Insight: Fuelling the growth of blockchain
In 2018, cryptocurrencies have exploded but are eyed with uncertainty, and the many potential uses of blockchain remain unexplored. Singapore start-up Talenta aims to provide end-to-end support for businesses in the blockchain space, from compliance to PR. Business Chief caught up with Chief Growth Officer Eleanor Jones to discuss the future of this new technology on the block.
From beverages to blockchain
Technology leadership expert Eleanor Jones has extensive experience of business analysis and digital strategy, having worked at beverage giant Coca-Cola for a decade. Nowadays, she can be found expanding a young company as Chief Growth Officer at Singapore-based blockchain and ICO consultancy firm, Talenta, all the while spreading the word about cryptocurrency and the future of blockchain technology.
Talenta is in an early stage, having been founded in 2017, but Jones is confident the startup can be grown into a successful global business with experienced talent and a well-thought-out strategy. “Working for a very established company such as Coca-Cola, you acquire a lot of general business skills and practices that are useful when moving to a startup environment, but there is also a great deal to learn,” she reflects. “The trick is finding the judgment to determine when to coach and when to listen.”
“Of course, moving from MNC to startup comes with a huge amount of change, from work process and mindset to industry domain,” Jones adds. You have to acquire a lot of knowledge and slightly retool your skills. However, the ability to learn and relearn is the greatest asset we carry—we have greater capacity to adapt to change than we give ourselves credit for.”
Talenta Group provides consultancy and management for blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. The business primarily focuses on ‘native blockchain’ projects which are developing protocols, applications and new models within the blockchain space – but it doesn’t stop there. “The next wave will be large institutions seeking to apply blockchain technology to evolve and modernise both legacy systems and legacy ways of doing business,” says Jones. “Talenta is equipped to serve both of these segments.”
Growing the business
As Chief Growth Officer, Jones’ role spans marketing, development, PR and strategy in order to help the company grow. She is also Co-Founder of Symphony Protocol, a next-generation, blockchain-based protocol to empower a data-driven economy. “In a tech business, obviously you need to be very strong on the development and engineering side, but it’s also critical to focus on product-market fit and find the market. Challenges lie in identifying which are the highest leverage areas to spend your time, when to dive deeper and when to decide it’s good enough. Also, blockchain is at an early stage,” she adds, “so a lot of the work involves educating and dispelling myths around blockchain.”
Having settled in at Talenta, Jones is excited to be part of the journey. “The speed of work is truly exhilarating: speed of decision making and execution. This pace really suits my work style. There’s also a sense of purpose from being involved in something at this early stage. You get to build it. Those of us working with blockchain are early adopters of something that will be transformational in the future.”
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Spreading the word
Cryptocurrency has been making waves for over a year now, and it’s widely accepted that the blockchain technology behind it is here to stay, as it is beginning to be applied to a wide variety of purposes. But with the rapid ascent of the likes of Bitcoin, sceptics abound when it comes to the unregulated, virtual currency. “The current cryptocurrency community is a group of complete evangelists and believers in this technology. 2017 was a watershed year, where Bitcoin generated a lot of headlines. This has achieved mass awareness of cryptocurrency – but not yet mass understanding. We are still in the very early days of the development of blockchain applications. A lot has been done on the underlying infrastructure, but a lot needs to be done on the application layers, to determine how blockchain can become valuable for businesses and individuals.”
Even disbelievers in the value of Bitcoin admit that the technology behind it should be utilised – but how? “Those that are currently dismissive of blockchain haven’t seen where the story will end,” Jones argues. “The power will not be in taking existing processes or systems and adding them to the blockchain, but in developing new business models that are native to blockchain. We saw this with the internet and the development of businesses such as Amazon, Uber, Spotify, etc. The same will be true of blockchain.”
Jones counts herself among the passionate believers in blockchain potential. “Just as the internet relied on TCP/IP protocol to democratise communication and information, blockchain will transform back-end processes and transaction and information flow. There is work to be done to secure the networks. However, you have some of the brightest minds in the world working on this problem. I’m excited for the future.”
The blockchain journey
For those starting out in the space then, it’s a new undertaking and having the right eyes and ears to help strategise is essential. Talenta offers end-to-end consultancy throughout the process for its clients. “Currently, initial coin offering projects are very fast-moving and agile in their nature. There’s a lot of advantage in having a single service partner that can provide end-to-end support for blockchain projects. Talenta supports on strategic advisory, white paper development and review, technical development, marketing, community and events management.” The group is involved with clients before their ICO, at the awareness building stage, right through to project implementation. For what many see as taking steps into the unknown, this support throughout the process as well as reliable advice are invaluable.
Talenta is currently working on ‘Cryptolla’, a project which puts together collective wisdom and AI to help understand the cryptocurrency market. “Cryptolla will help in understanding the user, project, social media and news commentary to inform token and trading decisions,” Jones explains. “Over time, we will use this advanced modelling to better understand their correlation and causality to token performance. We have the design ready for this idea and it’s based on proven algorithms from non-crypto. This project is under development and is entering the ICO phase.”
A world of opportunity
Talenta may be based in Singapore, but its reach is global and it works with blockchain-based enterprises supporting open networks around the world including Coinbase, U Network and NEO. “Blockchain and cryptocurrency is a hyper-global industry. However, places like Singapore that have shown more policy openness to cryptocurrency will be positioned to garner an outsized share of the growth. Developed markets such as US and UK are very large for their capital markets. China has a large community and is a large source of mining. Smaller EU countries like Estonia and Malta have thriving cryptocurrency communities due to government openness.” Overall, blockchain is a technology with a lot of potential, but it’s early days and for ‘evangelists’ like Eleanor Jones, it’s all to play for.