RateMyInvestor Founder Series: CRYPTO Episode 5 with Alastair Johnson (Nuggets)
How did you first get started in the world of entrepreneurship?
I have had over 25 years experience in taking high-level concepts from design to delivery, and deep knowledge of the tech, production and commercial fields. I led global integrated product development and marketing initiatives for brands such as Microsoft, Skype, Xbox, Hololens, the BBC and Disney, creating and managing multi-disciplinary global teams in startups and multinational corporations alike.
Tell us about your current company and the inspiration behind it
Nuggets is an e-commerce payments and ID platform. It stores your personal and payment data securely on the blockchain, so you never have to share it with anyone — not even Nuggets. With Nuggets, you create a secure ‘personal cloud’ of data in zero-knowledge blockchain storage. You decide if and when you want to share it, and do so on your own terms. Nuggets gives power back to the people, enabling ‘self-sovereign identity’ on a mass scale. It also frees companies from the burden of storing and protecting millions of customer records.
Nuggets was partly born from the realization that our data is only safe when we control it ourselves. The current model for storing personal information is broken — we see the proof of that in new data breaches almost every day..
I was also inspired by my own experience of having my card details used fraudulently online, and the incredibly frustrating process that followed. In 2015, my payment details were stolen and used fraudulently online. That was bad enough, but things got even worse when I tried to resolve the problem.
First, I realised that anyone could access and use my account simply by answering the security questions — my answers had already been compromised in the hack. Plus, cancelling my card interrupted all the services I had linked to it. So when I finally got a new card, I had to go through the tedious process of updating my payment details over and over again.
It made me realise just how many merchants and service providers were holding really sensitive data — and how vulnerable they were to breaches. Basically, that one breach compromised everything. Like most consumers, I had around 100 online accounts, probably more — each one with exceptionally valuable data like my card details, emails, home addresses, phone numbers and passwords.
My exasperation with this broken model inspired me to develop Nuggets. It’s not a band-aid for the current system. That’s no good. It’s a completely new way of paying and verifying your identity online. You also don’t have to store or share your data with anyone.
Why did choose the name Nuggets?
“Nuggets” was the word I used to explain how “nuggets” of personal data are encrypted in zero knowledge storage in a blockchain.
Why did you choose to go for an Airdrop?
When talking to a community it’s always best to speak their language and airdrops are something that really relates to the crypto community.
What unique challenges have you faced building a company on the blockchain vs. a traditional business?
Working with a nascent technology brings both opportunities and challenges — including gaining acceptance and understanding from others. Combine that with a regulatory system that hasn’t had a chance to catch up with the technology itself, and you have a recipe for very exciting times! Sometimes too exciting as we say.
What is something you’ve learned while building your startup that you wish someone had told you before you began?
The toughest part of startup is staying positive and focused through all the rejections and financial hardships. But the journey is also incredibly rewarding in equal measure.
Don’t expect anything from anyone if there isn’t something in it for them — having said that, however, we have also met amazing entrepreneurs that have helped so much, purely because that’s where they’ve come from.
What advice would you give to first-time founders or people looking to get involved in the crypto/blockchain space?
Make sure you are answering a real problem first and that blockchain brings benefits and enables solutions that no other technology can. The worst solution would be implementing blockchain for the sole sake of having the tech. It has some amazing benefits to bring to the world, but being such a nascent technology, it comes with problems, too — some unforeseeable for now. It needs to be a good fit for the project at hand.
Demonstrate the benefits your solution brings to your market and bring it with a passion, belief and empathy to people.
You need partners and colleagues that have complementary skills, you can’t all be of the same skill set. In the same vein, you need Navy Seals as team members: people who can hit the ground running, don’t mind getting their hands dirty and excel at in their specialty.
Lastly, you need to stay positive for the benefit of your mind and body, have great support network of friends and family, and be grateful for the amazing opportunities you have in changing the world to be a better place.
What is your favorite blog/newsletter and why?
Hackernoon — it has great range and insight!
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Did you enjoy this article? Check out our other founder series interviews!