On the evening of Friday, September 15th, I had one of those delightful moments in which I could pat my team on the back and say, “we did it!”
Having successfully hosted the ICO Summit in Zurich was no small feat. Not only were we Switzerland’s first conference dedicated to crowdfunding in the blockchain industry, the conference turned out to be the first truly global crypto event that has ever taken place in Switzerland.
It was thrilling to hear that among the 500 attendees, the majority were not from Switzerland! 30 countries were represented and another 2.000 joined us via our live stream. In addition, 85% of speakers were also not from Switzerland. The largest country represented in ICO summit was surprisingly: Brazil!
The idea of the conference was inspired early 2017, as I began to notice slight changes in the demographic of our local Starbucks in Zug. People were beginning to look younger and dress in a very “global jet-setter” fashion. I began to hear them speak of “decentralized”, “blockchain-based” and “token-fueled”. This was a shift from the usual conversations I would hear which evolved around “AuM” (Assets Under Management”), “seeking alfa” and “mandate fee”.
Later I met folks from Status, Tezos, Aethernity and many others who spoke of the scarcity of platforms here where they could share information about their start-ups. It felt like a bit like we need more platforms to bring together promising startups and investors. For a country like Switzerland which holds 25% of global off-shore wealth, with 4 trillion USD stored safely in the Swiss banks, there needs to be more opportunities to connect the people within this field.
Olga-Feldmeier: Switzerland as global crypto hub
So, we jumped into making it happen! We reserved a very nice venue, Aura, right at the center of Zurich, some 30 meters from headquarters of UBS and Credit Suisse at Paradeplatz. I reached out to people I knew in the crypto funding space and luckily most of them were eager to come.
In general, I am aware of the skeptical take some people have regarding ICO. However, I see it in a positive way. I think the crowdfunding enabled by cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based business models is a big rescue, at least for us here in Europe. For years now you hear all these disappointing stories about how in Europe we are excluded of funding and how we have to move our startups to US to survive beyond the seed phase. Now, with the blockchain-based crowdfunding, it enables entrepreneurs who are not lucky enough to be based in Silicon Valley to have a fair chance to succeed too — which is amazing!
The opportunity is too big for us to ignore it. No doubt, this opportunity will be taken and squandered by some people who should never get funding in the first place.
However, with any kind of public market, the regulation and the “invisible hand of the market” will clean things up, though it will be of course a painful process for many. As we saw with the ICO Summit, this is only just the beginning.
I want to close by thanking all the people who contributed to making it such an extraordinary successful event by attending, organizing or even just spreading the word! Huge thank you also goes to our SMART VALOR team who did not sleep much during the last 10 days. Additionally, I want to thank all the people who participated in startup pitches and panels and flew to Zurich from all those 30 countries. Last but not least, thank you to our great moderators and Sunnie Groenevelt who did an amazing job as the master of ceremony.
I would like to give you guys all the great feedback we received for your performance. But it would be probably like a 200 page-book. In the quintessence it was like this:
- “one of the most interesting panel discussions I have ever seen” and
- “impressive startup pitches.”
- ”excellent networking opportunity, a lot of investors, good talks.”
However, my favorite was, “the TechCrunch of crypto space”. I must say this is big honor but probably a bit of overstatement too. Regardless – I love it!
EricVanDerKleij, CharlesHoskinson, Richard Muirhead, OlgaFeldmeier
With all this positive momentum, we decided this will not be the last Summit we host. There will be a second edition of the ICO Summit beginning of 2018. We will have it at higher capacity with even more robust program of parallel tracks and roundtables.
For now, let’s say, we stay in touch. There are many ways to engage with Crypto Valley community, Crypto Valley Meetups in Zug being a big success too. But we need more. So we are starting a series of monthly meetups called ICO Summit Roundtable, where you can come and contribute to the discussion about the best code of conduct for ICO. Also you can come and pitch your startup. Yet the “mandatory” part of the pitch is the summary of how the team is ensuring best- practice fundraising procedure. It will be followed by a public Q&A.
The ultimate goal of these events is to jointly work out a self-imposed code of conduct and give guidance for upcoming ICO projects in terms of best practice.
We cordially invite everybody who wants to contribute to this discussion in particular startups, lawyers, auditors and investors to join us in Zurich:
ICO Summit Zurich Sept2017
This is for anybody who thinks the democratization of financing should not be wasted in scams and bad projects. Anybody who has an opinion!
Join us and let’s shape it together.
See you soon,