How to evaluate blockchain projects and why the industry needs more women: Women in blockchain panel

With so many blockchain projects, how can you judge which ones are legitimate? On International Women’s Day, March 8, women in blockchain, including founders and investors, shared their views on the emerging technology at the Bund SOHO3Q in Shanghai. The “Women in Blockchain Forum” was hosted by China Business Events.

The “Women in Blockchain” panel was made up of QJ Wang, Founder and CEO of Queschain, Momo Zhang, Co-founder of DREP Foundation, Andrea Liu, co-founder at Genaro Network, and Ting Peng, Head of China PR at Shivom blockchain project.

How to judge a blockchain project

1. Meet the team

“Do they care about [blockchain], what’s their experience in the field? Secondly, what partnerships do they have? Finally, do the due diligence,” Head of China PR at Shivom, Ting Peng says.

Shivom’s blockchain project gathers genomic sequence data with a blockchain solution. Partnerships with labs and pharmaceutical companies allow donors to have their genome sequenced so that they can own it, share it within the ecosystem, sell it and also get insight about their own health from the system.

Andrea Liu, co-founder of Genaro Network advises entrepreneurs to find out all there is to know about the team: “Blockchain is an open concept. You can find the members on the internet and see what they are doing, look into it, talk to them, read the business report and all the information, and talk to the community.”

Started in January 2017, Genaro Network gives Blockchain developers a one-stop solution to decentralize their applications, deploy smart contracts and store data affordably. The Singapore-based foundation did a token offering in November and received about $14 million in support from its community.

2. Does the project actually solve a real problem?

According to Momo Zhang, co-founder at DREP (Decentralized Reputation System) foundation, blockchain projects that solve actual problems will survive, and profitable foundations will emerge.

“I have seen a lot of projects that have no clear business model or sustainable ecosystem. Instead, they just rely on selling tokens to get cashflow,” Momo said. “Some internet startups cannot make a profit and without feeding off funds either. How can they be sustainable merely with the application of cryptos?”

As for the DREP foundation, they connect reputation value on different internet platforms and achieve user pool sharing. The Singaporean company aims to quantify and monetize reputation value and use it for trading, making investments, and sharing data.

“For instance, if we cooperate with Twitter successfully, each user on Twitter can turn the contribution into wealth and unleash its value by each post or vote. For Twitter, they can encourage high-quality content contributors and reduce malicious user activities,” Momo explained.

QJ Wang, Founder, and CEO of Queschain, Momo Zhang, Co-founder of DREP Foundation, Andrea Liu, co-founder at Genaro Network, Ting Peng, Head of China PR at Shivom blockchain project (l to r)
(Image Credit: China Business Events)

Founder and CEO of Queschain, a blockchain-focused venture capital firm, QJ Wang shared two questions to help find a good blockchain company: Is it decentralized? Do the founders understand the technology?

3. Is it decentralized?

Essentially, since the blockchain is a decentralized and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers, QJ says one needs to ask if the blockchain project is open and decentralized, or is it controlled by the people running the platform.

“If you go to coinmarketcap.com and check the valuation of the cryptocurrency project, you see a lot of companies’ valuation among the top 50 don’t make sense, their token is just too expensive. A lot of tokens are from just a few addresses and you conclude from it, it’s from the team. It’s not traded, meaning they are not out there,” QJ points out. “A lot of companies are not really an open platform.”

QJ gave the example of bandwagon crypto pet games—Baidu’s Cryptodoggies (茨狗), Netease’s Lucky Cat (招猫) and Xiaomi’s Cryptorabbit (加密).

“Do they have the transaction ID and specification that are recorded? Cryptokitties are designed by who people who are running the platform. It’s an interesting experiment from the early stage of blockchain but you cannot decide how [the pet will] look. This shows how a centralized asset can decide things,” QJ said.

4. Do the founders understand the technology?

One question that QJ asks is whether the founders have invested in any blockchain projects, or whether they even have blockchain wallets. She points out that many blockchain founders don’t have wallets, which she sees as a problem.

“One of the biggest reasons why people need a wallet before even considering to start a blockchain project is because they need to understand how early-stage and complicated the technology is,” she says. “I remember back in 2015, one wallet was updating every week. The wallet that a user downloaded won’t work unless you update and then sync with the all transactions. It takes hours [to sync] before you do even do one transaction.”

QJ herself was a serial entrepreneur in the blockchain industry. Starting out as the marketing lead in China for Blockchain.info in 2014, QJ was a co-founder of four blockchain companies before starting Queschain.

“At the same time, you would want people to work on this project to have wallets, not just a bitcoin wallet. Only understanding the bitcoin wallet will never evolve into the knowledge of a smart contract, which is where all projects are going. If they don’t even have such experience, and you’d be surprised how few of them actually have, I doubt they will survive.”

How would you inspire teenage girls to get interested in blockchain?

The ratio of Chinese female entrepreneurs is as low as 16%, according to one report by NetEase Cloud and IT Juzi. Blockchain is even more dominated by men than other tech industries, and Momo explains the two reasons why there are more men in the blockchain industry.

“First, the blockchain industry is in the early stage, just like the internet in the early 1990s. Most of the blockchain companies are startups, and females tend not to be as adventurous as men in becoming entrepreneurs. The early blockchain industry is largely started out by programmers and hackers, among whom there are few women,” Momo says.

However, she says that she sees more and more women in blockchain these days. Her company has more than six women in PR and marketing.

“In blockchain we have the concept of consensus. A simple analogy of consensus is that everyone in the network has an equal vote. So no matter whether you are a man or a woman, you will get that vote. And I hope more women join the blockchain industry just for that vote,” Andrea says.

“The blockchain industry is not just about tech. Blockchain requires a lot of talents to be in this field. You have to understand finance, tech, sociology and psychology, and those fields are not only for men. They are for everybody,” Ting says. “In the 21st century, it’s not about having one talent, it’s about having different talents, and passion to be successful in the area. We need to tell women that blockchain is for everybody. If you’re interested in it, why don’t you give it a try?”