We’re excited to announce that we have a new partner on board at Internet of Elephants: Bas Hochstenbach. Bas will be in charge of business development for IOE. Bas is a Dutchie who has lived in Africa for close to 14 years: first in Tanzania and now in South-Africa. He co-founded Asilia Africa, an award-winning eco-tourism company that currently operates about 20 camps in East Africa, employing around 800 staff. Bas has been on IOE’s advisory board for the last 1.5 years, but decided the join the team in an executive capacity to help make IOE’s vision a reality.
What brought you to Africa?
At the time (I was 27 then), the combination of a love for travel, an urge for adventure and an interest in the dynamics and ‘real’ issues of developing economies.
Why did you join IOE?
At Asilia, we tried to achieve conservation and human development goals through the contribution of people that travel to Africa. If tourism is done well, people traveling to Africa really can make good things happen on the continent. However, at any point in time there are only so many people lucky enough to travel to Africa, or to important nature & wildlife areas elsewhere in the world. And, some very important nature & wildlife areas just don’t receive their ‘fair’ share of tourism, for many reasons like complicated logistics, political instability etc. This is why I got more and more interested in involving the vast majority of people that are not traveling at any point in time in conservation efforts.
Technology is clearly the bridge here.
IOE is a ‘thinking’ organization that is daring to innovate and that is actively looking to partner and learn. It is leading in finding conservation applications of cutting-edge technology and – very importantly – as an organization it is structured in a way that safeguards that revenues generated will really go to conservation. And, lastly, IOE has a quality and fun group of people. It is the combination of those factors that made me join, and made me expand my time with the team.
What will your role be at IOE?
I will focus on business development: the development of partnerships with conservation organizations, like-minded companies, investors and donors. And on contributing to the development of interactive concepts that really speak to the market, create large scale participation.
Why the focus on partnerships and business development?
As IOE, we’d like to focus on what we are good at. We partner with larger and smaller research and conservation organizations to obtain data and create stories around iconic wildlife worldwide. We use technology to turn these animals into characters, heroes if you like, that people can relate to. And we create the interactive game platforms for people to have fun and create lasting engagement.
We like to stay ‘lean’ and therefore create partnerships in all crucial areas of our model: wildlife data, game building, PR & marketing and distribution. There are many great organizations with the skills that we require that share a passion and sense of urgency around conservation. Through collaboration we can really generate the mass participation and for-conservation revenue generation that we are looking for.
What are you looking forward to in the next couple of months at IOE?
I look forward to turning the promise of our concept into reality. We’ve been very lucky to have partnered with some of the most known and most innovative organizations in conservation already. Organizations that instantly recognized the potential impact of technology on conservation. I look forward to growing his early success and to cementing a group of partners that will enable us to build a number of really engaging games based on our fantastic database of augmented and virtual reality animals linked to their real, iconic ‘brothers’ in the wild.
We’re launching our demo app with 6 animals supported by 6 leading conservation organizations in mid August. It’s not yet a full version, but a demo version of the full product that will go live in 2018. And it’s only the first in subsequent games that will follow and build on the first release. But, it will be the first time that the public can really engage with a first interactive concept – so it will be an exciting moment to see how the public will engage, and how we can translate the involvement of the early adopters into some first conservation impact.