RampRate’s vision is to build an ecosystem of “impact-preneurs” and trailblazers powered by opportunities, resources, innovation, and human spirit. RampRate also offers a grants matchmaking organization that helps activate impact projects. In this exclusive interview with TechBullion, RampRate’s founder and CEO Tony Greenberg, will be giving us a walkthrough of this impact focused business and the innovative opportunities available in different industries for impact-preneurs.
Please tell us more about yourself?
My name is Tony Greenberg and I am founder and CEO of RampRate. I’m a lifelong life-long entrepreneur and am currently focused on fostering and growing projects with transformative potential, including blockchain technologies that democratize access to investment, reduce the potential for corruption, create a new economy, and “elevate the way business does business.”
Your ability to recognize and stay at the forefront of emerging business trends seems to be key to RampRate success, could you give us an overview of the emerging markets and trends in AI, Metaverse, Blockchain and Edge Computing.
Well, there’s certainly enough in each bucket for an interview of its own. But as a quick run-down of hot takes:
AI – this is at the peak of its hype cycle. So some of the sheen will eventually come off as we discover more limitations and ways in which it’s misused. What I’m watching, and have been tracking closely since I’ve been involved with futurists like Ray Kurzweil and Humanity+ over the last 15 years, is “where” these tools live. There’s the aspect of control of the training content—is something written “in the style of” a particular author just plagiarism? There’s a question of how much as we embed AI into our lives we deserve to have continuity and not have the usage terms changed ad hoc or will we be even more at the mercy of those providers turning up the heat on the boiling frog than we are with respect to social networks or ISPs. But there’s also the nuts and bolts of how many servers and how much power this will all need. If you look at a graph of US power generation, we have flatlined power generation for a decade, but the data center industry has gotten around it by being more and more efficient with hyperscale and virtualization. Well, as those innovations run out but the need for compute power keeps growing and driven by AI, this will get interesting.
Which brings us to edge compute – as AI does more real-time operations in smart cities or medicine or whatever else, it will become increasingly latency and location sensitive. So we will not only need to generate power, but do so close to the end-users, which right now can be a multi-year process to get grid power allocation in the megawatts. That’s why we’re working with companies like Redivider who not only build edge locations on demand but provision them with portable power.
With regards to the Metaverse and blockchain, I’m going to bundle them together, because in our world they’re both the foundation of the next generation of community. We are social creatures, we need community, but the first generation of the Web and social networks did us dirty in terms of fostering alienation, envy, anger, body image issues, and so on. I’m also a partner in a venture called Menagerie and right now both Menagerie and RampRate, with Vatom as the metaverse partner, are working with XPRIZE to rebuild all of that from the ground up—to build communities on positivity, with trolls and spammers locked out by not being able to earn reputation, with community members, not the corporation, owning the data and being fairly paid for their contribution.
Who qualifies as “impact-preneurs” and trailblazers for RampRate. What kind of opportunities, resources and innovation do you look out for in the Social impact businesses you work with?
“Impact-preneurs” and trailblazers not only have the potential to make millions, but, more importantly, to better millions of lives.
I look for three things in the businesses I choose to work with:
1) Their mission must be creating impact and value to the universe, not just themselves and their shareholders.
2) The second is that they’re a heavy lever on society that allows me personally to leverage them into my relationships and our ecosystem to create value in the universe.
3) We would never do business with anybody we wouldn’t want to have dinner with.
What services does RampRate provide when it comes to IT infrastructure like hosting, networks, cloud, Edge, telecom, and support services?
This is what we’ve done for 23 years and what built us the war chest to invest so much of our current efforts in startups. Basically, it’s simple: we look at tech budgets of Fortune 1000 and tech-intensive orgs, find around 24 percent in savings on average, take a quarter of the savings we actually create, and guide the CTO on how to reinvest the rest in innovation that makes tech a profit center instead of a cost center. Of course there’s a lot of data and elbow grease and supplier partnership that goes into creating those savings when every org we work with is already a top performer in terms of procurement practices. But we’ve done that successfully for two decades for top performers from eBay to Hearst to CBS to Blizzard, and when we say we can create savings, we always guarantee a 300 percent ROI.
How do you stay ahead of trends and attract the talent to work with your clients on emerging tech?
I have been in the enterprise technology sector for more than twenty years and a sponge to new innovation. One of my first technology jobs was with Exodus Data Centers and the onramp to the Internet during the .com era. Then came a host of supporting technologies that were required such as security, cloud computing, then edge, blockchain and too many milestone eras to list but I have been at the forefront of it all in my career. Forming RampRate allowed me to provide insight and guidance to enterprises in choosing the right tech infrastructure to drive business. The new Metaverse and AI innovation is not new to me and I am excited to help businesses integrate them into their business critical strategies.
Our team is likewise driven by more than a paycheck. Our impact commitment as a certified B Corp and our culture, which allowed flexibility and remote work for 20 years, long before it was a pandemic trend, have both allowed us to attract and retain truly brilliant people at the top of their game.
What are some technologies that society is benefiting from?
Blockchain technology is having a major impact across industries and on society as a whole.
Take, for instance, philanthropy. I truly believe blockchain technology, data and analytic tools can make philanthropy and social impact 10x more effective—removing middlemen, increasing transparency and auditability, bridging trust gaps, and so much more.
I recently wrote an article “Why Philanthropic Tech Works… Yet Doesn’t” that details the ongoing problems with philanthropic endeavors and how blockchain technology can help deliver on philanthropy’s true promise.
Since COVID, the Health and Wellness industry has seen a multitude of trends and innovations. Could you enlighten us more on impact trends in this industry and what difference RampRate is making?
My most fervent hope is that we can turn the industry from treating symptoms and conditions to treating the whole person. If we can shift from pay-per-service to a capitation model where the incentives are to keep people healthy, not sick, a lot of new treatments will be unlocked.
The second facet of that is breaking through the DEA scheduling walls—a lot of things like psychedelics that were locked away due to moral panic are now being explored as potential durable and low side effect treatments for PTSD, addiction, depression, anxiety, etc.
The third aspect is uncovering and fairly compensating tribal and native medicine. We’re working with a tribe in Peru to help them both commercialize and get paid for some of what they use to keep healthy.
Finally, all of this won’t do a lick of good if the newcomers behave like the old pharma did or worse. We need to get the hucksters and the charlatans out. We need personalized medicine that isn’t just one-size-fits-all. We need proven benefits, not glorified placebos. So we bring that discipline to each project we touch, prove that it works and how it works, make sure you give it to the right people in the right doses, do no harm. And we truly think that next generation of treatments can grow up on a more solid moral and impact footing than the last generation and the shameful way it pushed things like opioids on people for max profit.
From your wealth of experience in helping companies realize the potential of today’s innovation and impact, what advice do you have for anyone looking to start a business now?
First, the funding climate is tough right now—fell off a cliff in 2022 and hasn’t yet recovered. So you will want to beeline for either a reliable funding source or, better yet, early stage bootstrapped revenue or at least LOIs. The ICO path can occasionally work, but a lot worse than before the crypto winter, and with a lot more regulatory scrutiny. One of the most interesting paths that few “impact-preneurs” think about is grant programs—and that’s something we’re trying to mainstream.
Secondly, I would aim to incorporate recent innovations because not everyone does. Can your dev team use generative AI to streamline their coding? Can you use blockchain projects like Mobilecoin to support global contractor payments? Are you hosting at the edge and using latency optimization from companies like Syntropy to get a swiftness edge on the competition? This will vary by industry of course, but a successful startup is often founded on an ecosystem of their peers building on each other’s success to make 1+1=3—and that was certainly a prime goal for us in the ecosystem we built.
Finally, just as those bank robbers used to say “we rob banks because that’s where the money is,” I’d recommend following the money to work with enterprise clients and partners if you can. It’s all fine and good to say that you’re going to be selling to fellow startups and to the blockchain ecosystem, but at some point that just means you’re overexposing yourself to a lot of counterparty risks. Enterprise sales sucks—it’s long, capricious, and they’ll squeeze margins from you if you let them. But it’s part of growing up as a company, and something we’re infinitely familiar with.