Today blockchain technology is widely regarded as one of the more exciting areas of breaking edge tech, but just 12 months ago it had many in the local tech scene uninformed, dubious, or both.
And while many still are (especially dubious), blockchain tech has skyrocketed to one of the most discussed, developed, and invested in technologies, with hype at times reaching fever-pitch levels as companies eagerly implement the tech in places it might not even be needed.
In places like the US, Europe, and Asia, blockchain companies had a head start, with many emerging throughout 2015-16 to try and dethrone Bitcoin. Protocol coins such as Ethereum and NEO, developed with the purpose of benefiting the internal blockchain ecosystem, began to gain traction and notoriety.
But it wasn’t until 2017 that the boom of consumer-focused blockchain projects, funded by easily facilitated initial coin offerings, began to hit Australia.
Early last year the country’s “first” initial coin offering was kicked off by Chronobank and since then the floodgates have opened for disruptive blockchain companies, with many of them raising multiple millions to help get their ambitious projects off the ground.
We’ve compiled a list of those startups, ranked by the amount they’ve managed to raise, and a brief description of what they’re looking to do to help you get an insight into Australia’s ecosystem of successful blockchain companies.
1. Havven — raised $38.6 million in March
Currently at the top of the capital pile when it comes to Australian blockchain companies, stablecoin startup Havven was a quiet achiever in 2018. The startup raised the vast majority of its funds through private pre-sales, with its public token sale amount equating to just $4 million.
Havven aims to provide a solution for one of the more difficult aspects of the inherently volatile cryptocurrency sector by providing a tradeable digital coin with a stable value. The project runs on a dual-coin ecosystem, with the first coin backed by the market value of the second.
“People really see the potential in the project, and we’ve had so much support over the last two or three months,” founder Kain Warwick told StartupSmart.
“I think much of the cryptocurrency community knows that volatility is an issue, and our approach to a stablecoin is a bit different to other projects, and there’s been a lot of interest in that.”
2. Power Ledger — raised $34 million in October 2017 (now worth upwards of $60 million)
Australia’s blockchain darling, Power Ledger was one of the first local projects to gain global recognition after a series of prominent partnerships and pitch comp wins boosted it to one of the top 100 cryptocurrencies.
The startup provides an energy trading platform for solar panel users to trade the excess energy they don’t use over the blockchain and be rewarded with its POWR tokens. The goal is to cut down on wasted surplus energy and increase rewards and efficiency for solar panel users.
The startup is a finalist in the Extreme Tech Challenge, and will fly to Richard Branson’s Necker Island at the end of the year to pitch for the win.
3. CanYa — raised $12 million in December 2017 (now worth ~$8.2 million)
Blockchain marketplace startup CanYa started its life in 2015 as a freelance jobs marketplace, much like Airtasker, which allowed its users to pay, and be paid in, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
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Seeing an opportunity, the company launched its own currency CanYaCoin through a $12 million initial coin offering (ICO). But in the wake of the raise, the business ran into some compliance issues around record-keeping and paying employees, telling StartupSmart it was “in way over our head”. As a result, it’s now building its own accounting and compliance software for crypto companies.
The CanYa token has also had a rocky ride after it commenced trading after the company’s coin offering; it’s currently worth 40c, down from a high of $5 in its early days of trading.
4. Shping — raised $8.5 million in March
Formerly known as AuthenticateIt, Shping is another modern-day blockchain company that started as something else in 2012. It started life as a database startup that looked to provide consumers with knowledge of supply chains whilst allowing brands to verify their products’ authenticity.
After a blockchain pivot 18 months ago, the company’s focus remains largely the same. The goal is to “make shopping smarter and more rewarding” with an app that allows consumers to view additional product info on goods before purchase via a barcode scan, and be rewarded in the company’s SHPING token.
The startup finalised its token sale last month, pulling in a total of $8.5 million from private and public investors.
5. Chronobank — raised $6.8 million in February 2017 (now worth ~$120 million)
Chronobank has the honour of being the first Australian team to complete an ICO, running its token sale way back in February 2017 when Bitcoin was still worth $1500 and Ethereum $15. Today, its raise value would be over $120 million.
Chronobank’s offer is labour hours and employee management on the blockchain, with the startup looking to disrupt the short-term recruitment sector by “tokenising labour hours” and providing a platform for a global gig economy. Founder Sergei Sergienko told StartupSmart he believed Chronobank to be one of the first real examples of how to do a modern-day ICO, and warned that 2018 would be a year of “reckoning” for ICO-funded startups.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, ICOs are essentially a novel way of pushing the idea of venture capital investing to the common masses, and everyone’s trying their hand at VC investments,” he said earlier this year.
“What a lot of them don’t realise is that one in ten VC investments shoot through to attainable results, and the same thing’s going to happen here. For a quick flip, ICOs are great, but in the long term hysteria and craziness mean there will be few of real value.”
6. Intimate — raised $5.5 million this year
Having just finalised its $5.5 million pre-sale raise, “crypto for grown-ups” startup intimate has broken into the scene with an aim to revolutionise two industries often looked down upon by the big banks: cryptocurrency and sex work.
Drawn from his experience with previous cryptocurrency-focused companies, co-founder Reuben Coppa started to see the problem the two industries could solve for each other. Through intimate’s ITM token and platform, sex workers and their clients will not only be able to receive unbanked payments, but verify each other’s trustworthiness and reputation — often rocky ground in the adult industry.
The company’s token sale kicks off later this month, where it will seek another $11.35 million from investors.
7. ShareRing — raised $3.8 million in March
“We haven’t gone out and said we’re the Amazon of the sharing economy, but it’s an apt description of what we’re doing. We want there to be one ecosystem to operate in for everything from payment processing to ID checks,” ShareRing co-founder Tim Bos told StartupSmart in March.
That’s ShareRing’s goal, being a platform for big and small businesses to essentially white-label a product or service plug it into a sharing economy marketplace, where customers can book and rent it.
Last month the company locked in a $3.8 million seed round, raised entirely from people the founding team had known for a year — largely friends and family with a few big-time crypto investors. In May, the team is hoping to complete a whopping $62 million initial coin offering.
“Based on the breadth of the interest in the platform I’d say we’re not going to have too much problem raising that amount,” said Bos.
8. BlockGrain — raised $3.5 million in April
Initially dubious on initial coin offerings, agtech startup BlockGrain changed its tune after noticing a change in “vibe” from government bodies and regulators, leading to the company kicking off its $25 million ICO with a $3.5 million pre-sale.
BlockGrain, as the name suggests, offers a agriculture supply chain tracking solution for both farmers and grain brokers, providing them better oversight and reporting on their grains from farm to table. As founder and fifth-generation farmer Caile Ditterich told StartupSmart, there’s up to 30% of value for farmers lost through inefficient supply chains.
“Have a product that works, have contracts in place. It’s significantly harder to raise funds now as investors are much more savvy. You need a product that ticks all the boxes,” Ditterich said in advice to founders considering an ICO.
9. Blockbid — raised $3.2 million in December (now worth ~$2.6 million)
Much like the aforementioned ‘protocol’ coins, Blockbid’s offering is aimed at building on the cryptocurrency ecosystem itself, with the team looking to develop an online cryptocurrency exchange that will allow users to trade between a huge number of fiat and digital currencies.
Through this, the startup is also hoping to attract more traditional investors curious on making the switch from the Australian Stock Exchange.
“A lot of investors want to get into it but have no idea how; the setup’s daunting and complicated. A lot of obscure coins are all priced against Bitcoin or Ethereum which gets really messy,” Blockbid director Gabriel Govinda told StartupSmart.
“We just want to make it really simple.”
10. Horizon State — raised $1.4 million in October 2017 (now worth ~$2.5 million)
Jamie Skella, founder of voting-on-the-blockchain startup Horizon State told StartupSmart the “lightbulb moment” for his venture came to him after he realised all the main proponents of the blockchain, such as it being irreversible and immutable, were some of the key components of a digital ballot box.
The startup has developed its technology to do exactly that, raising $1.4 million through its token sale in October to fund the development of the business. Recently, it also landed a partnership with the United Nations’ Be Earth Foundation to help it use Horizon State technology to achieve one of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals.
“This gives our tech the opportunity to help tackle these ambitious sustainable development goals with the UN. It’s incredibly important to us from a social impact perspective, and it lets us pursue an opportunity to quite literally change the world through our tech,” Skella said.