Building Ekta — a blockchain for the people

Soleil | July 11, 2022

CEO Berwin Tanco talks about his vision and ambitions for Ekta

We turn up a concrete path from the main road, the humid Bali summer flooding the streets and drenching everyone in its way. Berwin opens a teal door wedged between enthusiastic monsteras and bamboo. “Welcome to Mandela house!” he says as he ushers me into Ekta’s headquarters. A cool breeze breaks through the heat as we step into the open space. To my left, two people are locked in a deep discussion as I catch phrases like “they’re all in on the VCUs” while on my right, a group of three sit huddled around a laptop as the voices of their virtual Ekta coworkers crackle through the screen.

We sit down at a table away from the bustling conversations taking place. So you’re the CEO of Ekta, I ask. He leans back and smiles, “Yes, I’m a co-founder and CEO. There are four of us who got together to start Ekta. All of us come from tech backgrounds or entrepreneurial endeavors. We’re a diverse group of people with one common goal, to play our part in making the world a little bit better.” He tells me that the other co-founders come from all across the globe; Jason Zheng from the US, Yog Shrusti from India, and Alex Shapiro from Australia. “Not only that,” he goes on, “the Ekta team is scattered all over the world. So we truly are decentralized.”

As for Berwin, he tells me that he was born in the Philippines during Marcos’ dictatorship, a time during which the Filipino government was rife with corruption while the rest of the country slowly slipped into chaos and hardship. “But I was lucky,” he says, “I was a really good swimmer and received a scholarship to go to boarding school in America when I was 13. I ended up staying in America until I was 23.”

But talent wasn’t the only thing that helped Berwin win his scholarship. Throughout his entire childhood, he would train five hours every day in preparation for swimming competitions around the world. “I worked hard, yes, but it taught me to be disciplined in my pursuit of success.” He pauses and looks past me as if revisiting an old memory, “We didn’t come from a wealthy family so we always made sure nothing went to waste. And we made sure wealth came from being happy with what you have and from appreciating the little things around us like good weather, family, a yummy home-cooked meal, and family celebrations.”

Getting a scholarship is one thing, but keeping it is another. With Marcos’ continued dictatorship, Berwin was determined to diligently train and maintain high scores. “Because of the dictatorship, I had nothing to look forward to in the Philippines at the time. During my university years, I trained a lot to ensure I kept my scholarship and to not return home.”

This determination led Berwin to San Francisco where, during the dot-com boom, he started a software payment integration company. “It was an interesting time. I was 23 and built a company that helped Asians shop online and make payments on e-commerce websites globally.” The company exceeded expectations allowing him to sell it and move to Ibiza where he pursued his passion for designing and building luxury villas and hotels.

After spending some time in Ibiza he began to itch again for the excitement and energy of a big city again. “I decided to move to China because I wanted to go back to the big city. I lived in Shanghai for almost six years where I started a design and construction company and also developed properties.” Berwin sits back and laughs when I ask him what he learned during his time in China. “I learned a lot during my time there. I learned Chinese, and how to manage a business with over 1000 employees. My former wife and I made so many good friends from all over the world. It was an amazing experience, but I burnt out. I needed to surround myself with nature and rediscover a well-balanced lifestyle, so I moved to Bali.”

“You get to enjoy the ocean, the mountains, healthy living, and meeting people from all over the world. Here, you can work and always feel like you are on vacation.”

He’s always loved living on an island, but Bali in particular is special to the CEO. “It’s a big island and there are so many things to do here” he states with enthusiasm. He loves the island’s cultural diversity and the fact that each region has its unique characteristics. “You get to enjoy the ocean, the mountains, healthy living, and meeting people from all over the world. Here, you can work and always feel like you are on vacation.

And it’s here that you first got involved in blockchain, I ask. “Well,” he says and pauses, thinking back, “it happened during the pandemic, in April 2020, when the world shut down. I was a businessman and property developer, so when the borders shut I had to close the doors to my hotel and put all property development on hold. It was during this time that I met a lot of people in the blockchain industry who decided to stay in Bali. I started reading white paper after white paper, eventually reading about 200. I met with so many interesting and forward-thinking people, exchanging ideas on how to fix the current broken economic systems.”

Eventually, he connected all of the Ekta founders, a group of people who all believe that blockchain holds the answer to changing modern-day socio-economic and environmental challenges, all factors that contributed to the COVID 19 pandemic and global meltdown. And that’s also the significance of the company’s name; Ekta means unity and integrity. “We inspire and aim to achieve profit with purpose by improving people’s lives and helping to restore the natural world. Of course, Ekta has the ideal ecosystem for seasoned crypto investors along with the crypto curious who want to enter the blockchain space for the first time. But through Ekta, we also want to help the millions of people who are not yet plugged into Web3.” He explains that it’s a Layer 1 platform for everyone with a lack of access to capital, businesses that need to make their assets more liquid through tokenization, and organizations that want to help fix the current environmental problems we collectively face.

“Of course, Ekta has the ideal ecosystem for seasoned crypto investors along with the crypto curious who want to enter the blockchain space for the first time. But through Ekta, we also want to help the millions of people who are not yet plugged into Web3.”

I take a minute to digest what he just said. Ekta is an ambitious project and it’s inspiring to hear about this life-altering vision, but how will they do this? I ask the question and without hesitation, Berwin says “There are a wide variety of ways through which we aim to create what we call profit with purpose. Through projects like Ekta Portal, the world’s first endpoint node that rewards operators in crypto, and MetaTrees, a plant-to-earn blockchain game, we’re able to create both new revenue channels and spearhead reforestation initiatives. We’ll also provide people with the 4Cs (capital, connections, channels, and coaching), giving them new knowledge that will ultimately lead to more financial opportunities. Ekta will have the infrastructure to tokenize illiquid assets, power incubation projects, and above all, give all our users a sense of community.

So this isn’t just another get-rich-quick scheme I ask. “Oh, absolutely not” Berwin answers with intense sincerity. “We’re here for the long run. Over the next five to ten years, I believe that Ekta will play a key role in mainstream blockchain adoption. We’ll integrate Ekta’s flagship products, EktaChain mainnet, Ekta Portal, the Ekta NFT Marketplace, our hybrid exchange called HYBEX, and MetaTrees, into one application, creating a seamless user experience. The platform will allow users to participate in the Ekta Ecosystem without even realizing they are on a blockchain platform. We envision it to be like a super APP where users can do everything; book tickets, play games, shop online, learn-and-earn, plant-to-earn, offset their carbon footprint, borrow, lend, trade, etc.”

You’re also in the process of launching Ekta Portal I say. Why should people buy this?

“Well, for one thing, Ekta Portal is the first crypto hardware device of its kind,” he states with certainty and a dash of pride. “It’s super easy to use so even people with no technical knowledge would be able to use it. Plus we aim to keep the project active for at least 10 years. This means that users will be able to earn passive income for the foreseeable future. But the earlier you get in, the more you’ll earn.”

I look at him with a question mark on my face and he shows me the landing page. In large confident letters, it reads “Introducing Ekta Portal, the world’s first endpoint node that rewards its users in crypto. Get started today to earn greater rewards early and gain access to Ekta’s Ecosystem”. The website further explains:

Once the first batch of Ekta Portals is activated, a rewards pool of 10,000 $EKTA tokens is emitted to operators daily, no matter how many operators are connected.

  • Since each day’s reward pool is divided by the number of devices in operation, the earlier you are in owning and operating an Ekta Portal, the greater your daily rewards.
  • For instance, if 100 nodes are operating, then each will receive 100 $EKTA per day; if 1,000 nodes are operating, each receives 10 $EKTA per day.

With so much potential, ambition, and hope, Berwin and his Ekta team are clearly on track to building something, unlike anything the world has ever seen. And there’s so much more to come.

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