DWAYNE MITHOE — Blockchain Valley is at a distance of about 2000 kilometers to the east of Amsterdam, where I live; we find a country called Bulgaria where until 30 years ago the communist regime celebrated its heyday. Bulgaria is a country full of opportunities, with highly educated generation. A country willing to catch up in many areas, including technology.
I went last week with a travel group, to visit Blockchain Valley; we land at the airport in the capital Sofia. Upon arrivall, we could see the city covered in thick fog and a thick layer of smog; it introduces every newcomer to the influences of the former ruler.
The buildings, streets, and vehicles are the silent witnesses of a glorious and notorious history. Perhaps the most striking is a huge contrast between the old communist and the new free world.
From old dilapidated buildings to ultramodern architectures, and buildings that are fully equipped. It is clearly a place that yearns for the next step, but it also shows clear progress in its own unique way.
Our arrival to Blockchain Valley
We were warmly welcomed by Niko de Jonghe CEO and Danail Manolov CTO of Blockchain Valley. Niko, originally from Belgium, has been living in Bulgaria for the past 10 years; and Danail was born and raised there. Both have a lot of experience with mining bitcoins in their own mines and are together in NDJ investment.
The project, is progressive, ambitious and unique of its kind. The goal of Blockchain Valley is to create a community with progressive value-makers; people who uses traditional services and networks in combination with digital and technological advances.
“Blockchain Valley’s mission is to drive the value of cryptocurrencies up, by achieving mass adoption through real estate and community development; combining extraordinary business dynamics and blockchain innovation with a healthy nature-friendly lifestyle. Where the community of progressive value creators thrives and generates value in common undertakings.”Niko de Jonghe — CEO of Blockchain Valley
What’s Blockchain Valley about?
The estate is about 20 minutes away from the capital and upon arrival on the two million square meter piece of land, it catched my eyes how beautiful and peaceful the surroundings are. We see an old and derelict entrance gate and to the right of this a seemingly modern restaurant.
The community will be situated in a valley, which means that the valley has its own micro-climate. You notice that because the air, unlike Sofia, is super clean. At the time of communism, the estate was home to the largest chicken farm in Europe.
After the close of this mega chicken breeding, nature was able to take its course and that is clearly visible during the tour that we got. We saw many buildings scarretted across the area ready for demolition. As Niko put it well “Break down the past to build the future”.
What will Blockchain Valley be about?
During my conversation with Niko, it soon became clear that the overall vision is to create more adoption of blockchain techniques within a self-sufficient community, with respect for people, animals, and nature.
A complete Smart City will be built in 3 to 4 years. Planification is already made and the valley will include houses, apartments, hotels, a riding school, sports fields, entertainment, hydroponics, water purification, renewable energy generation and much more totally incorporated at Blockchain Valley.
There will also be a business area where companies and entrepreneurs from homanywhere in the world can establish themselves. All buildings naturally become smart buildings and everything in Blockchain Valley will be interconnected whereby the transactions are recorded on a private blockchain.
Registration for land and houses will be done on a public blockchain. In addition to currency, record keeping, and voting; the team is also fully thinking about further use cases for blockchain technology; all of which will be described in detail in the coming months.
The scope of the project is unprecedentedly large by European standards and, if successful, will also play an exemplary role for many other projects and countries. There is certainly interest from various governments, Niko says.
The precedent that Blockchain Valley will set and their ideals.
Blockchain Valley is also a potential competitor for the authorities in the scope of sucesss. The costs for the project are estimated at 500 million euro for the complete delivery. Which is not nauseous, but understandable if you take into account the scale, applied techniques, expertise, and resources.
The project team has received interested investors to co-finance the project, and in a number of cases, it has been offered to finance the entire project. The CEO says that the team has decided to rejected the offers for full financing, because otherwise the team must give up too much control and deviate too much from the mission and vision. This indicates how important Niko and the team think the mission is.
Establishing a common alternative where outside interference should actually no longer be necessary, even if that is not the goal. Because Niko continues, Blockchain Valley will also offer workplaces for people from “outside” who do not necessarily live in the future community. Young people and basically anyone who wants to build a career swap the village for the city. The Blockchain Valley team wants to make a migration from the city to Blockchain Valley possible.
The team at Blockchain Valley and their goals.
After getting to know the other team, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a very positive “vibe”. A feeling driven by the passion of each of the team members and that quickly spreads to the invited guests.
The idea of a community that is self-sustainable, eco-friendly and data-driven appeals to several of the guests enormously. A sense of common mission seems to be present in at the team.
Dynamic workplaces/jobs and stress-free work are things that are in sharp contrast to Western society. Everything indicates that the Blockchain Valley’s team wants to bring a factual change, compared to the current systems.
Meaningful social impact is what the team wants to achieve as a whole; and will do so by offering members of the community a happier, freer and more dynamic life. Education will also play a central role at the project.
Blockchain Valley will be fenced eventually, to fall under the ‘Gated Community‘ category. A big advantage of this is that a special tax rate of 10% can be levied; fact that should make it very attractive for companies and entrepreneurs for settling at Blockchain Valley
The great thing about Blockchain Valley’s concept is that the blueprint can be copied and placed on a different scale with a different level of comfort in any country.
When asked Niko when will he be happy, he answers: “If my children can live in Blockchain Valley or a similar future Valley with pleasure and accompanied by good people and with respect for nature”.
In addition to big dreamers, they are also down-to-earth realists and real approachers. Who know that they will not do everything perfectly in one go, but will also learn from the mistakes. They are also not keen to create everything themselves and they will surround themselves with partners who share the same mission. Because as long as the mission is shared, it is fine that we walk other paths, so the idea is.