Isaac Thomas, co-founder and CEO of VeganNation - Isaac’s career spans 17 years of entrepreneurial ventures in real estate and healthcare, where he acquired, developed, consulted and led visionary projects in the multifamily and senior housing sectors. Isaac’s passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle goes back to his earliest years in business and has come back full circle when several years ago he completed his health transformation and dedicated his life to the vegan lifestyle. He found that living life as a vegan came with many barriers and caused the lifestyle to be difficult and impossible at times. With the development of blockchain technology and online platforms, Isaac worked with a group of experts in tech, blockchain and food distribution to create a full ecosystem with solutions for vegans all across the world. Blockchain technology was the answer for many problems vegans face such as ensuring products and foods are 100% cruelty-free through smart contracts and a designated cryptocurrency, VeganCoin.
How did you get into the industry?
After becoming a vegan, over two years ago, I was struggling with finding a good meal and realized many other vegans were experiencing similar difficulties. My first thought was to open a chain of vegan-friendly fast food restaurants and I was already knee deep with 10 US based franchises on the line. I wanted to take a break before starting what was going to be a big thing, and I went on a cycling trip in Europe. It was somewhere in the alps when I realised I haven't eaten anything other than vegetables for a few weeks and i was starving. while in this beautiful neighbourhood on a hillside, it dawned on me that somewhere around there, someone must be cooking a delicious vegan meal and being able to get invited to such a meal would be so great. I realized that in order to make an actual change in vegans day-to-day lives, I have to think bigger! in this point in time, there is nothing bigger than blockchain. The opportunities this technology holds are endless and bringing people together is a major one. From this realization, the path was fairly short to the vegan nation concept. Building a global nation where vegans can share meals, content and innovation is amazing, and blockchain takes this idea to a whole new level. It allows to create a monetary system that is not restricted by geographical boundaries which means a global ecosystem can cater to individual needs, no matter where the individual is located.
Any emerging industry trends?
For staters, the entire industry is a trend. There are a few key trends inside the industry that are really interesting, one of them that I have a personal interest in is the blockchain for the supply chain. IBM and Walmart are currently working on this amazing development, together with other emerging companies. This could be a game changer for many but as a vegan, trying to help other vegans, I see the incredible potential this holds specifically for our community. And so, VeganNation is also working on the blockchain supply chain combination, for the vegan supply.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Our biggest challenge is to bring people who are not “cryptos” into the game. What we are creating is an ecosystem and an actual economy, based on the use of a cryptocurrency. This currency is not meant for a long term investment, but for dayli use. The crypto industry has a bad rap in many households and changing this is hard. We want all vegans on board, using the Vegan coin for everything they need. We want to build something great and be just one of many new economies that will be based on shared interests and beliefs rather than on geographical location.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
Since I have already said a lot about my inspiration in the first question, i'll talk about my vision. I see a world that empowers people and allows them to gather up with others who share the same lifestyle and set of morals. I see geographical boundaries turning somewhat meaningless. I see our project as one of many more to come, all based on different global communities.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are currently gathering up first seed investments to finish development of the ecosystem’s first features. During the summer, our public ICO will take place, in hopes of reaching as many vegans out there as possible. We learn 10 new things every day so our possibilities of shifting and changing are basically endless, with the basic notion of helping vegans in mind.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Every time I get no for an answer. Coming from Realestate, i’m used to dealing with other people and focusing on different things when getting an investor or closing a deal. Getting into this whole new world is a constant challenge and finding my own voice is a new experience everyday. But I am not one to shy away from a challenge and I try to learn from every no so that I could make it into a yes the next time.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Our project aims at making veganism more approachable by uniting vegans from all over the world under one roof and one economy. The ideal experience that I have in mind is a vegan waking up somewhere, not in a major city, with a peace of mind, knowing he is not going to have a hard time today because food is available for him at a fair price, because he has a support system he can use whenever he needs and because he is a 100% sure that everything he is consuming meets his moral standards.
How do you motivate others?
I smile all the time. making them passionate as i a I am a very loving person and I think this love is what motivates my coworkers and potential members of the nation. Also, I am smiling like 99% of the time so I think that this happiness is also kind of contagious.
When you truly believe in what you are doing, people around you feel it and get motivated as well.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Work together. with anyone. I feel like sometimes people think they need to be secretive in order to succeed. I think the opposite is true. My biggest advice is to share ideas and hear other opinions. This is a great way to grow in any industry, not just in blockchain.
What do I do best?
Not to blow my own horn (though this is kind of what you do in an interview, right?), but I would say my best skill is bringing people together. No matter the project or the industry i’m dealing with at a particular time, I always make sure to surround myself with the best people that are relevant to what i’m doing. obviously, I mean they have to be professional but it’s much more than that. They have to be good people with good vibes. I believe I have an eye for a good soul and a skill of bringing good souls to work together.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Constantly learning new things and challenging myself. Being fascinated by the world and always brainstorming makes me a born entrepreneur and this characteristic is always pushing me forward. Seeing the world as a big opportunity for change means the next idea is always right around the corner, and it makes failure easier as well. I know there is always something more to come.
What are my aspirations?
Personally, I aspire for a change and as i’m saying this right now I realize that my answer is very general. But that’s exactly the thing; this change can come in many different ways that I don’t even know of. I just know I want to do something that would positively impact people and our planet. From a business point of view I can honestly say i’m very lucky because my desires go hand in hand with my personal ones and I believe that when your heart and your mind are equal, great things can be accomplished.
My Biggest Success?
Bringing my passions together, connecting my passion and my business. I come from the world of real estate which I have been a part of for almost 20 years. Veganism has been my passion for the past 2 and I think that taking this lifestyle that I have chosen and building an actual project surrounding it is my biggest accomplishment so far. I hope to see ir grow and succeed so that in a few years from now we could meet again and I could say that I have succeeded in helping other maintain their lifestyle.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Making the decision of leaving the real estate world which I have been a part of since the age of 15. I love real estate and was privileged enough to be a part of some incredible projects. Going in to VeganNation meant I have to leave this behind and invent myself all over again. I couldn’t be happier with my decision but I can honestly say this was a tough one for me.
Live a great story! Build your own narrative. It is very easy to get caught up and go through, waking up one day and realizing months and even years went by with you being asleep at the wheel. By being conscious and making conscious choices, you can be active in living. live a life that you would want to hear about second hand.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Richard Branson is someone I have always looked up to. I think he found the ultimate connection between doing business and having a really good time. He is always innovating and keeping it fresh.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite place in the world is Israel. Being a passionate traveler, I have seen many countries and visited special places but Israel is the only place where I really feel at home.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My running shoes. I used to be a bit heavier than I am today and after becoming vegan I also started running. It has become sort of a meditation to me, and I hear many people who share the same experience. Being able to run on the beach is one of my favorite things in the world. No matter what sort of day I am having, it always gets me focused and happy.
My Current Passions?
I enjoy trance music. I can get lost for hours just listening with my eyes closed. Trance to me is peace of mind and peacefulness. I find many different levels of being while listening.