Breaking Down the Chicago Blockchain Scene

 

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In the last couple of years, Chicago has shown itself to be a central hub for blockchain developers from around the world. The city’s rich history of innovation and financial leadership, as well as it’s educated, diverse and massive workforce combine to create powerful results. From startups on the front lines of blockchain tech to established brands looking to the future of innovation, Chicago is the place to be when it comes to anything blockchain.

Here are some reasons why Chicago is quickly becoming a world-class blockchain hub:

Range of Blockchain Organizations:

Chicago is home to numerous blockchain companies that focus on both the development of blockchain applications as well as decentralized applications (dAPPs). Organizations like the Chicago Blockchain Center focus on bringing the blockchain community together in order to connect, collaborate and educate one another. Other leading companies, such as Bloq, have blockchain research and testing centers called Bloqlabs that work with and foster innovation between global businesses and the open source community.

Networking Opportunities:

Not only does Chicago provide developers with the right tools and education on Blockchain but the city also brings an abundance of networking opportunities. Annually, Chicago holds an blockchain conference that has both blockchain CEOs and keynote speakers  giving advice and tips on owning a blockchain company. Other Companies such as Chicago Blockchain Project pride themselves on centralizing resources and regularly host their own events as well as supporting other organizations throughout the city.

Their events include subject focused workshops, developer hacking nights and community outreach gatherings. They send out a weekly newsletter that includes event updates, a community blog, and Chicago-based project information. There is also a large array of blockchain gatherings that are posted daily on the Meetup website.

Interested in getting involved in the Chicago blockchain scene? Below are just some of the meetups happening in the Chicagoland area.

April 12th – Intro to bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptoassets: Three short presentations with Q&A to get you up to speed on why the world is going crazy about blockchain right now.

April 18th – Smart Contracts Seminar: Smart Contracts focused seminar followed by a happy hour nearby.

April 21st: Build a Blockchain with four Raspberry Pi & Ethereum: Bill Slater will show us how to build a private blockchain using four Raspberry Pi. This will be followed by a hands-on demonstration of using four Raspberry Pi computers with Ethereum to build a small, but working Blockchain network.

April 23rd: Meet & Greet & Learn w/ AION & ENIGMA: Join us for an intimate evening with presentations from two exciting projects in the next generation of blockchain development.

April 26th: Ethereum Sharding & the Challenges of Scaling Blockchains, with Raul Jordan: Raul Jordan is currently leading a team as part of Prysmatic Labs (https://prysmaticlabs.com/) which is a non profit implementing the first phase of the ethereum sharding protocol inside of the go ethereum client. He will be doing a deep dive on this exciting next phase of ethereum’s mission of powering the next generation of internet tech.

 


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PR and Content Relations Reinvented

In today’s tech-infused world, you can’t just settle for a PR firm that is “specialized in technology”. The phrase amounts to little more than fluff these days. So what do we specialize in? AI, AR/VR, Adtech, Cannatech and Fintech. We’re not just throwing buzzwords around either – we know our stuff. Welcome to PR and content relations reinvented.

To display how we walk the walk, let’s take a moment to show off some samples of work we’ve done to help educate the industry, bring new communications techniques to the forefront, and present a bit of our own leadership across over 220 differing media publications, conferences and lectures.

To Download, Click and Share: Emerging Insider Expertise

 

 


When You Work is More Important than Where You Work

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Nearly 131 years ago, on May 1st, 1886, Chicago workers sparked a nationwide strike to end the brutal working conditions typical of the day. Their goal was to institute the long-sought 8 hour work day, which was first proposed to Congress by the National Labor Union in 1866. It wasn’t until June 26, 1940, that the efforts of labor organizers were finally realized with the creation of the 40 hour work week through an amendment of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This was an important milestone in the history of workers rights, and it set up the norm of a 9-5 workday, at least in some industries.  While the regular schedule of a full-time job is a luxury to many part-time workers, it begs the question if this schedule actually makes sense for the 21st-century workforce. Should we do away with the traditional eight-hour workday that organizers literally fought and died for? To examine this question, we can look to research that aims to understand when we’re functioning at our best.

The study comes from two Cornell researchers, Michael Macy and Scott Golder. In 2011, they aggregated around 550m tweets from two million users in 84 countries from the previous two years. The goal was to uncover the emotional state experienced over the course of the day using an analysis technique called the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (try it for yourself here!). What they found were remarkably consistent trends across cultures that positive affect (enthusiasm, delight, activeness, and alertness) rises in the morning, peaks around nine or ten AM, and then starts a long decline to a low in the mid-afternoon, before rising again in the evening. The figure below from the study details both positive and negative affect over time.

 

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Graph from the study “Diurnal and Seasonal Mood Vary with Work, Sleep, and Daylength Across Diverse Cultures” by Scott A. Golder and Michael W. Macy

It’s worth noting that negative affect (NA), which includes distress, fear, anger, guilt, and disgust, isn’t a mirror image of positive affect (PA). A low level of PA means that there’s an absence of positive feelings, not the presence of negative feelings. Not surprisingly, Saturday has the lowest level of NA in the morning, whereas Monday has the highest.

All of this is detailed in Daniel H. Pink’s new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, which comes to the conclusion that good decision making happens when our positive affect is highest, such as in the morning and late afternoon/early evening. 

One of the most helpful takeaways from Pink is a reinforcement of the idea that a rigid 9-5 schedule is harming productivity, as the afternoon work suffers from a high negative affect and low positive affect. This sort of data-informed workday is gaining traction at some companies, who are reworking their day to have important work and high-level meetings in the morning and less critical tasks in the early afternoon.

At Emerging Insider, we’ve taken this information to heart. We reworked our schedule to hold company-wide meetings in the morning, and you’ll often find people hitting the gym around two or three in the afternoon to get a quick workout and recharge our positive affect. We’ve always had a flexible company policy in terms of time – when you work and get results like we do it doesn’t matter so much if you’re sitting at a desk for eight hours or working from a coffee shop or at home on your own schedule. Our CEO is also known from time to time to round up the team in the afternoon to take a quick field-trip to our local ping-pong haunt to shake things up (big shout out to Mr. Ping Pong on Chicago Ave., your one-stop-shop for flowers, ping-pong and Uhaul rental in the Chicago area). Rather than fighting your body’s natural clock, work with it to unlock maximum productivity.

 


The Rise of Coworking: What it Means for Chicago

 

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Coworking spaces have exploded across major cities, providing the perfect combination of professional, personal and community-inspired environments for all levels of working individuals. As the antithesis of corporate offices, coworking spaces offer a unique atmosphere that is ideal for startups, freelancers, companies and other niche audiences seeking a transparent yet private place to work.

Many coworking spaces provide the advantages of working at home – coffee, beer, lounging areas, recreational activities – while retaining the energetic and dedicated atmosphere of like-minded individuals that professional environments offer.

As Chicago inches it’s way towards becoming the next tech hub, coworking spaces have provided a platform of opportunity for growth amongst startups and freelancers. Companies and niche audiences favor coworking spaces for the unique abundance of freedom and productivity amongst others seeking a similar environment. Coworking spaces throughout the Chicagoland area are acting like incubators for young companies and professionals, helping to mold a bright and innovative future for Chicago’s economy. The modern working ethics are changing, and coworking spaces are recognizing that. They provide an innovative solution for individuals seeking to further their business or careers, focusing more on their independence without isolating them.

The wave of coworking has targeted and warmly embraced Chicago through its unique culture of innovation and hardworking midwest demeanor. Coworking made it’s way to Chicago over the last decade and is taking the area by storm with over 130 Coworking locations stretching from downtown to the suburbs. As the rise of coworking seeps into the cracks of the surrounding area, the opportunities become endless for individuals seeking to expand their network and create new relationships with other driven individuals.

The modern workplace is no longer restricted by cubicles and awkward water fountain chats, or long and dreadful early morning commutes down I-90. Likewise, the self-employed, freelancers and young startups now have access to a work environment that reflects their work ethic. So where does this place Chicago amongst other industry-driven cities? In the express lane to the top.


High Efforts Garner High Results for Cannabis Startup PR

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Marketing is a challenge for any business, but in an emerging sector that difficulty is amplified tenfold. Those in the legal Cannabis industry know these challenges all too well, as these businesses have a tough road to navigate in terms of regulations and advertising rules. These uncharted territories put off most agencies, leaving only the most pioneering firms to represent the deluge of cannabis startups.

 

Look no further than the results of cannabis SaaS company düber Technologies Inc. for how to successfully navigate these waters. The top-notch executives of düber, along with team Emerging Insider’s media mastery, combined for a potent lesson in high-level exposure in a tough to navigate industry.

 

Ask yourself…if your Cannabis PR rep isn’t getting you into NBC, CBS, and Entrepreneur, it may be time to start looking around. We may know of a great agency.

Click here to download the case study: EI and düber Technologies Inc. Case Study


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EI Presents the Best Cannabis Events of 2018

4/20, the holiday that celebrates all things cannabis, is fast approaching. To aid in your festivities we put together a list of can’t miss cannabis events, as well as quirky side trips to enjoy in the area.

Interested in visiting Hell, Michigan after you get your fest on? Or maybe Mountain Karaoke after the Montana Hemp festival is more your style. If you want to know what to do to celebrate, check out our event guide below!

Download here: cannabis national event guide 2018 


Novel Buyer Sentiments for Luxury Cannabis Startups

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The team at Emerging Insider recently conducted research on 600 highly affluent current cannabis users to understand their wants, behaviors, spending and sentiments on the quickly developing industry.

The luxury cannabis products and services market is about to get an influx of activity as the landscape continues its massive growth across new U.S. states and countries and begins targeting high net worth audiences with novel brands, products, and accessories. As products begin to undergo more traditional differentiation across unique categories, the sentiments of different audiences will begin to form complete market research for luxury cannabis startups as well as larger brands moving into the space.

Key findings on cannabis users with over $150K HHI?

-74% of respondents would be willing to spend over $300 for  new cannabis products or accessories while 31% of the total respondents claimed they would spend between  $500-$1000

-Cannabis strains that were considered to be  either rare or were from a well-known brand were of highest interest to the affluent  respondents with 41% willing to spend more on brand-name strains and 36% more open to  spending on a rare strain

-Privacy is important to affluent cannabis users.   78% would only smoke at home rather than outdoors or in any potential designated businesses in legalized states.

 

Want more? Check out our infographic:  EI Affluent Cannabis Infographic


IPO Public Relations Preparation For Success

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We have taken our clients through our fair share of initial public offerings and each time their results have been most successful…when an intensive level of planning was involved. The process of deciding to take a company public must be well planned, well timed, and with a litany of core factors taken into account upfront.  

The PR call to action is to showcase a robust, active, compelling company across all industry touchpoints, especially prior to the quiet period and during the time right after. Additionally, aligning mass scale media to allow the entire investment community to have heard, seen and be interested in the company or brand is critical. IPO public relations must help to position the executive team, provide anchor points, create editorial calendars, and establish a communications plan for pre, during and Post-IPO. While all of these elements require a savvy PR team led by well-informed executives, we’ve done a bit of the homework for you. Please find our guide to your IPO calendar below.

2018 Emerging Insider IPO PR Guide


Future of Legal Cannabis Event Recap

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Last Wednesday the team at Emerging Insider held the first in a series of events on the Future of the Legal Cannabis Industry. As a cannabis PR agency, we’re on the front lines working with startups and companies in the booming cannabis trade. As the sector flourishes even under an uncertain regulatory landscape, we brought together industry insiders and experts to discuss current challenges and the exciting growth to come.

 

Sharing their insight with the crowd was Alex Valassori (Co-founder and Chief Compliance Officer at Complia), Kirsten Velasco (Medical Cannabis Program Public Speaker at The Medical Cannabis Community), Kurt Akers (Co-founder and CEO of Kannatopia) and Dave Robin (Agent in Charge MOCA Modern Cannabis).

 

The resulting discussion was lively and varied, from regulatory challenges and innovation to the plight of medicinal patients to the opening up of the California and Canadian markets. While the panelists acknowledged the current challenges facing the legal cannabis trade, ultimately the tone was one of hope for the future. The panelists varied in their responses, but most agreed that there would be significant pro-cannabis legislation on the books in the U.S. (at least in regards to medical cannabis) in the next 12-36 months. This would then lay the groundwork for further legalization, and a recognition of the plant’s medical uses as well as a rough equivalence to other adult-use products such as alcohol or tobacco.

 

For industry updates, discussion, networking and more, make sure to stay tuned for the date of our next Future of Legal Cannabis event.

 


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Can tech succeed where international aid has failed?

The tech revolution has fundamentally changed the way we live. Our personal, professional, financial, and social habits have been irrevocably altered by the internet and smartphones, but although these innovations seem inescapable, there are billions of people who have missed out on these rapid changes. In many parts of the Global South, including parts of Africa and South Asia, life in many respects remains the way it was before the tech revolution. Forget about wifi – in many places, electricity and clean water are still difficult to find. But technological innovation and startups have been able to disrupt aspects of life in developing countries in seemingly small ways, taking on challenges that decades of humanitarian aid haven’t been able to address.

Cell phones have been a major driver of change and development in developing countries. Even in places without running water, most people have some access to a cell phone. Increasingly, these phones have some type of internet access. They are usually low cost, and in many countries, people pay per MB to use a data plan. While not at the same level of sophistication as the iPhones and Samsung Galaxies available to Western consumers, making cell phones accessible to people at all income levels has had far-reaching effects on the way people live their lives. The advent of Whatsapp, a low-cost and low-data messaging service that can be used internationally has changed communication for people at all income levels. Previously, immigration or even moving across the country meant communication with family members was all but impossible. Text messages in many places are prohibitively expensive, and a newly-married woman who moves to be with her husband’s family, as is the reality for many women in developing countries, may be completely isolated from her support system. Now, families can stay in touch with ease. Even international calling via data is more affordable, making it possible for loved ones to talk across borders.

Increasing access to mobile technology has also allowed for the development of mobile wallets, an innovative way of storing money and paying bills for the unbanked. In many parts of the Global South, banks are too difficult to access or too expensive to use for many people, especially women. Purchasing goods and paying bills becomes more difficult. But initiatives like M-Pesa in Kenya and MTN Mobile Money in southern Africa have found ingenious workarounds to these problems. People are able to put money on their SIM cards, and then transfer that money to pay for goods and services. These mobile wallets have allowed an entirely new demographic of people to take advantage of technology and enter the economy in ways previously denied to them.

Other innovations are based around aspects of life many Americans believe are basic necessities. It may seem hard for people in developed countries to believe, but 844 million people do not have access to clean water. By drinking unclean water they are exposed to dangerous bacteria and parasites. Furthermore, 2.3 billion people do not have sanitary toilets, a dangerous situation that increases the likelihood of a deadly cholera epidemic. Startups and tech companies have been looking for innovative ways to bridge the hygiene gap and allow people to access clean water. Lifestraw is one such company. They created a small straw-like purification system. It’s simple to use, easy to transport, and inexpensive. Other companies have created simple boilers, allowing people to purify large quantities of water at once. Startups bring a different perspective to decades-old development obstacles, injecting new ideas into the community.

A final area that startups are disrupting is that of electricity and power. Life without lights is unimaginable to people in developed countries, and electricity is viewed as a basic need that must be met. The devastation in Puerto Rico, for example, caused by long-term electrical outages arguably outdid the hurricane that caused it. But in many parts of the Global South, lights are a luxury and the day ends when the sun goes down. It’s impossible to work or study after dark. Cell phones, which are a lifeline to the outside world, can’t be charged at home, and people may need to walk miles to find a place to purchase the opportunity to charge their phones. But like other challenges in development, tech startups have disrupted the field of electricity as well. The public sector’s initiatives attempt to install electricity wherever possible, which is an important goal but often slow and expensive. Tech startups have focused on getting electricity into people’s hands as quickly as possible. One such invention is the Soccket, a soccer ball that also functions as a lamp or charger. When kicked around for 30 minutes, Soccket can provide light for three hours. Although users have reported some issues with the hardware so far, it’s only a matter of time until the technology improves.

Extreme poverty and low human development may seem like an intractable problem, but tech startups have jumped in to start improving the lives of people in the Global South. The tech boom may have primarily touched people in western countries so far, but ultimately we all stand to benefit from increasing innovation.