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$333 Million And Counting: Meet The Maltese Tech Entrepreneur Set To Create ‘Utopia’

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Max Thake is the 28-year-old Maltese founder of peaq: a blockchain company that’s been valued at a third of a billion dollars and is set to revolutionise the way the world works… and we spoke to him to figure out how.

“peaq was born out of the combination of an itch, a conviction, and a dream,” Thake told Lovin Malta. “The itch: humanity is out of balance with nature and growing inequality will collapse society. The conviction: the technology we need to course-correct already exists or is being built. The dream: utopia is achievable in our lifetime,” Thake told Lovin Malta.

peaq is a platform on which several different apps live. They all share the goal to remodel society from one that relies on Big Tech to one in which people can earn a passive income by supporting their community. In simpler words, it wants to cut out the middleman.

“I’m (perhaps hopelessly) optimistic that the Maltese can take back control of infrastructure, make Malta a better place to live, and earn money for it in the process.”

Thake, as well as the rest of the team behind peaq, have big aspirations with seven years of hard work and tough decisions to back them up, having recently secured a staggering $35 million in two rounds of private and public funding.

And while you wouldn’t be wrong to point out that we’ve heard similar promises before with less-than-optimal results, Max stands out because he steered clear of the initial gold rush to get the platform to where it needs to be, and the valuation of the company acts as a clear testament to its potential.

However, blockchain can still be a little difficult to understand and as something that can completely transform the way we do things, we wanted to learn as much as we could from the visionary. 

peaq’s all about the long game

What makes peaq different is that it’s blockchain for real-world applications, meaning that its effects will exist beyond our screens. It has the intention to create a positive and long-lasting global impact by reframing society through intelligent machines that “serve everyone – the 100%, not just the 1%”.

Thake explained that the team passed up the opportunity to launch the peaq token during two previous crypto hype cycles – where tokens can rocket to crazy valuations – because that’s not why they’re building the network.

“We’re launching peaq because it can have a positive impact on a global scale.”

“Launching a token in and of itself is not a difficult thing (just look at all the memecoins out there) but launching a token that makes sense and will be used for decades to come requires solid foundations and a thriving ecosystem.”

peaq aims to completely decentralise industries that effectively run the world – it is permissionless meaning that it is run by no single figure or group. Like this, it will also democratise business and tech.

“We see peaq as the backbone of the global machine economy in five to 10 years. The digital, permissionless, borderless fabric that the increasingly intelligent vehicles, machines, robots, and devices around us use to provide and render services to people and other machines. Our mission is to correct the centralised trajectory humanity is on so that these increasingly intelligent machines serve everyone thereby democratising abundance in the Age of AI and job automation.”

Essentially, peaq aims to be more than just another tech giant controlled by its creators, it wants to become a network on which its users are in command.

“We’re just the people pushing the ship into the ocean. The people who use it will be its sailors, long after we’re gone.”

Blockchain for real-world application? Here’s how

peaq is essentially a home for DePIN – Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Networks, meaning that it serves as a platform on which networks are being built.

DePIN can be thought of as Web3 applications focused on the real world, rather than other areas that Web3’s become better known for so far, like art, gaming, memes, and purely financial products. They incentivise people to deploy hardware to offer services to other people and earn for providing that service.

“One example of a DePIN on peaq is NATIX. You can download the NATIX app, mount your phone on your dashboard as you drive, map the streets, and earn rewards in the process, creating a better, decentralised alternative to Google Maps.

Another example is Silencio. You can download the Silencio app and earn rewards for recording noise data as you go for walks, contributing to the global map of noise, which city planners and platforms like AirBnB then leverage and pay for.

The same concept can be applied to sharing your WiFi or 5G connectivity and earning, offering your car charger publicly, and many other use cases. It’s all about doing things more efficiently but cutting out the middleman.”

peaq can actually influence Malta… but only if you let it

“If the Maltese wanted to,” Thake said, “we could revolutionise industries like telecoms, energy, mobility, weather, environment, agriculture, and more.

The beauty of this technology is that it’s permissionless. If people want to earn passive or extra income streams by providing services to their neighbors they can just download the apps, order the hardware, and start.

For example, if we want better internet or internet in places where there isn’t coverage, we don’t need to wait for a telco company to set it up, we can buy the hardware, plug it in, offer connectivity and earn for it. Just like Helium (a DePIN) offers coverage all over parts of the USA.

Or if we want better electric vehicle charging infrastructure, we’ll soon be able to offer charging stations publicly and earn from them, with charge.xyz (a DePIN on peaq). Or micro-mobility. Not too long ago the government came out against those scooters. If that app and service was built as a DePIN, the local community could earn directly from each use, which incentivises people to look after them better. This can even stretch as far as robo-cafes and restaurants, where you can own a stake in the robot and earn as it earns (XMAQUINA).

We’re used to having to rely on companies and public services but we don’t need to wait for these things to happen anymore. This is a return to how things used to be, community-to-community, person-to-person, and it’s already happening in cities all over the world.”

One DePIN that stuck out to us was farmsent which is a Web3-based agriculture marketplace that empowers farmers and consumers with more control, richer information, and better rates by cutting out middlemen, Thake explained.

As of today, Farmsent is being used to track coffee, avocados, and palm sugar between Indonesia, Colombia, the United Arab Emirates, and the USA. It provides farmers with better market access and empowers them with real-time data about their crops, allowing them to make data-driven decisions to optimise yields. On the other side of the market, it empowers consumers to make better-informed choices about the food they buy.

“Don’t marry the idea”

As a young entrepreneur who left the island in his early 20s to build a startup from ground zero, we asked Max what advice he would give to other looking to follow a similar path

“Look inward, figure out what truly makes you tick, and don’t settle. Take risks, travel, and chase crazy projects to help you figure this out. Listen to your heart, listen to your gut, and if you haven’t figured out how to listen to your heart or gut, that’s a great place to start.

It’s going to be extremely difficult to build something successful once you’ve settled on an idea, so it’s got to be something you’re truly deeply passionate about – and even then, don’t marry the idea, let it evolve. Building a startup is going to be 100 times harder than you think, in ways you can’t predict or imagine. You’ve got to be ready to work on this idea or problem for decades if need be. Resilience and perseverance are the name of the game.

To Maltese entrepreneurs specifically; start by leaving, even if you plan to come back. Experience life in a big European startup capital like London or Berlin for at least six months, ideally much longer. The less people you know, the better. It’ll force you to meet yourself and other people more genuinely, which is key to figuring out what you’re most passionate about, and what you want to dedicate your life to. And then you can always decide to launch in Malta, or launch abroad and expand to Malta.”

Are you excited to see where peaq takes us?

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Ana is a university graduate who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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