Four entrepreneurs from several companies in the blockchain industry in South Africa collaborated to launch Blockstarters, an incubator focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. Launched in March 2018, the team has nine startups that they provide support to. This includes RhinoBucks which tracks wild living rhinos on the blockchain and Golix, Zimbabwe’s first crypto exchange.
The Johannesburg-based incubator’s functions include to provide market access, collaboration opportunities and a co-working space.
Cryptocurrency has a lot of potential as a platform for applications and businesses to be built on top of
Warren Gray, one of the founders, spoke to us about how their hub in Johannesburg started.
How did it come about that you are in the bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry?
Warren Gray: I got into cryptocurrency at the end of 2015 when our finance minister was fired and the national currency lost a third of its value over the coming weeks.
I decided to diversify out of the Rand, and a part of that was into Bitcoin. After working with Bitcoin first-hand, I was sold on the technology and went deeper down the rabbit hole.
Now I find myself working full time in the field.
Tell us about the co-founders and how they got together.
Warren Gray: Tim Ohlsen and Dan van de Ghinste have a background in energy tech, and Warren Gray and Kreaan Singh are mechanical engineers by background.
We all run businesses in the blockchain industry and were brought together through this.
We found that by collaborating, we could accelerate our own businesses, and decided to formulate this into a public offer.
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What is the aim of Blockstarters?
Warren Gray: We aspire to be the central hub of blockchain builders and developers in South Africa, specifically around credible projects.
Cryptocurrency has a lot of potential as a platform for applications and businesses to be built on top of.
We aim to provide support to blockchain startups through our partners and funding, and create a channel between regulators and the industry of developers.
We provide office space, legal, digital marketing, branding and design, accounting and business leads for the companies here
How has the journey of Blockstarters been?
Warren Gray: We have achieved a lot in a short time, and are involved with all the main players in the space locally. We’ve had a very successful launch event that was oversubscribed and host many community events and meetups.
Do you have programmes yet for startups?
We take a hands-off approach to our programmes and support. We provide office space, legal, digital marketing, branding and design, accounting and business leads for the companies here. The types of startups here are not well-suited to rigid incubation programmes.
You’ve partnered with Zimbabwean cryptocurrencies exchange Golix. What does that mean for South African entrepreneurs?
Warren Gray: Given the global reach of cryptocurrency and borderless nature, we are agnostic as to the domicile of the startups within our wheelhouse. This then creates a global network for the local crypto startups which at the moment form the bulk of our team.