When the Internet first came on the scene, it seemed as though every tech entrepreneur wanted to reinvent the wheel.
After all, it’s much cooler to say you did something novel and new, rather than admitting you simply improved upon the old (and the difference between the two will always be up for a debate). But very few entrepreneurs and innovators truly create something out of nothing. The vast majority build upon these rare innovations.
If the Internet was the monumental innovation of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, then today’s next “big bang” is the blockchain.
Bitcoin, Ethereum, these are the real pioneers of the blockchain—as well as the idea it encapsulates, both technologically and morally. In fact, many would argue Bitcoin is as much of a statement as it is a utility. You can’t exactly buy your weekly groceries with the cryptocurrency yet. But saying, “I bought some Bitcoin,” is your way of participating in our economy’s advancement forward.
However, while these innovations certainly take up the bulk of the spotlight, that’s not to say all the other startups and platforms built upon them aren’t as viable. Just look at Amazon. Back in the 90s, Amazon was little more than a place to buy new and used books online—as opposed to walking down the street to the local Barnes & Noble. Today, it is the most powerful marketplace on the Internet, with its CEO, Jeff Bezos, now the richest person on the planet.
A company’s potential has a lot less to do with how “new” it sounds. But rather, how effective it is at solving a very clear pain point in its industry. Today, blockchain startups everywhere are competing to create something completely new—and that’s not always the best route to take.
If you read enough white papers, you’ll see this trend of companies striving to do what has never been done before. It’s as if blockchain technology has everyone playing this imagination game, where they see the world as they’d like it to be—rather than the way it actually is.
Meanwhile, there are a handful of blockchain platforms that aren’t exactly looking to invent the next Internet or Bitcoin, but rather solve a clear pain point in an industry that already exists. A great example is Path, which has made the astute observation that we’re all sitting on a plethora of bandwidth.
In short, this blockchain platform wants to reward users for “renting” some of their unused bandwidth. Why? Because everyone using the Internet has extra bandwidth. And the same way Airbnb wanted homeowners to make use of their spare bedrooms, or Uber wanted car owners to turn their depreciating asset into an income generator, Path wants to give users the ability to rent their extra bandwidth in exchange for tokens.
How it works is users install what’s called Path mining nodes, which run via web browser plugin, phone application, or Linux OS. These nodes don’t impact your ability to use the Internet—you can still surf and do what you would normally do. Users then earn Path tokens in exchange for supplying Path with performance metrics monitored through their Internet connection. These metrics are serviced by clients that want to know how long it takes for their website to load, how traffic reaches their service, what happens during a DDoS attack, etc.
So, instead of a company calling you up and saying, “Hey, I’ll pay you $5 to load our company’s website 100 times and tell us how long it takes to load,” Path plays middleman and gives you tokens in exchange for a little of your bandwidth, where that testing can take place passively in the background.
“I keep an eye out for projects like these,” said Branden Hampton, blockchain enthusiast and advisor to Path. “And I especially look for platforms and products that have real utility in a space I’m already involved in. It allows me to truly analyze a product’s potential if I’m familiar with the industry climate—and Path definitely has that ‘I have to tell someone about this’ factor. Because it’s simple, and it solves a very clear pain point for two parties: companies that want better data and analytics, and users that have extra resources they could easily turn into passive revenue.”
What’s unique about Path is this concept of making use of resources that are already readily available—instead of inventing something entirely new. This is one of the most undervalued approaches to the “blockchain boom” that’s happening. While everyone else is concerned with creating that-which-has-never-existed-before, they end up missing obvious and highly valuable solutions to simple problems already in place.
As the blockchain continues to mature, keep your eyes out for projects like Path. After all, the best way to defend against volatility is through a clearly defined utility.