Talenta: Fuelling the growth of blockchain
In 2018, cryptocurrencies have exploded but are eyed with uncertainty, and the many potential uses of blockchain remain unexplored. Singapore start-up Talenta aims to provide end-to-end support for businesses in the blockchain space, from compliance to PR. Business Chief/Gigabit caught up with Chief Growth Officer Eleanor Jones to discuss the future of this new technology on the block.
From beverages to blockchain
Technology leadership expert Eleanor Jones has extensive experience of business analysis and digital strategy, having worked at beverage giant Coca-Cola for a decade. Nowadays, she can be found expanding a young company as Chief Growth Officer at Singapore-based blockchain and ICO consultancy firm, Talenta, all the while spreading the word about cryptocurrency and the future of blockchain technology.
Talenta is in an early stage, having been founded in 2017, but Jones is confident the startup can be grown into a successful global business with experienced talent and a well-thought-out strategy. “Working for a very established company such as Coca-Cola, you acquire a lot of general business skills and practices that are useful when moving to a startup environment, but there is also a great deal to learn,” she reflects. “The trick is finding the judgment to determine when to coach and when to listen.”
“Of course, moving from MNC to startup comes with a huge amount of change, from work process and mindset to industry domain,” Jones adds. You have to acquire a lot of knowledge and slightly retool your skills. However, the ability to learn and relearn is the greatest asset we carry—we have greater capacity to adapt to change than we give ourselves credit for.”
Talenta Group provides consultancy and management for blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. The business primarily focuses on ‘native blockchain’ projects which are developing protocols, applications and new models within the blockchain space – but it doesn’t stop there. “The next wave will be large institutions seeking to apply blockchain technology to evolve and modernise both legacy systems and legacy ways of doing business,” says Jones. “Talenta is equipped to serve both of these segments.”
Growing the business
As Chief Growth Officer, Jones’ role spans marketing, development, PR and strategy in order to help the company grow. She is also Co-Founder of Symphony Protocol, a next-generation, blockchain-based protocol to empower a data-driven economy. “In a tech business, obviously you need to be very strong on the development and engineering side, but it’s also critical to focus on product-market fit and find the market. Challenges lie in identifying which are the highest leverage areas to spend your time, when to dive deeper and when to decide it’s good enough. Also, blockchain is at an early stage,” she adds, “so a lot of the work involves educating and dispelling myths around blockchain.”
Having settled in at Talenta, Jones is excited to be part of the journey. “The speed of work is truly exhilarating: speed of decision making and execution. This pace really suits my work style. There’s also a sense of purpose from being involved in something at this early stage. You get to build it. Those of us working with blockchain are early adopters of something that will be transformational in the future.”
Spreading the word
Cryptocurrency has been making waves for over a year now, and it’s widely accepted that the blockchain technology behind it is here to stay, as it is beginning to be applied to a wide variety of purposes. But with the rapid ascent of the likes of Bitcoin, sceptics abound when it comes to the unregulated, virtual currency. “The current cryptocurrency community is a group of complete evangelists and believers in this technology. 2017 was a watershed year, where Bitcoin generated a lot of headlines. This has achieved mass awareness of cryptocurrency – but not yet mass understanding. We are still in the very early days of the development of blockchain applications. A lot has been done on the underlying infrastructure, but a lot needs to be done on the application layers, to determine how blockchain can become valuable for businesses and individuals.”
Even disbelievers in the value of Bitcoin admit that the technology behind it should be utilised – but how? “Those that are currently dismissive of blockchain haven’t seen where the story will end,” Jones argues. “The power will not be in taking existing processes or systems and adding them to the blockchain, but in developing new business models that are native to blockchain. We saw this with the internet and the development of businesses such as Amazon, Uber, Spotify, etc. The same will be true of blockchain.”
Jones counts herself among the passionate believers in blockchain potential. “Just as the internet relied on TCP/IP protocol to democratise communication and information, blockchain will transform back-end processes and transaction and information flow. There is work to be done to secure the networks. However, you have some of the brightest minds in the world working on this problem. I’m excited for the future.”
The blockchain journey
For those starting out in the space then, it’s a new undertaking and having the right eyes and ears to help strategise is essential. Talenta offers end-to-end consultancy throughout the process for its clients. “Currently, initial coin offering projects are very fast-moving and agile in their nature. There’s a lot of advantage in having a single service partner that can provide end-to-end support for blockchain projects. Talenta supports on strategic advisory, white paper development and review, technical development, marketing, community and events management.” The group is involved with clients before their ICO, at the awareness building stage, right through to project implementation. For what many see as taking steps into the unknown, this support throughout the process as well as reliable advice are invaluable.
Talenta is currently working on ‘Cryptolla’, a project which puts together collective wisdom and AI to help understand the cryptocurrency market. “Cryptolla will help in understanding the user, project, social media and news commentary to inform token and trading decisions,” Jones explains. “Over time, we will use this advanced modelling to better understand their correlation and causality to token performance. We have the design ready for this idea and it’s based on proven algorithms from non-crypto. This project is under development and is entering the ICO phase.”
A world of opportunity
Talenta may be based in Singapore, but its reach is global and it works with blockchain-based enterprises supporting open networks around the world including Coinbase, U Network and NEO. “Blockchain and cryptocurrency is a hyper-global industry. However, places like Singapore that have shown more policy openness to cryptocurrency will be positioned to garner an outsized share of the growth. Developed markets such as US and UK are very large for their capital markets. China has a large community and is a large source of mining. Smaller EU countries like Estonia and Malta have thriving cryptocurrency communities due to government openness.” Overall, blockchain is a technology with a lot of potential, but it’s early days and for ‘evangelists’ like Eleanor Jones, it’s all to play for.
Ireland is key launchpad for US expansion into Europe
The first transatlantic cable was laid between Newfoundland and Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1858. It was a flawed effort; the connection was poor, causing enough issues with efforts to send telegrams along it that major repair efforts were set underway immediately - efforts which ended up further damaging the cable line, severing the connection just three weeks later.
This first step towards transatlantic subsea communication, shaky as it was, laid the foundations of more than a century and a half of information exchange across the ocean, between the East Coast of North America and Western Ireland.
It’s been 163 years since the completion of the first transatlantic cable, an event which cemented Ireland’s position as the landing stage for subsea connections between Europe and the Americas. That position has, in no small way, been a driving force behind the country’s modern role as a landing stage for US and Canadian firms looking to do business in Europe.
Today, some of the largest firms in the world, like Pfizer, Janssen, Zurich, Metlife, Google and VmWare use Ireland for their European Headquarters. The combination of an English-speaking workforce (a boon made all the more important as Brexit makes the UK and the north of Ireland an increasingly complex environment that provides diminishing opportunities to access the rest of Europe), a cultural and regulatory landscape that welcomes foreign investment, and world-class connectivity makes the country an unparalleled choice for firms looking to establish a foothold in the EU.
As a result, Ireland has become one of the world’s leading data centre hubs.
Based on leading data centre firm Interxion’s Data Gravity Index, Dublin will be among the top five European cities that will contribute to Europe’s growth in data in the coming years, following London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. The amount of data generated in Dublin itself is expected to grow alongside its economic expansion, with the Data Gravity Index also predicting that Dublin will outpace cities and data centre hubs like Mexico City, São Paulo, and even Shanghai, to be among the top 20 cities to experience annual data growth by 2024.
Ireland ranks 6th in the 2020 EU Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), meaning that it is among the leading ranks of EU Member States in terms of the uptake and use of digital technologies. Likewise, the trend to locate data centres in Ireland serving overseas clients will continue to generate increasing amounts of international traffic
Managing the Dublin Data Boom
According to Interxion, subsea connectivity will continue to play a massive role in helping both international and domestic organisations digitally transform themselves to meet the challenges of changing markets post pandemic.
As the pace of global digital transformation - and the subsequent need for more connectivity - accelerates like never before, this rapidly developing world is driving urther demand for these cables as individuals and organisations become increasingly reliant on subsea cable’s exceptional data speed and capacity.
According to experts at Interxion, this connectivity will be pivotal to Ireland’s continued success in attracting international companies in the technology, pharmaceutical and financial sectors.
The subsea cable industry is a key contributor to the Irish economy across many sectors. The draft National Marine Planning Framework reported that subsea international networks make Ireland an attractive region for investment for the technology and digital sectors. Telegeography states that there are twelve existing subsea cables connecting Ireland to the US and UK, and a further four systems are under development. The Iish government’s statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy identified Ireland as a location of choice for many different sectors reliant on digital and telecommunications capabilities, all of which in turn rely on subsea cable interconnectivity.
Subsea cables are of strategic importance to Ireland’s future as a catalyst for economic and societal prosperity. Ireland can be the ideal location for your company’s expansion plans. To find out how, you can hear from leading experts throughout the data centre and digital infrastructure industries on June 15, 2021, as speakers from the IDA, Aqua Comms, GTT Communications, euNetworks and Interxion discuss subsea cabling, digital transformation, Data Gravity and the fate of Ireland’s digital economy.
Key topics will include:
- Key facts about existing subsea infrastructure,
- Future plans,
- Challenges (including Marine Maintenance) and opportunities,
- Terrestrial networks (demand vs supply);
- Ireland's role as a gateway to Europe
The virtual panel (which is taking place between 10:30 PM - 11:30 PM JST on June 15, 2021) will conclude with a 20 minute Q&A. Mike Hollands, Senior Director of Market Development at Interxion, will moderate the event.