FinTech Reviews and Interviews

Interview with the Co-founders of Soma, a Decentralized Social Marketplace

The co-founders of Soma are  Jukka Hilmola, and Joseph al Sharif. They had some mutual contacts that introduced them to each other because they both were active traders on traditional platforms, like Ebay and AliExpress.  They soon found out that both of them shared the same frustrations of how the current platforms served end-users and decided that there should be a change. This is how Soma was born, the latest blockchain innovation and a Decentralized Social Marketplace.

Jukka Hilmola

1) Briefly, tell us about Soma, what it offers and how it came about?

Soma stands for ”social marketplace” and essentially it combines trading and social interaction in a digital platform. Trading has been a social phenomenon throughout history and we don’t see a reason why we should deviate from this in the digital era. In effect, when we started to research the subject matter in more detail we found out that the traditional platforms are leaking vast amount of users to a localized Facebook groups, which tells that people demand something more from a trading platform than just a place where you can engage in trading.

2) Why did you start Soma, what problem did you set out to solve?

Joseph al Sharif

The C2C-markets are in disruption stage. This is evident from the above mentioned fact of people shifting away from the traditional platforms to a new environments which support social interaction, even if these platforms are not designed for trading in the first place (e.g Facebook).

The fundamental problem of the current classifieds/C2C platforms is that a substantial part of them are not designed initially to serve the end-user in the most optimal way. This is true, for example, in the most classifieds platforms since these platforms are essentially only a listing sites which gains their revenue from listing fees that are collected from the end-users and selling advertisements to business clients. Thus, this model is mainly focusing on the traffic they can attract to their sites. Usually, classifieds sites are owned by large media corporations which are reluctant to any major changes. In addition, the basic model of classifieds sites is that they do not facilitate payments in any manner, as they are essentially a listing site. This brings its own problems, namely a security threat in some regions if there is a need handle payment in cash. You can never know the other party and its intentions, and thus there is a increased risk of fraud or robbery. Soma Community Token, and escrowed smart contract system will solve this problem in these areas.

Other platforms may be designed as C2C-platforms from the beginning, but the problem is that they have not faced any true competition until the rise of mobile-first startups which started the disruption of these markets. Soma is the first disruptive startup which utilizes blockchain to leverage social capital. People are incentivized to collaborate with each other through Soma Rewarding System, and by uniting social interaction with trading, and monetizing the social wealth by Soma Community Token, our company stands out from the crowd as being unique concept endorsed by experienced people from the C2C-industry.

3) Explain to someone who is not tech-oriented what are Blockchain tokens and how they will be used to power decentralized marketplaces.

Blockchain tokens can be divided roughly in two categories, with the first category being utility tokens and the other being something which could be called security tokens. Both tokens from these categories are incentivizing people to own tokens, but in a totally different manner. Utility tokens, which is a category where Soma Community Token belongs, can be described as a token that has a central role in the smooth functioning of the token issuers ecosystem. Utility tokens usually give their owners some privileges on the platform, and can be used as a medium of exchange in their own ecosystems. In contrast, security tokens may not have any functional role in the platform they are connected with, but token holders benefit from profit sharing attributes, which may be derived from the transactions fees of the platform or the future profits of the business. In addition, security tokens may give some voting rights for their holders.

4) Why did you decide to do an ICO instead of venture fundraising? How much money are you targeting to raise from it?

As blockchain technology is a major part of our concept, the ICO was a natural way or raising funds to achieve our goals on the roadmap. Also, the community which we have gathered around us after we announced that we are establishing an ICO has gave us invaluable feedback regarding our current application and provided a proof-of-concept, which we would have lacked if decided to go with the more traditional ways of startup funding. Our hard-cap is 120,000 ETH.

5) How is Soma ICO offering different from other ICOs?

Soma Community Token (SCT) is a very unique token compared to other tokens distributed in the ICO’s. Our unique concept, with patent-pending innovations, makes our token very different from other tokens out there. Soma is the world’s first social marketplace which incentivizes users to collaborate through different social interactions and monetizes the value-adding users on our platform. SCT is the token that reflects this value, and has a crucial role in the functioning of the Soma Rewarding System and monetization of social wealth.

6) Where can I see the progress of the ICO and how much you have already raised?

You can see our crowd sale status from this link: https://etherscan.io/token/0x63b992e6246d88f07fc35a056d2c365e6d441a3d

7) Who is qualified to invest in  Soma and what is the procedure of investing?

Everyone is qualified to participate in the Soma crowd sale. Maybe, to provide answer for the question, it could be said that people who are capable of using ERC20-compatible wallet, like MyEtherWallet, can participate. We understand that people outside from the cryptoworld may not be familiar of how to handle this kind of wallets, so we have provided detailed instructions on how to use MyEtherWallet to contribute in the Soma ICO.

8) In light of the recent ICO scandals and scams, how is Soma ensuring investors’ safety?

We put safety and security above every other issue, as we recognize how important this is, not only from our contributors perspective, but our perspective as well. Thus, we have done numerous security audits from the world-leading security experts on our website and smart contracts. In addition, we have both, automatic and human workforce monitoring scam messages on our community channels to immediately intervene in this kind of behavior and delete scam messages and bots from our channels instantly.

9) What are some of the challenges that Soma is facing?

As with any nascent startup out there, we are working hard on ensuring that we have the needed tools in place to bring our vision to life. In essence, this consists of finding the right funds, people and above all, the community that fuels the growth of our ecosystem. Our ICO plays one part of this story, but we’re constantly pushing on an operational level to ensure our engine room as well as overall organization is well versed to support our global expansion. Throughout the past months, we’ve been truly fortunate to build a global community around Soma, as well as attracted top talent to help us fulfill our vision. In the end, we strongly believe that it’s all about the right people behind the wheel as well as a vibrant and dynamic community of users, which share our vision.

10) Who are your clients and competitors?

We believe that the nucleus of Soma is formed by its community, thus putting these clients at the heart of everything we do is absolutely critical. As a C2C platform, our clients can range from private individuals buying and selling everyday items, to also small business owners and other professional sellers. Through our Interactive Item Card, we also believe that the use cases for Soma can also extend above and beyond the traditional use cases of a C2C platform. An example of this could be the possibility of verifying the authenticity of sold items via blockchain technology.

In terms of competitors, we believe that Soma has the potential of being a disruptor across multiple dimensions, both on the traditional classifieds space, as well as marketplaces at large. For example, traditional classifieds players still operate under the same business rules as they have for the last 15 years. They are struggling to embrace new and innovative technologies and despite their massive budgets, they have yet to truly evolve their business models and are pretty much attempting to adapt a “one-size-fits-all” approach across the globe.

11) Where do you see Soma in the next two year?

In two years, Soma will have set its footstep already in various different markets across the globe. With our innovative concept, we predict that soma will disrupt the C2C-markets in a rapid manner. Our goal is that Soma will be the uniting platform for developed and developing world, and one of our brand values is that people will get a fair share of the profits according to their contribution in the products value-chain. We see that already in two years, we can revolutionize the current market and be in a rapid growth stage because of the scalability of our business model.

12) Is there any other important message you would like to pass across to readers?

Well, above all, we would like to deliver one message. If you haven’t already, start reading about blockchain. This technology has so much potential that one thing is sure: it is going to disrupt various different industries in their traditional forms. Regarding Soma, uniting blockchain with already disruptive business model in an industry which is currently ruled by old-fashioned business models, we think that Soma is in a right place at the right time.

For more information, please visit the Soma website on https://soma.co/

See the Soma ICO Offering whitepapers here https://soma.co/documents/

See the Soma Token Sale here https://soma.co/token-sale/

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