Don't understand blockchain? Denver Startup Week events will provide deeper understanding of new technology.
Heaven help the indecisive.
The seventh annual Denver Startup Week gets underway Monday and will offer more than 350 free programs covering just about all elements of entrepreneurial business by the time it wraps on Friday. Those consulting Monday’s schedule might notice a bundle of events covering the recently ubiquitous technology known as blockchain.
Blockchain — a decentralized, digital ledger capable of tracking bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transfers and, potentially, a whole mess of other stuff — is so hot right now the governor appointed a special council this summer to explore legal frameworks necessary to push the technology forward in the state while protecting consumers. Startup Week co-sponsor/co-organizer the Downtown Denver Partnership certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the city and state grow its rep as a blockchain hotbed.
“Denver Startup Week has become a bit of a platform for introducing new technology. Last year we had a couple of sessions around blockchain that were really well received,” Randy Thelen, the partnership’s vice president of economic development, said Friday. “How do we continue to foster an environment that attracts the businesses, the talent and the customers –the business community that will use the technology?”
This year, Startup Week will have nine blockchain-centric events on Monday alone, most of them centered around a “Blockchain Hub” being set up at Booz Hall RiNO, 2845 Walnut St. A big attraction there will be a “food trucks and libations” station, a marketplace where hungry and thirsty consumers will need to visit an ATM to change their cash into bitcoin if they want to eat or drink. Thelen, for one, is all for it.
“I think this is an opportunity for people to go and attend this and get a little more hands-on experience and a deeper understanding,” he said.
Bill Sinclair is the chief technology officer and interim president and CEO of Salt Blockchain Financial Technology, a Denver-based company that since 2017 has been providing traditional loans leveraged against cryptocurrency holdings. He will host a blockchain-focused keynote talk at Booz Hall Monday with Stephanie Copeland, head of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and Erik Voorhees, CEO of crypto exchange company Shapeshift.
“The entire day Salt is sponsoring educational events, trying to break down those barriers” to people using cryptocurrencies, Sinclair said. “We’ll have everyone there from developers to marketers. It’s all hands on deck to make people as comfortable as possible and help them understand how it works.”
State Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, will be at the hub helping visitors set up digital bitcoin wallets that, with the help of an app, will allow them to make purchases without any cash or cards.
The way Sinclair describes it, blockchain is a technology that adds transparency and security to our existing system of database-tracked money. Instead of using a debit card at a grocery store and trusting that the private bank database holding your money is transferring the right amount to the right destination, blockchain verifies via its public ledger that a consumer did in fact have $20 and that $20 was conferred on the store.
“I think we could see all types of ownership moving to blockchains,” Sinclair said, using a home or vehicle title history as examples.
It not just startups embracing cryptocurrency and blockchain transactions. It has accepted bitcoin since 2014, but Denver’s own Dish Network announced in August it would now allow customers to pay in the derivative Bitcoin Cash. The company is also using BitPay, a blockchain payment service provider.
“We have a steady volume of customers paying with cryptocurrency each month, and BitPay will allow us to continue offering more choice and convenience to our customers,” Dish COO John Swieringa said in a statement at the time.
Speaking of Dish, CEO Charlie Ergen will be at Startup Week on Wednesday, serving as a judge for a pitch competition focused on another hot industry topic: internet of things technology. For a full list of Denver Startup Week’s free events, visit denverstartupweek.org.