Simplicity is critical, especially for startup founders working with novel technology like blockchain.
Simplicity is the reason three startups chose Oracle Blockchain Platform Cloud Service. The Oracle for Startups program features free cloud, startup-exclusive discounts on the Oracle Blockchain Platform, Cloud Service plus business and technical support from Oracle for Startups. With those benefits, Circulor, retraced, and AtCash discovered a blockchain solution that worked for their business and their customers.
"Our experience was that it was very easy to architect the solution and simple and fast to deploy," explains London-based Circulor cofounder Veera Johnson.
Retraced cofounder and CEO Lukas Pünder echoed her sentiment, "There are just so many products in the market that aren't ready to use, and Oracle's was. It was comparably easy to set up and work with because of all the pre-installments."
Startups also appreciate Oracle’s increasingly flexible pricing on the Oracle Blockchain Platform Cloud Service. "The dynamic scaling changes everything," says Peter Merkert, cofounder of retraced. "We can allow retailers who use our platform for tracking product provenance information, to run at full throttle with massive engines when they need them but cut costs when they are not required."
Establishing enterprise credibility
As blockchain use cases expand from a disruptive technology associated with non-government-backed currencies to a legitimate means of solving business problems, platforms have popped up to support it.
But working with a neophyte startup on a new platform doesn't always engender confidence from target customers, especially if the end-user is an enterprise-size client. Establishing credibility is another way Oracle helps startups.
"If Oracle Blockchain Platform is running underneath a blockchain application, it gives a very good perception to possible customers, because they can depend on Oracle products to be reliable" explains Mary Hall, Director of Product Marketing for Oracle Blockchain.
Circulor CEO Douglas Johnson-Poensgen agrees. In a recent Stories from the Cloud podcast, he said: "(If) you are trying to sell an enterprise-class solution, you need to be able to demonstrate that it is secure and scalable. Having a partner like Oracle means I don't have to spend too much time explaining that it is secure and scalable, and capable of being integrated into ERP systems."
Oracle for Startups helped introduce Circulor to a major automotive customer that is now using its platform for tracking supply chains of critical minerals used in electric cars.
Retraced uses the Oracle Blockchain Platform Cloud Service to create a supply chain management tool that helps fashion brands map and verify their sustainability data — including certified details about raw materials, textile manufacturers, fabric dyers, designers, craft people, factories, and seamsters.
A QR code is built automatically as the information is gathered. Scanning the code, brands receive supply chain data they can analyze while consumers can discover relevant supply chain information related to ethical sourcing and sustainability.
Retraced co-founder Peter Merkert praises the dynamic scalability feature. That's particularly critical because of the seasonality of clothing marketing and purchases.
"The dynamic scaling is extremely important for us, because we can allow running full throttle massive engines when we need them, but cut costs when they are not required," notes Peter Merkert of retraced. Award-winning German start-up retraced is using Oracle Blockchain Platform Cloud Service for tracking sustainable fashion supply chains.
The Oracle Blockchain Platform Cloud Service also connects well with the Oracle Autonomous Database, which helps retraced save money and time as they scale their database needs up or down. As the pandemic began to ease in Europe, retraced's sales took off. The company saw a 33% increase in new customers in just one month.
Transparency and traceability
Like retraced, Circulor's mission is traceability of materials; only its focus is on materials in industrial supply chains.
The Circulor platform is used to tag, track, and trace conflict minerals from the local mine to the manufacturers. Oracle's pre-assembled blockchain enabled Circulor to focus on their specialty—minerals tracking—without spending time and effort on building hardened blockchain infrastructure. The startup found it substantially sped up time to market while providing confidence to end-users.
"(We) can transparently record and share the source of all raw materials using distributed ledger, which prevents unethically sourced minerals from passing through the supply chain. This will also cut costs for miners who currently shoulder this compliance cost in our industry," Johnson-Poensgen explains.
While Retraced and Circulor are using blockchain for innovative sustainability platforms. AtCash is creating a product for a different kind of sustainability: Remote notarized signatures in a world where doing things in person can be expensive or dangerous.
AtCash is a blockchain-based provider of personal identity verified digitally. Designed initially for government "know your customer" requirements, founder Arushi Joshi's idea was born of her difficulties setting up and closing out bank accounts remotely – especially when she worked overseas.
Before COVID-19, AtCash ran several successful pilot programs and studies for global customers. When the virus hit government, attention was focused elsewhere, and Joshi pivoted her platform to focus on services like digital onboarding and remote notarization. "It's not just banks, to close on a home or create estate documents; it's mission-critical to be able to do it remotely."
The nationwide launch of the online notary product happened in September. "As far as we know, we're the first blockchain-based remote online notarization platform," Joshi says.
Oracle checked two boxes for her. The Oracle Blockchain Platform is based on the open-source Hyperledger Fabric platform and is permission-based. Then, once she added a video component to the remote signature aspect, she needed powerful cloud computing and storage. Oracle for Startups provides cloud credits to help her gain the bandwidth she needed at an affordable price.
Joshi has worked with other cloud platform providers, but the experience isn't quite the same.
"I can assure you the others don't even know our name. The fact that Oracle has invested so much in us and our success is why startups need to consider Oracle. It's not only the discounts but things like visibility and strategic insight and support. It is something that every startup needs. It's definitely worked for us, and we hope to make it work a lot more for us."
Oracle's Mary Hall thinks startups looking for a blockchain play should explore areas like Digital Identity (as an alternative or in addition to single-source sign-on technology), energy efficiency, and solutions for complex social problems – like transparency around donations and money grants.
As Hall wrote earlier this year, "Before blockchain, funds for these projects would be dispersed, and they might never make it to the intended recipients of the aid because of fraud. However, with blockchain, the disbursement of funds to the intended recipients(s) can be verified. If an actor on the blockchain tries to tamper with the funds, that party's identity will be known to the other parties on the blockchain.
We may even see projects for climate change and energy efficiency so that these projects are moderated and measured more by using blockchain to make monitoring and measurement more precise so we can regulate it better."
To learn more, visit Oracle for Startups online.
About the Author
Cathy Traugot is a writer and editor for the Oracle Start-up team.