Blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies are still in an early stage of development, which means solutions are decentralized and so are the project teams behind them.
It’s the Wild West out there, and facilities and communities that bring blockchain startup teams together are few and far between.
To remedy this, the Starfish Network recently announced the opening of its Starfish Mission facility, a blockchain-focused coworking community that serves as a hub for development, education, and collaboration across the industry.
Located in the heart of San Francisco, the space embodies the Starfish team’s vision of going beyond coworking to offer opportunities for education and growth through regular events.
Starfish’s events program has already featured an April talk with Satoshi’s first contributor to Bitcoin and the Ethereum Design Jam.
The focus on community development initiatives includes partnerships with leading blockchain developer education organizations Oakland Blockchain Devs and Peerbuds.
“There is a lot of power in being part of a supportive community that understands blockchain and the challenges that come with building decentralized systems in a centralized world,” said Starfish Space cofounder Alicia Ferratusco. “We are a hub for people to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. We believe blockchain technology will power a large part of the world’s IT infrastructure in the coming decade, and it is our mission to support the community that will shape the world of tomorrow.”
Blockchain technologies are, famously, online and virtual in nature. So why open a physical space?
“An open physical space gives our community the opportunity to make new connections, collaborate, and innovate together,” cofounder Matt Quinn told me.
Starfish hopes that face-to-face collaboration will reach further than online communities.
“Although online forums such as Telegram are great for introducing and extending connections, they are only augmented by the capacity for connection enabled by a physical community node,” Ferratusco said. “We believe that access to a physical community environment catalyzes connections and fosters collaboration in a way that can’t be replicated online. Physical proximity creates opportunities for spontaneous conversation and networking.”
The Bay Area is, of course, becoming a hub for blockchain projects, but it is seen as competing with the likes of Zug in Switzerland and others in the global cryptocurrency realm.
“Regarding other hubs, I’d like for us all to lift each other up to support blockchain founders who can build better systems and address key global issues,” Ferratusco said. “I believe blockchain is part of the solution to address a range of environmental and social issues, so the concept of ‘competing’ with other hubs for this industry doesn’t quite compute to me.”
That global attitude is backed by a diverse team from across the world.
“Our cofounder team hails from Florida, Germany, the Bay Area, and France,” Ferratusco said. “Having a physical node in one place doesn’t mean our outlook is limited to this physical location. We are actively looking outward, too. I am currently in Berlin connecting with the community here.”
That said, Starfish will initially focus on the Bay Area.
“Centralizing talent and thought is problematic,” Quinn said. “We are delivering a space for the San Francisco community that is needed. We’ve hosted upward of 20 events in first 30 days we’ve been open. We find ourselves in a paradox — though we feel strongly about our local community, blockchain is so multi-faceted, disruptive, and distributed that the concept of a hub is at best irrelevant.”
So what’s next for Starfish? What does the roadmap look like?
“We are expanding our educational offerings in partnership with two amazing leaders in blockchain education in our local community and building relationships with leaders across blockchain communities,” Ferratusco said. “We started out offering training in solidity and are now expanding the curriculum with Hyperledger. [We are also] in active talks with other parties to add more blockchains to the curriculum.”
More cities can expect to see Starfish appear in their neighbourhoods soon.
“In the coming months, we will also support other networks and ecosystem through dedicated community events and learning opportunities,” Ferratusco said. “We have found a lot of connecting points in LA, New York, and Berlin.”
And Starfish is determined to ensure its community, and the executive team, are representative of the entire industry.
“We are partnering with the transparency platform Pluto.life to compile a diversity and inclusion report for the blockchain industry,” Ferratusco said. “There is so much more that can be done to make this new industry a much more diverse and inclusive space to be in. This is just the start.”