Max Keiser is the co-founder of StartJOIN, a crowdfunding platform and launch pad for business ideas and projects that leverages on cryptocurrency such as StartCOIN and Bitcoin. Here it is not only financial backing that people give but also other forms of support such as sharing the ideas, providing feedback, consultation, and skills.
Max is also the host of Keiser Report, a financial program that airs on RT. Cointelegraph had an opportunity to have an exclusive interview with Max on StartJOIN’s progress so far and what we can expect in the future.
“I'm confident that StartJOIN and StartCOIN will […] become one of the top 3 most trafficked rewards-based crowdfunding sites in the world and that StartCOIN will be in the top 10 altcoins by market cap.”
Cointelegraph: To the person who has never heard about StartJOIN, how would you describe it?
Max Keiser: A next generation crowd-funding that leverages the very best that crypto has to offer. Keep in mind there are two distinct parts: StartJOIN and StartCOIN.
CT: Who integrates the StartJOIN team?
MK: StartJOIN and StartCOIN are co-founded by Max Keiser and Jamie Scott, and we run the team from here in London where the company is headquartered.
CT: Crowdfunding is a concept widely accepted now around the globe and consequently there are hundreds if not thousands of platforms where it happens. What makes StartJOIN different from all those other crowdfunding platforms?
MK: I tried to get a crowdfunding platform off the ground in 1999 when I was CEO of Hollywood Stock Exchange. In fact, we filed a patent on crowdfunding in 2000 and because the company changed hands the patent was never pursued.
“[W]hat makes StartJOIN and StartCOIN different is that […] we combine a platform with a currency.”
But I have to laugh that there is a patent dispute going on now in this space. If anyone did the required amount of digging they would find the prior art already exists and because it was never pursued, it's now impossible for anyone to have a patent on this idea.
My point is that what makes StartJOIN and StartCOIN different is that, like I did with HSX, we combine a platform with a currency. I the case of the HSX, we launched the first, fully convertible virtual currency - and in fact, a patented technology, U.S. pat. no. 5950176 for Virtual Specialist Technology.
So I'm confident that StartJOIN and StartCOIN will continue building successfully on these themes and become one of the top 3 most trafficked rewards-based crowdfunding sites in the world and that StartCOIN will be in the top 10 altcoins by market cap.
Add to this our excellent reach in media, and you can see why I'm bullish on this project.
CT: For approximately one year, StartJOIN has been linking ideas with resources. Can you give us some examples that stand out for you?
MK: I love the stuff we're doing with Russell Brand right now and his 'Trews' channel and his Trew Era Cafe. We are launching a new 100 StartCoin free crypto scratchcard co-branded with the Trews and Trew Era Cafe next week.
The free coins we give away will find their way back into projects that Russell is promoting like the rebranding of a newsagent in Hoxton - that was branded with Murdoch's Sun newspaper - but is now branded as the Trews.
We are now looking forward to doing the same for another news agent after having successfully crowdfunded the second piece of this project and we are also going to launch with Russell a campaign to crowdfund 1,000 laptops for kids living in the New Era Estate in Hoxton and surrounding schools.
I am also very excited about working with Jose Rodriguez in Mexico City. We met Jose while shooting some Keiser Reports there and he put StartCOIN on his exchange Unisend and we came up with a crypto silver bullion coin to list on StartJOIN that sold very well. All together we've sold over US$200,000 worth of crypto bullion in the past 6 months. I think in 2015, with Jose's next crypto bullion projects we will triple that number.
CT: When you were starting out, what kind of projects were you hoping StartJOIN will help crowd-fund and develop? Has anything changed in that regard with the implementation?
MK: The goal that myself and Jamie Scott had when we started this was to take the best elements of crowdfunding and the best of crypto and create a platform where users could create their economy outside of the current one that is led primarily by desperate banks in dire straights always looking for more handouts from central banks.
“We say 'it pays to share' and this is an entirely new way to build an economy. We are monetizing altruism.”
One way to achieve this is by introducing the Karma Score. The more users pledge to other projects, the higher their Karma Score, which means that every Friday when we give away StartCOIN those users who have given the most get the biggest rewards. Also, projects that top our 'favorites' Leader Board get a Fund Friday boost as well.
We say 'it pays to share' and this is an entirely new way to build an economy. We are monetizing altruism.
CT: What are the current volumes on the platform in regard to projects, financial resources, geographical spread and the community in general?
MK: Thanks to an equity crowdfund we did on our Simon Dixon's site Bank To The Future we were able to secure our 2015 funding needs. Across all metrics we're growing; user base, interaction, size of projects, number of projects.
I think our users really enjoy how we've created an online experience where Concepts get listed looking for support and if they get it they can opt to be upgraded to Projects and users who fund one project are coming back with more ideas and getting more funding. The overall Karma Index on the site is spectacular - and this is the number one metric we focus on.
CT: What mechanisms are there to ensure that projects and concepts remain true to the plan put forward by backers before and during the funding period?
MK: As I mentioned, the Karma Score tends to help the community focus on users and projects that are bringing some sunshine into the picture. I think my time as CEO of HSX and the introduction of many of the 'gamification' elements we see today - helps in keeping the focus on being community minded in a fun way - and so projects stay true - and get funded.
“I'll think we'll have our first £1 million project success in the next six months.”
CT: What is in the pipeline and where do you see StartJOIN in the next three to five years?
MK: I'll think we'll have our first £1 million project success in the next six months and we are working with our Chinese partners at ANX in Hong Kong to launch a Chinese language version this year.
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