Ideas are born in our minds, every day!
It’s how, when and how we bring those ideas to surface, and what matters the most is, who has the will and conviction to bring them to the surface!
This is the story of one such guy who happens to be a 23 years old entrepreneur with a hefty tag of CEO to DataWallet to his name. Yes, I am talking about German-born Serafin Lion Engel, the founder of a pathbreaking digital idea called DataWallet!
No matter how less we are aware of it, but digital companies collect our data from various devices that we use for daily activities every day. Be it browsing the net, signing for newsletters, filling forms for ecommerce sites, or simply signing up for social media. Every bit of data is useful to people looking to build businesses out in the whole wide world.
Serafin, with the brilliant brain that he has, came with the idea to give the data control to the users, while very interestingly putting money back in their pockets too! And guess what, he got a billionaire to invest in his this brilliantly stimulating project.
Serafin discovered the idea for his start-up after he dropped out of college to follow his entrepreneurial pursuits. He was lucky enough to catch the attention of billionaire Tim Draper, who asked him to get enrolled to Draper University, which is a popular business school for entrepreneurs, run by entrepreneurs. Serafin was awarded scholarship to attend this university. Some lad he is!
What Is So Different With The Draper University
Serafin, gives credit to Draper for many good reasons. The curriculum at Draper differed from that of a traditional learning institution. Students are taught how to be comfortable outside of their comfort zones and told to go big or go home. In college, students are expected to get everything right, but at Draper, students are rewarded points for failing dramatically. Can you imagine that? Don’t you think we need such schools in India too?
The crux of the matter is, that at Draper Universi are motivated to try out outrageous things and move out of their comfort zones. Which in self is a big lesson for life. And adapting this lesson in life, makes one strive to go as big as possible. Such schools work on changing the personalities, the minds, and the thought processes of the students, and not just the academic qualification status.
Serafin’s Course of Action That Lead Him To Success
Serafin was a regular college going student until he realised he was made for something different. He was pursuing his degree in business administration at the Rotterdam College of Management in the Netherlands, when he decided to take a deviation. He then set off to follow his entrepreneurial dreams at a very young age of less than 21.
On this he has a word of wisdom to share with his young counterparts from the entire world over. He says
“To be honest, I think a lot of people are seriously over-estimating the benefit of dropping out of college. I think you need to have a very, very clear case why you should; dropping out of college is no predetermined way to success. You need to have a very real contingent and super realistic opportunity. Unless you do, I would highly recommend not doing it.”
The Target and The Difficult Road To It
Serafin was quite confident that entrepreneurial road is for him to walk, but he was not having any map to it. Neither the skills, the required knowledge or any support system per se, which an inevitable part of many entrepreneurs. As Serafin puts it, he did not know the meaning of the word “entrepreneur” until he was 20. He sold strawberries on the road, which he plucked from his backyard garden. He did not know at that time that he was setting up a business. He was smart enough to know the reasons behind low sales, that the sign that he had put up is not legible to people, because he could not write properly. Entrepreneur was in him at the age of 4.
“I honestly did not know the term ‘entrepreneur’ until I was 20. It came to me intuitively. It started with small things. When I was 4, I started selling strawberries from the back of our yard on the street. I would get super upset when nobody would buy them, only to come figure out that no one could read the sign. I could not even write properly yet.
Today, as the DataWallet Founder and CEO reveals, he conceived this bigshot idea just five days before he enrolled for a program at Draper.
His girlfriend at that time was studying fashion and she and her friends were the epitome of trendsetters. They would always try to figure out what was trending amongst kids: what are they doing, what are they buying, what are they talking about. At the same time, those kids were constantly broke. I thought to myself, how could you potentially fix this? It occurred to him that all this consumption is in their data — whatever they talk about on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, etc. If brands could look at the data and see what they are talking about and what they are consuming and those kids could get paid for that type of insight.
And there was THE IDEA!
Serafin then pitched this big idea to a panel of 40 venture capitalists and won first place in the Pitch Day competition! That’s what you call a clean sweep!
Having The Billionaire Tim Draper As Project Investor
Serafin identifies with Draper as a very close mentor and guide. He gives him all the credit for his handy business advices, introductions in the business world. Serafin says, “Tim is one those guys who is really able to look ahead of the curve. I’m constantly surprised by how much he is able to say about the product; I’m trying to break it down for him and not go too far into the vision and he actually takes it further; he is truly incredible.” We need more such visionaries in our country too, who are able to identify the real talent and don’t think twice before invesing in them.
One of the reasons he ended up believing in Serafin and his project was because he failed with a startup before. Yet, he still remained at it and constantly tried to push and not give up. This is definitely one of the qualities that Tim saw and which garnered his interest further, in Serafin. He knew that the lad was able to go through the struggle.
This is where I think most young entrepreneurs start flaking when they see things falling apart.
Serafin reckons, that he had literally put all of my savings from the last 20 years into my company and paid every employee out of his pocket. It was an incredibly rough time and he believes that Tim saw that and also knew that that would help him to grow as a mature businessman.
What is DataWallet?
DataWallet is a huge and potential application platform that makes the owner of his own data, and its seller too. The data that we create online, automatically allows the companies to use it. Data is a huge market as individuals create roughly 5GB of data everyday from sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Uber and Spotify.
In 2012, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Transportation estimated the global revenue of the data market to exceed $150 billion per year. Serafin and his team estimate that number to be around $340 billion per year in 2015. He explains that companies are already taking advantage of our data and selling it without us knowing who is sourcing the data, what they sell, who they sell it to and for what purpose. On top of that, we’re not getting paid for the data we generate.
The benefits of Serafins Datawallet
Serafin’s DataWallet app gives 100% of the payouts to the users against their data, as it does not keep any cut. The platform makes the process transparent and gives users control over monetizing an asset they already own. The data will also help companies create, build and tailor products around the needs of the people.
Competitors that DataWallet is up against are established multi-billion-dollar data companies that include Axiom, Epsilon and Equifax. Whereas DataWallet’s edge and its primary emphasis is on the users’ experience. While other companies focus on business to business cross-sharing data, DataWallet puts users first and that is what makes it an instant hit.
Serafin also adds on to the uses when he says that the company is determined to bring in more incentives and payoffs for most active users, something like a travel trip, the DataWallet lifestyle — going to Miami and riding water Jetpacks, going on a safari or going on a helicopter tour over Miami. We will have a really awesome trip planned so they will really know what the DataWallet experience is all about.
The Journey and The looking Back
Even with such incredible resources and support from billionaire Tim Draper, Draper University’s founder, Serafin did not realize his success until he experienced failures and defeats.
It takes a lot of courage and will to look at the learning aspect of failures and make good use of it. One has to maintain a positive approach and a “no failure is a failure if it gets you learning” attitude!
Serafin’s word for all the young and roaring entrepreneurs out there “Without a doubt, you need to be a little bit delusional. All entrepreneurs are a bit delusional; it is the premise for founding a company when all the odds are stacked against you big time.”
So, here’s the story of success for you, of a 23 year old young business mogul, who runs a profitable company today.