The Toronto-based Bitcoin Decentral building that’s become the hub for everything related to cryptocurrency in Canada announced today a new accelerator program dedicated to startups working in the financial technology sector, with a disruptive bent.
Applications are open now for startups developing Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, or other disruptive financial technology. Those selected, six to nine startups at a time, will enter a three-month curriculum supported by a mentor network to hone their products.
Startups will also receive an infusion of cash from a fund that is currently being raised by the accelerator program, branded as Bitcoin Accelerate. Startups will exchange seven per cent equity for the upfront cash injection, an amount still being determined as the accelerator continues its fundraising round.
At the helm of the new accelerator is Bitcoin Decentral managing director A. Traviss Corry. Corry previously managed Toronto-based incubator program Incubes until a dispute with Incubes CEO Ben Zlotnick led to his departure last year. He’ll be leaning on his Incubes experience to run Bitcoin Decentral Accelerate.
“Incubes launched at just the right time and the accelerator space quickly matured,” he says. “Now what’s needed is strong sector focus and that’s what we’re bringing.”
Bitcoin is a digital currency based on a peer-to-peer payment system that was created in 2009. Its creation is based on cryptography, awarding a finite amount of bitcoins to computers that lend their processing power to enabling transactions on the network. Bitcoin came to prominence late last year when its value soared to $1,100 U.S., making many early investors rich.
One of those early investors – buying in when Bitcoin was worth $12 U.S. – was Anthony Di Iorio, now the executive director of the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada. Di Iorio bought the four-storey building that houses Bitcoin Decentral and recruited Corry to run the accelerator program.
Di Iorio is also working to build a new cryptocurrency, Ethereum. This digital currency would be programmable, he says, allowing businesses in the financial industry to build smart contracts on a decentralized platform.
“That’s going to be the focus of the accelerator space is next level Bitcoin technologies,” he says. “I want to see the focus on Bitcoin 2.0.”
Also involved in the accelerator is William Mougayar as special advisor. Mougayar’s recent entrepreneurial venture, Engagio, was acquired by Influitive Corp. in February 2013 and Mougayar joined the advocate marketing platform’s team at that time, along with his employees. No longer at Influitive, now he’ll play the role of connector for the startups coming through Bitcoin Accelerate’s doors.
The accelerator is launching with a network of 100 mentors associated with the program. It lists the following names from that roster in a press release: “Vitalik Buterin, Anthony Di Iorio, Brock Pierce, Erik Voorhees, Tony Gallippi, Trace Meyer, Marco Santori, David A. Johnston, Charles Hoskinson, Jason King, Michael Terpin, Matthew Roszak, Johann Gevers, Jamie Robinson, Stuart Hoegner, Manie Eagar, Rik Willard, Dimitry Buterin, Joseph Lubin, and Michael Perklin.”
The first startups to be involved in the program will be announced at Bitcoin Expo in Toronto, an event being organized by Bitcoin Accelerate. A total of nine teams will start their acceleration curriculum April 21.