A Paris-based blockchain-focused startup, Stratumn, recently raised €600,000 to build and promote their general purpose, self-serve, blockchain development platform. The funding round included investments from the Bitcoin hardware wallet Ledger CEO and Maison du Bitcoin founder, Eric Larchevêque, as well as the French VC firm Otium Venture.
According to Stratumn, the funding will “allow the team of 5 to grow to 12 people this year,” and help them “establish a position as a leading provider of Blockchain solutions in France and Europe.”
In May of 2014, Larchevêque and partner Thomas France co-founded La Maison du Bitcoin, a walk-in bitcoin advocacy storefront in the middle of Paris that offers co-working space, hackathons, and workshops for individuals and businesses alike.
Several well-known bitcoin businesses have grown out of La Maison du Bitcoin, including Larchevêque’s Ledger and French bitcoin exchange Paymium.
Ledger was the first Parisian blockchain business to receive venture capital funding, closing a €1.3 million seed round in February 2015, Paymium closed a €1 million seed round just seven months later, in September. Stratumn is now the third French startup to receive a major VC investment.
In an interesting twist of fate that shows how close the Parisian bitcoin community is, not only was a fair chunk of the Stratumn investment from Ledger’s CEO, but the company's’ current CTO, Stephan Florquin, was previously Paymium’s lead developer.
Brave New Coin caught up with the CEO and Co-Founder of Stratumn, Richard Caetano, to talk about his unique product and the French bitcoin community. Caetano explained many reasons France suites his company. “First there are really great schools helping to build a well educated technical workforce,” he said. “Compared to Silicon Valley or New York, the salaries in France are quite reasonable.”
The new CEO also described a supportive local authority. “There are quite a few government initiatives to help startups get off the ground.” He revealed. “Innovation grants, subsidies, and tax breaks, these programs can really help new and growing companies.”
The highest levels of government in France hold events meant to encourage technological advancement, and have made Blockchain technology a focus.
On March 24, the French National Assembly hosted a one day conference, Blockchain: Disruption and Opportunities. The event was designed to raise awareness of the technology, and its potential uses in the digital transformation of society as a whole.
The closing statement provided by Emmanuel Macron, the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Economy. Mr. Macron stated his own awareness of the importance of the disruptive potential of the blockchain.
According to the Minister, adoption is limited by current French and European regulations, which prevent applications “in real-life situations, i.e. with real clients and not exclusively in closed beta test scenario within a given financial institution.”
However, on March 29, Macron announced an upcoming adaptation of the French finance regulatory framework in order to progressively allow the technologies introduction.
“We recently participated in an assembly to discuss blockchain technology with the deputies. Following the event, the minister of economy announced a move to support work with blockchain technology. All in all, we feel that we are at the right place at the right time and are working hard to be of service.”
- Richard Caetano, Stratumn CEO and Co-Founder
Stratumn has been called a “Heroku for blockchain developers,” it helps businesses focus on building blockchain apps quickly, without worrying about challenging development and the underlying details.
Another way to look at Stratumn is as service that upgrades existing workflows and processes, adding the advantages of blockchains. The platform is able to tie these services to the Bitcoin blockchain just as easily as making up a new one for each business. It’s typically a custom fit.
“Today Stratumn offers what we call ‘Smart Workflows’. The idea is to reduce/remove the dependence on third party services (auditors, notaries, etc) by introducing smart workflows and objective evidence to the process.”
Diving in further, Caetano says his service is actually split into a few different product lines, each designed to match a specific need. They’re all built on three features; Proof-of-Existence, implemented in the platforms Fossilizer engine; Secure Workflows, implemented through the Chainscript spec; Digital Ownership, implemented with digital signatures and/or assets.
The three workflows can work together or separately to give existing businesses an entirely new process, with levels of integrity and access that were not available before the blockchain came along. The platform can also extend processes to include further functionality.
Perhaps the most innovative idea the company has brought to market is the open standard called Chainscript, created to record states of data and leverage the Blockchain’s ability to store data fingerprints, and create immutable, verifiable proofs of their existence. According to Caetano, it’s “a very light weight version of the blockchain without a consensus model.”
“Our investor, Ledger, offers bitcoin hardware wallets which we have integrated into our platform. Later on, we will integrate digital assets and smart contacts which can be represented by the same key pair that signed the state.”
The services is currently in a private beta testing mode. “Things are still being refined and we don’t want to make a public offering yet,” said Caetano. “However, we are on target for a public release by the end of the summer.” Stratumn is working with integrators and consulting groups to roll out the software.