Luxembourg-based neon marketing technology becomes Neon Internet and strengthens its agency services by expanding into Web3 and upgrading its team.
Silicon Luxembourg: What have been the major milestones of Neon so far?
Misch Strotz: When we launched Neon, one of our ambitions was to improve the social media landscape in Luxembourg. Today, I believe we have delivered on this idea. We brought new tech solutions to the table and our network of talented collaborators is growing continuously every day. While our in-house agency keeps doing amazing campaigns for our clients, our biggest milestones are linked to our own products.
With Neontools, we reach thousands of people around the world every month, among them also many known creators and agencies from Luxembourg. We have managed to build a state-of-the-art product and we’re moving towards 100,000 signed-up users.
On top of that, with the neonacademy we have a completely free e-learning platform for people that want to launch themselves in the creator economy. On our community website (community.neontools.io) we offer free resources and even more educational content.
Thanks to this solid infrastructure and a great team, I think it’s fair to say that today we are among the top brands that empower creators in Luxembourg and the Greater Region.
In order to be able to move forward, we recently underwent a few structural changes. Most importantly for the Neon agency, our colleague Ricardo Prosperi has taken over the role of agency manager from me, which will allow me to focus on our overall roadmap.
Why are you changing your name?
It’s time for us to move beyond social media and pure marketing technology. After just over 3 years of existence, our Slack server now counts 30 people, with 15 employees and 15 close collaborators that can build, develop and produce almost anything on the web. With the help of these amazing people, we are now aiming to expand our agency services beyond the local borders as well as target avant-garde audiences that are ready to adopt Web3 and Metaverse technologies.
Néos or neon means new in greek. Karim and I chose this name because we’re always on the lookout for new things. We believe in the power of the internet and the things it can enable: most importantly a free and uncensored flow of information.
Furthermore, we don’t want to get trapped in a marketing agency stigma, so that’s why with all the new things we’re working on we felt like now was the perfect time to adjust the name from Neon Marketing Technology to Neon Internet (and our website from goneon.lu to neoninternet.com).
What are your plans and ambitions from now on?
During the first years, we focused heavily on social media. In the future, we will focus on the metaverse. This buzzword is the new playing field of big tech companies and the next technological primitive of the internet (Microsoft buying Activision, Facebook changing its name, and so on). What interests us most is the question of whether this future will be built upon centralised or decentralised solutions: Will society shift attention towards platforms owned by centralised companies or will we use open distributed systems like for example Ethereum?
The answer to this question will probably be a mix of both, however, we have a particular interest in open source, decentralised solutions, so we are building up expertise in this area right now.
As a result, we have recently added blockchain services to our portfolio (with a focus on Ethereum and for the nerds EVM development) and are in talks with multiple companies abroad to do experimental and avant-garde cases around NFTs.
In order to run such projects, many disciplines need to come together. Strong legal expertise is also crucial because this industry is still in its infant shoes and legal questions can be tricky to solve when you’re working with international corporations and non-custodian wallets.
To move forward, we have put in place a Research & Development team that is laser focused on these problems.
So, besides a few cool updates that are waiting in the Neontools pipeline, our main ambition right now is to increase both our development and legal expertise while collecting more practical experience within the Web3 industry – for the agency, but also for our own products and future projects.
The tech scene is constantly evolving. What are the innovations and trends to follow closely right now?
Technology is always a double-edged sword. One new innovation might make things better for one group of people, but worse for another. We are very conscious of these dynamics. Personally, I believe that during the past years, we have seen a lot of technological abuse and a lack or even a reversal of progress in some important areas. Especially in Europe, it seems to me like we are destroying our own chances to stay competitive and technologically relevant by over-regulating in the wrong areas and by imposing bureaucratic hurdles that hinder true innovation.
Worldwide, for everyday consumers, there haven’t been many major innovations since the era of the iPhone, Minecraft, and Bitcoin.
VR and AR glasses are still not relevant. Blockchain technology is mostly being abused for quick money grabs. And in China, one of the government’s #1 priorities is the surveillance of their citizens.
So on the surface, it can easily seem like the “tech scene” has slowed down in terms of innovating compared to 10 years ago. However one must not forget that with all the technological progress from the 20th century and its consequences, the world has become more complex. A lot is happening under the surface: AI is becoming smarter every day, VR glasses are becoming more compact and user-friendly and also in the blockchain industry user adoption has grown fast (especially last year thanks to the cultural momentum of NFTs).
I find that we are now in a time where many inventions from the past years are starting to come together. Once some of these (in my opinion especially AR glasses) go mainstream, things may escalate very quickly. That’s why we’re observing the markets closely to get ourselves ready for important technological shifts.
What is it like to run a tech startup in Luxembourg?
For our agency (which I don’t consider a tech business), Luxembourg is the perfect playing field: it’s easy to know great people who let you do cool things. But it has always been clear to us that we won’t find success with our tech products on the local market. Today, our users are based around the world, primarily in the US. Our communication is only in English.
We never wanted to be marked exclusively as ‘Luxembourgish’, because it can put you into a difficult spot: You’re not German, you’re not French, you’re not Belgian. So you won’t get much exposure in international news easily unless you have an extremely innovative or super mainstream product (or if you’ve raised a lot of money by an international VC). Also, media attention tends to often focus on aspects that attract the most views, which unfortunately is not always a good, working ‘niche’ product.
Also one needs to keep in mind that we are a company that works only remotely. We don’t have any fixed offices and want to promote a work-from-anywhere-mentality. In this sense, Luxembourg is an OK place to start, but personally, I feel that as a country we’re still not doing enough to promote new ways of living and working.