By Paul Edgington, Director of Marketing, Associate.com

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Original illustration by Menderes Mertoglu (edited by Paul Edgington)

It has been a tad under 3-months since I joined the Swiss start-up, Associate.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected aspects related to the change, was the spirited interest and warm encouragement that I have received. I cannot understate how comforting this has been.

Traversing from the world of big corporate to start-up (for the second time in my career) has not been short of tough spots, so my sincere gratitude goes to my colleagues and friends (and indeed my devoted family) who have been there during the process.

If I had to choose what would be the most challenging part of my new job, without hesitation I can tell you it’s been the constant shaping of the multitude of ways in which I explain the project, to anyone.

This is not unfamiliar territory for me. It has been quite like my latter years at PMI, while heavily involved with — and leading — the early development and deployment of the IQOS brand, retail, consumer engagement and digital toolboxes.

Imagine any new product, so obvious in its essence, yet somehow so oddly complex and mysterious.

Now, consider how successful introduction into the market, and adoption by its intended audience, would depend entirely on its story being told countless times per day, across channels, and then slightly adjusted for context, with those first user acquisitions often being made upon the most delicate of nuanced comprehensions.

“The flash” — the moment when the light comes on in someone’s eyes. That is a result of the positive meeting point between the message, the proposition, and the need.

Supply, and demand.

Bridging this simple relationship is as much a craft as it is a science, and I am absolutely thriving upon the delicate complications of being unleashed to bring a new product to the world, find and engage its initial audience, build its first community and realise its inherent value.

As I’m writing this, I want to admit that I am cueing-up the next paragraphs to give it my absolute best shot at introducing you to Associate, and I’ve just counted 43 pages of scribbles, waffle, problem statements and opposing monologues that provide as much tension as they do resolve.

Hello darkness my old friend.

All joking aside, any meaningful creative process is meant to be untidy and painful at times. Its only when you realise that you have already been to the moon and back again, do those rocks in your pockets start to have some meaning.

This image of being on the moon precisely describes where I feel like I spend most of my time nowadays.

As I get to grips with this other-worldly cosmic ecosystem of products, platforms and players that exist in the cyber-realm, above earth, somewhere between the planets of Blockchain and Etherium, there now exists the newest of shining stars, Associate.

Yes, I feel that I am nowadays more of a star-gazing Astronaut, than a Marketer.

Sighting many of the questions I often get, like, “So what is this Associate product”? “Does it work like a SaaS for Associations”? “Are you sure there’s a market for this”? and “Why is decentralisation important”? I smile.

As I wrote in my last article, I truly believe that our relationship with the internet is reaching a moment of evolution, and crucially, this is happening at the same time as our faith in the establishment is perhaps at an all-time low. More on that in another article, perhaps.

All of this combined makes for a perfect storm, and therefore, we need, and we will adopt new products, apps and web-services that enable us to use more of our screen-time to be more responsible, more in-control of what we generate and consume, and assist us with realising new types of worthwhile activities and initiatives.

And if, in the process, these products let us also become less of a slave to data-hungry big tech companies, then that would also be a good thing.

It was only last week that the messaging app Signal had to Tweet about service interruptions because they experienced incredible uptake. In one moment of a single day they acquired approximately 40-million new user signups! And all this sudden success and attention because WhatsApp changed its policies on Data & Privacy.

How about that for a power-to-the-people statement?

I think we can all agree, products that solve problems and put the human experience first, win.

With Associate, we are solving a number of problems which exist both in the offline and online world.

To begin with, the existing frameworks that support the setup and governance of organisations the world over are cumbersome, laden with friction and perhaps unsurprisingly, outdated and not at all adapted for the dynamics of the web.

When we think of the internet, geographic regions and even countries tend to disappear, and we see a single marketplace that is without borders. This implies that there are also intrinsic freedoms and positions of power which exist, even though this is still often misunderstood and under-utilised, at both an individual and collective level.

Therefore, Associate is leveraging progressive technologies, like blockchains, and integrating utilities for finance and administration, to reimagine how people can independently create, maintain, and govern themselves in a decentralised way, totally online, without conventional barriers or borders.

Our concept of Decentralised Associations (DA’s) can be joined by anyone, anywhere in the world, and they are simple and fast to create, in less than 10-minutes. DA’s serve as the vessels which contain members, banded together around projects with distributed decision making, in a bottom-up way, controlled by digital votes that trigger automatic outcomes, which are then applied by the rules of the Associate platform.

When used as intended, Associate also unlocks new possibilities in the areas of legality by using Smart-Contracts. These are built upon our blockchain alternative, to transform organisational structures and its rules into computer-native code.

Radically, DA’s running on Associate, can therefore achieve full liberation from traditional legal intermediaries.

From a practical standpoint, the true value of any solution is in its use, and at this time we are currently a humble alpha product that is searching for its very first users, while building the aircraft as it flies.

If you are still reading, thank you. Drop me a line, or better still, sign-up and create a movement.

If Bernie can do it, so can you.

Paul.

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