Can you give us an introduction to the Chiliz Blockchain Campus?
The Chiliz Blockchain Campus is a blockchain-focused co-working space, which is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Alexandre Dreyfus. His most recent ventures are Chiliz, a digital currency for sports and entertainment, and Socios.com, a tokenized fan engagement platform that aims to transform the world of sports through blockchain technology and smart contracts. Alexandre envisioned a space where leading lights from the blockchain industry and emerging blockchain entrepreneurs could gather - a home away from home. This hub would connect some of the industry’s largest stakeholders across Asia and Europe and is 100% privately held by Chiliz. The campus spans over 2,000 square metres and four floors. We offer some 200 desks, a number of meeting rooms and an auditorium, which can be used for seminars, ICO pitches, workshops, blockchain business breakfasts, and launch events. Entrepreneurs can rent a single desk for €429 per month, which allows them to use all facilities on the campus.
Who are you targeting with your offer and who is already based at the Campus?
Our ambition is to gather the entire blockchain ecosystem under one roof. We believe that diversity best fosters innovation and are welcoming entrepreneurs and enterprises from the entire blockchain spectrum, ranging from crypto exchanges, protocols, app developers, media companies to hardware and software suppliers. Some of the world’s largest crypto exchanges are already operating out of our campus: Binance and OKEx. Other companies include Gamerhash, Pundi, Tron, Valora, CoinPaprika and Coin Market Cap. Thus far the Campus proved particularly attractive to companies looking for a base in Europe. Binance and OKEx, both originating from Asia, are just two examples. While many of our current tenants are already established businesses, we are also ready to welcome start-ups and early stage companies, who can choose to rent a desk for a month to see if our offering fits them.
Beyond the desk space and the physical infrastructure, what exactly does the Campus offer?
The presence of so many companies creates a very vibrant atmosphere, and it makes networking pretty easy. Entrepreneurs looking for a push in the right direction or in need of inspiration can easily bounce off ideas with other people working in the industry. We are also facilitating access to investors, both local and international, and some of them regularly visit the Campus. In addition, we are working with incubators and accelerators around the world to allow our tenants to use other facilities when they travel, while we welcome guests from other accelerators. We have already signed agreements with Paris’ Chain Accelerator, Berlin’s Full Node and Singapore’s BitTemple with new partnerships being announced shortly. Members of any of these accelerators can work for 10 days for free from Malta, and the same applies to our members when they choose to use the facilities of our partners.
How would you describe the current climate in the blockchain community and what’s their view of Malta?
The entire industry has matured significantly and overcome the investment hype that it experienced in 2017 and at the beginning of 2018. This also means that the sector has seen its fair share of failures, both locally and internationally, as it is the case in every young industry. I think many, especially in Malta, expected that blockchain will become a major economic pillar practically overnight. But the idea behind the “Blockchain Island” is a long-term one, and Malta’s vision is to create a sustainable industry. Globally, the gold rush days have come to an end, while rules and regulations are being brought in which helps distinguish the genuine and serious players from the scammers and weak projects. Beyond the investment hype, companies now focus again on coming up with great technology.
Needless to say that the industry is still facing challenges. Banking is undeniably an issue. Companies in Malta, but also in other countries, are struggling to open accounts, as banks are not willing to support their business models, deciding to err on the side of caution, perhaps unable to distinguish the serious players from the crowd. But despite these issues, we are still seeing interest in Malta, particularly from Asian stakeholders looking for an entry point to Europe. Due to its size, Malta is also a great place to test and implement pilot projects. Malta is a small country but still technologically advanced and with a diverse population. DLT legislation is in place, as well as top-notch tech talent, while incentives are available to attract the best projects based on the blockchain. Although we are in the digital world where location does not really matter because most blockchain projects are global, for all those reasons Malta remains one of the top blockchain destinations in the EU.
How do you see the campus developing in the coming years?
We want to make the Blockchain Campus very much known to the world and become the go-to destination for start-ups to scale. We can easily accommodate companies that grow up to 20 to 25 people, but we also want the campus to be a dynamic hub. We don’t envision that companies stay here forever. Ideally, they grow fast, require larger offices and we can welcome the next generation of blockchain enterprises to our campus.
Béatrice joined Chiliz as the Managing Director for the Chiliz Blockchain Campus from Truevo Payments Ltd where she was the Head of Sales & Marketing. She was part of a team responsible for transforming the business from a small start-up into a leading fintech firm. Béatrice has extensive experience from the world of strategic business development and international business journalism, where she negotiated deals with the highest key decision makers around the globe, providing business intelligence and facilitating cross-border operations. Béatrice holds a Master of Business Administration from Southern Cross University (Australia), a Master of Business Law from Bond University (Australia) as well as a Bachelor of Arts in International Business from ESC Rennes (France).