INTERVIEWS

Bethereum Is About To Disrupt Betting Industry. How?

Seems like Bratislava has become a hotbed for blockchain-related projects of different kinds. Bethereum is one of the latest.

Bringing a peer-to-peer element to the betting industry, Bethereum makes the whole process more transparent, secure and automated, thanks to the blockchain technology. Martin Herman, the co-founder, talked to us about the vision they have for the project, and how they want to make betting a social activity again.

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Martin, what changes is Bethereum bringing into the betting industry? 

Bethereum is a social betting platform powered by blockchain and instead of betting for euros or dollars or any other fiat currency, you bet for crypto. We have our own Bether token which will be the in-app currency on our platform and all bets will be placed in it.

This allows us to create all-Bether smart contracts that make the whole process more secure and transparent so there is no way for us to change the terms of the rule or not to pay out the winners.

With Bethereum, you don’t bet against the betting agency or a bookmaker. Instead, you create a bet and people from around the world can join it, and you bet against them.

How did Bethereum come to be?

I run a software development studio and around a year ago two guys approached me. They wanted to create a betting platform based on peer to peer betting. At that time, no blockchain was involved. It’s pretty tough regarding licensing though. That was our first issue.

The second one was that we could only count with three or four hundred thousands euro, maybe up to a million in an investment round, and we’d give away a ton of the company. In that sense, ICO or token sale seemed to be a reasonable next step forward. Blockchain also makes a lot of sense in the betting industry because of all the issues you have regarding transparency and automation.

The project started off as a subcontractor work from my side but after we finished the first prototype, we figured out that it might make more sense to move it to the blockchain. That’s when we started a company in Hong Kong, and I became a partner.

You’ve been developing Bethereum for about a year. What stage is it at the moment?

We have a working prototype on AppStore where we simulate the use of Bethers. You don’t bet fiat money, you bet our tokens so you don’t lose anything. This is what Bethereum should look like one day, so we wanted the participants of the token sale to see how it works.

When do you plan to do the token sale?

The ICO and crypto world is changing very fast. It’s hard to do a successful token sale if you just put out a message that says „OK, I’m doing this and this, and I want 15000 ETH“, and you expect to get 20,000 people to participate. The crypto world does not work that way anymore. Today, you have to agree with syndicates or investor pools. And that‘s what we do.

We have all the stuff needed for the token sale ready – the website, demo on the App Store, coverage from journalists and cryptos reporters. We also have a good white paper with several translations to be ready soon. The next step is to start the private pre-sale, then the public sale. We should be able to get this done by the end of March, beginning of April.

What comes after the token sale?

We will work on the platform itself. What we have to do is to take a few steps back and re-evaluate how we want the platform to look and how we want it to work. Thanks to this beta app, we already found some UX problems.

Then we need to finalize the team. Right now, it’s almost 30 people working on the project. We still need to complete the team with a few more members such as software developers, iOS, Android, web, designers, and people that are already familiar with blockchain. But to be honest, it’s going to be tough.

That’s the question. Can you find people who are familiar with blockchain?

Overall, the demand for blockchain developers in the world is very high, so it’s tough to hire these people but we accepted that we will have to train them.

Bethereum app
Bethereum app

How do you train them? What do they need to know?

As we are building our platform on Ethereum, we use what the Ethereum guys came up with called Solidity. It’s a language similar to JavaScript. So if you’re proficient in JavaScript, it’s not too hard to learn Solidity. The syntax is basically the same, you just need to have the core understanding of the blockchain and the architecture.

I was able to learn within a month or two to write some basic code. I don’t think it will be too hard for people to switch from JavaScript to Solidity once they get a common overview of what blockchain looks like.

Are you looking for people here in Slovakia?

Optimally, we are going to be hiring in Slovakia because we want to keep the development headquarters here even though the company is based in Hong Kong.

Is there a competition to Bethereum?

We definitely have a competition but there are two main differences. Betting always used to be a social activity but the technical difficulties in making peer to peer betting reality both in the real and online world were a huge barrier and that’s why peer to peer never took off. The competition is usually building their solutions by just using the model betting against the bookmaker, we are doing pool betting where people bet against each other. That is a real upgrade.

The second difference?

More importantly, we are trying to build our solution as a platform. We want to publish the technology and allow anyone else to implement their betting game using our technology. If someone develops for example Counter Strike first player shooter and wants to enable players to bet on who is going to win, he can use our technology and doesn’t need to worry about the blockchain part and the betting part. We want to open the technology so the Bether token will be used as a global gambling currency on all the platforms partnering with us.

First local Bethereum meet-up in Slovakia
First local Bethereum meet-up in Slovakia

Who are the key people in the company, and who are the advisors?

We are three co-founders, then there is CEO Giacomo Tognoni who is Italian and has the most experience of us all in running a business like this. He used to run his own gaming startup and had a position as a director in a bank. We have several advisors, including Peter Dendis who led or advised multi-million dollar token sales, including SophiaTX and DECENT. You can find all the advisors and team members on our site.

What have been the greatest challenges since you started?

The biggest challenge was that no one prior to September last year had a deeper knowledge about ICOs. During DECENT’s ICO (autumns 2016 – editor‘s note), maybe 5% of people knew what an ICO is. No one had any idea how to do it. You even can not mimic the process of other previous ICOs because the crypto world moves so fast. All the trends and conventions used yesterday are not valid today. You have to freestyle it. There is no real guidebook on how to run an ICO. Even if there was one, it would be outdated within six months.

Just recently, you launched Bethereum bounty program with amazing results. You were trending on the crypto hashtag on Twitter for three days, you reached 25K people on Telegram in four days. You yourselves did not expect that. Tell me more about the bounty program.

I saw a bounty program on some other projects, and Peter, our advisor, also told me that we should do a bounty program as everyone was crazy about that. I took a look at how everyone else was doing it and because I was already familiar with Twitter and Facebook and other APIs, I decided that we could make it work.

We started to develop the bounty system early on just to see what options are there. By November 2017, we had a backend prototype and it worked. At the time, there were, however, other things to work on such as white paper, website, and no one really cared about the bounty. In January 2018, we came back to it as we realized we were close to launching the token sale. We updated it, added Twitter, coded frontend and launched it on one Friday.

Martin at TEDx BISB on the future of finance
Martin at TEDx BISB on the future of finance

Did you expect such massive hype?

We were hoping to get 5k Telegram users in a week. That seemed like a reasonable community number. We did not do any promo, just uploaded the site online and mentioned it on our Telegram channel with 600 users. About ten users every 15 minutes came up, so I thought we are going to do 5k in a week.

On Saturday at 2 pm, I had a meeting. I don’t know what but something must have happened at around 1 pm because users started pouring in. When the meeting ended at 3 pm, I had 5k Telegram members within 3 hours. Probably some ICO alert or Airdrop alert shared us on Twitter.

Since then, it was just a snowball effect. Every new member brought in another 5 members and it was not slowing down until Monday evening when we changed the point system and limits. It was not sustainable. No one expected it. We’ll be able to use that solution in the future after the token sale and before the launch of the platform as it gave us so much hype and cost us almost nothing.

Where do you see the future of blockchain and the future of Bethereum?

The blockchain is one of the most interesting technologies in the past few years, mainly because it is much more than just an internet bank. People still consider to be just a decentralized bank but you can do much more on top of that. Automating many background processes is a huge feature. Imagine Starbucks creating its own coin, StarCoin, which can automate all the processes in the background. You’d buy coffee for five StartCoins, one StarCoin can be sent to a coffee bean distributor automatically, another one can be added to the marketing budget, and all these background transactions can be automated.

At the moment, projects launched on blockchain need to be simple for people to understand. Bethereum is one step up from the conventional betting. You can’t take 15 steps at a time because if you launch complex AI vertical farming thing on the blockchain, no one will get it.

What we did with Bethereum is that we took a concept familiar to people – betting, we added blockchain to it, and we can easily show the advantages such as transparency, security, automation. There is also a huge market, we don’t need to create a new market for it, we just upgrade it.

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