JoatU: A novel currency system

This is an interview that was conducted with the founder of JoatU, a novel currency system.

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JOATU – The Online Community Marketplace

Novel currency with code(love)

What is the ultimate long-term vision behind your startup, the moment where you begin to dominate your field? What is the guiding vision for your startup?

Our ultimate vision is to mix instant gratification with job opportunities.  And to transform the idea of a “job” into “play”.

In detail: You have skills in carpentry and want to teach people how to build a basic shelf, so you fill out a form, set up a class, and get currency for doing it.  You’ve created your own job with a few clicks and it’s something that you want to be offering.

Can you walk me through what the experience would be like of an average user using your product? Do you have any particularly good use cases you’d like to bring up?

We have several types of use-cases that would be entirely distinct in JoatU.

I would say the average user would be a casual user, one that has filled out their profile with details of their offerings (e.g. social marketing skills) and that logs in periodically to see what types of new offers or events have popped up in their local community.

So I login, I check out my local events to see if there are any events that suit my interest, maybe I’ll attend the woodworking class next week (the course is free of charge as it is a community offer, material costs are extra), so I mark it down on my calendar.  I have some time in the next week, so I respond to a request to help Mrs. Johnson paint her house in exchange for a large batch of her lasagna that I can request anytime with a few days of notice.

After the exchange, I receive a positive review for painting her house.  After the event, I leave a positive review for the woodworking class.

The usefulness of the application is to make quick exchanges with locals, learn about and promote free events that benefit the community, and to leave references for neighbors so they can gain feedback within the system for their skills.

Taken into the near future, you can mix JoatU with couchsurfing and you’ll be able to exist nomadically and work abroad learning about job opportunities on the fly and having your work experience already laid out for the local community that you move into.

Why did the founding team choose this particular project, and what particular expertise, and insights do they have?

The founding team have been crowdsourced almost entirely through my individual outreach efforts.  Everyone has been volunteering for this project (70+ people have lent a hand and yes, nobody is getting paid or holds any equity) because they believe that JoatU is an incredibly strong idea with legs.

Everybody who has contributed to the project has left their mark in one way or another.  Whether it comes to the design work, marketing efforts, communications, or fundamental architecture of ‘how JoatU will function’ in one of hundreds of long conversations about JoatU’s structure.

I would say our strongest collective attributes are design and systems building.  Every theoretical ‘problem’ (most specifically in regards to economic function or security) that has been presented to our team as a future issue for the development of JoatU has been effectively solved.

The team is fluid and expanding on a continual basis and we are always looking for more interested and dedicated individuals who believe in altruistic apps.

What are some of the interesting developments with regards to traction?

What’s different about local community projects aren’t its online reach, but their offline reach.  In the Montreal community, anybody who is in the know about alternative economy projects is following JoatU’s developments.  I presented to a group of people about Exchange based economies in the last month and am recognized in the startup community for my dedication to this project after less than a year.

We have a list of 400 people’s emails who are following closely, but I’d say the fact that we’ve gotten 70 people to donate their time for nothing at all in exchange speaks best to our credentials.  Our animated video(in my biased opinion) is brilliant and was offered to be done after I posted about JoatU on reddit.  Our website was completely redone thanks to a conversation I sparked after sitting down and speaking with a stranger at Concordia University.

I would also like to mention that the crowdfunding campaign is dual purpose, to increase the awareness of JoatU to find the right talent to have it built and to raise the money to pay for that talent.  I am incredibly grateful for all of the volunteer work and aspire to make retroactive community requests to pay for it with JoatU Units.  But until that day, cold hard cash is our currency and I can acknowledge that.

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JoatU is crowdfunding in order to get started.  Support them here!

The author

Roger is an entrepreneur who has co-founded a social network entitled ThoughtBasin that looks to connect students looking to make a difference with organizations looking for difference makers. This experience has given him some setbacks, but also some priceless insights. He is deferring admission from the law school of University of Toronto to pursue his dream of creating impact through entrepreneurship, and he is constantly looking to learn and create, and to do more. He contributes to social entrepreneurship projects with his fellow Global Shapers, coordinates a volunteer tutoring site, and on his off time he unwinds by reading, writing, and dancing---sometimes, all at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Rogerh1991.