Giant tech companies make vast sums of money by exploiting other people’s data. Some users are fine about this, but others are not and in any case, it’s always nice to be given the choice.
Gener8 has confronted this dilemma head-on by offering them two options – either stop websites tracking your data, or else require them to provide incentives for doing so.
The new initiative was initially pitched on Dragons’ Den by founder Sam Jones and attracted a deal with entrepreneurs Touker Suleyman and Peter Jones.
Today Gener8 is worth £10 million, some fifteen times more than the valuation given on the program.
At a Glance
Jones pitched his concept on Shark Tank and pointed out that even Google had not made a similar approach to the market. He asked for £60,000 in exchange for 10% equity in the project.
Peter entered the bidding by offering the full amount, which was matched by a similar offer from Deborah. Touker went further and offered Sam free office space alongside his £60k for 10 percent.
This left the entrepreneurs in the comfortable position of being able to negotiate from a position of strength, securing the best prospect from amongst a range of propositions.
Who is the Founder?
At the time when he made his pitch London-based Sam Jones was already a successful entrepreneur. Having left Cardiff University with a bachelor’s degree in 2009 he began work for Street Surfing as a media representative.
After branching out on his own with a couple of ephemeral business ventures called 212 Promotions and Hit The Town he was taken on by Redbull and before long had become a global brand manager at the company.
Along the way, he gained extensive knowledge of data tracking by corporations, which was to serve him in good stead when it came to selling the Gener8 idea to an enthralled panel of Sharks.
Did Gener8 Get a Deal on the Show?
With multiple firm offers under his belt, Sam knew he had the pick of several options.
With a cool head, he took time out to deliberate before asking Peter and Touker to contribute £30,000 each for 5% equity apiece, with Touker’s offer of office space incorporated into the final package.
This was accepted, and the deal was made.
What Happened to the Entrepreneurs After the Show?
Unsurprisingly, after their appearance on the show the entrepreneurs experienced a huge surge in their website traffic – some 1,500,000 visits and half a million downloads of their app (available for use on both Android and iOS devices) from Gener8ads.com.
A further £2.1 million was raised from celebrities, including Tinie Tempah and the English football manager Harry Redknapp. On the Google Play store, the Gener8 app received an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5.
The company’s revenue is presently estimated to be about £1 million per year, and its total net worth is thought to be around £10 million.
About the Product
The concept itself was surprisingly simple, but the entrepreneurs had clearly identified a major gap in the market.
Personal data innocently provided by clients and enquirers was being put to lucrative use by big companies without the approval or indeed the knowledge of an unsuspecting public.
Gener8 took the view that this was ethically wrong, and so intervened on behalf of unsuspecting customers.
The free browser plug-in software has two modes – Privacy and Earning. For those who decline to have their data tracked, the Privacy option allows this information to be hidden from prying eyes.
For others who aren’t so much concerned about the use of their data, Earnings generates them rewards in the form of vouchers, rewards or donations to charity.
Either way the user is in control. Participating companies offering incentives include Tesco, Amazon, Spotify and Netflix.
Some Interesting Facts
Two years in from launching the plug-in Gener8 had already amassed 30,000 active users, and today boasts over 500,000.
What was particularly appealing about the initiative was that it did not require any buy-in from the corporations who were using, or misusing, data.
Instead, users were able to take ownership of the process themselves by means of a simple, free-to-use tool.
Sam received praise on the show for his ethical approach, whilst the business case for the product, generating income from website visits rather than from the user, was unanswerable.
Sam Jones was even invited to appear on Sky News’ Ian King Show in 2021 to explain the concept behind his product.
Gener8 describes itself as a “movement”, and it is certainly every bit as much a cause as it is a product.