Bitcoin, the digital currency that has been generating a lot of buzz in the media, is also starting to get some serious attention from investors. Sixty angel investors have formed BitAngels, a group that wants to help fund startups that are dedicated to disrupting the status quo with "crypto-currencies." So far, the group has raised nearly $7 million that it plans on injecting into tech startups.
Billing itself as the first investor and incubator network dedicated exclusively to crypto-currency startups, the group was formed this month at the Bitcoin 2013 Conference in San Jose, Calif. It is headed by entrepreneurs David Johnston and Michael Terpin and angel investor Sam Onat Yilmaz. Johnston is founder of email automation service Engine.co, and Terpin is founder and chief executive of social media agency SocialRadius.
BitAngels is accepting applications for a "limited number of passionate, motivated and hard-working entrepreneurs," the group says on its website. Winning applicants will receive about $20,000 each in investment funds, mentoring and access to office space in New York, San Francisco or Austin, Texas.
"Right now companies built on top of the Bitcoin technology are launching early stage efforts to completely disrupt stock trading, bonds, titles, agreements, smart property, messaging, and a dozen other now centralized industries," Johnston says in an email.
Bitcoins -- essentially virtual coins traded between people online -- have traditionally been favored by tech savvy individuals who wish to make clandestine transactions without the paper trail left by credit card and PayPal transactions. But it's slowly starting to catch on in mainstream business circles, with companies like OkCupid, Reddit and WordPress accepting Bitcoin payments.
"Bitcoin is not only here to stay, but your grandmother will be using it in the very near future -- and without having to understand what it is or how it works," Johnston says. "People don't yet appreciate how fast this whole space is going to move."