Lansing at Epicenter of Revolutionary Cryptocurrency Social Media App

Story by Jeremy Kohn

Lansing, Michigan hosted the-first ever meetup for a new cryptocurrency app approved by the Apple store called Pepo, The meetup took place in late December of 2019 at The Fledge, Lansing’s maker, creator, and innovator space. 

Pepo first launched in the fall of 2016 by a company called OST, which partnered with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. The app combines a video social media platform with a reward system of exchanging Pepo (a digital asset) when liking other users content.

After working out several of the apps startup problems, Pepo became the first cryptocurrency app launched on the Apple store in November of 2019.  One month later, the Fledge hosted the first Pepo meetup in the world.

Flyer promoting the first ever Pepo meetup at The Fledge. Image from The Fledge Instagram.

Jerry Norris, the proprietor of the Fledge is no stranger to the cryptocurrency movement. He first learned about the movement on a trip to Dubai while trying to exchange and wire money back home. His curiosity grew from there, investing in Bitcoin, and later placing a Bitcoin ATM inside The Fledge. The Fledge now invests in 17 different cryptocurrencies.

Norris talked about what intrigued him with the new cryptocurrency app Pepo.

“It is the first distributed application that the Apple store ever approved,” Norris said, “that’s a big deal — they are basically saying here is an app that is going to allow you to make inapt purchases with crypto.”

“’When you like a video, what’s that really doing for the person that made that video?’ It might make them feel good, but it isn’t giving them money — you have to get to really big thresholds on YouTube before you make money — as soon as you make your first video with Pepo, you have the opportunity to be compensated for it with a cryptocurrency.”

When a user downloads the Pepo app, they are automatically awarded 500 Pepo (equivalent to five dollars) upon creating their account.

After launching, Pepo started implementing communities into its platform. Three of these communities were from Lansing –The Fledge, mConnextions, and Angel Investors.

The Pepo meetup started as a small group of people involved with the app, but soon grew through word-of-mouth and social media.

What set The Fledge’s meetup apart from the typical Pepo user was the subject Norris and others chose to highlight.

“When we joined, they were only talking about crypto, and I said ‘I am not doing that, I am talking about The Fledge,'” Norris said. “So, I just started giving tours of the Fledge, and telling stories about The Fledge. We were one of the first communities to go outside of crypto and start talking about what we were doing — and then I put a bounty up for a chore.”

Video footage of the first ever virtual Pepo meetup at The Fledge in Lansing, MI.

This innovation caught the eye of the CEO of Pepo, and caused a huge spike in crypto activity for Lansing. The website medium.com chose The Fledge as the subject of an article for the first non- crypto case use of the platform.

Norris said the spike in activity was higher than even Ethereum Denver, a major player in the world of cryptocurrency.

“20% of the communities in this West Coast company come from Lansing,” Norris said. “They could see the data bumps and they saw that they were in Lansing.”

David Smith and Jerry Norris point to the spike in Lansing’s activity during the Pepo meetup. Photo by Jeremy Kohn.

The community activist talked about how an app like Pepo can benefit the Lansing community.

“I think that I am really driven by the fact that 21.9% of people in Ingham County live below the poverty line,” Norris said. “I see us being able to redistribute wealth, maybe on the West Coast, into a city like Lansing and pull ourselves out of poverty. I see it as a way to do business with each other a lot easier than we can now.”

David Smith volunteers for Angel Investors, a group focused on helping startups. He talked about his involvement with Pepo, and the excitement about future potential.

“I demoed it a tech demo night that Erik Gillespie hosts, where he encouraged everyone to sign up for Pepo,” Smith said.

“I saw this one guy that talked about economic forecasts, and I liked his videos — so I would give him three likes,” Smith said. “I thought about what my value was after that, and that is where I came up with the idea of making 30-second videos talking about founders.”

“I was getting a dollar a day in revenue from these 30-second videos. I was getting about $120 an hour — ‘what happens when this blows up, and Katy Perry gets on this thing, and she has 90 million followers.’”

Smith talked about why he thought Lansing’s involvement with Pepo is beneficial to the city.

“Guy Kawasaki (an entrepreneur) talked on a podcast about being on social media platforms early, and as those platforms rise, you rise with them — and if Pepo becomes the next big app, Lansing could be some of the key influencers on the platform.”

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