Two weeks ago, I was invited to attend an Algorand community event in India by Algorand Foundation CEO Staci Warden (via a coincidental tweet). It was unexpected to say the least — I was 13,700 kilometres away from home, and I spontaneously get a chance to attend my first ever Algorand sponsored event. The event was being put on by AlgoBharat (“Algo India”) and would be a partnered host between Algorand and Envision Racing, held one day before the first ever Hyderabad Formula E race.
I was uncertain what to expect. Public opinion on Algorand marketing and partnerships has been up and down, with a lot of criticism trickling in as algos price dropped (along with global markets). We were in the state of Telengana, widely known as a center of development and innovation, spurred on largely by Telangana’s “T-Hub” — India’s #1 Ecosystem accelerator.
I had spent the last five days being thoroughly impressed with the relentless drive of the city of Hyderabad. The people I met were curious, hardworking, and very smart. I started to develop a nagging feeling that there was so much opportunity here for blockchain, but wondered how it could be accessed, especially given India’s generally negative view towards crypto.
Algorand beat me to it. Within three minutes of the event starting, the foundation announced a surprise partnership with T-Hub. I was blown away to say the least: how could something like this exist? India’s federal bank was opposed to crypto, so wouldn’t this be shut down?
The answer to that is no, because one month ago the state of Telengana had officially launched India’s first ever regulatory sandbox.
The Telengana Regulatory Sandbox: What it means for Algorand and Hyderabad
India’s crypto paradox is clear: The federal bank opposes crypto legalization, but the national ministry has noticed large revenue losses and brain drain as talented web3 developers move outside of India.
India’s brilliant solution to this is known as a regulatory sandbox, which is a structured and protected environment for a space where the laws and regulations are unclear. That description couldn’t be more crypto-relevant. In a regulatory sandbox, a government institution (in this case the Telangana government) will take upon the risk and initiative to introduce protective legislation and allow startup culture and exploration to thrive.
The momentum of this should not be understated. India is a country of 1.4 billion, with the largest population of hungry and intelligent developers— and they have just opened up access to the first-ever Web3 incubator. And Algorand is the first partner.
T-Hub Partnership, and why it’s way more exciting than Nike.
The Telengana Hub is the world’s largest innovation campus, hosting over 2,000 startups under one roof. It is one of the most prominent ecosystem incubators in the world, and a huge reason why Telengana has become one of the best places for founders to go in India.
Located in Hyderabad, T-Hub provides all the resources a founder needs to succeed. Funding, mentorship, talent, technology, investors, and government support. It is where innovation goes to thrive in India. And with the announcement of the regulatory sandbox and Algorand <> T-Hub partnership the door to growth has been torn wide open.
After the announcement and explanation of the regulatory sandbox, I was excited to learn that some startups had already begun transitioning and building on Algorand. You can read more about it here, but hearing co-founders of 15+ year old companies like Eko talk about how they believe Algorand is their companies next step was pretty interesting to hear.
Afterwards, I got a chance to chat and network with the conference audience. I made it a point to speak to as many new people as I could, and I learned a surprising fact— most people there didn’t really know what Algorand was. Sure, they knew crypto and Web3, but not much about Algorand.
I was pretty impressed by this fact. I always think that the place to go for innovation is not where you are most known, but where you can make the most impact.
I think Algorand and T-Hub is a pretty perfect example of that concept.
Algorand CEO Staci Warden
At the end of the event, I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down and talk with Staci for a good half hour. I really enjoyed speaking with her, and felt that her genuine authenticity was one of her best selling points, something that I observed throughout the evening.
Telengana/Hyderabad was stop number two on AlgoBharat’s India trip, and that is not an easy trip. She had traveled 20+ hours to event #1 in Mumbai, where Algorand announced a partnership with SEWA at a Clinton foundation event. She then traveled to Hyderabad— dealing with the same heavy jet lag that I was, and gave her genuine attention to every person that spoke to her. People were queued up in the venue to get a chance to speak. It was a male dominated room, with a new culture, yet Staci’s passion for Algorand and genuine interest for people shone through. I am not sure there are many people that could have done what she did as well as she did.
Even after all that, she still gave thirty minutes to sit down and speak with me, someone she had not yet met before. As we talked, I learned a lot about what is and is not within her control. I learned that a lot of the same issues the Algorand community complains about— like why USDCa is not listed on Coinbase, were top priorities for her. She told me about the budget constraints she is facing with the price of $ALGO where it is, and how much effort has gone into building a stellar team under those limitations. She told me about how excited she is to finally be able to move with momentum.
Staci and the Algorand Foundation ultimately have little short term impact on the price of $ALGO. What they are doing with AlgoBharat, T-Hub, SEWA, and Formula E are strategic investments that won’t turn out immediate wins, but may evolve into staggering momentum as the market’s favor turns back.
Special thanks to Nikhil, Mohita, and Anil from the AlgoBharat for inviting me to the event.
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About the Author
Nathan has been running the AlgonautBlog for the last two years. He is focused on creating guides that help people safely the Algorand ecosystem and all it has to offer. He was a product manager on the Coinbase Wallet team and a UC Berkeley Economics graduate.