SmallBiz Spotlight: COAKT

2016 Delaware Innovation Award Winner for Tech Startup of the Year, COAKT is Redefining Wilmington’s Economy.

It’s called Blockchain — and in essence it’s the underlying technology behind the electronic currency Bitcoin.

An article by’s Staff Writer, Joseph N. DiStefano (link here) describes blockchain as ‘A novel solution to the problem of trust’ beyond Bitcoin.

We were able to sit down for an interview with the co-founder of COAKT Kevin Kriss, to learn more about blockchain and why Delaware is a perfect fit to grow this innovative technology.

Kevin Kriss Co-Founder of COAKT
What is blockchain?
  • A blockchain—is a database of continually updated list of all transactions. This decentralized ledger keeps a record of each transaction that occurs across a fully distributed or peer-to-peer network, either public or private. A blockchain’s integrity hinges on strong cryptography that validates and chains together blocks of transactions, making it nearly impossible to tamper with any individual transaction record without being detected. No central authority is needed to verify transactions! (in the case of Bitcoin, no banks)
What made you start COAKT?
  • It had to do with timing really. I co-founded COAKT with Nick Barba to resolve the persistent problems and roadblocks we observed over the course of our corporate careers and entrepreneurial pursuits. We kind of saw a few trends evolving: College was too expensive, long term employment in the area was disappearing, leaving more and more people (me included) trying to make something for themselves and not chasing another means to an end. 
COAKT Co-Founder Nick Barba
  • We saw that Wilmington needed entrepreneurial infrastructure and capital to adequately support startups. There are a lot of local initiatives and resources (ideas, talent, space, etc.) and decided to start COAKT to connect this untapped value.
  • COAKT was born to help early stage founders raise more than money and directly connect with the resources (not just money) they need so they can focus on their unique business role.
Why are you passionate about blockchain?
  • Blockchain technology will be the greatest invention since the internet itself. It is providing prosperity around the world. For the under governed and underbanked countries it is empowering people in ways never seen. Locally it is disinter-mediating archaic processes (law, banking, peer to peer sharing)  This is just the beginning!
What made you partner with Nick Barba/how did you meet?

Nick and I have known each other for 30 years. He and I have complimentary skills which is necessary for a founding team. We each have had our own experiences which haven given COAKT multiple perspectives for approaching our potential market.

What does the future hold for COAKT 
  • COAKT is gaining support. We are focused on customer adoption before we release a web application. We are taking on resources to implement a strategy to allow us to do so. We want to hear from as many startup founders and freelancers we can to collect and test our assumptions.
How can blockchain innovate Wilmington’s economy?
  • On May 2 2016, Governor Markell announced the “Delaware Blockchain Initiative”, a suite of programs that aims to encourage expanded use and development of distributed ledger and smart contract technologies by Delaware-incorporated businesses. “Delaware has long been the jurisdiction of choice for the most innovative companies in the world,” said Governor Markell. “The Delaware Blockchain Initiative demonstrates the state’s commitment to ensuring this remains the case for the growing blockchain technology sector. By creating the opportunity for a broad range of corporations – from Fortune 500 companies to startups – to take advantage of distributed ledger and smart contract applications, we are laying the groundwork for a more modern, secure and transparent business environment for years to come.” 
  •  ENTERPRISE – More than 1 million companies are incorporated in Delaware, including half of all publicly traded companies in the U.S. and 65 percent of the Fortune 500. Opportunities exist to implement blockchain solutions proposed by COAKT to unlock efficiencies in these processes. Delaware has also long been home to many of the FinTech power players, including J.P. Morgan/Chase, Barclays, ING (now Capital One).  Many are actively seeking blockchain solutions.
  • GOVERNMENT – Delaware began exploring its own use cases for blockchain technology shortly after the announcement of the Delaware Blockchain Initiative. Delaware reached out to Symbiont, a distributed ledger and smart securities startup, and is currently working with the Delaware Public Archives to store state archival records on a distributed ledger. An update was just announced by the governor’s office January 3rd, 2017 indicating strong progress with these efforts. They expect companies to file documents on their distributed ledger by early 2017. Opportunities exist for competitive solutions on future projects and expanded applications.
  • LAW – Delaware also holds the reputation as the preeminent authority on corporate law.  It is the result of its well-established body of case law, enabling statutes, experienced jurists, and neutral and efficient court system.  Strong proponents exist, such as Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, that see smart contracts as the obvious and clear path forward.
Expect to hear more from COAKT soon, as they are in the works of launching a community outreach program. You can always find Kevin at The Mill in Wilmington (link here) or shoot him an email at
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