Recently, Hacken had an insightful interview with Joma Ortiz Perez, founder of BiggerMINDS.
Taras (Hacken Representative): Joma, could you please tell me about yourself in a few words? How did you start in Web3?
Joma: My name is Jomael, but I go by Joma. I started on Web3 in 2017. It was during the Bitcoin rally when it went from nothing to 18,000. That’s how I began to know crypto. It was through the Coinbase platform. It was very new. There were less than ten coins at that time. Since then, I’ve started to read and learn about it, and that’s how I fell in love with it. I love the instant transactions and the transparency on the blockchain. Nothing gets lost. You know where everything’s going. I was just an average user, a regular investor, and that’s how it started.
On my side, I’m 28, I have a wife, and I have two kids. In addition, I am a full-time military. But other than that, I’m also an entrepreneur. I do real estate investing, and I have BiggerMINDS. I am also studying to get a Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity.
Taras: Is there any conflict between your service in the army and your entrepreneurship?
Joma: Sometimes, the military can be demanding, but I always find time for my business. It’s all about commitment and how much you want this to succeed. As long as you stay committed and consistent, anything is possible. Also, surrounding yourself with people who can get the job done helps. If you try to do everything by yourself, you’re not going to make it. At every big company, in the traditional world or even in the crypto world, you have a team that can execute for you. You have to trust them. If not, your company is going to fail.
Taras: Let’s discuss BiggerMINDS. How did you come up with the idea?
Joma: I started writing ideas back in June 2021. I was thinking, “What if they implemented blockchain to do the real estate certificates?” Because back home in Puerto Rico, I owned properties. Every time there’s a renewal process, it’s a lot of paperwork. “What if they replace paperwork with NFTs? It would be transparent and easy to renew” Funny enough; I tell my friends that they need to think bigger, to be bigger minds; I paused and decided that BiggerMINDS would be the company’s name. That’s how we came up with the name “bigger minds.” Next, I registered the company and made an LLC in Wyoming, USA. Then I gathered a team to start building.
Also, I started BiggerMINDS because there are too many websites on Web3, each doing only one task. If I want cybersecurity services, I go to Hacken. If I want to take a loan, I go someplace else. If I want to do staking, I go to another website. Before you know it, you have 20 tabs open in your browser. Your wallet is just full of tokens. It becomes too difficult to track; how can we make that simpler? How can we make it more condensed? The answer is just to make it one. That’s why I created BiggerMINDS, our token MIND+, as an all-around utility token.
We’re doing one website, one token for all products. Once you go to the website, you’ll never leave. That’s the vision of BiggerMINDS: having one website, one token, and all of those products under one umbrella.
Taras: What do you think about Web3 in general, and what is the role of BiggerMINDS?
Joma: In Web3, we’re always talking about innovation, an overrated word. We talk about innovation, innovation, and innovation. Of course, innovation is good. But I think the innovation side of Web3 was layer1’s right, the blockchain. Now, we start building on top of it. There is no need to innovate anymore because the innovation has already happened. The only thing we need to do now is to implement what we know on the traditional side and just bring it over to the blockchain side.
It is not innovative, but it’s simple.Joma Perez, Founder of BiggerMINDS
Many people get caught up in the “Oh, we need to innovate” cycle. I see that word a lot. It’s not innovation if you need 20 different tabs for one thing. We’re not doing anything innovative. We have a token, and we have NFTs. We’re going to have an NFT marketplace and a lot more. It is not innovative, but it’s simple. I think a lot of people underestimate the power of simplicity. I think that’s the true power of an ecosystem. Just think about Hacken. They do cybersecurity services, and under those services, they have many categories they take care of. I know I need something done related to cybersecurity; I just go to Hacken. They have everything that I need for security. It’s one pleasant ecosystem. It’s not innovative. But they brought it to the blockchain.
I think many people get caught up in always needing to do something that stands out. Sometimes you just need to do the simple stuff, and that’s what we’re doing. In defi, you see crazy numbers of APY’s. The only possible reason is that they dilute the price with token emissions. They start giving rewards in their tokens, which dilutes the value; there is nothing wrong with rewarding in your native token, as long you have a plan to counter emissions and change the script by rewarding your users with long-term value.
BiggerMINDS offers modest returns but is sustainable; five years from now, I bet you a lot of those projects will be doing what I’m doing now, or they won’t be around at all.
Taras: Blockchains were innovative, but now we have to adopt them.
Joma: Many people keep thinking, “I need to innovate.” No, significant innovation has already happened. That was the blockchain. Now just build on top of it. Just bring it over, and migrate traditional enterprises to the Web3. I don’t like when projects claim, “we are the first to do this, we are the first to do that.” It’s not about being first. It’s about making something that works, making it permanent, making everyone else adapt to it, and just making it cleaner.
Taras: What are your thoughts and experiences with cybersecurity?
Joma: When we first started BiggerMINDS, we suffered from an insider job. Some developers stole a lot of money from our project. So I took a hit on my reputation.
When that happened, I changed my team. I met new developers. We met in person and did the KYC services to build around that. I go through Hacken. Nothing gets launched without the audits. I hired a CTO who reviews code line by line to ensure everything’s good. We are working with Lossless, a hack mitigation protocol.
We are transitioning to a defi that will be a bit more centralized. Decentralized finance is becoming more centralized, and there’s just nature. If you want a good product, you need control.
We can make this decentralized. But then again, who maintains it? How do you scale it? How do you implement mass adoption? For us, integrating the Lossless mitigation protocol would help with the safety of users. So we’re trying to find ways to learn more about the cybersecurity side, working closely with Hacken, working with Lossless, and just making things better for users.
Taras: Do you have any ideas or maybe your practices regarding continuously monitoring security?
Joma: We always have someone monitoring our smart contract transactions. I know they’re your competitors, but I think we’re all on the same team here. Once we integrate the lossless protocol, we will also have more people tracking every transaction to ensure nothing is out of the norm. We moved to multi-signature wallets. Nothing moves without everyone agreeing.
Regarding exploits, that’s something that happens every day. They’re constantly evolving. There’s always a way, and all we can do is try to mitigate those problems. Just keep an eye out and ensure we stay up to date with the news. We do our audits. We do everything to the best of our knowledge for the safety of users.
Taras: Even after the audit, you are still doing a line-by-line review. Do you use this robust approach to cybersecurity for marketing and communication?
Joma: No, when it comes to marketing, we have done zero. I’m trying to find a CMO to take over the position. But I think security should be part of the marketing. If you think about traditional companies like Apple, they’re always talking about privacy. I agree that security should be part of your marketing, and that’s my goal. As part of this goal, I work closely with Hacken. You can give me every security certification to recognize my project as a top-notch security protocol. I think it’s essential, and I think a lot of projects ignore it. They don’t do anything until something wrong happens. I’m trying to avoid that. I want to be known as a security project where users can come and feel safe.
Taras: Based on Hacken’s research, I wouldn’t say many projects pay enough attention to cybersecurity.
Joma: I think people running a legitimate business or project, whatever they want to call it, take security a lot more seriously than the ones that just do things for the quick money. I want to be here for the long term, and I know security is a significant portion of it. We will always push to have that in our project; it is the only way to scale and gain users’ trust. Why do we have to be secure? Why would I put my money in your token or project if you don’t take the time to make sure it’s secure? That means I’m not going to be able to go to sleep at night at peace. I want our users to feel safe. A lot of projects out there launch without audits. When I first launched my project, my ex-developers stole the money. I audited my smart contract before the launch, but the audit company missed a critical weakness. Developers placed a hidden wallet address to allow funds withdrawal. The auditor took zero responsibility whatsoever.
Taras: My next question is about good and bad auditors. There are scamming projects, and players are trying to add real value. The same thing applies to cyber auditors. I believe some are doing their job well, trying to carry responsibility for their results, but some are doing it just for the record.
Joma: That’s a good question. Cybersecurity companies willing to take money from clients should be responsible if the audited code were hacked; we should receive some kind of remedy.
In cybersecurity, many auditors are like, “Here’s your audit. But if something happens, I’m not responsible for anything.” So these cybersecurity companies, not all of them, but most of them, take your money and give you a certification but have no responsibility whatsoever if something happens.
Taras: What are your thoughts on making auditors more responsible?
I think those companies should have some type of program or policy. For example, let’s say that Hacken is doing my audits, and something happens to one of my contracts, and we can prove that it was something Hacken missed. I think Hacken should come up and admit their fault, “We apologize. We’re going to give you one year of free audits or one year of free monitoring to compensate for the damages” Many cybersecurity companies are willing to take the money. Still, they’re not ready to set the responsibility. If that’s the case, how can we make DeFi or Web3 bigger if we’re not working together to make it more secure? And that’s the very first thing. You’re happy I gave you the money, and we’re working together. But when the problems happen, it seems everyone just disappears.
Taras: You need concrete guarantees from a cybersecurity company, of course.
Joma: And those audits are not cheap. It’s a lot of money. I expect an excellent long-term relationship and customer service if I pay big money for something. It’s not just, “Here you go. A transaction.” No, I expect you to be there for us if something happens. I think once more policies come in place and we have a better direction from the legal side; I believe cybersecurity companies will become more strict and offer more guarantees. The pressure has to be on both sides. You cannot preach to your community or the crypto ecosystem if you are unwilling to take responsibility when something happens. I think that’s one of the problems right now.
Taras: What is your advice for future entrepreneurs in crypto? For someone just thinking, “Should I start a new project now or wait?” How can a beginner distinguish between good and bad cybersecurity providers?
Joma: It’s tough because going into crypto as a beginner is scary. There’s so much to learn, so you must come prepared and commit to learning. For beginners, I always advise reading. Many people don’t do that because they don’t have a long-term mentality. But that’s proven over the years—the long-term mentality versus short-term greed. If you take the time to educate yourself about what you’re getting into, you’ll better understand where to start. For example, if you’re into real estate investing, you shouldn’t just buy a property without prior research.
I think the same applies to crypto. If you’re getting into crypto, you start reading, “What is blockchain?”, “What’s defi?”, “What’s centralized, what’s decentralized?”, “What is tokenomics?” Always start with the basics and never invest more than you cannot afford. I always tell everyone to start on a centralized exchange that has been proven, such as Coinbase and Binance. Then make your way to the Defi sector and start reading once you get used to it. After reaching DeFi, you begin to worry about the legitimacy of projects, their safety, smart contracts, and tokenomics.
Since it’s not a regulatory space, finding a legit team is difficult. If I were to invest in a DeFi project, I would find someone with a public face because now they have a more significant responsibility or invest in a team with KYC. Many of these crypto projects are memes, or they do it for fun. I’m a big fan of treating crypto like a business.
I always tell everyone, even if it looks dull, sometimes boring is a lot better and more stable than something that looks pretty and shiny. It takes a lot of time to learn it, but if people put effort into reading, they can succeed. You have to take the time to read and not just invest based on the noise you see on Twitter.
Taras: It relates to the idea of a long-term player who will give you guarantees. This kind of player is in for a long game.
Joma: Many people think the traditional business structure does not apply because it’s blockchain. A business is a business, regardless of the iteration of the web. The only thing we’re changing is the technology we’re using to grow that business. So it’s a business, and you should have your business structure, which is essential here.
Taras: It’s been a pleasure, Joma. Thank you for this exciting interview. We wish you all the best in your business.