FestINNO 2018 Concludes with Crypto-Currencies and Blockchain
What does the future hold for crypto-currencies? And what do they have in common with blockchain? The festINNO innovation festival, organised by the Faculty of Management of the University of Primorska in Koper, Slovenia, in the framework of the NUVOLAK2 project, of which Slovenia’s ABC Accelerator is also a partner, concluded with a panel where the answers to these questions were given by Eurosender’s Blažej Kupec, Futourist’s Žiga Lukša, Iconomi’s Janez Kravcar, and Lemur Legal’s Peter Merc.
The questions, ranging from whether entrepreneurs will be able to succeed with blockchain-based projects and prove that new financial instruments, such as initial coin offerings (ICOs), really do work, to future developments for crypto-currencies and how the regulators will respond do all this, were answered in different ways – some answers were based on previous experience, others opened up new questions.
“Blockchain could be the ‘next internet’, and many crypto-currency owners are already millionaires,” said Blažej Kupec, opening the panel, whereas Peter Merc stressed that first, we need to distinguish between blockchain and crypto-currencies, adding that he hopes that in the future, more emphasis will be put on blockchain as a promising technology, and less on crypto-currencies, which are closely linked to speculation. Although they have made some people quite rich, they are still difficult to rely upon, he added.
Regarding alternative ways of raising funds, such as ICO, Merc indicated that this is just one of the ways of gathering funds for new projects, especially when it comes to startups. He believes that the field will soon receive the needed regulation. Janez Kravcar added that the whitepapers published by startups which choose this kind of fund raising are mostly difficult to understand, whereas Žiga Lukša of the startup Futourist, which had just concluded an ICO campaign, said that such endeavours require a strong stance and a continual striving for credibility. Kravcar agreed that credibility is the only thing that can inspire confidence among supporters (ICOs are not “invested in” by investors, but by supporters, who form the necessary community for such projects; author’s note), whereas all the panel participants agreed that the success of such campaigns is heavily reliant on their marketing and promotion, which take up a large part of the estimated costs.
What are the key elements of a successful ICO campaign?
The trust which we put in the community that supports the ICO project makes it essential to set a hard cap, the panel stressed. According to Lukša, Futourist was faced with the challenge of limited resources when it came to financing marketing activities, so they had to put even more energy into the right content marketing. Its team was also ready to learn from experience, shared by the more experienced entrepreneurs, and attended many relevant conferences from Amsterdam to San Francisco. Lukša explained that this allowed them to dedicate a lot of their time to communicating with interested parties, while the preparations for ICO took a little less than a year.
Peter Merc then advised all those planning a blockchain project which they intend to finance with the help of ICO to not wait too long, as, according to his experience, projects can fail simply because of the extension of activities. As he added, the industry which has developed in the field is changing in a rapid and drastic way, which also needs to be taken into account when considering an ICO campaign. On the other hand, those that are open to becoming part of individual ICO communities, are already being more careful when giving their support, that is, when offering their resources to a certain project.
Although many Slovenian companies have already carried out ICO campaigns, the ecosystem clearly still lacks the experience needed to avoid mistakes and failed projects, the festINNO panel participants said. This is another reason why the field is in need of appropriate regulation, they concluded.
PHOTO: Siniša Kanižaj / ABC Accelerator
Students from Slovenia and Italy join forces and win!
This year’s festINNO also featured announcement of the best business models, created during the academic year in the framework of different entrepreneurial subjects. The competition was multi-national and included students of the Faculty of Management in Koper and the Italian University Ca’Foscari.
Among the finalists were eleven teams, three of which received awards: the Gobanko team (Šošana Frank Ličina, Anja Arlič, Dalija Čučko, Patricija Pesjak, and Afize Shabani), the Horus team (Salvatore LoVoi, Edoardo Fastigari, Dayana Tempesta, Carlo Antonio Leone, and Andrea Zanco), and the Lek duda team (Alessandro Perossa, Petar Čehovin, Marko Želko, Kamelija Dimova, and Anastasija Kostadinova).
The closing event also featured the selection of the best candidate in two categories: the Crowdfunding Challenge and the Design Thinking Challenge. The audience-chosen winner of the Crowdfunding Challenge, which included the selection of the best business idea, was the BANANINI team (Karolina Bernik, Ivana Fajt, Nina Dimitrijević, and Nika Marinković), whereas the winner of the Design Thinking Challenge, which included mixed teams of Slovenian and Italian students, was the TRAEN team (Anja Timarac (FM), AnastasijaKostadinova (FM), Kamelija Dimova (FM), EdoardoFastigari (Ca’ Foscari), and AlessandroBarbin (Ca’ Foscari)).
PHOTO: Siniša Kanižaj / ABC Accelerator