How Zohem is using Blockchain to help advertisers beat the Google-Facebook duopolyVallabh Rao
Zohem removes the monopoly of big players, and brings decentralised trust and incentivisation to the adtech economy through Blockchain.
At a glance
Founders: Nikunj Jain, Ayush Varshney, and Sumit Gupta
Year it was founded: 2017
Where it is based: Singapore
The problem it solves: Uses Blockchain to help advertisers beat the Google-Facebook duopoly
Working in the adtech space for over a decade, Zohem founders, Nikunj Jain, Ayush Varshney, and Sumit Gupta had front-row seats to the problems prevalent in a centralised adtech and data ecosystem.
Nikunj’s first venture Inoxapps got over 150 million downloads, and his subsequent startup Frankly.me (a video-based social media network that went on to raise $2.6 million were shut down due to the non-existence of viable means for monetisation of the data they were generating.
Ayush, the Founder of Murmur, a project funded by Google, was facing similar issues with regards to establishing a direct revenue stream by selling ads through his application. That is when he met Nikunj at an adtech conference. Being tech geeks, both started talking about the latest tech innovations and the topic of Blockchain and cryptocurrency came up. They soon realised that combining the two forces - Blockchain and advertising - could revolutionise the adtech economy. They were joined by Sumit Gupta in August 2017, who added the understanding of data to the team. Sumit had worked on Grownout, an AI and social profiling-based recruitment platform where data was the centrepiece for growth before it got sold to PeopleStrong.
In September 2017, the product blueprint of Zohem came into being. The three put together the final pieces with the aim of bringing about a data economy revolution that removes the monopoly of big players like Google and Facebook, and brings decentralised trust and incentivisation to the adtech economy through Blockchain.
Zohem creates a decentralised open source Blockchain smart contract-based platform for online publishers to pool in their data and in return get rewarded with Zohem Data Tokens (ZDTs), which are then bought by advertisers to take inventory buying decisions.
“We are building a completely decentralised, disintermediated, and democratic data exchange ecosystem that will revolutionise the sector and ensure every stakeholder in the current digital advertising industry gets incentivised for the amount of information they pool in. Zohen Tokens will power all transactions around data exchange within the Zohem ecosystem. The publishers (contributors of data) will be given Zohen Tokens based on the value of the data they have contributed, which will be calculated by the Data Inference Engine (a system that will determine the utility and authenticity of the information submitted ) and verified by other publishers,” Nikunj says.“Bitcoin was started to give us financial freedom from the monopoly of banks and governments."
The startup wants to establish a protocol that can be used by the entire adtech industry for various purposes, including avoiding redundancies in processes, and realising efficiency and cost gains. The team believes that establishing a data management protocol will ensure that the system grows in a neutral manner, creating very low-barriers for the entry of new players, as the infrastructure is available to everyone.
“This ultimately makes Zohem the go-to technology whenever an advertiser requires clean, validated data in a completely transparent and secure environment. The publisher will finally be empowered to operate fairly and at par with centralised authorities like Google and Facebook. Our aim is that by May 2019 Zohem would have 100K data queries from advertisers per day and 15 million data points from publishers per day,” says Nikunj, speaking about the startup’s future plans.