How to Decide If Blockchain May Actually Be Good for Your Business
Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, butblockchain has been touted as the be-all and end-all solution to every business problem you could possibly have. Whether you are trying to raise investment capital, gain new customers, track your existing customers, clarify logistics, or just have a little fun, there is a seemingly endless array of applications.

Take the energy industry: when you have millions of people utilizing power grids, on often antiquated systems, what should be a simple tracking system has become needlessly complex. Solar power being generated by one household can often be applied to another, or not credited at all. Incorrect consumption rates are noted. All of these become headaches for customer service and customers.

In one of the latest implementations ofblockchain, companiesare working with energy utilities to solve the problem of getting you the power you’ve paid for. Dr. Jemma Green, co-founder of Power Ledger, thinks it is the right time to be thinking about disruption. “We’re the first in the space, and we’ve had no shortage of demand from utilities.”

Green is not trying to reinvent the wheel. Power Ledger’s software uses pre-existing infrastructure, like smart meters, to track the energy generated and consumed by each household. Pilot projects with Tech Mahindra in India, White Gum Valley Management in Australia, and Kansai Electric Power in Japan show that there is definite interest in disrupting the energy industry.

And investors are interested too — Power Ledger raised the largest ICO in Australian history, at $34 millionthrough a combination of three different cryptocurrencies– Ethereum, Bitcoinand Litecoin— from over 15,000 supporters.

It’s estimated that by using the open ledger system afforded by the blockchain, over 60 percentof the bookkeeping and transaction-related issues currently suffered by the energy utilities will disappear overnight.

So how can you tell if blockchain is a good application for your business?

You want to decentralize your marketplace.

This is the top reason that most people choose a blockchain offering — to create a peer-to-peer marketplace.

In a traditional power company, they set the price and you can only purchase from them. Via Power Ledger, every person who generates power can be a supplier, and you can purchase from them and pay them directly. This all happens seamlessly.

You’re dealing in smart contracts, or digitally delivered assets.

If your business sells physical products that need to be transferred to a customer, this may not be the best solution for you. However, if your assets are digital, like software, it is perfect — and here’s why:

Kodak recently announced they will be utilizing blockchain to track digital media assets — like photos and videos. Anyone registering their service will have a unique IDfor all media. If those images are found elsewhere without proper licensure, royalties will need to be paid to the owners, as they’ll have all records traced from the original source.

Timing isn’t crucial.

Right now, blockchain transactions aren’t immediate. There is a software limitation that causes at best a few millisecond delay, at worst multiple minutes. If you have an application that requires instantaneous results, then this is not the best option for you.

In the meantime, I expect more companies will jump on the blockchain bandwagon as they find relevant uses for the technology.

May 2, 2018
Afton Vechery, co-founder of Modern Fertility.
Afton Vechery, co-founder of Modern Fertility.

For Modern Fertility’s Afton Vechery, the biggest adjustment to going remote during the coronavirus crisis has been minor but symbolic: “I’ve had to switch from contacts to glasses because of all the screen time and video calls,” she says. Vechery co-founded her home-fertility-test startup, which has $22 million in funding, in 2017. While many now have plenty of time on their hands for, well, fertility, Vechery is busier than ever. Here’s how she stays productive.

Climb Every Mountain

The alarm clock buzzes at 6:30 a.m. “A lot of founders have these amazing morning productivity hacks, like meditation,” says Vechery. “For me, the single greatest motivating factor is to just be doing something I love. And so, uh, that translates to emails in bed when I wake up.” After that, Vechery typically bikes to work. During the crisis, she’s swapped her commute for an early-morning ride to the top of San Francisco’s Twin Peaks. It doubles as me time. “It’s really helpful to understand what’s going to bubble up from your subconscious when you’re not being stimulated sitting in front of a computer,” she says.

Face Time

Vechery’s days in quarantine include more one-on-one meetings than they did before, but that’s the cost of keeping information flowing. Modern Fertility has implemented daily meetings at which employees can check on current and upcoming projects. And the staff has organized optional virtual lunches and happy hours, which Vechery will drop into when she can. Whether at home or in the office, she and co-founder Carly Leahy generally eat dinner while working and wrap up around 9 p.m.–though they encourage staffers to leave earlier.

Clear Screen, Clear Mind

Vechery relies on an app called Captio, which lets the founder email a note to herself with one click. But you won’t find the Captio icon on her iPhone’s home screen, which is clear of everything but three apps: Calendar, Clock, and Notes. Manually searching for apps lets Vechery ignore distracting notifications. “As a founder, there’s constantly something else you could be doing,” she says. “But when you have space to think through what you’re working on, you’re a better leader.”

Portion Control

When she makes time for a TV show, Vechery starts with the season finale and views the episodes in reverse order. The strange habit helps prevent the urge to binge. “I have an incredibly addictive personality,” she says. “So this is better for everyone.” Vechery also unwinds by playing the trumpet. “It’s a total break from everything else in life,” she says. “It lets you process your thoughts in a really different way.”

May 13, 2020

Want to keep up to date with all the latest news and events?