In ancient Mesopotamia, the Euphrates River gave early civilizations access to fresh water, food and transportation. Alec Shaw and Davis Marklin said they want to be the Euphrates River for Milwaukee and give local businesses access to the benefits of blockchain technology.
Shaw, a senior in the College of Business Administration, and Marklin, a senior in the College of Engineering, recently launched Euphrates, a blockchain consulting firm. Blockchain is way to structure data from bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transactions as a digital ledger which no single party can tamper with, according to Fortune.
The students’ goal is to educate businesses about the benefits of blockchain technology and to help them find ways to integrate blockchain technologies into their industries.
Blockchain is a technology that is most well-known for its use in bitcoin, but Marklin said its uses extend far beyond that. Blockchain allows records of transactions to be recorded simultaneously on a large number of computers around the world. Marklin said this makes blockchain an extremely decentralized system that requires no trust between parties.
Marklin said he first became interested in blockchain by learning about bitcoin. Bitcoin is a type of digital currency that became popular after its value per coin increased by nearly $10,000 in 2017, according to CoinDesk. He said the more he learned about bitcoin, the more the technology behind it fascinated him.
“I got into trustlessness and security, which are the basic principles of blockchain,” Marklin said. “I thought they were human principles, which is why I believe that blockchain is really going to have a profound impact on our society.”
Marklin reached out to Heather Sullivan, the associate director of external relations for the College of Business Administration and founder of Marquette’s Blockchain Lab. The two connected and created a blockchain club.
“I really want student buy-in with this (blockchain) movement because I really don’t want it to just be me driving it, and Davis seemed like he had this entrepreneurial background,” Sullivan said.
Marklin and Shaw met through Blockchain Club. Shaw said that as they got to know each other, they both realized they had similar ambitions of working with blockchain full-time after graduation.
“We both wanted to work in the (blockchain) space after school, and we started pursuing a project and that developed into Euphrates,” Shaw said.
Shaw said Euphrates works to help Milwaukee businesses integrate blockchain technology into their industries. He said many business owners don’t take advantage of blockchain technology because they don’t understand it.
“We’re the very necessary bridge between the smart tech people who have the ability to make this stuff and these stuck-in-their-time businessmen who would never ever dare talk to these developers,” Shaw said. “We basically pair them up, and we learn about what their business does, and we find the correct team that can do what they need done.”
Euphrates’ first customer was Catholic Financial Life, a Milwaukee insurance company. Shaw gave a presentation to a group of employees in order to educate them about blockchain technology.
“We did some educational stuff with them just to help them understand how blockchain technology may impact the insurance industry,” Marklin said. “They don’t have any interest in doing anything with blockchain, but they wanted to learn about it.”
Marklin said Euphrates is also working with a startup called DocLaunch to help them find a partner to invest in their business and give them mentorship in blockchain. The company is also in the process of finalizing a deal with a $200 million manufacturing company to implement an internal auditing system.
Shaw said he will be working for Euphrates full-time after his graduation in May, and Marklin said he will join him after he graduates in December. They both said they have no idea where the blockchain industry is heading, but they both believe it will be hugely important to business in some form or another.
“If you ask me where we’re going to be in two years, I have no idea,” Marklin said. “Somewhere cool.”