Between Two Tokens: Episode 1 — Ahmed Abdullah on Conducting IEOs

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

This is a brand new series where we ask Blockchain thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and specialists about their experiences of working in the Blockchain space.

Our guest today is Ahmed Abdullah, the Founder of Digipharm, a pharmaceutical product built on Blockchain. He talks about his experience with crypto-exchanges while looking for the best fit for his product’s IEO.

The entire transcript has been provided below in case you prefer text over audio.

[00:00:02.200] — Utsav Jaiswal

Hi guys. So today we have Ahmed Abdullah, the founder and CEO of this product called Digipharm that is conducting an initial exchange offering on their own and we would be interviewing him in terms of what he feels is right and what is wrong in the industry and how to conduct an IEO in general. So in our terms these questions answers and these recordings would be helpful for those who are looking to conduct a token sell on their own or maybe are interested in investing in certain tokens on their own.

[00:00:49.340] — Utsav Jaiswal

That being said it’s always important to remember that we need to do our own research. No point go ahead as in any investment advice. So with that I’d like to welcome Ahmed. Hi Ahmed how are you?

[00:01:05.650] — Ahmed Abdullah

Hi how’s it going. Good thank you.

[00:01:08.140] — Utsav Jaiswal

So we have been doing well and thank you for taking the time out for us.

[00:01:13.600] — Utsav Jaiswal

I know that you have a very busy schedule and like you must be flying to a lot of places and meeting a lot of people. So tell us something about yourself and like what your day is like a normal day for you on a typical day.

[00:01:35.150] — Ahmed Abdullah

Well the day is about you know catching up with our team and updates especially in the morning and then you know how we can carry on through our platforms and our implementations and yes that includes you know a lot of travelling and things like that but I always try and remain you know very connected with our team. Yes we’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently we’ve kind of slowed it down a little bit just the last two weeks to really focus on the on the on our token sale and things like this moving a lot of our operations around. I mean we we are a company that works very much in Europe and in Asia as well in the Middle East in particular. So there is a lot of movement to do.

[00:02:33.370] — Utsav Jaiswal

So it’s a huge part of the world. Some would say almost two thirds of the entire world’s population.

[00:02:43.240] — Ahmed Abdullah

Yes I would say I mean especially when the Internet for this type of technology it’s all about creating a global network because we have the ability to do that now that we are not restricted by requiring you know a strong financial footprint in these countries and things like that. And I think that’s what is exciting about blockchain technologies and it makes more sense.

[00:03:15.910] — Utsav Jaiswal

So tell us something about your background. How did you enter the pharmaceutical industry and learned about blockchain and basically what all you have been doing up until this point of time when you decided to conduct an IPO and do things on your own?

[00:03:40.500] — Ahmed Abdullah

Sorry could you repeat the first part.

[00:03:43.130] — Utsav Jaiswal

Yes. So we wanted to know some things about your background and what you have been doing up until this point. How you entered the pharmaceutical and Blockchain industries.

[00:03:55.730] — Ahmed Abdullah

And so I mean obviously what what we’ve been doing as an organization is trying to implement blockchain or pharmaceutical pricing or healthcare pricing in general supporting this shift to payment by performance rather than the existing standard you know fees to service approach to healthcare. So you’re working with the health economists and working in healthcare we could see that everybody wanted to work this way but the technological limitations were very apparent and there was a lot of infrastructural limitations that really slowed down the move to value based healthcare. So that’s when we you know with all of these technologies that could really help to move forward we built our platform we have a working platform for healthcare contracting.

[00:04:55.020] — Ahmed Abdullah

Now the next stage really is to release our token, which we’re releasing from Switzerland, for a utility token offering unique working product and that’s something that we all really want to stand by to release our IEO. But we were always waiting for the right time to release the token for a working product.

[00:05:27.120] — Utsav Jaiswal

Got it. Got it. So, I’m hearing words like value based medicine health care contracting and these are pretty big words for people who probably do not understand the health care industry. But what we’ve been hearing a lot these days, especially in the developed countries that they are moving towards the socialistic principles regarding health care. We saw Obamacare in the USA, in my own home country we’re hearing about something called Modicare and things like that. So where do you see your product and does it compete with them or does it help these existing programs which are government programs like how do you see that and like walk us through the flow of the product.

[00:06:17.830] — Ahmed Abdullah

So the response to the first part of your question when you’re talking about the different types of healthcare systems, here in Switzerland, there was the Swiss digital health conclave where businesses from Switzerland went to India. This was arranged by the consulate in India who are Really looking into how to collaborate and use our solutions. So I think you know there is an opportunity for such solutions to be implemented in India and that’s what we’re currently working towards and discussing with with local partners.

[00:06:57.170] — Ahmed Abdullah

And if I give you just you know to answer the second part of your question and applying it let’s say to the Indian ecosystem, you know, the landscape for health and healthcare payments, what you have there is a predominantly private hospital system.

[00:07:17.420] — Ahmed Abdullah

But you do have, you know, public institutions and governments requiring you to cover these places as individuals that are either of low income or don’t have access to health care you know by their employers’ access.

[00:07:37.780] — Ahmed Abdullah

And we want to say you know the Indian government has a limited budget to try and save millions and millions of people that fit in within this category. So where a solution like Digipharm platform can help is when they are trying to to create or provide or procure services, whether they be the health care services or be health care technologies/medicines or devices where they have a limited budget to play with.

[00:08:08.030] — Ahmed Abdullah

And if they use a fee for service approach for funding this type of healthcare then they will be required to pay for the treatments or these drugs even though they may or may not have provided benefits to the patient whereas if they take a value based health care approach they can organize arrangements and contracts with either the service providers or drug manufacturers to only pay these people or organizations based on the performance of the therapies in real life.

[00:08:40.260] — Ahmed Abdullah

And this actually saves the spending money on therapies that do not work or do not provide value to the population. And that’s the way that they could provide better therapies at the same time save money on these therapies that do not work.

[00:08:55.460] — Ahmed Abdullah

And that’s one of the examples we’re discussing now with the Public Health Foundation of India

[00:09:07.140] — Utsav Jaiswal

So I hear the idea that you’re thinking of conducting an initial exchange offering and there were some mention about an initial coin offering from your end. You must have seen how the ICOs of 2018 fared. often indeed instead. So you must have had some learning with regard, to respect to ICOs of 2018 or even the early part of 2019. So where do you think that they went wrong?

[00:09:34.170] — Ahmed Abdullah

I wouldn’t say that it’s difficult because obviously these are all these projects or fundraising you know exercises were affected by the wider market and things like that. But there was I would say also an oversaturation of the ICO market.Everybody wanted a project. Everybody wants to release a token or everything they.So I think it was a difficult time.It’s also people I think still have to prove crap token economies actually work. I take the view that tokenomics doesn’t really matter. It does matter to some extent but at the end of the day if your token is not going to have functionality there’s no you know long term vision for the token when you know its value isn’t great. It takes about I think you know thinking about what the actual fundamental capabilities of the tokens will be what they are currently as well how you how they can be expanded in the future and then that’s you know that’s what we try and focus on and that’s what we’ve tried to do a lot. We’ve been keeping behind the scenes and waiting for the right time to release you know when our network and token economy and our actual talking on the market is mature enough. So we have some very exciting plans for you know outlook and economy.

[00:11:14.780] — Ahmed Abdullah

So it may be a lot of these organizations struggle to get that across or if is just the way the wider market was perceiving things.

[00:11:25.580] — Utsav Jaiswal

And I would agree with you on these things that ever since these exchange offerings started to become a thing. There has been a distinction between token utility and core token economics. Because what we’ve been seeing is that the focus has shifted unlike for the betterment of the blockchain industry towards token utility right? Because how many tokens you create and how many tokens are kept in reserve, what is the value of the token. Most of it is left to free market principles on the exchanges. I hear that products are offering 15 percent or 20 percent of their tokens on one exchange and then the rest are on some other exchange and so on and so forth. So like what are your views on that.

[00:12:25.440] — Ahmed Abdullah

I would agree that it’s moving more towards the utility side in a way from the core economics. I mean I remember back in the day when I mean I knew people who’d just buy things because they had super nodes and all these other crazy stuff. Yes. But I think I don’t agree that people should have different prices on different exchanges. I mean the way we’ve done it is that we have an IEO on one exchange but we’ve already agreed listing on another exchange. So we’re having an IEO on coineal then our actual listing is on coinall which is you know is an OKex partner exchange and also on coineal and they’ll be trading at the same time. So we’ve done it that way and we’ve made sure that even for both rounds of IEO, not just how many people do that, but I think it is a way that we thought would be a lot more fair for these for these people especially people who hadn’t heard about a token or the sale. It’s a fair price. And when that gets to the market as well that you know it’ll be even for everyone and hopefully or benefit with the development of our network and our platforms in the future.

[00:13:54.670] — Utsav Jaiswal

That makes sense. And speaking of crypto exchanges. So there is a lot of secrecy involved and like what they are who they are owned by and sometimes even questions about their legitimacy are propped up and I’m pretty sure that in your conversations with these exchanges and trying to finalize which one was the best fit for your product — Digipharm. So, what did you learn from these conversations because there are not a lot of articles on the Internet or maybe on Research reports that we heard about the functioning of these exchanges and the only time we hear about them is when something bad happens.

[00:14:43.720] — Ahmed Abdullah

Yeah I mean it’s history it’s been quite interesting there’s been a shift in the way exchanges have been communicating or treating the project that they are listing and it is no longer just taking as many lists as much as many listing fees as possible and making sure they’re getting so many projects on. It’s now turned to a system where a lot of these exchanges are really looking into the quality of your project. They’re looking at it from an investor standpoint and it’s more difficult to get on these larger exchanges because they’re looking at it that way. I think it’s better for the long term health of the exchange ecosystem. I think it’s it’s quite interesting that…

[00:15:44.060]

[00:16:30.750] — Ahmed Abdullah

Did I get cut off after the exchange question ?

[00:16:34.400] — Utsav Jaiswal

Yeah like you were saying something I like I could see the volume bar the move but your mic was muted so I couldn’t get any of it.

[00:16:42.190] — Ahmed Abdullah

Yeah. I was just making the point that exchanges are relooking at projects the way that investors would be looking at its liability, looking at You know, the future rather than looking at generating as much listing as possible.

[00:17:11.000] — Utsav Jaiswal

But you must agree that these listings fees and all of that makes for a very good revenue model for exchanges. And I think that’s why we are seeing so many exchanges crop up in the last six months or so.

[00:17:25.090] — Ahmed Abdullah

Oh yeah I know it does to understand I mean some of the fees we’ve been quoted by some of these exchanges has been astronomical. Clearly. Some of it very difficult to justify.

[00:17:40.410] — Utsav Jaiswal

Yeah that’s the crypto-world.

[00:17:42.980] — Ahmed Abdullah

But that’s the issue at the moment I think. There’s so many new exchanges as well so you don’t really know what’s what. But generally I think. Because there are so many projects applying for these IEOs, they still have to go this this period of vetting and Due diligence which wasn’t happening when ICOs were popping up left front and center. So I think that’s quite interesting.

[00:18:16.870] — Utsav Jaiswal

Can you share some of the details regarding what were the regulatory compliances or maybe due diligences that what I expected from you on the platform where you are conducting your IEO.

[00:18:34.940] — Ahmed Abdullah

So we we have two things. first. One is the regulatory side because we’re running a transit zone that get a working platform. It needed an evaluation of our white paper on our roadmap by the Swiss Financial Market Authority. And then it also needed Some work with the local authorities to obtain some tax rulings because its a utility token offering and we’re also working with cryptocurrencies that in regards to the exchanges very much they want to do a review of your team, the White Paper. Often you have to have some sort of meetings with them, online web meetings, to be honest, with coineal and Okex guys. I mean we went directly to Shanghai for this meeting actually for that. And this is often required because of the scamming that goes on within cryptocurrency and blockchain and social media and things like this. So for that one we were required to visit the HQ which was very interesting and intriguing and develop this business partnership going forward.

[00:19:55.320] — Utsav Jaiswal

Definitely and I guess it’s safer for you too because we have seen like at least these haven’t been proven but there are allegations how QuadrigaCX’s CEO where maybe the founder knew what was going to happen, maybe he withdrew the money earlier, exchanges have been known to get hacked. So yeah, I mean it is a more secure option for you to go visit them, see their facilities and make a decision on more information than just the exchange of e-mails. What do you think?

[00:20:28.810] — Ahmed Abdullah

Yeah no no definite. I think it’s very important especially I mean. What we’re building is a token economy and a healthcare network. We want to run for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years. Long after I’m gone and or anyone on my team. We want to make this such a big thing that it can carry on it when it will be you know a huge healthcare token economy. We hope and for us to do that we need it to work and make sure that we’re working with the right partners. We want you know users of our healthcare applications and Digipharm applications to be able to exchange tokens wherever they are in the world. They potentially have that functionality directly on our applications as well. They’re paid for and rewarded for data even if, let’s say, they’re in a remote part of India. You know, and they want to be rewarded financially for sharing some of their health data. But the key for us to do that without restrictions, without having to open a special bank accounts in those countries and things like that. As long as we have the permission of the patient or who owns this data that we are able to take this data in an anonymous fashion and monetize it and enable them to benefit from that. This is you know the vision we have for the future. So really, I mean because the exchange functionality is so important to this it’s important to have this really strong relationships

[00:22:15.940] — Utsav Jaiswal

Got it. Makes sense. And when we speak about the Digipharm team and the partners. So, is all of your team based in one location or in the true blockchain fashion they are spread all over world ?

[00:22:32.760] — Ahmed Abdullah

Yeah, I mean we’re true believers of decentralization and things like that. I think where we require a few colleagues together, especially in some of the tech work then yes, you do require quite a few people in this in a close location. However, we’re a team that’s a firm believer of using technology towards enabling people to live their lives and be in comfortable environments rather than having to relocate for work and things like that. I mean we look for the best people not the people that are located in the best position. We want the best people in our team. So whether someone is in Dubai and someone is in Turkey and another person is India we would like to take them on and we will find a way to make it work.

[00:23:29.540] — Utsav Jaiswal

That’s interesting. When you speak about partners. So one of these key partners which every token offering had last year was a marketing partner, a blockchain expert, or a PR specialist. So, I believe, with the advent of IEOs their roles have been on a down-trend. What do you think about that? Do you like require the and marketing efforts, Blockchain experts advising you on getting listed on certain exchanges or trying to talk about your project on their secret telegram groups. Are these practices still in vogue? Or do they not help anymore?

[00:24:22.300] — Ahmed Abdullah

I think I think that they can. Marketing always helps to get the name out there and eventually even if these guys do not invest in your IEO long term they’ll still be following you and in the future when they see a good announcement, they could potentially buy your token and invest in you and follow you do whatever they want to use your platform. Something that I think it’s it’s helpful from that point of view. I’d probably imagine that since the recent popularity of IEOs is that a lot of these marketing companies have taken a hit financially. It’s up to them to innovate or lose their position. There must be an area a niche area within IEOs and within the new crypto tokensale economies to gain an advantage. Now I think as with any other walk of life, they need to start to adapt and move forward.

[00:25:22.560] — Utsav Jaiswal

That’s true. And as we approach the conclusion of our podcast. I wanted to get you to answer a few funny questions which we have. So are you like active on LinkedIn?

[00:25:42.320] — Ahmed Abdullah

Very active. To be honest. I would say it’s my favorite Social media channel.

[00:25:49.540] — Utsav Jaiswal

Great. So you tell us how many messages do you get on a daily basis because you are an IEO founder and you are doing this project. So I am pretty sure that you must be getting hundreds of people selling you snake oil and whatnot.

[00:26:06.800] — Ahmed Abdullah

Yeah I mean. A lot. I’d say, on on a quiet day I could get 10 messages quite easily. Whereas quite often after a big announcement you’re looking at more than 20 to 50 messages potentially sometimes. But to be honest I do try and respond or say no thanks I mean LinkedIn has it’s buttons with which we can quick respond sometimes. It’s because if someone’s reached out to you. You know offering me some business collaboration or some service, I’d rather tell them no and so than to worry about you know. It doesn’t take long as well. I don’t really like it when people ignore other people and that’s quite rude. So I do. I do I do use LinkedIn a lot because as a very professional network and ours is a B2B solution. Where do I think it has a problem with is, I would say that their company pages are really really poor. There’s a lot of limitations on the company pages so I think there is an opportunity to someone that leapfrog them on that side of things.

[00:27:32.850] — Utsav Jaiswal

That’s right. That’s right. And my next question would be — which token offering for you is the funniest of all. If you want an example. A couple of years ago there was this ICO called Fit Vitalik whose entire objective of the token offering was to buy a gym membership for Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum and get him in shape. They had their entire roadmap and everything that he will build muscle by this month and so on and so forth.

[00:28:10.530] — Ahmed Abdullah

To be honest, the funny ones to me are all these, let’s say, that the bitcoin forks and things like that. That to me, those to me, I would say are quite funny because some of them were just exact copies and renames, and, to me, whoever just copies and renames or copies and doesn’t rename or similar names is just the Scammer and a copy-cat and there’s no innovation there. But I’ve heard of the funny ones I’ve heard the funny ones too. The reason I would say with these some of these Bitcoin forks are that a lot of money is thrown into them by some people on a lot of people lose money or make money on this. That’s a lot of people. For me, it’s those ones.

[00:29:09.480] — Utsav Jaiswal

Got it. So Dr. Craig Wright would be really happy on hearing your answer. So at the end I would like to ask you how often do you read Hacker Noon, what do you think about it and how we can improve ourselves, if needed?

[00:29:31.950] — Ahmed Abdullah

Yeah I mean Hacker Noon is quite an interesting publication, one that I do often read a lot especially for me if I’m really trying to keep up with the tech stuff and a lot of advancements. I like the fact that it makes you question some of the things you’re doing in your own company.

[00:30:01.540] — Utsav Jaiswal

Definitely.

[00:30:03.360] — Ahmed Abdullah

That’s why you know I really like to read. I like to read. It does have a lot of opinion pieces as a lot of features both, from thought leaders and other companies and things like that so I like to try and stay on top reading, rather than, You know any other any other type of website. I think if I can take what some of the questions I ask myself when I read Hacker Noon and we implement it in our company and improve our services, I think that’s something that worth it and a a big use of your time.

[00:30:46.690] — Utsav Jaiswal

Yeah I mean we try to steer away from the news websites and you try to become an opinion-led site. So yeah I’m like I’m really glad you believe us to be like that as well. So I guess we are at the conclusion of the podcast. Thank you Mr Ahmed Abdullah for being on our podcast and from the entire Hacker Noon family, we have the best wishes for you for the Digipharm tokensale. What are the dates for your tokensale?

[00:31:21.300] — Ahmed Abdullah

So, the second round will be starting on the 18th of June and that means for four days on the coineal exchange and then listing will commence on the 24th of June on coineal and coinall at the same time.

[00:31:39.930] — Utsav Jaiswal

So best of luck for that and you have our best wishes and let us know how it goes. Publishing on Hacker Noon is just a stone’s throw away for you. So anytime you want to publish a piece over here, you are always welcome to do that for us. Thank you very much. Have a nice day. Yeah.

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