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Student project based on blockchain

Interview with Alex Tran Qui from Katalysis

· Student projects,Blockchain,Start-ups

Katalysis was founded late spring 2016 from the belief that the nascent blockchain world is missing players who are able to push products to end users using a blockchain back end.

They felt that there is a strong push for all the backend systems, but not a lot to complete a full end to end product. So Katalysis set about to provide a Swift bridge between mobiles and blockchains, first concentrating on iOS and the Eris blockchain platform. To illustrate what could be done, Katalysis decided to provide a platform which would allow e-books to mimic the behavior of paper books when it comes to sharing and exchanging books.


How did you get in touch with The App Academy?
"We got introduced through a mutual lawyer friend. He knew that I had just started a business and thought that it would be interesting to meet The App Academy. We met at the time when they were looking for student projects, so I suggested that an e-book lending app could be useful for us to illustrate blockchain. And so we agreed to work together."

Tell me something about your interest in blockchain technology, what is it and why is it so cool?
"My interest in blockchains is funnily enough relatively recent (less than 4 years), and it didn’t start with Bitcoin. Like any technophile, I’ve been aware of Bitcoins for a long time, but never had a strong interested in it, until I found out about a tracking resilient Twitter clone called Twister. It used some of the Bitcoin code as starting point, and I got very interested in it. At that time, I was quite busy with my day job, so didn’t participate actively. Fast forward until a year and an half ago, and I got more time to dedicate to blockchain. The one aspect which hooked me was smart contracts, and the potential the concept has to change the way we do business. With smart contracts, you can attach logic and state = “memory” to transactions. For instance, you allow the resale of a digital book, which will always compensate the original author whenever the digital book is sold."

Can you tell a little bit about your assignment for the students?
"Students had to develop the CoffeeStain app which aims at making the disruptive potential of blockchain more concrete by showing how to impact a problem which everyone is aware of: paper books can be lent and sold by their owners, e-books not. So the app shows that you can control the lending of pdfs using blockchain technology, and that you can mimic the flexibility of paper documents while engaging with digital content."

How did you experience the collaboration with The App Academy and your student team?
"We were assigned a pair of students, Jolijn and Pontus. Working with them was great. We started with a very high level idea, and with their help, we refined the concept to a simple yet compelling product. During the project, there was a strong sense of ownership and a willingness to get to a finished product. I personally enjoyed very much the five weeks we spent collaborating on the project, and would definitely do it again."

How are things now with your startup and what’s the progression of the CoffeeStain app?
"Since the end of the project in late July, we have engaged more closely with various players in the e-book market, and we are now working with Marc Jellema from Tom Kabinet on an e-book lending app for libraries. CoffeeStain had a strong peer to peer lending component which we are somewhat muting in this e-book lending app in the first place. The focus is now to show more of the financial models which can be set up in the backend and thus have a platform to engage the conversation with content creators and copyright owners."

Regarding blockchains, I see a very bright future for that technology (or the next incarnation of that technology), albeit very different than what is currently discussed and pushed in the mainstream media. - Alex Tran Qui

Where do you see Katalysis, CoffeeStain and blockchain in the future, let's say in two years?
"Tricky question. As a startup, we are working to conquer the world, and the rest will be history… On the CoffeeStain app, I see it more as a starting point to expose what can be done with blockchains, in particular in terms of bringing it’s particular properties to benefit content consumers and content producers. Regarding blockchains, I see a very bright future for that technology (or the next incarnation of that technology), albeit very different than what is currently discussed and pushed in the mainstream media. I believe that we are only talking about replacing existing technologies for established business processes, rather than thinking about how the business process can change thanks to new paradigms which this new technology opens up. Having spent over a decade looking after enterprise class systems, I do not believe that the value proposition of blockchains is worth the cost of changing the technology to achieve the same results. However, I know that blockchain can enable new ways of doing business, in particular lowering the risk and cost of doing certain transactions, and that is where one needs to look to when taking about the future of blockchain."

Thank you for your time and keep up the good work.

"Thank you."

Interested in prototyping your mobile app with students at The App Academy? Call 020-2610899.

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