21 Dec, 2018, 06:00 ET
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Dec. 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Silicon Valley-based Crowdz — the leading blockchain-based trade finance company — announced today that it been selected to participate in the blockchain track for the 500 Startups San Francisco-based Seed Accelerator program, one of the most competitive and rigorous technology accelerators in the world.
This fall, the 500 Startups accelerator team spent weeks reviewing and interviewing nearly 2,000 program application for Batch 24 of its Seed Accelerator. The world-renowned accelerator ultimately accepted just 22 companies — a mere one percent of the applicants — of which only five became part of the 500 Startups blockchain track.
"We are deeply honored to be selected to participate in such an exclusive and high-powered accelerator," said Payson E. Johnston, CEO of Crowdz, which operates primarily in the financial technology (fintech) and e-commerce sectors. "The ability to interact with and learn from scores of truly distinguished mentors in the rapidly changing fields of blockchain and finance will be invaluable in helping Crowdz to finish building out our blockchain-based e-commerce and trade finance platform for a launch early next year.
A Rigorous Acceptance Process
The 500 Startups evaluators employ a rigorous acceptance process based on a set of questions customized for the technology batch under consideration — questions that are designed to identify the most promising startup ventures in that field. As one of only five blockchain companies invited into the blockchain batch, Crowdz, according to 500 Startups, was a powerful example "of how to successfully answer" questions like these:
1. Does the solution present a good use of blockchain?
2. Is there a clear valuable market?
3. Does the product meet customer needs?
4. Does the solution offer a competitive advantage that customers value?
5. Is the team skilled in the critical areas?
In addition, 500 Startups looks to see if the companies it is considering can achieve 50X to 100X revenue growth over the next seven years or so.
The 500 Startups evaluators gave Crowdz a resounding endorsement in each of these respects. Overall, the accelerator's assessment concluded that Crowdz's "product, market, and structure were all well-suited for this scenario." Crowdz "had experience with this area in the past and they were aggressively planning [for] growth ... The CEO had 18 years' experience in global supply chain for a large networking company. Two other senior team members at Crowdz had worked with the CEO on supply-chain matters for more than a decade." Another team member had senior roles at three successful internet companies and one was an economist for the U.S. White House.
A $9 Trillion Market
The Crowdz solution is focused on enhancing the speed, efficiency and financial performance of global supply chains — and there's a very good reason for this. "To be effective," says CEO Johnston, "the $25 trillion collection of global supply chains requires vibrant and prosperous small and midsize enterprises, or 'SMEs,' which account for more than 70 percent of supply-chain participants. But because 73 percent of global business still takes place manually, transactions can take weeks or even months to settle."
In addition, he goes on, "standard invoicing, which almost all SMEs use, can delay payments by as much as 90 days or more. Yet without steady, ongoing cashflow, these SMEs can't survive and up to half ultimately fail. In turn, if these SMEs don't survive, global supply chains themselves can stop functioning as well."
Traditionally, the most common answer to these challenges has been trade finance, also known as supply-chain financing or invoice financing. With trade finance, banks or other investors purchase SMEs' invoices, giving SMEs the value of the invoices immediately, less a discount. Later, the SMEs reimburse the financing entity when their customers pay.
"The potential global market for trade finance is immense, estimated at $9 trillion," Johnston points out. But while there are numerous, more conventional trade finance initiatives, the Crowdz solution, he notes, "is unique among contemporary trade finance efforts, which consist largely of standalone financing vehicles."
In contrast, he explains, Crowdz is "an entire supply-chain ecosystem, which uses blockchain, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to bring product buyers and sellers as well as invoice buyers and sellers together onto the most efficient global supply-chain platform ever created."
Sunnyvale, California-based Crowdz builds digitized, blockchain-based supply-chain networks designed to enhance the speed, efficiency and financial performance of global supply chains. The Crowdz solution:
- Fully digitizes the buy/sell process via automated supply-chain marketplaces that accelerate the buying and selling of products and that originate risk-rated invoices and purchase orders (POs) that are pre-configured for investor financing.
- Digitizes invoices, POs and other paperwork that flow from this buy/sell process, then places them on the Ethereum blockchain, where they are consolidated, transformed into digital smart contracts and instantly transmitted to and from all involved parties.
- Automatically posts fundable POs and invoices on the Crowdz invoice-auction exchange, where banks and other investors can bid on risk-rated individual or packaged invoices and POs, enabling SMEs in the supply chain to receive instant cash payments (less a discount) for the value of their receivables.
Founded in 2014, Crowdz is led by its CEO, Payson E. Johnston, who served for 18 years as global supply-chain senior manager for Cisco. Its executive team has a combined 90 years of experience in supply-chain operations, business finance, B2B, e-commerce and blockchain. Crowdz's technologies are currently covered by seven pending patents and a prototype of the Crowdz platform is currently being used by 240 companies offering more than 1.7 million products.
Earlier this year, Crowdz completed the 13-week Barclays London Fintech Accelerator powered by Techstars, another one of the world's most competitive and rigorous technology accelerators. Previously, Crowdz was invited to participate in the Plug & Play Retail & Brand Accelerator Program and in the flagship class of the Plug & Play Supply Chain Accelerator Program. Crowdz is currently funded by Barclays Bank, Techstars and numerous other technology investors.
For more details on Crowdz, please visit http://www.crowdz.io. For an in-depth look at Crowdz's experience in the 500 Startups accelerator program, please see http://500.co/blockchain-company-vc-fundable/ and https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/31/a-look-at-all-the-companies-participating-in-500-startups-24th-accelerator-program/.
About 500 Startups
500 Startups' mission is to discover and back the world's most talented entrepreneurs, help them to create successful companies at scale and build thriving global ecosystems. Since its inception, 500 Startups has made its mission to find and empower talented founders, whether they reside across the world or are overlooked in the accelerator's own backyard. Diversity has always been a core value at 500 Startups and the accelerator is committed to being champions of the global VC community — not as it is, but as it should be.
"500 Startups" isn't just the accelerator's name — 500 Startups really has worked with more than 500 companies. In fact, the accelerator's roster of participating startups now includes more than 2,000 companies with more than 3,000 founders operating in more than 60 countries.
For more details about 500 Startups' technology-acceleration programs, please see http://500.co/.
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