Blockchain’s ability to decentralize information promises businesses a far more trusted, level playing field ─ except for one thing. To date, no one can easily see inside the blockchain “black box” of transactions, smart contracts and what have you.
Then I found out about Amberdata from Tongtong Gong, the startup’s co-founder and COO.
Where’s My Money, Dude?
Gong is freshly graduated from the SAP.iO Foundry accelerator, SAP’s mentorship program for women-owned tech startups. During her recent pitch at Demo Day in New York, Gong drew from the initial coin offering (ICO) experience of Amberdata’s co-founder and CEO, Shawn Douglass, to describe one of blockchain’s major challenges.
“After Shawn hit the submit button for the transaction it went into pending status, an hour passed, two hours passed, and he started questioning himself,” said Gong. “Why is it pending? Is everybody else pending? Did I do something wrong? Is the networking holding up okay? Is there a customer service number I can call? And, where did my money go?”
Cryptocurrency is only one strand of the blockchain promise. Companies of all sizes can use blockchain to disrupt business models and eventually, industries. But despite all the dazzling blockchain pilots underway, Gong said most lack reporting tools. Developers, organizations and investors can’t easily see what’s taking place on the chain, including transactions and platform metrics, not to mention obtain data for audit compliance. This is Amberdata’s $28 billion addressable market.
Using Blockchain to Own Identity
After watching Gong’s talk, I reached out to her for more details. Gong co-founded Amberdata to apply her experience as a software engineer writing and running large-scale, cloud-based data analytics applications. She equated the startup’s mission to her personal odyssey pursuing an education and career in both the United States and China.
“Moving back and forth across country borders I discovered how painful it was to establish identity,” said Gong. “When I came back to the United States from Shanghai, I couldn’t get anything done because I had no credit history in this country. Buying a car or getting an apartment was an ordeal. Blockchain gives us the ability to take control of our own assets and identity with relative ease.”
Women Role Models
Gong credited the SAP.iO Foundry with improving her understanding of how large companies make decisions. She was particularly grateful to its female mentors.
“SAP has brought us a network of people who are unconditionally helping us,” she said. “Being a founder is hard, and we suddenly have a support group being nice to us. It’s a sisterhood. I didn’t realize how much that meant to me. These women are role models, showing me that not all successful entrepreneurs fit into a single mode.”
Gong also appreciated the opportunity to have direct conversations with customers. “SAP has so many blockchain projects and customers, it’s the go-to solution for many companies with blockchain use cases,” she said. “We can get in front of customers to understand their strategy and challenges. We can define and refine our road map to support those demands.”
See What’s Happening on the Blockchain
Amberdata is touted as the first dashboard for monitoring, searching, analyzing, and securing information on private and public blockchains. In addition, data APIs provide developers and other technologists with instant access to historical and real-time activities, so they can analyze and define trends. For example, application developers could compare information like transaction costs vs. throughput speeds on various public blockchains. Another example would be ICO investors and traders like Amberdata’s co-founder. The startup offers APIs allowing investors to see the number of other token holders and actual trading activities.
“You need to know if token movement constitutes real trading, or if it’s just being traded back and forth between several addresses to fake the volume,” said Gong. “Or, similar to Amazon’s suggestion tool, you can find out about other tokens similar to your investments, or what other investors like you are holding.”
Currently compatible with public blockchains Ethereum and Aion, and Quorum for private blockchain, Amberdata has plans for future expansion. The startup is also going for its second fund-raising round.
In these early days of blockchain, everyone is focused on solving security, scalability and protocol issues, and rightly so. Meantime, Amberdata is gearing up for the next phase when blockchain goes big, helping companies unlock data and measure performance on the chain. That’s when companies will be able to use this technology for true innovation.
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