Some say the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency is a dog-eat-dog world. Not Isaac Thomas, who is targeting a community that has different tastes.
VeganNation is a decentralized community uniting people around veganism, the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in their diet, but also extending to clothing and other ways animals are turned into commodities.
The VeganNation communities is a 100% cruelty-free ecosystem with its own VeganCoin, a traceable cryptocurrency that’s verified vegan. The VeganCoin currency will be used for all VeganNation services such as, meal sharing (a platform for hosting or sharing vegan meals), e-commerce, content-sharing, and a meetup platform to link like-minded people.
The service is the brainchild of four childhood friends: Isaac Thomas, Yossi Rayby, Shneor Shapira and Nati Giant.
VeganNation will launch the meal sharing and content platforms in May of 2018. Early pioneers of VeganNation will be able to acquire VeganCoin in the pre-sale at the end of February 2018. The official ICO for VeganCoin will be at the end of March, along with the launch of the ‘Passport’ digital wallet.
CEO Isaac Thomas talked with Block Tribune about the project.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So, Isaac, tell me about the origins of this coin, give me your background and how you came up with this.
ISAAC THOMAS: So I come from a real estate background, and my partners come from the real estate and food background. And we were talking about going into the food business together in the United States, it was never much of interest to me. Until, at a certain point about a couple of years ago, I became vegan.
And I soon realized through my extensive traveling for business and pleasure, I realized the enormous lack of vegan and healthy food in general throughout the United States, especially when you go outside in New York, Miami, L.A., there’s really nothing there. So I told my two buddies, “This is the perfect opportunity. It was the right time in the market, let’s start a vegan casual fast-food chain.” Start more from the middle of the United States and grow out, versus start in New York, L.A., and grow in. We said, “Let’s start around college campuses in the states and really establish a new and cool vegan place”.
Then, we started the concept, we built the concept design. We got 10 franchises to start with us, and we were moving forward with the plan until I… I went on a cycling trip through Europe, and somewhere between Germany, Austria and cycling through the Alps, I realized that there’s no vegan food there. And when I was kind of starving throughout the day, I realized that if there would be a way for me to find out about a vegan person living in the Alps – I’m sure there are – and for him to find out about me, I’m sure that he would be happy to host me for dinner. And I’d be happy to meet a vegan person living in the Alps, just meeting new people.
So we got together, me and my partners, and we decided to take the restaurant idea to the next level. Instead of focusing on physical restaurants, to build a platform online Airbnb for vegan food. And we started building the platform, really, with the vision and idea to come and connect the vegan global community.
We soon realized how big that community is, about 300 million people besides India around the world. And we said, “we have to come up with the right platform to have everyone come connect and help each other”. The two things that … The three things that I think about when I wake up in the morning, and two of them most vegans think. One is “what do I eat today?” Two is “how can I help and change the world?” And the third is “how do I get long, curly hair? I’m bald.” For the first two, we found an amazing solution.
And we built a platform on the same concept of Airbnb, to come and connect every vegan and bring them a solution to his search for food, regardless of if he’s in his home town. And just looking for a different kind of dinner, or traveling throughout the world. And it’s also an opportunity for every vegan that believes in the mission, helping another fellow vegan, or showing someone else the wonders of amazing vegan food. He can open his house … Either cook and open his house to hosts, or cook and send the food with takeout delivery, such as Uber Eats.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Let me stop you right there because I have a couple questions. Did you move forward with the retail operation? If so, what’s the name of it?
ISAAC THOMAS: We did not. Right before we were about to move forward and sign leases, that’s when we came up with the idea of taking it online.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. Why is this a blockchain application?
ISAAC THOMAS: So I will touch on the blockchain and then I’ll give you my vision for the blockchain and world connect. So right now, everyone is looking for the next financial revolution, and people think that they’ve found it with a blockchain.
To say that blockchain is designed for FinTech is like saying that the Internet was designed for porn. The idea of blockchain is so much broader than a financial service, going through faster, a split of a second faster, or for a couple of percent cheaper, which is extremely important. And it’s amazing, but we believe that blockchain is so much more. The most important thing about blockchain is the 100% certainty, guarantee in authenticity, that the blockchain idea brings.
So the triple-entry idea that came with the blockchain brings, we think, a whole new era of being able to authenticize and guarantee certain things. Such as financial services or many, many other things around the supply chain of anything around our lives as we know it today. For vegans, the most important thing throughout our day is the authenticity and to be able to fully guarantee that the things that I consume, whether it’s food or clothes that I wear, or certain things that we come across any given moment of our life, for me as a vegan the most important thing to know is that I can track its source, I can see its lifespan and I can see that I agree with everything that happened throughout its life cycle.
So we believe … and part of our mission is … Of course, not at day one, because the whole blockchain platform as a whole needs to be developed – but it’s our vision in the company to build our marketplace platform on the blockchain. And we’re going out with a pilot with a couple of different companies around the world to start putting their products on a smart contract from day one, and really follow their product. If it’s a t-shirt factory, if it’s a vegan restaurant in L.A., if it’s a juice bar, etc. To start a pilot, to really start tracking these things from day of inception of whatever it is, and carry it on through its lifetime.
And that way bring the global vegan community the much needed authenticity and guarantee to the product they consume. So that’s where we see the blockchain as going, and we feel that it’s the … That’s what the vegan community needs in order to really take it to the next level.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How are you catering to the various segments of the vegan community? In other words, there are certain types of people who believe eating fish would be acceptable. Do you adhere to some strict baseline protocol, or is there some other way to determine …
ISAAC THOMAS: So there’s a few different worlds, and definitely certain terms evolved from the 50’s, and they get updated as the global movement goes on. When Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt say that in 25 years the world is gonna be vegan, either because of theology or necessity, obviously there’s a different terminology to what everyone sees it.
My term vegan is someone that does not take advantage of any other living being. Me, for example, I do not eat honey. I don’t touch honey, and anything to the left of that. So fish and all that, that’s for sure. The platform, the food-sharing platform, our mission and say is that we’re 100% vegan. Obviously when someone made the match to go eat by someone, they can request certain specification, such as different types of diet.
But our clear message is completely vegan.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What phases are you rolling out your platform on?
ISAAC THOMAS: Right. So our first phase is the meal-sharing, we feel that the way to bring people together is through food. Breaking bread, breaking barriers is a motto that I love and I believe in, and that’s the first step in bringing the global vegan community to really start meeting each other, work together, and empower each other.
So it’s gonna be the meal-sharing. Right after that we’re rolling out with the e-commerce. We’re already talking to several retailers, vegan retailers and food supplements to be working with us. And then I will go into content, obviously as the community grows the more people will contribute content and the more the entire platform will grow from there.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What do you doing to vett the people that are gonna sign up for this? In other words, if somebody’s been a sex offender and he wants to host a young, female traveler, how are you gonna prevent that?
ISAAC THOMAS: Absolutely. The beauty is that we’re in 2018, and a lot of these questions have been coming up in the last five, six years. Of the shared economy space, such as with Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Couchsurfing.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Right.
ISAAC THOMAS: And all that, so we’re gonna have standard background checks for hostess that will register on our website, just like with any other service. Obviously, within the vegan community we’re also … So our system is gonna be able to do a fast check through their Facebook, see that their friends on certain vegan groups and etc. So whenever someone is gonna register as a host, obviously he signs in with his Facebook, and then goes through the background check.
So we believe that that’s gonna do a lot to eliminate the risk. Obviously nothing in the world is 100% guarantee, and for that we’re gonna have one million dollar insurance bond for any case of something going wrong. Either a slip and fall, food being not as good as someone thought, and I don’t want to talk about the more extreme situations, but I will that we’ll be able to give people the comfort level to really get out there and connect to each other.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What do you see as your revenue streams? E-commerce is an obvious one, but are you going to be taking a percentage of certain things?
ISAAC THOMAS: Right. So we’re gonna be taking a percentage of certain things. Obviously food-sharing and e-commerce. For the first couple years, I actually right before your call I was running back to the office. I was sitting down for three hours on the business model. We’re gonna offer, for the first couple years, no fees at all in order to really … First come and teach the people how to come use the website, show them that by connecting to each other their customer base will grow, and the community as a whole will grow.
So the first couple years we’re not planning on any kind of fees. That’s one of the reasons why we’re going to offer ICO, to be able to go out with a grand-scale platform and yet not charge any fees. Then, after a couple years, we are looking at some minimal fees. Again, substantially, substantially less than any of the competitors out there. Our mission is to really bring, grow and empower vegan consuming, and in order to do that we’re gonna be charging a lot less than anyone else out there.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Who do you believe your competitors are?
ISAAC THOMAS: That’s a great question. First of all, our competitor is any platform out there targeting to food-sharing and e-commerce. And then also some certain vegan websites, but the thing that we feel that we’re bring to the market is a very unique platform that will be a one-stop shop for the entire vegan community.
For the vegan community, anyone that is looking to come into the community, and anyone who wants to know anything about the community. We believe that we’re building a one-stop shop for people to be able to come to us and get all those answers. For that full blanket we’re offering, we feel that there’s no one at the market at this given moment that is offering this kind of message.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Tell me about your ICO plans.
ISAAC THOMAS: So our ICO plans, so going back to the whole idea of a currency. An ICO, when we were moving forward with the plan, with what eventually turned into VeganNation, a couple things define the nation. It’s the economy, and the thing that drives the economy is the currency. One of the challenges that the vegan community has around the world is that there’s not one driving economy that will really bring this to a new level.
And with the latest technology of crypto-currency we believe it’s the perfect time for the vegan community to unite around its own currency that will drive its economy and empower every vegan to use the currency. By using the currency he will strengthen the community, and we as a company will always give back something from using the currency. Giving back to the community.
And that brought us to initial coin offering, to introduce the Vegan Coin to the community, to the vegan community and the crypto-world. We’re currently in the pre-ICO stage, or maybe a little bit before pre-ICO for friends and family. We’re starting to meet with institutional investors, family offices that both share the belief and share the vision, both in crypto and, more importantly, that share the vision of the world moving towards a vegan direction.
And we’ve been getting great feedback with it. We’re planning on going out to the public, to the crowdfunding in approximately 60 to 90 days. Obviously we’re monitoring closely every day. Every day different regulations around the world start moving and shifting, and we want to be open to everyone, so we’re accompanied and working with some of the best people in the space to make sure that everything will be perfectly legal and fine in the United States and abroad.
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