The cryptographic ledger technology blockchain is experiencing a quick escalation that is disrupting several industries and businesses around the world. More than 35 experts and 400 participants will gather next 20th of May in Copenhagen to discuss the impact of blockchain in pharma, shipping and logistics, government relations services, and finance.
A decade after the invention of blockchain, the discussion regarding this technology has moved away from the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and has evolved into a conversation on how to automate and make any transactional process more secure through the implementation of this open, anonymous and distributed ledger.
Just a couple of years ago, in 2015, the Business Intelligence enabled market research database, Grandview Research, released a market research report on blockchain technology based on information from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., Germany, France, Japan, China, and Australia that included a forecast of the implementation of the ledger between 2018 and 2024. In the report, Grandview Research estimated a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 37,2% over the forecast period.
According to the report, “healthcare and public-sector applications are expected to witness enormous growth in the years to come.”
The Deloitte’s 2018 global blockchain survey: Breaking blockchain open polled a sample of 1,053 senior executives in seven countries (Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, United Kingdom, and the United States) at companies with $500 million or more in annual revenue. The survey revealed that the largest professional service network’s clients are “making meaningful investments in the present day, starting new businesses based on the unique value proposition offered by blockchain and tokens.”
The first Nordic Edition of the European Blockchain Convention will take place in Copenhagen next 20th of May. The main theme will be “Building the Foundation of Blockchain and the Digital Economy” and it will include 10 panels and 40 speakers from Denmark, Sweden, Spain among other European countries, the United States and China.
According to Daniel Salmerón, co-founder of the Convention, this is a platform for the whole blockchain ecosystem to gather. He added that the idea is to “encourage networking, projects and ideas sharing. We want that if you have a project for which you need a developer, you will come to a conference and maybe the person by your side is that developer, or if you are looking for an investor you have the opportunity to talk to them, or if you are looking for a project to invest in you find valuable startups.”
The Convention will address several issues related to blockchain and the needs of the Nordic countries through several panels:
Blockchain for Government and Public Services. Real-time Data Collection. E-Identity.
Going Cashless: Central Banks and Digital Currencies
Mapping the Global Legal Landscape of Distributed Ledger Technologies
The Path to Institutional Acceptance of Digital Assets
Blockchain in Shipping & Logistics
State of Technical Aspects of Blockchain Technology: Security, Scalability, Interoperability, and Adaptability
How Blockchain Can Revolutionize the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industry
From the 7th until the 12th of May, the second largest Danish city will be hosting the sixth edition of the country’s leading digital festival, IWDK. But, what makes Aarhus the best host for this event?
The small city of Aarhus has recently been in the spotlight. Two years ago it was named the European Capital of Culture 2017, it was a finalist of the European Capital of Innovation Award 2018 and at the end of last year, The Wall Street Journal referred to it as “Denmark’s New Wave” for the innovative environment that is making it attractive to worldwide tech giants.
And this is not – just – a matter of coincidences. A combination of factors makes Aarhus the perfect, cozy, amiable Scandinavian city for the development of business and tech. With a population of 340,000 inhabitants, younger and better educated than the national average, Aarhus is home to more than 20,000 IT professionals developing artificial intelligence, data science, internet of things and user experience design, just to mention a few.
For Johan Bitsch Nielsen, who is the co-owner of Ditmer and First Agenda, tech companies based in Aarhus, the city has the right mix of things: “I see that we have a unique position because we have talent from the university in all the areas of tech, combined with this special Scandinavian way of organizing our companies where we have a very low power difference and very little hierarchy and very high level of trust, and that makes us very innovative”.
Digital transformation is a top priority in Denmark, a country with a modern market economy where business development is the steering wheel of economic growth. From the 5,775,224 inhabitants of the Danish land, 5,534,770 are active internet users; that’s an impressive 96.5% internet penetration rate, according to the latest information retrieved by Internet World Stats.
For digital strategist and independent consultant Karsten Bubber Outzen “some of the really large companies in Denmark, the C-20 companies, are starting to ‘smell the coffee’, they are waking up, they are starting this whole digital transformation instead of just producing a product, they are actually moving mind-wise to selling services”.
“There is a Scandinavian tradition about putting people first, also in the digital age. Ethics is a very high top priority in Denmark and I think that’s one of the reasons why, because if we haven’t got the ethics right then we won’t put people first in the digital age”
Louise Overgaard, Head of IWDK.
The matter of ethics is precisely the discussion proposed by this year’s Internet Week Denmark. Under the main theme “Digital Change, Change Digital”, the IWDK will focus “how to control the digitalization, how can we do this in a good way, how can we make sure that people stay healthy, that our environment, our businesses, and our democracy stay healthy”, according to Louise Overgaard, Head of the festival.
Between the 7th and the 12th of May, Aarhus will be hosting more than 7,000 participants in nearly 100 events about emerging tech, internet of things, digital transformation in agriculture, the Chinese internet revolution, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and more. All the events of the IWDK are free and most of them in English.
According to Stine Skaarup, Senior User Experience Designer at Designit, “a lot of the IWDK events are interesting to everybody and anybody who finds technology, people and organizations interesting”. For Lise Lystlund, co-founder of Co-Coders, the IWDK is “a good place to get to know new people and learn new stuff, there are a lot of events and you’re able to choose whatever you want”. Stine and Lise have participated in past editions of the festival and both Designit and Co-Coders are partner companies of this year’s edition.
A couple of weeks ago, I booked myself a ticket for the event “Better for Balance #1: Mind the Gap” organized by Copenhagen FinTech Lab. It meant I would have to travel from Aarhus to Copenhagen on the 8th of March and it was not exactly the Women’s March I would regularly join on this important day for the feminist movement across the world.
Then, why did I choose to spend my day in a founders and investors panel at a financial tech company in Copenhagen? I have been following the Copenhagen FinTech’s Linked account for a couple of months now, as well as his CEO’s, Thomas Krogh Jensen. As I told him personally, their updates are something I look forward to reading on my feed, both because they are carefully crafted with meaningful content and because they reflect the state of the cutting-edge Danish FinTech ecosystem.
It didn’t surprise me to learn that the person behind these “Balance for Better” series of events was Naima Yasin, as much is it didn’t surprise me either to find out – weeks ago – that there was a woman in charge of Copenhagen FinTech’s Social Media.
So there it was, my opportunity to meet two of the people that make my LinkedIn feed worth it and my chance to get a better grasp of Danish feminist concerns.
What’s the Issue?
The London-based company Atomico and partners, released the fourth edition of The State of European Tech report, a survey of 5,000 members of the tech ecosystem which gathered data from 2018.
Special attention was driven towards diversity in tech companies, where gender inequality was outstanding. Below, some of the key findings:
Women account for just 22% of participants in tech-related Meetup events in the region.
All-male founding teams receive 93% of the capital invested and account for 85% of deals.
46%of female respondents have experienced some form of discrimination while working in the European tech industry.
Only 1 woman was found to be Chief Technology Officer.
The executive position with more female representation is Chief Marketing Officer and it accounts only for 21%.
Denmark is no exception. Actually, it is the worst-performing country of the Nordic region regarding gender gap with no female CEOs in its top 20 companies, the OMX Copenhagen 20. The shameful absence, disclosed by the Route to the Top 2018 report, is only shared with another European nation: Italy.
How did the panel go?
The panel was concise, well moderated and touched upon diversity of topics, considering the time available. The discussion about whether or not there should be gender quotas or transparency reports was the protagonist, along with the debate on how unconscious gender bias affects a woman’s startup pitch.
Susanne Brønnum is a Board Member at Oslo-based – “leaders in mobile payments and e-commerce” – company Auka, Chairman of the Board at Ernit – “the world’s first kids friendly app connected to real bankaccounts” – and a member of the Danish Business Angels organization, a network of investors interested in financing start-up companies.
She argued that while quotas are not the ideal, they might be a needed step towards narrowing the gap:
“We all want to be chosen for what we can do (….) but I also think that five years down the road maybe that’s actually what we need to do, at least for a short period of time.”
It was Camilla Kerlauge the one who put on the table the unconscious gender bias card. Camilla is the CEO and Founder of Spenderlog, “an app that analyses your supermarket receipts and shows you exactly how you live (…) combining personal financial management with health and lifestyle.” She suggested to CEO Thomas Krogh Jensen that
“Copenhagen Fintech Lab could be the first one to establish an education on understanding your own bias”
as part of the solution to the gender gap in Danish financial technology companies.
Moreover, Thea Messel agreed that unconscious bias is part of the reason why, when pitching a company idea, women are more often questioned about the risks, obstacles and stability while men face more questions regarding their goals and ambitions. Thea is very well informed with updated numbers that show that women-led companies overperform, relatively to those ran by men. She seemed passionate about the issue of inequality in Fintech since recently founded Unconventional Ventures:
“Unlocking the potential of underrepresented founders in the Nordics.”
Unconventional Ventures – Thea Messel
Sophie Grønbæk, CEO at the disruptive insurance company Undo, and Sara Green Brodersen, CEO of Deemly, a startup aimed at breaking down trust barriers for users in the sharing economy, both shared their experiences as female founders and discussed how bringing up the issue of gender in the male-dominated FinTech ecosystem often backlash on them.
While it’s hard to get women on companies’ boards, I found remarkable that Copenhagen Fintech’s Community Manager, Naima Yasin, managed to get two men to participate in this conversation: the politician from the Danish Conservative People’s Party – Det Konservative Folkeparti -, Lars Arne Christensen, who’s also a member of Danish Business Angels, and the Chairman at the Nordic Impact Investing Network, Søren Stig, who declared himself a feminist.
Final Remarks from the CEO, Thomas Krogh Jensen
Regulation matters: “If you look at many other areas and you look at where other transformations took place, much of it is actually driven by regulation. So I think that’s actually one thing that could make it happen much faster.”
Real diversity: “This is by far the most important debate within diversity: it’s color of skin, it’s religion, it’s sexual orientation, it’s more than just men and women.”
Men have their share: “They decide, we decide, I decide whom to hire, so it’s very easy, we can do it tomorrow… We can make it happen much faster so we don’t even have to wait for regulation.”
A note from the author
At the end of the event, the attendees were invited to share a beer or a glass of wine and network (the classical Danish meet-and-drinks). Although I was running out to catch my bus back to Aarhus, I reached to have a nice talk with two of the ladies from the audience.
We discussed the effectiveness of the UK’s new gender pay gap reporting rules, the Danish forms of feminism and the male-dominated work environments in corporate and startup jobs.
Nevertheless, when they heard that I came from Colombia, they asked me one question that remained in the back of my mind until today.
Do you think Danes are spoiled because this is the kind of feminist debate we have?
Participant of Better for Balance #1 event to me.
I think it’s great that this is the kind of debate that Denmark is having! This is the Danish context and this is what matters to Danish society and women… not getting killed over their gender, how is the case in many places of the world.
But I did add one thing. I think that this kind of debates are lacking the global understanding, the acknowledgement that it can only be a priority here in the Nordics to discuss how to get more female CEOs, investors and founders.
The recognition of that privileged position could be the first step towards contributing GLOBALLY to inclusion and equality.
Estefanía Zárate Angarita
I would encourage the Copenhagen FinTech Lab and its members, as well as all the panelists at the event, to think about the possibility of also investing in Scholarships and Grants for women to enhance social escalation and international mobility. To direct some of their profit to support women in vulnerable conditions in some other location of the world. To promote volunteering programs among their employees who have the means to spread their knowledge worldwide.
There is no better way towards equality than empathy.
When I first moved to London one thing strongly caught my attention: meal-kit delivery services. Not only supermarkets and retail grocery stores offered “one-click” deliveries, which was not precisely new for me, but there were also entire companies dedicated to make Londoner’s life easier when it comes to cooking.
I found HelloFresh casually, walking around Angel underground station (watch the video). There was this tent where a couple of salesmen were promoting the boxes. One of them explained to me that every box comes with three different recipes, selected by the costumer and designed by chefs, and with just enough ingredients for two portions of each. I made many questions about the model but I had a particular interest: are they making money? The salesman answer was, not yet.
I became a member and ordered for the first time in October, last year (watch the video). I was surprised by how organized the company was. All ingredients and products were labelled. Merchandise was well thought. My curiosity grew bigger and as it did, I also started finding many HelloFresh boxes in people’s front doors while walking down the streets of London. Then, I really wanted to know who was behind the desk of this – seemingly successful – business and if it was true that they were not making money yet.
Claire Davenport was the name I was looking for and yes, the salesman was right, they are still not making a profit.
The most impressive thing about HelloFresh is that without having turned to profit, they topped the FT1000 as the fastest growing company last year. Only between 2012 and 2015, HelloFresh (founded in 2011) grew its revenue by 13.16%.
During roughly 7 years of operation, the company has been awarded the UK Customer Satisfaction Award 2014 and the UK Specialist Online Retailer of the Year, 2016, 2015 and 2014, among other international prizes.
They describe themselves as “the leading global provider of fresh food”, operating in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Australia, Austria, Switzerland and Canada. With 69% more active users at the end of 2017, compared to the end of 2016, HelloFresh has now more than 1.45 million customers worldwide.
(Figure from Q1 2017)
According to Markets Insider, at this pace, HelloFresh will turn to profit in 2019. Next March 21rst, the company will release its latest annual report and guidance for 2018, after it started trading shares at the final offer price of EUR 10.25 per share on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in November 2017. The share price is today EUR 12.30.
Last January 30th, the company announced preliminary revenues for 2017 of EUR 902 million – 905 million, almost double the revenues of EUR 597 million for the year before.
The woman behind the UK desk
When HelloFresh appointed Claire Davenport (43) as the UK CEO on July 3rd, 2017, Dominik Richter, CEO of HelloFresh Group, said: “with her experience across a broad range of disruptor and tech brands, she is the right person to lead HelloFresh to the next stage of growth in the UK.” And he was probably right.
Claire Davenport has over 20 years of experience in the disruptive innovation business. At the beginning of her career, she worked for both Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan. Then, she switched to tech taking over as Chief of Staff at Skype in 2009 and later held leading positions in start-ups for marketing and education. Right before arriving to HelloFresh, the British businesswoman spent three and a half years as General Manager of VoucherCodes.co.uk, the market-leading voucher and coupons site in the UK.
Her studies are as diverse as her experience. Davenport has an MA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge, a degree she admits that she has barely used since she left the University. Later on, she got an MBA from the European Institute of Business Administration, INSEAD, in 1998.
“I joined HelloFresh just because I discovered the product, loved it and realized it could change the market”, she explains. Davenport believes that HelloFresh is definitely disrupting the food retail sector, which according to her “is one of the least disrupted by online so far.”
Davenport is also well known in the UK business market for her interest and contribution to gender equality in the field. “I mentor a number of women, organize panels on disruption and innovation where there are always at least as many women leaders as men”, she claims.
Her life is equally disruptive, as her husband has been parenting their two daughters at home. She admits that her role at HelloFresh is as time-consuming as her former senior positions but that her leadership has inspired one of her daughters, who wants to be a CEO.
Claire Davenport is very reserved about the strategies she is implementing to counterbalance the incursion of online shopping giant Amazon in the meal-kit delivery market; also about the impact of the UK users in HelloFresh Group finances. Nevertheless, she describes her first nine months as the Head of the UK segment of the company as “a lot of fun and hard work.”
While the world is discussing if
Bitcoin is a bubble or not, Nakamoto (whoever this is) is probably smiling,
watching his experiment succeed. “Bitcoin is changing finance the same way the
web changed publishing”, can be read in weusecoins.com.
Bitcoin’s technology solves the problem of inflation, double spending, censorship and costly intermediation. No wonder banks are so against it (and investing in it at the same time). The so-called cryptocurrency reached an astonishing value per unit of US$17,539 at the time this article was written.
Bitcoin is a cryptographic file, with a specific number on it which we can use to make transactions online. So far there is nothing to freak out about considering that 92% of all the traditional money in the world today is not physical, as reported by The Money Project. In their research, The Global War on Cash, they state that only in five years, from 2010 to 2015, cashless transactions increased 50%, from 285.2 billion to 426.3. Due to the inflation-based economic system, the buying power of a US$100 bill in 1915 is equivalent today to US$2,390, according to Dollar Times.
Bitcoins can be divided into a
hundred million (100,000,000) fractions. There are 21 million units (enough to
give each person in the world 276,315 fractions, valued today in $US48.4),
which makes them “completely inflation free”, as explained by their unknown
Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. They can represent many kinds of property,
currency or stuff but their truly revolutionary aspect is the technology they
roll on: the blockchain.
In words of Alex Tappscot, founder of a firm
that invests in blockchain market companies, it is “the internet of value”.
Blockchain is a public ledger in a network where transactions are not
reversible and allows trade without intermediaries, just like cash. In the
introductory video of the official website bitcoin.org: “this means that the fees are
much lower, you can use them in every country, your account cannot be frozen
and there are no prerequisites or arbitrary limits.”
Even if the financial establishment finds a way – which probably will – to monetize Bitcoin in their favor, the blockchain is already in motion and it will be to the financial system of the 2020s what bar-codes were to commercial one in the 1980s. But greater.