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Cointelegraph reached out to Harmeet Singh Monga, Program Manager for an insight on the startup culture in South Asia and the mission of Satoshi Studios Incubator.
Cointelegraph is following closely how things are developing in the startups space. This time we suggest to take a look at India. Quite recently New Delhi was set to host South Asia’s first Blockchain Incubator Satoshi Studios, named after Satoshi Nakamo, the infamous creator of Bitcoin.
Lately, we have witnessed some really great initiatives coming from India, China, and Japan, who are said to be driving cryptocurrency revolution actively engaging regulators and fintech giants into discussions over regulatory and other pressing issues in the cryptocurrency and Blockchain space. Monga confirms that the economies of India, China, and Japan are aggressively trying to explore the Blockchain technology.
He says that for instance in India, bidding to create transparency and build credibility, Bitcoin startups Zebpay, Unocoin, Coinsecure and Searchtrade have launched Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI), a self-regulatory body for the orderly and transparent growth of cryptocurrency market in the country.
“Moreover, the Reserve Bank of India’s (The RBI’s) research arm - Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) has also completed the first ever end-to- end test of Blockchain in a project involving regulators, banks, financial institutions and clearing houses,” he continues. “Also, India’s leading private sector bank, ICICI, successfully completed its Blockchain pilot and Axis Bank Ltd. and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. are two of the latest banks to join the growing number of global financial institutions from India that are aggressively exploring blockchain use cases.”
It is true that only the tiny part of Blockchain’s potential has been unveiled so far, and it is really hard to predict what is coming, and where technology will show its relevance. Monga says:
“I believe that we have still not utilized Blockchain to its full potential. Blockchain can be integrated with many different industries to maximize efficiency and help increase profits. Blockchain offers some features which no other data storage technology offers immutability, transparency and it has a decentralized structure. The data stored on a Blockchain is completely secure and is accessible only to those having necessary permissions granted by the owner of the data. Moreover, seeing the excitement regarding this technology especially among big institutions one of our sister companies Blocksmiths is providing customized Blockchain solutions for industry specific problems.”
It appears that there has been more action in the Blockchain incubators/ accelerators space in Europe and the US, while we haven’t heard much from South Asia. Satoshi Studios is trying to remedy that.
The program implies selection of Blockchain-related companies to be relocated to New Delhi for a three-month intensive course to provide them with mentorship, hands-on sessions with Blockchain experts, comfortable office and living environment and an investment amounting to $50,000 in return for eight to 15 percent of equity.
Monga notes that we are witnessing a gradual increase in interest on Blockchain technology across various industries, with major players in fintech industry starting to invest heavily in Blockchain Research and Development considering the huge demand for a secure way to store and share data. “People are slowly starting to notice the benefits of removing third party intermediaries as Blockchain allows people to come together to a common platform for sharing data,” he says.
The startups are open to experimenting with Blockchain technology and Satoshi Studio tries to facilitate innovation, not only through offering initial seed capital of $50,000 but also providing robust infrastructure and technical and strategic guidance to support businesses in the beginning of their way.
“I believe that the startups, especially in fintech, are sector specific and aim at solving one problem at a time. With Blockchain technology, we can follow a holistic approach and help to connect various startups catering to singular and isolated solutions.”
In his view, Blockchain technology has a lot to offer to the emerging economies where a majority of the population might be outside of the respective country’s banking system.
Fintech startups do get in touch with Satoshi Studios to understand how Blockchain can streamline the transaction or exchange process that resides at the core of their idea. Besides this, they do receive queries to provide Blockchain-based solutions to established financial institutions, including insurance companies, banks and microlending platforms.
It is often claimed that it is due to the lack of talents in the Blockchain and cryptocurrency space the development of the industry is significantly hindered. Monga tends to disagree:
“I wouldn’t say that there’s a lack of talents. In fact, it is the information asymmetry and to an extent the reluctance to accept Blockchain that is ultimately hindering the development. If we educate people and offer training courses, we will automatically have talented and trained people who would be interested in working on Blockchain.”
He explains that beyond investing in startups and providing Blockchain services through Satoshi Studios and Blocksmiths, their team constantly takes initiatives to organize conferences and events to help individuals, corporates and organizations to understand the revolutionary impact of Blockchain tech. Moreover, Monga strongly believes that the change has to be made at the academic/university level for such a revolutionary technology to create a huge impact: “That is why we at Blocksmiths hire and train a lot of college students/graduates who want to work on new and emerging technologies.”
It might often be quite challenging for startups to attract the attention of investors to support their ideas. Monga says that startups intending to disrupt a certain industry might be tempted to select a few VCs, however, as he points out, it might be more helpful if we ignore the disruption point of view in the beginning, and instead focus on enabling industries, rather than disrupting them.
“For example, Uber did not disrupt the cab industry. Instead, Uber-enabled the existing taxi business by bringing taxi drivers and customers to a common platform simplifying the communication between the two parties, increasing business for the cab drivers and competitive prices for the users.”
Satoshi Studios is targeting startups that are building products and providing solutions using the Blockchain technology. As mentioned before, each startup selected for the program receives a seed capital of $50,000 and an opportunity to work in the Satoshi Studio’s facilities in Delhi NCR in India with complete infrastructural support including office space and living space.
“Besides the opportunity to interact and network with investors and other Blockchain startup founders, the selected teams will regularly receive mentorship sessions with our panel of advisors and experts. The panel includes industry experts Devie Mohan, leading fintech expert, founder at Turya, Co-founder and CEO at Burnmark and Panel Member at Yesbank & ING Cgroup-think Forward Initiative, and Jed McCaleb, Co-founder & CTO of Stellar Development Foundation.”
Monga shared some of the very recent developments at Satoshi Studio. Thus, last month, they have incubated and invested in Curie Labs, which is on a mission to solve energy problems at a global scale leveraging the Blockchain technology. Curie Labs helps big and small commercial facilities to save power by finding power wastage and inefficiencies using energy analytics and integrating Blockchain technology to allow for more security of sensitive data and hardware IoT devices.
Monga said that there will be more announcements about other companies being accelerated at Satoshi Studios in the upcoming months, Cointelegraph is sure to follow and deliver updates.
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