Brief introduction about Erik, Background of founders
I graduated from The George Washington University in 1983 with a B.A. in History. Rather than going into government, the law or teaching I was lucky enough to be recruited by Price Waterhouse into their management consulting group where I became an expert in identifying and solving human capital management (HCM) related issues. In ’90, I left Price Waterhouse to join a small HCM company and a year after that I and one of the founders of that startup left to build our own HCM technology company.
Journey behind the idea
After spending more than 2 ½ decades
in the HCM space, in 2017 I found myself chasing a new idea. The idea was to help
every individual take back control of their personal information and even more
important create an easy and efficient way for individuals to be fairly
compensated by 3rd parties for the use of their personal information.
This idea began when I first started exploring how to best utilize blockchain technology within my current company’s existing HCM solution. Quickly though we realized that what we were really doing was creating a way for individuals to control their most personal information.
We didn’t think that HCM was the
correct path for educating people to take back control of their data, so we pivoted
the development to create an entirely new ecosystem dedicated to ensuring that
the individual is the primary beneficiary of the revenue earned from their
data. I can honestly say that the past 2 years working on his project have been
the most exciting and rewarding since I left Price Waterhouse.
Motivation to start entrepreneur Journey?
I ’m a
reluctant entrepreneur. I loved the 8 eight years I worked
as a management consultant for Price Waterhouse. It’s not very often you get a
job where you actually don’t want to leave work and run to the office each
morning. But life is more than just your job. In 1990 my wife, then a newly
minted attorney, was busy building her business reputation in the DC area and
we also had a 1 year old son.
So, when my boss was transferred to
Atlanta and asked me to follow him, I was left with a decision. Follow him to
Atlanta and make the partnership in a year or stay in DC to allow my wife’s
career to continue to grow.
The decision was really not that
hard. Family always comes first, so I called up a startup company that had been
recruiting me to see if the opportunity to join them was still available. When
they said yes, the decision was made. I resigned and started down the
Can you explain more about ImagineBC?
The elevator pitch is, ImagineBC turns the tables on the business as usual in social media world we live in. Instead of content providers and advertisers hitting on us, ImagineBC’s trusted, Peer-to-Peer platform gives members access to a virtual catalog where they get to choose and enjoy exclusive content and offerings from members they wish to follow. What this means is that we believe the capitalist system is broken.
It broke when a handful of companies
backed by seemingly endless venture capital corrupted the system by creating
the illusion that consumers can have everything for “free” like Google offering
free access to email and other productivity tools. What we didn’t know back
then, but should have, is that nothing in life is “free”. So, what really
happened was that in exchange for these so called “free” services, we gave up
control of our privacy.
Now, while a handful of tech giants
earn the largest fortunes known to mankind and companies like Cambridge
Analytica fueled by data from Facebook corrupt our democratic processes, we are
treated almost like an indentured servant. To correct this problem, We the
People must take back control of our personal information.
ImagineBC has dedicated itself to
creating an ecosystem to make doing so easy and efficient for everyone. We want
to create a world where instead of just a handful of lucky individuals being
able to earn a living from platforms like YouTube, all people can equally share
in the vast riches available from the world of data monetization. ImagineBC has
also dedicated itself to be an engine for social good.
Within our standard blockchain
contract there a multiple ways money can and will be donated to social causes.
And unlike platforms like Patreon, ImagineBC never takes a dime from any
donation. ImagineBC’s role within the ecosystem it has developed is to create
ways for its members to earn “new” money, taking money from member donations
would be counter to everything we believe in.
is your USP ?
Our unique selling point is that we pay members to use our debit card reward program. This creates for members what we call “free” money. We then hope our members will use some of this “free” money to purchase content from our member channels and to make donations to partnered social causes. The average cell phone bill in the United States is now over $80 per month.
ImagineBC will pay its members $4 to
use our MasterCard debit card to pay that $80 bill. We then hope that same
member will perhaps use $2 of the money we gave them to purchase a monthly
subscription to the content of the member who invited them to join the
community and perhaps donate the other $2 or Toys for Tots. Another unique
feature is that ImagineBC does not take any fee for processing a donation
unlike Patreon and other giving platforms. ImagineBC only earns a fee when we
have helped a member earn money so when transactions like donations are
processed inside our platform, we do them free of charge! Another interesting
example is gig economy invoicing. Recently, I paid an individual for voice over
work for tutorial videos we are adding to the app.
She quoted me $350 for the work and
invoiced me $360.50 through PayPal. I moved $360.50 from my ImagineBC balance
onto a debit card, earning $18.025 for my efforts. I then transferred the debit
card into my PayPal account and paid the invoice. Which she received. I did ask
her what the extra $10.50 was for and she said that was the 3% fee that PayPal charges
her for processing the invoice.
Well, the next time she and I do a
transaction its going to be very different. How? Well, she is going to join the
ImagineBC community and only invoice me the $350 because ImagineBC doesn’t
charge fees to move money between members. I will pay her the $350, saving
$10.50 and she will be able to put the $350 onto one of our debit cards,
thereby earning an additional 5% from the transaction. Ask yourself, if you
performed gig work, which platform would you use to collect money from you
clients, PayPal or ImagineBC?
Early days struggle?
Despite knowing that what we are
building something that people need, that does not mean that we haven’t faced
issues. The biggest hurdle of course is solving the “chicken and egg” problem
that all new marketplaces face. The problem is defined as how you convince
buyers to join a community if there are not enough products interesting to them
to purchase. And then how you convince sellers to join a community if the
community is does not have enough buyers.
Then to make matters even more complex,
we know we are trying to change buying habits. Which we are aware is never easy
to accomplish. If we had endless funding like Amazon or Google did at their
early stages, we could just continue to press forward until the market realized
our clear advantages.
Instead, we have needed to be creative
and a bit lucky. To address this double edged issue, we have been fortunate
enough to have built a strong partnership network that permits us to offer our
users a service that is better than free (this goes to change of habit) and we
have a significant number of content providers willing to use ImagineBC as
their platform for exclusive content (this goes to having available sellers).
This coming year
we will see if our strategy works.
To date ImagineBC has been totally
funded by its parent company, the HCM company I began back in 2003. We have
invested nearly $2m to date building the ecosystem. We are in the process of
looking for our first found of capital to help take the company to the next
But raising funding is a frustrating
process, especially when you are pre revenue. So, it looks like our parent
company is going to need to keep funding ImagineBC for just a little while
longer as we generally launch the ecosystem and start to build of the size of
our community in terms of members and revenue.
base you have achieved till now?
We did a small beta launch of the
ecosystem in August and got our membership quickly up to 200 users. Based on
some amazing feedback we received from these early users, we knew we had to
clean up our user experience. But even more important we landed a partnership
that allowed us to change our development timetable to move up the deployment
of support for content providers.
We are planning to relaunch the
product immediately after the New Year, focused on helping about 3 dozen
content providers, all with followings of 30k-150k people, and allow them
to start earning fair compensation from the content they
provide. The new partnership, previously mentioned, allows us to offer the
followers of our content providers a model that is better than free.
New Areas you are looking to expand?
Our planned expansion is two-fold.
First, we need to fully develop our content provider platform into something we
call the Imaginarium. The Imaginarium is a virtual representation of Main
America. A place where small and
mid-sized business can incubate and grow. Think of it as a destination for the
entrepreneur, where ideas can be shared and funded directly by members of the
community. A place where the community directly shares in the success of the
businesses and enterprises they support.
Secondly, we want to be able to
expand our marketplace internationally. The benefits of a virtual peer to peer marketplace
are not geographically constrained. We hope one day that our community will
support all individuals and not just citizens of the United States.
Another area of interest for us is
to start a non-profit focused on educating individuals as to the
important of personal data privacy. This also means the non-profit will work on
behalf of its members to help convince Federal, State and Local government
authorities to cooperate in the effort to allow all individuals to secure their
This will not be an easy task since
it will require substantive changes to existing institutional processes. But is
it is a fight worth taking on, and ImagineBC hopes that it will be able to fund
this non-profit free of charge to its existing members.
can Techiexpert help them to spread word about their startup ?
The answer to this question is easy.
Spread the word to your following of ImagineBC’s value proposition. The larger
ImagineBC’s community gets the greater the benefit to all members. Even if a
member does not see any immediate benefit in terms of new income, their passive
participation at first is still of value.
Of course, we believe that every
member will find some way to take advantage of our “free” money, since it can
be used to pay existing expenses or donated to an important social cause. Also,
as a content providing publication you may interested in exploring ways to
become a 3rd party participating member of ImagineBC.