity of BSV ventures emerging illustrates that developers and entrepreneurs are quickly understanding that the Bitcoin SV is the only blockchain capable of powering enterprise applications,’ says Nguyen.
‘With its greater data capacity, ability to massively scale, as well as facilitate microtransactions at levels previously unseen on any other platform, Bitcoin SV is the blockchain for business. It was fantastic to see the possibilities that Bitcoin SV presents, with a diverse range of pitches here today all seeking to harness the true power of Bitcoin.’
Those pitching were vying for the opportunity not just to attract investment, but also to present on the main stage at CoinGeek London 2020 – with an in-person audience of over 800 , many of whom have the ability to change the future of these ventures overnight.
Four ventures from Pitch Day presented on the main stage – one (Baemail) which had already been placed on the conference agenda, and an additional three ventures selected from Pitch Day.
They were divergent in their origins and ideas, but all confident that they had ventures worthy of the investors’ time and money:
A well-known face in the Bitcoin SV community, Darren Kellenschwiler brought with him a commercially driven email implementation built on open identity protocol, Paymail.
‘Baemail is a Paymail-to-Paymail encrypted messaging system, where you can add value to the message,’ explains Darren Kellenschwiler, CEO of Baemail.
’I’m here today to sell the idea of inbox economics as the solution to there being way too many emails in the world. At the moment, there’s about 300 billion emails sent every day. We want to cut that down, so people are only communicating in a meaningful way. We need economics to solve that problem, and Baemail is the first application of economics to the email problem’
Baemail works by allowing the sender of an email on Paymail’s platform to append a monetary value to the message they send, which are then ordered in the receiver’s inbox by descending value. The receiver earns the fee paid by the sender when they open and read the message.
‘We’re at the stage now where we need to rapidly scale up the development speed,’ says Kellenschwiler.
‘Within 12 months, I see us integrating with HandCash, RelayX and any other Paymail wallets that want to work with us. We’ll do this to make sure that the userbase is as wide as possible.’
In Kellenschwiler’s eyes, the brilliance of his idea is borne out of its simplicity – a characteristic that also represented Baemail’s biggest risk: emerging competitors. With this in mind, he was seeking funding form the investors with a clear objective in mind.
‘The investment will predominantly go towards expanding the team in order to increase the speed of development,’ he says.
‘The conversations that I’ve had today have help me formulate what the next five years is going to look like. The feedback was fantastic in terms of getting to know how investors perceive the current model and where it was aiming, while helping me work out where I now need to aim to take the next steps with Baemail.’
Certainly winning the award for the longest commute to Pitch Day, brothers Jeremy and Daniel Street impressed the investors and earned a spot on the mainstage at CoinGeek London with their product, Memento.
‘Memento is an ad-free social media experience,’ explains Jeremy Street, co-founder and CTO of Memento.
‘Unfortunately, you have social media like Instagram at the moment, where less than 1 percent of users are able to monetise their content – typically through advertising. Everyone else that uses the platform – including some of the most amazing photos and videos – get nothing for it. What we want to do is remove the ads from the equation and bring the power back to the people.’
Packaged in an Instagram-esque app, Memento works by incentivising interactions on the platform through micropayments. Instead of being served with advertisements, users are charged a nominal fee – which is earned by the user who posted the content – to interact with others’ posts, be it liking or commenting.
‘Memento essentially allows anyone in the world that has access to a smartphone and the internet, to be able to generate revenue from day one,’ explains Daniel Street, co-founder and CEO of Memento.
‘Instead of Instagram and Facebook making all of this money from its users, how about the users start making some back?’
Taking on the internet behemoths which dominate the global social media landscape at present is no mean feat, and the Street brothers are confident that with an appropriate cash injection, they can bring an on-chain competitor to market by year’s end.
‘We have a two-year roadmap that would allow us to jump on Memento on a full-time basis. Daniel and I have been working 80-hour weeks at full-time jobs, getting this done in our spare time,’ says Jeremy Street.
‘I want us to be able to focus completely on Memento and build it as fast as possible. We know what we want to build; we know the engineers that we need; we know the marketing. We just need to build it effectively and quickly before anyone else.’
With perhaps the most interesting backstory to a presentation, Angus Adams, a New Zealand-native now working as a product analyst at nChain in London, presented to the investors on behalf of his brother – the founder – who was unable to make it to London.
‘[Brother Ben Adams] can be a bit of a pain to be honest! But we fleshed out this business idea together, so I had a pretty good background on what it was he wanted to achieve,’ he explains.
‘I presented Looter – a social fitness app. which allows for micropayments on the platform. With the micropayments, you are able to do things like incentivise your friends and family to go out running, raise money for charity by running, or even gamble on race outcomes.’
With a Strava-like implementation, Adams sees Looter as an opportunity to add a fiscal layer to an already popular genre, presenting a point of difference they hope will establish a competitive edge in a space filled with largely homogenous offerings.
‘The light bulb went on for both of us. We both use social fitness apps quite frequently and we thought that the experience would be better if we integrated micropayments, as a way for users to monetise their desire to go out and run,’ says Adams.
‘With 190 million existing users, the market is big. There’s definitely competitors too, but none who are doing what we’re doing.’
In addition to the headline features focused on user-driven, active financial engagement, Looter also offers their users the opportunity to earn a passive income by selling their running data to interested third parties – those involved in the fitness and insurance industries for example. Like many of the other ventures, they were seeking investment to enable an accelerated scaling up of Looter.
‘Ben’s looking at raising £200k. He’s looking to hire a full-time developer in April, as well as getting some help in the UX/UI space,’ says Adams
‘[Early] next year, Ben is looking at having a full launch of the product. I think for success, you’d want 100,000 users active. By the end of next year, the goal would be 100,000 plus users.’
With the proliferation of personal data continuing to expand at a rapid-rate, an experienced entrepreneur from China came to London to pitch ActivitySV, an on-chain application that would facilitate both greater control for users when holding and moving data, as well as avenues for people to monetise their own data.
‘I think there is an opportunity here, as users become increasingly concerned with their privacy, now and in the future,’ explains Lin Zheming, founder of ActivitySV.
‘Because of regulation, there are a lot of barriers that prevent companies from being able to utilise a users’ data. [With ActivitySV] we can provide a way that data can be authorised for use by the users and earn a fee for doing so.’
ActivitySV’s three-pronged approach, covering storage, transmission and monetisation, is predicated on a fundamental principle that users should have the ability to control their data. Presenting a use case utilising Apple’s HealthKit app and signalling that a proof-of-concept demonstration was on the horizon, Zheming expressed confidence that his venture is ready for immediate expansion.
‘Over the next twelve months, our priority is to build up a team that is dedicated to working only on this project – that’s the priority,’ he says.
‘We are hoping to have the project online as a working demo on the App Store within six months, then it will be a case of seeing just how many users we are able to obtain by the end of the year.’
Zheming’s pitch was unique in that he was seeking investors to join an existing investment group, offering an added layer of certainty and maturity for prospective funders. He pitched with a firm roadmap and plan for profit in place, a presentation that impressed the investors and earned him a place on the mainstage at CoinGeek London.
‘We are seeking investment, mainly to increase our manpower and improve our access to talent as we make this work,’ he says.
‘Personally, I am an investor [in ActivitySV] and we have an investment group already put together. We are hoping that after today, we can further invest in this project together with some of those here at the Pitch Day.’