Mark Paul & Praveen Paul (Itheum) - Founder Stories

Mark Paul & Praveen Paul (Itheum) - Founder Stories

We have the great opportunity to dive deep into the story of interesting founders, exploring their backgrounds, their vision and their route to success. We also have the chance to explore their most successful projects, and what they are trying to achieve and why.

Today we are glad to introduce Mark Paul & Praveen Paul - Co-founders of Itheum. Let’s go!

Image Source: Itheum

Hi Mark, hi Praveen - Please tell our readers a bit more about yourself.

Mark: "I have over 20 years of tech expertise across a number of traditional software companies based out of Australia. I have had the opportunity to work with one of the earliest social platforms MSN which was well ahead of its time, followed by a number of years leading tech teams in the streaming media industry. In recent years prior to moving to the web3 industry full-time, I spent a significant number of years in the health industry including working on the COVID-19 digital response program for the Australian Government. I have been involved with web3 and blockchain now for over 6 years and founded Itheum in 2016."

Praveen: "My operational experience spans over 20 years where I have worked primarily on both software startups and scaleups across a number of regions. Being an Electrical Engineer by qualification, the first company I founded when I was in my mid-twenties focused on providing engineering software for the fledgling resources sector in Western Australia. I later moved on to the hospitality industry where I worked on a SaaS software scale-up based out of India, servicing the world and helping it scale its solution globally across 30+ countries. In 2020 I joined Mark to work on Itheum given our shared passion for data ownership and the next generation of technology."

In 2016 you launched Itheum, the world’s first decentralized multi-chain data brokerage platform built on MultiversX. How did you come up with Itheum? And are you still following Itheum’s original vision for the project? 

Itheum was created as a modular technology platform consisting of building blocks required to deploy various tech solutions for both end users and enterprises. The early adoption of the platform included solutions built targeting the health industry such as the “Red Heart Challenge” ( - A cardiovascular monitoring platform and “OK Pulse” ( - A employee wellness and mental health check-in platform. The name “Itheum” translates to “Heart” in our native language of Tamil (the oldest living language in the world) which was a fitting name considering Itheum’s origins were in the health space.

As the years progressed Itheum’s vision evolved to that of empowerment in “data ownership”. With a goal of creating an open-source suite of tools focused on bringing the ownership of data back to the individual and away from the grasp of data brokers that stole, hoarded, and traded data without any benefit to the creator. This vision was only achievable through the adoption of the core pillars of the next generation of technology - web3 - ownership, decentralization, and transparency. Itheum had a lot of its early technology concepts deployed across EVM chains and gained a reputation in the web3 space through participation in a number of hackathons where Itheum won 1st place in hackathons such as the Filecoin, Hedera and PlatOn competitions and also had winning positions in the Moralis, Polygon and MultiversX hackathons. In 2021 Itheum was provided with the opportunity to be incubated and funded by a leading investment firm in the space - Morningstar Ventures which lead to its IDO on the MultiversX (formerly Elrond) Blockchain in early 2022. 

Itheum’s mission continues to remain unchanged in its focus to provide infrastructure and technology to projects and platforms that empower data creators through ownership of their data and the ability to be transparently and fairly rewarded for the data that they create.

Last March, you announced Panacare DAO, which aims to transform the healthcare system. Can you tell us more about this?

As Itheum always had a passion for the healthcare space it was one of our goals to explore the deployment of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization that could lay the foundation and be a good use case for the sector. We were fortunate to be introduced to a number of European health organizations that were keen to bring ownership, consent, and interoperability between their users. Thus commenced the journey of Panacare DAO with Itheum playing a key role as the technology enabler for DAO participants to explore how DAOs, Blockchain and Web3 could revolutionize the industry.

The road so far has been encouraging and there is a lot that the DAO needs to explore and the commitment of the board members has been exemplary with multiple proposals passed via the DAO and an interesting pipeline of ideas to come. These include adopting a regulatory framework for data sharing between companies within the DAO and third parties in addition to standarizing formats and defining guidelines for data exchange.

Why is health data important? Why should we care and how is blockchain helping in the matter?

One of the most sensitive and private aspects of us as individuals is the data pertaining to our health. In most regions around the world, this type of data is considered to be the most sensitive and thus has significant protection measures for processing, storing, and exchange. Due to these stringent requirements, our health data is usually “siloed off” by healthcare providers which can be detrimental in some cases since data needs to be exchanged so that we may benefit from a better diagnosis when problems with our health arise. One of the largest problems in the health space is the inability of individuals or patients to own their own health data and share this data with whom they wish to share it via a consent-driven and transparent mechanism. When consent is provided, it is important that an individual has complete transparency on what their data is being used for and also be rewarded for its value to the consumer. By sharing this data through consent, there is a significant benefit to consumers of this data which includes healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, etc. to tailor better and more personalized solutions for consumers. In addition, since the data quality and lineage are not in doubt due to the transparent way in which the data is exchanged, there is a significant improvement in the return on investment for data consumers.

The above situation currently could not be achieved with the current walled gardens between systems and the roadblocks in place for seamless data exchange. With the advent of web3, blockchain, and decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) technology and its pillars mentioned earlier of ownership and transparency it may be finally possible to pursue usable solutions for the processing of health data.

Itheum has been chosen to join the coveted Sony X Astar Network Web3 Incubation Program. What does this opportunity represent for Itheum?

Itheum is currently in the process of deploying its Data NFT and Marketplace technology to the MultivbersX blockchain. The next steps of Itheum include investigating and deploying technology into other blockchains as part of its multi-chain strategy. This would result in a comprehensive omni-chain experience for users of the Itheum protocol opening doors to adoption across multiple blockchains.

The opportunity to be a part of the Sony x Astar Network program provided us with three major benefits. One was to be able to harness a new region of expansion for the Itheum community given the Astar Networks' strong presence in Japan and South East Asia. Second, to be able to build and deploy a cross-chain minimum viable product (MVP) to an alternate blockchain thereby evaluating Itheum’s tech as being cross-chain compatible. And last but not least, have the valuable opportunity of interacting with the Sony Corporation to build relationships, and explore opportunities in the realm of web3 and blockchain.

We also as part of this program built an MVP showcasing the ability for Sony PlayStation Gamers to import their gameplay data and mint this as an Itheum Data NFT thereby providing opportunities for gamers to trade their valuable gaming data. Details of the partnership can be explored at this link.

Just one month later, in April, you also confirmed a strategic partnership with the Web3 infrastructure project Bware Labs to integrate its API service, BlastAPI, into your protocol. What is the main benefit of this collaboration?

For a protocol such as Itheum to develop, adopt and roll-out cutting edge solutions technology partnerships are a key ingredient. We firmly believe in utilizing and partnering with technology providers who provide best-in-class solutions in their chosen areas of specialty.

Bware Labs has a notable reputation in the space and is a key provider of multi-chain scaling solutions. Itheum’s partnership with Bware Labs is key to Itheum’s goal of being a multi-chain protocol. Itheum will utilize Blast API’s multi-chain solution as a gateway to allow seamless look-up and aggregation of on-chain user data across all of Itheum protocol’s data and identity solutions.

The ideal end-state of this integration would be allowing a web3 user who is active across multiple blockchains to aggregate their data and identity and then take ownership of this multi-chain, high-value data footprint via the Itheum protocol.

You have recently opened the whitelisting process to allow users to mint their data set as NFT and list them on your data marketplace. What makes your Data NFT marketplace so unique?

We are nearing the launch of our Data NFT Marketplace which is a major milestone for Itheum as it showcases two fundamental protocol functions, the ability to license data streams using NFT Technology and trade these Data NFTs in a peer-to-peer manner via the marketplace. As part of the launch, we will also be showcasing Data NFTs in action via the Itheum Trailblazer, the very 1st Data NFT on MultiversX. Holders of these Data NFT’s will be able to participate in token-gated quests, quizzes, and activities including the ability to obtain exclusive early access to product launches accessed via the Trailblazer Data NFT Stream. We have also had a great response from a variety of data creators who are keen to unlock value in some unique datasets of their own which will progressively be made available once the Data NFT Marketplace opens.

The Itheum Data NFT Marketplace is unique in the fact that it provides a familiar experience to a traditional NFT marketplace hosting multiple NFT collections. Interacting and procuring Data NFTs is intuitive and designed with the end user in mind. We have worked hard on cutting out as much of the complexity as possible enabling creators to easily mint and list their Data NFT’s. End users will also have the ability to retrade their Data NFTs much like regular NFTs with clear transparency on the data creator including the ability for data creators to continually benefit and be rewarded via retrade royalties. 

The attached article explains Data NFT’s in detail and the upcoming guarded launch of the NFT Marketplace.

What are the plans for the near future? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

With the launch of our tech this month we are excited for the next phase of Itheum as we now look to onboard integrators and data creators onto the platform and help them unleash their data as a new asset class.  We will be working hard as a team to ensure we seek out valuable data creators from a variety of verticals and a diverse range of data sets to inspire and help data creators embrace this new revolution in data ownership. 

Our tech roadmap which is public provides clarity on what is to come over the coming quarters as we work on deploying soulbound badges, execute our multi-chain strategy, and work towards NFMe-ID - your data avatar that brings all the various components together.

Finally, we have a lot of builders and future project builders in our community. Can you please share your most significant achievement and most extensive challenge at Itheum so far? Any advice for people looking to start something in the space?

The Itheum journey has had its ups and downs and as founders in the web3 space, there were always numerous challenges to overcome. From an operational perspective, it's important to structure the project and its attached businesses in a way that provides flexibility yet be weary of the ever-changing landscape globally in terms of regulation. One of the greatest benefits of working in web3 is the diversity and the ability to work across borders and countries which wouldn’t be easily achievable with a traditional tech business. From a tech perspective, working in this space is very different as well from deploying traditional web2 tech. The complexity and thoroughness required when deploying complex bits of code such as smart contracts can be overwhelming at times and requires a lot of discipline as unlike traditional technology rolling out changes, fixes, etc. are not as easy or favorable. The immutability and transparency of the blockchain demands substantially more attention to detail.  

One of the larger challenges that we face is that Itheum technology is very new and can be complex to understand initially even for those already familiar with web3. We have and continue to invest a significant amount of time and energy in breaking down and simplifying things so that adoption and understanding get better. Fortunately, we have decades of traditional software experience between us which has helped us continue to refine, redefine and pivot and keep evolving our messaging to reach and convert the target audience.

This web3 space is the future and its foundations are strong with ownership and decentralization at its core which is why it appeals to and connects with the younger generation in a way in which no traditional technology can. Founders who venture out into this space now will face a variety of challenges unlike startups in the traditional space and the learning curves are steep, but those resilient enough to survive will be trailblazers.


Thank you Mark and Praveen for the interesting interview. Good luck with you project!

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