For iBriz co-founder and CEO Bijay Niraula, ICON is more than a network. It’s an exercise in nation-building.
“I’m really excited about ICON becoming a digital nation,” he says. “It’s not uni-dimensional. It’s about the idea that we can build a nation together that attracts the right kind of people, the right kind of businesses. How can we — with this kind of power — build a nation and impact individuals.”
The blockchain team based in San Francisco and Kathmandu, Nepal, is committed to projects that build communities and empower individuals. They’ve been involved with the ICON project since 2017 and believe the network can become one of the world’s premier blockchain platforms. And with a team that combines technical prowess, business savvy and global connections, iBriz thinks it has what it takes to help make that happen.
The perfect balance
While iBriz is a global team, many of its resources are in Nepal, where co-founders Niraula and CTO Kumar Pandey are originally from. Nepal is rich in low-cost but world-class developer talent, something Niraula would like to leverage for the good of the network. “There’s conversation in social media about all the P-Reps making too much money and not contributing it back to the ecosystem,” he says. “So maybe we can help with that by bringing this low-cost resource to the ecosystem.”
Where iBriz shines, though, is the varied skill sets of its members. They have a good developer community that works closely with ICON in both the Bay Area and Nepal. They also have the business talent to build a cross-functional blockchain marketing company, too. Niraula cites the Yogi Berra quote, “Baseball is 90 percent mental, and 50 percent physical.” He then cites entrepreneur and blockchain theorist William Mougayar. “In blockchain, it’s 90 percent business and economics, and 50 percent technology.”
Plenty of contributions, and more to come
On the technical side, iBriz has helped develop demo apps for the testnet, including developing a working NFT using t-bears before the launch of the tesnet. They created a dice roll game using ICX, and developed and host the ICX Testnet Faucet for developers. They recently released the ICON P-Rep Chatbot, which CTO Kumar Pandey describes as a “quick and dirty” utility tool for Telegram that fetches information in which P-Rep validators would be interested.
iBriz also engages in educational activities to promote the understanding and use of blockchain in general and ICON in particular. At San Francisco Blockchain Week 2018, ICON asked them to put on a workshop for developers. They’ve also held an in-depth blockchain course in Nepal, an initiative they intend to continue and refine.
Daniel Brehmer, iBriz’s data scientist, says about their workshops, “Our philosophy in hosting our workshops is to make sure that attendees go away with something they can actually use, that they don’t just leave having heard a lecture and saying, ‘That’s cool.’ They actually know the tools well enough that they can do something.”
As P-Rep, iBriz intends to continue and expand its technical, marketing and educational activities. They are helping businesses and communities integrate ICX as a means of payment. They are believers in the “circular economy” — that reusing ICX in the ecosystem and reinvesting P-Rep rewards into the ICON economy boosts the value of ICX.
They are also proponents of collaboration. “We really feel strongly about collaboration,” says Niraula. “In fact, some of the P-Rep candidates who didn’t have the technology to put up their nodes, we helped them voluntarily. And they were quite surprised. They would ask us, ‘Why are you helping us? We’re potential competitors.’ And we’re like, we go up together or we go down together. It’s not a one-person game.”
‘Delegated Proof-of-Contribution is awesome’
What would draw iBriz to ICON, a Korean-made blockchain solution that might be slightly less known in Silicon Valley circles than other platforms?
Brehmer points to ICON’s goals and corporate culture. “We’ve interacted with a lot of blockchain groups and produced workshops for Etherium and for other groups,” he says. “But we really like the whole plan for ICON. The Delegated Proof-of-Contribution is awesome.”
Niraula agrees. “[F]or me, coming from a non-tech background, the idea of building a nation is very powerful,” he says. “It’s very holistic. It’s not piecemeal. We’re trying to create an environment where a lot of good can happen.”
The iBriz team also likes who they are working with. Brehmer says that while the aim of blockchain is to create an environment where you trust the system rather than individuals, in the beginning, you’ve got to trust the people. He says, “We know and trust [ICON Foundation founding member] Min [Kim] and all the other folks we’ve met in the ICON ecosystem.”
Niraula adds, “It’s a journey. We know we’re going to move forward. It’s a transformative technology. But who do you want to walk this journey with?”
Pandey, the CTO, is impressed by the quality and dedication of ICON’s engineering team. “One thing we’ve consistently found is that their engineering team is solid,” he says. “They are very, very dedicated engineers who know what they are doing. Granted, there was a little bit of a glitch when they decentralized, which is not a simple task, but they’ve mostly been on time in terms of the roadmap they promised.”
Power to make a better blockchain nation
The iBriz team is confident in ICON’s future.
Brehmer thinks ICON is doing something good in a chaotic space. “ICON has a great future and is fully committed to help build out the Delegated Proof-of-Contribution,” he says. “I think the blockchain space in general is incredibly chaotic and innovative, and there’s a tremendous amount of potential, and ICON is creating one of the best platforms to realize that potential.”
Pandey thinks the South Korean government’s support for blockchain bodes well for ICON.
“For us, having worked with the key decision makers in the ICON ecosystem, we’re convinced that there’s a solid team behind the ICON platform,” he says. “And since they are based in South Korea, where the government is by nature somewhat friendly to the ecosystem, we think that ICON has a good opportunity and good potential to be one of the premium blockchain platforms.”
As a P-Rep, iBriz is in a decision-making position. This is something Niraula finds exciting. Now, iBriz can help determine what kind of nation ICON can become.
“Right now, we’re just creating the foundation, but then what is our vision? How do we change the world?,” he asks. “This is what’s so exciting for me. Now we’re so quickly in the governing body, which means we have some say in this environment. The rapidity of how you can get into decision making positions within these environments and have a unified voice, I think that’s very exciting.”