NYNJA - A Global Messenger with a Built-in On-Demand Freelance Network
Earlier this month, Marshall Taplits, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at NYNJA spoke with Future Tech Podcast to describe our vision of a future powered by NYNJA and our technology and how that will impact the future of work and freelancing. You can listen to the podcast here or read the transcript below:
Interviewer: Hello everyone. This is Chris with the FutureTech podcast. My guest today is Marshall Taplits with the NYNJA platform. How are you doing today Marshall?
Marshall: I'm great. How are you doing? Thank you for having me.
Interviewer: Fantastic. Yeah, thanks for being here. Marshall can you state your background?
Marshall: Sure. I grew up in New Jersey. I was born in Brooklyn. I went to Penn State. I got my Bachelor of Science in operations information systems management. Moved to China when I was 23 years old. I'm 38 now, so it's about 15 years here. I've had an amazing career in many areas of telecom, supply chain. I've worked all over the world. I've been lucky to be involved in technology as I watched the birth of the internet and the web and now the blockchain space.
I've got a Chinese wife, a beautiful family of two kids here in Shenzhen which is the part of China Silicon Valley basically. I guess in addition to Beijing or the hardware of Silicon Valley they say. Grew up with WeChat and watched how WeChat kind of integrated itself into Chinese society. I have a pretty clear vision of what we can do for the whole world using the blockchain technology to build the real next generation platform.
Interviewer: Talk more about that vision.
Marshall: Well, basically if you look at the main point of blockchain, it's about - permission was open systems, right. When you had the internet age kind of kicked off, all of a sudden we're able to post information anywhere, in blogs, and all sorts of communities developed online. The communication level in the world and access to information just went through the roof, right. Now we're at the beginning of the blockchain technology and that kind of emerges essentially the communication piece with the finance piece and with the governance piece and that kind of all comes together. We've termed this concept open unity.
We were just in South Korea. We were just speaking at the d10e conference. They gave a speech with one of our advisors, David Harris on the open unity concept and how the NYNJA platform falls into that. Basically, what it comes down to is everyone should have the right to transact, everyone should have the right to have contracted hereto. We need to move to a world where money is programmed, and contracts are programmed, and legal and finance and governance and communications all come together as one. The NYNJA platform is going to offer tools that facilitate that.
Interviewer: Talk more about the NYNJA platform and open unity concept. How does it work?
Marshall: Well, what we do is we start with the best communication tools that are available because everything is based on communication. For example - I'm sure you're aware of this. A lot of messenger app is out in the world but right now the most advanced one are basically Line, Kakaotalk, Telegram... There's a pretty clear idea of what a modern cloud-based system can look like. We've taken that as a base and we've added on a ton of amazing features that really take productivity to the next level. And then, we're building in systems and economies within the communications platform. One of them for example is an on-demand freelance network.
Any user that's a NYNJA user can get work done in real time and can also do work for other people in real time. Kind of like Uber on-demand matching network. And so, we've identified a list of about 15 types of services and then of course the services under that that we've been able to kind of make this on demand model work.
What we're really trying to do is we're trying to create an economy that has kind of a very very stable growing economy with very even money flows throughout it in a consistent way. The way that works is by having programmable money you can build long chains of work. For example, if you're doing a movie, right. You can distribute. You could literally do a distributed production of an entire movie and just people all around the world untying together chains of work. When this happens, we call this open unity because this is when everyone is actually working together but in fact independently they're all free to do as they wish, and they work on the things that are interesting to them and they get paid according to the contract without any fear for legal recourse, fraud, or anything like that. And so that's what we're trying to build.
Interviewer: So that unity piece is reflected like a final product. Like in the movie sense, a film. The open part is everyone contracting the work on the various pieces. Is that correct?
Marshall: Yeah. Open unity is the concept where everyone acting in their own self-interest. It's coming together because just like for example we used to have taxis driving around New York and people waving their hands, but you know if they were one block away it was a total miss, right. That is driving around for no reason. But with technology you know you say oh people need drivers, people need riders, and bam it comes together, and the GPS shows you exactly what's going on.
We need to take this level of evolution to work. Automation is coming. The concept of jobs is changing. I mean that we are not an industrial society anymore. I mean that's very clear. We don't need people sitting in offices, driving an hour and a half for a day to work, sitting in factories. A lot of things are going to be changing. What we've got to do is we've got to free people up. We've got to connect people. We've got to let it be very very easy to be able to communicate. We have to go from broadcasting the seven o'clock news on Channel Four to having 80 million TV stations. We've got to do that for work and for the economy and globally by the way.
Interviewer: I agree with that. Earlier you mentioned 15 services that are on-demand freelance network. Can you tell us about some of those?
Marshall: Sure. What we want to do is we wanted to start… I mean this will evolve over time, but we wanted to start with the easiest services to kind of commoditize, but we wanted to pick things that had what's called higher order thinking. We don’t want to be an economy that's goal is to get the lowest price. We want to be an economy that encourages the best people to come on to the platform because what people really need is help. They don't need more people who don't have experience. They need real help with tasks in real time. That's what people need. Actually, the more advanced you are in terms of the type of work you do in society, I say the more you're also at this point now looking for more free time and to work kind of when you want to work and all that.
These are actually the markets that you become together on these on demand ways. We started off with some simple things like translation but in addition to just kind of basic translation we're going to be focusing on technical translation, medical translation, legal translation, translation of technical documents, things like that. That will be one area. We're also focusing on design. Design is a very common one because anybody can learn Photoshop so it's a great--. I mean to be an expert of course takes years but if you need to get started. So, that's a great one for getting student on the platform, of people in countries that don't have particularly high access to education. It is very very easy to get hundreds of millions of people on the platform for that.
So yeah, we're looking at these types of services that are easier. As the economy grows we can look at doing some more physical on demand work but in the beginning, it's going to be all virtual services so that the physical properties of where people are not relevant.
Interviewer: Okay. Very good. You mentioned that NYNJA has a messenger kind of base and you're adding basically on-demand freelance network. How do you see a user functioning with the NYNJA app?
Marshall: One of the biggest challenges that we have today is -- if you look around there's a lot of companies being created. They're focusing on a very specific vertical, right. The problem is that if the people aren't interested in that exact vertical then it is a total miss but what we're doing is more along the lines of how other large platforms started and evolved, right. Amazon.com for example they started selling books, but they knew they weren't going to be selling only books. It was known from the beginning that Jeff Bezos' goal was to be "The Everything Store", right. It's like a busy Amazon.
From that perspective, NYNJA platform is really trying to do the same thing. We know that the best base for communication in society right now are some of these advanced messenger platforms, so we need to use that as a base. It needs to be a great communicator. It needs to be an app that people like to use on a daily basis regardless of the services we're providing in it. Only by achieving that will we be able to leverage that population for a percentage of people who will be interested in being involved in an on-demand freelance network. There are other groups of people that will be more interested in other features that we have which I can go into if you want to hear about. So, it's all about creating the widest platform so that the biggest uptake in users and the overall growth in the ecosystem can be achieved.
Interviewer: Tell us about the other features that are working side by side with the messenger.
Marshall: Exactly. Everything is integrated into the messenger. To give you an idea of that level of integration, think of it like this. We are chatting with each other and you send me a file through the messenger, right. That file is not just on my phone, it's also on my computer, and we have a variety of other interesting things of how the data moves around your ecosystem but basically that file is available everywhere. Even though I see it on my phone, but I go to my computer, although I don't have to, I right click on it and I say I need this file trend, so I can get work done. What do you need done? I need translation. Okay. The system scans it. How many words, what have you. It gives you an option. Do you need basic translation? Do you need technical translation? It tells you how many NYNJACoins this is required.
As soon as you accept that this is what you need, it will go out to the network. Just like Uber you'll see and okay in a few seconds or minute you'll get assigned. Okay, this is the person who's going to be doing your work. They estimate it will take one hour. Fantastic. Now it's in your queue. Okay. An hour later you get a notification. You click in. Back to the message bubble in the chat with me I see now that the original document and I see the translated one. Now I can hold that down I could forward it to whoever I need. As that's happening the smart contract close. She's paid. I do the review. Everybody is happy.
Next time if I want, I can automatically go to her because we've worked together or if I want to recommend her to somebody else I can even do that and set up a smart contract to get a cut of other people's work by being the connector as well which is another part of the business model.
Interviewer: Okay. Very good. So, missing the NYNJACoin. What's their background on those and where are you in the platform?
Marshall: The NYNJACoin… The whole thing is that with the blockchain technology you can go global from day one. In the past, you really couldn't do that. It's hard enough to get credit card processing in Hong Kong, here where I am right now. The US happens to be a little bit easier but even in the US you try to take international credit cards and there's fraud and all sorts of crazy things happen. With crypto, as you know once you have it you have it. There's no risk of fraud. There's no risk of call backs, chargebacks, fees, anything like that.
Crypto is the way that you can create from scratch global networks which is what we're trying to do. Even though we'll accept Fiat currency for NYNJACoin through the platform just like you would buy points in any game, but when you operate within the NYNJA platform it will all be with NYNJACoin and NYNJACoin being an ERC20 token obviously is very easy to hold in any Ethereum wallet and then you can go from there if you need to go in and out of Fiat through various exchanges that are already in existence even though that's separate from the NYNJA platform itself.
Interviewer: It's very cool. What's the roadmap right now? Where are you in that? What do you see for the future?
Marshall: So, we raise about three and a half million dollars so far independent of the ICO. We've been now developing the app for seven months. We've got a team of about 25 people on the tech team alone and that's growing. We've brought in some pretty heavy hitters in the space over the last few months which we'll be announcing soon. The app and the platform is slated to be live by the end of the year. That will include the basic messaging function, group calling, conference calling, as well as the wallet feature and initial use case for the freelance network on demand which will most likely be in the translation services although that may change still. So, that's where we're slated is to be live by the end of the year.
We're using the ICO as a mechanism to get the tokens out to the largest number of people, build as much awareness about the platform as possible, and be able to continue development and even speed it up as well as expand the vision even further than it already is. We want to make sure that we have as many resources at our disposal as possible.
Also, I want to add that we're using some very interesting languages such as Erlang and Hangul. Sorry, I forget the name of the other one. My guy will kill me. But we're trying to create a situation here where NYNJA is using the latest technologies in pretty much everything and we want to be attracting the best people in the world because if we have a successful IPO, we have plenty of resources. If we're committed to using the best technologies and we are committed to having one of the best visions out there, then people should start kind of flocking to us and then we'll be able to grow even a more powerful team and be able to contribute to all the projects as necessary. It's really going to be something like we haven't seen in a long time.
Interviewer: What stage are you in with ICO right now?
Marshall: So, right now we've started last week or almost two weeks now the private sale. We went down to Seoul for the d10e Conference. Just the other day we were one of the main sponsors and speakers at the conference where we… That was our official launch or unofficial launch, I guess in our backyard here because it's only a four-hour flight. And now next week we'll be in Puerto Rico at the d10e Conference as well as Michael Durban and transform groups agenda. We'll be doing speeches there as well. We'll start putting the ICO awareness campaign with a high gear over the next few weeks as we ramp up towards the public sale which is slated for the mid end of April. Yeah, we're getting really excited and started to watch the groups grow. Yeah, it's a very exciting time for everyone.
Interviewer: What kind of feedback are you getting from your team as far as the best way to get things rolling really quick?
Marshall: Well we're pretty much advised to just get on the road and meet people. We go to the events, shake hands and just get to know people. I think that's the right advice because it definitely worked in Korea. I mean we've met a fantastic… I mean just absolutely fantastic people. Not only potential backers but also just other people in our same situation going through the same process that we're able to share stories. This is all new stuff, right. I mean someone with experience or someone who's done it once. Getting to meet other people at all levels of the industry I think is really what it's about.
It's still a very small community even globally. You see a lot of the same people in different shows as you hop around. I think it kind of remind me of like when the internet was still pretty young. It's very much everyone trying to help everyone. Everyone is trying to see it through especially with the regulatory situation that were on China. We got regulatory clarity to make sure they're doing everything right and making sure that what their lawyers are saying are the same as what other lawyers are saying and is what the government is saying. It's really just about that. It's working together to get it done.
Interviewer: You mentioned the conference in Korea. What was your biggest takeaway from that conference?
Marshall: My biggest takeaway was how big the Korean market is. I've heard from 15 to 25 percent of old coins... I'm sorry, 15-25 percent of all crypto trading is done in Korea. Don't hold me to the number because I didn’t fact check. It is what somebody told me. And also, some absurdly high percent of all coins like maybe even 50-60 percent of the world's old coins is in Korea. I don't know, again, if those numbers are accurate but even if they're anywhere close that was surprising. The people there are just really excited about it. They also have the Hyundai ICO which is a major major company in Korea and they did the H-Tag ICO which was wildly successful. They were speaking about it the d10e Conference as well. So, I think this is a lot of excitement in Korea. The government is committed to figuring out rules which I'm sure will be rational. They are very rational people over there. Yes, it's a very very good team.
Interviewer: You're in that part of the world so you get to see that excitement and the development pretty quickly. What's your observation of the US in current cryptocurrency development?
Marshall: Well, I would like to know actually because I'm going to Puerto Rico next week. I haven't been in the US since we started our ICO preparations, so I don't know. We do have people in the US. I hear they're very excited too but I'm looking forward to seeing for myself and seeing how the kind of east and west compares. I've certainly been following the regulatory and it seems like it's starting to shape up with Wyoming. Starting to give some clarity onto how I feel to be treated. We are a Wyoming company in the US so that's good. But yeah, I'm going and I'll let you know. Can we have a follow up interview in a week?
Interviewer: Yeah, definitely. That would be great.
Marshall: Actually, I would love to have that conversation. I mean we could compare East and North.
Marshall: Yeah. That would definitely be a great comparison. I'm in the US and so the main thing that I'm seeing is regulation, regulation, regulation. I've also recently traveled to the Philippines. I was talking with someone else and the excitement in the city of Manila alone about using cryptocurrency is just amazing. So, coming back to kind of the opposite of that in the US just blows my mind. It's crazy to watch. So yeah, definitely we should talk about that again. I'm interested to hear your perspective on that.
Marshall: Sure. That would be great.
Interviewer: Let's get back to the NYNJA platform. With the end of the year coming up and having your product ready to roll out, what problems have you encountered thus far and how do you solve those problems?
Marshall: Well, the problems that we had so far really were just about how do you start to execute the development of such a large vision when you really only have what is essentially seed funding. And so that was the hardest thing to overcome in the beginning, but you know we did it. And then building the team. Luckily, as we started showing the progress, then more money came which is what then happened is people see you're doing well and they'll kind of jump on board and so now we're just trying to kind of accelerate that energy you know with ICO.
When we go live, you know one could argue that's when the real work starts, right. We're putting together an amazing team of people with deep marketing experience and psychology experience and you know global… Our entire management team, I mean not one single person on our management team lives in the country that that they were born and we all speak multiple languages so I mean you know we know how to get around this world and know how to interact with all the different areas and cultures and languages in a way that very few teams do and especially you know tied to the expertise that we have been in the messaging and internet services and blockchain. We're just going to go all out on marketing globally. We're going to start particularly with universities because those are easy kind of single entry points into large communities of people and those are our target market. People who are younger tend to change first. They are more early adopters. And also, they're looking to build their experience and they're looking to earn extra money and that's perfect for our on-demand freelance network because they'll be able to build blockchain based reputations and proof of their work history coming out of university without even worrying about formal internships anymore which have gotten ridiculous anyway. They don't even pay people anymore. That's practically slavery. I think there's a lot we can do with universities to kick off the initial user base and then we'll go from there step by step.
Interviewer: Great. How can listeners find out more about NYNJA and contact you if they want to do your business or become a customer?
Marshall: I think the best thing to do would be just to go to our website. Then, if it's a general inquiry for the business or what have you then feel free to just fill out the contact form. If it's something that you heard on this interview that you want to specifically follow up with me on, then just email me email@example.com. I'll be happy to be in touch with anybody for anything.
I mean my job right now is just to get the word out and that's why we're going to the conferences and meeting people and having interviews and doing all these things is we just want to get the word out about what we're doing. When people start hearing about it, hopefully they'll kind of align themselves with what we're doing and believe in what we're doing and understand why we're doing it and sort of having those conversations.
I don't want to be going to YouTube and typing in cryptocurrency and just having like 80 million videos about the price of cryptocurrency. I want to see videos of people having intelligent discussions about why we’re doing what we’re doing: What's the purpose of blockchain? How did it come about? What's the history of it? What's the technology behind it? What does it offer at a raw technology level? Why are we building platforms based on it? When should you use it? When should you not use it? What happens when you're crossing jurisdictions that don't have or don't even have technical jurisdiction over cryptocurrency yet? It intersects with the legal systems in certain areas, and the security and the privacy.
There's so many things we need to be discussing now. We just we just need to have those conversations. I think that's all tied to the open unity concept that we're trying to push here. Yeah. Just whoever wants to get on board, let's talk.
Interviewer: Just to make sure that's N-Y-N-J-A, NYNJA.
Marshall: You got it.
Interviewer: Awesome. Marshall, thanks for coming on the podcast today. I really appreciate your time.
Marshall: Thank you. I appreciate your time as well.
Interviewer: Thanks everybody for joining us here on the FutureTech podcast. We will see you next time.