Midwest blockchain pioneers meet in Lincoln and announce Block-a-thon


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Some of the brightest minds leading the Midwest blockchain movement gathered in Lincoln last week to make the case for the Midwest as a leader in blockchain technology and to announce Block-a-thon coming April 2018.

“We’re all about planting seeds and joining forces with people that have a common vision, common ideas, and a common passion around blockchain and cryptocurrency,” said Former Union Pacific Head of Application Development, Jeff Main.

The event, hosted at Fuse Coworking in Lincoln, started with educational presentations around blockchain technology and ended with an announcement of the upcoming Block-a-thon.

Block Era Co-founder Kyle Tut compares blockchain in 2017 to the emergence of the internet in 1994 and wants to see the Midwest to become a leader in the exciting new technology.

“I think we have a real opportunity with financial companies, supply chain logistics, and agriculture to use blockchain technology,” said Tut. “Those are what we’re known for and those are what we should focus on.”

Payment Springs Senior Vice President of Solutions, Heath Roehr agrees.

“There’s so much to be excited about around blockchain, it’s an emerging concept that has shown an ability to scale and create really cool technology and products,” said Roeher. “As we think about the Midwest wanting to take a stand and work on building blockchain concepts, that’s so motivating as a technologist, entrepreneur and business person.”

But taking a stand will need to be a concentrated effort?

“How do we actually put a stake in the ground and say, ‘we’re doing something big and it’s happening here?’” said Rena Valentino, Executive Director at Fuse.

Block-a-thon

Block-a-thon Midwest is a three-day event centered around all things blockchain and cryptocurrency as a way to gather momentum for the movement.

Block-a-thon will be held at Fuse Coworking in Lincoln the weekend of April 13-15 and is being touted as the largest blockchain event of its kind in the region. Anyone is welcome to attend, no matter their level of expertise.

“The idea is that we’d have a mix of biz dev, developers, and marketing, and we will help to fill in the gaps,” said Edward Weniger, CEO of Alpha BTC and Block-a-thon co-organizer. “You don’t need to have a previous education because you’re going to have your teammates to educate you, your speakers to educate you, and mentors to educate you.”

The format will be alternate between meals, education and guest speakers with project development in between. Teams of one to five are welcome. Sponsors will get a chance to participate while getting first peek at the new concepts that emerge.

“As the weekend progresses, we’ll get more technical in the conversation as well as adjust to auxiliary topics such as marketing and why, use cases, and examples of things that are already built,” Weniger explains.

Tut has been traveling the US and Canada since May attending blockchain events and will bring his experiences to Block-a-thon.

“I think Block-a-thon will be the biggest help. I originally flew to all these places for hack-a-thons because it wasn’t here,” said Tut. “Now, if you have it here, you get people to come.”

Rena Valentino will be opening Fuse Coworking’s doors and amenities for the weekend, including sleeping pods, 10-gigabyte fiber internet connection, laundry facilities and of course, the keg.

“This isn’t just for Lincoln, this is regional, so how do we get Des Moines to Minneapolis to Denver to Kansas City to Lincoln and Omaha to join in?” said Valentino.

She hopes to see representatives from the corporate world, startups, and students as participants.

The focus is on education

2017 was the year that blockchain and cryptocurrency reached the awareness of the masses, but it’s still very early.

“If you looked at Amazon six months ago, there was hardly anything on Blockchain, now there is much more,” said Roehr.

“I’m glad to see it finally coming to fruition in real projects here,” said Weniger. “I still get people that ask ‘What the heck is it?’ but most people have at least heard of it on the news.

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