It became open-source software, a business hub, a marketplace. But OpenBazaar began — as great business ideas nearly always do — as a side project.

At a Toronto hackathon in 2014, Amir Taaki and a handful of developers started what he called “DarkMarket,” with a proof-of-concept aimed at building a decentralized marketplace.

Taaki’s DarkMarket entry won the hackathon, but he chose not to continue with the project. Brian Hoffman, another enthusiastic developer, took over the project and renamed it OpenBazaar. People loved the idea of a “permissionless” marketplace and joined Hoffman to build the free, open-source worldwide marketplace.

Related: 10 Incredible Uses You Probably Haven’t Thought of for Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

This case study illustrates how entrepreneurs used the blockchain technology framework to build a business. The crypto economy itself has the same capacity to power companies. Here’s how to tap into that resource and harness its possibilities to amplify your startup.

1. Get funded with blockchain-powered ICO.

Imagine you have a great business idea — one you’re sure your target customers will love. But you don’t have the funds needed to move your vision forward. It’s a common problem for beginning entrepreneurs. Traditional venture capital is notoriously tough to get.

Blockchain technology’s initial coin offerings (ICOs) spell glad tidings for aspiring entrepreneurs. Think of ICOs as a way to democratize startup funding. They provide a platform to raise money from individual investors, assuring emerging entrepreneurs no one is in it alone.

You have nothing to fear, no time to waste and nothing to lose.

  • Refine your idea.
  • Set up the blockchain for your new token.
  • Receive seed capital to fund your new venture.

Related: An Exciting Option for Startups to Raise Money: Ever Hear of an ICO?

Your competitors already are benefiting from these offerings, attracting huge sums of money from blockchain-powered ICOs. Coindesk reports that in the second quarter of 2017, entrepreneurs raised some $291 million through ICOs, compared to $187 million in traditional venture funding.

Do your homework — thoroughly. Ensure you have the technical expertise to consume all the goodies the ICO has to offer. Hire a developer to assist you in this endeavor. He or she can make sure your blockchain-powered ICO serves not only as a fundraiser but also as a tool to create steady growth.

Allow crypto to run your ads.

How do you promote your business? In an era of attention-grabbing, pervasive online ad fraud, marketing your business is just as challenging as building and running it.

Desperate to promote their products, startups bombard their customers with torrents of newsletters, how-to guides, coupons and countless numbers of ads. The pleas generally lack focus because business leaders don’t actually know what, exactly, their customers want. They’re simply hoping their messages will appeal to enough of their customers. The problem is worse than you might think: According to a study from Dun & Bradstreet, 94 percent of marketers don’t know a customer preference.

Crypto can professionally target key customer groups with messages that resonate with them. Blockchain combines a superb level of tracking and transparency with the ability to collect accurate data. Altogether, this ensures optimal frequency of ad display for each customer.

Related: How Blockchain Is Creating a New Future for Digital Marketing

Protect your enterprise with cryptography.

Cryptography can defend your ecommerce site, protect your online data and secure your company files better than any other solution. Powered by digital signature as well as private and public keys, cryptography is impenetrable in today’s digital ecosystem. That’s because it transmits information in codes, keeping data unreadable to unauthorized users.

You can take cryptography beyond protecting your primary company data. It also can help authenticate customers, separating real buyers from cyber criminals. “Transaction records are verified every single time they are passed on from one blockchain node to the next,” says Youngwhan “Nick” Lee, CEO of EcoVerse and founder of the W3C Blockchain Community. “That helps you trace and review your audits in a simple and seamless fashion.”

Related: Thanks to Blockchain, Decentralization — and Data Security — Are the Future

Keep embracing new technologies.

No matter how difficult your traditional idea seems, technology can make it look simple and seamless. Whether you want to start a business or scale the one you already run, blockchain can help you in many ways:

  • It can help you with funding, thanks to ICOs.
  • It can help you with marketing, thanks to its accurate tracking and transparency.
  • It can help you with security, thanks to its cryptographic system.

Put in the work to integrate these technologies into your business, and you’ll become the next success story.