The whole of our world continues to endure the exhaustion of lock-downs and isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic slow-downs, and rising unemployment everywhere.
Still, the world of genomic science, decentralized finance, tokenization, and digital transformation is not just hopeful, but pushing forward at break-neck speed. Out in the open, behind closed garage doors, and in the less-traveled nooks of the internet there exists countless numbers of brilliant teams and solopreneurs working tirelessly to build out and encode their visions, which will one day, become the architecture of our future digital world.
For those with their ear to the ground, and who follow and support Dr. David Koepsell’s project, they know that one of those visions of the future is called EncrypGen. During the darkest days of the pandemic, the bioethicist co-founder and author was busy making key business connections in the unchartered waters of an entirely nascent industry of genomic data. Not only is David not weary from being a pathfinder in this brave new venture, he remains very excited for 2021.
David was kind enough to answer a few questions about the upcoming year for everyone who follows EncrypGen’s progress.
Excitement for 2021
Q: Are you excited about EncrypGen for 2021 and beyond, and if so, why?
A: More than I have been for some time.
Brian Jalazzo’s joining us from BTblock, the BTblock team in general, my friends from ConsenSys Health who have come aboard BTblock and the general nature of our continued development, especially with the Coinmetro listing, etc., all make me very hopeful about what we can achieve this year.
We came this far, weathered a lot of ups and downs, and have a real, viable business model and functioning platform poised to take advantage of shifting consumer attitudes about data control and profit.
I can’t think of a more exciting convergence of factors to make it likely to be an amazing, pivotal year.
Afya Rekod: Looking At Summer 2021
Q: You were working on a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Afya Rekod and some others, how is that going, and what is involved in working (and waiting) with multiple stakeholders for a possible endeavor like that?
A: Still in progress. We expect to finalize the paperwork this summer, spurred in part by the rate at which the testing partner there achieves its goals. Afya Rekod is making some great strides, and their medical record product, combined with genetic testing by the testing partner, and monetization by us, make it a really super joint offering.
Another Promising Lead in Africa
Q: You mentioned that EncrypGen’s best bets are emerging partnerships with testing companies, and there may be a promising one in Africa. Can you expand on that without giving up details?
A: We always have wanted a testing company with decent volume to help to move data onto the chain. So far, the companies we have partnered with have hit walls in terms of testing, as has the whole genomics industry, I’m afraid. Consumer genomics is still an expensive business involving a lot of equipment, lab, and logistic costs. This is why we never wanted to get directly into the testing business.
Our approach now is two-fold: get some percentage of those 30 millions who have done tests by 23andMe and others to upload their data to us, and find a viable testing partner willing to have their customers upload their data to us to monetize. We have one lined up now in Africa that has a deal to do testing for research partners.
They have reached out to us to help deliver their intended blockchain monetization component. They expect about 20k subjects in their first study and will test in situ in East Africa.
Grab The Low-Hanging Fruit
Q: What would need to happen in 2021 to make the goal of reaching 10,000 genomic profiles?
A: The testing partner in Africa would have to get their first cohort done and that would do it, but we also want to keep attracting consumers of retail testing like 23andMe. That’s the lowest hanging fruit one can imagine. It costs us now about 20 USD per customer with an expected return of 10 USD per customer per year. This is the math behind our current raise of 1.5 million to get 50k users. So, we could also get 10k users with just 300k USD.
The Security Token Offering: A Wildcard
Q: Will the STO be made available to non-US residents? Because an STO is a completely new type of financial product, what are your expectations?
A: We are working on the filing to open it up to non-US residents. We are excited by the idea that an STO, a Security Token Offering, opens up to investors a new avenue for investing with a tokenized asset. In our case, it’s a tokenized bond that is convertible to shares at the end of the term. But others may go straight to offering shares.
Our choice to do the bond is because we are also approaching VCs still and this way the cap table isn’t diluted which might put them off. We have no idea what to expect, we need a lot of help, work, viral movement of the message to attract investors of any kind. Meanwhile, we keep pitching to VCs and angel investors.
The Future Is Bright
It is expected in any new business venture for gray skies and the occasional storm, but especially so in a technology use-case that has never existed prior, and where the technology had to be developed from scratch along with new partnerships and social awareness of the technology.
With very exciting possibilities and key partnerships on the horizon for EncrypGen, this seems like it’s the perfect time to get the word out for people to care about their genomic data, and how corporations are profiting from their DNA, or how authorities may be abusing their most intimate information without anyone knowing.
No matter which country you reside in, we can all let people know they can both contribute to science while earning passive income by simply uploading data from a genetic test! That’s pretty amazing!
EncrypGen will continue to transform and grow, as it rightfully should and has to, and I have to say, the future is looking really, really bright.