DigitalTown, Inc. (OTC PINK:DGTW)
October 23, 2017 Issue
Q&A with Rob Monster, CEO and President of DigitalTown, Inc. providing a Cloud-based Smart City Platform enabling Cities and Municipalities across the Globe and their Citizens to Search and Connect to Local Retailers, Restaurants, Business and City Services
Chief Executive Officer & President
DigitalTown, Inc. (OTC PINK:DGTW)
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – October 23, 2017
CEOCFO: Mr. Monster, would you tell us the concept behind DigitalTown?
Mr. Monster: DigitalTown is a global, smart city platform which enables any city to become a smart city utilizing a cloud base that allows citizens to be able to search local, connect local, share local and buy local while equipping municipalities and other local institutional stakeholders to be able to work together to co-create a better quality of life for all. Imagine at each city that is able to be not only its own Google, but also its own Amazon, Expedia, Air B&B and PayPal, all in one.
CEOCFO: What does that mean day-to-day, when you are engaging with a city?
Mr. Monster: Typically as citizens we have become more and more aligned in terms of our preferences and affinities for certain types of websites that we use or certain mobile apps that we use, such as Expedia to search for travel or Amazon to buy an item for PayPal to make a payment. The problem over time is the fees that are associated with using these various tools are going higher and higher and more and more revenue is leaving the communities. In the early days when the size of the eCommerce economy was small, the consequences in terms of the well-being of a municipality and the well-being of the stakeholders that are living there, was not significant but as the online economy has rapidly outgrown the offline economy, the consequence in terms of the well-being of merchants on Main Street, is becoming more severe. In response to that, municipalities are having to look at their digital strategy but they lack tools, which is how DigitalTown began.
CEOCFO: Is this a platform that is adapted to each city?
We operate more than 22 thousand city portals accessible to web and mobile.
We work with local stakeholders. The standard approach is to work with local
municipalities, the Chambers of Commerce, destination marketing
organizations and trade associations that are operating in those communities
and to provide them with the technological tools to have a cohesive
additional strategy for allowing members of the community to search local,
buy local and buy direct. In some cases where there is no municipality or
Chamber of Commerce or institution that wishes to license the platform, we
then use blockchain as a distributed ledger to be able to allow private
citizens who are legal residents of the community, to become the owners of
the platform, ultimately equipping those private citizens to also, be able
to buy and sell those ownership units through blockchain.
CEOCFO: How much of your business is global and is that a major focus?
Mr. Monster: We were a global company from the start and are based in Seattle, with the primary technical center in Vancouver, Canada. We are by design global. We are a global company with operations and personnel on the ground in Europe, India, Latin America, and of course the USA. We are in the process of adding Africa as part of our on-the-ground staffing. However, we already operate many sites in Africa.
CEOCFO: When might someone turn to DigitalTown?
Mr. Monster: Whether someone is a resident of Miami or Gainesville, we provide solutions that allow the person to surf the web. The intent is that the city portal serves as a search engine for buying local, searching local, featuring local businesses where you could make a direct purchase. This notion for creating a vehicle for which citizens can act upon the rhetoric of buying local by practically being able to buy online 24/7, is a big step forward for municipalities and the cities they serve in terms stemming the tide against the winner-take-all economy that is rapidly unfolding before our eyes?
CEOCFO: What does research show regarding people that want to buy local if it is made easy for them?