Why is Noris competing in the P-rep race?
“P-reps are very important for the ICON ecosystem because the decisions made and the voting can affect the way ICON progresses,” says Steven Chen, Noris’s managing partner. “I think that’s one huge contribution we can make as a team that wants to support ICON long-term.”
And long-term Noris’s support for ICON has certainly been. The San Francisco-based technology consultancy has backed ICON since the very beginning by helping to expand its global community, especially in China and the United States. As P-reps, they feel they could do even more to grow the network.
“I think that throughout the course of this journey, we’ve been pivoting ourselves into doing things that are more beneficial for our clients and the networks and protocols that we support,” says Steven. “We went from doing more marketing to doing more off-line events because we felt that these were the specific things our clients needed.”
“We want to continue to do that, to do things beneficial to our clients,” he adds. “I think as P-reps, we’re going to keep that in mind forever. No matter what, we want to do what’s best for our clients. As P-reps, the incentives are definitely aligned. It just makes sense.”
Getting in early
Noris formed in 2017 when four (mostly) UC Berkeley grads with an interest in blockchain got together to combine their engineering and business expertise. The consultancy helps blockchain networks and DApps grow by building developer communities and bringing together all industry stakeholders around its clients. It also hosts two of the Bay Area’s two biggest blockchain events: San Francisco Blockchain Week and Berkeley Blockchain Career Fair.
As it would happen, the team began with a rather happy coincidence.
“One of us, Steve, was working on a DApp. He’d been working there for about a year,” recalls Steven. “I asked him what he thought of Ethereum and he told me he was actually working on an application on Ethereum. After he told me about it, it made me read into what Ethereum was. I knew what Bitcoin was, but I didn’t know what Ethereum was yet. That sort of led me to deep dive into how the value-adds of blockchain and smart contracts could change the tech space.”
Initially called CryptoParency, the consultancy rebranded itself as Noris last year. Noris is Greek for “early.” “Blockchain is at a very early point in its birth,” explains Steven. “I think that the space is still very, very early. There’s a lot that can be changed, progressed and developed in this space.”
He adds, “I think it’s very important to spot good applications, protocols and infrastructure we want to support from an early point in time.”
Practically part of the team
Noris has counted ICON as one of its clients for the last two years. They almost feel as if they’re part of the ICON team, a connection that’s motivating their election bid. “We always felt we were a huge part of the team because ICON was one of our first clients,” says Steven. “We’ve been part of ICON’s world since the very beginning.”
The consultancy believes if they become P-reps, they’ll better maintain their voice within the ICON ecosystem and can offer better support to the network. One good idea, says Steven, is to spread P-reps around the world so ICON can receive support from multiple entities around the world. Noris gives ICON strategic bridges to two very important markets: China and the United States.
Noris has lent significant support to ICON’s effort to establish itself in China, where the consultancy enjoys close relations with the country’s top media. It hasn’t always been an easy ride, though. The consultancy jumped into China right after Beijing banned cryptocurrency trading and ICOs on Sept. 4, 2017. So sensitive were the authorities that anything with the keyword ICO got censored – and guess which Korean-based blockchain network just happened to have the letters ICO in its name?
The situation has improved significantly since then, though marketing blockchain in China still requires a deft hand. “You have to very, very sensitive with certain keywords,” says Steven. “You can only mention certain technical words. You can only mention blockchain. You can’t even mention cryptocurrency.”
If you play your cards right, though, the opportunities are endless. Timing – and getting on the good side of Chinese social media – are key. “WeChat is a very strong tool in China. It’s one of the top applications in the world in terms of numbers of users,” says Steven.
“The top four accounts in China in terms of media get a lot of traction, a lot of readers. We just need to make sure that the timing is correct. It doesn’t really matter what the sentiment is—as long as you’re publishing good content in these places at the right times, you can attract a lot of users.”
Steven suggests creating particular products that would appeal to Chinese users. This is something Noris would be keen to support as P-reps. “We need to think of ways we can activate people to use the ICON blockchain without having to buy the tokens somewhere illegally,” he says “I think that’s one of the things we have to brainstorm and think about.”
For the time being, Noris is keeping a close eye on China. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the world’s most populous market is a full-time job. “We’re constantly meeting with people, taking calls, making sure we know what’s going on in China,” he says. “I think throughout the course of Q2, Q3 and Q4 of 2019, we want to continue to monitor as well as maintain our involvement in China.”
Being based in San Francisco, Noris has been promoting ICON in the United States, too. In the United States, however, their efforts have been more focused on education and talent sourcing. The team has spotlighted ICON at San Francisco Blockchain Week and Berkeley Blockchain Career Fair. It’s also helped the blockchain network find talent in the Bay Area.
Steven says, “We want to educate people about ICON from a tech standpoint as well as a use-case standpoint to help ICON find more talent, especially tech-savvy people based in San Francisco.”
The beauty of the bear market
The crypto crash of 2018 turned a lot of people off of blockchain, leading to growing disinterest in projects. Steven says this disinterest is the worst part of the bear market. He says, “Nobody follows projects any more because of the price drop.”
Still, Steven welcomes the end of blockchain’s speculative phase. “We never deserved that much money in this space from what it was in late 2017-early 2018,” he says. “We didn’t actually accomplish that much. There’s not a single dollar in revenue that’s been generated in crypto. I think it’s a very good thing the bear market has sustained itself.”
Noris believes in value, not coin price.
“People really have to focus on what’s truly valuable in this space,” says Steven. “You have to look at the people who are focused on bringing this space forward in order to change the world. And I think ICON is definitely one of them.”
Although Steven acknowledges that blockchain and cryptocurrencies are entirely connected, he believes we should focus on what projects are actually doing, what they are trying to achieve. “I think as long as we focus on that side of things, the positivity will come from itself,” he says. “And over time, as we create and generate more value in this space, the price and the monetary value will go up by itself.”