ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH
Mexico City, Mexico
We are happy to present Daniel Uribe as our Entrepreneur of the Month. The Co-founder and current CEO of Genobank.io was born and raised in Mexico City, where he lived for 39 years. Daniel- an engineer in electronics and intercommunications worked for Sun Microsystems, one of the early pioneers in computing and creators of Java, among other coding languages. (Sun Microsystems was sold to Oracle in 2009). Aside from Genobank, Daniel also Co-founded United IT Consultants in 2004, an IT company that provides Cloud services and data-driven solutions which continues to successfully operate to date.
In 2014, his first approach to the Bay Area was through SV Links where he was introduced to early-stage Blockchain technology. He quickly set the goal to learn and have expertise on the subject and became an early adopter of this technology. He also became and investor and provided capital for Saldo.MX, a type of digital wallet that allows Mexican immigrants in the US to pay bills for their family members in Mexico. Expenses such as electricity, food, light, and cell phone, among others, can be paid directly from the platform, avoiding the need to send money to the country. As his co-investors stated: “People don’t like to transfer money, they just want to send support to their families. Instead, they realize they can aid their beloved ones by paying their services directly.” This solution becomes smarter when you realize the drawbacks of sending cash. Apart from avoiding unnecessary commissions from brokerage houses, the platform gives you a sense of certainty on how the money is spent, rather than giving you uncertainty on the individual receiving the money cross borders. Saldo.MX is one of the first Mexican companies using Blockchain technology.
Daniel finally settled in Silicon Valley in 2015. He describes the Bay Area “As a place to learn,” a unique ecosystem that is difficult to replicate anywhere around the world. His goal was to provide more interest in American clients to offshore IT labor to Mexico. However, he realized there was already an established, competitive market in the Area. “The market is saturated with talent from India and China… our opportunity as a country diminished.” Daniel recalls. Thus, Daniel quickly pivoted and found a new opportunities that complemented his industry expertise. This is how Genobank was born– a platform and testing solution that allows you to own and control your DNA information secured with Blockchain Technology…(DNA Wallet).
The idea of Genobank came about due to Daniel’s life experience. In 2017, his 18-month-old son had an accident. When the doctor checked his son in the hospital, the baby was bleeding more than usual. The doctors diagnosed a rare disease caused by a mutation of his 17th Chromosome in his DNA, a Mendelian mutation. This created a deep fascination on the subject, on the data produced by these scenarios. “I went to talk with a couple of professors at Stanford and asked them: What would happen if we give people a wallet with their genetic data, rather than having a company be in control of this data? One of them replied: “A lot of these companies are going to dislike your model” – “Well, if that’s the consequence of treating people with more dignity, that’s their problem… At least for me as a Parent, I don’t want companies to own the rights of the genetic information of my son (or anyone) That’s unacceptable in any case,” Says Daniel.
This is where the Genobank solution comes in handy. The consumer receives a special tube with a QR Code on it (Blockchain Address). The individual deposits 2 mm of saliva and sends it back to the laboratory. After the DNA is extracted from the cells in the saliva sample, it goes into a Sequencer to be digitized. Genobank, instead of having a central database with everyones’ DNA data on it, each user receives an encrypted & individual data capsule with its own information. Blockchain helps to secure each individual’s data separately creating more difficulty for a hacker trying to steal your DNA information, for example. Daniel uses an analogy for Genobank’s blockchain model: “Imagine you have an ant colony and each ant has a Data capsule. You’ll need to kill the whole colony in order to acquire the information. On the other side, If you have a big elephant (centralized model) it has thick skin, but you can take it down with a single attack (…and get millions of DNA datasets in one strike).”
Let’s be clear: It is essential for Data-driven Medicine (or Precision Medicine) to have access to this Big Data. Providing enough information in cases can make new drugs and future diagnoses way more accurate and efficient. However, having this kind of DNA data centralized can be extremely dangerous to user’s privacy. “Centralized models/companies obey to the interests of a few, such as the CEO and stockholders… Imagine a scenario where 23&me or AncestryDNA gets acquired by Facebook or Google…it would be a privacy disaster for all those users.”
One of Daniel’s and Genobank.io biggest challenges is to find good talent because this new space (Data Privacy) requires individuals who are knowledgeable in Genomics, Smart Contracts (Blockchain) and new Privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA (that will be effective January 1st, 2020.)
Currently, Genobank’s biggest accomplishment has been its selection to appear at Sony Entertainment Shark-tank style show “Meet the Drapers” and consequently accepted into the crowdfunding investment platform Republic.co.
LatinSF enthusiastically applauds Daniel’s entrepreneurial disruption of the Genome space. We thank him for bringing back the privacy of DNA data and reclaiming information back to the individual owner.
We encourage you to support Genobank’s Crowdfunding campaign at Republic here: