In the latest episode of our True Connections Podcast, Alan Hooks speaks to Sam Jones, Founder and CEO of Gener8. Sam speaks about his journey from Global Brand Manager for Red Bull to tech entrepreneur, taking on the giants of advertising, and the challenges and successes he’s had along the way.
Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to hear Alan’s and Sam’s conversation:
You don’t train to become a tech entrepreneur but there are certainly experiences that can help you along the way.
In this podcast, Sam Jones shares how his time as a Global Brand Manager for Red Bull sparked the idea for his company, Gener8. As someone responsible for a third of Red Bull’s sizeable global advertising spend, it comes as no surprise to hear that advertising giants such as Google and Facebook were often pitching for his business. It was within these pitches that Sam was confronted by the enormous scale of data collection and commoditisation.
Companies across the globe are tracking every move we make online and selling our data for a profit
It is important, Sam claims, that the general public are educated on the value of their data and empowered to reclaim control over it if they so wish. Sam believed that users should be given the option to either block their data being collected, or be rewarded for the data they do choose to share. This is where Gener8 comes in.
Everything we do online is being tracked.
Gener8 is a free web browser that enables people to control and make money from their online data
But, as Sam admits, he sat on the idea for a few years. After all, his role at Red Bull was a marketer’s dream. However, it was meeting risk-takers from all walks of life at Red Bull including cliff-divers and pilots who helped him believe anything was possible. With a final nudge from his girlfriend, Sam took the leap and decided to bring Gener8 to life.
Despite the obvious value in the idea, getting early investment for Gener8 wasn’t without its challenges. Sam was a solo founder in the tech space that couldn’t code – a red flag when trying to raise capital – so after identifying the areas where he needed experts involved, he was able to design version 1 of Gener8. After acquiring the first few thousand users, Sam was then able to hire a CTO who could build the required technology in-house.
In the 200 milliseconds that a web page loads, there are a lot of things happening but no time to get it wrong
So how does Gener8 work in practice?
Sam explains that it’s actually quite simple. Once Gener8’s free web browser is installed, users have two options. The first is ‘Privacy mode’, which stops all tracking of the user’s web activity. The second is ‘Rewards mode’, which allows Gener8 to collect a user’s data and monetise it on their behalf. This way, users earn points to redeem on products, vouchers or charitable donations.
You might think that taking on giants of the tech and advertising world is a true David vs. Goliath battle but Gener8 has been taking the UK market by storm with over 350,000 users already. This number is rising rapidly and Sam hopes Gener8 will be the business to bring these opportunities to the masses. The reason for Gener8’s success against these Goliaths, Sam says, is because “we’re not David, David is the people and we’re just the slingshot that’s empowering them”.
We were averaging a new download every 10 seconds for 8 weeks.
However, it’s not all combative. Sam explains that Gener8 actually works and communicates with the likes of Google and Microsoft, and has even been invited to join one of Microsoft’s scale-up programmes. There are benefits for advertisers too. Sam says 75% of his users originally blocked all advertising before installing Gener8. Since then, these users are happy to share their data with Gener8 to see tailored adverts and earn rewards.
So what does the future hold for Gener8?
Alongside rapid user growth, Sam is also expanding his team and is now in discussion with mobile phone manufactures to have Gener8 pre-loaded onto mobile devices. By disrupting convention and having a clear purpose that aligns with user values, Sam excited to see Gener8 continue to thrive. He is confident that having control over and earning from our data will become so normal that in the future people will question why it was ever any different.
Having a good idea is one thing. Pushing through and implementing it is another. We portray entrepreneurs who share their personal stories and reflect on lessons learnt.