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Fluree Sees Momentum In Blockchain Adoption, Partner Recruitment

Fluree, which recently launched its first partner program, is building a stable of partners, including systems integrators and VARs, to work with the company’s blockchain data platform.

Blockchain startup Fluree is seeing strong momentum in its efforts to recruit systems integrators, consultants, VARs and ISVs to work with the company’s blockchain-backed data management platform, two months after the company launched its first global partner program.

This week, in addition to news about its expanding partner ecosystem, Fluree said the Winston-Salem, N.C. company has attracted additional investor funding and recently won a key contract from the U.S. Air Force.

Fluree’s advances come as the global market for blockchain-based platforms and services is forecast to explode from $3.0 billion this year to $39.7 billion in 2025, according to a recent report from the Markets and Markets research firm.

[Related: Big Data 100 2020]

Fluree’s flagship product is a blockchain-based semantic graph database for developing and deploying “web3” blockchain technology-based applications. The underlying technology combines transactions into immutable time-stamped blocks and locks each block using advanced cryptography to protect data integrity. That guarantees the provenance of each piece of data, including who originated it and under what circumstances, with traceability tied to digital signatures.

Blockchain technology is being used in a growing number of use cases, such as unified master data management, data compliance, Internet of Things and security, as well as in specific applications in banking and finance, supply chain management and government.

Under the contract with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Defense, for example, Fluree will provide its data platform for use within a secure, global, multi-domain command-and-control communications system.

“Blockchain is moving out of the proof-of-concept phase,” said Robert “Buck” Flannigan, vice president of global partners at Fluree, in an interview with CRN.

Fluree raised $4.73 million in “seed round” funding one year ago. This week the company said it has secured additional funding, without disclosing the specific amount, from existing investors Ridgeline Ventures, Engage VC and Good Growth Capital. The company plans to apply the new funding to expanding its market presence in key verticals and target applications within Global 2000 companies.

Flannigan said that just about every customer engagement Fluree makes today involves a partner of some kind, from pre-sales to implementation and support.

One such company is Codete, an IT consulting and software development company based in Krakow, Poland, that uses technologies from a number of vendors, including Fluree’s blockchain platform, to develop advanced data management reporting systems for clients.

“The main reason behind [using blockchain] technology is the fact of transparency and immutability,” said Pawel Dyrek, technology consulting manager at Codete, in an email. “We use it for projects which require a part of 'single-source-of-truth,’ for example car VIN number or IP rights changes related to any digital asset. In cases like that, we tend to strongly consider the blockchain-related technologies, as they are strongly supporting this need, compared to 'classical' database approaches.”

“In general, the idea is to find projects where clients can benefit from Fluree's software and help to build around this. Definitely our strongest sides are around software implementation and technical consultancy,” Dyrek said.

SSB Digital, a unit of India-based SSBI Group of Companies, is developing blockchain-enabled database and customized software solutions based on Fluree.

“Fluree technology is the basis for our blockchain and data management practice delivery,” said Indrajit Simlai, managing director at SSBI Group of Companies, in an email. “SSB Digital is doing what I would call ‘full DevOps lifecycle’ with Fluree in our blockchain practice. My team works with our clients on requirements definition and problem analysis, through data-centric architecture and schema design, and then building out the right environment on-premises or within a private government cloud to deploy and manage the technical stack.”

In April Fluree launched the Fluree Partner Network (FPN), the company’s first formal channel partner program, incorporating the company’s ISV, systems integrator, VAR and cloud infrastructure partners.

Flannigan said the chief goal of FPN is to recruit and assist partners who can provide applications and/or services that bridge “the last mile” between Fluree’s blockchain software and customer implementations that take advantage of the technology.

“People want a finished application,” he said.

Recruits also include global and boutique systems integrators with vertical industry domain expertise and/or regional expertise, and who have practices with blockchain technology, next-generation web applications, data management and business analytics.

“This iteration of our program was very much focused on sales and marketing enablement for partners,” Flannigan said of the FPN launch. That includes providing sales leads, scripts for sales prospecting, joint webinars and other demand-generation events, configuration blueprints and pricing/licensing models.

FPN provides technical and go-to-market training and hands-on technical workshops, although the channel chief said that “most of the partners coming in are already blockchain-savvy.”

FPN also has a partner portal and several partner tiers that Flannigan said are more focused on partners’ areas of expertise rather than traditional sales volume.

“SSBI was an early participant in the deep training Fluree offers. We continuously make use of Fluree resources via Zoom and Slack on an almost daily basis as a partner,” Simlai said. “The Fluree Partner Portal has both technical and sales resources available electronically, which we use in our pre-sales project proposal work, and in our post-sales service delivery.”

“We even sent three of our senior technical and business development leads to North Carolina for a full week hands-on workshop in the Fluree HQ office for training,” Simlai said. “The lead-generation campaigns we are doing now [targeted toward] the government of India to solve critical problems [using] Fluree’s technology and SSBI’s delivery expertise are a big focus of our current efforts.”

“I strongly believe the co-marketing actions we are taking right now [with Fluree], will be greatly beneficial in the future,” said Dyrek at Codete. “I expect the lead-generation and mutual projects, to be the most beneficial for both parties.”

The company plans to upgrade FPN every six-to-12 months – keeping in step with the evolution of the Fluree product portfolio – to provide more sales opportunities, customer use-case references, and delivery/implementation best practices.

Flannigan said the company has had more than 50 partners join the program including Codete, SSB Digital, systems integrator Envision Blockchain and Semantic Arts, an IT architecture consultant and custom application developer.

Fluree also has in excess of 10,000 developers building software on the Fluree platform.

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