Our inspiration is that in 10 years it will become normal for most people to work for themselves based on their skills and passions, dissolving the traditional boundaries of a company. At the same time, automation poses a huge threat to the low-skill, repetitive jobs that employ the majority of the working class. In response to losing work, the gig economy (i.e. food delivery, freelancers, tutoring, etc.) has seen rapid growth, and if it keeps growing at its current rate, more than 50% of the US workforce will participate in it by 2027. However, gig workers on average earn 58% less than full-time employees, and more than half don’t have access to employer-provided benefits. In order to power the next generation of work, there must be a platform to facilitate freelancers to more easily operate small-company work and peer-to-peer transactions while providing greater financial stability for their work.
What it does
Blockify is a triangle marketplace that brings together the service supplier, the consumer, and a dApp developer team to facilitate an exchange of value without any costly long-term middlemen (on a localized community level).
Take the example of Uber – they connect drivers to riders demanding a hefty price to participate in this marketplace. Instead, using blockchain's ability to connect people, a dedicated team of dApp developers can create a marketplace to facilitate the exchange between drivers and riders. Then, the driver directly connects with the rider, reaping the full value of that transaction (losing no money to Uber) in a seamless, transparent, immutable, and decentralized manner. Essentially, this model would boil down to a subscription-based Uber.
The benefits of this marketplace include eliminating the costly overhead of middlemen, restoring power and equity back to the workers, and driving the long-term trend that informs this idea. Blockify simply put is a decentralized facilitator to exchange value across any dimension of the gig economy.
How we built it
We created a quick demo of the smart contract using Solidity. The smart contract provides the overarching architecture of a transaction on the blockchain including the order, driver, and customer information.
If we assume that a large portion of work in the future will be between small businesses and small groups of buyers, then there must be a method, or a protocol, of some sort to ensure trust between the two small parties. Large corporations do not require such a protocol since they have much more to lose – their branding, publicity, employees, funding, etc. Well, enter smart contracts. We believe that a smart-contract-based transaction between small parties is the most economically and time efficient solution. Studies show that over 50% of the U.S. lives paycheck-to-paycheck, therefore another advantage of using blockchain is to have instantaneous access to wages to pay bills, buy food, etc.
Challenges we ran into
We are going to run into two main challenges with this idea. First is validating our hypothesis that essentially a decentralized Grubhub will be so much better for the driver and restaurant that they both switch to our network. The second challenge we will face is building an infrastructure on blockchain at scale that is adopted by those participating in the gig economy.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud to create a smart contract using Solidity and beginning to start our customer interviews with food-delivery drivers to validate our idea. In addition, we are proud to have formed this team in 3 weeks and are glad to have such an inspiring idea to work on together.
What we learned
We have learned a lot about blockchain and its potential to solve problems that would not have been possible without it. We have also learned how to code a simple blockchain and a smart contract, and we are currently working towards getting NEAR developer certified. We are excited to see how we can leverage blockchain to disrupt the gig economy and power the future of work.
What's next for Blockify
Our first iteration of this idea will focus on building a blockchain-based delivery option for college students from a local restaurant in the research triangle. By focusing in on food delivery for college students we will be able to validate our hypothesis and further improve our long-term plan. Starting out in a college campus gives us a few advantages. First, we have a large sample population to run tests and gather user feedback. Second, there is an enhanced level of trust for a buyer knowing that someone from their respective college is responsible for bringing them their food. Due to the "trustless" nature of blockchain dApps (i.e. no middleman to ensure trust), we believe that sharing the same college will facilitate trust between consumer and deliverer. Third, most college campuses have plenty of nearby restaurants that thrive off of their student customers, which we predict to be a strong catalyst for getting the restaurants on the network.