We all know the brief history of blockchain—it took root in 2009 when Bitcoin was introduced as the first application of the technology; there was a peak in the cryptocurrency run in 2017; and in just the first few months of 2018 we’ve seen major strides in the development of blockchain and its applications. That said, it’s no surprise that its influence has been increasingly dominant both within the financial sector and out. Furthermore, after years of technical innovation, developers are now looking at scalability. A scaled blockchain has the potential to power the Internet of Things, enhance the sharing economy, and challenge the banking world.

As Beijing-based seed fund ZhenFund founder Bob Xu once said, “We should embrace blockchain. Rather than be envious of others’ success, we should be prepared for this revolution so as to promote the development of our own company.” This has been the mindset adopted by many Chinese venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, as we’ve witnessed vast attempts at blockchain innovation in China. In February, Chinese blockchain incubator Huobi Labs established a partnership with California-based early-stage venture fund 500 Startups. In March, Chinese startup 32Teeth introduced the world’s first blockchain toothbrush. In April, Sohu News manager Cai Mingiun left the company for a blockchain project funded by Sohu itself. This was only one of many cases where top-level executives have left their companies to venture into the world of blockchain.

The rapid development and usability of blockchain around the world doesn’t come without challenges, however. The technology can only be used in specific areas such as digital currency, finance, gaming, healthcare and new retail, making it difficult for blockchain companies to challenge Internet giants. It seems that startups have had difficulty surviving in the blockchain industry, where it may seem more suitable for unicorns such as BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent). This raises the question: How can startups outperform unicorn companies?

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