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 ( 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.


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

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EI Industry Insight – Cross-Device Targeting

Only 6% of marketers worldwide have a current solution that provides an adequate single view of customers across devices and touchpoints.


Check out this Industry Insight sheet to find out how the inability to identify individuals across all devices and restrictions by the “Walled Gardens” is halting industry improvement of cross-device targeting.



EI Industry Insight – Cross-Device Targeting




CES 2016: The Connected Era Continues As This Year’s Event Highlights Smart Cars, Wearables and 360 Video

In and Out of Home Connectivity

Brands were eager to show off their latest smart product innovations. Options were plentiful, from refrigerators to light bulbs to thermostats. The market for smart home products continues to grow and according to Parks Associates smart home monitoring and control systems are installed in more than 10% of U.S. households. 45% of U.S. households either own some smart home technology or plan to invest in it in 2016.

Not only are consumers embracing in-home smart products but the adoption for smart products out-of-home is finding its footing. The automotive industry stole the spotlight at this year’s show with General Motors’ recent Lyft investment of $500 million, revealing a long-term goal of creating an infrastructure of self-driving taxis. Drivers are intrigued by the idea of fully automated vehicles as a study by Autotrader shows that 52% of respondents would be comfortable riding or driving in a vehicle with self-driving technology. The same study also showcased an interest in interactive dashboards as 46% say they would pay up to $1,500 for an interactive dashboard. However, the challenge for auto brands will be to focus on connectivity and device integration as 57% seek better integration for smartphones with generic systems such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.



The Consumer Electronics Association anticipates the wearable tech industry to grow 64% over the next three years with 245 million devices reaching $25 billion in sales. Marketers now understand that the wearable market is set to deliver a new source of endless data. Considering the long-awaited progression of mobile monitoring and tracking marketers will start to demand increasingly seamless capabilities for breaking down wearable data. Fitbit took one step in the direction of combining features from 2 different wearable products by introducing Fitbit Blaze. The device is branded as a smart fitness watch. It still remains to be seen if the wearable market can achieve an automated environment where unconscious behavior steers the utilization of wearable products.


Virtual Reality

The annual show was a prime example that VR is finally maturing into a game that now includes more than just a few players. TrendForce predicts that 14 million virtual-reality devices will be sold worldwide in 2016. High production costs and poor ROI projections have for years made marketers refrain from indulging in the virtual reality mania. As production technology evolves the production cost is reducing and the new options for 360 video has led to increased consumer interest in VR devices.

Nikon and GoPro are both developing new ways for consumers to capture their own 360-degree content. Content that they now can place on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook thanks to their recent installments. By enabling consumers to become content creators, the VR and 360 video industry has taken ground breaking steps in the proper direction. As the profit potential becomes much clearer brands will start to become less hesitant to use VR in new initiatives that can prove to be remarkably rewarding and exhilarating.


User-Generated Video Is Now The Norm

During his keynote YouTube’s Robert Kyncl stated that digital will make up 75% of total video viewing by 2020. During this statement a numerous amount of people were using vertical video platforms such as Periscope and Snapchat to streamline his message real-time to their respective audience. Companies like Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo all attended meetings with vertical video to show during CES. Throughout the event it was apparent that people are living their lives mobile-first and so were the brands showcasing their products. Live-streaming and vertical video is in full adoption mode, and it is controlling how we encode, decode and interpret messages around the clock daily.



Photo Source: Andrés Nieto Porras


Ad-Blocking Analytics: Publisher Uncertainty Presents New Opportunities

History will now confirm that 2015 truly was the year ad blocking came to stay. It stole the spotlight mid year and numbers were released that had marketers at the edge of their seats. Ad blocking usage had grown 41% in the last 12 months and $10.7 billion in U.S. ad revenue was expected to be lost throughout the year. A staggering 2/3 of Millennials block ads, which is a legitimate concern considering that advertisers spend 500% more of their ad budgets on Millennials than all other generations combined. Piece this together with a significant lack of interest and engagement we can argue that the chunk of campaign spending on display ads is money thrown into the fire.

With Apple embracing ad-blocking software in September, consumers were left with a voracious appetite to utilize it and became far more cognizant of their abilities. At this point the concern amongst marketers led to novel viewpoints that shifted into opportunism and sparked a sense of rethinking. A higher awareness for user experience and an increased affinity for creativity has steamrolled marketers to turn their heads 180 degrees – Content marketing, native and social initiatives are now in full view of marketers’ eyesight. These practices are laying the foundation for a vast market with many niche branches.

Ad blocking is not only contributing to these practices flourishing but has opened up the room for an entirely new sub segment of digital analytics – ad-blocking analytics. A study conducted by Cxense and Editor & Publisher found that only 16.9% of publishers are able to track the ad-blocking activity occurring on their websites. Compounding this information, those using Google Analytics can track the use of AdBlock, but not any other ad-blocking software. This causes a transparency issue for publishers whom are unable to demonstrate if and how many ads are blocked. Now, will we see a wave of ad blocking analytics software breeze in to the market? Numerous digital marketing analytics companies may only be a few steps away from creating an additional solution or add-on that will measure ad-blocking activity.

Let’s also take into account that ad blocking is a global occurrence. With 668 million online users, China is now quickly raising its awareness towards ad blocking. Reports confirm that 10-12% of ads delivered to personal computers are being blocked. In Europe ad blocking is being highly embraced with countries like Sweden and Germany both boasting a +30% ad-blocking rate. Where ad blocking lives, so does the need for ad blocking analytics software, presenting innovators with a worldwide selection of markets to explore.

Publishers also revealed that they are in dire need of consulting, with 52.8% reporting a complete lack of strategy to address ad blocking and 32.6% reporting that they are unaware if a strategy is in place.

Publisher uncertainty and inability is fueling a new development of analytics. Keep eyes and ears open – this new wave of analytics integration, consulting and a plethora of new market activities may just be around the corner.


Photo Source: Hero Images