Virtual Accelerator concept EtherCamp plans to provide not only a decentralized method of competition, but fundraising as well. With its annual online hackathon, it presents a model which could change the way developers and entrepreneurs present their ideas to potential backers.
“We wanted to build something that’s truly valuable for the whole community,” said EtherCamp founder and CEO, Roman Mandeleil.
“We’ve created a platform that democratizes opportunity for everyone, from entrepreneurs gaining access to early funding through to anyone in the community being able to identify and back opportunities at an early stage.”
EtherCamp Puts Hackathon on the Internet, Capturing Blockchain Industry’s Spirit
EtherCamp is kicking off its second major competition on November 6. It also recently launched Hacker Gold (HKG), a token designed to fuel the company’s crowdfunding apparatus. Aside from taking place on a blockchain-based platform, the hackathon exists entirely online. So instead of meeting at a convention center, competitors submit projects online for a panel of experienced and high-profile judges to judge and score.
Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin said in a YouTube interview in late September that the idea of hackathons is great, because it offers a place for interesting ideas and projects to spark, develop and hopefully grow.
The in-person events are nice, Buterin added, because they have the ability to bring a lot of people together to work with one another.
But, “With online [hackathons],” he added, “you can really reach a much larger audience and you can get people interested when ordinarily they might be only like slightly interested in something and not willing to like go all the way to some particular city.”
In turn, simple distance and time may hinder the ability to connect and collaborate.
Hackathon winners also even receive their winnings through online channels. There’s a US $50,000 prize for the top camp, in the cryptocurrency of their choice.
Online Hackathons Make it Easier for Entrepreneurs to Get Ideas Off the Ground
Erik Voorhees, Shapeshift.io founder and CEO, is one of over two dozen judges in the upcoming hackathon. He said in an interview that this model fits well with the blockchain industry’s nature.
“Online hackathons are a very cool idea,” Voorhees said. “Especially in this industry when it’s supposed to be global and allow anyone in the world to participate in the new financial system.”
Aside from its appeal among legacy institutions, Voorhees said online hackathons have the potential to completely overhaul the way businesses raise starting capital.
By making it cheaper to compete, online hackathons could open markets to sources of innovation that had previously been overlooked, said Voorhees.
“A lot of the people in the world don’t have the means to fly to some urban center in a western country and participate in front of a bunch of VCs there,” he said. “So the ability to get off the ground from your rural village in Nepal is gonna be, I think, pretty revolutionary.”
Mainstream Businesses Are Starting to Look at Real-World Blockchain Implementations
Major financial institutions around the world are also showing interest in developing their own blockchain solutions and applications. For example Santander, one of the world’s largest banking groups, has started working with EtherCamp developers on private Ethereum implementations using the public chain.
Julio Faura, Santander’s head of research and development, said the organization stands to benefit significantly by using blockchain technology.
“Our interest in blockchain technology is multiple,” he said in an interview during Devcon2. “There’s a number of reasons, mostly around getting more efficiency.”
Faura also noted that Santander has been exploring several possibilities for implementing blockchain technology into capital markets and international payments. This, he said, could become reality much sooner than later.
EtherCamp Working With Banks to Integrate Ethereum-Based Tools
But Santander isn’t the only banking organization doing real work with the blockchain. According to Faura, almost every financial institution he has communicated with uses Ethereum in some way, often working with developers to create blockchain solutions tailor-made to their needs.
“A great example of this is [EtherCamp],” Faura said, “[Santander is] getting along very well with Roman and we’re doing very cool projects.”
Paramount on the list is perhaps the CashETH initiative, which will see the Spanish banking giant become the first major bank to use a public blockchain, effectively linking client accounts to Ethereum’s chain. This will allow Santander users to exchange their fiat currency into tokens to be used within the Ethereum network.
As reported by IB Times: “The first use case of the Santander/EtherCamp CashEth project is micropayments, so leveraging the agility of the Ethereum blockchain to pay tiny amounts to read newspaper articles with zero fees, recorded on the blockchain.”
CashETH is currently running on the Ethereum testnet, Morden, and Mandeleil stated, it is in a working state on testnet.
What do you think about the EtherCamp hackathon? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, EtherCamp, Santander.
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Note: The author of this article is an employee of the Vanbex Group, which provides public relations services to EtherCamp.