Our new Disruption by Blockchain series aims to highlight companies that are leveraging the incredible potential of blockchain technology to disrupt and revolutionize their industry. Through one on one interviews, we'll speak directly with industry leaders to cut beyond the hype and get directly to the heart of practical use cases and examples of how it will change the world, one industry at a time.
The following is an interview we recently had with Nikita Akimov, CEO of Eristica
1. What’s the history of Eristica? How and where did you begin?
NA: In 2014 my friend Artyom Dalevich and I had a bet — whether I would manage to learn 15 guitar solos in only a couple of weeks. A box of Scotch whiskey Chivas Regal was at stake. We posted that challenge on social networks and our followers started to comment and then requested proof of the challenge where I would play those solos.
Then we realized that it was a great idea to create a challenge app where people could take on dares and provide video proofs. It turns out that an idea of Eristica appeared on social networks.
We started in the small office in the north of Moscow. We had a small team of 4 people and had no ties in the FunTech industry. All that we know today is the result of trial and error. It was at the time, when our team started working on the prototype of the application, forming the team and experimenting in the search for the best way to interact with the challenge community.
In 2015, the first public version of the Eristica application became available for download on Google Play and iTunes. In August of 2016, the project took part in the startup competition which was held by Winter Capital venture fund and the McKinsey & Company consulting company. The Eristica team shared the first place with two other projects, winning the prize of $75,000. This was the first major recognition of the project.This is the same year when the project started to grow in popularity, reaching 500,000 users. At the beginning of 2017, the Eristica team focused on the rapidly developing region of Southeast Asia and India which is known for high demand in local entertainment content. That was one of the reasons why Eristica was invited to participate in the acceleration program of the startup Mobile Only Accelerator (MOX)11, managed by the SOSV12 fund. This market became both an opportunity and a technological challenge for Eristica. The application was rebuild to work in the area with low-speed Internet:
The size of the application was reduced to 7mb
- Phone RAM consumption was decreased
- Eristica app was optimized to work in the zone of 2G internet In the middle of 2017, the project team successfully completed the program in SOSV accelerator, which is one of the largest venture capital funds in the world.
SOSV fund ranks first in “Investments in the early stages” rating 13, ahead of other top giants like YCombinator and 500 Startups. SOSV helped to get deals with the major electronics manufacturers (OEMs) concerning pre-installing the Eristica application on new smartphones sold countries like India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Russia.
2. Who are the founders and key team members?
NA: I love my team so much! Over the years of joint and fruitful work on the platform, we’d all come together and become a really close-knit family.
Andrey Sheludchenko, CTO
Andrey is the blockchain evangelist with an extensive experience in building networks architecture and cloud solutions for enterprise mobile platforms.
He is also the Head of Mobile Development Department at Wildberries.
Valentina Ivashchenko, COO
Serial entrepreneur. She is the founder of “Atelier Kälte”, an online store and a General partner at Corporate Real Estate Fund. A Lawyer by occupation, she has the extensive experience in working with the largest oil corporations in Russia.
Artyom Dalevich, CMO
Serial entrepreneur and professional advisor on the management of high technology projects.
A Mathematician by profession, Dalevich is the founder of Appnow.com project, with a current capitalization of $10M. He has also been a speaker at international conferences around the world.
Nikita Akimov, Founder of Eristica
I do not like to talk about myself, but I’ve got to do it. I’m Nikita Akimov. Founder of Eristica. I’m a graduate of Mobile Only Accelerator (MOX) which is the number 1 startup accelerator in Asia. Akimov is the winner of the startup competition Winter Capital & McKinsey. I’m also an advocate of decentralization and democratic anonymous organizations (DAO). I’m a Graduate of the Department of Mathematical Methods for Economic Analysis at Moscow State University.
3. What problem are you solving? Who are you solving it for?
NA: Now the Cryptocurrency is at the peak of its popularity. But a large number of people never uses it and does not understand what it is. It is the problem that hampers the rapid and global development of cryptocurrencies. We are trying to solve this problem.
4. What is your solution to this problem?
NA: Eristica will also create a platform where different types of people can interact with each other in order to create a level of synergy in the process. The young demographic who perhaps have never dealt with crypto-currency before, will get an opportunity to try the products and services in the crypto-industry. This will create a new flow of users and speed up the process of introducing cryptocurrency into the broader masses. Everybody is thus expected to benefit from this paradigm. The creators of crypto-projects get access to a new active audience, independent developers get the platform, where they can implement their ideas. The community of Eristica, on the other hand, will have an opportunity to get the reward for activity and contribution to the development of the project.
Young audience demographic is one of the attractive aspects of the Eristica project. About 64% of the 1.2 million users are young people between 13-25 years old which are interested in video, challenges and entertainment. This audience watches an average of 20 hours of video on their smartphones per week, which is 50% more than the average internet user does. Active users log in to the application 4 times per day on average. What’s even more amazing is that the average session duration is 13 minutes, which is quite a high number in the industry. At the current stage of development, the project expansion covers mainly the region of Southeast Asia and India where we target the same demographics of people between 13-35 years with the same area of interests. Starting with 2018, local manufacturers will pre-install the Eristica app on new smartphones. Potential growth from the cooperation targets around 500,000 new users in the first quarter of 2018. The Eristica project is the gateway to the world of the crypto-industry for the ever-growing community-minded and committed project audience. Eristica intends to democratize the existing challenge industry and make the new crypto experience seamless for both new and existing users.
5. Why is your industry ripe for disruption?
NA: FunTech should be understood as non-game applications and resources that are aimed to amuse users (MSQRD, Prisma, Glitche, etc.). It may seem that they are primitive because of their ease of use but in fact, these applications use the latest technologies: big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
The FunTech industry is gaining momentum and may become the most profitable in terms of advertising sales by the year 2021. It is not a fiction at all. According to App Annie (a platform that does researches in the field of mobile applications), the cost of non-gaming applications in application stores will increase threefold from $ 11.5 billion in 2016 to more than $ 34 billion in 2021. It will largely be due to entertainment applications, which are commonly referred to FunTech. As proof, App Annie leads Netflix, HBO Now and other platforms that have entered the top 5 popular applications.
6. What’s the future of your industry?
NA: I’m sure that FunTech is at the initial stage of its development. Technological progress does not stand still, so these applications will be integrated with the latest developments. Now we can observe the integration of blockchain and VR technologies into the FunTech products. Believe me, it’s only beginning.
There will be a large number of FunTech apps on the market. The industry is starting to gain momentum and over the years it will only become more popular, because it includes all the technological products that are created to raise the mood of the users and make the world around more fun.