21 Aug 2023

Meet Ilhan Unlu, from Fair Squares team, who clinched the third spot at the NGI ONTOCHAIN Hackathon #1. In this interview, Ilhan provides a firsthand account of their project, reflections on ONTOCHAIN services, and the valuable lessons learned throughout the competition. Get ready to delve into Ilhan's journey and gain insights into their remarkable contributions to the realm of web3 innovation.


Congratulations on being one of the ONTOCHAIN hackathon winners! Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself, your team and your background?

Our team comes from a background of blockchain development for commercial purposes and societal improvement sector. We have a mixed geographic team that covers three different continents.


Your project impressed the judges. Can you provide an overview of your project and how it addresses a real-world challenge using ONTOCHAIN services?

Our project focuses on a real-world challenge which is affordable housing. We have seen many different real-estate projects in the blockchain space building real-estate solutions on blockchains, but they have always failed to address the elephant in the room. Which is the inclusivity and real ownership model that actually creates affordable housing and actually creates a transformation of how things are at this moment.

Fair Squares is a digital coordination framework to connect citizens who need housing, real estate sellers, social investors, builders, other real estate professionals, and public policymakers. FS enables a reduction of rental costs by +/- 15% by changing the capital structure. Instead of a landlord or developer putting up all the (mortgage) money, Social impact investors within the Fair Squares community will fund projects in exchange for fractional ownership generating a low-risk return.


How did you first hear about the ONTOCHAIN hackathon, and what motivated you to participate? Were you already familiar with ONTOCHAIN services before the hackathon?

In the early days of Fair Squares we tried to be a part of the ONTOCHAIN hackathon, but we didn't really have a design or architecture ready at the time. We have known about the organization and its mission for a while. We participated this time as we have a MVP that can do Funding, Onboarding, Bidding, Governing in a decentralized way. But on its own, this is just software. We have participated to connect to the ONTOCHAIN services that would add a verified data stream in our housing network.


ONTOCHAIN offers a range of innovative services. Which specific ONTOCHAIN services did you incorporate into your project, and how did they enhance your solution's functionality?

We have specifically used the ReCheck greenbox which is: “A SINGLE DIGITAL SPACE TO STORE, SHARE AND EXTRACT VALUE FROM REAL ESTATE DATA.” This acts as a verified oracle that could be a trustworthy candidate for getting in data regarding assets. As Fair squares we cannot build on pieces of the puzzle and get specialized, we do rely on actors and other protocols to add value in the chain.


Throughout the hackathon, you had the opportunity to interact with mentors and experts. How did their guidance and support impact your project's development and final outcome?

Our mentor was very knowledgeable about the service we were using and very accessible. His guidance gave us quick pivots where needed to still achieve results.


How has your involvement with ONTOCHAIN and its hackathon contributed to your personal and professional growth?

We as a project have for the first time really interacted with another ecosystem on a technological level and communication level. We have learned  to communicate better what we are doing and on a technological level how integrations are hard and more time is required.


The ONTOCHAIN hackathons are focused on using blockchain technologies to solve real-world challenges. How do you see your applications beyond the hackathon, potentially in industries or sectors?

Our application is unique in its own way. We want to make a public permissioned application that is open to everyone that is willing to verify their credentials. Our whole purpose is transforming the real-estate industry with the right people and the right decentralized way. Doing things right takes time and we are willing to put the work in, but we need the support from other industry partners.


Lastly, what are your future aspirations in the blockchain and technology space, and how do you envision ONTOCHAIN playing a role in your ongoing journey?

We would like to get a closer look into the ONTOCHAIN services, without the time limitation of a hackathon. We hope to have a closer relationship with a more mature ecosystem and see how we can make the world a better place.  

We also think cooperation with ONTOCHAIN would help forming the economic framework for adjusting global and personal asset risk-parameters. Parallel to this we are cooperating and researching several legal aspects with universities and institutions in Europe. This can also be of mutual interest regarding to the aspired implementation of blockchain innovations and use cases.