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Meet the Boss – Exclusive Interview with Eristica CEO Nikita Akimov

Eristica is a decentralized platform that aims to grow participation in online challenges and competitions.
Unlike other ICOs in the industry, the Eristica platform has already been in existence since 2015 and has a staggering user base of over 1.25 million users – and still growing rapidly today. So, how will they improve participation exactly?

Within the platform, each user has the freedom to launch or accept challenges which are then proved with videos. For example, one of the ways Eristica works is that users can upload footage of completed challenges which are then judged and rated by the community. The connected system of rewards and rankings boosts users’ participation in Eristica as they get both bragging rights and incentives for ranking highly in Eristica.

We recently sat down with Nikita Akimov, the CEO of Eristica to have a chat with him about the project as well as finding out his thoughts and insights.

Hi, Nikita. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and Eristica?

Hi! More about myself?
Well … I`m CEO of a p2p challenge platform Eristica. I’m a graduate of Department of Mathematical Methods of Economic Analysis at Moscow State University and Mobile Only Accelerator (MOX) which is the number 1 startup accelerator in Asia. Moreover, I`m an avid musician and I perform with my own music band.

We make a new mixed social product, which gets people a lot of fun and awesome emotional experience

First off, why did you decide to use the blockchain in building Eristica? What was your thought process behind it?

Blockchain opens up a wide range of possibilities. First of all, we wanted to make our platform protected from fraud. Therefore, the platform is decentralized and all challenges are taken with smart contracts. It ensures that all participants fulfill the conditions. Users shouldn`t be afraid that they will not receive their reward for the completed challenge.

Tell us about how you came up with the idea of Eristica. Did you face a problem within the industry or do you think there is a gap in the market for Eristica to fill?

It’s a cool story in fact!! In 2014 Artem Dalevich and I had a bet — whether I would learn 15 guitar solos for only a couple of weeks. The stake was a box of Scotch whiskey Chivas Regal. We posted that challenge on social networks and our followers started to comment on that and then requested a video proof of my challenge where I was playing those solos. Then we realized that it is actually a great idea to create an app where people could challenge each other and provide video proofs. That’s how Eristica project came to life.
We for sure faced a problem in the industry. But it doesn`t cancel the fact that there is a gap in the unTech market. The main part of entertainment platforms is games. We make a new mixed social product, which gets people a lot of fun and awesome emotional experience.

Editors Pick: Eristica ICO

What do you think is the biggest problem Eristica will solve and why is the problem important to solve?

Good question! Many believe that it makes no sense to talk about solving major problems when it comes to entertainment projects. After all, the end goal is to entertain users, help them have fun. However, in our case, everything is a bit deeper. Almost everyone has once faced a bet or a challenge – they challenged someone to do something or either accepted someone’s challenge. Eristica formalizes this process, displays it online, makes it public and official in fact.
There are many problems besides that, like a trust issue, payment difficulties, centralization – but in the end, it all comes down to bringing fun to people who are bored and sad.

Tell us more about how challenges actually work in Eristica. For example, if I wanted to make a challenge to eat pineapples for a good cause or charity, how would the process look like from my end? Also, are there limits or restrictions to creating challenges or do have users have complete freedom in what to challenge or compete?

Starting a challenge looks exactly like making a post on Facebook or Twitter: you type in the description, chose a prize for your opponent and you’re good to go. In your case the description would look like “Eat pineapples”, the prize – ”x$ for charity” and the opponent would be a random person or a group of people. Simple as that. There are some restrictions obviously. If you use obscene language, violent texts or porn-related stuff, the challenge will be deleted automatically. Right now we’ve restricted types of challenges users can create, and narrowed it down to ~300 preloaded ones. That’s a preliminary phase which we use at that stage and will definitely enable custom challenges really soon.

The competition options in Eristica seems to be perfect for e-Sports and games where a competitive play is available. Is this an area of focus for Eristica and if it is, why would a user choose Eristica over something else like Steam or FACEIT, for instance?

Indeed Eristica is perfect for gaming! This is sort of an experiment which we made last year specifically for game developers: we’ve created an API which allows them to use challenge mechanics instantly without coding it themselves. This brings a new seamless experience for contest and challenge events in multi- and single player games. Imagine challenging your friend while you play for example Forza Horizon or Assassin’s Creed without exiting a game. Say, “run this race faster than me and get my credit points to buy a new car” or “kill the boss without using a sword and get a new exclusive outfit”. This Game API is a gateway to the 100 billion dollars game industry. The coolest thing here is that we don’t compete with Steam, FACEIT or Twitch because we use different mechanics, which is unique on the market.

An interesting detail about Eristica is that your team is planning to move to the Graphene blockchain soon if I’m not wrong? If yes, can you explain what the Graphene blockchain is to our non-technical readers and why are you moving there instead of sticking to the ERC-20 protocol like many tokens today?

Yes, we are going to move from Ethereum to the Graphene blockchain because it’s much more suitable for us technologically. Every time a user calls a smart contract he must pay a transaction fee for it. It is a fairly large amount. We don’t want to force our users to pay for what they can do for free. The Graphene protocol allows content producers to make challenges for a minimum price that is close to 0. Moreover, Graphene`s transactional delays are incommensurably low compared to Ethereum. It encouraged us to partner up with Cryptonomex the founders Stan Larimer and Michael Taggart so that they would support us from a technological point of view in this matter. We are very happy and proud that they responded and became a part our team.

Businesses, of course, play an important role in this industry. Realistically, what can businesses expect in terms of advertising results from Eristica, if there is one at all? Can a challenge be considered “viral” if it relates to advertising or to businesses?

We already had experience with advertisers in Eristica. Of course, businesses are interested in viral distribution. Challenges are a very good mechanism for this. First of all, advertisers are interested in coverage, the number of views. So the most popular type of advertising is still a banner next to the video (it is easier to calculate). We have consistently high metrics for the average time in the app and the number of watched videos per session. And this means that the effect of banner advertising is easier to predict.
At this point there are not too many advertisers which are open to this “experimental” way of a marketing. However, we expect that within the next 3 years they will understand the power of creativity and unusual marketing channels because these options usually have much higher conversion and user engagement. So our mechanics will be right there for them.

What has been your happiest moment so far working on Eristica? On the flipside, what has been the most painful, or perhaps the most regretful decision you’ve made with Eristica?

Without a doubt, our participation in the Mobile Only Accelerator (MOX) was the happiest experience. During this time we managed to work with a large number of professionals who gave us valuable advice. It allowed us to learn a lot very fast. Of course, we had sleepless nights and it all was very hard. But despite this, it was very fun and cool. All of the most painful decisions were connected with the fact that some of our ideas were not perceived by the public and they had to be removed as features. Unfortunately, not always what you think up will be interesting for the masses. At first, it was painful, I didn’t want to remove everything but the time comes and you get the understanding that this is a completely natural and normal process.

Is Eristica already working with notable businesses or firms? Are there any future partnerships in process? If yes, can you explain briefly about it?

We work very closely with SOSV from the beginning of 2017. After the accelerator, we call each other every week to agree on plans and form a strategy. Also, we are beginning to work with BitShares. One of our first common tasks will be the implementation of the Graphene framework to Eristica.

Tell us more about ERT. What is its function in the platform and what can token-holders expect from it in the future?

Eristica utility tokens ERT will enable users to participate in challenges even with celebrities, get rewards for winning challenges and successful predictions. And also get access to platform services. Estimates and predictions of Eristica are based on Metcalfe’s law, which states that: “The utility of the network is proportional to the square of the number of users of this network ≈n2.”

1.2 million users of the platform will add value to Eristica tokens. Moreover, the constant exponential growth which has already been seen plus the pre-installs of the application on new smartphones will certainly contribute to the further growth of the user base and, consequently, the increase in the value of the token.

But as I said earlier, we will move away from Ethereum to a more suitable Graphene-based network. All details will be published later on our blog.

What do you think is the biggest challenge or obstacle Eristica will face? How do you plan to tackle that challenge?

All fast-growing content services sooner or later face the same challenge – the regulation of user-generated content. And we have already started to face this. With the growth of our user base, there is inevitably more and more obscene content and spam, which must be banned and isolated from users. We will solve this problem the same way as Facebook does – with automated and manual moderation. New AI and machine-learning technologies allow us to do this more efficiently every year.

Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?

In this industry, things are changing really fast and you have to adjust, so I wouldn’t say that there’s a strict schedule: calls and spontaneous meetings happen all the time.
But if there’s no rush and we’re talking daily routine, I’d describe it like this:
I wake up around 8 am, spend an hour or two replying to messages and emails. Then I exercise, have breakfast and go to the office. If I do not need to go to any meetings and make calls, I work on the computer. I spend quite a lot of time talking to people as well. Of course, I do not do this alone, my team is always with me.In the morning we talk to partners in the Asian market, in the evening there is an opportunity to talk with American partners including Stan and Michael and guys from Product Hunt. I manage to eat twice a day, and if I eat a third time, it happens very late.

Can you express one personal opinion of yours about the blockchain? It doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive, we just want to hear your thoughts on it.

Blockchain as a technology has an almost unlimited number of application ways, which, as practice shows, are capable of changing the rules and principles on various markets.
From my perspective, blockchain is able to bring up a new round of evolvement, which is going to be built around two major shifts: using data transparency and publicity for simplifying business operations and user experience + new ways of monetization for companies.
For example, in the content space, the distributed ledger can solve problems of authorship and ownership rights – content makers can always be sure that each member of the network complies with initial copyrights. Also, there’s a window of opportunity for incentivizing users for content generation using tokens or cryptocurrency.

Or blockchain in dating – the open ledger may allow users to create their own “dating pools”, earn public rating points and go through transparent identification processes (e.g., using Civic or Identifi). Instead of traditional ads or in-app features, one can earn cryptocurrency with matchmaking: useful recommendations of the soulmate will keep you rich and morally satisfied.

Using blockchain in Eristica challenges helps to solve the problem of trust, fair prize transfers and the absence of video editing (e.g. using a technology which allows to verify it via file’s hash). Content makers and other members of the network can earn cryptocurrency with their own talents by winning challenges and observes – by participating in decentralized votings and other in-app features.

Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else in life you want to achieve?

I’m a musician and from time to time I play with my rock band in clubs or bars. At this moment we play only covers, but my dream is to release an excellent rock album with my band and go on tour.

That concludes our Interview with Nikita Akimov

More Interviews to come

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