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Webblen’s Team Is Bringing Crypto to the Masses by Rewarding Community Engagement

I had the pleasure of interviewing the founders of Webblen, a Web3 mobile app that pays users for being involved in their community, allowing users to explore their city’s culture and events, earn WBLN by being involved, and spend WBLN in the in-app marketplace. Joining me today are Kai Selekwa, Nathaniel Thoreson, and Carter Razink.

Kai Selekwa, CEO

Kai is a Co-Founder & CEO of Webblen INC. He has a passion for and experience with technology, psychology, and entrepreneurship. Outside of Webblen INC, he’s obtained over 6 years of entrepreneurial experience through being a freelance software developer and digital marketer.

What’s most important is his mission: To create a world that pushes us forwards and rewards us for being involved and connected, not only digitally, but physically as well.

Carter Razink, CTO

Carter is a co-founder & CTO of Webblen. With degrees in Physics and Math from the University of North Dakota, Carter Razink excels in using technology to solve problems.

Carter is the engineer and architect of the Webblen Network. He directs the future of Webblen’s strategy for B2B and B2C blockchain development while aiding in general business development.

Nathaniel Thoreson, CMO

After graduating college with degrees in Marketing and Political Science, Nathaniel joined Microsoft as a Senior Marketing Manager.

Along with Kai Selekwa, Nathaniel co-founded Webblen in 2016. He is responsible for directing Webblen’s expansion through architecting Webblen’s brand and marketing strategy.

Thank you so much for joining us!

What motivated you to launch your startup?

“Originally, Webblen was an event notifier. Back in 2017, we had released a beta version of the app to get members of the community to know what events were happening in the community. However, once we started to use this event notifier, this question came to mind:

That’s when our team officially understood the issue we were in the position to solve.

Social media and other popular business models are driving disengagement in our communities.

The effects of this?

Loneliness, depression, suicide, body dysmorphia, civic engagement, weaker small businesses, etc.

These are all aspects of society and the economy that are heading in the wrong direction largely because social media has isolated us into polarizing echo chambers and incentivized us through psychological manipulation.

This problem has become known as the , coined by the Center of Humane Technology.

When it comes to the future of our communities and humanity, we cannot use our attention and engagement as a means for raising and supporting a single entity’s bottom line.

We must respect human attention and engagement, provide value to it, and support directing it towards positive outcomes for ourselves and our communities.

So how do we align community engagement with economic incentives?

The answer our team has developed as a solution to this question is Webblen.”

What is it that excites you about what you’re building?

“Webblen is the platform for the purpose economy. With the right incentives in place, communities can accomplish amazing things. Webblen isn’t just a platform, it’s an ecosystem for anyone to tap directly into their community, organize with others, and make an impact. We are bringing individuals together and creating a world of change-makers. Who knows what can be accomplished when you bring a community together?”

“What excites me most are the creative ways people are and will use Webblen to solve problems in their community. Entire business models can be created off of this platform. For example, there’s a company in Fargo, ND called Terra-bate. They are an app that provides cashback for consumers purchasing low-carbon and eco-friendly alternatives. They are using Webblen to sell “NFTrees” to crowdfund their business while making a positive impact in the Fargo community. People can buy an NFTree with their WBLN, and a tree will be planted on their behalf in Fargo.”

What has been your biggest challenge when growing your startup?

“Webblen in its entirety is truly a massive undertaking. We believe that Webblen is a zero-to-one company. Community engagement has not been properly disrupted in human history unless you include the damaging effects social media platforms have had to drive disengagement. Webblen is attempting to do the exact opposite; bring communities together by aligning positive outcomes with incentives.

In terms of growth, localizing growth has proven to be challenging. Because we are a hyper-localized platform, we can only leverage network effects at the local level. When we notice a pocket of users in New York, Berlin, or anywhere else in the world, we have to work quickly to take advantage. It’s very ironic. Webblen is a powerful tool for businesses to market their offerings to local customers, but we can’t rely on Webblen as a tool to grow our own brand.

That being said, we are very confident moving forward. We have been fortunate to source world-class talent and get connected with advisors who are experts in their fields. They have all pushed forward our messaging, mission, and technology.”

What are your future plans and goals for your startup?

“We have a few overarching goals for Webblen!

We want to create the first decentralized community social economy, built on the Webblen Network. Our primary goal is to fundamentally disrupt the way we organize our communities, and we want the communities themselves to lead the way. By providing tools to enable seamless DAO creation and use, we can enable better community organization toward shared goals.

We also are building the Webblen app with the goal of onboarding as many people into the Web3 world as possible. The Webblen app interface makes using DeFi, P2E gaming, and other unique Web3 experiences easily accessible. We also want to onboard as many people as possible into the Web3 development space through open-source tools to enable Web2 developers to easily build Web3 applications.”

If you had to share, “words of wisdom,” with a Founder who’s about to start their own startup, what would they be?

“My recommendation to all start-up founders is to find one or two co-founders that you trust with your life and have complementary skills to your own. Having a good co-founder allows you to accomplish much more than you could on your own but you need to find a person that you’ll be able to work with for 10+ years. I have been very fortunate to work with Carter and Mukai. We’ve all known each other for a long time and we have unique skills to bring to the table”

“A startup’s success (at first) is entirely dependent on the founder’s energy and drive to make something valuable. The first of many ideas will probably yield nothing, and you must trust the process to discover and build something of value for others. A large fraction of startup failure comes from founders losing their drive to build — if you have that drive and are consistent with its application, you have a high chance of long-term success. Webblen is nearly 7 years old since conception, and the reason why we are still here today is entirely due to our team’s long-term drive to build something impactful.”

You have two choices when you are starting a company. You will either create a company that only focuses on revenue generation, or you will create a company that focuses on value creation. If you take the first route, you are likely going to contribute to negative outcomes whether it be irresponsible spending, bureaucracy, pollution, waste, trend-chasing, unhealthy competition, etc. To be frank, that’s the easiest business to start. Though I say this, there are exceptions.

If you choose the second path, this is going to be much more difficult. If the outcomes of your business lead to positive outcomes for everyone involved in your business, it will not be an easy journey. However, if you succeed, you will be one of the few businesses and people that have created a sustainable solution and business that uniquely advanced society.”

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We encourage our users to check out the Webblen app! We often post company updates there. Otherwise, they can find us on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and pretty much everywhere else!

This was very insightful. Thank you so much for joining us!

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Jason Malki

Jason Malki is the Founder & CEO of StrtupBoost, a 30,000+ member startup ecosystem + agency that helps across fundraising, marketing, and design.