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Envisioning the future of marketplaces at the TechCrunch Hackathon in Paris
Envisioning the future of marketplaces at the TechCrunch Hackathon in Paris

They say that Paris is always a good idea, and we couldn’t agree more, especially if it involves a hackathon.

Last weekend, as the VivaTech TechCrunch Hackathon descended upon the French capital, This Place’s award-winning hackathon veterans Christoph Burgdorfer, Muhammad Dadu, Dragos Vlasie, and Harry Wiseman took a trip down to Paris to compete against some of the brightest minds in tech.

The hackathon, which ran for 24 hours, from Friday midday to Saturday afternoon, had a number of challenges set by major companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Renault, and LebonCoin. Our team, aptly named “This Place Project”, decided to take on the challenge set by LebonCoin, the biggest classifieds website of France, which was to “invent the marketplace of the future.”

Our concept was based on the premise that in the future, marketplaces will be much more decentralized (i.e.“peer-to-peer”), automated and hyper-local. On top of that, we knew that the majority of LebonCoin users are still meeting face-to-face and using cash to complete the transactions.

Based on our experience and recent work with IoT and blockchain technology, especially Ethereum/Solidity, we took the view that future marketplaces could evolve into a decentralized network of “vending machines”, that can be programmed via smart contracts and hosted on the Ethereum blockchain.

The idea was that anybody could use the mobile web application we created together with Trust Wallet and a QR code on the “vending machine” to set the amount a potential buyer has to top up the “vending machine” with in order to unlock the door and essentially purchase the item. The smart contract then allows the money to be split between the seller (90%), LebonCoin (5%) and whoever is the owner of the box (5%).

And just like that, in only 24 hours, we were able to turn our vision of the future of marketplaces into a fully working prototype.

Hackathons are an exciting way for us to test our skills and showcase our capabilities, but more importantly, they allow us a peek into the future. This particular challenge allowed us to envision the future of marketplaces, which we believe will be completely “democratized” and will be based on smart, connected boxes with embedded smart contracts that will be able to operate autonomously. Anybody who can provide such an exchange place, be it a letterbox, a garage or anything else that can be locked securely, should be able to benefit from the exchange space. All they would have to do is to retrofit that space with the “smart contract opening mechanism” that we have developed.

If you want to see our concept in action, check out our pitch here:

Do you agree or disagree with our vision of the future of marketplaces? Drop us a line on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn!


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