How OSA DC Came to Be Or The Story of OSA DC’s Origin
While making my rounds through a marathon of conferences this year, I’ve had the pleasure of making acquaintances with many individuals who share the same dream for a transparent, decentralized future as the team at OSA DC. Some of these people were prominent entrepreneurs, seasoned developers, or general enthusiasts — blockchain believers and crypto converts from all walks of life.
When I got to talking to these conference goers about OSA DC, they were intrigued with the project and its dedication to empowering businesses and consumers alike with smart retail practices. But their interest extended beyond the technical and applied aspects project itself; they wanted to know where the inspiration for OSA DC came from, what lead to its creation.
“Where did you guys come up with this idea?” they’d ask me and other team members, positting their questions in crowded exhibition halls or in the various locations where conversations were struck.
I gladly shared my story to these curious ears, and today, I’d like to share it with you, the rest of the OSA DC community.
The OSA DC Story
The thought to use reliable AI to empower retail consumers came to me as I was undergoing my own personal journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. Eight months ago, I decided to adopt a strict no salt, no sugar diet. When I first started the diet I thought, “How hard can it be? Just read product labels and filter out my weekly groceries accordingly.”
In practice, this was a nightmare.
Upon entering grocery stores, I was affronted with hundreds of products all with their own labelling schemes and nutrition facts. I was wasting hours and hours going from product to product, shelf to shelf, struggling to find goods that fit my diet.
“If only I had a catalog of products and their information,” I thought to myself, “this would be easy.” So I decided to take my grocery shopping online, and it was even worse than if I had just stayed in store. Not only did I waste hours looking for the right goods, but when they arrived at my house, half of them still contained sugar and salt — the products were egregiously mislabelled, even online.
I vented my frustrations to Maximilian Musselius, one of the soon-to-be future Strategy and Vision Lead of OSA DC. To him, the answer was obvious: build a platform to solve the problem.
“Let’s use our existing technologies and our existing databases, our product catalogs, for consumers like you and deliver a solution that allows them to save time and stay healthy,” he told me. We immediately saw the tremendous value such a platform would carry for businesses and consumers alike. Imagine having a service where he and his family could filter all of a store’s products that contain nuts with the simple click of a button.
And that was the inception of the OSA Hybrid Platform (OSA HP), OSA DC’s predecessor; in that moment, we decided to build a business to consumer service that could deliver an accurate, filterable product catalog for free.
We knew we could build it because the infrastructure — the data, the product master catalog, the AI services — is already in place for business to business solutions. Problem is, they’re only applied for enterprise solutions to sell more products, so we needed to take this application and functionality and extend it to consumers.
But then we had another thought: why should we stop there? Both retail and FMCG industry veterans ourselves, Max and I realized that we could deliver better business to business solutions on the same platform. Using reliable AI, we could trim the fat of retail and supply chain operations in such a way that would save businesses money and benefit the consumer.
This is where we got the idea for OSA HP’s business to business solutions, from wanting to improve on the areas where we felt the industry was lagging behind.
After 17 years in the retail and FMCG industry, I had worked for multiple companies in over 57 countries, and in every job and every country, I met the same issue. Namely, there’s a general lack of transparency in supply chain processes, both for product information and shipment tracking. I was paying billions of dollars for goods, and yet, I had no reliable information regarding how products were being handled, their position in the supply chain, or whether they had reached retail shelves at all.
Not only did I not have transparent information on these products after they left warehouses, but I had no sources of trustworthy data with which I could run analytics to improve business processes. So basically, I was stuck with a transparency problem, and I couldn’t solve the problem because it kept me from retrieving reliable data to apply towards a solution!
From this collaboration, we were able to unite company representatives and employees from JTI, L’Oreal, Efes, Coca-Cola, and the Russian retailer Magnit together into a single working group. With the help of the group’s expertise (over a century of combined retail and supply chain operations experience), we built the OSA Hybrid Platform, OSA DC’s predecessor. And the results didn’t disappoint. The platform has been a boon for retailers and manufacturers alike, and it’s being used, right now, by more than 20 businesses across Europe, including Mars, PepsiCo, SunInBev, JTI, Magnit, L’Oreal, Efes, Metro, and Coca-Cola. Since its launch, OSA HP has generated over $1mln in revenue.
For the final step in OSA DC’s creation, taking OSA HP’s AI services and combining them with blockchain technology was a no brainer given the blockchain’s commitment to immutable transparency. In a 21st century society where data is the new oil, we’ve seen big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon monetize this data, often in ways that encroaches on legal and ethical gray areas. This obviously raises questions regarding internet users’ control over their data and how the data — if at all — should be monetized.
With the blockchain, we have the opportunity to give consumer’s purchasing power over their data once more. This is the future OSA DC envisions for retail. With our platform, consumers can willingly commit data to the network’s marketplace in exchange for OSA token. In this way, we give users a choice: they can keep their data to themselves, or they can sell it to smart contracts on the network for OSA token. Such data will then be processed using AI and machine learning models to improve business operations, something that benefits consumers as well as the retailers they shop at.
Thus OSA DC’s creation is threefold. Eight years ago, I knew that consumers could stand to benefit from the same solutions businesses use to enhance bottom lines. Working with Max on this front we committed ourselves to building such a business to consumer solution, and after leaving JTI and working with ECR, we established a working group to not only deliver these services, but to create an AI framework to overhaul the entire retail industry. From this effort came OSA HP, and as we explored the benefits of blockchain, OSA DC seemed like the final logical evolution of the platform: a decentralized, smart contract-based platform that allows consumers, businesses, and manufacturers to openly share their data to improve retail processes for all involved.