Accessing funding is vital to startups and so we talked to different chains to see how they are building their communities – and offering support and much-needed funds. Gavin Weihua from NULS, the Chinese blockchain, describes how he works with startups.
We began by asking him how he compares to other blockchain programmes.
How do you compare to other decentralised blockchain incubator programmes –is this a trend for blockchains to build communities…?
We are not an incubator program per se. Our investment department is primarily looking to partner with high-value commercial partners who are open to building their chain on the NULS platform. We are not only seeking to partner financially, but also to join technical forces to build a healthy ecosystem together. No-one has all the solutions to blockchain, which is why these sorts of partnerships make sense. It is a waste of resources when lots of companies invest in solving the same problem. We think it is better to unite and innovate together. This is why, for example NULS started a Technology Research Institute, led by one of our founders Jason Zhang. We are working with universities, academia and businesses in China and abroad on joint blockchain research. This research will not just be limited to NULS, but to blockchain in the wider sense.
What is the process? how do projects apply, how many times a year, how much money is on offer?
We have regional directors who evaluate projects for us. Karina Collins is our European Director, so relevant projects in Europe go through her. Funding is ongoing, and we will only invest at the seed funding stage, not after. Our current maximum investment is 5M RMB (about $800,000), according to the potential of the project.
Who do you fund?
Firstly, we welcome any blockchain based project which offers breakthrough innovation and is willing to use NULS as their underlying infrastructure. Secondly, the potential project should offer to solve a real-world problem caused by the traditional centralized model. Thirdly, it should be feasible to implement the idea or business model. Fourthly, we only offer seed round investment.
How do you decide who to fund?
We evaluate the experience of the founding team, business model, token economics and distribution mechanism, the project roll-out schedule, as well as the quality of the whitepaper and any established user- or customer-base.
What tips would you give to people looking to apply?
Ensure that your business plan is solid, there are too many ICO projects now that are merely aspirational white papers. Ask yourself, is my project solving a real-world problem with blockchain? Are we providing some breakthrough innovation? What real basis is there for our token economy?
When is the next round?
Our door is always open for outstanding projects.
When can we expect to see implementations – proof of the pudding?
NULS launched 11 months ago, and in that time 100,000 lines of code have been written, there have been 11 rounds of test-net and main-net launched without a hitch in July. We are on schedule to release some of our key products, and more partners continue to join our ecosystem. You must remember, that the companies who partner with us are independent entities who have assessed the competition and concluded that we are technologically ahead and can provide the easy, practical solution they need to achieve their goals.
Are you doing education now – tutorials etc – any links with institutions?
NULS already has an active tech community, and all our code is open source on Github. Our Technology Research Institute is starting to grow, so there will be lots of tutorials for blockchain enthusiasts in the future. Recently, we also partnered with the Chinese Ministry of Education and Science, to run an international DApp Blockchain Design Competition. Over 1500 participants registered to compete and there were over 300 DApp project entries. It is estimated that the event attracted two million views on- and off-line during the course of the competition, and spin-off news resulted in a reach of more than 60 million people.
How big is your community?
About 100,000 members around the world.
Who are your heroes – and why?
We think the community is the hero. Blockchain only exists today, because it was driven by a community of people who demanded social and economic change which resulted in Bitcoin, the birth of blockchain. The community did not just talk about change – they went out and innovated. They invented a whole new way of trading and communicating. Blockchain is breaking down international barriers and bringing people closer together. No company, no matter how much vision or money they had, could have achieved so much in such a short space of time.
Have you built an ambassador programme? Will you?
Our global communities and their representatives will be our ambassadors in the future. We are in process of recruiting community ambassadors in 8 strategic geographical regions at this time, namely Singapore, United States, China, Russia, United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan and India.
Give me a 5 second elevator pitch – why you over other chains?
NULS has an excellent core tech team, a strong global community and we are providing an easy, cheaper solution for enterprises who wish to build on the blockchain. Our consensus mechanism and adaptable modular solution, will save businesses time and money so that they can reach their goals faster.
Tell me more about some of the projects you have chosen and why there are a good fit?
One of our most recent partnerships is with a data health company called PRISM.
PRISM plan to put individuals at the center of their medical data management. They want to combine medical grade wearable devices and token economy to encourage users to collect their health data, upload it to the blockchain via their device, and sell that information to medical studies and insurance institutions, if they so wish. We chose PRISM because they offer a new model for health data management. Their concept has good social values, and will benefit many people by enhancing health awareness.