The Plug and Play Tech Center, yet another accelerator program, is searching for bitcoin-related startups in Silicon Valley, with ambitions to fund bitcoin startups all over the globe.
The company, which brands itself as a “global accelerator”, is holding its Expo Winter 2013 conference on 5th December. The half-day event will feature a number of bitcoin and financial technology (or 'fintech') startups, which are expected to pitch to investors at the event.
There will also be a panel featuring a number of members that are well known representatives of the bitcoin economy, including David Johnston, the executive director of venture capital firm BitAngels; Chris Larsen, the CEO of payment network Ripple; and Vinny Lingham, the CEO of Gyft. A full schedule and rundown of the panelists is located here.
Scott Robinson, who is leading the Expo as well as the bitcoin accelerator for Plug and Play, says that at least eight bitcoin startups will be pitching their business plans at the event. Robinson told CoinDesk: “We are looking for the next killer app for bitcoin.”
In 2014, Plug and Play is planning to invest in at least 10 bitcoin startups with a total of $250,000 for the year. Robinson said Plug and Play’s interest in bitcoin happened quickly and was the result of Plug and Play's founder, Saeed Amidi, seeing bitcoin's vast potential during the local Silicon Valley Bitcoin Meetup Group.
Robinson is helping to facilitate that meeting now, which counts over 330 members and meets at Plug and Play’s offices.
"He wasn’t particularly interested in bitcoin at first,” said Robinson of Amidi’s level of enthusiasm, “but the meetup caught his attention. Charlie Lee spoke, as did two or three other speakers.”
Charlie Lee is the founder of the decentralized virtual currency litecoin. He recently left his job working on Chrome projects for Google to join bitcoin wallet and payment processor Coinbase.
Investment fervor in bitcoin-related businesses has spiked recently with some large backings. This includes itBit, a Singapore-based company that is planning to build a NASDAQ-style bitcoin exchange and has obtained a total of $5.5m in funding to execute that strategy.
Plug and Play isn’t the first accelerator to accept bitcoin startups. That title would go to Boost VC, an incubator in San Mateo which included seven BTC startups in its last class. However, Plug and Play is a bit different: the firm has a global approach, and works with partners in locales including Singapore, Berlin, Vancouver and Mexico City to incubate and build new businesses.
With 200 startups in its portfolio, bitcoin won’t become a big part of its strategy anytime soon. But Robinson, who just returned to California after attending Bitcoin Singapore 2013, is laying the groundwork for bigger things by “facilitating meet ups and growing connections all over the world,” he said.
A listing of the exact bitcoin and fintech companies that will pitch to the estimated 100 investors at Winter Expo 2013 has not yet been finalised. Startups in the space are still being encouraged to apply on the Plug and Play website.
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