Categories: Startup Circle

Startup Circle: How has Aiisma given birth to the “My Data My Asset” Movement?

Aiisma is India’s first-ever consumer to the business data ecosystem. It’s new AiiSocial Platform, the hybrid platform rewards users for their social interactions and data, tackling hidden user data monetisation as it occurs on other social media platforms where users have never before been rewarded for their data. While the app is released for individual users, Aiisma is also running a beta program for business, brand and influencer partners.

About Nicholas:

A second generation entrepreneur hailing from Switzerland, Nicholas Bohnlein is the Co-Founder, COO and CMO of Aiisma. Prior to co-founding Aiisma, he was the Co-founder of Consu LLC, a technical trading and management company based in Switzerland.

How does your platform Aiisma operate?

Aiisma has given birth to a global #MyDataMyAsset movement that enables people to monetize their data leveraging a privacy-centric and ethical technology framework.

To offer you a perspective, with any share, search, or click that you conduct over the internet, you simultaneously generate a trail of data. This data trail is not only gathered by various websites and applications (including social media platforms) but also shared with third parties for various purposes. This creates several challenges for individuals. Firstly, you barely have the information about what data is being used and how. Secondly, despite it being your personal data, you have limited access to it. Thirdly, you don’t have any access to the tangible value that this data creates.

Now, we need to understand that data collation is not an entirely problematic subject. It is something that paves the way for superior personalization of services. However, what’s problematic is its unethical and intrusive usage. This is where Aiisma brings about a paradigm change with the #MyDataMyAsset movement. Using our ethical technology construct, we not only ensure complete transparency about the data collated of an individual. We also ensure that a person gets rewarded for the same for any monetary incentive that this data creates. In other words, we are not only securing data like a precious physical asset; but also ensuring that this asset also results in financial benefits to an individual.

At Aiisma, we are building a secure ecosystem of customer-centric services. AiiSocial – a social media network where people can earn rewards for their engagement – is our first product down the line.

What sets you apart from the competitors?

There is no direct competitor of Aiisma. However, several aspects set us apart in general. For instance, we have an ethical framework with a non-manipulative technological design. What typically happens is that platforms personalize information to the extent that people never achieve an organic reach to all of their friends and followers. This phenomenon further creates social bubbles, a topic widely covered in Netflix’s documentary-drama ‘The Social Dilemma’. Also, information baiting – to understand the preferences of a person – ends up manipulating the behaviour of a person. Aiisma, and specifically its AiiSocial platform, eliminates this challenge.

We extend 100% organic reach to everyone on AiiSocial. So, it is typically a real-world embodiment of our social interactions. Also, since all relevant information is directly provided to us by a user, we don’t need to bait information, thereby eliminating behavioural manipulation. Another tangible difference that we bring to the table is that we are eliminating the challenge of botnets.

Social media platforms are infamous for bot activity that ends up eating the revenues of advertising businesses. Several social media platforms have removed multiple billions of bots from their platforms over the years. Still, they are far from addressing the challenge. At AiiSocial, we have solved this challenge with KYC – ensuring the authenticity of any and all engagement generated on our platform.

However, true differentiation comes in the form of the end-to-end ecosystem that we are building. It will give people a safe space of interactive and interrelated services that are entirely built around the ideology of #MyDataMyAsset. After all, data is increasingly becoming an asset in our rapidly digitizing lifestyles.

How did you come up with the idea?

Aiisma is the condensed idea that is born out of multiple ideas and challenges that they intended to address. We were originally looking to automate support services. As we stepped into it, we came across the voluminous data that any support service provider receives to fix a person’s device remotely. This provoked us to think that if a support service provider can have access to such data, what is the amount of data that, say, a device manufacturer obtains? And what do they do with this data, especially in terms of privacy and monetization? Our research revealed that there was a massive knowledge gap in this regard within the market. So, to address it, we launched Aiisma in 2017.

Data privacy has become a raging issue during the past couple of months. Several developments have been observed in this regard of late with Europe’s GDPR, privacy breaches at Big Techs in the U.S., and India’s own personal data protection bill. However, we were an outlier back when we began. Such was the magnitude of unawareness prevailing all around. After contemplating how we should go about it – whether it should be a tool, software, some platform – we finally went ahead with hardware. We sensed that a smartphone can truly overcome this challenge with all of the apps and platforms inside it. We started questioning this idea at a later stage, however. What’s interesting is that this enlightenment happened when everything from the product design and software to manufacturing and distribution was already in place. Nevertheless, we dared to question ourselves and to come up with something better.

What troubled us was that even if our smartphone becomes very successful as a new entrant in the market, we still won’t be scratching the surface as compared to the big tech. There were billions of smartphone users across the globe. Not everyone was going to give up their device immediately even if they were aware of our approach and appreciated it. Then, would we change how personal data privacy and monetization are handled? So, we needed something more scalable. We brainstormed all over again and came up with the idea to develop an ecosystem that achieves our purpose. It would enable people to join and hence, protect and regulate their data without giving up their existing conveniences. We kept on refining the idea further and finally created an ecosystem fun, engaging, and yet, leading-edge in terms of privacy and data monetization, Aiisma.

The pandemic has affected every sector. How are you coping?

We have experienced a mixed impact through the pandemic. On one hand, it has led to a mass migration of people towards digital technologies and platforms. While it happens, we have become more relevant given that we solve the very fundamental problem of the digital world. On the other hand, it has also created a liquidity crunch amongst the investor community. Investors are currently in a ‘wait and watch’ mode and are holding investments at large till the dust around COVID settles.

TikTok had a security flaw? How safe is your platform?

TikTok did not per se have a security flaw. It has been claimed that the operator stored information about consumers on servers that were not compliant with data protection laws as in effect in different geographies of its operations. AiiSocial is built on giving back to the local community fabric. All user-related data is stored in respective geographies of user residence and the KYC process ensures that only users in the acceptable age group have access to content as approved by the native governments. Standard consumer and enterprise security parameters are also adhered to by default both in development and use of the platform.

What is the trend that you have observed on the Aiisma platform?

People are concerned about their privacy. Though we conduct KYC of our users, it is not mandatory to use the platform. Nevertheless, people are actively submitting their KYC to receive the Golden badge. The level of response is amazing to see; especially since almost everyone that we talked to during our initial days believed that KYC was not going to be a good idea.

What is your business/market growth?

Being life for about 9 weeks with our AiiSocial platform, we are registering an organic month on month growth of over 100%. AiiSocial’s largest audience is in India followed by the UAE and the Philippines. However, the audience in the Philippines is currently growing the fastest besides India.

What are your post-Covid plans?

We expect digital consumption to keep growing at a very rapid pace, as it has over the past months catapulting us into the “new normal” seeing high demands in e-commerce and other industries that are going more and more digital. Therefore, we are planning to keep enhancing AiiSocial from a feature and integration perspective to widen our total addressable market and are also looking at expanding AiiSocial geographically further.

Funding details

Bootstrapped within the founders

Laxitha Mundhra: