The Chicago DeFi Alliance (CDA), which includes fintech firms Jump Trading, Cumberland DRW, CMT Digital, Volt Capital and others, is launching one of the first accelerator programs devoted entirely to decentralized finance (DeFi) startups beginning in August.
Volt Capital co-founder Imran Khan and CDA partner Qiao Wang will lead the eight-week program for early-stage startups, plus a fast-track program to introduce more established startups to relevant experts.
Modeled after Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator program, the program will invest $120,000 in each participating team for future token purchases. Khan said the investment would be in “tokens at either seed or [a] discount” on what is already being traded publicly.
There will be two accelerator batches in 2020, he said. Khan said CDA has received over 100 applications for the new accelerator and will choose seven startups for the first group.
“Fees are high. Liquidity is low. [User interface] is messy. Settlement is slow. Everything feels like a toy. But history is full of examples of hugely successful technologies that started out looking like toys,” Wang said. “DeFi has all the fundamental qualities to become a real, trusted alternative to the legacy financial system.”
In addition to the accelerator program, Khan said several new members joined the CDA, including Alameda Research, FTX, Electric Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Hashed and Delphi Digital.