Tonight our CMO, Martijn Broersma, gave one of the most extensive AMA’s yet. Dive into all the great questions and answers that were fired away in the Turing Research community chat! Enjoy!
Host: Martijn, to start it off I think many people here already know who you are but could you tell me a bit more about yourself and what you’ve been doing at Cere Network?
Martijn Broersma: I’m Martijn, CMO @ Cere. Before joining Cere, I was COO of LTO Network. During my time at LTO, I played a big role in growing LTO Network into a top 10 most used blockchains worldwide, achieving the world’s highest blockchain adoption score. At Cere, I’m responsible for everything marketing/community-related, next to managing (part of the) fundraising process and business development. Currently coming in live from Minsk, where we’re lucky enough to meet with (a big part of) the dev team!
Host: Awesome, I think many of us are familiar with LTO Network and the success it’s had. So it’s a pleasure to see individuals such as yourselves part of the Cere team who are ‘vets’ in the space with a strong track record.
But we’re here to talk about Cere and the exciting things going on with the project. So in a nutshell, how would you describe what Cere Network is aiming to achieve?
M: Happy to elaborate! Cere is part of a consortium of projects such as Polkadot and Cosmos, united by the vision of cross-chain interoperability between blockchain networks, for the purpose of reaching the promised land of an inclusive, trustless, and infinitely scalable global decentralized ecosystem for enterprises.
Cere’s Decentralized Data Cloud is a blockchain-based data warehouse solution that is optimized for capturing user/app interactions that are individually signed and encrypted, along with potential value transfers, to be stored in a tamper-proof and time-capsule data scheme. This allows for the direct and secure decryption, validation, extraction, transformation, and (AI/ML) utilization of such data by trusted or trustless parties, automated processes, and decentralized data marketplaces.
Simply said: when we onboard enterprise users, we create individual wallets/ledgers for each of them. This segmentation, which's only possible using blockchain technology, opens up a world of data-driven possibilities for our Fortune 1000 clients that want to extract more value from their customers.
Cere’s DDC data operations are configured to work directly with Cere test/main networks or with any other Polkadot/Substrate blockchain network.
Host: Very informative diagram. Also strong USPs on why to use a decentralized data cloud for enterprises. This is a topic perhaps we can go deeper dive on shortly.
I recall in 2019, Cere was described as a decentralized CRM ie: Salesforce. More recently, we’ve seen that Cere has pivoted from a decentralized CRM solution to a decentralized Snowflake. What were the reasons for this pivot?
M: Correct, Cere came out of Binance Labs as the ‘decentralized salesforce’.
With all the developments in the CRM market and the explosive growth of Snowflake last year -which focusses much more on intelligent data warehousing than Salesforce-, we started to see more and more similarities between the solutions Snowflake is offering and the potential of our own technology. Snowflake innovated where SalesForce fell short, it’s our challenge to innovate on the technology that Snowflake introduced to the CRM world. While Snowflake might ring fewer bells with the bigger crowd, it’s for a reason they had the biggest software IPO ever last September. The world is moving much more towards data agility and customization, and Cere is here to expedite that process.
Host: Understood. The CRM space, in general, is a very lucrative market but also very competitive & mature. With this Snowflake pivot, it opens up many doors for the Cere application besides the CRM space.
So what constitutes CERE’s addressable market now? Data warehouses, BI, data lakes, data storage, data marketplace, CRM, NFT?
M: A market size slides are necessary for an investor deck, but frankly we don't focus on that at all. With every Fortune 1000 client we onboard, we’re taking a step in the right direction towards a much more ethical and interoperable data-driven world. These sales are hard (B2B enterprise SaaS is difficult, especially when adding blockchain to that story), but clients have demonstrated to pay serious money for solutions like ours. With our fee-structures, we’re talking >$1m MRR per client post-pilot. That's already insane revenue for a startup, so that's what we’re mostly focussing on, instead of doing weeks of research into hypothetical market sizes and shares.
Host: Wow that’s a fair response. Just to be clear here, are you saying +1 mill MRR or ARR for post-pilot clients? I’m familiar with enterprise contracts to be +$1 mill ARR but +$1 mill MRR is an extremely large deal size.
Just for people who are not aware of what MRR / ARR is.
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is the amount of predictable revenue that a company can expect to receive on a monthly basis. MRR is critical to understanding overall business profitability and cash flow for subscription companies.
M: Client gets $0,20/month more revenue out of a client when using Cere, so they pay us $0,02/month. x50m users that's $1m MRR. Everybody wins :)
Host: Wow, I'm a bit speechless here because I’ve been in the enterprise software space and I don’t often hear of deals of +1 mill MRR…..
M: That's because we bring critical added value that can make or break a company. Our pilot contracts have been set up in a way that once we hit our predefined KPI’s, we scale up automatically to the next phase. The fact that we can objectively measure this conversion makes the process insightful for all parties.
Host: This is incredible news for Cere. Seems like the revenue models in place will ensure long term growth for the project and team :)
Based on this information, using Snowflake as a benchmark is not out of the ballpark here…
M: Snowflake has probably hundreds of these contracts. We’re just chipping away at their margins.
Host: So besides Snowflake which has a market cap of $51.7 billion, who are some of its direct competitors?
M: Snowflake is the main competitor of Cere Network (the blockchain network)
For the Cere SaaS (where we close the contracts with the enterprises with), you can compare us to Braze, Segment, Dynamic Yield, so companies that focus on improving customer engagement. We don't make companies buy tokens (for now), we buy them for them, and making them pay well for it.
What milestones are you most excited about completing this year? And perhaps could you tell us a bit more about the ambitious goals for this year and the future?
M: - Complete fundraise and initial listing in Q1 2021 (private/public/LPD)
- Further expanded the team with top quality innovators and developers
- Alpha Mainnet Launch by Q2 2021 to support upcoming enterprise integrations
- Work with other top Polkadot projects and the W3f team to thoroughly test/prep mainnet and prep for Parachain ops.
- Complete 3+ additional Integrations with top brands to build successful case studies to accelerate content marketing and more inbound growth
- Launch Cere Open Data Marketplace with real data and jobs to onboard 1000+ developers
Host: Most of the SaaS companies you are describing there are ‘unicorns’ or on the border of it ie: + 100 million valuations.
M: That’s what we’re looking for with our upcoming series A
Host: Are we implying that Cere has the potential to go public down-the-line or perhaps even an acquisition by Snowflake or Salesforce?
M: I’d prefer the first. Fred (CEO) is born and raised in Silicon Valley. He wants to ring that bell.
Host: So you touched on the topic of tokens a bit earlier and Cere will buy the token on behalf of their clients. What fundamental role and “real utility” does the token have in the ecosystem and how does the token derive value for your various stakeholders?
M: The Cere token will serve as a key catalyst for the growth of the Cere ecosystem in four fundamental ways:
DDC Utility: For incentives to Decentralized Data Cloud node operators to query data.
Ecosystem Utility: Functioning as the main utility token that powers the transformative ecosystem application framework. The token fuels the Cere enterprise hub, marketplaces, and SaaS DeFi ecosystem.
Staking & Governance: Speaks for itself.
Host: Could you tell us a bit more about how the onboarding of some of the Fortune 100 clients are going? What type of use cases are you specifically solving with them? And what more can we expect?
M: We’re currently focussing on Fortune 1000 clients in the media, travel, banking, and retail verticals.
And we’re solving the same problem for all of them: a lack of a first-party data strategy. Instead of your data being held hostage, we unleash this customer data for these enterprises by having them actually OWN their data for the first time.
We focus on these verticals for now, since we already have the AI/ML models ready for these industries. The upcoming raise will allow us to build more of these, for more verticals, for more clients to be onboarded. This article covers the subject really well: https://twitter.com/MartijnBroersma/status/1374125728632016901
Host: It’s a great model you guys have. To prove Cere’s use cases across those major verticals via POCs and build social proofing with those industry leaders then scale. This upcoming Series A is going to hopefully hit some serious numbers…
Do you plan on hiring more team members e.g. full-fledged commercial team to expand the operation? The scope of this company I can imagine it growing to be a company of over +500 employees.
M: We’re now at ~50 employees, and we’re aiming at hiring +- 2 per week, to make sure everybody is properly onboarded while we keep building at breakneck speed. You'll always come across growing pains, and scaling from 20 to a hundred is the hardest part of company growth.
Luckily that's where a combined 50 years of silicon valley experience on the team is coming in, next to massively important and helpful advisors, such as the fantastic Rajani Ramanathan, first COO of Salesforce (for 14 years!) and later board member (and early Cere investor) who knows how to deal with these growing pains like no other.
Host: By the end of Q2, the alpha mainnet will launch but also the Cere Open Data Marketplace (ODM). Could you tell us a bit more about this Cere Open Data Marketplace? How does your project plan on onboarding all the data, developers, and jobs into this platform?
M: While ‘open’ data marketplaces seem obvious, they're really not
The challenge is to actually have enterprise data on your platform to make the marketplace viable. This is all taken into account in the Cere strategy.
- We onboard clients via the Cere SaaS, for its loyalty and engagement platform that creates additional revenue/cost savings for these enterprises (at this point nobody at the enterprise is really aware of how the blockchain underneath it works)
- After that, we show them what benefits a Decentralized Data Cloud actually brings for individual segmentation via user wallets
- Then they see how the AI agents and ML feedback loops work on relatively standard consumer behavior patterns
- And when there’s a specialized case, that advanced data engineering/machine learning should be applied on, we put the data on the open data marketplace, which is essentially the Fiverr/Upwork for data jobs of the future.
The data marketplace is trustless, given that all parties put collateral into smart contracts that are guided by machine learning workflows. If you take a job that you cant execute on, you will get punished by slashing.
The cool thing is that data never leaves the enterprise DDC. Engineers use federated learning to sample subsets of data that they’re appointed to via data connectors.
This means that for the first time, companies can drop their overpaid internal data team, don't have to send their data to Accenture/BCG/big 4, but can have it analyzed by experienced engineers all over the world, without the risk of getting harmed by GDPR/CPRA regulations, since the data is anonymized, encrypted and sampled.
Which obviously comes with massive cost savings and a more efficient, trustless process.
Host: Okay so far we’ve talked mostly about the B2B / SaaS applications of Cere. But could you tell us a bit more about how Cere will contribute to the B2C space e.g. NFT?
M: Yes. This is super exciting.
Months ago I was chatting with a friend of mine who’s creative about NFTs.
And we both didn't understand the value of owning an NFT when it's publicly available to everyone. The NFT is just a certificate with a pointer to an object.
So one day, Fred (CEO) comes to me and explains how the DDC can work in conjunction with NFTs, and it blew my mind. With Cere, (part of) the object is stored in a decentralized way on the DDC, and you need to hold a certain NFT to access the high res vid/picture/full song/etc.
This is not just a disruption of ‘digital art’, this is going to be a BIG issue to parties like Spotify and youtube in the future.
We’ll release more info on our NFT platform launch, with world-renowned artists, in the coming months. Doing this properly takes proper time.
Host: Okay are you implying that Spotify / Youtube / Apple music etc could potentially use the Cere NFT platform?
M: They could, but I think it's more fun to go head to head with them. The future will be a content game — they know that, and we know that too. So let's see how it plays out…
Host: I think it’s fair to say that the Turing community is extremely excited for what Cere is doing with its decentralized data cloud (DDC) and the ODM. It has the potential to be the most widely adopted blockchain solution in the entire enterprise space. As a final comment to end this section of the AMA, could you give us your take on this statement?
M: Bridging enterprise capital with DeFi liquidity will transform the market completely. This is the end game, and we’re working our butts off every day with the team to make small steps towards that end goal.
Host: We would like to open the floor now for a live Q&A section. Bear in mind everyone, please only write 1 question.
Olga: Hоw wоuld data marketplaces cater to consumers? Could I sell, buy оr othеrwise exchange Cere tokens for my personal data?
M: This is not something that we focus on, although I understand the question.
What we do offer clients, is an insight into what exact data is captured on them, since data multiparty encrypted using customer and company keys. This means that not even we as Cere can see the data. This is already a massive step in the right direction.
Michael: Hi Martijn, thanks for the mind-blowing information. As you very well know, blockchain solutions tend to have a trade-off between scalability, decentralization, and security known as the blockchain trilemma. Which aspect(s) of this trilemma would you say the Cere network has the most compromises on, and how do you see this compromise affecting end-users of your solution?
M: This is an excellent question. I would say the scalability part. Luckily we have Substrate technology at our disposal which already allows us to do amazing things with blockchain. But as many of you know, Polkadots scalability is still under development. We’re constantly playing catch up with their tech, but we havent reached the desired scalabilty yet. But that will come!
NasdaQ: The Cere is backed by Neo Global Cap., Arrington XRP Cap., Binance Labs, and 3 Consultants, and this will undoubtedly make your token a crucial contribution to the adoption of your project. How would you explain why you can provide such great supporters?
M: All these investors see what we're seeing. A massive opportunity to disrupt an enormous space. Only blockchain in its current, recent state can do this, and luckily Cere CEO Fred was the first to come up with the model for the Decentralized Data Cloud and individual customer segmentation.
John: What are the main uses on $cere token? Is $cere considered a security token?
M: I've been over the utility of the token before. We have been working with 3 of the best law firms in the world to ensure Cere is NOT a security. We serve US enterprise customers, we want to be on Coinbase. Better to have all the boxes checked before you launch when you launch with these aspirations.
Gurhan: Hello, I’m Gurhan, I am CTO in an international company. Our customers always tell us about their safety concerns. We say that we do our best about data privacy. It is very difficult to convince our customers because events such as the Facebook scandal in the past years broke their trust. As I see it, Cere’s decentralized solution is more reliable and we can explain it more easily to our customers. My question is, could Cere’s rise in data security be Mark Zuckerberg’s nightmare? Because he wants to know everything :)
M: If we could haunt Zuck's dreams, we’re on the right track I would say. The removal of cookies and Facebook pixels will go hand in hand with our rise and development. Perhaps it has crossed his mind already once. ;).
But to answer your safety question; yes. We can show it as well in an extremely simple manner. Feel free to DM me for a demo!
Mefodiy: What separates Cere Network from Sia or Filecoin? I’m honestly not entirely sure if Cere allows users to rent out storage.
M: We start with using IPFS. But in the future, we’ll expand with other offerings such as Sia, Filecoin, Bluzelle, etc. It completely depends on the needs of the customer. Hopefully, the diagram below will shed some light on the differences:
Ieo alert: While building CRM why do you need blockchain? Tell us, some unique advantages besides the advantages of blockchain-like decentralization, Do you have any uniqueness in your project?
M: More clarity on why blockchain is a game-changer in the Cere approach:
- We use drop-in SDKs with custodial Cere blockchain identity/wallets to onboard and consolidate each consumer’s data across all of a business’ apps/sites. This also anonymizes and abstracts user identities to make it much more secure and privacy-compliant ((think of it as a secure server-side replacement solution for cookies)
We also sign, verify, and encrypt (using blockchain multi-sig, asymmetrical data encryption) all such first-party data and store them as individually segmented customer journeys into our next-generation data clusters (leveraging IPFS) which are more flexible and customized than traditional data lakes, effectively a new decentralized Hadoop or Spark (big data) implementation.
- Similar to Snowflake, we have tools to extract and virtualize these data with near real-time event-sourcing (transforming and extracting) into customized datasets for ML, or analytics, or partner integrations. The key differences with Cere are 1) asymmetrical data encryption allows any computing process such an AI agent or partner integration script to be dynamically provided with signatures to access certain customer datasets, this means data can be securely shared into decentralized used cases such as the Cere Open Data Marketplace (similar to Snowflake’s data marketplace, but not locked to just 1 vendor); 2) The entire system is designed from the ground up to focus specifically for individual user data encryption, privacy-compliance, and hyper-personalization, which is what traditional data lakes, data warehouses, and CRM’s are not designed to do.
-Currently, this approach allows us to deploy AI/ML processes that can make smart, personalized, and data-driven user engagement decisions for consumer enterprise, even conducting smart value transfers such as personalized discounts, vouchers, micropayments, and rewards (as derivative assets on-chain). This is possible because each consumer has an individual and immutable ledger or verifiable “source of truth” for all such decisions, user interactions/response, and the actual values transferred. This allows us(and others) to bring 3rd party automated solutions to access key business data (that was previously not accessible) and also to make the critical and sensitive decision for the user on the behalf of client enterprises that just wasn’t doable previously.
- Furthermore, the data ownership is fully guaranteed to the app and users in our data cloud, as their data is stored fully encrypted and accessible only with their app/user signatures. Our open data marketplace is not just locked to 1 vendor (unlike Snowflake or Salesforce), where any developer or data scientist can stake CERE token to securely sample data and build federated learning models, and get paid to work on datasets that are not traditionally accessible as we have the tools to make these fully anonymized datasets to be granularly accessible.
Robert: Hello Martijn! What’s your most valuable work experience at LTO Network and how it will impact your Cere Network development? Thank you!
M: 3 years ago I was at the United Nations with a Dutch government trade mission. At first, they were hesitant, but I knew we had an applicable solution for them with LTO, so I've been stalking their whole organization until they got so crazy from me, that they agreed to run a massive operation for the land registry of Afghanistan on LTO Network. (https://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-oict-and-lto-network-release-first-open-source-urban-land-registry-solution-for-the)
Super proud of that, and it has thought me that there's no client too big if your product is good enough, so I apply the same philosophy at Cere for myself and our sales agents. B2B enterprise/blockchain sales is an incredibly hard job, but someone needs to do it for our beloved adoption.
Crypto123: Hello Martjin;) as far as I know you are going to provide data directly for business outside the world of cryptocurrencies, and in the world of crypto, so as a clothing company,
will you have control of individual company data like Google or Apple in the real world or you going to make it more secure?
M: Here’s the fun part of Cere: We’re not tolerating that MO anymore. You're not supposed to buy back your OWN customer data for a hefty price from FB and Google. Owning your data is the future, and we’re currently scaling with Cere towards a world where a first-party data strategy is within reach for every consumer-facing company with a digital strategy. So yes, we’d love to onboard your clothing store one day.
Keep an eye out for our self-service tools in the coming year. We’re aiming towards facilitating a set of tools that shouldn't be harder to implement than Salesforce, to keep it in laymen's terms.
Host: Wow, @broersma thank you so much for sharing so much with our community today about CERE, it’s been a pleasure to have you here at Turing
M: It's been a great pleasure being here. Questions were top-notch, so a big thanks to all of you!
Did you make it all the way down here? Respect!
Still, want to read more about Cere?