1. Hi Mark, thank you for sitting down with us. Can you explain your background a little bit?
I'm a serial entrepreneur with two exits — I've previously been venture-backed by Softbank and Intel and was CTO at a company backed by Elon Musk and Sequoia. My first company, The Palace, was sold in 1999 with 10 million users. My third company, a social network called ZeroDegrees, was sold to IAC in 2004.
I'm also a Harper Collins author. I was one of the first people ever to serially podcast a novel in 2005. In 2013, I published BITCOIN EXPLAINED SIMPLY. In 2015 I published THE CASE FOR BITCOIN -- which was a direct response to Bitcoin crashing from $1,200 to $160 when few still believed.
2. What is Guardian Circle and when did you come up with the idea?
Guardian Circle is globally decentralized 9-1-1. When you’re in trouble, push a button and we generate a flash-mob of qualified help from the people and resources already near you. Imagine ten people arriving in three minutes, anywhere on earth. That’s the vision.
Six billion people have no 9-1-1. One billion do, but it is terrible (1960's tech) and getting worse (example: when you call 9-1-1 from a mobile phone, they have no idea where you are -- Uber can find you more easily than 9-1-1.
We fix all of this. We open the emergency alert grid to vetted citizens, any alert device (via API) and private response services for the very first time.
I came up with the idea after my girlfriend Heather had a stroke and was all alone in her garage for half an hour. I found her and took her to the hospital in time, and everything is fine now. However, I realized later that seven people had been within a thousand yards of her during this event — she simply had no way to alert them. She was literally drowning in help — but couldn’t access it. She was debating calling 911, but once you summon an ambulance, you also summon a $20K bill, so many just forego that call — and she was trying to ‘tough it out’ because of that. Since her brain had shut down, she couldn’t type or talk so this eliminated the 911 dial option anyway.
I said to myself, someone has to have created an app to summon nearby help! When I looked, I found there were a lot of ‘panic button apps’ that simply sent a text message with a link to five emergency contacts. I realized if I had gotten a text — even from her! — that said, “Heather is in trouble! Click here to see her position and help her,” I would immediately suspect that link of being spam. I would think her phone had been hacked. I wouldn’t click the link — I would CALL her.
So the ACTUAL result of all these apps in a real emergency is that the Alerter has a ton of inbound phone calls, which do them absolutely no good.
All five callers don’t even know about the other four. All five don’t know which one of them is closest, and all five cannot communicate at all.
Instead, she needed a way to push a button or call for help, and for all the people who could help her to immediately be sharing their location on a map, and to have a chat room where they could all coordinate their efforts to assist her — without requiring these helpers to all know each other in advance. We needed an ‘Alert Room’ to instantly be formed — a ‘war room’ for solving Heather’s problem.
That’s what we built, that became Guardian Circle. Later, we realized a new class of vetted citizen responders should also be added to this response team, like doctors, nurses, and EMTs, and they should be paid. This is how the Guardium Token was born.
3. Just like any other idea, do you have any direct competitors in the space?
There are a number of 'panic button apps' - but without exception, as noted above, all of them have forgotten 'the second half of the problem' - organizing the response.
Getting people who do not know one another in instant communication and location sharing during an emergency - the importance of that cannot be overstated.
For example, your Mom and your neighbor have never met - but when you're found unconscious, if your Mom can tell your neighbor that you're allergic to bee stings - that's HUGE. When a medical professional shows up, the neighbor can relay this information. Now, the medical person knows what to zero in on, they are not starting from scratch with a mystery. And that could very well be the difference between you living or dying. Seconds count.
We are the only company with a cloud emergency grid that incorporates a Token and that provides an API for any alert device to plug into.
4. I see you guys are fundraising, why have you chosen the ICO route, rather than the traditional VC fundraising method?
The venture world is always chasing the next trendy Snapchat-type company. We just weren't ever going to be that. They're looking for the next massive unicorn, to pump it up to a billion dollar IPO as fast as it can go.
By contrast, we're trying to reboot the world's safety grid. We're creating a new global public utility. And we want it to service everyone, everywhere on earth. Although it is a very big vision, and it is a capitalist, multibillion-dollar ecosystem that we're chasing - it's still a very different vision, and not the one venture capitalists are looking for.
We found that the token sale universe was very much about rebooting vast structures - be they banking or financial or government things, or even the sort of 'global public utility' thing we were doing. We suddenly found a very receptive worldwide audience. So we gravitated towards it.
5. Can you explain the Guardium token for me? Why is the token necessary? Will you have to have the tokens to use the app?
You will indeed have to use Guardium tokens to access the paid response subscription services. This makes our services transportable across borders: as you travel, your protection travels with you.
And our hope is that the first vendors in our ecosystem reap the rewards of their early participation. Early drivers of Uber, who did the actual labor the company was built on top of, were not so lucky. We'd like to see that dynamic change.
We will provide a marketplace of vetted and approved paid responders. Some examples of these:
- Nearby EMT's
- Licensed and bonded armed private security
- Concierge Alert Operators (think 9-1-1 but without busy signals/holds, and the operator immediately knows your location (even if you don't))
- Emergency Transport - In a remote village this could simply be 'the guy with the truck'
Think of us as Time Warner: think of them as HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc. You pick and choose what subscriptions you want - or none at all.
The Guardium Token is used in five distinct ways:
- FIRST: It’s used to form Emergency Response Contracts and as a Form of Settlement. You might contract with
- Local EMT or doctor
- Your local security response be that citizen or pro
- Ambulance or other emergency transport
- SECOND: Guardium provides for remote Sponsorship of emergency response contracts
- You and I can send Guardium DIRECTLY to a beneficiary in the developing world to buy protection services
- Because it’s direct, no bank, organization or government can use the funds inefficiently or inappropriately
- Track IMPACT of every dollar you donate as easily as a FedEx package. See EXACTLY where every GUARD you sent was spent.
- THIRD: Alert transcripts are inscribed on the Guardium blockchain
- Full timeline of
- WHERE everyone was during the Alert
- WHAT everyone said
- WHEN everyone responded or didn’t respond
- Immutable, tamper-proof evidence
- The Alerting Party has full control of all access to this transcript (even we can’t get at it)
- FOURTH: Guardium provides for Emergency Info Lock Box
- So you can create a record that contains all the stuff you only want people to know about if you’re in trouble.
- Location of a hidden key to your house
- Secret health issues
- Private keys to cryptocurrency
- Opened only when Alerter declares Alert
- Openable only by Guardians
- FIFTH: Doubles as a Loyalty Program. Earn Guardium when you:
- Send invitations to Guardian Circle
- Guard others
- Respond to an Alert
6. I see your token sale starts in about 20 days, how is your presale going so far?
Really well! We've sold over half of our hard cap of $10M, and we've won several awards along the way: CoinAgenda (Jan 2018) and d10e: Gibraltar (Nov 2017).
7. What's next for Guardian Circle? Any big upcoming news?