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“What keeps me going every day, unfortunately, is disgust”, says Erik Rind. “Being a new grandfather, I am now always thinking about what kind of a world will my grandson be living in 20 years from today. If projects like Imagine BC don’t come out and do something to change our current course, we are going to have a big problem.”
Erik’s company Imagine BC is aiming to put individuals back in control of their personal data and help them monetize it on their own terms.
We at CryptoTapas have been blessed to have had the opportunity to speak with executives who are visionaries. Each of these individuals are on a mission to change the world for the better. Today’s interview with Erik Rind is in line with the visionaries we interviewed before.
Erik is driven by a mission to bring cutting edge technologies like blockchain and AI/ML into every aspect of our daily lives so that everyone can own their own data and their creative intellectual property, and make money off of it, if they so choose.
Having run successful companies and even selling one of the companies that he built from the ground up for 22 million dollars, Erik brings a lot of experience to this enterprise. It is needless to say that his ImagineBC is not a whitepaper dream.
Imagine BC can do for Blockchain what AOL did for the Internet
Erik envisions that Imagine BC will do to blockchain what AOL did for email and the internet. Before AOL, the internet was a cryptic thing that was a domain for only techy guys with proficient coding ability.
AOL changed that to the simplicity of “you got mail” through by deploying access to the Internet through a Graphic User Interface. In turn, users did not have to break their heads with the intricacies of the technology behind the emails.
Blockchain too, at this time, is the domain of nerds and anarchists, with enterprises testing the waters. Its world changing implications are not reaching the audiences where its amazing potential lies.
Projects like Imagine BC breathe fresh life into the latent potential of blockchain for the masses to adapt.
Comprehensive partnerships, zero employees
Erik is a veteran when it comes to building a company from the ground up and it shows from the partnerships that he has put together to broaden Imagine BC’s reach.
What is unique about Imagine BC is that they are infusing blockchain technology, AI integration, and identification verification into an easy to use app, all without a single employee.
That is right – ZERO employees.
In Erik’s own words, “if we tried to build an internal organic team, we would probably still be looking for people, a year and a half later, who can do all that is needed to make our vision a reality.”
Erik has a point.
Many blockchain companies have failed because of heavy fixed expenses and models that never had a chance to scale or adapt to the changing technology landscape.
Imagine BC’s philosophy is to find the best partners with world class talent, and then deploy them towards various aspects of the project and scale it up or down based on business needs. This helps Erik focus on design, architecture and deployment instead of worrying about running the next payroll.
How else can you assemble a team that can scale the programmer pool while developing AI tools, or while at the same time designing a massive marketing campaign that is based on behavioral science? There is just no way to put such a team together without breaking the bank. Yet, Erik has succeeded in putting together the dream team through these partnerships.
Take a look at the partners that form the team for Imagine BC.
How do you make money on Imagine BC?
YouTube makes money off its user content. Users in return get rewarded dream dust and peanuts.
In Erik’s own example, “a relative is in the gaming space. His video on YouTube crossed a million viewers and he got a check for $3,000, which he thought was fantastic until I showed him how he got robbed. With our platform model, he would be able to upload the video to the Imagine BC platform and subsequently, set a price for people to watch that video.
Users can quickly go watch an ad or fill out a survey and earn the necessary currency to view the video . This is how assuming a price of $0.25 per view, those same million viewers would translate to $175,000 for the content creator instead of $3,000. That is how we envision our ecosystem to work. It is essential for our future that Intellectual property holders receive fair compensation for their work”
That is powerful.
Individuals must rise up and realize that the implications of platforms like Imagine BC place control back in the hands of those creating the content.
Facebook may piss off the Governments
“I don’t think they will be successful” Erik opined talking about Facebook’s Libra coin, “they are going against a powerful entity who has a monopoly on money, the United States Government. Clearly, our Government is pissed off.”
While the massive numbers are behind Facebook, in Erik’s view, that is just not enough.
“Facebook will run into many adversaries when they are trying to take on the government and central banking systems,” Erik said.
Democratizing Artificial Intelligence
Companies like Google and Facebook use artificial intelligence to run gigantic data sets to make money for themselves. We had to democratize AI, in a way, to bring efficiencies to Imagine BC’s platform.
As the platform goes live and catches on, it will be impossible to manually process member verifications or to monitor behavioral aspects on the platform. That is one of the reasons Imagine BC is embedding artificial intelligence within the core architecture structure of its platform.
Addressing the GDPR from the get go
Imagine BC does not house any personal identifiable information. During the initial verification, information is held for 48 hours or so. Once verified, a referral ID is assigned and the user’s data is then deleted from ImagineBC’s systems forever.
This helps address almost all of the GDPR aspects. Imagine BC is not holding any information, whether it be user’s email addresses or other information.
Setting itself apart from the rest from design
Blockchain confidants may wonder what makes Imagine BC different from Minds.com or Basic Attention Token (BAT) or Hu-manity.
Those companies are tackling the ideas of privacy and data monetization from social media, advertisement, and healthcare data, as well as some other specific aspects.
Imagine BC looks at privacy and data ownership from a much broader perspective. The chart below summarizes what sets them apart.
Imagine BC’s vision is bold. If it succeeds in executing on its mission, people will realize how they have been taken advantage by social media giants as well as companies operating in other areas.
Read or listen to the full interview to learn about:
- Parallels between 1890 and 1914, and why it matters
- How your data and creative intellectual property are making money for YouTube and Facebook
- Example on how what could have fetched you $3000 on YouTube could fetch $170,000 on Imagine BC
- And much more.
Enjoy the interview.
CryptoTapas: What got you into the Blockchain space and where did the idea behind Imagine BC stem from?
Erik: I have spent the majority of my career in human capital management space, that is, traditional HR space. About 2 years ago, I met a guy in Washington DC who was a real Blockchain zealot. By the end of the conference, I did a complete 180 and became very impressed with the concept. I touched base with him after the conference to explore next steps and take things forward.
At the end of my research, I knew that blockchain could bring serious changes in the business world. At the time, I talked to our parent company called One Touch HCM about how we could use this technology in the HCM space.
HCM businesses sit on a tremendous amount of private information. We sit on personal information, we do payroll, we have their social security numbers, we know their bank information. So as you can imagine, the industry juggles highly sensitive information on all it’s users.
From the blockchain perspective, we have a single point of risk, that is, a centralized database. If we get hacked, we are in big trouble. We could not withstand that kind of risk.
After learning about blockchain, we asked ourselves, what if we gave individual’s private data back to them so that individual never loses control of that data and we only access it for verification purposes, about 48 hours or so? Once the verification is complete, that information is wiped clean and even we don’t have access to it any longer.
When we need their information, users would grant us access on a need base. That was how we started thinking about blockchain as a way to give the data back to the individual(s) and avoid the risk of acting as the single source of sensitive information. We have never dabbled with the crypto aspect of it, just the blockchain technology. This made a lot of sense for our HCM business model.
We were six months into building the prototype when we stopped and said, this concept of pushing sensitive data back to the individual does not just change the way we do our business, it changes everything. This was about 1.5 years ago. Back then this concept of an individual owning data and monetizing it was not popular. We hear about it now in the news but back then it was unheard of in most business circles.
We have to teach people to take back control of the data, and to do that, we have to come up with something more exciting than just confining ourselves to an HCM solution. That is how Imagine BC was born to ensure that individuals owning the data are the ones making the money. That goes not just for the data, but for the intellectual property and creative rights for the content that is created. That is the message that resides at the core of Imagine BC.
That’s how we migrated from an HCM solution to saying that everybody needs to be in control of their data and learn to benefit from it. That is what shapes our vision today at Imagine BC.
CryptoTapas: We heard about your idea to leverage a gig economic model instead of investing heavily in employing permanent staff on the project. Talk to us about that.
Erik: We are a new type of company that has no employees. If you think about what we are trying to do, if we tried to build an internal organic team, we would probably still be looking for people a year and a half later. We have all the individuals that are needed to reach our vision.
Instead, we went out in the market to find people who are experts in the areas in this ecosystem, quickly and cost effective.
In India, we work with a company called Harbinger who have deep expertise in everything technology. In fact, I was looking to find opportunities to work with them before, and this made the most sense. We put a team together, we do all the design here and Harbinger does the programming and development side of things, it’s been a marvelous partnership.
For Imagine BC to work, we have to ensure that we verify that people are who they say they are as well as ensuring that they are not gaming the system. The other responsibility we have is to make sure our members make money from their data.
Giants like Facebook and Google are using Artificial Intelligence to make money for themselves. We needed to democratize AI for the individuals using Imagine BC.
Next crucial partner, this is one of those situations when luck favors you, this partnership is really lucky for us. I was at a conference in California where companies were talking about how they leverage AI and the benefits. On the second day, this guy named Shan comes on stage and says “everything you just heard is complete bull shit.”
All I was hearing was about how robots are going to take over the world, take our jobs and how everything is becoming predictive, and this guy comes and that’s how he starts his pitch.
He talked about how AI can do certain things very well and for others, it is not there yet. One thing AI does exceptionally well is pattern recognition.
My ears perked up. We needed pattern recognition in our platform and I decided to follow up with Shan. He had just quit Netflix at the time and started a company called We are AI.
It was a match made in heaven. They had the tools that can integrate AI to carry out pattern recognition for 1/10th of the cost. This was nirvana to me. So we struck up a deal. They bought into our value proposition and it has been a marvelous partnership.
Between Harbinger as our mobile app development team and We are AI as our AI/ML team, progress has been incredible.
That is our technical side.
Every time I pitched the idea of Imagine BC, and I have done it more than 600 times by now, I have not heard anyone say no to the idea. In fact, people ask me – ‘you are telling me that if I download this app and protect my privacy, I will make a load of money? where do I sign up?’. It is easy to do that in front of 600 or even 1000 people, but if you want to bring millions of people onto the platform, you need a good marketing team. So, on the marketing side, we have Hackels. They run the show on the marketing side.
Other major partners we have include Ipsos. They bought a company on the behavioral side. That’s what caught my attention. If you think about it, we are going after the masses, and if we piss anyone off, they will not use the app, they will just throw it away.
So it is very important to know why people do what they do. This is the behavioral sciences aspect of it.
While we were looking for companies specializing in behavioral science background, Ipsos looked at our specs on the app. Our proposition at the time was very simple – users would specify how much they would like to make on the app. Ipsos people said to us “you are dead”.
They told us that we are asking people to quantify their self worth. People will throw it away because it is too hard. They suggest that we at least start off with a number with room to change.
Ipsos is not driving the marketing side of things but they backtrack what we are doing and make sure that we are not tripping over.
Another big partner is TrainSMART.
While influencers like yourselves have been shining light on what big players are doing to our data and how they are benefiting from it, we still need to ensure that individuals are educated to entertain our app.
TrainSMART are helping us to ensure that our app is easy to understand and use. They are also helping us with gamification of certain aspects to make it easy for new users.
Of course, Brawner helps us with public relations.
We also have partners that are building their applications on top of Imagine BC. Syntoniq is one such partner, they are like google maps for your financial life. Their assessment takes 2 minutes that produces 7 key aspects of financial profile. I took it myself and the results were perfect.
Their service is now integrated into Imagine BC. Think about the implications of that integration.
Think about a Casino business. Wouldn’t they like to know how much of a risk taker you are before you walk into the Casino? Absolutely.
Banks can use this data too. Instead of throwing flyers at random people – banks will pay you for providing this kind of insights into the users before they make the first contact.
We also have another company in the partners list called AGS-Health who are in genomic testing.
We have companies like 23andme, who took the genetic data of people and sold its company for 400 million dollars. AGS-Health on the other hand never sells their data. We now have a genetics partner on our platform. If there is $1000 is to be made on genetic data, AGS-Health help our users make that money using Imagine BC.
We also have another local partner in Washington area called Health Wizz. They are helping us on the health side.
We also have John Hopkins on the lifestyle/health side. They have projects on cancer and the diabetes area. We are their marketing arm.
Then we have one partner on social work and another on the education side.
On the social work front, we have a partnership with bhs. They are like Uber for social workers. They match social workers to a cause. They have 60000 social workers and want to act as an Uber for social workers. Imagine BC is going to be the platform that will make this happen.
Our partner on the education side is called Pathevo. They want to be the Uber of educational services. They match students with those who can help them achieve whatever is that they are trying to achieve; whether it is getting into Harvard or finishing a project.
When you look at the partnerships we have in place, the possibilities are limitless.
CryptoTapas: All of this is really fascinating stuff. Our next question to you is, how are you going to bring this in front of the masses who do not understand or care about what blockchain is? What is your strategy around it?
Erik: Great question. We never mention blockchain. We are what AOL was to the internet. I am not sure if you are old enough to know this, but I am old enough to remember when the internet was used to send messages across in 1980. It was difficult. Cryptic commands were required to send a simple message.
But along came AOL and it was all about “you got mail”, their Graphic User Interface was a game changer. At that point, no one cared about how the internet worked. All they cared about was that they can use this thing called AOL to send messages across the internet.
That is what we are trying to do, Imagine BC will be for blockchain what AOL was for the internet.
CryptoTapas: With Facebook going into the cryptocurrency/blockchain space, do you think it will distract people from the decentralization conversation and privacy aspects that blockchain was poised to change?
Erik: I am very interested in this space, so I was following that news closely. Facebook is not going to give away its revenue streams.
But think about financial institutions like banks. They would be very concerned about what Facebook is trying to do.
You are right, RK, that Facebook is hijacking the decentralization and privacy discussion to merely the idea of moving money.
I don’t think they will be successful. They are going against a powerful entity who has a monopoly on money, the United States Government. Clearly, Government is pissed off.
When you touch the financial side of things, then all of the anti-trust and privacy laws are going to be important. Although Facebook is trying to get into this space, social influencers like yourself are going to keep the conversation alive and keep the blockchain and decentralization ideas in the forefront.
Facebook will run into so many adversaries as they begin to take on the Government and banking system.
If I have a business model that depends on selling the data, and now the Government comes along and says you have to stop it completely since you are dealing with financial aspects, then I have a big problem.
CryptoTapas: That is where we are glad to see companies like Imagine BC leverage blockchain technology to keep the data in individuals’s hands, while still helping them connect with advertisers in a mutually beneficial model.
Erik: That is only part of what Imagine BC does. If you look at platforms like YouTube, it is sad how much people creating the intellectual property for YouTube are exploited.
There is a German researcher named Mathias Bärtl who found that even YouTubers that average 1.4 million viewers per month only average about $17,000 a year. To sustain that kind of viewership up, you have to work 14-16 hours a day.
The research essentially concluded that there is a better chance for your kid to be a major league baseball player than for you to be a YouTube success.
That is the other aspect we address.
For example, my relative is in the gaming space. His video on YouTube crossed million viewers and got a check for $3000 which he thought was fantastic until I showed him he got robbed. On our platform model, he would have uploaded the video to the platform and put a fees to watch the video.
The users can quickly go watch an ad or participate in some activity to earn those fees. For instance, that same million viewers would have translated to $170,000 instead of $3000. That is how we envision our ecosystem to work.
We want people making money on the platform, but at the same time spend that money on content created by other individuals. That is power of Imagine BC ecosystem.
CryptoTapas: If you are going after models like Facebook or YouTube, how are you going to address the issue of scalability and how are you going to manage infrastructure?
Erik: Imagine BC is a private blockchain because we are not a crypto based platform, we are USD based.
So, we are using Microsoft Azure to address the scalability. Additionally, we do not store any data after identity has been verified and confirmed.
Users will create their profiles on the app and then complete 5 basic steps to establish their identity. We only keep the information in our systems for 48 hours to verify the identity. Once that is done, we delete that information forever from our systems after assigning an alphanumeric referral code to the user.
This code becomes the universal identity on Imagine BC everywhere.
We call it a referral code and this is used when a registered user invites another person to join the community. Every direct invitee’s activity will yield 10% to the referrer. At any point, users make 70%, referrer makes 10% and Imagine BC makes 10%.
CryptoTapas: How do you handle the GDPR, looks like you guys are managing the ‘right to forget’ aspect by design by deleting the information within 48 hours, however, if the user decides to delete their information from the wallet, is that possible?
Erik: GDPR is about unauthorized use of your personal information. If users want to delete their wallets, they cannot, they just have to destroy their private keys to make them inaccessible forever.
CryptoTapas: What is your elevator pitch for Imagine BC?
Erik: We never pitch blockchain and that makes our elevator pitch simple, and it is this:
Do you think its fair for Google and Facebook to make the money off of your data?
Generally people say no.
Would you like to use an app that allows you to make that money, if yes, that is what ImagineBC is – we use blockchain to ensure your anonymity and no one else makes money from your data.
CryptoTapas: Are you geography centric or are you global?
Erik: We are currently establishing our model in the US. Once successful, we will naturally transform into a global platform.
CryptoTapas: How do you manage work-life balance? How do you stay away from digital noise?
Erik: I am in a different stage in life. I am married for 34 years, my wife is also a professional. We both have our own careers. My boys are grown up now, in fact, I became a grandfather recently.
I do not have a lot of commitments like other young people have. So, I commit a lot of time on the projects.
In terms of digital noise, I am not bothered by social media. I am an avid news reader and I am always reading news on my phone because every single news out there might have some impact on what we are doing at Imagine BC.
CryptoTapas: One final question, what drives you every day to invest your time and energy on Imagine BC?
Erik: Answer to that, unfortunately is, disgust.
I look at the world and it concerns me a lot. It may also have to do with the fact that I am a grandfather. That makes you look at the world differently to say ‘what kind of a world will my grandson grow in 20 years from today?’. If projects like Imagine BC don’t come out and do something, we have a big problem.
We see news everyday, nothing is going to stop robotics and AI is going to wipe out jobs.
Well that means, there will be a lot of unemployed people, that is scary, that’s how revolutions start. I am a history major – so I can think through these.
I see unbelievable parallels between the world we are living right now and the world from 1890 to 1914s. Robert Barren, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, now we have Zuckerberg, Bezos who are much bigger than those guys at the time.
We see ourselves as organizing people to counteract these Robert Barrens of the modern world.
Decentralization and Blockchain promise a better world, and Imagine BC is participating in that, that is what drives me every day.
Every negative headline drives me everyday.
Thank you for reading the article.
Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.
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About the author
RK Reddy holds two Masters degrees, one in Accounting and another in Business Administration with over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry.
RK Reddy is an ardent fan of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies. You can see the excitement about this new blockchain technology in every article on Cryptotapas.com. Sometimes this excitement leads to an overly optimistic view. Guilty as charged. RK Reddy says “what may seem like an ‘overly optimistic expectation’ today may become an everyday norm in 5-10 years; look at the history of cars or airplanes, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies belong to a similar frame of reference.” Of course, that is just his opinion.