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In an exclusive interview with the co-founders of collectID

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collectID is a Switzerland-based blockchain firm co-founded in 2017 by David Geisser and Sergio Muster. The idea of the firm arose after the co-founders became a victim of counterfeiting. They realized the huge potential of the millennial blockchain technology that is being implemented in almost every industry including tech, agriculture, health, foods, and more. Amid establishment, over the year, the firm saw incredible growth and was able to build an immense team that consists of optimistic, dedicated, and passionate individuals who seek new challenges, opportunities, and look forward to realizing new projects.

Recently, The Coin Republic, has interviewed David Geisser and Sergio Muster, the co-founders of collectID. The interesting session covered about their significant journey and the platform they built. Moreover, they have also shared some insights for new generation entrepreneurs.

What does collectID trying to resolve?

What collectID is providing is we are bringing physical products to the digital dimension into the Metaverse. For example, that can be a jersey that I’m holding in my hand here. But it can also be any kind of fashion product, a sneaker, handbag, whatever you name it. So valuable physical products or emotional, physical products. And we develop the technology to bring these physical products directly to the digital dimension. And how this works is it’s very easy. We have an NFC tag that gets embedded inside the product. So, for example, here, it’s on the bottom of the jersey below this label. The NFC tag is integrated into the product. And it contains a unique and dynamically encrypted identity. So every single product, for example, has a unique identity that differentiates it from searchers. 

We then use this unique identity and create a digital twin of the product on a blockchain. So we have the physical product and the NFC tag that links into the digital world. And we have a digital twin as an NFT on the blockchain. And it might not sound very easy for some listeners. 

Consumers use their smartphones, and there’s actually no app needed. They can tap the smartphone on the product, and then this little app clip opens up. And if you click here, you get either redirected to our app that collectID app or to one of our partners, and you get the digital version of the product directly on your smartphone. And this is a very simple way for consumers to interact with Blockchain with Web3 or with NFT technology without, let’s say, understanding exactly how a wallet works or how other parts of the technology work. 

With this kind of technology, we want to bridge the physical and digital worlds. And that brings various advantages. But even more importantly, we want to encourage and engage a broader audience and stream users in blockchain because we believe it’s still very niche. And with technologies like collectID, we can bring blockchain to more hands of more people that are not technically versatile or have this technological affinity.

Is Metaverse necessary for this idea of collectID to be valid?

Of course, we started. It was all about authenticity. So we use the NFT as a digital twin or a digital certificate of authenticity, uniquely linked to the physical product.

In 2019 When we started, no one was even thinking about the metaverse play with these decentralized items. But especially in our number one industry, football, I think the Metaverse can play a very big role or the sports in general because imagine, and you buy this physical jersey, you scan it with a collector, the smartphone or with the collectID app actually on your smartphone, you unlock the NFT. And then, you will be able to use this NFT in a virtual stadium or even in a video game. 

I think sport, by definition, could be one of the industries that are even, it’s my opinion. It is perfectly aligned to have some activities happening in the Metaverse. But we still believe that there will always be a mix. People will still want to watch a game physically in a stadium, but they eventually also want to look at it digitally in a virtual stadium. And by actually using the familiar merchandise product that the fans know, we think it’s a great way to jump into that world and come back to your question. It’s only a part of the solution. It’s not just about Metaverse, but we believe that Metaverse and explicitly video games will be a huge driver of bringing people to the Metaverse. In other words, this gives a lot of NFTs and additional utility beyond speculation where we see a lot of potential, especially in the sports industry.

Motivation behind collectID?

I was facing counterfeiting myself. So I bought a pair of sneakers from an online shop in Hong Kong. And they have not been authentic. So that was the moment I realized that this was a problem. And that at the same time, myself, but also the founding team, was investing in cryptos. And starting to think about cryptos. It was back in 2017 during the first ICO race. And we started to think about using blockchain to overcome this concern. And that was the moment I reached out to search. Also, you may be searching. You can also tell a little more about how we got in contact and started this business together.

There was one guy. He wanted to connect to me on LinkedIn, and he wrote me, It was at sneaker online. This guy wrote, yeah, let’s meet up in Zurich, and that’s okay. Another, let’s say, annoying meeting we had because I didn’t understand anything. And yeah, I meet this guy. He went with crutches, and this was a kind of funny meet-up, and he was talking straight, like 4045 minutes. And, in the end, I told this guy, yes, I’m in. But in my head, I didn’t understand anything. I just was okay. Blockchain sneakers are reselling the market. And then, I told David. I want to be an enabler. I want to join this. 

I may also be a small investor with little money, but with my big network in the sneaker industry, let’s say that. But then we met a second time, a third time, and suddenly I was, let’s say, thinking mandate, he has the vision to move things to, let’s say, he always has the big picture, and I liked that a lot. And at the end, I also told David, hey, I want to be an active part of it, and Dave gave me the shot to change. I’m co-founder, and it wasn’t easy because, at this time, I was moving towards. I wanted to leave Switzerland. But they gave me the freedom to go in a first one, two years work, then remote, and it was before the pandemic. But then, as we began gaining traction to win some tracks and collectID, I moved back without my wife. 

And it was never, let’s say, just focused on business was also a friendship to become. And also, let’s say we always have the big picture that we want again. I can’t say enough about developing the next big thing together.

What do you expect from the world of Metaverse?

And maybe to start? I’m honest, and I don’t know exactly how the Metaverse, or maybe there are multiple Metaverse providers or different solutions, will look. And I think no one really knows we have some ideas. But we had second lives. In Second Life Years ago, I guessed some listeners had played Sims or other video games. I’m a big GTA fan. So somehow, this concept of a second reality is already there. I think the biggest differentiation, and for me, that’s a huge game-changer in this concept of the decentralized NFT, is because this idea of decentralized ownership of digital assets allows us to own something on the internet. It allows us to own something in a digital environment. 

To compare, for example, with a simple piece of mp3 that’s something you cannot, you can own it. Still, it can easily be copied and distributed without any additional costs. And that was one of the biggest drivers of the internet. So, for example, the availability of music, videos of everything, the whole streaming culture. But now, the NFT is brought a completely new twist to that because you can own a single unique piece of an asset in the digital world. And by providing this functionality, I think that’s the only functionality and the only thing NFTs are its ownership or rights to own something on the internet. 

I believe the NFTs can change these virtual worlds. And it can change the way how we interact. And for me, it’s not so important. In the end, if this is then displayed as virtual reality, if it’s augmented reality, or if it’s just on a desktop, it’s more about owning or becoming a part of that world and having the possibility to own to sell to buy assets, completely decentralized virtually in the Web3 dimension.

How sensible is this NFT culture?

We also have to differentiate between what you and what I think, and maybe what your younger brother or your son thinks about that. And I believe if you look at the 14-15-16-year-old teenagers, they also really care what their avatars are wearing. They care what kind of skin they wear in Fortnite. And this is just one example. So I reviewed it, and if I asked my dad, he would support that 100%. 

But I think that the future and the next generation will prove that owning digital assets can be equally or even more important than owning physical assets. It’s difficult to imagine. Yeah, I think from a different perspective and generations towards that because, in the end, it’s not just I will own a physical or a digital! Why not own both?

That’s what, in my opinion, that will be. It’s It never will be only, let’s say, digital. I think a lot of people have a fear of that. Yeah, we will miss all the physical, and it’s just combining both worlds.

And at some point now, it feels like it’s going to work because it seems okay at some point. Yeah, you gain you’re funny, but you grow also. But now you can, maybe in two or three years. We are not doing this here right now in the Zoom calls on. We are really in a Metaverse in a meeting room with our avatars. 

Everybody has his clothes on. And not only let’s say ten shirts you can buy at Metaverse, it’s your closet you bring with you. So for me, it’s more this combination of physical and digital, that will be fascinating. And yeah, we are still there. Because again, only 10% in Switzerland, for example, of wallets like this. So we are really at the beginning right now. 

We are in this amalgamation of digital and physical, and things are coming full circle. But the biggest challenge I see in this world of Metaverse and NFT is that we do not have proper infrastructure. I would say we do not have proper technological advancements for this. Maybe in 5-10 years, we will reach them. And yeah, like the thing that happened with Google Lens, it didn’t come into like wide acceptance is because it was not as efficient on your body VR headsets right now you can not just fear their whole day, and kind of like you feel it’s very clunky to your body. So yeah, the biggest challenge to Metaverse is, for me right now, technological advancements. So it promises a lot, but we do not have that much technology right now to discuss it.

This is a hell of development. So that’s not easy to develop. If you want, look at the video game-like GTA, next-level computer engineering, and software development. So the question is, now we have all these promises, and everybody’s excited. But if it takes us ten years to get there, we will see a massive reality check during that time, and people will lose interest because they were expecting more. So the question is also, what are the expectations now? While, How long will it take to get there? But for me again, and I agree, probably that’s the biggest limitation, let’s say the technological advancements, especially towards VR and AR. But even if a Metaverse exists on a desktop, or it’s, it’s, for example, similar to the video games that we’re using right now, FIFA, Fortnite, I think still having the possibility to own something in that world, and not just own it involve video game, eventually owning across video games, across platforms, actually having this interoperability. And I know that even there, we are still a little. We are quite some months or even years away from full blockchain interoperability. But I think, having this possibility to own an asset across different organizations or parties. That’s, in any case, valuable independent of however this will be displayed, either VR AR or simply on a desktop or mobile. 

Where do you see blockchain going on for your industry?

I think the question, maybe even one step earlier, is for what use cases for what applications are the central to central data storage really useful and need it? Because we see a lot of use cases these days. If you break it down, you don’t need the centralized database. It’s simply a PR point. So, where it could be interesting, in my opinion, is to enable different organizations, maybe even using different technology stacks within their organizations, but then to match them to add on and on another layer on the layer higher to, for example, interact with each other. This could be a blockchain from different luxury companies where they authenticate and store their luxury products. And this would not be in the database of one single producer. That would be independent of one manufacturer or from one brand. So that’s, actually, an area where I could see a lot of development. 

Then, for me, the second question when it comes to technological development, and would I believe it will be a driver? I think wallet and blockchain interoperability are the keywords because we have a ton of different blockchains. We have a ton of different wallets and wallet providers. But, to make that mainstream, it probably needs one or two or, ideally, one standard adopted widely. And I think the question is, will the blockchains be able to speak with each other? Will it be possible to transfer an NFT from one blockchain to another? I mean, I know that some of it is possible already with plasma branches and other concepts. But I think it’s still far from being mainstream adopted. And there are a lot of questions. I think that’s also one of the reasons why it’s so exciting to work in that area. Because there are so many open questions that we don’t know, it’s about trying it out. 

Decentralization in the industry

I would say we see some, let’s say, natural decentralization, as you say, either with Proof-of-Work concepts. I see the advantage of pure decentralization only in, let’s say, the possibility of democratizing the internet. So from a philosophical perspective, I love it. Because we have Amazon, Google, Facebook, and some other companies ruling the internet. And we have the same in China or the Asian world. But it’s just a few. And the concept of CO owning and decentralized autonomous organization that Dow that no one owns. But everybody’s part of I think it’s beautiful. The question is, and that’s not my, let’s say, area, or my area of expertise, is to the governments to the existing elites. And the regulators allow that, or will they come up with regulated regulations that prevent these systems from existing and being successful? And be, as you say, for a lot of use cases, is asked, what’s the advantage for the end consumer, for example, from a decentralized marketplace, compared to a centralized marketplace, that is perfectly managed, that everything is taken care of shipping guarantees? Insurance? So this is also a question of convenience. And we are used to this very convenient internet. And I’m not sure if we will have adaption for full decentralized applications. Again, will it be regulated, and will there, for example, consumers be open, for example, to manage their passwords to manage their private keys? Or is it just ten times more convenient to have someone do that for you? But then it’s centralized? 

What I think is like, we need centralization at some point, even in decentralization, to like, because it is evident, even from history, that people are not like everyone is not good at deciding what is good for everyone. So there’s a need for some centralization, even in this decentralization.

How does collectID ensure security?

From a hardware perspective, I would say the system is very secure. So we are using very advanced encryption. And all of this intelligence is built in-house. And for us, it’s more a question of reward versus effort. Because I believe everything is hackable. It’s just a question of time and resources that you put in. So what we have to ask ourselves is, if we protect a $100 product, the security doesn’t need to be as high as, for example, when we protect a $5000 or $10,000 handbag. So the question is always risk vs. reward. 

Or in other words, the more sophisticated, the more expensive the products we protect are, the more sophisticated the protection needs to be. And what we do for security is that we have all these systems developed in-house, so we don’t rely on third-party software providers, and then, in the end, we are only as secure as the blockchains we are running on. So Ethereum or Polygon gets hacked, this could also affect us, but then we would still have the mirroring in our central database so that we could still check which item belongs to which owner, where again, we also need to protect ourselves not to get our central database hacked. So I would say with blockchain and with our encryption, we have a much higher security standard, we create quite a high obstacle, and it’s typically economically not worth hacking us because the reward of selling one jersey is not worth investing too much time. So it’s more about creating financial obstacles when we would put them. 

Mona Lisa on our chain. And it would look different because then one single item would be, I don’t know, 50 Million, we have to rethink the security from that perspective.

Why did collectID choose blockchain, ignoring traditional digital signatures?

In the very first place, we also started on a Tyrian blockchain, which is a completely public chain. As you know, we believe in this kind of, everybody becomes the expert. It’s not, let’s say, one central entity that at any point could change this data and say, This choice is not original, or that you are not your tentacle owner. So we wanted to have the ID of the product. That’s where the name comes from to collect ID, the product ID, and the owner’s ID. We wanted to have these two things stored decentralized or even to avoid the brands that produce that could change it later on. 

Again, you can still argue if that’s needed or not, and some brands will say we can also store that in a central database. That’s correct. But then I would say, what if you don’t exist in five years anymore, but I still have my products, who is running your servers, etc. So I think there is a value-added to having that store decentralized. But at the same time, we also admit that probably the maturity of the users is still not understanding this. So it’s just a process that people get aware of it that people start to buy wallets, make wallets, and start centrally owning stuff. But of course, maturity hasn’t experienced that. I think we’re still in that kind of transition. 

collectID’s engagement with the Football community

Yeah, I mean, to be honest, this came by accident. So, in the beginning, we were completely focusing on the sneaker. So we also had Sergio, mainly responsible for this sneaker and streetwear fashion area. And now we just did the first project with the local football team here in Switzerland. And we realized that after the first project, the fans loved it. It’s not so much the fact that owning the NFT is probably relevant for 5-10, maybe 15% max of the total fans. For the rest that uses our technology, it’s much more about interacting digitally with a physical product, scanning your charity to unlock additional content, use your jersey or your NFT of the jersey as a set of rights. And when buying the jersey, you’re not just buying the one, but also this set of rights. I don’t know if this allows you to meet the player to get specific content to go in the stadium with the charity, etc. 

We worked by accident, we worked together with the first team, but then it was so successful. And the beauty of sport is good works for Team A, and you can more or less scale 14 B, C, D, E, and F., And that’s how we get successful and more successful in the sports industry. And I would say for the fans, the number one reason to use the technology is to get more experiences, content, or something special with your physical product. The number one reason for teams or organizations to you this is to get access to the end consumer to get access to that data. So it’s probably not so much about protecting your authenticity. I know that these jerseys get faked a lot of them. But to be honest, the number one reason that the teams work with us is that they know exactly, this fan owns this product, that fan owns that product. And having this information is very, very useful, especially when it comes to targeted marketing or other marketing campaigns.

Advice to new generation entrepreneurs!

I’m also curious to hear your advice, searcher. I think, for me, it’s really about getting started. I think we had a lot of difficult times, and we started the company in 2019. And then we were like, be active in business for a little more than half a year, and then Corona. So we had like two years of Covid-19. 

Of course, this was a very stressful time. And 2021 was the best year so far. We already broke all the records in 2020 and had more revenues than last year. So again, this will be a record year, but we had a very hard time. And I think even now when I look back and have all these hard times, I will always do it again. And that will be my number one advice. 

Don’t think too much about your secure job. Don’t think too much about I don’t know your studies if you have a great idea, and you find someone or a team to work together on that. Yeah, pitch it! Let’s try it! And then, if the investors tell you it’s stupid, maybe you listen to them and adjust your pitch. 

But just in the end, if people want to do something, they should do it, so they should foster that way more. We should engage and foster people that try to start something even if they fail because that’s the only way we as a society evolve and how innovation can happen.

Important is to be passionate about your product, even if it’s a technical product. To be honest, you need to have this passion if you do or if you have the vision to be a millionaire and drive a Porsche. But I think it should be the passion that should be your main driver. Without that, don’t start, be in your job, be happy, go back to your family have a healthy life. But when you have something passionate about it, and even better when it starts from a problem you have, and you want to make a bigger solution for, let’s say, for everyone out there, that is for me kind of the base that also David showed to me. And I had it for my other company, which I found it. 

But, I never expected that a technical product somebody could have this passion for being, and it is absolutely possible. So the first thing is passion. And the second thing, what David also mentioned, is the team. Of course, co-founders are important. But it’s also the first employee, it’s always also the team because as much past, and they are, everything also gets better. Because in the end, everyone is sacrificing a lot in this kind of startup because you have a lot of pressure. It’s impersonal, and it’s in the business. It’s everything and believing. And then, of course, you need to have somebody who is a monster in pitching an actual date is a big monster in pitching, so he’s always killing it on the stage. 

So that is, let’s say that the secret recipe, which is no secret anymore, so listeners just record this and view it again. But I think, yeah, again, passion is one of the main drivers.

Even if the idea is not that good, your product should be good. 100% I think that’s a crucial point. And investors tell that a lot. We don’t invest in technology, we don’t invest in products, we invest in people, and I was always thinking this is blah blah blah. But I see myself now I’m also helping some younger entrepreneurs that just started with some advice, or I helped them to shape the pitch deck. And what I see is if you have like two-three motivated persons coming from university or coming from somewhere, if you can feel that hunger and that willing and dispassion, to do something in the end, you know, just by seeing them that they will be successful, eventually, not with that venture or with that idea. Still, at some point, they will be. 

On the other side, also question back to you, that you like what you’re doing, right. So, of course, this is work, but it also makes fun. And I think if you have fun while working and are passionate while working, that’s the best thing that can happen to you. Because otherwise, you have a nine to five job, and you’re just looking at your watch to get done and get home. But if you have fun with what you’re doing, that’s the best thing.

You can compare it with when you go out to play as a kid, and the time passes like a second. And when you study in the school, the traditional form of learning, they’re just learning. I should say rote learning. The time passes very slowly. Even a minute is like five minutes. And in contrast to that, when you’re playing outside, the time passes in a second. So we should do what comes from inside. 

You know, what is the best? What is the biggest obstacle that I think comes when you try to build a startup, venture, or something like that? I think it is finding similarly motivated individuals because not everyone is made for that, to be honest. And these kinds of people, I guess, are also rare, as the probability of finding these people are also less. So I guess that’s the biggest obstacle, like finding motivated individuals that are motivated towards the idea that has good work culture, like they are giving, giving them their 100% not just talking about the product, they’re also putting in some work. So I guess that’s the biggest challenge.

And on all levels, the founders, the employees, the investors, the advisors. The biggest challenge is finding like-minded people with the same passion for achieving the same things. And this is the only way it works, as searchers set. The team is so key. And, of course, the founding team is crucial. But then also the first employees and the employees that follow. They decide what culture you have, and they decide if the product, in the end, is successful. And you are. You’re nothing without the team.

collectID has recently raised $3.5 million

Foremost, this was crucial and life-saving for the startup because we are still, let’s say, relying on these funds from investors. We need that to keep the company alive and to develop the company. So that’s the first point. And then yeah, the second point was there came a huge resonance or echoed in the media. So a lot of newspapers, a lot of media pages pick that up. And, we’re speaking or writing about this story, so of course, it also helps us. 

Further development and the company’s growth must do that step. And of course, it’s also a huge reward and a clear sign from the market that we are up to something, and at the same time, it gives us a lot of reach and resonance in media and social media and on all these channels.

And maybe do not forget because it sounds great to have $3.5 million. Of course, it’s a year, but there will also come a great pressure now because many people believe in us. A lot of people want to work with us, and a lot of people maybe want to cheat on us, to be honest. So we need to be also really carefully making the next steps. And again, it will close the circle. We also need the right people to bring this kind of ration with the smaller team before the seed round. Now we are scaling up, more ethics are coming into the team, more opinions, more fighting, and it’s not so easy, to be honest.

So we are facing a lot of challenges now. But I think everybody is motivated. And that’s a good thing that we want to face these challenges and solve them.

If you’re passionate, have an idea, or have a problem, you want to solve it. Just make it happen. Believe in yourself, believe in other people, and give up a little responsibility to others. If you fail, you fail, stand up and make it again, because don’t be in fear of that. It’s not given that everything works out, to be honest. So just do what you believe and do it the right way. Suppose you’re not willing to do it the right way. Please be happy again, and it’s not bad to have eight to five jobs because many people have that. But then be happy with that what you have.

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