Episode 34

Making Extra Cash from the Data That You’re Giving Away for Free [Jeff Bermant]

by | Mar 10, 2021 | Podcast

Every day, big tech companies are collecting YOUR data to turn around and sell to advertisers. And they are making a HUGE profit from this! Today’s guest, Jeff Bermant, is looking to flip the script on this whole idea and start getting you paid for the data that you’re currently giving away fro free.

Nick (00:00): If you've been paying attention to the news around tech recently, you know, that data and privacy has been a big topic of discussion. Every day, we are willingly giving away our data to big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple who are taking that data they collect to make a profit off of you. And the crazy thing is we're giving it all away for free today's guest. Jeff Bermant thinks we shouldn't be just giving away this data, but instead of getting paid for the data that we're giving to these tech companies, that is what led Jeff to start Cocoon. Cocoon App is a mobile application that you install and allow to track your data and location. And in return, you actually receive a portion of the profits. Now, before you turn this off and say you have, right, why would I even think about doing that?

Nick (00:43): Jeff and I get into some pretty good discussions about what happens with that data, where it goes, and how these companies are actually using that data that they're collecting. There's a lot of information in this episode that I think would just be great information for us all to know and learn. Now I was skeptical at first, but as you'll hear Jeff mention in this episode, your data is already being captured in sold on a daily basis. Why shouldn't we get a kickback from that transaction? Now, before we dive into the interview, I have some exciting news to announce. I have officially launched my first online course, the Competitive Keyword Research [Video Course]. And this course will take you through the process of coming up with a solid content strategy that can actually benefit your business and help drive more traffic and sales to your business. If you're interested in learning more about the course, make sure you stick around until the end of the interview where I'll give out some more information. Now, if you haven't already subscribed to the Nine-Five Podcast, head over to iTunes right now and hit that subscribe button, it will take less than 30 seconds to subscribe, and that will make sure you are notified each week when my new episodes and interviews go live. So go do it now. All right, let's get into the interview with Jeff Bermant.

Nick (01:52): This is the Nine-Five Podcast and I'm your host, Nick Nalbach. Where we get into the minds of entrepreneurs and people just like you. So you can start, build and grow your own online business.

Nick (02:10): Okay. Welcome back to the Nine-Five Podcast. I'm your host Nick Nalbach. And this is the podcast where we interview entrepreneurs and business owners to get inside their minds and find out ways that we can help you grow your own business. And today on the podcast, I have Jeff Bermant. Jeff, welcome to the Nine-Five Podcast.

Jeff (02:29): Thanks Nick. I'm happy to be here. This is exciting.

Nick (02:32): Absolutely. I'm excited to have you here today. We are talking all about data and this is interesting to me because it's something that I feel like a lot of people think about, but don't really know a lot about. It is all just kind of up in the air there. So before we get into this whole big topic, why don't you give the listeners a little bit of an idea of who you are and what it is you do?

Jeff (02:55): Great Nick. Thanks for the introduction. So my name is Jeff Bermant, as Nick said. And my background

Jeff (03:00): Is, uh, lived in New York until I was 17. And then recruited out to California, played tennis. I went to USC on a tennis scholarship. Uh, left school, went to work in a real estate company. I worked for a company called, uh, Coldwell Banker. You would now know them as CBRE and they're one of the largest commercial brokerage companies. And I was there for five or six years. If any of you watch Blue Blood, Tom Selleck's dad was my, was my, uh, manager. So I learned a lot about the Sellecks and they're all good looking, never seen a bad looking Selleck. That was a big joke was, Hey, there's no bad looking Sellecks in the world. So from there being an entrepreneur and wanting to be an entrepreneur, I went into forming my own real estate development company. And, uh, I teamed up with a veteran, a guy named Bob Floyd to build a lot of buildings in the San Fernando Valley.

Jeff (03:56): I lived in LA at the time, actually Malibu. And, um, I started learning the trade from him and his deal was, he wouldn't pay me anything, but the first opportunity I found he would give me 40 or 50% interest in the project. And so, um, within probably two or three months, I figured out my first real estate deal. Uh, it's kind of an interesting story because up in Santa Barbara, they didn't have a such thing as warehousing. They didn't need warehousing, but Bob, my partner was convinced he didn't know the market that we needed to build warehousing. That meant one of open Bay. Uh, and then just second floor, second floor. And when he looked at the project I had, he said, well, this doesn't pencil. It's just too expensive for the land. So I had to go out and do my own little survey.

Jeff (04:43): And I got eight companies to tell me that they would take space, that they didn't really have any warehousing. And so then we were able to go forward with the project and Bob still didn't want to fill in those part of that second floor a year after we got the project built, everybody said, I don't want the second floor or the first floor in open space, fill it in because we need more space in the building. So that's part of my background is research and I love to research things. I always tell my team. Now you gotta research things. So, and even my kids and my kids gave me some story the other day. And I went and did the research and I sent them the pictures and they were kind of embarrassed because they were totally wrong, but they didn't do. They just heard from somebody else.

Jeff (05:26): Here's what I should say. And I do research. So that's part of it. So I was, I did the real estate business. We grew one of the largest real estate development companies in Santa Barbara, which is rather small for the rest of the world. But, and I was a big fish in a little pond. And we did really well there. We built office buildings and residential. I didn't really like to rigid. And I thought I would like helping people like that, but it was more annoying than it was anything else. People complained about everything. And, uh, I was fixing everything. I was probably the best developer you ever met because I didn't let one complaint go by without me going, well, let's go fix that. So that's the background. And now, then I decided that let's do some tech. I like the idea of tech and my son, my son said to me, dad, do you know how to turn on your computer?

Jeff (06:12): And I was like, no, I don't. He's like, well, let me show you how this works. So, I mean, I knew a little bit about it, but my son had to kind of teach me about just the fundamentals of how computers work and stuff. It was pretty hilarious. And now I'm a know at all. Well, not really. Um, yes. Yeah. self-proclaimed. Let's put it this way. I'm a legend in my own mind. Right, right. And so, uh, then I decided to get into the software business and maybe I'll let Nick get, cause I'm just rambling on

Nick (06:44): I'm really interested to get into that because it is such a dramatic shift going from real estate to getting help turning on your computer to now, you're like, you know what, I'm just going to start a tech company. So I am really interested in that story. But before we do that, something that I'd like to do with all the guests that I bring on the show is I like to ask them what their super power is. And for those of you listening in by superpower, I mean, what does that one thing that you are just the man, like it could be something that people come to you for when they need help or advice with this thing. Or you just think that you are the man to go to for this one thing. What do you think your super power would be.

Jeff (07:19): Taking a puzzle apart and putting it together back again, not physically, but mentally I'm really good at that. I will have this discussion about, I have my marketing guy got kicked off Facebook and he couldn't figure out how to get kicked out. And in 20 minutes I had figured out how to not get on necessarily, but get somebody to help us. And that's like a little puzzle that he couldn't figure out, but I could figure out in 15 minutes, like, well, what if I did this? Or what if I did that? And I'm really good at that. That's I would say I'm terrible at writing a letter, um, to a certain extent and everything else terrible, but I know how to solve problems.

Nick (08:00): That's awesome. As a, as an entrepreneur, that is, I mean, that's what you gotta be able to do. You gotta be able to solve problems. So it sounds like you fell right into the right calling here.

Jeff (08:09): Yeah. And I love, I love doing this because there's never ending problem solving and never ending. I'm a competitor. I was a tennis player at USC, so I love to compete and I got a big competitor to compete against and I see how well they're doing and we're just starting and I could see how do we compete against them. And so that's really fun. How do we do a better job? How do we make our customers happier? So, so on and so forth,

Nick (08:34): No I love that. That is perfect for entrepreneurship. And I think a good message that everyone can take away from is that you're trying to deliver the best product you can, but it does start from a problem solving standpoint. I mean, that's, I'm sure we're going to get into here talking about your software company. You're solving a need that's out there in the world and you just were able to provide that solution for people that have this problem. So I just think that's, that's perfect.

Jeff (08:58): And I, and by the way, I did this in my real estate career. So it's never ending. I, for instance, um, I put in sports courts and amenities, you know, eating places, fountains, we have a beautiful pond. Um, we have basketball court, we have volleyball courts, uh, and this is way before anybody else did it. And what did it do? It helped me retain customers. So they were my tenants, but that helped me. And so when I've gotten into this, you'll find out as part of the story, I take these pieces and put them back together like, well, how could that experience helped me with this experience? Is there anything to gain out of that?

Nick (09:35): Yeah. That's I was just going to ask you by, by you taking the initiative to go for like the volleyball courts and the tennis courts, what was the idea behind that? And why did it, I guess, help you as you're moving forward?

Jeff (09:47): So in Santa Barbara, one of the biggest problems is cost of housing. And it's hard to recruit people with, uh, the costs because it's rather expensive. And a lot of people have to drive in from Ventura or up North. And so what I did was I said, you know, if these people have to come to work, at least they can enjoy. And this is before you know, the crazy stuff that you put on the walls and you made it fun. This is simply office space. And so I built, I built those just because I thought it was the right thing to do. And it turned out that my customers or my tenants never wanted to leave. They were like, wow, we have a gym, we get free food. We have a tenant appreciation day. We can go play the volleyball. You use a volleyball court or basketball courts. We have a little team league here. And it, I mean, literally I've had tenants in here for 25 years. They won't leave. They're like, no, we're staying here. We like the business.

Nick (10:40): That's awesome.

Jeff (10:41): Yeah. So one of the clues is, and I'm just learning how to retain my customers. And it's a learning experience. No matter what business you're in is how do you retain those customers? Because that's really your secret. If you're, you know, you're dropping out 80% or 90% of your customers in a short period of time, you really won't have a business.

Nick (10:59): Yeah, no, that's exactly it. That's probably one of the biggest things that people struggle with when it comes to starting their own businesses, you might get that initial surge of people coming in, but then they all just kind of disappear. Or I don't know, that could be a bunch of different ways and reasons for that. But I mean, getting them to stay and wanting to stay. I mean, you gotta be producing something of value to bring them there, to keep them there.

Jeff (11:20): And, and one thing though to understand is, is all these, particularly in apps, people, there's so many apps that people get. If you don't get their attention and keep their attention, they'll dismiss you because they have short span of kind of cognizant thinking. And they're like, eh, I don't remember why I downloaded this. I'll just drop it. So now you spent money to get that customer and he's gone so retention and trying to get your customer back. It's been a real learning curve for us. So that's part of the big things.

Nick (11:52): So did that involve like with the real estate, did that involve you going out and talking with these tenants and seeing what's, what's keeping them there? Or how did you know that? Okay. When I focus on building this, I guess, ecosystem around the structure that that's, that's, what's holding people here.

Jeff (12:10): So I knew most of the, most of the representatives or the people that ran the buildings. And I was always, I was a much different landlord than you would expect. I was not one of these hard hitting landlords that said, I got to get everything I possibly can from the tenant. I was like, well, how do we make this into a win-win? And so I came from that standpoint and I literally had people who were in other buildings and this one guy in another building, and he got charged for breaking a window, which he said he didn't break. And he said, how would you handle it? I said, yeah, I just would've fixed it. It's not a big deal. And five years later, he leased 9,000 feet and left the other developer. He, he said, your philosophy, how you treat people is so much better than others. It's not just about money. And the funny part is if you don't focus always on the money and you focus on the customer, what they need, but money will follow.

Nick (13:00): Absolutely. A hundred percent agree. I love that. That is very well said. That's a lot of people get into it thinking money first. And that's when you see, I mean, businesses rise and fall daily. And a lot of it is because of that mindset right there. They, they want the money that comes with the business, but they don't care to engage with their customer and actually provide something that the customer wants. They're trying to get out something that they want. And I completely agree if you, if you provide that upfront, that customer service, that value it's the money's going to come naturally because people are going to want what you have.

Jeff (13:34): Exactly. I think that's perfectly said so true.

Nick (13:39): Now you went from real estate. What was the fascination or what pulled you into tech? Like why that, I don't even know if it's a 180 or if it's just a complete shift from one, like building construction into now you're behind a couple.

Jeff (13:54): Yeah. And I do want to point out, um, you can have a lot of, a lot of bad things happen to you, no matter what business and you've got to learn from them, if you can. And luckily I'm a little different because, you know, I built up a pretty good war chest to get into the software business and a lot of real resources to do that where many people don't. So I feel for those people and they need to do their research before they get into something and really focus on it because it is a resource draining and you can run out of money really quickly.

Nick (14:30): When you say resources, is that what you're talking about? Like capital?

Jeff (14:33): Basically, capital you run out of capital. I'm lucky because it's not, it's not a forever thing or go ask my wife. She'll tell you this capital of spending money on your tech is not forever, but I I've had a luxury that most people in the world never will have. Which is one of my investors, one of the guys that I talked to yesterday, who they're very serious about investing with us, he said, you know, you've built so much stuff. How'd you do that without any money? I said, well, who said, I didn't have money. He kind of laughed. He goes, Oh, so you spent a lot of your own money. I said, yeah, I wanted to do this. And I wanted to do this for the world. And I have a passion for, and I'm one of these guys that loves to persevere. So I just said, screw it. I'm going to do it. And, uh, my wife's not so happy about me, but, um, I think we'll be successful because, you know, we know, we know about our customers. We know how to take care of them. Uh, and I'm passionate about what I do. I love people. So

Nick (15:28): I mean, with that, I don't see how you could lose. You got that passion there.

Jeff (15:33): Oh, I can still lose, but you have to make some mistakes. But yeah. So how I got into this and there was a reason, so my son and I were driving back from, he was going to college in Colorado and we were just making fun of things up. And, you know, we had one of the back in the old days, they told you to make, I guess they still do. Tell you to make a left hand, turn or write an attorney in your car where your navigation. And so I was making things up like, well, bad language. Well, why, why isn't this thing say, Hey, knucklehead turn. Right, right. As I was amused by the whole thing. So I came up with this idea and I ran it past one of my tech guys who, by the way, started Citrix Online. Yeah. And he said, well, I don't know if that's going to work, but go see this guy over here.

Jeff (16:22): Maybe you can make something. So I saw, I went to see this guy who was a well-known software developer. And he kind of looked at me, did a little research and said, I don't know if that's going to work. He said, what else? And I said, Oh, all the interference in my browser. So I get messages from, from advertisers, I get viruses. And I said, someone's got to do something about that. And he goes, Oh, well, there's a good idea. So the first thing we built was very difficult. I never built a, was an encrypted browser. And we named it Cocoon. My partner thought what a great name I thought. Yeah. That's a good thing. And um, I learned some very important business things out of that. I didn't think before I leaped like, well, how are we going to make money? I just all let's do this such a great idea.

Jeff (17:09): But I left out the most important thing. Well, if you want something to survive, then you got to make money with it. So we built this incredible browser and the best description is fully encrypted. You can use it today, although it needs some updating, um, you can't even see when you log out, there's nothing on your screen ever because we store everything in a cloud. And what's great about that is somebody from the outside can send you a message. Like they're an advertiser, but they can't see who they just sent it to. So it gives you this anonymous thing. And in today's world, that might be very helpful for people that want to get off the grid, so to speak, but still want access to the internet, but don't want everybody know who they are.

Nick (17:53): Right. So now like with Facebook and Google, and they're able to target specific people that kind of just blocks that out. So then they can't do that anymore

Jeff (18:02): Right now. If you're on a Twitter account, I mean, once you go into one of these accounts, we can't help you. But if you wanted to go read stuff or you wanted to go check something out, you know, Google's watching, you, we'll get into this in a minute. Google is watching everything you do Firefox is too, but they're a little more private iOS, same thing. And even though they're in the privacies, they're still watching it. Right? So it's kind of bizarre how they're like, Oh, nobody else can watch you, but we can. So I built a browser and I, as I said, I forgot about how to monetize it. And I struggled for five or six years, not letting my dream go. Spending tons of money, which probably foolish. But just about when I was about to shut the whole thing down, I was talking to my son.

Jeff (18:46): He said, you know, dad, now, you know a lot about browsing. You built your own browser. And I didn't physically built it. I'm not the software guy, but knew what I was doing. And he said, what about people's data? Well, what about that? My son is TJ. What about that? He says, well, dad, everybody's just giving it away for free. And, you know how to build browsers, why don't you do something there? Well, that's a nifty idea? What would that take? And so then I did some research to try to figure it out. Finally came up with a plan to build not only a browser, but then to build some location and pay people for their data. I mean like you guys are just giving it all away to Google and Facebook and you're not getting paid for. They're making literally they're making billions and billions of dollars on all of us.

Jeff (19:36): And I see no purpose. I don't see a reason why we shouldn't get in, in that we being the customer, I'm talking about your customer. We shouldn't get a piece of that pie. And so I started this whole idea. Here's a company that's bigger than me. They kind of got into it. We have different business models. Mine is more of the freedom model than theirs is. There's more of a, Hey, I'll pay you a couple bucks for this information. And I'm like, well, you get paid a lot more money. If you use my app, right there is just like, well, you just get paid this money. If you use our app is two bucks. I don't really like that model. I like, I have customers and make as much as a hundred dollars a month, on their data. Yeah. Now I wouldn't tell everybody they could do that.

Jeff (20:19): You have to be on your computer or your location all the time. But it's, I mean, the location is really simple. You turn on the app, you download the app, it's, it's on Android right now. You start going places. And all of a sudden, you see pennies starting to drip into your account. Those turn into dollars. And depending how far you drive, I mean, a truck driver can make 15 to $20 office a month. That's two or $300 a year that they just found and they didn't do anything. All you do is sign up and your PayPal account in and you get paid cash.

Nick (20:50): I guess one of the, one of the big concerns I can see with that is what happens to the data. So you're collecting it, you're paying me for the data, but then where does that data go?

Jeff (21:01): It basically, it goes to the same place. It's been going. Into an advertiser's hands, a hedge fund, maybe a brand and that data, but just like what's going on today, which is theres. They're following you around the web. You don't probably know it. You don't probably recognize it, but that's what's happening to you. And that data's is being sold. And guess who's not in the circle of money? You are. And to me, it's like, well, yes, you can go to total privacy, go use my other browser. And you're going to be totally private. No one will know anything that you do. Or you can say, Oh, I don't care. Let Google have all the information or Facebook. I don't care about that. And when you get into those gardens, like here's a perfect example. You've heard of Duck Duck Go. It's a search engine. So Duck Duck Go is private and how they make money, which I had the idea before they did, which was to do affiliate shopping.

Jeff (21:50): So they, they, how they make money is you go somewhere, you'll see an ad below them. And if you click on that ad, it takes them. It takes you to affiliate, shopping, do some affiliate shopping and they get paid. But what most people, so most people think, Oh, it's a private search engine. Well they got to make money. Number one, but they don't disclose your information. But as soon as you use your browser, which is usually Firefox is better. But as soon as you knew it, everybody knows where you went because the search engine is just the search. And when you click on the browser, you went there. So now everybody knows where you went. And I say, advertisers, hedge fund, all that data's being sold. You're not in the picture. So I decided, well, if your data's being sold, the only way you can really defeat that is maybe with a deep VPN. And that's $120, $130 a year or a hundred a year to get one of those. And it's like, how I look at the world is not everything has to be private, but you could go use our private browser when you want to. And eventually I'll merged them together. So you can have the total privacy that you want, or you can, you can not sell your data, but then it just goes to Google or you can sell your data and get a profit.

Nick (23:01): That's really interesting because, I mean, when you think about it, when you download an app, a lot of times it'll ask you for permissions to access certain portions of your phone. One of the big ones is location. And now I think just recently, the last year or two, I started seeing the option where it's like only while using the app. And I don't think that was an option all the time. So that leads me to believe that when you downloaded that app and you said, yep, turn it on there. They're doing exactly what you're trying to pay people for turn on that location. And now we're going to track everything you do. And like you said, turn around and sell it.

Jeff (23:35): That's really interesting. There, there are companies let's take, I know this for a fact, uh, Shazam. Shazam, you think you're getting it for free. You're not getting it for free. They're following you. Location thing. They had that you turn on, it's telling them everywhere you're going and they're going to sell that data. And so my position is fine, but you should get, you can turn our app on and you, at least you'll be followed around, but at least you get paid for you're being followed around. Now in front of big money to start. But over time, the more the way I look at it, it's not just who pay me the highest price. It's multiple buyers for that data. That's how I make you guys a lot of money. And we, we share it. So the way we do it is it's a 70 to the customer, 70% to the customer, 30% to us. And maybe as you get, as we haven't developed this, yet, if you stay longer, maybe it's 75%, 80%. And I think you deserves it. I think it's crazy giving away all this data for free.

Nick (24:33): That was a crazy, that is a crazy concept. I guess. It's not even crazy. It's I feel like how it should be. Hearing how you're talking about it. I mean, yeah. We're giving them all this information. I guess I could see another concern with that being so we know that the information is being sold, but we, we don't, we have no idea of knowing who it's being sold to. And I guess that's, I could see someone who is getting into, like, let's say they come to your app and they know that they're willingly giving up their information. This is where it kind of, I think the, the lines are kind of blurred. If I know I'm giving you my information, I'm going to want to know where it's going. On the flip side of that. You're unknowingly giving your information to Google and Facebook and all these places and have no idea where it's going. So how, how have you been able to kind of combat that? Because I feel like if I say, I'm going to give you my information, I'm going to be like, okay, well, what do you, where's it going? Has that been a concern?

Jeff (25:24): Yeah, no, that's a good concern. I think luckily we're following the California law. So because we're in California, but I think it's a good law anyway. So you have to, you have to now tell your customer and you can look on our TOS and our terms of service. And you'll see we're selling it to a company called Complementics. If you go to Complementics' website, you'll see who they're selling it to. So no one's keeping it a secret from you and you might go, Oh my God, uh, I don't want to sell to that. I don't like that. Those people, while you can just turn off our app and not, not sell it, that's fine with us. And go back to just giving it away to Google and Google we'll sell it to those actually it's just to be technical, Google doesn't sell data. They just give it to advertisers and advertisers sell to you. But it's kind of the same thing. I mean, whether they sell it or they're so big, they give it to someone and then somebody advertises to you. I'm not seeing a big difference.

Nick (26:18): Yeah. Well, with Google, it's like, you're giving, they're giving the data for advertisers to then pump money back into their system. So they're not getting in the front end, but they got you on the backend.

Jeff (26:29): Exactly. And so to me, it's just to me and I love the privacy part, listen, but I built, I think one of the best private browsers in the world. And so I love the idea that you want to be private. You can be private and you don't with us. I'm not anybody to pay for it. I may have to, if I can't figure another way to monetize it, or I might just leave it as, you know, if, if our selling data works out so well, maybe it's just, a gimme. Maybe it's just something I love so that you can have, you want to be totally private. You could use that if you, if you want to share stuff or get paid for your data, that's an easy thing to do. I'm just making it so that the consumer really doesn't have to do anything. Like we have a web browser.

Jeff (27:12): I had to turn the web browser off this week because of the party that said he was going to buy our data, decided they don't want to buy her day or even they broke the contract. Oh yeah, it's terrible. And so I have all these users that thought they're making money, uh, on their web browsing and I'm going to pay them. I'm going to pay them every penny that they think they're going to get. But now I have to turn it off until I could find a new buyer. Luckily I talked to a company today who I think I could get a partnership with and they would buy the data and they think much better than these people I'm working with now. Or I never know exactly what this guy is going to do. And that's one of the problems is people buying your data. It's kind of like a commodity. You know, sometimes they want to pay you this much. Other times they don't want to pay that much. And you never know really what's going on with that.

Nick (27:58): Now, what, what is the app actually called? I don't think we, we touched on the app name.

Jeff (28:02): Uh it's. It's called Cocoon, C O C O O N. My data rewards or MDR. And if you do a search for it, if you put in Cocoon MDR, it will come up. If you just put cocoon in and we'll take you to the cocoon MDR for now, I have shut down until I can rebuild the Cocoon private search engine or search search browser, that search browser browser. Um, it's not really available. You'd have to do a real hunt to get it, but we might bring it back in the next couple of months.

Nick (28:34): Okay. Interesting. And that you said that is only on Android right now. Yes.

Jeff (28:38): We're, we're raising money. Anybody who likes to be an investor in this, we do have crowdfunding. Although I have some pretty big investors right now who I'm sending the term sheet out. They were like, Holy smokes. Why didn't we think of this? I mean, it's, it's right under our noses. Like, well, wait, where's all this money flowing. Oh, it's flowing to those guys. Well, this is our way we can divert the river a little, at least a little bit to you guys. It's like, well, that's my job to do.

Nick (29:04): That's interesting. I'm curious. How did you, how did you actually start getting the word out about this? Because I feel like it's, I haven't seen anything like it. You said there would, might've been one other company that's doing it, but I have not heard of this type of business model. So I'm interested in how you were able to kind of build awareness and make this known to people.

Jeff (29:24): So we're advertising, but let's take my competitor or at least their claims are bigger than ours because they're paying you a set amount of money. And they're eight months ahead of us. They've accumulated, they say 10 and a half million users in eight months. So they're not advertising in the United States. I know they're advertising, they're a Canadian company and they're advertising in four or five other countries. And they're doing, as I said, 800,000 people a week. That's 3.2 million people a month that are, so that could be 40 million people at the end of the year, they're running a big negative debt deficit. So I don't know how they're going to work their way through that, but that's not unusual. I mean, Uber look at Uber, they haven't made a penny yet. They're still negative. But my point was, this other company is doing it differently. And they're having huge success, not in the United States.

Jeff (30:15): I don't know when they're, when they're going to come here, but we're the alternative. You're only going to make $2 or $3 from them above us. You turn us on, you use us, you can make a lot more money than that. I'm kind of, you know, your hats is freedom. I'm, I'm that kind of guy where I want you to have the freedom to be zero. And in fact, we'll give you at least 25 cents, but the goal is to get you to use it. And it's either web browsing, which it doesn't work right now. Or you're just using geolocation, which is a no brainer. I get in my car. I drive around. I never turn off it. It does drain your battery some. So you've got to keep your battery charged, but you know, I make, I make $3 or $4 a month. A truck driver, Uber driver might make seven, $8 a month. And a truck driver would make $15 a month. That will be more as we go

Nick (31:03): Connect to like a PayPal account or like a cash app or how exactly. Yeah.

Jeff (31:07): Yeah. We, we connect to the PayPal account at this point. And the other thing I'm going to be, uh, uh, auditioning shortly is, um, we, we built a map into our app. We'll actually be showing you discounts as well. So I believe that to make this really wholesome, great app is to not only pay people for their data, but then show them opportunities, to save money. So now you get the best of both worlds. I'm saving money and collecting money. Maybe we'll put you in a bank account or something, and you could collect the money and get interest, or you can take it. We can do a partnership with Robin hood and you can go invest in that. And that's pretty money. I mean, it didn't cost you a penny to get that money. If you turned it into an investment, maybe it works out to thousands of dollars instead of, you know, 15 bucks.

Jeff (31:50): So there's a ways that we want to help people. And I come from the standpoint, like it's going to where I've made some good money. So it's not all about me. It's about, I feel it's about like giving back to the community. We need to make money, but it's about giving back to everybody. Who's been, I'll say kind of rooked by the big companies. And then I find creative ways through affiliate shopping, for instance, that we can show you not necessarily go. I'm not one of these guys that, Oh, we go spend your money. The money you've earned with me. I don't care if you just take it out of PayPal. And I don't care if you spend it on us or not, but I'll just show you some more discounts so you can save more money and then you can pile that money up and then you can put it into a savings account or you can do something.

Nick (32:33): It's all, it's super interesting to me. I guess I have, I've not seen anything like this out there.

Jeff (32:40): The investors I talked to yesterday was the first VC group. They were awed by it. They were like, wow, that's kind of amazing. And they were like, where's your term sheet? And why haven't you? Haven't raised a bunch of money. And I said, because we're not ready. I don't want to put something out where people are investing and we have all these glitches still, and it's not doing what it's supposed to do. So I'm, I'm that kind of guy, which is, I'll spend my more, my own money before I'll ask you to put money in until I'm pretty sure I have something. And that's, by the way, millions of dollars that I've put in myself that I didn't ask anybody to put in. Wow.

Nick (33:14): Yeah. That that's so crazy. Is does the everything that's going on in the media and in the world right now around like Facebook obviously has been getting tons of news coverage because they've been in and out of court for so long about data. And it's kind of turned into this big thing worldwide. Does that, does that raise any concerns for you?

Jeff (33:33): No, I'm, I'm actually happy that they're forcing these companies to disclose what they're doing with the data. I think that's a good thing that both Android and iOS, Apple is doing. They're forcing you to tell your customers, your data is not private. You want to make it private, do not click on this. And so the advertisers won't get it. And I think that's admirable than to do that. My thing is though, is somebody's getting that data. Then it's Google getting the data. Because when you do your first search, they know everywhere you're calling and you do your first browsing data everywhere you go. They also know where you're going in your car. So the Google app map knows chosen everywhere. You're going. So they're still profiting. They may not let the, so when I say it's admirable in a way it might be selfish of them because they're kind of saying, well, you tell your customers and maybe your customers say, no, I don't want to do that. But still iOS or Android is collecting all that data. So who's the winner there. So maybe it's not even, it may be even be more self-interest than it is anything else.

Nick (34:40): So it's, it's really fascinating because it's, it's so different. And that's, I, I think it's such an interesting idea because it is something that we all kind of take for granted because we're just using our phones and don't really think about the data that's going out there. But yeah, now that you say that it's like, if you're, if it's going to be used, I should get paid for it.

Jeff (34:57): Yeah. Well, the thing is, remember, I want to have the beginning of this for all the entrepreneurs, you have to be creative. So you have to look at a puzzle. I do this, I must have a hundred ideas that I could run with a day that I go, well, that's just stupid. Why don't we, why don't we do this a different way? Which does something for somebody and you get to a point you're going well, I can't do all these things. I have to focus in on what I wrote my real passion is, but I just want to encourage entrepreneurs out there to grab onto those dreams. Do your research, please do your research. I don't want to see you spend the kind of money I spent on something where I didn't notice that the VPNs passed me right by. And so that was one of the issues that we had with our secure browser.

Jeff (35:39): All of a sudden, the VPN's sure you're paying money, but what happened was all the corporations said, well, we want you on VPN. And then people bought VPNs as company, and then the individuals started buying them. So I got run over by that. So you gotta look, you gotta look a few steps ahead of you looking at your competitors. Like, I didn't realize that Keeley was so big. I mean, they were just 10 million people. We got 5,000. I mean, it's just, it's a joke, but they're ahead of us, but it doesn't mean their business model is better than mine. So you have to study other people's business model and go, well, I see, I see what they're doing. They're doing the old model, which is pilot as many people as we can. And we'll just be like Uber. And it won't matter if we make a profit or not, you know, where we'll be worth $20 billion.

Jeff (36:26): I'm a little more of the focus guy that says let's get a plan that actually can make money. And then we can choose, well, maybe we don't want to make money right now because I've done all the experiments to figure out how you do that. And the other is trial by error. So entrepreneurs need to try something and then figure out and most important is to figure out how to retain those customers. We're finding 80% of our customers are leaving. Now. That's not unusual in the app world to have an 80% loss, but it's sure not helping your bottom line. So we're taking steps to make sure those people hang around or we try and get them bang around and look, they can, they're just going to make money with us. It's really a pretty simple app. And, but we're trying to add things to it.

Jeff (37:10): So it makes a different, more of a difference in their lives and just making a few dollars. Right? And that, that would be my goal. I mean, if I can pay everybody a thousand dollars a month, figure that out, I would, right? So entrepreneurs need to just focus in what they want to do. Do the research, do not let that out. Don't miss that. And don't miss the flavor of the day. Although I can tell you like the flavor of the day, if you're going to hit on something, hit on all those people that no longer want to use Facebook, Twitter, all leaving the poor pillow guy. He got booted yesterday from Twitter, while he's going to go somewhere eventually. And what the other group is thinking was, wow, well, this turns out to be an opportunity. The guy at me, we all of a sudden, he's got $18 million because all these people ran over to him because they didn't like what's going on over there. So keep your eyes open as well.

Nick (38:03): I really liked that. Everything you just said there trial by error research, focus on retaining company customers. I mean, that's the winning formula right there.

Jeff (38:14): No doubt. I love your customers. You know, the thing that bothers me the most is I got somebody who handles Facebook. Now I don't have time to handle Facebook, but I love to interact with my customers. They're always blown away when I said, well, I'm the CEO. And if you're having a bad experience, I want to talk to you personally. And they're always blown away by that. Like, you really have time for me. And of course I did. You're my customer. Am I maybe when I have 10 million people and they're all griping and me at the same time, maybe physically impossible, but that's just the way I am. You can call my office and talk to me and I'm happy to talk

Nick (38:47): That that is why you have customer retention. You're providing that customer service that no one else is focusing on that. I think personally in my experience, customer service has been severely underrated across the board. It's easily the quickest thing to get overlooked.

Jeff (39:04): Yeah. I mean, look at the, my, my perfect example was Facebook. We didn't do anything wrong on Facebook, except we have a glitch in our, uh, in our app. And we're trying to get that fixed as fast as we can. We send out notices to everybody, but my bet is somebody complained to Facebook and without even talking to us, they basically shut us down. And there's no one to talk to at Facebook. I mean, they don't have a representative. You're too little. We don't have a representative to you. So when I have to do, I had to hire somebody because you have to find your way around these problems. I've had to find somebody who has a connection with them, tell them my problem and let them go figure it, see if they figure it out. And then my job is to give him loyalty. Cause he went and did me a favor. Now I should be loyal to him. And I usually am, unless then you're going to be a jerk to me or something, but then you've earned my loyalty.

Nick (39:54): All right, Jeff. So we got to get this thing wrapped up here a little bit. Is there any other advice or final tips or something that you want to leave the audience for anybody who is getting into entrepreneurship or thinks they want to start their own business? You've already given a lot of great advice and tips here, but is there anything else left that you wanted to kind of part with?

Jeff (40:15): Sure. I've seen a lot of people have made a lot of money kind of going against the grain survey says, no, no, no, you can't do that. You can't do that. You can't do. I can't tell you tell him they couldn't do it. So when you see an opportunity, you got to do the research, but that may be a great opportunity because no one else was looking at it. And all these guys like look at Apple, look at all these companies, no one thought of these things. So if you can think of something, that's unusual, do your research on it and make sure nobody else is doing it. Make sure it's going to make you some money because you can't, you don't make money. You're out of business. Uh, and then, then you have to persevere. You have to, you have to be passionate about it, persevere focused and, and, and know when you have to walk away.

Jeff (40:55): That's the one thing I think I haven't done very well, but there are times where you say, no, this is not working at all. Now my luck I've pivoted a couple of times and guess what? Those pivots. Now I have something in the background that I can apply to the product that I have today. So not all that money and that time wasted. So also look at pivots because it was not working. You might just like me. I went from browsing to paying people for their data, same space, privacy, to kind of not privacy. And now it's going to pay off for a lot of my customers. So that's the, I guess the last piece of advice I can get, don't be afraid to pivot.

Nick (41:34): I love that. That is something we haven't really talked about a lot on this podcast. So I really appreciate you bringing that up. Either being willing to, I guess I can't remember how well I've heard a lot of people put it, but no one to, yeah, like you said, no one to drop it. And then also no one to kind of take that pivot, make a turn, kind of take it, your business in a new direction. I love that. So Jeff, where can people find you online? Uh, maybe find your app. We talked about Cocoon MDR, is that correct? MDR.

Jeff (42:05): So our website, our official website, you can find it in the, if you have an Android, you can find it in the Android store. It's under Cocoon MDR, easy to find. We're the first type in Cocoon MDR you'll find us. Or you can go to our website, which is try Trycocoon.com. And you'll find all the information about what we do and what your opportunity is with us. And we appreciate any customers. We'll do our best to be good to you. That's our job. And, uh, you can always find my name somewhere and call me up. Don't be afraid to do that.

Nick (42:39): Perfect. Well, Jeff, I want to thank you for coming on the show. This has been a very insightful and interesting interview. So I just, I want to thank you for coming on the show, man.

Jeff (42:49): Thank you for, for the, just the opportunity to talk to you and to talk to your audience. That's been a real pleasure to hopefully get to know you better. Uh, it's it's a real opportunity, fun and interesting to be able to talk to people about what you're doing and how they can get involved in something they want to do.

Nick (43:07): Absolutely. I love it. Well, we will definitely have to stay in touch here, but I just want to thanks again for coming on and I hope you take care, man.

Jeff (43:15): Thanks again. Take care.

Nick (43:17): That is it for the interview. I personally found those all very fascinating because Jeff is exactly right. We're just giving away all this data and it's making other companies and advertisers a ton of money and we don't get anything back. So why not take a little bit back for ourselves, whether you plan to use the Cocoon app or not. I think this was still a good interview to get you thinking about the data and how it is collected and use, especially if you're frequently online, which a lot of us are. Now, if you remember back at the beginning of the episode, I mentioned the new course that I created, and I just wanted to take a quick minute to tell you about that course.

Nick (43:51): So like I mentioned, it's called the Competitive Keyword Research course, and it is 10 lessons walking you through the steps to understand keyword research, what to pay attention to, how to better understand why you should target specific keywords and how to actually perform better keyword research that will help you rank higher, drive more traffic, and increase your sales. In that course, we cover one of my favorite keyword research strategies, which involves looking at our competitors, see what the ranking for, and uncover new opportunities for content that can allow us to potentially outrank our competitors and steal their traffic. Now, this course is not one of the things where you pay and then you never hear back from me again. As you work through it, I want to be a resource to help answer any questions that you have along the way. So if you do sign up for the course, you will have access to me and I can help you along through that process.

Nick (44:40): Additionally, if you purchase Competitive Keyword Research and you want to become an affiliate for it, I am offering 55% commission for any of the listeners of the Nine-Five Podcast to want to become an affiliate. So what that means, if you sell three courses, you've already more than paid for the course for yourself. Now, having said that I'm not going to make anyone an affiliate for the course. If you have not already purchased it and I've been through it yourself, I don't think you should become an affiliate for anything you can't personally vouch for. So you will have to become a student of the course before you can get into the affiliate program. If you want to gain access to the course or check out any of the show notes, links discussed, the transcripts for the episode, et cetera, et cetera, make sure you visit the show notes for this episode in the show notes can be found at ninefivepodcasts.com/episode34. And just remember nine five is all spelled out. That's N I N E F I V E podcast.com forward slash episode 3 4. That is the number three and the number four next week. We'll be talking with Jordan Mendoza, who just recently in by recently, I mean, only a few weeks ago escaped his nine to five and is now working for himself full time. So we'll be getting into his story and how he's using LinkedIn to close more clients and get more sales for his own business. Until then have a great rest of your week, stay safe, and I will catch up with you guys in next week's episode.

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Hosts & Guests

Host – Nick Nalbach

Guest – Jeff Bermant

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Show Notes

Data is something that we’ve been hearing so much about recently.

This topic has been all over the news in regards to how companies are collecting your data and what they are doing with it once it is collected.

At the moment, these big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple are gathering data on all of us online to turn around and sell this information to advertisers.


But what do we see out of that profit?

Absolutely nothing!


That is where Jeff Bermant is hoping to change things up a bit. Jeff’s new app, Cocoon MDR, aims to put some of that money back into your pocket.


How Does Cocoon MDR Work?


Throughout the episode, you’ll hear Jeff and I talk about how your data is collected, and more importantly, what happens to that data after it’s been collected.

With Cocoon MDR (currently availabe in the Google Play Store), you simply sign up for the app and turn on your location. This works the same with way with any other app that you currently have on your phone.


After you turn it on, Cocoon will start collecting your data based on where you go.

Where Cocoon differs from any other app on your phone is that Cocoon will actually pay you for the data it collects.

Any other app on your phone will collect the data and just turn around and sell that data. With Cocoon, you actually get a piece of the pie!


Where Does My Data Go Once It’s Collected?


This is a valid concern and Jeff is very honest about this topic.

As you’ll hear Jeff mention in this episode, your data goes to many of the same places and companies it always goes.

Jeff mentions a company, Complementics, which is who Cocoon is currently working with.

Now, rather than Cocoon taking the money and keeping it for themselves, Cocoon will actually deposit money into your account.

The amount of money you earn depends on the amount of data collected (primarily based off how much you travel which makes it a great opportunity for frequent travelers and drivers)


New Opportunities with Data


Since this has been a big discussion in recent months, I’m really curious to see where this topic of data and privacy goes.

People like Jeff are doing some amazing things around the topic and I love how he’s trying to find new ways to get more people involved (and benefitting) from the information we are willingly giving away to big tech companies.


I’d love to know what your thoughts are on the episode and topic!

Don’t forget to jump in the comments and answer the question listed below.

Thank You!

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Nine-Five Podcast. Thank you so much for listening!


What are you thoughts on data? Do you think we should be getting paid for the data that big tech companies are collecting from us?

Leave a comment below and let me know how!



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"The value you provide to others directly correlates to your success. The more value you provide, the more successful you become. Focus on the value!"

- Nick Nalbach

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I am an entrepreneur and adventure enthusiast, looking to break free from the Nine-Five grind. I'll show you what has worked and is currently working for me, as well as what hasn't worked so well.

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