Having a dynamic website presence has never been more important. There is more and more competition online in a shifting reality where the big guys are able to utilize sophisticated AI and Big Data tools to attract and keep the most converting eyeballs.
That is where uKit AI plans to even the score. The SaaS site-building company is launching a blockchain-based platform which offers website owners automated design tools to customize their landing pages to users’ preferences – every time a client visits the website. In addition, platform participants also get rewarded for sharing data – including how customers interact with their websites.
Here is how it works. It is a membership service where those who have a minimum number of system tokens get unlimited access to the services provided by uKit. That means for about $200, connected websites can be updated, automatically, to convert more clients. Data sharing is rewarded in several different unique ways.
We recently sat down with Evgeny Kurt, the CEO of uKit, to have a chat with him about the project as well as finding out his thoughts and insights.
Evgeny. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and uKit?
I’m a managing partner at uKit Group – Russia and Ukraine-based company that develops and markets several website builders. Our story started in 2005 – that year we had launched uCoz, the most widely-used and known DIY-solution for website building in Eastern Europe in the 2000s.
In the 2010s, we got really global with uKit website builder. It’s an intuitive website management system – just customize one of our 350 templates by adding content about your business and start generating revenue. We began with international sales 2 years ago and today power over 1 million users from 90 countries.
This year we’re releasing a beta version of next-generation website builder called uKit AI. It has integrated machine learning and data mining technologies, that will improve websites on the fly, thus increasing sales for businesses, and helping visitors reach their goals on a website faster. Feel free to check out our landing page and read more about our ICO.
If you had to give an elevator pitch, would you agree with the idea that you are allowing even small business and individuals to create personalized, automatically updating websites that draw specific niche clients to them? How would you say that better? Because it kind of sounds like magic.
It’s not magic, it’s technology. Personalization is already everywhere on the web.
Facebook customizes your feed with the help of algorithms. Google tailors ads and search results using data mining and neural networks. Amazon and Walmart give you smart shopping recommendations based on the behavior of the people who are similar to you. Netflix shows you personalized thumbnails for videos to make you watch more…
We’ve got our social media, entertainment and browsing experience personalized by big companies. But something’s missing, right? Websites! There’re over 1 billion websites and most of them are owned by local businesses, not big guys. They want to use AI-based personalization technologies too, but don’t own data and capacities to process it.
So, we combine landing page building, artificial intelligence, and blockchain-based data mining to empower local businesses and make their websites as effective as the Fortune 500 companies’ pages.
How did you come up with the idea and what was the thought process behind it?
This idea came from our customers’ needs. As I said, we already serve over 1M website owners with uKit, and most of them are small business owners or marketers working for SMBs.
And the market for us is more than 100 times large. If you’re building a mass service for business, you should keep your users’ goals in mind and make them the cornerstone of your product. And their main goal is getting more customers from online. Websites are still the most popular tool to convert people into customers, and their number is growing fast. So, the competition for clients grows. You need to test lots of ideas to find the right design for each segment of your audience. Guess what? You usually don’t have enough time and money to conduct all those experiments manually.
So, smart automation is definitely in demand in this market nowadays. Independent research show the same trend – for example, 45% of US marketers claim machine learning will affect their client relations the most, and 70% name conversion as the main indicator for the success of their marketing. That’s what we do at uKit AI – use machine learning and other AI-technologies to boost conversion.
What is the biggest problem within the industry or do you think there is a gap in the market for uKit to fill?
If we’re talking about businesses with websites, we address one big shortcoming for most of them – they usually don’t have enough high-quality data on consumers. And marketing becomes more and more data-driven these days.
The uKit AI removes this limitation, providing you AI-based marketer and designer for a website that is constantly trained on data about why different types of people buy or don’t buy on the websites. And that’s all inside one automated platform, so there’s no need to install or integrate any additional tools and pay for them. We offer an all-in-one affordable solution – this approach makes our product unique to the market.
What do you think is the biggest problem uKit will solve and why is the problem important to solve?
Actually, the problem of irrelevant and pushy marketing messages is somehow affecting everyone on the Internet – people get irritated, entrepreneurs lose their clients, nobody’s happy. And the Internet is around 3.8 billion web users and 1 billion websites now. Applying machine learning, big data and blockchain to the website building industry so that both visitors and businesses could profit from personalization seems reasonable. And there are very few companies that can develop and implement such systems and technologies for the mass market. uKit Group is one of them.
Editors Pick: uKit ICO
Big Data enabled AI will begin to change the game for online marketing and website presence – and amazing tools are being launched now to democratize access. While it is easy to get blasé about the impact of cheaper data in general, consider this: In 2017, online shopping finally came
The system token is basically used as a membership fee. Plus it will be given for rewards. Can it be used specifically for transactions?
Token serves as an exchange unit in our ecosystem too. The main feature of UKT is that it gives you a percentage of the AI capacity. So, as the system grows, your share of personalizations available for your websites increases with it.
You need 10K UKT’s ($200) or more to use free hosting for your website for life. And each additional batch of 10 000 tokens gives you 0.001% of personalizations by uKit AI available at the moment. For example, at the time of its launch, the system will process at least 10,000,000,000 impressions per month.
Website tailoring with AI is an on-demand feature: when you use it, some amount of tokens would expire. That’s why each member of our ecosystem may contribute depersonalized data about their visitors’ behavior to our blockchain database and get new tokens from the reserve fund.
In the whitepaper, you discuss the issue of participants getting rewarded for sharing their data. This presumably would be consumer behavior to train the AI behind the platform, correct? Will consumers have any choice about what data is shared by participating merchants and what isn’t?
Nobody says, “We’ll use Google Analytics to understand who you are and what you do on our website, if you don’t mind”, right? We all are representatives of some audience segments – like “male, 25, has a car, interested in sports, lives in big city”, etc. It’s impersonal data, and there are thousands of people that will match such a description. So, that’s nothing new here – such information is already stored in large DMPs and is sold legally to big companies for advertising and marketing purposes. Being a big company, we can buy it – and we will – to use for the basic AI training. Owners of individual websites can also contribute, and that’ll always be impersonal data.
Regulation-wise, what are the toughest challenges you will have to overcome? Data privacy laws in Europe in particular, are about to go through another major upgrade. How do you see your way through that?
It’s as simple as that – we don’t and won’t collect any restricted data. Being a mass market solution that is used in many countries for years, we respect and follow all the local rules and laws.
What are the services you plan to offer that excite you the most?
First of all, tokenizing the website building industry will give every small business an opportunity to become a player of the data market – and data is the new oil, as we’re all told.
Also, our website personalization model is similar to what cloud-based hosting providers like Amazon offered their users at the very start. At first, owning % of the system potential is not much. But when the system expands, even 0,001% will become a very significant acquisition.
What has been your happiest moment so far working on uKit?
On the flipside, what has been the most painful, or perhaps the most regretful decision you’ve made with uKit?
The best moment so far is our 4x time growth in the audience during the second year – we didn’t raise our marketing costs much, it was mostly the word-of-mouth effect. It feels great when you see how people use your product, how it helps businesses from all over the world to get presence and visibility on the web. And the best is yet to come with uKit AI, because we’ll be able to solve more problems for more people with the more powerful and transparent technology.
Speaking of misfortunes, two years ago the company tried to promote uKit to the Brazilian market. There was no national product in the segment there. However, the audience wasn’t ready for the product. But that’s how you learn. Since then we’ve found many clients in North America, Europe, Mexico, so that case was a good lesson for us that helped our company market itself better.
What is the indicator you are looking for to tell you that you have begun to achieve your mission?
The growth of demand for our services and tokens, of course.
Tell us more about the UKT.
What are the selling points and what does it do in the system?
During the ICO, we issue the limited amount (1,000,000,000) of ERC20 tokens, and 55% are available for sale.
Holding 10k tokens is equal to having a lifetime premium package in uKit, and the tokens don’t expire. So you may rent them out or sell to a third party if you don’t have or don’t need a website. According to the number of tokens that we issue, they would be enough only for about 50 000 website owners – the figure is very small compared to the number of websites in the world.
As a website owner, you can also pay with tokens for successful AI-driven personalizations of your pages. The tokens you pay with go to the reserve fund and you can “mine” them back by helping us train AI. This mechanism ensures the circulation of UKT tokens within the ecosystem.
The coins are just to pay for data exchange and services, correct? Presumably, however, there are graduated fees on services – that is why you have a differentiated membership fee? Will the UKT have any fiat conversation rate? Or is “compensation” within this system just meant to pay for increased accuracy of the AI and use of Big Data for members only?
Our token is a utility, you’re right. But our business model combines two ways of how people can pay for the uKit AI services. Since the demand for the website builders and personalization is higher than the number of tokens issued, our users will still be able to pay with fiat currency for their websites and AI-driven conversions. Actually, that’s how we’ll earn money further because token holders get services almost for free.
Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?
Life of a CEO means that you don’t usually have typical days. Every day is a new day – new meetings, challenges and achievements. What stays the same is family – I try to be with them every day when possible.
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.
There’s nothing negative about the technology itself – it’s a real innovation with a great and game-changing social impact. I’m a bit confused about all that hype about “let’s try to use the blockchain wherever possible” but I hope it’ll all come out in the wash soon.
What’s something that you believed to be true for a long time until you found out that you were wrong, or if you don’t like that dichotomy of right versus wrong, what’s something significant that you really changed your mind about over time?
You know, when we launched the first uKit Group’s project called uCoz in the 2000s, we believed that we can put all features for all types of users in one website builder. But time showed that it makes a product too complicated. People want simple solutions. That’s why in the past years we launched simple and effective products for specific segments – kind of personalizing them. Now we want to personalize websites.
Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else in life you want to achieve?
It’s my family, of course. And besides business and family – I always wanted to solve the problem of communication between a human and a machine. And between humans too. Because we can definitely share ideas, thoughts and commands faster and with less distortion. And progress in the AI field shows us that it’s theoretically possible… But let dreams be dreams. We’re already using AI to make websites better. So, now I’m happy with that.
That concludes our Interview with Evgeny Kurt
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