6 blockchain start-ups worth keeping an eye on

16 Jul 2020

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We look at six blockchain start-ups developing a variety of different technologies for security solutions, banking and offsetting negative environmental impacts.

Of the 100 Technology Pioneers that were selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) this year, as part of its annual programme that brings cutting-edge insight to critical global discussions, six of those start-ups were focused on blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Among the start-ups chosen by the WEF were ‘the Tesla of cryptocurrency’, and a business focused on levelling the economic playing field for people in all corners of the globe. This week, we take a look at those six blockchain and DLT start-ups in more detail.


Founded in the Cayman Islands by Sergey Nazarov and Steve Ellis, Chainlink has recently been described as ‘the Tesla of cryptocurrency’. The company’s smart contracts provide the ability to execute tamper-proof digital agreements, ensuring that inputs and outputs are secure to ensure the overall reliability of a contract.

The start-up has developed a decentralised network that enables smart contracts to securely access off-chain data feeds, web application programming interfaces and traditional bank payments.

Chainlink provides users with secure and reliable oracles to large enterprises, including Google, Oracle and Swift, as well as smart contract development teams, such as Polkadot/Substrate, Synthetix, Loopring, Aave, OpenLaw and Conflux. In 2017, the start-up raised $32m in funding to support its blockchain platform.


London-based Elliptic was founded by Adam Joyce, James Smith and Tom Robinson in 2013. The start-up was founded with the belief that illicit activity in cryptocurrencies must be disrupted to stop criminals from undermining the ideals on which cryptocurrencies are built.

To make cryptocurrency transaction activity more transparent and accountable, Elliptic is developing technology to prevent, detect and pursue criminal activity in cryptocurrencies, providing actionable intelligence to crypto companies, financial institutions and government agencies.

The company is focused on protecting companies, banks and financial institutions against crime, sanctions, breaches and other risks by equipping them with a suite of products that mitigates risk and ensures compliance.

Lightning Labs

Lightning Labs is a San Francisco start-up that was founded by Elizabeth Stark and Olaoluwa Osuntokun in 2016. The company develops software that powers its Lightning Network, which enables users to send and receive money efficiently and securely.

The company recognised that it is simple to send content such as photographs on a variety of applications, but not so easy to send money. The company hopes to do for money what the internet did for information.

The start-up’s solution is like a credit card network for bitcoin, enabling instant, high-volume transactions with fees far lower than credit cards. Investors in Lightning Labs include Abstract Ventures, RRE Ventures, Craft Ventures, M13 and Proof of Capital among others.


Headquartered in Copenhagen, MakerDAO was founded by Rune Christensen. The start-up’s goal is to create decentralised, transparent and accessible platform to level the economic playing field for people around the world.

MakerDAO’s platform enables the generation of Dai, an unbiased currency and decentralised stablecoin, which aims to eliminate volatility through an autonomous system of smart contracts, as well as through decentralised community governance.

The start-up’s team comprises members who have dedicated themselves to the task of bootstrapping MakerDAO to fuel growth and drive the organisation towards complete decentralisation.


Ripio was founded by Luciana Gruszeczka, Mugur Marculescu and Sebastian Serrano in Buenos Aires. Formerly known as Bitpagos, the start-up was founded in 2013 to provide electronic payments solutions for South America.

As one of the first crypto companies in Latin America, Ripio focuses on developing and strengthening the new digital economy, offering alternatives to traditional banking solutions, which are geared at reaching all segments of the population.

Between Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Spain, the company has 100 employees. Investors in the start-up include Iconiz, Maple Ventures, FBG Capital, Draper Associates and Medici Ventures.

Veridium Labs

Hong Kong-based Veridium Labs is a collaborative initiative that aims to automate how companies calculate and offset their environmental impacts, using blockchain technology.

Founded in 2016 and led by Jim Procanik, the firm is introducing a tokenised marketplace for environmental assets, including carbon credits, together with an integrated technology solution for corporate tracking of environmental impact.

The company wants to help businesses accelerate their transition from unsustainable extractive economic models to a fully regenerative economy by embedding environmental impact costs into the cost of all goods and services we consume.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic