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Boost VC Demo Day: Meet Tribe 4's Bitcoin Startups

(@tom_sharkey) | Published on October 30, 2014 at 21:23 BST

Boost VC Tribe 4 Behind The Scenes

It’s the final day of Tribe 4's tenure in Boost VC’s startup accelerator, and things have been busier than ever.

The accelerator, perhaps most famous for its CEO Adam Draper’s promise to fund 100 bitcoin startups by the end of 2017, has been housing 16 bitcoin startups in its San Mateo, California, headquarters since the beginning of July.

The group, colloquially referred to as Tribe 4, has been gearing up for the startup world’s equivalent of a graduation ceremony: Boost’s Demo Day. Today, each of the startups will present a 3–4 minute pitch of their company to a room filled with hundreds of potential investors – an equal mix of venture capitalists and angels.

CoinDesk spoke at length with Draper and many of the Tribe 4 startups leading up to Demo Day. Together, they helped paint a picture of what it’s like to be part of a program that was built with a primary focus on bolstering the bitcoin ecosystem.

Their stories tell of an atmosphere that benefits immensely from collaboration and a vast professional network, but ultimately requires that the companies themselves put in the hard work.

“The two things we focus on giving our startups is a network and as much relevant advice as we can provide. That’s all we can completely control,” said Draper.

Whatever they’re doing, it seems to be working.

Boost’s acceleration

Boost has built a reputation on the breadth and depth of its alumni: it has accelerated startups such as BitPagos, Gliph, snapCard and Vaurum, to name a few.

Applications for Tribe 4 were up 40% from Boost’s previous startup batch. Less than 4% of the 700 applicants were accepted to the program – a figure that speaks to the quality of entrepreneurs in this latest Tribe.

Most of the startups in Tribe 4 are working with bitcoin or the block chain, the technology's underlying ledger. There’s ZapChain, the first social network built for bitcoiners; Hashrabbit, a software platform built to secure and monitor mining hardware; and CoinHako, a company hoping to make bitcoin buying and selling more convenient in Asia.

The diversity of the startups highlights the public’s growing interest in bitcoin and block chain technologies, Draper said, adding:

“What bitcoin has really done is make FinTech sexy. All of the best engineers are now attracted to the sector, so the level of talent is just through the roof.”

Only the beginning

Demo Day marks the culmination of the months of hard work, learning and iterating that the Tribe 4 startups have endured, but it’s not the end of the road for the company founders.

When asked what their plans are for the future, post-Demo Day, many of the accelerator's entrepreneurs expressed a similar sentiment: growth.

“Fundraising, hiring and growing,” said BlockCypher CEO Catheryne Nicholson.

“We're still furiously building product and planning the full launch of our marketplace in early 2015. We're also hiring,” Matthew J Martin said of his company Blossom.

“We’re introducing a new feature that will make it even easier for our users to network with other bitcoin professionals,” said ZapChain’s founder Matt Schlicht.

Wherever the future takes them, the new graduates of the startup accelerator can always count on having a partner in Boost VC (in line with industry standards, Boost takes a small percentage of equity from each company in which it invests).

Draper said:

“This is just the beginning. We’re invested forever, and we want the startups to feel like we set up a solid foundation for them to build a great company on.”

Here are the bitcoin startups that graduate today from Boost VC's Tribe 4:

BlockCypher

BlockCypher bitcoin

Founders: Matthieu Riou and Catheryne Nicholson

What does your company do? 

BlockCypher is like Amazon Web Services for block chains. Our web services enable developers to easily build block chain applications.


 ZapChain

ZapChain bitcoin

Founders: Matt Schlicht and Adam McKenna

What does your company do?

ZapChain is the fastest growing network of bitcoin professionals. At least one person from every major bitcoin company, VC firm and publication is on ZapChain today.


CoinHako

CoinHako

Founders:  Yusho Liu and Gerry Eng

What does your company do?

CoinHako is the easiest way to buy, sell and secure bitcoin in Asia.  


Honeybadgr

honeybadgr bitcoin

Founder: Derek Minter

What does your company do?

Honeybadgr is a talent marketplace focused on connecting job seekers with VC-backed bitcoin startups.


Pylon

pylon bitcoin

Founders: Kevin King and Rachid Grimes

What does your company do?

Pylon is the first service that empowers people to directly borrow from one another without fees.


Hashrabbit

hashrabbit bitcoin

Founders: Gabe Evans and Chris Shepherd

What does your company do?

Hashrabbit's software secures and monitors mining hardware. We're securing bitcoin by supporting the entire mining ecosystem, from hardware to mining pools.


Coinmotion

coinmotion bitcoin

Founders: Teemu Päivinen, Tom Hämäläinen and Kasper Parviainen

What does your company do?

Coinmotion is a super easy way to buy, store and use bitcoin in Europe.


Blossom

blossom bitcoin

Founder: Matthew J Martin

What does your company do?

Blossom is a peer-to-peer financing marketplace for Muslims. Blossom connects small businesses with interest-free financing options using a profit-sharing model.


Palarin

palarin

Founders: Brian Gamido, Lester Forteza and Marciano Aguila

What does your company do?

Palarin is transforming remittances using bitcoin technology, starting with the Philippines.


Hedgy

hedgy bitcoin

Founders: Matt Slater, Juan Pineda, Warren Anderson and Tim Olson

What does your company do?

Hedgy does price risk management for bitcoin. We offer a smart contract used to hedge against bitcoin volatility.


In addition to these 10 companies, the following bitcoin startups were a part of Boost VC's Tribe 4 (but were unavailable for comment at press time):

Align, a next generation payment service provider for global commerce; Atlas, a bitcoin debit card; Follow the Coin, the homepage of digital currency; Orboros, network analysis and visualization tools for block-chain technologies; Plutus, a crypto-stocks investment fund, and SFOX, a bitcoin trading platform.

Early applications for Boost VC's Tribe 5 are now being accepted on the accelerator's website.

Boost VC image via CoinDesk; startup logos provided by each company

Boost VCDemo DayStartups

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