Transcription Episode 98

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Living on Blockchain. Today we are speaking to Ritesh. Ritesh is the CEO and co-founder of WowTalkies.

It’s a leading fan engagement platform on Web3. They have done brilliantly well in terms of the initial attraction that they have gathered. They are right now in the midst of their pre-seed round which they’re closing.

WowTalkies is not Ritesh’s first fan engagement platform. He has worked in fan communities on a platform for football fans and earlier in deep tech as well. This was a very interesting conversation for two reasons.

One, I personally am not able to understand fandom to a large degree especially with movies and you know movie stars and celebrities and this might make me sound like I live under a rock but I just I’m not able to identify with the kind of fandom that people see and the celebrities see. So this was personally enriching for me because I got a little bit of an insight into how that kind of psychology works and it is it was very very interesting because ultimately this is a consumer facing platform and which is on Web3 and the technology aspect is is a facilitator of this this entire you know platform and in this particular movement. Technology is not the end goal which is I think very important for Web3 to become mainstream or to be able to you know on board the next million users.

Very interesting conversation. Seasoned entrepreneur. I can’t wait for you guys to hear this.

Let’s deep dive right in. All right the recording has begun. We can start now Ritesh.

Hi Ritesh. Thank you so much for making the time to speak to me today. How are you doing? Hey absolutely well.

It’s hot in this time this time in this part of the country but otherwise all okay. Thanks for having me. Absolutely.

It’s really hot. I think it’s historically it’s been the hotter it’s ever been and yeah I think all of us are dealing under this severe heat wave but I’m glad that you could make the time. So for our listeners can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into tech in Web3 in general.

Hey absolutely fine. I’ll do that. So I am one of the few Delhiites who call the southern part of the country as in Chennai their home.

I’m an alumnus of IIT Delhi. I’ve been in the tech and consulting industries for a better part of more than a couple of decades and worked across the globe mostly in consulting. I’ve seen all the internet models from from Web1 to Web2 to Web3 and I’ve helped customers across the globe Fortune 500 entities corporations to make sense of what they should do with internet per se.

Some of the Fortune 500 companies that I’ve worked with World Bank, NYSE, Northrop Grumman, Toyota, I could name a few others. Won a couple of awards at the Mobile World Congress as well. I’ve been in the startup kind of realm before startups became fashionable.

My first stint at a startup was early 2010s in a startup that was incubated and invested in by Ericsson. Ericsson being the largest telecommunication equipment vendor in the world. The startup was called Nuvetium.

So again blockchain was by serendipity. This was 2017 if I get the if I get the year right. The project was called Open Giving.

These were gentlemen out of Australia and they had a the concept was very simple concept was well they wanted people like you and me to give donations to causes that they would like. But at the same time and they also wanted to have a proof of work as far as the donations were concerned. For example if you were to donate for somebody to run a marathon and for that person to get trained for a marathon if that person was from disadvantaged circumstances then you would want proof of work to figure whether the donation was being spent for the right cause.

And this was a peculiar situation. We were grappling with the fact as in how could we have everything transparent for the user who was giving the donation and for the doer who was using the donation to do the cause per se. Which is when we with serendipity stumbled on blockchain for its permissionless and and and trustless virtues.

So yeah that was that was my introduction to blockchain. A small simple project with a very very like more use is that required all the virtues of the blockchain that it has powers. It’s very early at that point of time.

We had a bit of trouble because as and as the project got more popular we had a bit of trouble in scaling but so that was my first introduction to blockchain. So it’s been quite a journey. So you basically stumbled into blockchain because you were looking for a solution for a problem that you were facing at that moment.

Absolutely absolutely which is why I call it serendipity. Yeah right excellent. So you know from then when you know you stumbled upon blockchain and you started you utilizing blockchain as a part of the solution to now where you know you have WoW Talkies.

Can you tell us about that journey? Yeah so the journey has been has been checkered. 2017 was when we were leading digital for a boutique, a mid-sized IT company and I’ll give you the genesis as to why we are doing WoW Talkies in a bit. 2017 onwards I was CEO at an IT company.

It was moving in second after we built the portfolio up from scratch to be the largest deployed solution in India. But that notwithstanding as part of this boutique mid-services IT firm we were requisitioned by the top Europeans football clubs. And they had a very they had a single line problem statement.

The problem statement was such they were doing a lot of stuff on Facebook and they had multi-million user bases on Facebook per se. And all the content generation was coming from them as content generators. But then they said that hey listen we are generating all the content.

We all the fans are coming to Facebook for our social presences per se. But then we are the revenue that we are earning is zilch. Do we have any control on the content the way it is being displayed? Zilch.

Is there any way that we can disenfranchise current methods of social engagement and build something that gives us more control? That’s a single line statement. And imagine now these are these are very very powerful clubs here. They are in terms of the Deloitte top football club list they will rank among the top 10.

In terms of social media presences now they rank among the top 10 in 20. So imagine if these powerful entities have no control over what fan engagement is about the fans per se always have the rough end of the stick. So we built what was dug out then and what is OneFootball now.

OneFootball now is the largest digital platform of football fans worldwide. It’s grown far and wide which is where the genesis of this double-sided equation that fan engagement as in content creators, popular content creators on the supply side and fans like yourself on my side or myself on the demand side. So we were very proud that we were able to solve it from the perspective of the content creators, powerful content creators then.

So we said hey let’s dabble into trying to solve it from the perspective of simple fans like yourself and myself in a second avatar after which is what was the genesis for the birth of WowTalkies. That’s brilliant like you know you’ve kind of been able to capitalize on fandom primarily and you have had quite a journey. Can you tell us a little about the team behind WowTalkies and perhaps what is the next big milestone that you’re looking forward to? I’ll also give you a summary about what I’ll also give yourself and the audience a summary about WowTalkies.

So WowTalkies is whatever you do for football incarnated for movies and cinema and the idea is very simple. We are trying to solve from the perspective of a fan and from a fan from and from the perspective of fan as in what does a fan gain at the end of the from following popular cinematic personalities. If you and me were to do it over Twitter or any of the web2 platforms or Facebook or Instagram etc well we are consuming content and we are consuming content by the dollops but we have nothing to show for it.

Also I mean a lot of stuff that we’re doing on social media because we really like somebody. I love Daniel Craig for example. You ask me anything about anything related to movies of the last couple of decades I’ll be able to give you a straight answer but then I won a few movie quizzes while I was at college.

Not a few all the movie quizzes but is there any way that I can proclaim on traditional social media to say that well as far as fandom is concerned on entertainment there is nobody bigger than me. I can’t and if there was a means of doing that can I monetize the way that I am a super fan. I can’t do that.

So which is why this solution to the riddle called WowTalkies. WowTalkies is a fan to super fan platform for movie entertainment fans. It’s community-led so anybody can join a community of like-minded fans or create a community per se engage in the community and engage to one model and the more anybody engages the more the move of the fan to super fan leaderboard which is how you and me can proclaim our super fandom and as part of the fan to super fan leaderboard transition is when content monetization opportunities open for simple fans like yourself and myself as well.

We also do a lot of AI and AR. We’ve been doing AI and AR before AI and AR were fashionable. We’ve been doing it since 2022 using frameworks generative AI models that are older than the current generative AI using something called GANs, G-A-Ns, Generative Adversary Networks and using AI and AR well I could be James Bond and James Bond click using PS4.

I could basically mouth James Bond dialogues. I could click a photo with James Bond. I could sport a tuxedo that he would have.

I could sport a favorite James Bond style. I could shoot the pistol that he does in the entry of every James Bond movie stuff like that. So we brought all this together as in the community building pieces, the leading edge AI and AR tech pieces and the very very unique gamification things that we’ve come up with to be able to build a fan to super fan journey as part of our talkies.

So a long answer to a short question and it was a previous question that you asked me so one more talkies was about but I forget to address it now. That’s that in a more than nutshell is what our talk is about. We are a young team.

Sai and me. Sai handles tech. I handle everything that is non-tech.

Kari is our third co-founder. Kari handles everything that is operation related. So we because we do a lot of AI and AR we are using a lot of cloud infrastructure, Google, Amazon and a lot of decentralized stuff as well.

Teddy handles that. We are a team of seven and it’s a young team. We are a young company as well.

We started out in late 2042. We’ve achieved quite a bit. Traction is good.

We started with web2 which is where we refined the AI and AR models that I’m speaking about. The web2 avatar was basically just Tamil in English. Then we transitioned to web3 if I remember the time frame correctly sometime in the beginning of late 2022, early 2023.

So that in a nutshell is our journey. Small team. A lot to do.

Enthusiastic. Very, very incipient as far as our journey is concerned. Very nice.

So because you made that move from web2, you mentioned that you refined the platform and then you moved to web3. Once you have now moved to web3, is the web3 element purely the NFT aspect or is there some other aspect to the platform which is also blockchain related? Great question. I’ll come to what the platform does in the blockchain later, but the transition from web2 to web3 was necessary.

So we were fairly okay in the web2 region. We were bootstrapped. We didn’t have any investment.

We had around more than three lakh downloads. Then the average time that was being spent on the platform was between five, five and a half minutes per user. Instagram at that point of time in India was 18 minutes.

Now Instagram is behemoth and we were bootstrapped. So four and a half, five minutes was nothing to scoff about. But then Tarusha, what was happening was that we were becoming a content creation and a content generation company.

So in the web2 region, for users to come back and spend five minutes tomorrow, we were always regurgitating the content band back. Because I mean, if somebody was to come tomorrow, he or she needs to see fresh content. He or she needs to experience something different.

And hence, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to scale where we were on being a content generation company. That was not the idea. And the idea was to facilitate the interaction between the demand and supply side.

And that was not that was not the theory at all. That was not the thesis. We wouldn’t have been able to scale as being part of a content generation company.

We would have needed millions and millions of dollars. We would have just been gobbled up in our own intricacies. Now, as I mentioned earlier during this conversation, we knew a lot about blockchain.

And hence, when we just started reading more about as to what the internet transitions to web3 were about, we thought that, hey, this is the right way to do it. Because in the web3 kind of internet models, we could be permissionless, we could be decentralized, and we could do the self-incentivization for users to themselves create content, in which case we need not be the content generation company that we were being forced to. And then in which case, we thought it was the good riddance for great cause.

And hence, we could do the fan to superfan journey in a decentralized manner as well. And then everybody, everything would be transparent as to why somebody was getting privileged and why somebody was not. I mean, we’d done stuff on blockchain.

All our contacts were on the investment side and on company building side, which is why we started on the web3 star. So, logically, a right choice. Currently, as WoWTalkie stands, the user journey per se, the user traction, the proof of the pudding on what the user does, everything is on chain.

The content is on chain as well, for the very fact that, well, what is popular and what is not. Some of the contents are collectibles, some of the content are not collectibles. The piece that is a collectible is on chain as well.

Pieces that are collectibles can be rented and lent, so all those stuff is on chain as well. The network effects of rewards and recognition, that is on chain as well. So, it’s easy to say that everything is on chain, but I mean, we know that gas fees is a variable and then scaling is a variable as well.

So, we’ve built some sort of a middleware to be able to asynchronously post transactions on the chain per se, so that everything is transparent on chain, but then we’re not loading the chain synchronously and lending ourselves the vagaries of scalability and gas fees and stuff. Okay, this is very interesting. So, personally, I think I’ve never really understood, to be very honest, fandom.

And I’m usually hard-pressed whenever somebody asks me for a favorite of anything, for that matter, and I’ll have preferences, but I don’t really have favorites and I don’t really, I’m not able to perhaps categorize myself as a fan or a super fan. So, this is all very interesting to me, personally, to just understand. But taking it from that perspective, so the platform that you have is primarily for people who are probably fans of, say, movie stars or, you know, the football aspect is obviously that is a separate platform altogether, and celebrities primarily.

Is that correct? Do you envision to move beyond these particular niches to other niches? That’s really correct. We started in the movie and entertainment space because we thought we’d done something with sports. And we currently are fixated on the movie and entertainment space.

As I said, we are young, but we have investment. We don’t have investment in the millions of dollars. So, any sectoral extensions will have to wait.

But the concept, per se, is extendable and scalable to other sectors, sports being one, art being the other, music being another, politics, for example. A lot of cases, we have these arguments, we wouldn’t want to touch politics. I get that.

Do contentious. Don’t want to have somebody throw stones at the office. That’s too hot a topic here in India, I think.

So, that’s there. So, this is primarily in India? Like, the movie stars and celebrities? Obviously, it’s a global platform, right? Because you’re on Web3. So, I’m assuming, and these collectibles are on blockchain, you’re saying interactions are on blockchain.

So, obviously, you are global. But these are primarily Indian movie stars and celebrities? So, I forgot to mention that in the theory of users building their own communities and stuff, we were able to build some sort of, we think we’ve been able to build some sort of a circular economy. Circular economy is different than what is a unidirectional stage to audience kind of a mechanism.

Right. In a stage to audience kind of a mechanism, I’m subservient to a content creator, a celebrity in this case, for the celebrity to create content and me to be able to monetize. Circular kind of an economy, you and me are equally proficient, and you and me have equal permissions to be able to do whatever you want on anything related to a celebrity that you and me espouse.

So, which is why this is more circular rather than unidirectional as traditional social media is. The second part of the question was, yeah, we are the audience, the user audience per se is predominantly from India. We don’t have any vagaries on what the content and community should be like.

So, for instance, in the current version of our talkies, we have a Malayalam centric community, we have a friend centric community as well. We have something that is very efficient and possible. Tom Cruise, Zytek community, we have something on the Marvel cinematic universe, we have something with general cinema.

General cinema is mostly populated by the Indian cinematic universe. But then that is a factor because the audience isn’t. And the audience are predominantly Indian because, well, we floated out of India, so India is the test market.

And then, as I said, we have investment, but we don’t have investment tunes of millions and beyond. In which case, we are just being, what should I say, more conservative as far as cost of acquisition is concerned. And in acquiring an audience that’s more international, the bandwidth and the runway, as in the investment runway, needs to be longer.

Right. The CSE would be more as well, right? I think so. That is not just not something, you know, you don’t want to honestly, as an entrepreneur, I can, this is something I can truly tell you that it’s best not to spread yourself too thin and might as well conquer the niche, which is what you’re doing.

So more power to you guys. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with it. I think that’s the right way to go about doing things.

But again, just to satisfy my curiosity, and this might sound really weird, but the kind of people who are like fans and super fans are these content creators, are these folks, but why would they want to create content here and not say on a subreddit or another social network platform? I’m genuinely curious. It’s an absolutely great question. Don’t blame me for that at all.

It’s an absolutely great question. We get asked that a lot. So we appeal to all demographics and psychographics.

While the platform is a fan to super fan platform, I’m not assuming even for a bit that anybody who is an audience will be an absolutely incredulous, vicarious super fan. Yeah, I am fine. But then as you mentioned, from a movie and entertainment perspective, you like them, but then something that is a super fan, are you? Maybe, maybe not really.

And then if you’re just building for the super fan, the super fan-ish psychographics, then we are leaving out a large portion of the audience. But then at the same time, the addressable market is anybody who is interested in cinema. Movie and cinema is also cyclical.

You might have somebody that you, somebody that you like as a cinematic experience or an actor. And then whenever that cinematic experience or an actor is more involved, for instance, for movies launching is then the fan in you comes out. Otherwise, the fan in you is dormant, which is fair, which is expected.

So essentially, as part of the entire fan to super fan journey, what we are saying is that, well, even somebody who’s a hyper casual fan can use the platform to interact on anything or everything that he or she would want to interact on. For example, now there is this, what’s the second season of The House of Dragons, right? It’s called The House of Dragons, right? Right. The GOP sequel.

Sequel of sequel, yeah. So the second season is supposed to come sometime during the latter part of this year. And believe me, anybody who watches it in Jio Cinema needs to figure as to what happened in season one.

It is so ingrained in mythology and what had happened in season one, right? Just the names of the dragons per se. So even if you were to watch season two, and assuming that you were not watching season one, et cetera, and you just wanted to watch season two without being a House of Dragons super fan and stuff like that, you would need some sort of knowledge, education on what happened in season one. And how would you typically do it? You would typically do a Google to figure as to who was Rhaenyra and why did she have this grudge against the green side? And what is the red side? Why are they called the red side? That’s what the philosophy is as part of the season two.

And then, well, you would get a lot of consumption of this from places like Fandom and Wikipedia. That’s where there will be theorists like myself who give this entire genealogy of the greens versus the reds. Now, I’m a super fan.

I’m doing it on my own play and call on Fandom or anything of that sort. Now, what if I could basically monetize the fact that I knew everything about the greens and reds, which is where me as a super fan comes in. Somebody like yourself comes in because, well, this is the most, how should I put it? I’m struggling for the right word.

This is the most recommended authentic place where essentially you can figure anything about House of Dragons. The theories are correct. The entire experience is correct as well.

You can basically figure as to why something is happening, why something is not happening, et cetera. So your viewing experience of House of Dragons goes up manifold. And then it’s why somebody like you would basically want to use the platform per se.

Now, whether you would want to pay for the experience of figuring out as to what happened in House of Dragons 1, maybe and maybe not. But somebody like Netflix or GeoCinema, would they want to sponsor this content piece? Because if they’re sponsoring this content piece per se, in which case they’re increasing the viewership of what was in 1, and they’re increasing the viewership of what was in 2. Well, in which case somebody who’s a brand in this case, Geo or Netflix, is sponsoring the fact that somebody who’s hyper-casual like yourself is increasing his or her cinematic experience. And somebody who’s a superfan like myself has been incentivized to help create that.

So a long answer to your question, but nevertheless. Right. So basically on your platform, these superfans are incentivized to create a community of light thinking, perhaps individual, and there is an incentive as well.

Right. And I forgot to mention the AI AR pieces. So people like you and me, we love AI AR pieces. AIAR pieces are not for a superfan, and therefore, you and me do enjoy the vicarious entertainment experience. So, if you happen to watch House of Dragons and you liked it, then using AI, you could be Renera, riding the dragon of your choice.

And then, if you like as to what you see on that still of video, you could share it on your Instagram, and do whatever. So, there was this advertisement from, I think it was ITC Sunfish, featuring Shah Rukh Khan. This was in November, October last year, and the theme was have a chocolate or have a biscuit with Shah Rukh Khan.

So, essentially, there was Shah Rukh Khan, and there was somebody else using AI, you and me, but basically sit with Shah Rukh Khan in that video, and that went very, very popular. So, I mean, now, that was all AI, and this was an Instagram reveal, where Instagram basically asked folks to use that clip, click a photo, and then sit with Shah Rukh Khan for the 22nd clip, and it went viral. It had millions of downloads and millions of usages.

And I’m sure that many people who did that were not really superfans. They just happened to like Shah Rukh, and just happened to like the fact that they could do something else. Right, yeah, I think that there are definitely wonderful use cases to create more engagement, you know, vis-a-vis these technologies, and especially in this niche.

So, considering this is like what the platform does, that a user is expected to sort of be a part of certain communities or build a community of their own, what is perhaps your incentive or your business model? How does that work? Are you guys like collaborating with, as you mentioned, you know, ODT platforms and other businesses in this niche to basically double down on the content and to, you know, give them like a conduit for more traction? Is that how it works? So, for the want of me, we haven’t been able to figure out all the business use cases. As I said, we are just scratching the surface as far as possibilities. But then you could say that for anybody.

I mean, the sheer scale of possibility that Web3 lends itself to is incredible. I mean, we basically are ingrained to sharing economy from the Web2 side of things, but then Web2 has been around since the early 2000s, right? So, the industry has a lot of things to do before we are able to basically figure as to what all possibilities can abound. But that notwithstanding, we feel that there is immense space, and then a benefit we’ve been able to have to putting in for a benefit we’ve not been able to have to put in yet.

So, there’s obviously the consumer use case of people paying for the experiences, people paying for the AIR experience, people paying for collectibles, people paying for renting out stuff that somebody who owns a particular NFT would want to lend, people subscribing to the fact that as part of the subscription, per se, their method and mechanism of moving up to a fantasy family, the board increases, people paying for the cheese, etc. So, a lot of what I narrated right now, we’ve not been able to validate, or we’ve been able to validate some. So, that’s on the consumer side.

On the traditional side, as we grow, there are always these ad-related mechanisms that come in. We’ve been able to validate a bit of that. There is also the enterprise mechanism.

So, we’ve been able to package all that I spoke about, which is the community building piece, fan to superfan, content monetization piece, and the AIR piece as a package. So, and we’ve been able to do that in the Web2 powerlines as an SDK, and Web3 powerlines as a protocol. There have also been a couple of releases that have gone live with the SDK as far as the Web2 side of things is concerned.

So, there is an OTT called ITAP, incipient new, which is using the SDK to give its users the AIR experience. We are in discussions with a couple of more OTTs, for them to be able to figure out whether they want to do some stuff like this. We are also in close discussions with production houses.

For production houses to either build a consistent fan engagement presence over a period of time, using a white label version of the Bout Talkies app, or using the Bout Talkies functionality as a protocol, if they have an app of their own. And in many cases, folks and enterprises want to be in control of their customers per se. So, well, in which case, just invoke the SDK and use the AIR experience.

So, that’s another model that we found initial market fit for. We’ve spoken a lot to brands, and then brands have been interested. But at this time of speaking, we’ve not been able to monetize the brand interest yet.

Brands are trying to seek and find the fact that, well, would there be, how much of traction would come in from stuff such as this, and would it be worth their want to be able to pay for something like this? Right. So, now, you know, stepping back and moving a little towards the community engagement bit, I would love to understand, entrepreneur to entrepreneur, how have you been able to foster, you know, community engagement and just community building? How have you been able to do that among studio fans and, you know, studios themselves and celebrities on your platform? Is there a role that Bout Talkies plays in, you know, community building on the platform itself? Or is that left, is that particular onus left on the community owners or the super fans? So, Tarusha, this is still a perplexing puzzle. We struggle on a daily basis.

Daily is not the right word. We struggle on a weekly basis to figure out what’s happening on the website, whether their use and the time spent is trending positively or is at least static and not trending down. Can’t claim to be able to have the answers there, but I can say, but I can narrate a few things that have worked.

We’ve had success with brand ambassador programs. That’s worked. We’ve allowed fans to have credibility on all the fan stuff that they do by, they post the same stuff that they post on Bout Talkies on Twitter and other traditional social media as well.

And we give a shout out to whatever they do on their traditional social media. That’s worked as well. What we also do is although we are a small team, we keep on giving cues on a consistent basis on whatever is trending, on whatever we think is something that will lend itself for folks to basically open the app up on a daily basis and figure out what they want to do or what they could do better.

So, sometimes the cues work, sometimes they don’t. And what’s also worked is we have the rewards and recognitions program. And then ultimately, the rewards that people earn, which are currently in terms of points gets translated whenever there’s a token generation event.

In some cases, it’s worked. People who moved up from the fan to superfan leaderboard, they love the fact that they have points. But at the same time… The gamification basically works, right? Yes.

At the same time, we are still figuring on a weekly basis. For example, if there were seven layers of fandom in the community and I was at level three, and I’ve been at level three for a while, what’s the best way for the platform to have me move up to level four, level five, level six? Because, I mean, we’ve already tried all the hacks of come on board, points will be basically translated into actual monetizable rewards for the downline. And again, we could do a lot more, but then it’s a sort of a, what should I say, a midway between conserving bandwidth and runway.

And that’s all the hacks that we can tackle. Right. So, are there any plans for you, or forgive my ignorance if you have already, do you have plans for a native token as well? Yes, we do.

Okay. Yes, we do. We are currently in the hotbed of raising a pre-seed.

We definitely need that marketing muscle to be able to do a successful token generation event, which is where the roadmap is at. But then that is an intricate part of the puzzle, not just from a perspective of people being monetized for the self-incentivization, but the very fact that self-incentivization would work in the longer term without the pull-ups of airdrops and reward points, et cetera. Right.

Yeah. That becomes like a full-time job in itself, managing the token. So, I understand that.

Now, can you perhaps share a few examples of how fans have used WowTalkies to enhance their engagement and become like super fans? Like one example, so that we can visualize it a little better. So, there was a Mission Impossible movie that came, Mission Impossible 7, Mission Impossible 6. I forget now, so many Mission Impossibles. Yeah.

Where our handsome hunk, Tom Cruise, with the great shades that he has, takes a bike, drives a bike up the Swiss Alps, and then jumps off the Alps, lands directly into that luxury train. Iconic. So, the greatest usage that we saw of our AI functionality was people using that clip, per se, in wanting to become Tom Cruise, and then happily becoming Tom Cruise, and sharing it all over traditional social media.

Now, we don’t have a license to that clip, which is why this was a sharing and caring exercise, rather than a monetizable exercise. So, I mean, legal factors there, but that was something that went really well over the last six or seven years. Just AI and AI experiences such as these, and then we were able to build these AI experiences into a Mission Impossible community in being able to incentivize people to hold the legal role.

Yeah. So, what we did here was, we said that, hey, anybody could download it from the internet, which is fine. So, we had these limited edition NFTs, which we didn’t charge a dime for.

We just said that there was only 100 editions, and people lapped up. And then we had people lend it to others in order to accrue reward points in a speedier manner. We wanted to test the use case, et cetera.

So, the NFTs, et cetera, they sold out. Obviously, they were at no cost. They sold out, I think, in five to 10 minutes.

The lending use case was proven. And then other folks could basically use that collectible, which was Mission Impossible, which was original Mission Impossible clip of Tom Cruise jumping off the Alps to become Tom Cruise by themselves. Right.

Yeah, that’s a wonderful example. And, yeah, I think, I would imagine that it would do well. Those movies have a cult following of their own.

So, now, what kind of, because you are a tech leader, you worked in space for a very long time, in deep tech, and now, in web three as well. What are the kind of trends do you see which are emerging in web three that will actually help further the fan engagement space? What is your perspective there? So, I think, look, I think web three and blockchain are incipient. As I said, internet models take a long time to evolve.

And then, similarly, web three will evolve. But then, what’s eminently happened over the last six to eight months is the user experience and dissonance has been solved to a great extent. Social logins, gas list transactions, account abstraction, the infrastructure has scaled by a lot of population scale projects.

I mean, we’re not population scale by any stretch of imagination right now. But then, the very fact that we are building population scale means that we have to have that confidence that the infrastructure will scale over a period of time. Otherwise, I mean, it’s all theory.

We’d rather do something else. So, I think there’s a greater amount of confidence that, from a scalability perspective, with all the layer ones and layer twos, and the ZK movement, and account abstraction, and a lot of the user, and again, for the sake of repetition, a lot of user experience challenges have been solved over the time. Yeah.

I think that is the way to go. I mean, that per se needs to be solved for web three and blockchain to become mainstream. So, even for yourself and myself, we are web three users.

We know web three, but we are web two connoisseurs, right? We use web three, use traditional internet for 90% of the things that we do. So, really, nearly over a period of time, our expectations on whatever is happening in web three is analogous to whatever is happening in web two. How long can we take an experience that is slow, and tangy, and does not scale? Ultimately, I mean, while projects are scaling from a six-month, one-month, one-and-a-half-year perspective, but for a long-term runway and roadmap, the entire space needs to scale.

Otherwise, I mean, projects that are doing well will also stagnate Right. Yeah, absolutely. I think the technology itself, because it’s so dynamic, it’ll help further any kind of a niche that is sort of building on it.

What I love the most about the platform that you’ve built, and what I’ve gleaned from this particular conversation, that this is like a fabulous use case to get more people onto web three without them perhaps really being perhaps active participants in web three otherwise as well. Would you agree? I think you nailed it. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Yeah. Because a lot of people keep talking about onboarding the next million users right in web three. And I think it is going to be use cases like these where the technology is a facilitator and not just the end goal wherein users will come.

So, more power to you guys, honestly. The more I’m hearing you talk about how passionate you are about what you’re building, the more I see that this is something very, very relevant and it’s going to do fabulously well. So now, just to sum up, because we are out of time, I would love to know what is the next big milestone or partnership that you’re very excited about? And what are the kind of partnerships that you look at? So, in case any of our listeners are perhaps keen, they can maybe get in touch with you guys.

So, you mentioned that very, very correctly as part of this discussion. We’re looking at tying in with enterprises in the entertainment space. So, production houses, studios, OTTs, et cetera.

Independent filmmakers perhaps too? That as well. So, we did a lot of legwork around independent filmmakers. And then what we figured to our discomfort, that well, there’s a bigger bang for the buck as far as time is concerned, if we took the studio model.

Because, I mean, studios scale as far as users and cinematic properties are concerned. And then studios are more professional. So, we basically build a sales cycle around the studio interaction.

It’s very difficult to build a sales cycle around an independent production house interaction. And that’s the way of the business. There’s no discomfort or blame that accrues on that side of the table.

I mean, they’re independent. These are just facts, right? These are just facts. It’s not like you’re actively trying to discriminate or segregate them.

It’s just that it’s a fact of the matter. And you’re building a business, right? You have to be fair to your business. So, which is why we followed this.

We also thought that we will have more control over what we wanted to, how should I put it, proclaim as use cases by working with niche players such as independent production houses. But we weren’t able to scale that from a services slash logistics perspective, which is why we abandoned that idea for now. Now, I’m forgetting the question that you asked me.

Yeah. So, what’s upcoming is one question. Upcoming or exciting partnership that you’re looking forward to.

So, what’s upcoming, if all goes well, we’ll be able to announce this protocol model with a couple of very, very popular studios for their marquee movies that are launching in 2024. Again, fingers crossed, touch wood. Absolutely.

Knock on wood. Yeah, I hope that I’m sure that you guys will crack it. This is wonderful.

And congratulations in advance on these announcements that you come through. And I’m sure that your platform is going to do fabulously well. So now, like I mentioned, we’re running out of time, but I would love to ask you two more questions because you’ve talked extensively about the platform in general.

I want to zoom out a little and talk about the space as well. Do you have an opinion on the kind of trends that you keep seeing in Web3? There’s always a new trend every few months. With every new cycle, there are a few niches that do really well.

What are the kind of niches within Web3 you think would do well in this coming, and some people say that it has already started, this particular build cycle? Well, I love the fact that in Web3, there’s something new to fathom every three months. Right, yeah. Somebody would say six, but I would say three.

So all the meme fashion, is it as fashionable as it was in the beginning of the year? I really don’t know. Airdrops, I mean, now, airdrops are a necessary and sufficient condition for any incipient project. So it is also frustrating at the same time that there is such a lot to grapple every three months.

So from a builder to builder, we basically say that this is what we want to aim to be three months, and then three months down the line, the carpet is moved a bit further. There’s a different carpet we’re resting on. So that is something that is very, very interesting, exciting, and perplexing as well.

But, I mean, I’ve seen from a very, very close up and personal perspective, internal levels evolving over a better part of a couple of decades. I think the decentralization, self-incentivization, inherent ownership, inherent Web3 is something that will come to over a period of time. There will be use cases that will come up.

I’m very, very effervescently optimistic about RWAs. So I think the NFT bandwagon of the 2021s is an excellent use case for basically proving the RWA use cases. So very, very excited about that.

I think the decentralized physical infrastructure piece where anybody who owns any piece of infrastructure can monetize his or her spare infrastructure, that I think is a great thing that will scale as well over a period of time. But those are two immediate spaces, and that’s from coming from a Web2 background. I think there is great theory and practicality on these things using the Web3 phenomena to scale, and these will scale sooner than ever.

Yeah, that’s wonderful to know. So now, Ritesh, because I have to ask this one question that I kind of ask all the guests that come on the show. You made the leap from Web2 to Web3, worked extensively in Web2, and then stumbled upon Web3, and you’ve not looked back since then.

If you had to give perhaps advice to somebody who is at the cusp but still not sure whether Web3 is for them, what would be your advice to them for them to start living on blockchain? So two zero principles. I think it is useless to try and retrofit all use cases into blockchain in Web3. It doesn’t work.

I mean, because the space is so emerging, you will find incipient interest, but then it will not scale over. That’s one. The second, again, zero principles.

As the space is emerging, it’s incipient again. I would rather suggest to anybody who’s building this case, we have a lot of patients. So this industry demands patience.

It requires a lot of hacks. Not all hacks turn out well. We don’t have a template.

So in the traditional industries, we have a template. We have a DAUs and MOUs. Build something that is longstanding as far as DAUs and MOUs are concerned, the project will scale.

Well, how do you build DAUs and MOUs here? You build DAUs and MOUs by airdrops. That’s on scale. So, I mean, these are hacks.

Hacks have to be tried. But then you should always think of it from a patient’s perspective and have patients around whatever building that is along with the project. Absolutely.

I think you’ve kind of very succinctly put it, and this is very good advice. Don’t try to retrofit blockchain into every solution and use case. And you need patience.

You basically need to be able to persevere in this space to really be able to build out your vision and to push it to a successful end and be able to scale it. It takes a lot of grit to stay in this space because, as you said, there is no manual, right? You have to basically, it’s trial and error. You try different things and see what fits and whatever does fit, perhaps will not always fit because with each cycle, every few months, the space changes.

Absolutely. You couldn’t have summarized it better. Absolutely.

Yeah. So, thank you so much once again, Ritesh, for taking the time to speak to me today. This has been a very, very insightful conversation for me, especially, and I’m sure that it has been for the listeners as well.

Before we wrap this up, any last thoughts? Just that, thank you. Pleasure doing this. Thanks for having me over.

Wish you all the best and more power to you. Thank you so much once again and all the best to Wowtalkies and your other ventures and I hope you scale trade heights. Thank you, Tarusha.

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