DataUnion - Empowering data collaborators for AI

DataUnion found a simple way to manage their crypto payments all in one place.

DataUnion - Empowering data collaborators for AI

DataUnion found a simple way to manage their crypto payments all in one place.

Overview

Hear from Robin Lehmann, co-founder & CEO of DataUnion, about how Request Finance is helping them manage their crypto payments in a growing Web 3.0 economy.

We were introduced to it via Ocean Protocol at first, and have never looked back, or left or right, since. Recurring payments are easier to keep track of all in one place. The pre-filled invoices help us pay our team and business partners easily, and on time. Request has also enabled us to easily export all our payments data for tax reporting purposes. We’ve probably saved 40-60 man hours just in the last six months of using it. 

About DataUnion

In an increasingly digital world, data is the new oil. It is the raw material that is processed and fed to power the sophisticated algorithms of the Web 2.0 platforms upon which so much of our economic and social lives depend. But like with each industrial revolution, control of and access to vast flows of the new resource tends to attract large, powerful, and often callous corporations.

But unlike previous industrial ages, there is mounting global public pushback against the tech giants’ data dominions. Examples of the growing mainstream appetite for change range from data taxation schemes like Andrew Yang’s ‘Data Dividend’ campaign, to private industry initiatives like Microsoft’s ‘Data Dignity’ program. 

Enter the “data union” - a novel take on an old idea. Like the labor unions that arose in response to the barons of the industrial revolution, data unions pool together communities of creators, curators and users that collectively develop, own, and manage datasets and algorithms which can be sold to firms. The idea of “data cooperatives” has even been explicitly referenced in the recently passed European Data Governance Act (DGA). But like their proletarian predecessors, data unions are difficult to form and maintain. 

Having worked for many years in corporate data environments, we realized that data sets were complicated to compile, time-consuming to validate, and, once used, tend to be stored and forgotten about”, explains Robin Lehmann, co-founder & CEO of DataUnion.

That’s where the DataUnion Foundation comes in. Founded in July 2021, the team of over 20 people today, is on a mission to build a platform to provide “DataUnions-as-a-Service”. The platform aims to simplify creating data unions that can produce AI-ready datasets and co-owned insights. Through blockchain technology, it aims to enable agile, collaborative AI development and give every individual, or corporate partner the opportunity to profit from their own data.​ 

Over the next year, the company hopes to introduce rewards for data contributors, launch a mobile app which will allow contributors from across the globe to contribute to their datasets, and launching a generative art platform on Planet Computer Vision (their first prototype Union).

How is DataUnion being used in the real world today?

Our proof of concept launched in 2021, Planet Computer Vision, has started compiling our user generated image dataset. Through our DataUnions-as-a-Service platform, it has seen more than 600 contributors help to annotate and verify the data so far. We have a vibrant community of over 2,000 users and contributors on our Discord channel.

We set the record for the biggest liquidity pool on Ocean Protocol (approximately 400,000€ at the time of writing). We were chosen for Outliers Ventures’ Filecoin, and Celo’s basecamps. 

What challenges led you to use Request?

I started using the platform because of Ocean Protocol’s grants. They wanted to get a proper paper trail going for their tax reports, and therefore chose to use the number one solution in the crypto space for that - Request.

Prior to using Request, I was paying users with direct wallet transfers, and that made it difficult to track who received how much and for what services. Like many of us do in this space, we started a separate Excel sheet (that was starting to get very long) - just to keep track of all the information around payments. 

A combination of Metamask and a spreadsheet is certainly not the most efficient way to keep financial records! Also the laborious and painstaking process of managing payments meant it was always difficult to remunerate the team in a timely manner.

How did Request meet those needs?

The user interface is straightforward, and provides us with easy access to the features we use the most. The ability to view all outstanding invoices in a single dashboard, and pay multiple invoices within a few clicks saves us a lot of time each week.

The invoices generated in the Request Finance app for our tax report is also incredibly useful for our tax reports, as we can pay in different cryptocurrencies but still stay on top of what we paid in a concise manner. All thanks to the fact that Request enables us to denominate crypto invoices in fiat currency terms, at prevailing exchange rates. 

Who in your team uses Request the most, and how?

We use it to pay the team members depending on their preferences either weekly or monthly. The ability to set recurring invoices in Request was perfect for us in that respect. 

We also use it to process crypto payments when we do business with other projects in the crypto space.


How have you benefited from using Request?

Three of the top gains we have seen from using Request are: (i) Recurring payments are easier to keep track of as they can all be found in one place. (ii) The pre-filled invoices ensure that the invoices we receive include all the required payment information, which helps us pay to the right addresses with ease. (iii) Being able to collect all the information about payments made in one platform, and being able to export them all for tax reporting purposes.

We’ve probably saved 40-60 man hours just in the last six months of using it. That time used to be spent on manual processes like meticulously checking and copying wallet addresses, paying one invoice at a time, and sending chaser emails asking for the necessary payment information. 

What made Request stand out against other alternatives?

We were introduced to it via Ocean Protocol at first, and have never looked back, or left or right, since.

How long did it take to get up and running?

No time at all. The onboarding process was very intuitive, and we found the UX simple and effective to navigate the features we use most.

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