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Counting Your Blessings – On Social Media

Posted at: 03.05.2019
An Israeli startup called Boon.Today enables social media users to make a positive impact by eyeballing branded video content

An Israeli startup called Boon.Today enables social media users to make a positive impact by eyeballing branded video content

We can blame social media for all kinds of societal ills, from cyberbullying to the propagation of unsavoury political views. Still, as much as this nasty rep may be warranted, a startup has arrived that believes in a more positive future for social networks.

‘Our objective is to transform the [social media] space into a positive impact space,” says Jérémie Abihssira, the 25-year-old cofounder of Boon.Today.

Boon.Today uses video and augmented reality (AR) to turn user engagement into impact engagement. When you see social media advertising with a Boon.Today QR code, you are informed you are contributing to worthwhile causes – planting trees, cleaning beaches, helping kids with medical care – just by watching. The boon, as in a blessing bestowed, is immediate, and it doesn’t cost the viewer a cent.

‘We want to create a community of users acting together on behalf of social and environmental projects,” Jérémie explains.

After volunteering on various humanitarian projects and working in advertising, the founders of Boon.Today – Jérémie Abihssira along with Shaï Douillet and Thibaut Bach – put their heads together two years ago in Tel Aviv and hit on a way for users to engage with CSR campaigns. Then in 2018 at Viva Technology they won a pitch contest hosted by Klépierre and came away with a 10,000-euro prize (Most Innovative Startup for Social and Environmental Impact). They were also selected to be one of the 12 startups showcased in the Israel country pavilion at VivaTech. “That gave us great exposure,” Jérémie explains. “I pitched [Boon.Today] five times in two days.”

At the same time, looking around at the other startups vying for attention at VivaTech, Jérémie Abihssira saw the need to take that exposure to the next level, to make his company stand out from the competition. “The first night of VivaTech there was another startup contest,” Jérémie recalls. “I’m Tahitian, so I told the jury that if I win, I’ll do a haka [ceremonial dance] for you. We didn’t win but I did the dance anyway. Someone on the jury that night became our investor.” The next day there was another pitch – and another haka. “It was brilliant. The haka accompanied me from the beginning to the end of VivaTech.”

The Klépierre prize gave Boon.Today an opportunity to put in place a pilot project in one of Klépierre’s shopping centers. It also led to Boon.Today receiving a subsidy from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program. Says Jérémie Abihssira: “Meeting big companies, the prize we won, the European subsidy – VivaTech was more than anything we could have hoped for.” Would he consider coming back for another go – and another haka – in 2019$1 “No doubt about it!”