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Our special guest this week is Co-founder & CEO Kai from Webblen! Webblen is a platform built to drive engagement in our communities. Kai shares how their platform encourages connection by having users earn tokens in exchange for their commitment to community events, live streams, and more.  Josh and Kai chat about how Webblen made their unique token as well as where Webblen is going next!

Learn more about Webblen here: https://www.webblen.io/

VO: Let's get geared up for startup success. Join Josh as he interviews knowledgeable guests from all corners of the entrepreneurial world and gets the answers to the questions you've been asking. Get ready to learn something new on this episode of From Idea to Done.

Josh: Hey everyone, on this episode, I'd like to welcome our new guests. Kai. Kai is the co-founder and CEO of Webblen. Welcome.

Kai: Thank you, Josh. Good to be here.

Josh: Yes. Uh, a little, a little backstory that, uh, Kai and I actually worked together with back in, uh, 20 17, 20 18. Um, so it's kind of little bit of a homecoming here, so thanks for coming on the show.

Kai: Good as always. It is like being at home.

Josh: So I wanted to start off with, uh, kind of our universal question, uh, is what is Webblen and what is the, the problem that Webblen's trying to solve?

Kai: Sure thing. Uh, it's funny because even like, since the last time that we've chatted, we've really been honing in our messaging, uh, and even have, have coaches come in additional partners come in to really hone in what exactly is it that we are doing. And Webblen is a platform for the purpose economy, because with today's most popular business models and technology, it's actually being used to drive disengagement in our communities. And what's funny with this is, is that this problem has been, come to be known as what is the social dilemma, the way our communities are spending trillions of dollars, trying to find solutions to loneliness, depression, anxiety, suicide. We've been spending trillions of dollars since the nineties for social inequality. And it's kind of ironic that we expect to fix social inequality when people are not even engaged with different people around them. And there's even a saying that goes as, uh, competing the value way by a peer feel because for every trillion dollars that a community or city generation GDP across the globe, we have to spend 1.3 trillion with the, to pay for the consequences. And this includes environmental issues, social issues, bureaucracy corruption, hence we created Wein to allow for communities to have a, of aligning different incentives, to be engaged in what's going on around them and making the world a better place.

Josh: So what does that mean for me as a, a citizen of Fargo? Like how can I use Webblen to, to help solve this

Kai: Problem? Yes, sure thing. We have three different stakeholders that we uses a community member like yourself and me. Uh, we are able to be paid to be engaged through local events and media. So if I show up somewhere and there's an event, if I post a comment from maybe one of my neighbors or a business, or I watch a stream from a streamer in town, I'm able to be compensated for my engagement and my attention that is our token Wein and Wein is actually allows for you to buy different goods and services on a platforms, market place, as well as allows for you to make your own event or make your own stream or post something. If you are getting something out of the community, it's gonna probably cost you Lin. And if you wanna get Lin, you have to get involved.

Josh: So let let's say that, that Kai's putting on an event, John shows up and attends, uh, comments to something. Does the platform Webblen pay Josh the token or does the event poster Kai pay Josh for the engagement

Kai: Mm-hmm ? So the economics of Webblen works like, uh, it's. It is like creating, uh, our own economy in which if you are posting something on Webblen, there is a certain fee and that fee is put into a pool that is then like a tax. It is then, uh, allocated to members on our platform that are actually being involved and engaged in what's going on around them. And on top of the revenue, specifically from local businesses, people being engaged, posting on the platform, we also generate additional revenue from, uh, government, government, uh, partnerships and allocate a portion of those funds as well to further incentivize action in the community.

Josh: So if I'm coming in posting an event, I convert my us dollars into a Webblen token mm-hmm , um, effectively so that I can post my event in the community. Is that, is that the nuts and bolts of, of me coming in posting an event?

Kai: Yep. Pretty much.

Josh: Okay. Pretty, pretty easy. And then as an attendee, I, I get rewarded with, with Webblen, for engagement, um, kind, kinda like, uh, basic attention token in some ways, if I can use it to, to tip or to kind of move through the ecosystem. Would that be a fair representation?

Kai: Exactly. As long as you are engaged age, like if you are involved, it, uh, it's supposed to pay attribution to your humanity and how do we materialize? What is like human empathy and being involved in what's going on around you and being engaged as opposed to our current, most popular like platforms and systems that is actually, you could say milking you for your data, hashtag Facebook, hashtag Instagram and popular social medias and like a cow. Do you get to see anything? No. No.

Josh: Okay. Um, tell me a little bit about kind of going through the process of creating your, your own token, your own coin. And again, I'm, I'm just, I'm, I'm old enough and just deep enough into like the crypto space that I'm probably using the wrong verbiage. So feel free to correct me, uh, at any point in time, kind of the crotchity, the old man get off my lawn. So, uh, help me navigate this,

Kai: Uh, when it comes to creating your own token, you generally have two options. The first and most difficult option is to also create your own blockchain with it. And I'm not interested to give the definition of what is a blockchain . Uh, the easiest way is to build on an existing blockchain network. So you can think of Ethereum, you can think of what we use as aand, and because they already have the framework of how data goes from point point B and what protocols are in place, how you create the rules of how the blockchain works and functions it's already all there. And just up for you to create your own contract, your own token on top of that, to allow you to essentially, you know, create your own token, determine how it behaves. Is it a security token? Is it a utility token that's really up for you to decide? Hopefully you're creating a utility token, uh, and in a nutshell, that is really how it works. Even with like today, it's quite simple to create your own token, as long as you choose a viable blockchain to work with.

Josh: So do you have to go through like an application process with that blockchain provider to develop on top of it, or is it kinda, you know, open source and, and you just use it as, as you see fit

Kai: Mm-hmm , uh, essentially currently, as far as what I've seen, it's pretty open source that anybody can choose existing blockchain networks to build on top of when it comes to different tokens and smart contracts. I could see in the future that if regulation goes a certain way, that maybe then there'll be certain applications, uh, and requirements in order to build on said blockchains. However, right now it is a pretty much a free market on who can build on any blockchain.

Josh: Cool. And so if, if I'm, if I'm operating in Webblen ecosystem, does, does Webblen stay within like the Webblen wallet? Or can I move that outside into my own like wallet, you know, like a Coinbase or, you know, something else, talk a little bit about that ecosystem and, and kind of where, uh, Webblen currently at. And if you have any, you know, kind of future plans, mm-hmm ,

Kai: Uh, Webblen is currently the Webblen is current currently on the test net. It is not a live token yet since we've been focusing on the movement, as well as functionality behind the token, how it's distributed on our platform, we do not plan to sell it on our platform. You could primarily earn it. However, through the Webblen network, we're going to offer a opportunity for you to send it to either a cold wallet. We have two initial exchanges that we plan on being listed on this December. Like mid-December in order to provide some liquidity with the token. And once that happens, the token, I, we will look at additional options such as coin and Coinbase around spray. However, primarily for the time being, we plan on only allowing for you to earn tokens, as well as spend tokens on our platform. When it comes to exclusively purchasing tokens through our platform, it's likely that you would have to purchase those tokens on an exchange and then send them to your, uh, Webblen wallet in app.

Josh: Okay. So this where you're at right now is closer to, if I get granted equity into a company that's not publicly traded, I own, I, I can own the coin, but the only way I can, uh, effectively use that coin is within the Webblen ecosystem.

Kai: You could say here's a good analogy to where let's look at Webblen, like it's gas, right? For your car. We are not a gas station, uh, that allows for you to essentially purchase in gas, but we are more so a car that allows for you to said gas for what it's supposed to be used for. Mm-hmm .

Josh: Gotcha. So put yourself back 20 16, 20 17, when the, the concept of Webblen was, was coming to fruition. Yes. What have you learned? Like what's, what's the big aha takeaways that you wish you could tell, you know, Kai, a few year, um, as you've gone through this journey.

Kai: What's so funny is there was a conversation we had with one of our coaches, uh, that really came down to him telling us to think bigger, because the way that we, the, the problem we are trying to solve, though, it can be felt amongst anyone. It comes to how disengaged we are in our communities. Um, we, how currently, uh, our systems are failing a lot of people, especially like socially speaking, economically speaking. And how can we create a system that is more respective of your humanity and contribution to what's going on around you really wish could have told myself think bigger. And look at what you're trying to solve is more than like a, an individual problem. It's, it's a systematic problem that requires bigger parties, different entities to be involved, because this is one of those things, especially I'm gonna even like be frank, uh with one of our, uh, the people that we're working with, or the groups that we're working with is the city of Minneapolis and St. Paul. And what's interesting as you know, through COVID 19 and with the death of George Floyd, the main tech takeaway was that we need new and innovative ways to be engaged in our communities in order to improve social health, governance, education, a systematic. And right now the most efficient ways, unfortunately, when it comes to communicating with our community is through social media platforms that aren't interested in the health of your community. They're mostly interested in their bottom line. Mm-hmm, really what you could have told myself that

Josh: I think there's a certain like Midwestern attitude too, of like, you don't want to be too braggadocious or think you can solve the world's problem. So you focus on something that's like, I know I can get there because I've seen other people do it. Yeah. And it is kind of a trap too. I, I think of, of not wanting to, you know, call your shot and swing for the fences. Yeah.

Kai: Don't to shoot for the sky. Cause if you don't, who will somebody will, but then who right.

Josh: Well, let, let me ask, um, let me ask kind of a, a bigger question that, um, you know, I kind of resolves around revolves around the events and the processes that happen within the web and ecosystem. Um, have you given much thought to, you know, you talk about being a good steward or a good human in this ecosystem, have you given any thought to like, some people are just jerks, right. how, how do you, how do you protect against the trolls? The people that maybe wanna host an event that doesn't align with Weins core values or ideologies, and, you know, the word censorship gets thrown around a lot. When you talk about like social media platforms that may censor one group and not another, like, have you given any thought to, um, when that occurs within Wein, how you want to handle it? And I know it's an extremely loaded and unfair question to spring on you.

Kai: No, fair, fair question. Even on a platform like in Texas, there was like, uh, even in Fargo, there was some posts that were questionable. There were some events that were questionable. Uh, what we are trying to do is we really focus on the, how Webblen is used. We're primarily focused on the technology experience, how it's used to drive culture and engagement and the health of the community that doesn't necessarily fall into our realm of responsibility. However, what we can do is when it comes to payouts within the platform, does the post, does the events, does the stream, does it seem to be correlated with like the goals of the community? Does it seem to drive like positive engagement as opposed to negative engagement?

Josh: Mm-hmm .

Kai: That's the best that we can do, uh, with that.

Josh: And I'm, I'm sure that's gonna evolve as those come up, but I've even noticed with us as a company of you try to be inclusive and, you know, promote something and, and you miss something else that's in, you know, and now you're not inclusive to that group. Or now you're, you're hating on these, you know, this, this individual or organization, it's just like, uh, it just feels like sometimes you can't win. And so I, I know that you guys will, will learn a lot as you, as you go through those pieces. I, I wish you the best of luck with that cuz that's, um, that's, that's gonna be a hurdle at some point. I can imagine

Kai: I'm also one to say that's a hot take that like, uh, when it comes to like identity politics and, um, focusing on, you could say trying to appease everybody's opinions, like as not everybody is entitled to an opinion and it actually distracts from the situation at hand because the, this is a very, it is a systematic problem that we're dealing with. It is not, it is not the fact that you don't see me or I don't see you for the person you think you are. I think I am. It's more so how we engage with one another and how we feel about it. That's the issue.

Josh: Yeah, no, I think that that's well put, so you talked a little bit about some stuff coming up with exchanges, you know, coming into, I think you said December here and some other pieces, what's what, it's really the next big steps for Webblen.

Kai: We are actually now beginning, uh, regular community pitchings, uh, in Fargo, it's called Disrupt Fargo. The next one is December 9th. And the goals of these community pitches are essentially to look at the start to measure through our platform. What are the KPIs that our community should focus on? Like sentiment? Like how, how happy is the community, how engaged is the community, uh, how environmentally friendly or positive is a community, what different stakeholders and business tech, food, arts culture, government, how are we able to leverage the different tools that our platform provides in order to improve on those set KPIs? And though this is, I mentioned like Disrupt Fargo, we are also beginning plans on doing this same process in other communities, such as the twin cities, Minneapolis St. Paul, Phoenix, Arizona, and New York in the next coming months, along with like their municipalities, different local businesses in the area members of the community. Uh, those are the next steps with Webblen.

Josh: Awesome. So how, how can correlation, how can our listeners, how can we help Webblen really drive that, those next steps for you? What, what can we help do for Webblen?

Kai: You can simply engage on our platform or on our Twitter, because that's where we hold a lot of conversations. And as what we try to do is like, we are really, truly trying to create something that is supposed to be an attribution of our humanities, solving the social dilemma and actually driving engagement in the communities because only then can we focus on bigger problems, like improving the environments, uh, economic and social equality, able to focus on bigger things beyond threats to, you could say, existential threats to humanity. And we can't do that if we're not actually talking to one another engagement fund there. So simply whether it's on our Twitter or on the web platform itself, pro tip probably benefit more personally if you use our platform to engage with us. But, uh, that's all we can ask.

Josh: So what I'm hearing is, uh, go to webblen.io and download the apps,

Kai: Download the app, you get, you get tokens. Uh, you also, your opinion matters. And for early adopters, uh, early bird gets the worm, right?

Josh: Absolutely. Yep. Well, awesome. Kai, thank you so much for talking about this today and it's, it's been fun to watch your, your journey Webblen's evolved and I'm really excited for our next what's next for you guys.

Kai: Awesome. Thanks Josh.

VO: Thanks so much for tuning into this episode of From Idea to dun. If you're enjoying the show, please feel free to rate, subscribe, and leave a review. Wherever you listen to your podcasts, we really appreciate it. And we'll catch you in the next episode.

About the Show

Erick and Josh talk about big ideas, companies that are winning and those that aren’t, and current events in the crazy world of software startups.

Josh Christy

CEO

Erick Roder

Director of People
and Nerd Culture

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