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Michael Amar: "Paris Blockchain Week has become a must-attend event".

Michael Amar: "Paris Blockchain Week has become a must-attend event".

For its fifth edition, the PBW, which is being held at the Carrousel du Louvre from 9 to 11 April, has decided to put the spotlight on tokenisation and decentralised finance. One of its co-founders, Michael Amar, hopes to reach 10,000 participants in 3 days.

The Big Whale: In the space of a year, the situation has completely changed for the crypto industry. In addition to the sharp rise in the markets - with bitcoin at record levels, we can sense a real appetite, particularly on the corporate side. Is this the case on your side?

Michael Amar: It's actually quite clear, even if the previous edition also did well. We know that the crypto industry is very cyclical, and that some people are only interested in it when the markets are at their peak, but there are also more and more companies that have understood that there is a groundswell.

Some people are too young to remember, but we are living through the equivalent of the arrival of the Internet and periods of highs and lows every 20 years. After the bubble burst, a lot of companies and projects disappeared, but a lot of entrepreneurs remained, the convinced ones and the visionaries, and they built the Internet we use.

What lessons can the crypto industry learn from this period?

Things move fast in Tech and so you have to know how to adapt. This applies to start-ups and also to conferences like Paris Blockchain Week (PBW). Last year, a large part of the conference focused on the world of NFTs, with projects that created a real momentum. This year, that's less the case, so we're adapting our programme. The aim is to reflect the most accurate image of the industry.

What's the big trend at Paris Blockchain Week this year?

The big topic this year is decentralised finance. Most of the start-ups (850 in total, editor's note) that sent in their applications for the Start-up Competition are from this universe. There's a strong trend at the intersection between finance, blockchain and fintech.

Last year you launched the Start-up Competition, which went down very well. It's now one of the highlights of the week?

There are a lot of start-ups in the Web3 universe. While the Bear Market has been complicated for a large part of the industry, the rate of business creation has not slowed down and we want to support this movement.

This year, there are 100 projects that will compete in the Start-up Competition. They were selected on the basis of applications by the PBW's partner investment funds. The selection was very tight. There are a lot of very good projects, not least because most of them launched in the middle of the Bear Market, which meant they had to do a lot with very little. You had to be on your toes to launch a crypto project in the last 24 months.

What's the point of taking part in this competition?

Getting known and winning prizes; there's $10 million in prize money in the competition. That must be a record for a start-up competition. There are grants from foundations, support from major groups, and obviously money from funds that will invest in the few winners.

You've always said you wanted to bring the crypto world and the more traditional world together. Is that still the case this year?

Yes, very clearly, it's in the DNA of the PBW. This year, we still have many companies from the traditional economy, except that they are less from the luxury and retail universe, and they come more from finance and infrastructure.

We have funds, insurers and banks like JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Société Générale and groups like EDF and Veolia.

What is the objective in bringing these groups?

Participate in the adoption of digital assets. For us, the best way to do this is to open up to the outside world. Nothing will happen without the traditional economy. We need to work with brands and companies to reach their audience.

Almost every year you add a day to the conference. Are you planning to rename yourself Paris Blockchain Month in a few years?

No! Last year we had one day dedicated to NFTs and two days of conference. This year, we've got 3 days of conference because we've decided to integrate the whole start-up and investment side. We will never exceed 3 days because we want to leave room for our partners and the ecosystem to do events before, during and after the PBW.

How many participants are you hoping for?

Last year, we reached 8,500 people and this year, we want to approach 10,000.

Organizing an event of this size is expensive. What is the budget this year? Is it a record year?This will be a record edition.

We hope to have 15% more people than last year, which was already a record year.

Are you profitable?

You have to be profitable, it's essential when you organize events. We make 70% of our turnover on sponsorship and 30% on tickets.

Like every year, there are questions and criticism about ticket prices, which some people think are too expensive. What do you think about that?

I understand perfectly well, but the calculation is actually quite simple. How does an event work? You have fixed costs and you have to manage to finance these fixed costs (venue, organisation, team, security, etc.).

We could have chosen a venue other than the Carrousel du Louvre, it would have been cheaper, but you have to understand that it is also thanks to this exceptional venue that we are able to attract the best speakers in the world. When you have that in mind, the calculation is simple: we look at how many tickets and at what price we need to sell to be able to organise the event with our sponsors.

The main difficulty in our business, and this is the case for all events, is that people buy their tickets very late. The later you buy, the more complicated it is for us in terms of organisation.

The best example is the start-up ticket. A few days before the event, it's at 800 euros, but in 2023, it was half that price. If you think about it, 400 euros for a 3-day conference of this quality is hard to beat.

We have over 2,000 companies and more than 500 investors. There are also the heads of the platforms and protocols with their teams. All the players in custody or decentralised finance are here. There are also companies looking for payment and custody services. With all the investors and companies that we bring together, it doesn't take long for the ticket to pay for itself.

Who are your competitors today?

I would say that there are currently 3 major crypto events on the planet: Consensus in the United States (Austin in Texas, editor's note), Token 2049 in Asia (Singapore, editor's note) and Paris Blockchain Week in Europe. There are other very good events like EthDenver or others on Bitcoin, but these are more specialised events.

The interesting thing is that Token 2049 has just launched an edition in Dubai and Consensus has announced that they are going to hold an edition in Hong Kong in 2025. These big conferences are being exported.

Does that mean you're going to do the same?

We're actively thinking about it. It probably won't be in Europe because we manage to bring the whole of Europe to Paris. Would it make sense to do another big event in London or Berlin? Not sure.

On the other hand, we have already taken the decision to launch a conference on artificial intelligence, Raise Summit, the first edition of which will take place just before this year's PBW, on April 8. It's already been an incredible success with some excellent speakers.

Since the first edition in 2019, a lot has happened. What do you remember about it?

We've succeeded in creating a must-attend event for the sector. Now, beyond that, we need to measure the impact of the PBW in terms of business and networking. Today, we'd like the companies attending the PBW to be able to maximise their week. If they want to raise funds, we want them to succeed in doing so. If they want to find new customers, we want to be able to help them find them with us. We want to optimise interactions and have key indicators in terms of return on investment.

Where do the participants come from?

We don't yet have the figures for this year, but last year the breakdown looked like this: 20% came from France, 15% from the United States, 13% from the UK, 8% from Germany, and the rest from all over the world. We're expecting a lot of Asians this year.

Do the politicians support this event?

Since our launch, we've always had a government minister come to the event both to meet companies in the sector and to show the government's support. It will be the same this year.

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