Dr. Christian Lange is the CEO of Opiria, a decentralized data marketplace helping you to create a passive income stream by selling your personal data.
1) Could you please tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Germany. I studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich and obtained a Master´s in Science and a Ph.D. in Human Factors and Ergonomics.
While doing my Ph.D. I founded my first company called Ergoneers GmbH in 2005. With Ergoneers I developed a data acquisition and analysis platform, called D-Lab, aimed towards the objective analysis of human behavior, supporting many different sensors and inputs (e.g. eye tracking, physiology, video, audio, ethernet, CAN, motion capturing). D-Lab became and still is an industry standard in the automotive industry including almost all automotive OEMs (e.g. Audi, BMW, VW Concern, Opel, Porsche, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, PSA, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and others), truck OEMS (e.g. Freightliner, MAN, PACCAR, Volvo Trucks) and Tier 1 suppliers (e.g. Siemens, Bosch, Continental, Takata, Fujitsu, Honeywell, Garmin and others). Besides that, D-Lab is used from Universities and Research Institutes worldwide (e.g. NASA, Army, Fraunhofer Institute, MIT, Stanford, TUM, University of Cambridge, NHTSA and many others) and lots of fortune 500 companies (e.g. Microsoft, Intel, Google, Apple, Nokia, Samsung, P&G, Nestle). All together D-Lab has 1000+ customers worldwide.
I also grew a worldwide sales partner network with sales partners in more than 20 different countries (including China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia, South Africa, UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, USA, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey).
In 2011 I restructured the company to support the international growth. I founded Ergoneers of North America Inc. to better serve the US market and Ergoneers International Holding GmbH, the overarching body with its subsidiaries Ergoneers GmbH and Ergoneers of North America Inc.
In 2015 I exited Ergoneers and founded Opiria to start this new and amazing adventure.
2) What is Opiria?
Opiria-Platform is a global decentralized marketplace for the secure and transparent buying and selling of personal data. It´s a major breakthrough in data trading – directly connecting companies and consumers by enabling a direct exchange of personal data. Opiria-Platform enables consumers to create a passive income stream by monetizing their personal data. Companies can buy personal data directly from consumers to understand their needs and requirements and to design better products and services. PDATA Token is the currency that expresses the value of personal data and enables its trading by using smart contracts on the blockchain. Opiria platform will connect consumers and companies globally and become the world´s largest decentralized personal data marketplace.
3) What inspired you to launch a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency venture with Opiria?
The solution that my former company developed was great and provides extremely precise results. But the issue was that the participants had to wear many different sensors and were completely wired. Even worse they had to come to a lab and only one subject at a time could be recorded and analyzed. The feedback I always received over the years was that this is all great but what is really need is a solution that allows gathering data from thousands of subjects at a time remotely and the precision doesn´t necessarily have to be that high. A few years ago there wasn´t a solution for this requirement since measuring data requires “sensors” and I had no idea how to distribute thousands and thousands of sensors worldwide. But with the rise of the smartphone and the smart devices, consumers started to wear and carry all those devices 24/7. In addition to that, all those devices are also permanently connected to the internet. After realizing this it became clear to me that this is actually the solution for the “sensor problem”. We can simply use what´s already out there anyway.
So right after my exit from my old company I started to develop the Opiria-Platform which gathers all that data from “sensors” worldwide and makes the data and the results available to companies globally.
But besides the solved sensors topic, there were still two issues unsolved.
The first one is that consumers are increasingly concerned about their data privacy and their anonymity. While trying to find a solution for this I discovered that the blockchain technology is the perfect way to solve this data privacy and anonymity issue. The blockchain allows us to make sure that the consumers own their personal data and can control what data they sell and to whom they sell it. They basically become their own data center. In addition to that utilizing the blockchain also allows us to be fully compliant with the requirements or of the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union – which by the way affects companies worldwide and not only in Europe.
The second issue is how to manage worldwide payments with many different currencies when for example a company from the US wants to purchase personal data from a consumer in China or vice versa. If we would use FIAT currencies for payment then we would have to deal with all possible different currencies worldwide and we would have to exchange between all those different currencies in our platform. Having our own PDATA Token allows us to elegantly solve this. It allows paying consumers worldwide with one single currency that expresses the value of personal data – our PDATA token. By interfacing with exchanges, we allow consumers to easily cash out and receive FIAT payments directly into their bank accounts.
4) What are some of the problems you see with how personal data is currently stored and shared?
The way the data brokerage business works today is completely broken. So-called data brokers are collecting personal data from consumers without their consent or knowledge and they are not even compensating them. They are selling this data to companies worldwide by making huge profits. The annual revenue of the data brokerage business is 250 billion USD per year and is growing with 13% every year on average.
The good thing is that consumers are realizing this and they start to protect their data privacy and also provide fake information on purpose. But the effect of this is that companies are getting less data with lower quality. The so-called data accuracy is already below 50% what means that more than half of the data companies are buying from data brokers is wrong.
Looking at this clearly shows that with the current model both consumers and companies lose.
5) How will Opiria help individuals take control of their personal data and allow them to monetize it should they choose to do so?
In contrast to the current situation, individuals will be in full control of their own data. When signing up for the Opiria-Platform consumers can define exactly what kind of data they want to provide to the platform and sell to companies. Consumers can sell any kind of personal data they produce every day anyway. This includes subjective feedback & opinions about how they use and like certain products and services but also their opinion about different topics of interest for companies worldwide. They can also sell data from many important objective channels such as for example web browsing, eye tracking, emotions, data from wearables and smart devices, smartphone usage, online shopping and more. If a company is interested in personal data from a consumer the consumer receives a so-called “data request” and can see exactly which company wants to purchase the data, what kind of data they want and how they want to use it. Only if the consumer accepts that offer the company receives the data. And in return, the consumer gets compensated via PDATA tokens. So basically individuals become their own data center. This really puts consumers in full control of their data!
6) How does blockchain technology help Opiria accomplish this?
Utilizing blockchain technology actually allows us to accomplish the most important thing: protecting consumers´ data privacy and anonymity. We can even be fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation which becomes enforceable May this year.
The General Data Protection Regulation consists of 99 articles and about 10 of them are precisely describing requirements how to give control back to consumers over their personal data.
Let me just name some of them:
- Consumer has to give consent for the processing of its personal data
- Personal data has to be pseudonymized and be stored in an encrypted way
- Consumer must have the right to access its personal data
- Consumer has the right to know who will process its personal data
- Consumer has the right to rectify and erase its personal data
- Processing activities have to be recorded
- Data has to be protected by design and by default
Utilizing blockchain together with our system architecture we can make sure that all the before mentioned requirements are perfectly fulfilled.
Opiria-Platform and PDATA token put the consumer in FULL control of its own data. And even better…the consumer is not only in control but he or she can also make money by selling it ?
7) Can you tell us more about the technology and components of your PDATA ecosystem that makes it function?
The whole ecosystem consists of the following three major components:
- Consumer side: data acquisition
- Data storage and trading mechanism
- Company side: request and analyze data
On the consumer side, we have applications that allow consumers to provide their personal data to our marketplace. We do have a smartphone app for iOS and Android that enables consumers to answer surveys and to provide data such as smartphone usage, online purchases or data from wearables and smart devices. An interesting technology that we are having on the smartphone is that we can measure consumers´ emotions if they allow us to access the smartphone camera. This enables us, for example, to understand which emotions an advertisement video creates when the consumer is watching it. This is extremely valuable information for companies and they are willing to pay a lot for this kind of data and findings.
In addition to that, we have browser plugins that can for example track web-browsing behavior and related user activities. A really great thing is our browser-based eye tracking. This allows us to perfectly understand what a consumer sees when visiting a website or watching ads and what elements attract attention. In addition, we can analyze consumer´s emotions via the same technology we are using on the smartphone. Combining eye tracking and emotion recognition while browsing the internet or watching ads is again extremely valuable for companies around the world. And of course, the apps on the consumer side allow receiving PDATA tokens and cash-out to receive money in the bank account!
Between the consumer and the company we have the “data storage and trading mechanism” which basically acts like the “eBay for personal data”. We store all personal data fully cryptographically encrypted on distributed servers Via the blockchain based trading mechanism companies can send data requests and related offers to consumers. In case our consumers accept, the exchange of personal data for PDATA tokens happens securely through a smart contract.
The “company side” is a web-based software as a service application called “Opiria studio” that allows companies to filter for relevant consumer profiles and send data requests and related offers. After receiving the requested data Opiria studio supports analyzing and visualizing the data and allows companies to understand consumer´s behavior and requirements.
8) How much do you intend to raise in the PDATA Token Sale and what are the steps for contributing?
Our hard cap is 30 million USD. The great thing is that we´ve already reached our soft cap and we are very confident that we will reach our hard cap as well. In order to contribute simply go to our website www.opiria.io. Directly on the start screen is a “register” button. After clicking on this button the website will take you through the necessary steps.
9) Do you know which exchanges the PDATA token will be traded on at this time?
I am on an ongoing “world tour” to meet with contributors, exchanges, influencers, partners and customers. From November on I´ve been in the US multiple times, South Korea multiple times, China, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Italy, UK, Spain, Gibraltar, Dubai and a few more places. I met with more than 20 exchanges, smaller ones, and really big ones, in person during that time to build the relationship and make sure our PDATA token gets listed.
10) What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working to launch your ICO?
First of all, doing this ICO is an awesome and beneficial part of my life. I´ve been traveling all over the world and it was a great experience meeting so many interesting and knowledgeable people and learning so many new things during that time so I definitely wouldn´t want to miss that.
The biggest challenges that I encountered is that I´m doing the ICO but also have to run the company. And this is already a 50-60 hour “job” and it must not be neglected since we have to make sure that we meet our development and release roadmap, work on expanding our sales partner network and keep our great existing customers such as Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, and GM happy. Dividing my attention and time right and finding the right focus was the biggest challenge so far.
11) What’s going to happen to Opiria after the token sale concludes and what where do you see things in 5 years?
After the ICO we will focus on three major topics. The first one is the development of our Opiria-marketplace. We are already looking forward to the release of Opiria 2.0 which will come out the end of Q3. This will actually revolutionize how companies can get behavioural data from consumers. We will integrate eye-tracking and emotion recognition in the browser. This will, for example, allow companies to understand how someone browses a website, what the person sees and if this causes positive or negative emotions.
The second one is to massively grow our consumer database. We want to reach 1 million consumers in our database within 12 months after the end of our ICO and then keep on growing fast.
And the third topic is to work on our global expansion through attracting and onboarding new sales partners. We do already have sales partners in the US, the UK, China, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore and we want to onboard another 5 sales partners within 12 months after the crowdsale.
Our goal for 2023 is to have sales partners in 50 countries, 25,000 customers and a user base of more than 100 million consumers that are actively monetizing their data.
12) What are your marketing and sales strategies to achieve that?
To grow our consumer database we combine several acquisition strategies such as onboarding our ICO community, an AirDrop campaign and incentives for referrals. In addition to that, we will partner with or even acquire so-called panel providers. These are companies that have big consumer panels with millions of consumers. Partnering with or acquiring panel companies in the important market research markets will kickstart our consumer database. Another channel is to force our social media marketing to spread the word about Opiria and what the benefits are to sign up and sell personal data to companies. And another very good channel is also to get consumers via our customers since they very often invite their own customers to join the Opiria database. E.g. our customer Freightliner invited 2000 truck drivers to join the platform and provide feedback about how they are using the Freightliner trucks. The combination of all those channels will allow us to grow the consumer database pretty fast.
The sales strategy on the company side is to work through sales partners. These are independent companies that resell Opiria licenses. Their task is to do the local marketing and sales activities but also to train and support the customers. We will utilize some of the sales partners that I´ve been working with my previous company. This allows us to approach a lot of markets pretty quickly and effectively. For other markets, we have to identify and select sales partners and then onboard and qualify them. The advantage of working with sales partners is that these companies are already established in the market and have a marketing and sales network. And in addition to that, they are in the same time zone than our customers and speak the same language what strongly improves the quality of training and support. In total working with sales partners enable us to grow way faster than building this up from scratch.
In general, our global expansion strategy is a top-down approach. We are starting with the leading countries in market and consumer research and then focus step by step on the smaller ones. The 8 biggest countries in terms of revenue make almost 80% of the worldwide revenue in market research.
13) Could you tell us a little about your team?
I´m really proud of the team that we assembled over the past years. We have a very skilled and experienced CTO. She has a computer science background and used to work for Siemens Healthcare as a product manager. In her last position, she was responsible for a software development department that developed a B2B software product for more than 1000 international customers. In our software department, we have 9 experienced software developers that cover all necessary areas ranging from software architecture and database programming via backend, frontend, and app development until computer vision and blockchain technology.
In addition to that, we have world-class advisors. One of them is Ismail Malik who is one of the most influential people in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. We are also very proud that Daciana Sarbu decided to enter our advisory board. She is an elected member of the European Parliament and specifically likes the fact that Opiria empowers consumers´ self-sovereignty. And the third big name is Dr. Wolfram Remlinger from Audi AG who advises us on the future development of Opiria to perfectly meet the needs and requirements of our customers.
14) Would you like to talk about your legal and security measures?
We are taking the whole legal aspect very seriously. In order to make sure that we do everything correctly we did a very intense due diligence audit with Strategic Coin which is the premier utility token research and blockchain advisory firm. The due diligence process took about 6 weeks and Strategic Coin really “took us completely” apart. We had to open our financial books, they interviewed our team and our advisors, they even spoke with some of our customers plus they looked at our existing product and its source code and our existing user base. In addition to that, they reviewed our token economics, our white paper, and our future strategy.
Another important fact is that we are registered with CIMA to make sure our ICO is fully legally compliant. In order to be registered and get the related authorization we had to put a strict KYC and AML process in place and even hire a “money laundering registered officer”.
15) Do you have more information for our readers?
We are just about to launch our “daily crypto opinion” by utilizing the survey capabilities of our Opiria app. We will survey our community and ask interesting crypto related questions such as “what do you think will be the price of Bitcoin at the end of 2018”. Our whole community will be able to answer those questions and we will publish the results of the surveys in our Telegram channel, our Facebook website and our Twitter channel. I believe this will become a great source for future predictions and trends in the crypto space. If you want to participate just join our Telegram channel (https://t.me/PDATAtoken) and download the Opiria app from the iOS App Store or Google Play store.