Featured on Fundsup: Mavin.org: Content. Integrity. Movement.

Read the Dutch version on Emerce.

Every week we feature a new startup at Fundsup that forces a radical breakthrough. This time we chat with Mark van Rijmenam, founder of Mavin (YES!Delft).

Mavin, what exactly are you doing? 

We are your trusted source for (news) articles, podcasts and videos, recommended by peers instead of algorithms. On Mavin, users can voice their opinion on the content they consume and engage with new content based on their expertise and reputation. The Mavin network blocks bad bots and trolls from participating to ensure a trusted environment where users can find content based on quality, trustworthiness, reputation and expertise. To enable this, we require Mavin users to be fully verified, to make sure that they are not bots. 

We do not display ads and data is owned and controlled by the users. Users can rate content and provide contextual comments, which can be up and downvoted by the crowd. We use AI to prevent bad actors from publishing harmful content. Based on their individual expertise and reputation, ratings will have more or less weight and comments will be more or less visible within the Mavin network. Ratings, comments, reputation and expertise are stored on the blockchain. 

The result is that content from across the globe will be rated by a weighted average of experts, fact-checkers, enthusiasts as well as the wider audience. Any content submitted to the Mavin network will be searchable by anyone using the free Mavin search engine, which allows users to filter content based on quality, trustworthiness, reputation, bias and other parameters. 

We will also offer a mobile application that will enable users to create a personalized newsfeed based on the quality of the content, the reputation and expertise of those rating and commenting content and multiple other parameters. The result is a newsfeed recommended by trusted peers instead of algorithms. Users have full control over their newsfeed.

We expect a small number of Mavin users to actively contribute content which non-participating users can benefit from. We reward these Mavin gatekeepers with Mavin Reputation Tokens which provides influence and monetization opportunities.

On Mavin, users are verified but can remain anonymous if wanted. However, even if they act anonymously on the network, their actions will have consequences. We call this anonymous accountability.

We are addressing one of the biggest issues of our times. (…) Misinformation is becoming a tactical weapon.

Where do you see its main application?

We are aiming to reach two key target audiences. The first is the media critical, concerned content consumers that want to improve the media intake of people by using their expertise to review content and label them in such a way that the larger audience will be able to easily filter their daily news intake. So independent fact-checkers, investigative journalists, industry or topic experts, experienced media consumers, etc. The second group is the larger audience, struggling to deal with the infodemic. Finding it hard to be able to discover true from fake, biased from neutral, fact from fiction. In need of some guidance on what content to consume and what to ignore; a lighthouse in the information overload.

What is the impact of your business?

We are addressing one of the biggest issues of our times. Trust in media is at an all-time low. People are moving to social media for their daily news intake. Misinformation is becoming a tactical weapon and it is so widespread that it is undoable to assess the content you get presented with. So we decided to label the content providers. Not as a centralised force but as a collective of concerned individuals giving their feedback and perception on content which is valued based on individual reputation and relevant expertise. 

Where do you stand right now?

Over the last 16 months, with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Interior and the Dutch Journalism Fund, we have developed our MVP consisting of a browser plugin, rating tool, commenting tool, basic insights dashboards as well as a privacy-based blockchain and data wallet that allows our users to remain in full control of their personal data from their own device. 

We do not collect any personal data in a centralised database but merely validate users credentials in a safe and GDPR compliant way. We have validated our assumptions with hundreds of users and identified our beachhead market. Now we are looking for the funding to move from MVP to live product.

When are you planning to go to the market?

Our aim is to go to market before the end of 2021. For anybody who is interested to be informed when we launch, please leave your email address here. We will only use this email address to notify you when we launch.

What is your business plan?

Out of principle, we will never show advertisements and personal data is not stored centrally but remains on the device of our users. Our users / reviewers are rewarded for their contributions through Reputation Tokens. The search engine is public and free to use for everyone. Our business model is in the personalized news feed and we charge a monthly fee of 2 euros for this. In time, we will also offer our rating tool as an API to news aggregators and publishers and we are also working on a use case in which ecommerce companies can combat fake reviews using our reputation protocol.

Who has invested in you and what kind of investors are you looking for?

So far we have received 100.000 euro in grants from both the Dutch Ministry of Interior and the Dutch Journalism Fund. Next to this we, as founding partners, invested significantly time and money into this project. We are looking for investors who understand that as a society we have a rudimentary trust issue with media and content as a whole. It is a fact that we can’t automatically trust what we read, watch or share. We have developed a long term solution to make sure there is a reliable way to expose misinformation together, but this requires a long-term commitment from a strategic partner/investor to get this off the ground with us. So no hit and run or quick win speculation, but a structural relationship that will eventually provide you with both cash and karma.

What would be the ideal investor match?

We are looking for long term strategic partners who see the issue we are trying to solve. So impact investors, angels, family offices, early-stage investors wanting to support us in solving this huge and universal problem from within, using a movement of knowledgeable and diverse contributors. We are looking for investors who have a long-term approach and a network within the media and content industry. 

Best of luck with everything!

Thanks, check out our pitch deck in the Fundsup app: https://api.fundsup.co/go/oYfPLPEb82