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.

A new way for start-ups to challenge unicorn companies

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?

We are going to attempt an answer, albeit an oversimplified answer to a convoluted question.

Early last month, Amazon’s cloud computing arm teamed up with Kaleido, a startup backed by leading blockchain incubator ConsenSys. “Introducing Kaleido to AWS customers is going to help customers move faster and not worry about managing blockchain themselves,” Amazon Web Services said.

At the same time, world famous IT company Hewlett Packard Enterprise unveiled a partnership with Swiss cryptocurrency startup Streamr. Together they have developed an integrated platform for intelligent vehicles in which data from a car can be collected on its server and stored on the blockchain, making it possible for drivers to share the data with each other.

From these cases, it’s quite apparent that background and resources have become particularly important for startups. Startups must receive the resources they need; only then can they succeed in a competitive, rapidly changing market.

We hold the view that cooperation can produce a win-win situation for all. With the aid of established enterprises, startups can exploit the platforms and resources that would allow them to build a solid foundation for success and advancement in the industry. However, cooperation only addresses part of the question. Does success equate to outperforming unicorn companies? Can blockchain startups surpass the BAT unicorns, or will they just get acquired by the Internet giants without a fair chance at competition? We hope to further unpack these questions this year at TechCrunch Hangzhou: Beyond Unicorns.

The summit will help you realize your dream

The theme for the 2018 TechCrunch International Innovation summit, held in Hangzhou from July 2 – 3, is “beyond unicorns.” In order to help more startups gain a foothold in the field, we will have a stage dedicated to blockchain technology. We will invite many blockchain startups to join the innovative exhibition, providing opportunities for strengthening cooperation.

At last year’s summit, we invited industry leaders to the stage to examine how blockchain can progress in the face of stricter government regulations and the ban on ICOs. Crypto exchange company BTCC’s co-founder and CEO Bobby LeeKEx, financial market director Lennix Lai Bitmain, and head of international operations Nishant Sharma joined us in a discussion on “the future of Bitcoin.” The vice president of Cherubic Venture, Tom Yang, was there to talk about blockchain investment trends. Infura co-founder Michael Wuehler, Qtum founder Patrick Dai, and G. Nicholas E’Andrea, core developer at Truffle, jointly analyzed the characteristics of dapps and addressed the question of how blockchain can change the world.

We’re looking for blockchain startups to take part in the diversity, so join us today whether you’re looking to share your new projects, meet like-minded individuals, or explore today’s most pertinent questions in blockchain technology! Apply for a booth now!

At the 2018 TechCrunch conference, we aim to share our international vision and provide a professional platform for strengthening the link between China’s blockchain startups and the rest of the world. That’s why, in addition to the blockchain stage, we will hold a VC meeting, where entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to hundreds of venture capitalists. Since the first launch in 2015, this ten-minute session has become one of the most popular aspects of the summit, with a total of more than 5000 entrepreneurs and over 450 investors involved. A third component of the conference is Startup Alley, an exhibition where hundreds of early-stage companies will be able to showcase their talents and technology to attendees, investors and members of the press. The exhibition will host 150 booths to include a range of fields, from pharmaceutical technology to online entertainment.

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