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In April 2021, Sam Jones delivered what Dragon Touker Suleyman described as “one of the best pitches” he’d ever heard after seeking investment in his company, Gener8. Fast-forward two years, Gener8 has over 600,000 users, more than six million site visitors, and further funding from a consortium of investors, including Harry Redknapp, Tinie Tempah, and ex-cricket captain Chris Gayle. So what exactly is Gener8 and why did it captivate investors? Express.co.uk spoke to Mr Jones to find out.
Mr Jones, 31, London, said: “If I rewind back before founding Gener8, I worked at Red Bull, the energy drink, where I was a global brand manager.
“I was personally in charge of about a third of their worldwide advertising, and I realised in this position, where I had this great view over the industry and I was running campaigns that aired in 90 different countries, that everything we do online, all comes down to data.
“Everything in advertising, everything in the industry, is really built on this open secret that everything we’re doing online is being tracked. And this data is being sold many times by so many companies, most of whom we’ve never even heard of.”
Mr Jones continued: “When I was in this position, I just thought very simply, there has to be a different way. I thought there is bound to be an opportunity and a point in the future, where we all earn from our own data rather than other companies.
“Nothing out there for that existed, so I went about trying to build technologies that would do that – and that’s what we’ve built today. Technology that enables people to control and earn from their own data.”
Gener8 lets people choose to keep their data private or earn from it themselves whilst browsing online. By selecting ‘Privacy Mode’ the user can stop companies from tracking them, or the ‘Rewards Mode’ means that a person can share their data with Gener8 to monetise it for them.
People then receive points in return for sharing their data with Gener8. These points can be redeemed for products, vouchers or donations to charity in Gener8’s marketplace.
According to Mr Jones, the average person earns between £5 to £25 in rewards per month, with thousands of pounds being donated to charities, which are changed on a monthly basis.
Despite exuding a collected calmness during what was referred to as one of the “best pitches ever”, Mr Jones said the experience on Dragon’s Den was actually “incredibly nerve-racking”.
However, Mr Jones said: “On the night, four million people tuned in and watched it. But it was afterwards that the magic really happened.
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“On the programme, of course, I did a deal with Peter Jones and Touka Suleyman. They invested in the business, but then straight after airing, Tej Lalvani, another dragon whom I didn’t choose, called me up and he said, ‘Sam, I cannot miss this deal.’
“So he then came on board and invested, which is the first time ever that a dragon has chased up someone after the show. He came on board alongside other investors like Harry Redknapp the former football manager, as well as Tinie Tempah.”
As part of Mr Suleyman’s deal, Mr Jones was offered spaces in his offices initially for one year, for five or six people.
Mr Jones said: “We took that initially, just four of us. Today, we’re still in his office but there are 25 of us, and we have an entire floor from him. So we’ve grown a little bit.”
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Fast-forwarding to the most “exciting” milestones, Mr Jones said: “We’ve just released our app and we’ve got a 4.7-star rating on the Apple App Store. We’ve got a 4.1-star rating on Trustpilot and I was voted disrupter of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards at the end of last year as well.
“With this latest fundraise of £5.1million, it now values the business at £30million, which is over – I think – 60 times more than when Peter Jones and Touker Suleyman invested.”
With the new round of funding, Mr Jones said that the team will be “doubling down” on building “world-class technology” and improving features.
He said: “Our aim, really simply, is to be a billion-pound company by 2030. We’re aiming to grow as fast as possible, and create as much value for our users as possible.
“Everything we’re doing, nothing like it really exists. And it sounds like a bit of a cliche because lots of startups and tech companies claim that but genuinely, right now, today, if you want to earn from your data, outside of Gener8, is impossible to do.
“So when I look to the future, I genuinely believe that five years from now, we will all be passively earning from our data. The only question mark in my head is which company is going to be the household name that’s enabling this. I want that company obviously to be Gener8, and that’s what we’re working towards.”
He added: “In the same way that we all trust our local bank to keep our money safe and we know that the bank will put our money to work for us and that at the end of each month, we get a little bit of interest in return.
“Well, what I believe is that in the future, there will be companies that we trust to keep our data safe, and we know that the companies will put our data to work for us, and in return, we earn from it each month. And that’s basically what we’re doing with Gener8.”
Commenting on his investment, Chris Gayle said: “It’s madness what happens with our online data, I didn’t have a clue how many companies were making money from us…did you?
“When I met Sam and he explained how much we’re being taken for a ride, and the profits so many companies I’ve never even heard of are making, I knew he was onto something. We’re being taken advantage of. Others are making millions whilst we make nothing – and most of us don’t even know it’s happening. Come on, let’s change that.”
Gener8 is available as a desktop extension, as well as on the App Store and Google Play.
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