Tampa Start-up Ushers in a New Era of Food Safety through Blockchain

Tampa Start-up Ushers in a New Era of Food Safety through Blockchain

A glimpse into the future with BlockSpaces Co-Founder, Gabe Higgins

A Tampa-based technology startup is offering companies a pathway into the emerging world of blockchain technology. BlockSpaces is a B2B platform that builds, manages, and connects businesses to blockchain networks across industries.

BlockSpaces co-founder Gabe Higgins has over a decade of experience in cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies, making him one of the foremost experts in the blockchain technology space.

Created Out of Necessity

Higgins explains that BlockSpaces started as a Tampa Bay area meetup group for people interested in learning about cryptocurrency and the powerful blockchain technology behind it before evolving into a fully realized company out of necessity.

The group met nearly every night of the week, coming together for educational sessions like Trading Tuesdays or developer-only meetups. Then there were the community-building events like Friday Movie Night. But things changed as Bitcoin became more popular in the mainstream.

"At first, we had a dozen people on the regular. But in 2017, we started to see the first mainstream wave of blockchain technology. So suddenly we had over a hundred people coming to the meetups," Higgins recalls.

Gabe Higgins, Blockspaces Co-founder

What started as a gathering of techies and developers evolved into a hotspot for industry leaders seeking guidance on leveraging the technology for major organizations and businesses.

"We became the place to go for blockchain and cryptocurrency. Companies were sending people who wanted to understand how to leverage blockchains for businesses, and we got into consulting and started doing development projects."

By 2017, it became clear that the tech industry needed someone to help manage the explosive interest in blockchain technology, and BlockSpaces was born.

But the goal isn't just to build blockchain applications anymore - the vision now includes connecting separate users within a common industry.

"The real value of a blockchain is that there is a network of users. This technology is revolutionary; it's going to change the way we communicate, do business, and conduct ourselves online," Higgins explains.

"That's when we got the idea to build blockchain integration tools that businesses can use to connect existing systems and applications to multiple blockchain technologies, all without having to worry about connectivity or infrastructure issues. We want to be the easy button for blockchain in terms of how businesses can leverage it, lowering the barrier to entry as much as possible."

Blockchains Offer Unexpected Solutions

Blockchain technology is rapidly changing the international business landscape because it solves common problems across a range of industries. Though the solutions offered by blockchains seem to grow every day, some core characteristics make it especially advantageous.

One core advantage of blockchain technology is the guarantee of transparency. With Bitcoin, blockchain technology locks records of all transactions, making it impossible to alter or destroy exchanges. Luxury brands, for example, can leverage this same advantage to prevent counterfeit products from saturating the market.

"Luxury brands use blockchain technology as a solution to their counterfeiting problems because they can authenticate every product that they put out on the market. They can tag it with a chip or stamp that validates its authenticity and all of the metadata in an open source way."

BlockSpaces has also teamed up with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"There is a concern over counterfeit foods. Farmers have to comply with safety regulations that impose an additional cost. So there are foods smuggled across the border and undercutting the process. That affects the prices of local homegrown foods, wreaking havoc economically for producers and causing safety hazards," Higgins says.

Blockchain networks also offer supply-chain solutions to save product-based industries millions in costly mistakes.

For instance, in 2020, a small-scale E Coli outbreak forced Walmart to remove every batch of romaine lettuce from their shelves even though the outbreak was limited to a single farm. The problem? There was no streamlined way to keep track of food shipments until that point, so there was no way to pinpoint which products were affected by the outbreak.

"The entire industry suffered. But, if that information was digitized, you could instantly pinpoint where a single bad batch came from."

As a result, Walmart launched the Food Trust Network, a product tracking blockchain network.

Another major advantage of the security offered by blockchain technology is the potential to track verifiable digital identities and documents.

BlockSpaces is helping institutions like the University of Southern Florida digitize assets like certificates and diplomas, a move that makes commonly counterfeited documentation instantly verifiable in perpetuity through blockchains.

"There's a huge problem with counterfeiting these documents, and it's tough to track down these credentials for potential employers."

Digital certificates, on the other hand, can be found, analyzed, and retrieved instantly. Documentation can be attached to the product and easily shared between parties, leaving zero room for counterfeits.

Finally, there's one more prominent concern that blockchain technology solves for businesses - protecting clients' personally identifiable information.

"Securing digital information is very difficult; nearly half of all Americans have their PID information compromised in some form. Hackers have access to that as well," Higgins warns.

"Blockchain is the only viable way to provide a credentialing mechanism. You can provide verifiable information without revealing the information itself."

Have you ever signed into an application using your Gmail or Facebook credentials? Unfortunately, these third-party companies are compromised all the time and are a significant reason so many people have their information plastered across the dark web.

With blockchains, users don't have to worry about hackers gaining access to their digital identity. The technology allows consumers to maintain control over their information in revolutionary ways, including providing verifiable information without ever revealing or compromising any personal information.

"If you can control your own data flow in that way, you can not only maintain ownership of it but also control who has access to that information. You can verify a particular piece of information without having to disclose everything else."

The way we track identity is becoming more and more unworkable for how things will look in the future. So it's a matter of when, not if, blockchain will become the new way to track identifiable information.

BlockSpaces Prepares to Lead Businesses Into the Future

As we prepare to head into the futuristic universe of Web3, businesses must prepare to enter a world dominated by digital asset ownership.

"Our platform can enable commerce activity in Web3. We're trying to make it easier for businesses to bridge the gap between the Web 2 world and the Web 3 world, where you can act in a digital ownership dimension. We're becoming the technical bridge that enables that to happen."

As of January 2022, the startup has closed an impressive $5.75 million in venture seed rounds. BlockSpaces plans to invest a portion of this money in hiring cutting-edge talent that can help them change the world with blockchain technology.

Interested in joining the team but not sure your educational background fits the bill for blockchain management? No worries - Higgins says there's no particular course of study to prepare you for an industry that moves this quickly.

"There's no formal education that fits the bill for what we're doing. That's why we need people who are not only creative or self-motivated but also have an entrepreneurial driven mentality."

The startup prefers talent willing to help explore uncharted territory and figure things out for themselves.

"This is going to be a relentless, constant discovery and learning process that keeps iterating on itself."

While the rest of the technology industry has historically struggled with creating an inclusive atmosphere, BlockSpaces emphasizes recruiting diverse talent.

"Creating diversity and inclusion is important," Higgins explains.

"To be in a space that's emerging, where we don't know what lies around the corner, diversity in terms of experience, background, and culture comes into play. So we've made that a priority as a company. We're focusing on bringing in different backgrounds and levels of experience."

If you're interested in exploring opportunities to join one of the fastest-growing blockchain management leaders in the world, check out BlockSpaces for yourself.