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A decentralized auction called Shelf.Network won a grand prize in the Token Economics category at Frontier Innovation Awards 2018: Blockchain held in San Francisco. Besides the title of The Best Application for The Real World, the project will obtain about $1 million of investments. Lasha Antadze, the project founder and speaker of Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Georgia, talks about contest preparations, competition, and startup market.
Interviewer: Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Georgia (BCG)
Speaker: Lasha Antadze (LA)
BCG: How did one select participants of FIA 2018?
LA: One selected startups engaged in the blockchain industry and applying technology to improve any process and applications. The contest presented projects from payment services to telecommunication synchronization startups.
BCG: Did you submit an application or your project was selected automatically?
LA: I submitted the application. I found information about the contest on one of the websites. There were 200 applications by that time. Organizers initially chose 15 of them and then 10. Winners were selected out of the top 10 participants.
BCG: How long did you prepare for the contest?
LA: We were preparing during the contest. We attended various meetings in offices and at the University of California, Berkeley. We met with investment mentors who gave their feedback on our presentations and told us how to introduce the product properly. Given this, we compiled our presentation and prepared a speech within 4 minutes.
BCG: What difficulties did you face during preparations?
LA: It wasn’t quite difficult. We have been among participants of the Techstars accelerator in Europe. We saw a great contrast between European and US investors. Whenever we stressed the protocol and its application, Europeans were scared. We were asked to focus only on a single market and show that the product would be interesting and useful.
The US approach is totally different. We were told to show all of our potential. And it’s much better. Surely, we should focus on a certain thing, but limiting the vision of the global infrastructure project is wrong.
BCG: So, which market did you prefer eventually: the European or the US one?
LA: Our choice was based on the statistics: the European and US car market. Most importantly, we have shown that it is a multipurpose auction protocol allowing to sell not only cars but also other goods. For instance, houses, distrained property, and collectibles.
BCG: It follows that you have participated in the accelerator both in the USA and in Europe, isn’t it?
LA: In the USA, it was not an accelerator. It was the expert advice and due diligence program. In Europe, we joined one of the world’s best accelerators – Techstars that taught us a lot.
BCG: Did the FIA 2018 contest present projects with a similar idea? Or all of them were unique and different?
LA: I believe that our niche does not have competitors, as many people do not take it into account. Besides, all the projects in the final were different. All competitors, if any, were excluded at the first stage.
BCG: How do you use obtained funds?
LA: These funds are investments. Money is not given for no reason. We should use them to develop our product in order to create more projects for car trading.
BCG: Do you mean the improvement of the current project or the development of a new one?
LA: It is the investment in Shelf.Network, a company engaged in cars.
BCG: Besides FIA 2018, what contests are you going to take part in within 2018?
LA: We enter the final in all contests we register to. In late May, we will take part in the final of European Blockshow. On June 4, we will participate in the final of Money20/20 in Amsterdam, which includes the whole fintech aspect. Our project was selected out of 2000 startups. It is the greatest achievement. Participating in such contests along with fintech startups from all over the world, you not just sell blockchain, it means that your product is really valuable.
BCG: We know that you have been involved in ConsenSys 2018. Were you a speaker or a participant of the exhibition area or pitch session?
LA: Pavel Kravchenko, a co-founder of our project, was a speaker. He told the audience about the application of tools for improving various processes. For example, for the first prototype we have developed for Ukraine: the land cadaster. In general, we met familiar and new people working in the sector.
BCG: Tell us about top 3 projects that attracted you the most.
LA: Honestly speaking, I failed to find such projects.
BCG: In other words, nothing new?
LA: There were a lot of new things. However, there was a great deal of meaningless projects. I ignore useless information.
BCG: What is the secret of your success? How many hours do you dedicate to your work?
LA: The success is yet to be seen. We are just at the beginning of our way. At some point, we have achieved a lot within a short time. I haven’t been separating my work from my personal life for a long time: I treat them as a whole.
BCG: Pavel Kravchenko’s Facebook page includes a post that Lasha Antadze constantly works: at 6 a.m. and at 3 a.m. as well. Moreover, there are a lot of photos of you with a laptop at any time of day or night. Is it true?
LA: Being in the USA, I work due to the US time in the afternoon, due to the Georgian time in the morning, and then due to Kyiv and German time. Our employees are everywhere, thus I should be available in all time zones.
BCG: Where do you find strength to work so hard? What inspires you? What do you do at off-work time?
LA: I dance (laughing).
BCG: You will speak at Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Georgia. What are you going to tell the audience?
LA: I will talk about a quite interesting issue evaded by many people. It is Pavel Kravchenko and his vision of the tokenization future that have inspired me to this topic. Relying on trends and business operations experience, I will tell the audience about current barriers against token integration and the economic substance of tokens existing at the application or protocol level. There are a lot of types of token functionality and application. It’s wrong when people consider BTC, ETH, and tokens of ICO projects in one respect. These are quite different things. Therefore, I place greater focus on the expectations of investments in these tokens.