We started our interview series with byte5 founder Christian. Today we present Jelle Millenaar, the first of this year's speakers. In the interview, he shares more about himself and what fascinates him about IOTA.
Tell us about your background.
I learned programming during my Game Design study that I followed for three years. While I loved programming, the game design world didn't attract me much, as the employment environment is generally pretty harsh. Instead, I got my Bachelor in Medical Biology, which was a slight change in direction for my career. I couldn't stay away from programming, however, and started to specialize in computational neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, I got into Blockchain technology as a hobby and was very lucky to find a part-time blockchain consultant job in 2017. Quickly I realized this was the path I wanted to follow and exchanged my Masters for full-time. Ever since I started to build expertise in Blockchain, IOTA, and Self-Sovereign Identity. I got a job at the IOTA Foundation as Lead Identity for almost 3 years and started my own company, Impierce Technologies in 2022.
How did you get interested in IOTA?
When I started as a Blockchain consultant, I quickly realized that the biggest opportunity for Blockchain technology is to help solve the Identity problem. I believed a Self-Sovereign Identity solution needs to be as accessible to people and organizations as possible, and having to own and pay cryptocurrencies was a dealbreaker. The feeless vision of IOTA was a perfect fit for what I wanted to achieve.
[...] I quickly realized that the biggest opportunity for Blockchain technology is to help solve the Identity problem.
What are you currently working on?
With Impierce Technologies our initial focus is a high-quality Identity Wallet that utilizes IOTA Identity to allow users to perform decentralized logins and manage a simple digital identity. We will expand this with more features and make it usable in people's daily lives in both the web2 and web3 environments. Alongside, we are developing a SaaS solution for companies to easily start to participate in the SSI-based ecosystems and benefit from people who bring their own identities.
What will you be talking about at TangleCon?
Impierce Technologies is currently building a demo with a Dutch school to explore OpenBadges for students in combination with Self-Sovereign Identity in order to make education more accessible, and easier to proof skills rather than degrees during job applications. In my presentation, I will discuss the goals of the project, share our long-term vision, and might offer a preview of the demo and our wallet.
What is the biggest topic for you in the IOTA community right now?
While Identity remains our focus and the biggest topic, I do think that for the IOTA community, it's all about Coordicide. Shimmer EVM, L1 Contracts, and even Identity are nice, but the community has been anxious for years about the ever changing Coordicide plans. I hope we soon see it being delivered without further distractions.
What is the biggest challenge in the industry at the moment?
There is a lot of distrust toward cryptocurrencies. Our industry has proven again and again that it is mostly about earning quick money (ICO, NFTs, and memecoins) rather than delivering something usable. For those that do try, it is an uphill battle.
What are your hopes for IOTA in the future?
To see a successful Coordicide implementation working asap. Until that is achieved, I don't bother speculating beyond.
Dear Jelle, thank you very much for the exciting insights into your work! We are happy to have you as a speaker at TangleCon!