Jason Goldberg

Founder and CEO at OST

Announcing Pepo 2.0 & our intent for a Q4 2017 Pepo Coin token offering [ICO]

📸 eTramping on Pepo

Announcing Pepo 2.0 & our intent for a Q4 2017 Pepo Coin token offering [ICO]

In this post I provide an update on the development of Pepo and our plans for the future.

We began working on Pepo in February 2016 with a big idea to democratize the market for everyday expertise. We imagined an efficient and seamless way for anyone anywhere to connect instantly with the most relevant expertise and experts on any topic.

Our original Pepo thesis was formed through a series of observations:

First, we observed a market gap for connecting with everyday experts. When you want to get in touch with a business professional, you know where to go: LinkedIn. But where do you go when you want to get in touch with an “everyday expert” on all of the other things in your life? Travel, local tips, parenting, fitness, nutrition, fashion, entertainment, etc. — important everyday life topics. These topics tend to be very personal and very specific to one’s particular life situation, e.g. solo female travel in Columbia, caring for a home garden in Pune, India, where to find a safe gay dance party in Dubai (yes, they do exist), or planning for budget backpacking in Japan. These are topics where reputation is earned through first-hand experience, and topics that lend themselves to long and arduous research and reading first before asking questions or finding someone to get in touch with. Sure, you can find content on such topics by searching the web, but how do you get the most relevant, current, and even real-time information? Who can you trust? And, when you need more information or want to ask follow-up questions, how can you appropriately contact the everyday experts?

Second, we observed that existing social networks are ill-suited to fill that gap. Large social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter are reinforcing the notion that everyone is a content creator, constantly sharing the minute moments of our lives. However, none of those platforms lend themselves well to genuinely connecting with everyday experts: identifying their first-hand expertise, establishing their reputation, learning from their experiences, asking them questions, messaging with them, and getting their first-hand insider tips personally tailored to you. For example, how many Instagrammers look forward to strangers direct messaging them to ask follow-up questions about their latest beach pic? How many Snapchatters are available for live Q&A to discuss further insights on their experiences? Facebook is mostly about the people you already know. Same with WhatsApp & Messenger. But, how do you connect with trusted strangers, and go beyond digesting their content and communicate directly with the experts? As my mother put it: “I don’t want to just read about or watch a video about planning my trip to Iceland, I want to also easily figure out who I can trust on specific details related to our situation (e.g. we are seniors, we only eat fish and no meat, and we want to make sure we can plan some nice long nature walks each day), and I want a comfortable and convenient way to contact them. I cannot do that with [existing] social media.”

Third, we observed structural problems with prevailing business models. Most of the existing user generated content platforms are based on audience attention models, meaning they rely on user generated content contributed for free, monetized by closed platforms via advertising (take for example in the travel and local tips categories: TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Zomato). The owning entities of social networks and such consumer audience businesses are motivated by creating as many ad impressions as possible within their networks and then attracting and enticing and retaining as many consumers as possible to click on those advertisements. Consumers contribute their content for free to those networks, while advertisers pay the owners for producing views, clicks, actions, and app installs. We believe that’s somewhat backwards. We want to democratize and decentralize everyday expertise. Everyone is an expert at somethings and they should be fairly rewarded for their relevant content contributions, and for their roles as influencers. In a world where more and more power is increasingly shifting to consumers as influencers, the consumers — as community stakeholders — should be empowered to realize the value of their contributions.

From these observations we formed our ideas for a new online marketplace that would democratize everyday expertise.

When thinking through how to construct this new marketplace, we landed on 5 big components, we internally call MDRCE:

  1. Messaging. Nearly 3 billion people carry smartphones — super computers — in their pockets. People send more than 100 billion messages each day using those devices. We theorized that democratizing everyday expertise would start with messaging because it’s a familiar format, that so many people are already using today. However, we would also need to rethink messaging as a platform for strangers to come together over shared passions. We would need to create a new type of messaging platform that connects strangers, has memory, fosters reputation, and that comfortably facilitates many-to-many, one-to-many, and one-to-one conversations.
  2. Discovery. As we foresaw millions — and hopefully someday billions — of messages being posted with experiences, insider tips, expertise, and answers to questions, we realized that we would have to invent new ways for people to find and digest all that content. Search would play a major role, as would some form of “expertise feed” that combined explicit and implicit user interest and machine learning to serve up a regular dose of personally relevant tips. We plotted out an “expertise graph” that intersected one’s social graph, interest graph, location graph, and conversation graph.
  3. Reputation. As opposed to LinkedIn, where for the most part everyone brings their reputation to the platform, we hypothesized that our new system would have to be self-reinforcing such that authority and reputation is established by participating in the community. You become the #1 Berlin Foodie, for example, by providing the most valued Berlin food tips. The system would need to incentivize, identify, and reward topical relevance across the expertise graph.
  4. Currency. People should be able to earn money for their contributions! We envision a system wherein millions of everyday experts would be able to monetize their expertise, be rewarded for their influence, and sell their related digital and physical services. This would require a currency that people could earn and spend on the platform, tied to real-world value.
  5. Empowerment. Finally, in the face of massive and nearly monopolistic digital media incumbents, we posited that the only way we would be able to achieve our mission to democratize the market for everyday expertise would be to empower a community of Pepo members with a vested interest in the platform’s success. We shall provide transparency, fairness, and direct economic interest to all participants, enabling anyone with relevant expertise to monetize their knowledge and experiences.

That’s a lot do.

As we set out on this journey 17 months ago, we made the strategic decision to not try to build all of MDRCE at once, rather to get something small out in the marketplace early and then iterate like mad towards our big vision. We knew that users might not fully understand or value Pepo until all the features and marketplace dynamics were fleshed out, but we felt that outweighed the risk of building in a vacuum while the external market rapidly evolved.

That led us to launch an early public beta version of Pepo in October 2016. Since then we’ve been digesting hundreds of thousands of early user data inputs and fine tuning the platform. We ship new app updates, optimizations, and enhancements weekly.

Today we are launching Pepo 2.0, inching us a bit closer to realizing our vision for democratizing everyday expertise.

As featured on Product Hunt. Download for iPhone. Download for Android.

New in Pepo 2.0:

  • Every Pepo member gets a personalized Pepo Insider Feed with relevant insider tips, Q&A, and experiences.
  • As you use Pepo, the app learns what you like — and suggests what you might like — and your Pepo feed gets more and more personalized.
  • The new My Activity section presents a feed of all the posts you have interacted with.
  • Secret messages and channels are now split out into a separate inbox, and are not included in your feed.
  • Streamlined navigation.

We will continue to ship enhancements and updates weekly.

Some of our immediate priorities are in the areas of further enhancements to Discovery and Reputation.

Pepo Coin ICO

As the next logical step towards our vision for democratizing everyday expertise, we are ready to reveal that we have been working towards a Q4 2017 Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for Pepo Coin, a token to be based on Ethereum.

The purpose of the Pepo Coin ICO is to foster and empower a passionate community of member stakeholders. The ICO will go towards funding an endowment for the long term benefit of the community.

We shall provide more details about the Pepo Coin ICO in the coming weeks. We are taking a long-term view on Pepo & Pepo Coin, so our focus is getting it right vs. moving overly fast. We are assembling a great team of advisors and industry experts to work with us leading up to and following the token issuance event.

Unlike many other recent ICO companies, Pepo is a live product that anyone can use already today. Pepo Coin will be integrated into the Pepo platform following the ICO. One particular area where we think we can add unique value to the Blockchain community is to demystify Blockchain and make Ethereum approachable and useful for non technical consumers.

Official communication about the Pepo Coin ICO will originate in the Pepo Coin ICO channel on Pepo.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offeror solicitation to sell shares or securities in Pepo or any related or associated company. Any such offer or solicitation will be made only by means of a confidential offering memorandum and in accordance with the terms of allapplicable securities and other law.

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