Solving complex data-driven problems requires a lot of teamwork. But, of course, teamwork is typically restricted to companies where everyone is working under the same roof. While distributed teams have become commonplace in tech startups, taking that to the next level by linking up disparate groups of people all working on the same problem (but not in the same company) has been all but impossible. However, in theory, you could use a blockchain to do such a thing, where the work generated was constantly accounted for on-chain.
That’s in theory. In practice, there’s now a startup that claims to have come up with this model. And it’s raised funding.
Covee, a startup out of Berlin, has raised a modest €1.35 million in a round led by LocalGlobe in London, with Atlantic Labs in Berlin and a selection of angels. Prior to this, the company was bootstrapped by CEO Dr. Marcel Dietsch, who left his job at a London-based hedge fund, and his long-time friend, Dr. Raphael Schoettler, COO, who had previously worked for Deutsche Bank. They are joined by Dr. Jochen Krause, CTO, an early blockchain investor and bitcoin miner, and former quant developer and data scientist, respectively, at Scalable Capital and Valora.
What sort of things could this platform be used for? Well, it could be used to bring together people to use machine learning algorithms to improve cancer diagnosis through tumor detection, or perhaps develop a crypto trading algorithm.
There are obvious benefits to the work of scientists. They could work more flexibly, access a more diverse range of projects, choose their teammates and have their work reviewed by peers.
The platform also means you could be rewarded fairly for your contribution.
The upside for corporates is that they can use distributed workers where there is no middleman platform to pay and no management consultancy fees, and access a talent pool (data engineers, statisticians, domain experts), which is difficult to bring inside the firm.
Now, there are indeed others doing this, including Aragon (decentralized governance for everything), Colony (teamwork for everything) and Upwork (freelance jobs platform for individuals). All are different and have their limitations, of course.
Covee plans to make money by having users pay a transaction fee for using the network infrastructure. They plan to turn this into a fully open-source decentralized network, with this transaction fee attached. But Covee will also offer this as a service if clients prefer not to deal with blockchain tokens and the platform directly.
Dietsch says: “Covee was founded in the first half of 2017 in Berlin and relocated to Zurich, Switzerland late 2017 where we incorporated Covee Network . Moving to Switzerland was important for us because it has one of the oldest and strongest blockchain ecosystems in the world and an excellent pipeline of talent from institutions such as ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. The crypto-friendly stance of the country means it has all the necessary infrastructure as well as clear regulations for token economies.”