Scott Swanson has worked as a global-infrastructure advisor in the tech industry for nearly two decades, and he is intense. With startling blue eyes, he maintains contact so intently you could swear he never blinks. When he’s excited about an idea, he talks so quickly you might think he’s from New York (and not the slow-speaking state of Minnesota). And he speaks with such conviction that he’s definitely what someone from Minnesota would call a “firebrand.”
What is not expected is to learn that he spent many years living in a Buddhist Temple in the Santa Cruz Mountains, waking at dawn to practice zazen — or sitting — meditation with monks, he says, who barely acknowledged his presence for the first year. Through posture and breath, zazen allows the practitioner to disconnect from the periphery to connect with the universe.
This idea seems like a contradiction, a bit like Swanson himself. “I’d sit there staring at a wall for hours,” he says, “then zip down the hill and meet with Sony execs wondering if they could still smell the incense on me.”
After living among the monks for many years, Swanson began All Centered and Just Sit Meditation Center in Redwood City, Calif., where he learned the business of business — to build a clientele, market, create a revenue stream, and scale the business. He taught people how to create good health for themselves and their businesses by achieving a harmonious state with themselves, with each other, with nature, and the world around them/
For Swanson, embracing Buddhist philosophy isn’t just part of who he is — it’s everything he is. When he decided to create his own platform, after years of advising others how to design and build their technology, he did so with the same purpose and meaning that is at the core of his being.
Swanson wanted to build a digital platform that would marry the best of technology with the best of humanity.
An Extraordinary Digital Platform for Community Building
Just last month, Swanson launched Bonder, the world’s first location-based communications platform, which he plans will provide good services for people who also want to do good, and for which he holds its patent.
“Getting patents in the world of technology is not an easy thing to do, and we have one within two years, which exemplifies that we have a novel idea,” says Swanson. “It’s important for people to understand that we are not another Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tiktok, Parler, or Clubhouse. We’re not competing with them, we’re just not them. We are something that evolves us beyond that space, a platform that works to centralize the human masses and create meaningful human encounters.”
What does the world’s first location-based communications platform offer?
- The opportunity to create both professional and social circles that are private all the time
- No surveillance, no data collection, and no metrics shared with anyone
- No annoying ads
- Geo-tagging that allows users with common interests to connect offline
- Donating to a cause with 90% of your money going directly to your philanthropy
- A unique business-to-consumer experience that begins on Bonder and ends in a brick-and-mortar store with personal assistance and discounts
- The ability to “pick it, click it, text it,” with the “it” being gift cards and with Bonder being the only platform that can text gift cards
In addition to working with dozens of well-established retailers like Nike, Peet’s Coffee, and Best Buy who offer gift cards on Bonder, Swanson also is working to expand consumer opportunities. For instance, he is currently partnering with restauranteur Michael Mina who has opened “ghost kitchens” during the pandemic. Here, the idea is to offer a limited menu for delivery only, which has been a welcome service during the pandemic. Through Bonder, customers will not only be able to view menus and order through Bonder, but they also will be able to share their gustatory experience with others on Bonder while socially distancing. Granted, you could post to Facebook that you had a fabulous burger delivered to you, but you wouldn’t be tapping into a community that also had that same meal just delivered.
‘Meet, Greet, Gift, and Contribute’
When the internet really opened up in the early 1990s — a decade after ARPANET eggheads were using it internally — with Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web, people called it the “information superhighway.” In the succeeding 30 years, that highway is filled with a lot of road rage, strangers hurling invectives at each other, and worse — curses and death threats to people they have never met over petty issues and politics.
There’s a lot of noise, dissent, and general unhappiness in the digital world, which, especially in the age of Covid, is overtaking the natural world. Swanson’s hope is that people will discover that Bonder is the place to connect and create space for themselves where that noise does not exist at all. But true communication does.
Bonder is based on four principles: “meet, greet, gift, and contribute. Says Swanson, “It’s essentially a self-contained ecosystem of people coming together and helping people.” We all understand meeting and greeting, but gifting can be interpreted in many different ways. We can gift others with knowledge, empathy, kinship, partnership, and love. Or, we can gift in material ways. Say you want to buy your sister a much-needed washing machine, you can gift her with a card to Best Buy, or you want to buy your nephew on the track team a meal or two, you send him a gift card to Panera that will keep him carbed up for a week. The intention is kindness, and kindness supersedes petty issues and politics.
Swanson returns to the Buddhist principles he learned while sitting in silence among the monks.
“The practice of zazen heightens awareness,” he says. “The ability to see and feel the bigger picture beyond all the noise and confusion — from this place, one can respond appropriately.”