Founder Interview with Justin Tabb from Substratum
The Foundation of the Decentralized Web
Hello Justin. Thank you for connecting with us, and for taking the time to educate our community on Substratum. Firstly, can you give us a brief introduction to yourself, your story, and how you got involved in cryptocurrencies and blockchain?
My entire adult life I’ve been involved in technology and quickly fell in love with programming even before the age of 20. In 2005 I founded OverridePro and over the course of the last 13 years, we have built some amazing things for some amazing companies including Apple, Disney, and many more.
Always being on the lookout for cutting-edge ideas I was an early adopter of cryptocurrency and as I learned more about the blockchain I knew there were some opportunities to really change the way the world interacts digitally.
What led you to start your project, and why exactly this kind of project?
Internet Censorship is something I have always been passionate about and over the last few years it has spiraled out of control to the degree that if we keep on the course we are headed now we won’t recognize the internet 10 years from now without intervention. Blockchain and decentralization offered the base concepts I knew we needed to solve internet censorship from a technologically based solution, not a politically based solution. Upon vetting the concept within my OverridePro network of employees and consultants we knew we had the right approach to solve this problem so we set out from there and in just over a year we have proved that the approach actually works through a series of demos where we showed censored content is available over the Substratum Network in China, Russia, and Iran. So it is really happening, the concept really works, and soon it will be a reality.
Here’s a video introduction to Substratum
“One day, Americans might wake up and realize they don’t like big brother watching over their shoulder and having corporations track everything they do. And when that happens, Substratum will be there.”
— Justin Tabb, Co-Founder
Who’re the co-founders, and what’s your relationship to those?
The main co-founder is Kelly Tabb, my wife; we set out to bring the concept to life, took the risk and put it out there. Abram Cookson, our CIO is a long-time friend of mine who also worked with us at OverridePro so he joined on officially first followed by BJ Allmon — COO, Steve Swing — CTO, and Christian Pope — CMO.
We now employ 27 full-time employees and a few contractors most of who are out of our Delaware office just outside of Columbus, Ohio. November 15th we will be opening our second location in Knoxville, TN to work with the guys in Delaware on our third project the Amplify Exchange and look forward to staffing that up with high-quality guys just like we have in Ohio.
What’s the vision for the project?
My vision for Substratum is an eco-system of products that allow people everywhere to be able to connect to the same internet regardless of digital borders. With the framework of the Substratum Network laid as the foundation, we will bring people our next two products to ensure they have the same ability as the rest of the world to manage all aspects of their digital lives.
Cryptopay is an online payment gateway that will allow people anywhere to safely transact for goods and services using cryptocurrency while allowing the vendor to be paid in the crypto or fiat of their choosing.
Finally, Amplify Exchange will ensure that all people everywhere have access to a cryptocurrency exchange to easily manage their assets. Amplify will use the Substratum Network to ensure it can be reached from anywhere regardless of digital borders and with its simple and easy user interface will remove the barriers of adoption currently in place for non-technical people wanting to purchase cryptocurrency.
Give us a brief rundown of the tech behind the project, both original and adopted.
From a technical aspect, SubstratumNode is written in Rust which is a low-level language that makes it easily ported from one OS to another. In fact, while Rasberry Pi is not fully supported yet the project runs very smoothly and easily on even a $5 Rasberry Pi zero. The software works within the standard TCP stack which make it very difficult to identify from a network analyzation standpoint and by using masquerading techniques within the code we are able to disguise Substratum packets as standard HTTP(s) packets making it even harder to identify and block.
The network employs what we have coined the CORES protocol — Client, Originator, Relay, Exit Server. This means that even with only 4 nodes the software works and was proven to work to circumvent the Great Firewall of China. As the number of nodes grows to hopefully one day millions of nodes the network only gets faster and more anonymized.
What has been the biggest challenges since you started your project?
The biggest challenge is just expectations. People within the crypto sphere expect everything to happen immediately and we are re-engineering the way the internet works and to do that right takes time. We have a long-term plan to provide an ecosystem of products that are available to the entire world and meet the most basic needs of people’s digital lives and sometimes that doesn’t move as fast as some people might like but it’s just the nature of wanting to do it right and not cut corners.
What has been your greatest achievement personally, and with the project? Try to separate the two.
Personally, my greatest achievement is marrying the woman I love and building a family with three wonderful children over the last 13 years.
In relation to the project I don’t claim much success personally, it is a team effort and no one person is more important than anyone else. In regards to the project, I think our greatest achievement to date is really delivering on this crazy concept that so many people said was impossible. We were told by everyone that we could never beat the Great Firewall of China and here we are a year later and we have done it. So we have a long way to go and I am sure lots of accomplishments will trump that and become what we consider a greater achievement but for now, I am pretty excited by that one.
What is your plan for the project for the next 2–3 years? Where will you be in terms of achievements, partnerships, products, user base, etc?
Over the next 2–3 years, we will deliver production versions of SubstratumNode, SubstratumHost, CryptoPay, and Amplify Exchange and will have them tuned together to be a perfect symbiotic eco-system that is easy to use and makes peoples digital lives better all over the world, regardless of internet censorship.
Once adopted we will have made Internet Censorship an issue of the past with a permanent technological solution. We will have provided developer tools for the entire product suite and I hope to see developers from all over the world using our foundation of services to build the next generation of products. I hope that we will have hundreds of millions of nodes running and that net neutrality will be a reality.
If you had to give props to one other cryptocurrency project, company or crypto personality, who would it be and why?
I normally don’t talk about other projects but I can say I am a fan of the approach Stellar Lumens is taking. I think they have a lot of interesting things in the pipeline and they are taking a holistic approach like we are so I like that.
Where can we connect with you or support your business?
If you are interested in purchasing some $SUB tokens you can do that at Binance.
If you are a fan of what we have done and want to get in early on what we are doing next you can join the Amplify Exchange ICO starting November 15th at https://amplifyexchange.com.
Lastly, will you consider attending our Altcoin Magazine Mastermind Event later next year?
Absolutely yes, looks like it is far enough in the future we should be able to make that happen so let us know what you would like us to do in relation to that and we will be happy to speak, set up a booth or just attend.
Thank you for your time — any final words?
Big shout out to our community, we couldn’t do any of this without you. We believe we have a great future and we have proven our concepts work so look for great things from Substratum in the future.
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