My Startup: Gener8
Gener8 is a browser extension that enables people to take back control and monetise their own data.
It does this by tailoring all banner ads a user sees, so they're based on their preferences. Users then receive points when they see an advert, or whenever their data is used, and can exchange these points for products, gift cards or donations to charity.
Founder: Sam Jones
We sat down with Sam to learn more.
Why did you start Gener8?
I remember the moment that I realised our entire digital lives are being tracked. Most of us don’t know this is even happening. We mindlessly click ‘accept’ on the cookies popup that gets in the way of the article we’re trying to read.
But the reality is, that split second tap of the mouse is - more often than not - opening a gateway for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of companies to start tracking, sharing, and profiting from your online activity. In fact, it’s said our data is worth around $289 per individual each year.
But this is our information, it's our data, and under GDPR legislation, it’s legally our own property. So I asked myself: "Why are strangers making money from my time spent online? And how can I share in the money that’s made from my own data?"
Consequently, I left a role I loved - as Global Brand Manager at Red Bull - because this issue was something I was passionate about tackling. I had a vantage point over the global advertising landscape for a long time and watched as it grew and changed. I could see the trends within the industry, and time and time again I saw that too many companies were taking advantage of people’s apathy towards their personal data - and there was a total lack of transparency surrounding this.
I knew that people needed to be made aware of this issue and given more control over what their data is used for. We should be able to share in the wealth that’s created from our data. So, in January 2018, I launched Gener8 and since then we’ve been building digital tools that enable people to control and make money from their data.
Our core product is a browser extension that enables people to monetise their own data by merely browsing the internet. Users are earning £5-25 per month on average just by going about their usual online routines.
Tell us more about the product.
We tailor all of the banner ads that you’ll see online, so they're based on the preferences you’ve given to us. You just let us know what you’re into; whether it be sports, fashion, television, etc., and we’ll ensure the adverts you’re seeing suit your tastes. You’ll then receive points every time you see an advert on any web page you visit, or any time your data is used by a third party.
Points can then be exchanged for products in our marketplace, gift cards or you can even donate to charity.
It takes two seconds to install and then every user has their own profile which they complete in no time at all. After this, we just sit in the background while you browse the internet. As well as shape all of the banner adverts a person sees to fit their interests, if the user opts in, we’ll anonymise their browsing data and use this for custom research.
Where are you at right now?
To date, we’ve built a phenomenal team of experts who work hard behind the scenes to bring Gener8 to life - this also includes a host of fantastic individuals on our board of directors.
Currently, we’re growing our users at an incredible rate with tens of thousands of UK users signing up every month. We’re driven by the goal to enable our users to share in the wealth that’s created from their own data and can’t wait for what’s to come next.
What are your aims for the next year?
We will continue to accelerate our user growth and aim to have a million people using Gener8 by the end of the year.
As a result of our clear vision and fast growth, we’ve been approached by many investors who would like to be a part of Gener8’s journey. We’re aiming to close an equity funding round in late March or early April and there’s still a window of opportunity for more parties to participate.
There’s no doubt that within the next 36 months there will be a billion-dollar company that’s built from educating people about the fact that their data is valuable, and enabling people to capture this value themselves. We intend to be this company.
What's been the hardest thing about getting Gener8 off the ground?
Our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity. Right now, we need to educate people about the fact that their data is inherently valuable, because not everyone understands how their data is being used and exploited. So we have to tell them. But, as people become more aware, we see that they want one of two things:
- To have more control over their data
- To have the ability to monetise it themselves
New data scandals are emerging every week, slowly increasing people’s awareness about the value of their data. We believe that we can educate people to value their data and reward them in the process.
Why should more people be using Gener8?
Gener8 is more than a product, it’s a movement. We give people the opportunity to take back control of their data and to be able to share in the wealth that’s created from it.
Right now, people are earning up to £25 in rewards and value each month, but this will increase over time... Not bad for doing something you’d likely be up to anyway; browsing online. But what’s really cool is that every month, many of our community donate to causes they care about; and last month we raised thousands to support the Australian bushfire charities.
Our primary aim is to protect your data and give you control. So, by default, we stop other companies from following our users and collecting their data without their permission. We also take away all intrusive advertising formats (popups, etc), so that only the premium and unobtrusive ads appear.
We’re driven to give people more control over what their data is used for and, ultimately, enable them to share in the wealth that’s created from it. Things are changing - it’s time to take back control.