In this episode, Stacy sits down with Yann Barbarroux, who is the CEO as well as Co-Founder & Head of Analytics of Flyion, a service designed to help travelers get compensated in case of flight delays and cancellations. The two discuss how to market a new travel business, and they dive into the details about bitcoin.
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Transcript For This Episode:
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of Influencer Marketing and branded content agency, Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers, a learning platform for topics first to share their insights. And knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results. My goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money. Whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.Speaker 1 (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them). Here’s your host Stacy Jones.Stacy Jones (00:36):
Hi, Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today. And I want to give a very warm welcome to Yann Barbarouxx. Yann is a CEO and co-founder. And head of analytics of Flyion. A service designed to help travelers get compensated in case of flight delays and cancellations. With a master of science focused in computer engineering, and over 15 years of experience in capital markets, risk management and finance technology. Yann found a way to leverage blockchain as a solution. Knowing that 70% of delayed flights remain unclaimed or never get reimbursed to travelers. The platform Yann created helps travelers, including business travelers by leveraging cutting edge technology, to trim costs and bring simplicity to the process.
Today we’re going to talk about not only how technology and how blockchain technology provides new solutions. But also how to navigate the future of business travel. We’ll learn what has worked from Yann’s perspective, what should be avoided and how some businesses are missing the mark. Yann, welcome.
Yann Barbarouxx (00:36):
How are you?
Stacy Jones (00:36):
I’m well, how are you doing?
Yann Barbarouxx (01:35):
Pretty good. So my story is interesting. I grew up studying in France. So this engineering school in Paris, master degree early 2000. And that was the dot com bubble as you probably remember. None of us is a millennial here, so we know those crisis. That’s why we’re not too freaked out about what’s going on. And at that point unfortunately, I was still in my twenties and I was freaking out. And I was kind of giving up on finding a job out of school. Even though it’s a pretty good school. It’s like [crosstalk 00:02:14] whatever. And at that point it was kind of sign up to go to an MBA. I wanted to continue just education. So to get past the first wave of layoffs and the crisis.
And I was signed up in another business school in Paris. So I was kind of saying not a job until probably 2003, 2004. And then weirdly enough I received an email from my dads. And my dad is someone that I considered trustworthy obviously. And at that point, obviously the state of the internet was different. But the email was saying, “Forward this email to 10 of your friends, and you can receive a Nokia cell phone for free.” So now AKA a scam or a spam or whatever you want to call it. But at that point I’m like, “That seems legit. My dad is a trustworthy guy. So I’m going to just do it.” And I went ahead and sent. Then one of my friends was in New York and he was doing an internship.
And next thing I know this guy Adrian said, “Well, excuse me, can you remind me the field of study that you’re actually graduating right now? Isn’t it internet and computer security.” I was like, “Yeah, why are you asking me?” He’s like, “This is a span. What are you doing with this?” I’m like, “I apologize Adrian. And I didn’t mean to just flood your inbox. This is just something my dad sent.”
Stacy Jones (03:48):
And I really wanted that Nokia phone.
Yann Barbarouxx (03:51):
Exactly. I was so excited about Nokia. Because Nokia at that point was the iPhone. Anyway, long story short, he said, “Well I accept your apology.” And by the way, there’s this one guy Nick is leaving in one month and they’re trying to replace him. Why don’t you send your resume? And that’s how I get my first job in New York by spamming people randomly. And getting accepted into a new world in a new country that I didn’t know at all. It’s a weird turn of events. As you probably know as much as I do, the biggest decision in life, I usually-
Stacy Jones (04:29):
Yann Barbarouxx (04:30):
… Yeah. A really random course of events. So that was my entry point in US. And in 2003, I essentially started my first job at Wall Street in New York and I never left. So 17 years and counting and it’s a pleasure. I love this country, I love this city. I live in Brooklyn now. To get a little more focus on your podcasts, your conversation. I’ve been navigating between finance, capital markets and technology the past 17 years. So both skill set that I have. I also enjoy the tremendous turmoil of 2008. Obviously that was also an interesting part of history to be involved in. But long story short, about three years ago my now co-founder Sebastian, who’s also a schoolmate. Who’s just joined innovation group in the West Coast is married to a girl from Texas.
So he’s also in US after all these years. And he said, “You should be interested in blockchain.” So cryptos, digital assets and blockchain is the future of finance. You have both technology and finance. [inaudible 00:05:53] said, “What the hell are you doing now?” And I agreed with him. I said, “This is a wake up call. I got to deep into it. I need to understand what it is.” It took me quite a while. I don’t know how much you know about it. It’s counterintuitive. It’s very shady, at times it’s very opaque. But it has a tremendous amount of innovation and disruptions power. And I get seduced to it. And then we started out by doing a lot of advisory market research. So it was all about trying to understand where the most value of cryptos. And blockchain can be brought to the general public mainstream.
And we started out by currency trading, or automobile supply chain management, or healthcare records. Try to avoid duplication of records and digital identity. All these good stuff, which are very frankly amazing use cases for the blockchain. And then we stumbled upon this insurance automation. And that’s what I’ve been working on since last year. Again, I don’t need to spend minutes on my start-ups. But this is essentially what led me to be interested in more deep tech variety of product development. And also a new market, a new clientele. Which is absolutely fascinating because the amount of innovation you see in the technology. Actually translates in how the grand market is actually perceiving with technology in your product.
And this huge amount of education that attached to trying to sell the great economic value. The great efficiency value of a deep tech product for your average Joe or average Jane. And that’s been a challenge, but that’s been extremely fascinating.
Stacy Jones (08:03):
And so that caused you to launch Flyion? Is that how you say it? Flyion?
Yann Barbarouxx (08:07):
Flyion, that’s correct.
Stacy Jones (08:08):
And so how are you getting the word out? How are you sharing that you have this new venture that is driven by blockchain? That is a solution product that helps protect you and your wallet. How are you sharing that with the world right now? Besides podcasts like this?
Yann Barbarouxx (08:28):
Exactly, so I’m going to address the elephant in the room first. COVID is front and center. And actually today you want to see the silver lining when it presents itself, right? The V-shape recovery plus the better employment numbers. And the great reaction in the stock market. We got to take it when you present itself, I think it’s a good sign that we’re getting to a better stage. It’s going to take some time no doubt. But we want to think that we passed maybe the worst of it. And traveling industry up until 24 hours ago was the lame duck of the whole story. That was essentially, some people would say, “Travel was not going to go back ever.”, “Travel is never going to go back to even a normal operation. It’s going to take five years.”
All these narrative of being extremely pessimistic about travel and especially flying. Has been quite a bit of a drawback from my endeavor. And also any travel tech company in my situation. Even the mature travel company have been suffering and bleeding quite a lot. So working with COVID has been the main headache. And also the main challenge that we’ve been taking. So now going to my startups… And again not trying to sell it so much. But we believe that right now it’s a great time to reflect on two things. The first one is the user experience. The traveler has been extremely frustrated and disappointed about airlines, airport disruptions, insurance binge. Not there when they need it the most. Being kept in the dark. Trying to enforce legal action in order to avoid paying back the clients.
I’m not advocating even my product so much, but let’s say Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics that-
Stacy Jones (10:40):
That may be happening, may not be happening, was happening, now it’s happening next year. And if it’s not happening next year it’s never happening. That Olympics?
Yann Barbarouxx (10:51):
… That one exactly. You get it. This is where people stand right now. In total vague and total dark. And they did attach numbers to it> they said two to three billion. Maybe it’s going to end up 10 billion loss for the Olympics. And they’re most likely not going to be covered. And then they had insurances placed. Business interruption insurance. This is something in place, this is standard. They’re going to get a way of not paying back. So I’m saying this whole client experience either a retail client or corporate clients has been terrible. And the second one is essentially take a step back. Trying to reflect and saying, “There might be other solution that we need to explore now.”
And technology’s here with the buzz words, machine learning, automation through blockchain and whatnot. This is not just an exercise of trying to be fancy with the best product design. It’s about finding the best efficiency for the clients, saving the best possible speeds for a refund. And people are just going to be open to it now. They’re going to be saying, “We need a new normal, this is not the same normal as it was for many of these things.” Then how about the product offering? We want to see new stuff. And this has been on top of our heads the whole time. And quite honestly I’ve been staying as positive. I’ve been staying optimistic.
I think this is almost like the best time for me to attack the markets. It’s very ironic, but in the age of COVID new ideas are going to be crystallizing, if they’re good enough. Some people are going to be suffering. There’s no doubt. Some businesses are going to be dying. And this is just like a normal cycle of the economy. And this is a very harsh one. This is very difficult. I think that we’re going to have… We can have better stuff coming out of the end of the tunnel [inaudible 00:12:54].
Stacy Jones (12:54):
Yeah. I think what’s interesting with COVID right now, is that the businesses that we’re seeing tumbling are the ones that have been on the brink. And who have been reporting issues or have internally had issues. Because they hadn’t streamlined into the new world. The new modern, the new land of technology obviously. But I think the background on how you started the company or how you got into this is really interesting. And then the deviation into COVID it’s spot on. So here you are, when did you actually launch Flyion. When did you start pushing it? When was it packaged to, “We’re ready for customers?”
Yann Barbarouxx (13:34):
So the beta version is live since last month. So it’s a pretty early kind of introduction to the product for the client. So we have a beta community that’s very excited. People see the value right away. So in order to get that on the marketing and potential mistakes. In my testimony, I can witness everything that I did wrong.
Stacy Jones (14:04):
Oh, you did something wrong? You didn’t come off the gate. Because every brand that I know, owner that launches they’re spot on. They never make mistakes along the way at all. They’re perfect.
Yann Barbarouxx (14:15):
I’m trying to find whatever I did right actually. I’ve been helped by this wonderful woman Bambi Weevil. She’s our marketing advisor. And we’ve been working around the clock and it’s very interesting. So many ways we tried to create a formal, to create some traction, to create some excitement. So like we’re starting off by building a narrative messaging. Sort of content marketing back in December and January. And when we kind of iron out whatever we want to offer, which is 50% saving, get paid immediately. That kind of stuff. I think it was very clear that this an obvious client value. And we blasted using automation tool. I think the one tool… I don’t know if I can name company?
Stacy Jones (15:12):
Of course please. That’s fine. I drop names all the time.
Yann Barbarouxx (15:17):
EngageBay, which is a pretty decent tool. I don’t even know all of them. But it allowed us to actually reach out to 11,000. I mean, to me it’s a lot because I’m not used to… So I think anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000. Since start should be sizeable in terms of the outreach. And we had abysmal conversion rate. I think it was less than 100 or something. So you’re thinking way under 1%. And that was painful because we had to just scrub and find manually. And go on LinkedIn and go on those conference website to find speakers at conference. We went the route of blockchain users being our first target audience. And everything was manual. It takes weeks to collect the email distribution list. And when you’re happy with the target, then you blast and you got nothing.
And then you obviously blame everything. And so now we have an obvious culprit being COVID. But at that point it was not severe enough. So we had only ourselves to blame I guess. And all that was very instructive. We learned a lot. I guess volume doesn’t solve much in marketing. Content marketing is probably more than half the battle. Maybe 80% of it of trying to refine, to tweak the messaging. To simplify the language. To get the right words, so people just register. And print in their brain that’s something they might be interested to spend more than three seconds. On their attention span or something like that. So that’s very tough. I’m an engineer, for me transacting and executing is just a given.
So I have like a market to deal with. I’m not naturally a salesperson. So having to convince people that my product is amazing was like, “Why do I need to do that?” And it’s actually the toughest challenge I’ve been facing so far.
Stacy Jones (17:32):
Harder than actually coming up and creating a product, is figuring out how to market it and get people to use it.
Yann Barbarouxx (17:38):
Absolutely. I learned my lesson. And I’m in pain, but I’m better now than I was six months ago.
Stacy Jones (17:47):
Yann Barbarouxx (17:47):
Because I’m not ignorant.
Stacy Jones (17:50):
What are you using? So what are you seeing right now? So knowing that you signed up, you did this email blast, right? You’re like, “They’re going to come. I sent it out. Let’s just wait, here they come.” And then you saw less than 100 people of the 11,000 people actually click even and do anything. So what did you do then?
Yann Barbarouxx (18:11):
Yeah. Just a caveat. The click rate was decent. We had double digits click. So that was pretty decent. The sign up was abysmal. So it seemed that we didn’t have the carrots. So we thought about the carrots and we’re still thinking about it. But that was not a challenge and not a story. So we’re thinking the product is great for what it is. But again, we’re catering to younger crowd, gen-Z millennials. They really pay attention to you. So you want to offer maybe to the first 200 early adopters or something. And then it was the heart of COVID. Early April where we’re thinking about it and where I came about with this “genius idea.” Quote, unquote I thought it was genius. To kind of put the logo on a face mask. And an offer as a perk, as a giveaway.
And I mean, now looking back it was not that bad. I think it’s still decent idea. But I get pushback from every single person I was talking about. Because it was like, “You’re opportunistic Wall Street bastard. You want to take advantage of the face mask situation and people dying to market your startups. What is wrong with you?” And I’m like, “Seems like liability risk is actually much greater than potential reward.” So we kind of gave up on that one. The next one which is still in the making, we want to blast email. We want to target audience with this give aways. Potentially helping the local community through DoorDash, Uber Eats, Seamless by offering promo code. To help local restaurants. So you sign up to our beta, to our product and you get a $15 coupon and then it’s kind of a win-win win. Everybody wins. So it’s great.
I mean, I’m still spending the money for the client, but anyway. That one should be something we’ll be probably rolling out the next few weeks. And the last one was actually much more fun. A little gimmicky. I found some sort of perks that I can put my logo on as being the flip-flops. So where [crosstalk 00:20:36] forward like a revenge vacation. Quote-Unquote “revenge vacation” the hashtag that’s been going on. And you get your flip-flops for your beach vacation. And then you can book your flights and be protected. So that’s kind of the ways here to do it. And we might as well do it actually. But right now it’s still kind of developing. So maybe in a months time, that can be a good timing for us.
Stacy Jones (21:01):
Well, if you need some more ideas, just because I love pop culture and that’s what we do. You should probably consider looking at if you haven’t already, travel influencers. And working with them so that you could really get the message out about the importance of this. Using their content and their marketing platform. To share, and talk about, and drive the downloads, and sign ups. We also have really cool opportunities with some… There’s some television shows. It’s not television, it’s content that’s produced that airs in airport. When people get back to being at airports. And they are on a lot of business shows as well.
The content areas where they’ll do a segment and talk about you. And then give you and serve you up to a very on-target flying audience, or an audience that flies often. And then you also have your airline magazines you can look at advertising in. You even have the backseat tablets now that you can do segments and get content. And it just can start getting a little bit more expensive on that. So there’s definitely things you can be doing out there that I bet you will be doing in the near future.
Yann Barbarouxx (22:10):
Okay. I’m going to jump onto exactly what you said. So we had those two ideas. Two of the many ideas you brought up. So the first one is the tablets. So having targeted because you can geo locate someone going to the LaGuardia, to JFK. And obviously you know that they’re going to take a flight. So therefore Trip Protection is on point. So that’s something we’re looking at. The second one is Travel Blogger, Travel Writer and Digital Nomads. Actually that’s becoming pretty much 99% of niche market we want to cater to. Because it’s kind of a win-win as well, because they love traveling, their businesses traveling.
And they are in situation where they are in trouble a lot. And they would enjoy getting refunded in a snap. And if that happens, their experience is good. There’s going to say, “Thanks to so-and-so, my experience was great.” So that’s a natural win for everyone. So exactly like going the route of airlines magazines. Probably quite outside of our budget for now. But we don’t know. It’s a good point. And then the second thing is talking about niche market. Because you got to gotta start somewhere. There’s 4.6 billion travelers a year. So the second one is the B2B, so the corporate travelers. Again the market, it’s going to be challenged for the many reasons.
And maybe Zoom is going to be replacing a lot of those client meetings in person. So that’s fair, but we believe that corporate travel is good. Is going to survive. Is becoming something else, but there is also some technology solution that’s going to help them doing the best thing. So we’re actually kind of gearing towards a little bit more B2B marketing. And we’re thinking let’s say mid markets. A thousand employees consulting firm, travels a lot, sales rep. It might have 10,000 flyers a year. They might be enticed by saving half a million dollar a year on travel expenses. So our tool can do that as well. It’s not a retail model, but it’s very much a company-wide model. So it’s very interesting to pivot that way as well.
Stacy Jones (24:33):
That’s awesome. I would think that the B2B industry, especially in the small to mid-sized companies is going to be an absolute sweet spot for you guys. Because you book travel and then you think you’re going on it. And with COVID that city might get shut down. In the near future, we have no idea what’s going to happen.
Yann Barbarouxx (24:56):
And you probably know it, but 100% of the flights at least US domestic are connecting flights now. So that means that more disruptions, more delays. Anyway, I’m done [crosstalk 00:25:12].
Stacy Jones (25:12):
More lost luggage as well. Everything is going to be an interesting world that we’re traversing in.
Yann Barbarouxx (25:23):
Yeah, that’s correct.
Stacy Jones (25:23):
So with blockchain, it’s such an interesting usage case that you’ve come up. Because that’s what you’re leveraging. You’re leveraging blockchain technology to make your solution work, correct?
Yann Barbarouxx (25:23):
Stacy Jones (25:35):
And then with that, I mean so many people don’t understand blockchain. And we’ve had a number of different guests who’ve come on and they have done a really good job of explaining it. But could you dive in? And you started doing it before and you gave a glimpse of it. But what is your view? How do you think… How would you explain how blockchain works?
Yann Barbarouxx (25:57):
Yeah. So the first stage of using blockchain and there’s many of them. But the way that it came across as a low hanging fruit is essentially the streamlining of the claim refund. So insurance refund never happens the way you want. And there’s many reasons for it. Let’s take my story for a second. I was traveling to Denver to see my co-founder Sebastian. He lives there now. And I was on the tarmac for four hours at LaGuardia. And the reason being the bathroom lights was blinking. The lights in the toilet was blinking. The protocol, the pilot is not allowed to actually take off. Do you think I got refunded for it? Obviously not.
And the mere thinking about going online, pick up the phone and spending hours on the phone. Following up for weeks and months to hopefully get a reimbursement was just too much work. Forget about it. So how blockchain works is it does three things. The first one, it detects flight time automatically. Thanks to the API technology. Second, it’s activates the legal policy automatically. Because now you can simplify the terms. 45 minutes you’re good, 46 minutes you’re delayed. So therefore the policy can activate at 46 minutes. And third it refunds money directly to your wallet. The three things which are the three pillars of blockchain automations.
And work literally in 15 minutes and maybe in five years from now, it’s going to be in one minute. Because the technologies could be much more mature. And for that reason we’re going from an average of six weeks claim insurance refund, to literally few minutes. So that’s a tremendous amount of time-saved and also cost savings. It’s as much as 85% cost savings. And with 85% cost savings on the operation, we essentially reward the client with better pricing. So that’s what we do. And obviously with this could be some profit margin for us. But the first goal is to give the best value to the client.
Stacy Jones (28:30):
And so with that, does that take in effect the type of tickets someone’s buying? Like in your case whether the class of ticket? Or is it literally just more so about flight delays and cancellations?
Yann Barbarouxx (28:42):
Yeah. It’s a little bit of the tickets that you buy. Because we have some sort of classification for a risk type. Let’s say you fly to Miami in August with hurricane season. And then all of a sudden it might be a little more expensive. Or you fly to Chicago in the middle of the winter or February. And obviously snow storms can be a problem. But your average flights is going to be covered regardless. And they’re all covered, but they have a little bit of a pricing fluctuation in terms of protection premium. Depending on where you’re going.
But that being said, we don’t have to be attached to the airlines. We don’t have to be attached to the airport. We view more of an economic value reward to the clients. So everything is calculated and calibrated based on the risk that you’re taking within your fights. And is agnostic of the destination of the airlines essentially.
Stacy Jones (29:43):
Okay. And then going back to blockchain… I was just curious on that and how that worked with you all. But going back to blockchain, you came up with, “I want to use blockchain to solve this problem.” And where you are ready just from all of your work. And you’ve spent 15 years I think in finance technology and capital markets. And is that what drove you to blockchain as a solution? Or was it that you wanted to… Did you have the idea of blockchain and using it to drive the solution? Or was it that you were looking for a solution and you chose that blockchain might be the answer? If that makes sense.
Yann Barbarouxx (30:22):
I think that it’s a little bit of both. I’m starting off by a personal headache. So I have my story in Denver. I told you also not a story going to Europe just to visit my family for Christmas. They lost my luggage for three weeks. They only refunded half of the money. So they found the luggage, it took them nine months to refund me. So that’s horrible story and everyone has a nightmare story around those things. So that came from personal pain point. Technology for me it’s a big belief. It’s a big belief that we’re driving to a very different world than we’re knowing right now. The amount of automation and the amount of streamlining. And the amount of intelligence that’s going to be brought by those systems are going to be transformative for personal experience. Not only businesses.
And we think beyond the automation of blockchain. Which is you can get refunded in minutes. That’s great. The real incentive is attached to the concept of decentralized finance and decentralized insurance. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. But essentially you can think about mutualizing the underwriting risk, the underwriting insurance for health, for travel for water damage. And you can essentially use blockchain to distribute your risk amongst micro-investors or micro-underwriters. And the real benefits of this decentralized insurance model is we can actually reach the uninsured.The same way that you can reach the unbanked that’s in Nigeria, Ecuador, Latin America, India. By using those micro-credits or micro-banking using mobile phone.
Which you don’t need a real bank account. You can actually transfer money and use your account on your mobile. Because now we have the technology for it, same things could be happening for insurance. We’re going to have decentralized insurance helping. Let’s say you get a house somewhere in Africa. You don’t have any money to insure it, or what water damaged, or whatever it is. Then now because of micro-insurance, you get to be able to actually buy insurance for a dollar a month or something like that. Because it’s going to be so distributed, so diversified that we’re going to be reaching out to billions and billions of people. That don’t have insurance right now. So this is kind of the grand vision that I have. That’s why blockchain makes sense. More the [crosstalk 00:33:07].
Stacy Jones (33:07):
And the risk is just so it’s lowered because it’s just spread out so far. That whenever there are hiccups that happen in someone’s life, the dollars actually recover. Are offset by so much else that’s out there. And so it’s just able to be this beast that breathes and stays alive and keeps ongoing.
Yann Barbarouxx (33:33):
You explained it better than me. That’s exactly-
Stacy Jones (33:34):
No. The beast that breathes and stays alive. I think your explanation was better.
Yann Barbarouxx (33:38):
… you’re talking about the dog behind you.
Stacy Jones (33:40):
She say if you’re watching the video, she is just curled up. And has decided that this is where she’s going to be today. So blockchain I think it’s so interesting. Because companies who weren’t thinking about blockchain now as solutions probably should. And it’s hard because people don’t even know what blockchain means in general. There’s very early adopters who are like, “I’m on board blockchain. I know what cryptocurrency is. I know how to crypto trade.” But that’s a world that we’re all going into. And these very foreign words are back in the ’80s when you sat there talking about the internet. And it’s in the same place. And so this is a world that’s going to revolutionize businesses far in the future. But really just in the months and the years ahead.
Yann Barbarouxx (34:39):
Yeah. And I mean there’s several ways of characterizing it. And so some of the kind of advocate to blockchain saying, “We are in the third era of internet.” The first one was internet of information. And the dot com bubble was the first real crisis around it. Second one was internet of things. So we’re starting to connect devices. We’re trying to interconnect our world, our hardware with the information. And blockchain is characterized as internet of money. So this is very much the way you can actually democratize money via a very simple concept. There’s no central agent. There’s no central body of decision-making. This is money for everyone.
I mean, again this is good in theory. It’s been hard to actually adopt or convince people it’s proof check. There’s been a lot of bad stories about frauds. People using blockchain and cryptocurrency for other meetings are not supposed to be productive. But I think the fundamental of what was written in 2008, which was essentially at the dawn of the financial crisis after Lehman collapsed. Was the power to the people. So it’s a real thing. I’m not advocating my project now. I’m really thinking this decentralized money. This internet of money, it’s something that’s going to adjust… How do you say it? Crystallize, materialize.
Maybe it’s going to be a matter of decades. I think it’s going to be faster than that. But the value that you store doesn’t have to be a bill. It doesn’t have to be a dollar bill or it does not have to be a piece of coin. It can be this amount of information that’s stored somewhere. And that’s secured through some fancy algorithm. Whatever it is and we’re not going to be staying materialized the way we are for another 100 years. It has to be transforming to another state. And blockchain is one of the solutions. It’s the best solution so far. There’s some theory saying blockchain is not going to be kind of being the standard. Maybe something else could be coming and it’s going to be better.
But at least being aware of what it brings and how it’s being implemented. And all the good things that can be happening is very much the first battle you want to get involved in.
Stacy Jones (37:27):
And what’s your background of computer engineering that you have? I mean, this is a space that… You’re obviously someone who’s geared to be… You’re a tech geek, you like tech. I can say that. You have to, I just know I’m a geek too. But you’re an early adopter. You came in, you saw something that could be a solution. But would you say that this is something that companies of every size, every type should be trying to at least familiarize themselves? So that they can figure out how this is going to fit into their future. Or you think it’s still early days where they should sit back and wait? And see where things start building before they start getting involved?
Yann Barbarouxx (38:15):
I think we need to project ourselves to the mid ’90s. When you were presenting let’s say an accounting firm the internet AOL and Yahoo. And saying, “You’ll see in the future, you’re all going to be using those screens to actually run your ledger reconciliation. And all the good stuff that you’re doing on paper. That’s going to be all run by software and exchange all this money… Virtual money is actually going to be exchanged through those internet of things.” So to speak. I think we’re going through the same phase. So now if you reflect on the fact that we are year number 12 of the creation of Bitcoin by the first cryptocurrencies ever.
Stacy Jones (39:02):
12 years since Bitcoin came out. And probably most of our listeners have never bought Bitcoin.
Yann Barbarouxx (39:12):
2008. And I really liked that the fact you are characterizing me as an early adopter. In the grand scheme of things I am. But I was essentially eight years later than the real early adopters. Anyway, I’m fine getting that compliment. But I think now is the time to make it more democratized. I think, big firms are actually working on blockchain as we speak. And they’ve been working on blockchain for three, five years. There’s no doubt about it. So I’m thinking about big banks, big car industrials, pharmaceutical companies. Obviously all the credit cards, the payment services such as Swift. Everything is dealing with money exchange. They get out to catch up with the bandwagon. So that could be happening. And this has been happening for years now.
Now you’re thinking about SMEs. Small businesses, are they going to be incentivized to be part of the blockchain? I think the big box solution to manage maybe accounting using blockchain is not right the minute. So that’s going to take some many years. The possibility of accepting Bitcoin or any cryptocurrencies as a means of payment for their own goods. Let’s say grocery store, is actually completely in the money pun unintended. And then I was actually going to my grocery store, now the ATM has Bitcoin. The ATM has dollar and Bitcoin. And I think that people are just starting to say what if the Central Bank just doesn’t do its job because politics-
Stacy Jones (41:07):
Because the world collapses because of COVID, and riots, and protests.
Yann Barbarouxx (41:13):
… For all those reasons all of a sudden Bitcoin becomes this kind of the unparalleled or the parallel way of trying to get to transfer money. Without having some sort of intermediary saying yes, no. And interfering with the amount of value that you could be transacting.
Stacy Jones (41:36):
So are there any other points of advice you want to give on blockchain? I want to make sure that we share how people can sign up. So that we can try to get you some more users. Because I think that would be something that people should at least be testing out. But any last words on blockchain and technology and advice there?
Yann Barbarouxx (41:58):
It’s a very good question. First, appreciate that you offered for me to share my website. So my website is flyion.io. F-L-Y-I-O-N-.-I-O. And the beta product is slash beta. So you can find on the landing page and then you can sign up. And to that point it’s going to sound pretty ironic. The product is not crypto friendly. Because we wanted to make it so transparent that people don’t think that we have a Bitcoin business on the back of it. So when you sign up, you can pay with your credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay. It’s not about crypto. The technology is the automation of everything I discussed.
And then it brings to my point, my second question being what kind of advice I would give to people that would be interested. Or would want to actually launch a product or a seminar or other use cases. I think blockchains was extremely trendy, buzzwordy 2017, 2018. And unfortunately we suffered the malfunction of a bunch of clowns. And I’m not including myself in this bucket. I think there was definitely some people that were doing that for the trend, for the buzz and to scam money. There’s no doubt about it. They were all arrested and the bleeding stopped. So there’s absolutely no malfunction about startup project using blockchain at the moment.
And what I would advise is trying to be genuine. More of a bottom up approach. Trying to find a real life use case that you want to resolve. You want to find a frustration, a pain point maybe in the healthcare industry. Where you think the information doesn’t circulate as fast as you want. And maybe the number of beds at Mount Sinai or Beth Israel. Or whatever hospitals where it could have been shared in a snap using blockchain information shared, didn’t happen. And this is very bad because people were dying, people were sick. And all of a sudden that legitimize blockchain usage.
If you come from the top down, you’re saying, “Well I know I’m going to be doing some blockchain stuff. I just need to find my product fit.” And then you’re going kind of a counter waves. You’re not doing the right thing. Using the blockchain as a buzz word in order to get funded. In order to get your product marketed, is just an old story and now it doesn’t work. So it’s a waste of time.
Stacy Jones (44:49):
It’s more so you really need to dive in and make sure that there’s a solution there. At the end of the road where it’s going to provide a true mechanism that makes your business better.
Yann Barbarouxx (45:00):
Stacy Jones (45:02):
Well, thank you so much for being on the show today and sharing your insights and your advice. And we’ll make sure that all your information is in the show notes so that people can check out and visit the website. And learn more information as well.
Yann Barbarouxx (45:17):
Thank you very much for having me. That was a pleasure. It was very insightful. And I’m going to pass a good word, it should look for some other talented people and I’m happy to pass a good word.
Stacy Jones (45:31):
Perfect. Well, thank you. And to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) I look forward to chatting with you on our next podcast.
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