Building Blocks Interview Series: ZirconTech
We are super excited to see a fabulous response to this first edition of the Blockchain Competition – #blockchain4insurance!
Who wouldn’t be excited about teams from 25 countries, all trying their best to change and improve the insurance industry and settle in Crypto Valley?
But we don’t want to keep all the excitement to ourselves – it’s too good and too interesting to do that! So that’s why we are bringing you the Building Blocks Interview Series – a sneak peak at some of the teams that entered this year’s Competition.
We asked each interested team to answer the same ten questions. Their responses provide a glimpse into some of the most innovative teams in the world – some of the potential game-changers on the horizon.
In this first part of our Series, we introduce ZirconTech – a team from South America with a keen interest in settling in Crypto Valley.
Andres Zunino – COO
Alejandro Narancio – CTO
- How did you and your team first get involved in blockchain?
Our current team joined forces from different perspectives. In one side, since 2013 some of us started to look for innovative ideas to invest, and in the search for projects, by 2015 several people suggested ideas around blockchain, either from Latin America or Europe. In a conversation with Alejandro about these ideas it happened that he was a bitcoin enthusiast with lot of knowledge about cryptocurrencies and blockchain. He understood very well the technology, he has done some proof of concepts around bitcoin exchanges and other stuff, and brought some equipment to do bitcoin mining (even he lost a hard drive with lot of bitcoins when its value was very low…). With all that we decided to start something to provide professional services around blockchain at the end of 2015.
- How and why did you decide to apply to the Blockchain Competition?
We came to know about the Blockchain Competition through our research efforts, and some colleagues in US and Switzerland suggested us to participate. Our work around blockchain led us to an insurance application, and looked like it was a perfect fit for the competition. We are working with new blockchain technologies as the IBM Hyperledger Fabric, integrating telematics and blockchain, adding blockchain to the user based insurance services, and wherever we go and talk, this is something new. The Blockchain Competition is a great opportunity to test all these ideas in the global market.
- Are there any particular difficulties that you and your team have faced (and overcome) to reach the point where you are today?
As in any startup we are facing many challenges. One of it is the use of innovative technologies, we need to dedicate lot of effort to research, test and develop competencies. We are happy with the point reached today thanks to the initial funding, the support from the Research and Innovation Agency in Uruguay and all the dedicated effort. We would like to accelerate our progress with customers testing our application and getting additional funding to grow the team and develop competencies.
- What is the blockchain/crypto ecosystem like in your country? What have you learned from others around you?
We are incorporated formally in Uruguay but also operate from Argentina. In Uruguay the blockchain movement really started this year, because several people started to talk about it and because IBM is pushing a lot the IBM Hyperledger blockchain services. In the country we started before, it was Alejandro who started the Blockchain meetups in Montevideo in 2015, is the blockchain hands-on reference, and will be mentor of this technology in some accelerators. But we leveraged a lot from the Argentina ecosystem where it is more developed, there are companies working with global reach, there is a working space related to bitcoin and blockchain technologies, and we collaborate with some companies which have already launched applications.
Being in the leading side of Uruguay, we have been trying to learn as much as possible from our colleagues in Argentina, have travelled with them to Consensus in both 2016 and 2017, we met regularly, discuss about challenges and opportunities, and try to collaborate. We are taking their example to be cautious about the blockchain hype and manage our investments in focused things.
- For you and your idea/team/startup, which is more important – cash funding or advice, coaching and connections to potential clients/supporters?
Looking at the long term, for us is more important connections to potential customers and supporters, as well as coaching from people working in developed blockchain ecosystems. But for sure, today cash will help a lot in our grow plans, particularly to incorporate good talent.
- If you won the top prize ($100 000) in this year’s Blockchain Competition, how would you use the money?
We will use it to recruit talent and develop competencies, while a minor portion may be dedicated to fund travels to meet key customers or partners.
- What is your vision – where do you think you and your team will be in 5 years?
By 2022 we expect to be integrated in the global blockchain ecosystem, particularly in the connected car space. That means integrating telematics, internet of things, blockchain, big data and artificial intelligence. We are starting with a specific application that its way in 5 years will lead us to many derivatives around business sides like financial services and insurance, logistics, traceability, etc., as well as a strong competency ownership as we plan to continue following the latest developments.
- What part(s) of blockchain technology do you find most revolutionary/innovative?
We would highlight three things:
1.- Dramatically simplifies financial processes, being a self-maintained network that substantially increases the security and efficiency of transactions.
2.- Although originally created for a peer-to-peer payment system (purely financial use case) can be used in any system that requires transactions.
3.- Provides a technology capable of making entities, nodes, people who are competitors and do not trust each other, to trust on the data provided by the blockchain.
Blockchain as the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies has enabled a new way to transact and trace digital assets, which derived in new ways of solving problems and bringing new efficiencies to businesses. Particularly, blockchain is bringing a trustable platform which lets stakeholders which not necessarily trust each other to collaborate and work together in the same platform. Blockchain is enabling the economy of trust and we want to be part of it.
- What would you find most attractive about settling your team in Crypto Valley?
If we can settle our team in the Crypto Valley, we will be able to have access to people who is working in the state of the art of the technology, with global connections, who will be able to give advice, partner and support. We will be able to have a better access to the global market and facilitate the growth of our initiatives.
- Bitcoin or Ether?
It depends for what. Today we need to be prepared to work with both, and we will take the best of each one based on our application. Either to invest, to define the currency of a particular application or solve a business problem.
We can choose bitcoin from a financial perspective, everybody compares it to digital gold though we believe it’s a bit more. But we prefer ether from a platform perspective. Ether should not be confused with a normal altcoin. Although it has value in the altcoins market, its supply and demand is not only related to the trade (although obviously it influences), but to the success of its smart contracts platform. As long as the community continues to develop in Ethereum, it will be required ethers so that the smart contracts can be executed by the nodes, and therefore will have demand.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: + 54-911-5755-4198
Twitter: @zircon_tech Web: www.zircon.tech
Buenos Aires, Argentina
About Zircon Tech: A trusted partner who helps organizations thrive in their digital transformations. mobility, internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and blockchain technologies.