Blockchain at its fundamental nature is a unique storage structure for digital information. It allows a large amount of data to be decentralized, meaning it makes it possible for systems that lack a central authority to have a final say. Any information can be stored in blockchain. Bitcoin, for example, stores a series of financial transactions. Everyone who has bitcoin has a total record of all of the past transactions. Blockchain allows for peer-to-peer interaction, which can lead to new business models as well as new ways to conduct business. This growing list of records are linked using cryptography.
Blockchain901 started out as a group of Memphians interested in the technology who wanted to come together to discuss cryptocurrency. “What we found early on is that we needed to do more to educate the community to prepare them to be able to operate and do business in this space,” says Deidre Chewning, one of the co-founders of Blockchain901. “We have a saying, which is educate, collaborate, innovate.” The group followed that motto in the early days with monthly meetups that morphed into the addition of conferences, all with the intent to educate about the technology.
The collaboration comes in as the organization helps local businesses link up with each other so they can implement blockchain in their respective organizations to work on business solutions. “There are so many people interested in this and there was nowhere to go,” says Christine Fahey, Blockchain901 executive director. “We offer ways for them to find information and meet people, network and collaborate.”
Blockchain901 co-founder Brian Wentzloff had started an initial blockchain meetup in 2014 as individuals grew interested in the technology. It eventually morphed into a meetup group in mid-2017 and ultimately led to the formation of Blockchain901 when it transitioned from a group of people hanging out to an actual organization. It grew from 45 who attended those first meetings in August 2017 to more than 450 members today. Blockchain901 isn’t a membership organization, but rather it’s a community of individuals who engage when the topic makes sense for their interest.
Blockchain901 doesn’t focus on one particular viewpoint. It works with all emerging technologies and a variety of businesses and industries. The organization focuses on connecting the right people at the right time with this technology so they can move forward in a way that will see innovation occur.
The future for Blockchain901 is to move beyond just educating the public about the technology and have meetups that allow interaction with Memphis businesses to help them better understand how they can grow, including strategies to bring more skilled workers to the city. “Our strategy is working business to business as well as with getting all the universities to collaborate in a sense so we can provide support for students in this space,” Chewning says.
“We’d like Memphis to be seen as a technology hub and not have the future bypass us,” Fahey says. “As others see that we’re keeping up maybe a company will want to move here. Whatever the needs are, we’re trying to find ways to accelerate the adoption here.”
For more information about Blockchain901 or to find a schedule of meetups, visit meetup.com/blockchain901.
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