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Creating a crypto ecosystem for the masses | GuardianLink
There was a time in the late 90s when if you wanted a connected computer, then you would need to have a modem in which you would plug in your phone line, and dial a number to connect with another computer.
Today - we live in a hyper-connected world and every device is connected to the internet by default, requiring very little technical know-how.
The world of cryptocurrency or decentralized finance is currently going through that transition from being something for hardcore enthusiasts to being a mass market technology.
One of the companies aiding that transition is GuardianLink.
Ramkumar Subramaniam is a crypto pioneer and has been an early participant in the cryptocurrency revolution.
Having entered this space 7 years back, he shares how the cryptocurrency space evolved to reach where it is today.
Other Ways to Listen:
Some of the things he shared:-
How the technology behind crypto works
Smart Contracts and understanding ‘the merge’ in Ethereum
Real-world applications of Crypto
Monetizing NFTs through gaming
Read the text version here:-
[00:00:00] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Hey guys, this is Ramkumar here founder and CEO of Guardian Link. We are an NFT ecosystem company. Glad to be here on this show. I was born and brought up in Chennai. So, I went, done my entire schooling and engineering in Chennai.
[00:01:35] So my mom is a housewife. And my dad was an entrepreneur. He passed away a couple of years back and he's been a great inspiration for me to get into entrepreneurship.
[00:01:44] He was into manufacturing a lot of electrical parts. So during nineties, that was IT, right? So on my mother's side, the entire family is, has a legal background.
[00:01:53] My granddad is a high court judge. And like my aunt and all of them are lawyers and stuff. So it's either one of these two choices. They get legal or entrepreneurship. I chose entrepreneurship. So after my engineering. I just wanted to have some job experience, so I went ahead and worked somewhere.
[00:02:08] I worked six months and then I realized this is not what I should do, I think I'm not meant for this. That's how I got into entrepreneurship and the first, entrepreneurship journey started with working with one of my very close relative, he has been a mentor for me and what, whatever I need to discuss about entrepreneurship, I used to talk to him about it right from my childhood.
[00:02:26] And he decided to go ahead and try something new which is more into consulting and stuff like that. He had a very successful IT company and then he decided he'd get into consulting and then I requested, why don't I go ahead and work with you and I want to learn entrepreneurship it was more,
[00:02:40] Akshay Datt: and this was like software, you building software for companies or like what exactly?
[00:02:45] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It was more of a consulting where we go ahead and incubate a company and we work with them right from ideation to actual implementation of the project and, help them run the business itself.
[00:02:57] So that's where I learnt sales and stuff like that. We also in certain cases, we went and acquired firms and then we, took it to them for, further expansions and acquisitions and stuff like that. So that's how I got into .
[00:03:10] Akshay Datt: And your co-founder, what was his background like?
[00:03:13] Ramkumar Subramaniam: He ran an IT company, right? His name is (inaudible). So he's been a mentor for me for a very long time and he ran an IT company called ReFactory. It was a very successful IT firm based out of Chennai . And they were working with customers across the globe.
[00:03:25] Akshay Datt: So therefore he had that track record to actually go and sell this kind of a service. I mean, Otherwise without a track record, how would you convince someone that we will incubate you and we will or probably he had the funds also to go and acquire companies and build them up.
[00:03:41] Ramkumar Subramaniam: He had the funds and he had the, the will also to do that, and I think I learned a lot from him.
[00:03:46] Akshay Datt: So what kind of sales were you doing? Was it sales at the portfolio companies that sales for those portfolio companies?
[00:03:52] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. There, there are multiple portfolio companies each one into, there was one portfolio company into food delivery.
[00:03:57] So this is way back before Swiggy and all that was a thing, right? And then there was another one which was into movie rentals and online book rentals. And then there was another one which was into EdTech. So I was pretty much doing sales for all of these three. And we had to do sales because we need to make sure this company whichever we took over has to do well. So I had to take that part. Yeah.
[00:04:16] Akshay Datt: And you had a small stake in this business, or was it like an equal stake or,because you are obviously a junior partner here, right?
[00:04:24] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Like I had a small stake, I had a small stake and and I don't think I worried about stake during the time . I wanted to learn how this thing worked, right? So for me, every day was a learning opportunity and I learned a lot of stuff And we did an almost like an exit after two years because he wanted to do something else.
[00:04:40] And every other firm that we took over, we went ahead and helped them either raise funds or go ahead and stabilize their business. So we took an exit from there, and that's when second half of my entrepreneurial journey started. And .
[00:04:53] Akshay Datt: Okay, so tell me about that. So you're what, by this time? 23, 24, something like that.
[00:04:58] Ramkumar Subramaniam: I guess I was around 25, 25, 26 ish during this time around, around that, 25 I believe. I came out, I was wondering what should I do? So there is my current co-founder Kamesh who's a, he's, he's a good friend of mine. We used to work together because he used to run, a social media agency and stuff.
[00:05:17] And then, we used to work with him and he, he always talks about entrepreneurship, right? He's a hardcore entrepreneurship guy who is, who lives and breathes entrepreneurship. And, we used to meet often and talk about what can be done and stuff like that. So we wanted to get into IT and we wanted to get into the cutting edge tech and It was a six month discussion probably, I was trying to figure out what should I do next?
[00:05:40] And then I also had my own thing that I used to do some online consulting and stuff like that. So I was quite busy. He was busy with this thing and stuff. So why don't we go ahead and explore cutting edge stuff? And we thought, let's talk to someone who's into cutting edge stuff stuff?
[00:05:53] And we decided blockchain will be something interesting.
[00:05:55] Akshay Datt: This is like when Bitcoin was probably like less than $10, kind of price.
[00:06:00] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Less than $10. So this was that like you can buy a pizza with uh, Bitcoin. Okay. so no one knew what was Bitcoin back then.
[00:06:09] Akshay Datt: But what made you feel that this will be cutting edge? At that time there were like very few people who were like, believers of blockchain and Bitcoin and the whole distribute.
[00:06:19] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So what we were trying to do is we were trying to figure out what really works what is gonna be the future in the market, right?
[00:06:24] During the time that we had an option get we, why don't we get into mobile technology? Like why don't we get into building apps and stuff like that. And then there was also an option of getting into EdTech because, that's when Byjus and all these like really growing up but that's gonna become big in the next one to two years time and the space will be crowded because someone will become big and, everyone's gonna get into it.
[00:06:44] And we are believers of you know, hardcore entrepreneurship where, you know, you need to make money, you need to be profitable. Do we actually do business? we didn't kind of have the attitude of raising funds and stuff like that, right? We were not thinking in that way.
[00:06:55] During the time we thought, what's gonna be the next future technology, right? What's gonna change the world? And and also very interestingly, we wanted to be in a space which has no competition, right? So that you can actually quickly grow. We were figuring out what is that? And we used to read a lot of blogs and we used to go through various other stuff.
[00:07:11] And this the other partner, my co-founder um, Arju n, Kamesh, myself and then we were figuring out who to talk to about this. That's how we met my other co-founder, Arjun. And he is someone who goes to the internet and tries to find out what's the next big thing that is happening. And he comes up with, E4E idea.
[00:07:27] And then he says, this is, you know, this is the one to go for, right? So we were talking to him and then he said, blockchain is something that is becoming massive nowadays. And he heard about Bitcoin through one of his client because he said, know I can pay you through USD, but there's something called Bitcoin.
[00:07:41] I can send it to you. And he started going through what is Bitcoin and what is this stuff? And that's how we learned about, it's a technology behind it called blockchain and stuff like that. And he said, why don't we explore this? And we decided to do that. Three guys got together sat down for a couple of weeks, studied how blockchain works and stuff like that.
[00:07:58] And then we started a blockchain RnD firm, right? Started building out products and kind of giving it out to entrepreneurs across the globe because there's no other firm. Probably we were, five or six odd firms across the globe who know what's blockchain technology, So that's how we started.
[00:08:14] This should be around 2016. And,
[00:08:17] Akshay Datt: What kind of use cases were you solving? Give me an example of some projects you did.
[00:08:22] Ramkumar Subramaniam: For example wallet service We had a ready made wallet that you could go ahead and buy it from us and then use it right away. If you want to run a exchange and you wanted to have a custodian wallet, you want to manage it.
[00:08:34] We had a ready made product that can be used. We had marketplaces, exchanges that you can.
[00:08:39] Akshay Datt: So tell me something. How does the wallet work for an exchange? The, each user gets their own wallet, or is, does the exchange have a wallet? Like, Like just talk to me about how the nuts and bolts of it, like.
[00:08:50] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. For example, a custodian wallet, right? So what happens, a custodian wallet, it is, it's, let's say it's a Multisig wallet.
[00:08:56] Akshay Datt: Wait, what's a Multisig wallet?
[00:08:58] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Okay. So Multisig wallet is basically a wallet where you have multiple private keys that you use to sign the wallet, and that gives you access to the wallet.
[00:09:07] You can't just sign up with one.
[00:09:08] Akshay Datt: So that's like say two factor authentication in a way.
[00:09:11] Ramkumar Subramaniam: A much more technical way than that, a much more secure way than the 2FA right? We used to provide custodian wallet services to exchanges. So let's say you're running an exchange and you needed a wallet, and you need to manage your funds in a wallet.
[00:09:22] We have a ready made product that is there, which can be integrated to your exchange or marketplace that you run. So during the time there was probably about, hundred odd coins that was there in the market and about about 50 odd where uh, ethereum based ERC 20 so,, which can be supported if you run an ethereum wallet, and then there is obviously Bitcoin and then live coin and all that.
[00:09:43] So we used to have wallets which support all of these currencies. So you need to run nodes of each of these blockchains. And then when you run these nodes of these blockchains, you can go ahead and store that particular uh, let's say someone transacts in Ethereum in your exchange, you'd be able to store that Ethereum, that that is being transacted in your exchange. So we build these wallets that can be integrated with exchanges where multiple nodes will be running, and we'll manage those nodes. And we'll also provide your front end to know what's your balance in Bitcoin, what's your balance in Ethereum, what's your balance in Live coin and stuff like that.
[00:10:15] Akshay Datt: What do you mean by running a node?
[00:10:17] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So basically Ethereum blockchain, right? If you take a look at Etherium blockchain it runs on multiple nodes and it's completely decentralized. And you can assume sort of like, node, to put it in a very simple term, a node is sort of like a server, And if you run an ethereum contract, multiple transaction that goes through this particular server, and then you need to run or host a server to either manage wallets manage the coins or to mine or to go ahead and verify and stuff like that.
[00:10:41] So that's basically running the node, right? So we had to run a node so that you can go ahead and store Ethereum coin, ethereum based ESC 20 coins and stuff like that.
[00:10:49] Akshay Datt: Like a little bit of an explainer here for listeners who are not so familiar. So blockchain is basically a distributed ledger, which means that you have like a khata or a ledger, kind of a list of there's a data set and there are multiple servers which are maintaining a copy of that. And so these servers, which maintain a copy of that, they all have to agree on the update, say whatever update happens. And only then the blockchain also updates data in that.
[00:11:16] And each of these servers is called a node is, am I right?
[00:11:19] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So far, yes. and basically as you told, the node is hosted by multiple parties across the globe and obviously each are its own servers and once, let's say they have, each blockchain has its own way of, it's verified.
[00:11:30] So after a particular point of consensus, it gets approved and then it, whatever transaction that it gets, gets processed. So to put it in a very simple way that's how you say it.
[00:11:39] Akshay Datt: Okay. So this was one of your products, like a wallet products. So this was like a semi customized kind of product, I'm guessing, like they would be semi customized.
[00:11:48] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. Yeah. Some would come and say that, you know, I would want to just support Bitcoin. People would want to have features and build on top of it and stuff like that. So like this, we had multiple products that we built during the time.
[00:11:58] Akshay Datt: What were the other products?
[00:12:00] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So we had an exchange that we used to provide, basically a cryptocurrency exchange, right?
[00:12:04] Let's say you take WazirX in India something similar to that. We had a ready made product for that. And we had a tokenization platform which is again, a ready made product before NFTs and all that you could tokenize a real estate asset and you break down a real estate assets as multiple ERC 20 tokens.
[00:12:21] And, eight square feet as a token. And you can go ahead and sell out tokens, like how you do a read where you go ahead and sell out the shares, Very similarly, you go ahead and sell tokens, and then you take ownership of real estate or ownership of a bond or something like that. So that was the rage during that time, right?
[00:12:36] Because people were trying to figure out case studies of how you can implement blockchain. And this is a huge case study where you can go ahead and give out tokens and you could take ownership of a property or you could take ownership of a bond or something like that.
[00:12:49] Akshay Datt: Or fractional ownership. So essentially to tokens are different from coins. And what is the difference between a token and a coin?
[00:12:56] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So it's a very common terminology, but the use case is what is different. A cryptocurrency coin, usually people refer it to it as a coin, which is on a transactional manner where I can go ahead and use it as a trading asset in a, in an exchange, the top thousand coins right now that is there in a coin market cap. But tokens are usually used within a particular marketplace, a tokenization platform where it's not traded on exchanges, it's traded within this platform. And know, you trade or you manage within a closed platform, right? That's the difference between a token and a coin.
[00:13:28] But right now, people have started uh, you know, kind of use it as a, you know, between, a coin A token and a token a coin. So it doesn't make a difference right.
[00:13:36] Akshay Datt: Now, is polygon a token or a coin?
[00:13:38] Ramkumar Subramaniam: That's a coin. It's a coin because it's traded in the market, in, in exchange.
[00:13:42] But people, some people call it MATIC token because, you use that token to go ahead and pay it for your gas fees. So it's used interchangeably.
[00:13:49] Akshay Datt: I was under the impression that a coin has its own blockchain and a token doesn't, like a token is built on top of another blockchain.
[00:13:56] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So that's how it started and started you and then it has been used interchangeably across multiple regions.
[00:14:02] Akshay Datt: Okay. And so what you're explaining here of tokenization and real estate investment trust, which is basically like fractional ownership of real estate where people can they can be a trust which can buy a property, and then they can be people who can buy shares of that trust, uh, and therefore they have a fractional ownership.
[00:14:18] So something similar can be done through decentralized approach. And basically cryptocurrency, blockchain, these are all decentralized finance tools. So a decentralized way of doing it is to tokenize it. So there is no trust as such, which is run by a central body, but everybody who holds a token holds ownership of that plus some voting rights.
[00:14:38] I'm guessing like that could be.
[00:14:40] Ramkumar Subramaniam: And there is a body that manages token and that goes ahead and says, let's say people invest in this token and that investment is used to buy out a particular real estate. And then they decide the ones who hold on to the token, they can vote what can be done on the real estate.
[00:14:54] And there is a body which majorly holds on to the token, which decides and implements what needs to be done. So a read on the blockchain.
[00:15:00] Akshay Datt: Got it. Okay. There was this whole frenzy of ICO, initial coin offering. Were you providing any services there? and what is an ICO?
[00:15:07] Is it like to launch your own blockchain or is it on top of an existing blockchain?
[00:15:12] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Again, it's used interchangeably, right? People used to go ahead and launch ERC 20 tokens which is basically,
[00:15:17] Akshay Datt: and wait, what is ERC 20? You've used that term a couple of times. I want to understand that.
[00:15:22] Ramkumar Subramaniam: These are tokens built on the ethereum blockchain, you don't have your own blockchain to, you know, have your own token and stuff, use Ethereum as a blockchain, and you create tokens on top of that. So those are called, yes.
[00:15:33] Akshay Datt: So basically like e- Ethereum has the ability to like execute smart contracts, I believe. And that's where all of this comes from. Like you can code Ethereum with certain, like if their conditions and use that to create tokens.
[00:15:47] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So Ethereum has multiple standards, and one of those standards is ERC 20 where they can create fungible tokens.
[00:15:53] And ERC 721 is where non fungible token comes in, which probably we will be talking about later on.
[00:15:58] Akshay Datt: What is difference between fungible and non fungible? Fungible means that all size tokens are equal. There is no difference between them. They're interchangeable.
[00:16:05] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So for example, fungible, let's say I go ahead and give you a 10 rupee note and then, you go ahead and give me another 10 rupee note.
[00:16:12] It's all the same, right? There's no difference to me, but let's say if you heard about Pokemon cards, right? I go ahead and give you a Pokemon card and then you give me one. It's not the same, right? Each one has its own value. Probably, you had one particular Pokemon, I had another one. So that's the actual difference between a fungible token and non fungible token, yeah. So a non fungible Token is unique and it's on its own.
[00:16:33] Akshay Datt: Yeah. So coming back to ICO's. Yeah. What's an ICO?
[00:16:36] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So ICO's, initial coin offering, right? How IPO's initial public offering. So they went ahead and coined this term and said ICO's, initial coin offering where you go ahead as you go, you know, when any company can go public, very similarly like shares, you determine how many coins is gonna be given out, how much is gonna be there in the trust, and how much is gonna be spent on marketing, how much is gonna be spent on various other stuff, and then how much is gonna be given out to the public.
[00:17:01] And then you go ahead and offer the coins at a discount so users can go ahead and buy it and they start owning this coin. Now they're part of your ecosystem. And whatever you do as a company out of that uh, coin and however you're performing, your coin trades in the exchange and then its value goes up. And for example, someone like Polygon, they didn't they launched their coin and they went ahead and went public on the exchanges probably a couple of years back. They had a great use case because, ethereum had a gas issue and they were a solution to that. Everyone started using polygon and polygons skyrocketed, right? There were a lot of firms that went ahead and did ICOs back then in 2017, unfortunately, about 85 to 90% of the firms were majorly scams, and about 10% of them were the ones who came out. I think that happens in any technology, right? Technology that comes in, a certain crowd that kind of, the early adopters take misusage of that. And then there are the ones who take it forward, but 10% really came out during the bear market, and those are the ones who really made difference during the 2020 boom. And I guess that's how the market has been evolved right now .
[00:18:05] Akshay Datt: Were you helping in ICOs , like in terms of, did you have like blockchain as a service and ICO is basically like someone launching their own blockchain, right? or it could be token also.
[00:18:15] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It could be token also it can be their own blockchain as well. Yes, we've worked on couple of ICOs as well where we went ahead and provided wallet services and then we provided the technology that is required for that. So we're not very keen on ICOs because, you know, we are always worried about the scams that were happening.
[00:18:30] Fortunately none of them were scammed, the ones that we held out, so it was a very interesting period. Okay. So you spoke about how polygon token why it has value. I mean, I want to understand like why a coin has value if someone is doing an ICO. What is, uh, gas fees and how does Polygon solve gas fees and why does the Polygon token have value?
[00:18:49] For example, if you take a look at ethereum blockchain, right? For it to self sustain, you would need to have a mechanism for it to have an earning model and Ethereum gas fees is a very crucial part of it because every time someone executes a smart contract or, does an activity on the blockchain, you need a fuel, sort of like a gas fees, And the gas fees is paid through ethereum's token and at its peak during when non fungible market was big, NFTs were huge. A lot of transactions that happened on the ethereum blockchain, right? Every second there was a transacsation that was happening and while this was going on, It was not scalable. And you had to pay a high gas fees to make sure that your transaction passed through .
[00:19:30] Akshay Datt: Okay ,otherwise it could take days for.
[00:19:33] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Probably hours and days, right? People had to figure out a solution for it, to make sure, this is solved. And Polygon was right at the, at that time they went ahead and built layer two, which is basically another layer on top of Ethereum to make sure the consensus is taken care and that reduced the, basically you can just pass on it through polygons network and pay much, much lesser gas fees.
[00:19:56] And so there, they were a solution at the right time and the adoption of Polygon really grew during this period. And that led to people buying more and more MATIC to pay for the gas. And when people knew that some people are adopting to MATIC people started went and buy it, how you buy shares from the public market, people bought more MATIC started trading it and then the price went.
[00:20:15] Now, Ethereum has been a proof of work and proof of work is basically, where you go ahead and let people use your server power and then you basically mine the blockchain to solve complex problems, complex math problems. That is that. In one way you need to go ahead and reward the network and you reward the network by giving out ethereum tokens, which people mine. And on the other side, there is the gas fees which is paid for the blockchain so that, there is a transaction that it is part of the overall transactions that has happened on that particular blockchain. And it is paid over to the people who maintain the blockchain to maintain the trust and stuff.
[00:20:49] Akshay Datt: Okay. Okay. So this gas fees solves two problems. It incentivizes people who are putting their servers to work for the blockchain. Plus it also ensures that anyone who wants that transaction to be updated is you're automatically, weeding out frivolous users because you're charging a gas fees for it.
[00:21:07] Ramkumar Subramaniam: You're charging gas fees for it.
[00:21:08] And also what happened is that initially the gas fees was very minimal, as I told you, and as ethereum was not built for this kind of scalability. And and also it is, it's a proof of work as well, right? After a point of time, proof of work is not really scalable. that's the reason that it's getting, going into a merger right now, and it's becoming a proof of stake.
[00:21:26] Akshay Datt: So we'll unpack this. There's a lot of stuff I want to talk about it, but once, let me quickly finish that thought. What Polygon did is it collected this information which has to be updated on ledgers from multiple sources. And so instead of, let's say 10,000 individual updates on that ledger happening it, like Polygon would collate it and make it to one single update and therefore reduce gas fees for everyone.
[00:21:50] Was that what they did?
[00:21:51] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So they basically instead of passing it on all together in that one layer one, they went ahead and passed it on in layer two. And they went ahead and did the consensus. And after point of time, they got a consensus by the ethereum blockchain as you told. So they collated together and then later on passed it on.
[00:22:08] Akshay Datt: Okay. So they used a second layer of decentralized ledger, which would allow like that decentralized and robust accurate information to be updated. And that would further get updated on the first layer, which is Ethereum. But because you would be combining so many entries together. So therefore the Ethereum cost of it would come down because now instead of 10,000 people going to Ethereum directly, they all go to Polygon.
[00:22:33] And Polygon goes once to Ethereum. So that reduces. Okay so now let's talk about why is proof of work not scalable? You said proof of work is not scalable.
[00:22:42] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So again, the issue that ethereum went through because of proof of work you have lot of miners, and then every time you need to mine and then networks become very clogged it takes a lot of time, and then you need to pay high gas fees for it to pass through and stuff.
[00:22:54] Akshay Datt: But what proof of work as opposed to what are the options for a blockchain?
[00:22:58] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So you have proof of work where basically you let people go ahead in mine your network and you give yourself over to have a transaction approved. And then there is proof of stake, Where you go ahead and let people stake your coins and only if they have a certain number of coins to be stake, then they go ahead and solve these mining issues for you.
[00:23:16] They go ahead and solve these, solve the blockchain transactions for you. This sort of these are the two major proof of work and Proof of stake are the major ones that has been implemented right now. And ethereum is moving to proof of stake so that it's much more scalable and it's much more efficient as well compared to proof of work that is happening right now.
[00:23:32] Akshay Datt: So in, in proof of work, like it is more server intensive and like there is more the verification of that proof takes more time and effort. Therefore it is not scalable.
[00:23:42] Ramkumar Subramaniam: yes, exactly.
[00:23:43] Akshay Datt: Whereas proof of stake is
[00:23:44] Ramkumar Subramaniam: it's the same process that goes in, just that it is the ones who are having a certain number of coins obviously are the ones who are gonna approve of it. And you don't want to make, you don't want to be part of, you know, the network, which you want to bring it down yourself because you hold onto your coin right? So make sure the process and everything.
[00:24:01] So that is the difference.
[00:24:02] Akshay Datt: So you don't have a negative repercussion if you like, try and update some wrong information in proof of stake because it works by consensus. So the only way for something wrong to get updated is if you have, let's say more than 51% of the supply of ethereum.
[00:24:16] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So that's not possible, right? They don't allow.
[00:24:19] Akshay Datt: Yeah. It's not possible.
[00:24:19] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So that is never possible.
[00:24:21] Akshay Datt: And I mean, no one could afford it also. I mean, it, It must be like hundreds of billions of dollars.
[00:24:26] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Exactly and the computing power of the various super computers that have been built across the globe, right?
[00:24:31] It is now built in a way that it could potentially take over a couple of blockchains that is currently existing. And so proof of work, even on a long run is on that particular reason in terms of security reasons, also is not very looked down upon right now. So that's one of the reasons, people are moving towards proof of stake and other options.
[00:24:49] Akshay Datt: So in proof of stake you
[00:24:50] Ramkumar Subramaniam: basically go ahead. You need to have certain number of Ethereum staked for you to go ahead and be part of the network So you need to have certain number of ethereum that you hold, that's your sort of like your entry to go ahead and, uh, be part of the network and approve the node.
[00:25:05] Akshay Datt: Ok. Okay. And once you're part of the network and approving transactions, then you're also earning gas fees plus mining. Both in both ways you're earning.
[00:25:13] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Both ways you're earning, and also you have your coins staked, so you know, obviously the more transaction it happens, more your coins value also goes up as well.
[00:25:21] Akshay Datt: Okay. Okay. So the merge is essentially when ethereum moves from proof of work to proof of sake, and this would dramatically bring down the gas fees and increase the throughput and the, say there's a traffic jam happening right now.
[00:25:35] So essentially the merge is like creating highways so that the traffic jam doesn't happen.
[00:25:39] Ramkumar Subramaniam: And it's uh, supposed to happen around 15th, I believe.
[00:25:43] Akshay Datt: Okay. Okay. So yeah, let's continue with your own journey. So like 17, 18, those ICOs were happening and you took part in a few of them and you had a wallet product. How did the business evolve from there and what kind of revenues were you doing, as a business? Like how profitable was it as a business?
[00:26:00] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So we were a three member team, right when we started all the three cofounders on the job around the clock, working on, around after two years since we started, we became about 300 plus employees.
[00:26:12] and that came about because we were probably one of the few blockchain companies across the globe, and especially in India. So,
[00:26:19] Akshay Datt: and what kind of top line were you doing?
[00:26:20] Like annual turnover?
[00:26:22] Ramkumar Subramaniam: This was back, what, two to three years back? We were probably doing around 5 million, four to 5 million in that range.
[00:26:28] Akshay Datt: How much is that in rupees?
[00:26:30] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So that used to be, back then it was 65, $70, so about 35 crores. And these 300 people that you had employed, these were largely like blockchain developers.
[00:26:39] So we had to recruit the, people who are really good in tech and teach them how to code and for example, if you had to create tokens in ethereum blocks and you need to code, in solidity, which is ethereum's programming language.
[00:26:53] And then we built exchanges, right? And wallet products. So we had multiple nodes that we had to run. So you need to know multiple languages. And then we had, our core language was basically, NodeJS and Ruby on rails we had people, for that as well.
[00:27:07] Akshay Datt: And so how did it proceed from there? So by, by 18 you were at headcount of 300 people.
[00:27:13] You were doing 35 crores, 40 crores as revenue, yeah.
[00:27:16] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So 18 is when sort of like the 2017 and 18 end is when the crash started happening, right?
[00:27:24] The previous winter
[00:27:25] Akshay Datt: when rbi, RBI basically told banks that you cannot allow your customers to transfer money into Bitcoin and other.
[00:27:32] Ramkumar Subramaniam: That's on the India side, but globally, the market was going through a winter, So 18 to 19 end was like the winter period of crypto. And so the entire market was down and everyone who started along with this like shutting shop and so it made us rethink our .
[00:27:49] Akshay Datt: Your, did your business get affected? Did your revenue come down?
[00:27:52] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It did. Our business was affected, but one good thing about us is that we were profitable from day one and we always wanted to run a profitable company, and we had a good amount of cash reserve.
[00:28:03] We didn't really need to like scale down, but we had to survive, So we figured out various other ways. We got into more of core blockchain based development where, we were implementing for enterprises on how to move into blockchain do POCs for them, how their entire supply chain can be running, running on a solution like HyperLedger and stuff like that.
[00:28:21] So we sort of of changed our strategy a bit for during that period we were more focused towards consumer driven market, where serving the consumer driven market of the crypto, we kind of moved it to the enterprise market for those two us. so that's our sort of like the lull period and we survived the lull period.
[00:28:38] Akshay Datt: What is Hyperledger? You said you, you were doing proof of concept for companies on using Hyperledger.
[00:28:44] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So Hyperledge is one of the blockchain in uh, that's usually used by enterprises. And we took that as a solution and usually it's,
[00:28:50] Akshay Datt: so Hyperledger is just like Ethereum or like any other blockchain basically?
[00:28:54] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah it's, closed blockchain, like a private blockchain where you can run the node yourself and you can tinkle around with it and you can do stuff.
[00:29:02] Akshay Datt: So Hyperledger is like open source software, which allows you to create your own blockchain. Okay.
[00:29:07] Ramkumar Subramaniam: And we went ahead and used that for supply chain based solutions where the entire data of what is being stored as is stored on the blockchain right now.
[00:29:14] And we went ahead and started doing that as an experiment for various enterprises.
[00:29:17] Akshay Datt: But why would blockchain Have a use case here, why not just use like, say, SAP or, Oracle or any of these ERP solutions to track the data around your supply chain? Like why would an enterprise be interested in blockchain?
[00:29:31] Ramkumar Subramaniam: There are two reasons. I'll tell you the technological advantages of that and the business advantage of that. The technological advantage of that is that when you go ahead and use the blockchain you are storing data on a trustless system, right? And it is completely you know, you don't have to worry about the data at all, right?
[00:29:46] So if someone goes ahead and tampers with it, there is da, there is a stamp saying that the data has been changed. If you're running your own centralized, data management, you could tweak it as much as you want. So for example, if I use a service product right now where I hold onto a balance, let's say someone like anyone of the top wallet service providers in India, and I have 10,000 rupees as my balance, and I see it today, tomorrow it becomes 8,000 rupees.
[00:30:11] I have not done anything on it, but my balance has gone down. I would not be able to go ahead and say that, oh someone has taken it. I should probably fight against them saying that, you know, my, my balance has been gone and I've not used it for any kind of payment.
[00:30:24] And, they could go ahead and tweak the system. Anything can be done and we might need to fight against them legally. But on the blockchain, if there is a transaction that happens or if there's any change that's made, it is stored on the blockchain. Every other data is being stored on the blockchain.
[00:30:36] So the kind of immutable system was not available anywhere. And for enterprises to, on a longer scale on to pro- provide transparency to their consumers, they need to get onto a trustless and immutable system. And that's one of the reasons they wanted to get on blockchain.
[00:30:51] Akshay Datt: 2019, you're coming out of that lull, let's continue your journey from there.
[00:30:55] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So 2019 mid, That's when Defi and NFTs and all that were doing decentralized finance based projects and NFTs was a thing. And we started building products based on NFTs, right?
[00:31:08] We started building an non fungible token marketplace, and we initially gave out as a B2B solution as a product to various people who are looking for launching a non fungible token marketplace or launch a non fungible token. So we had a minting engine as well. So we quickly, our revenues grew up, we started hitting an 8 million ARR and our headcount also went up to about 400 people.
[00:31:32] And so this is when we, and we again, we were profitable, right? We were doing really well. And this is when we we all thought my co-founders and we all decided why didn't we try our hands on B2C, We've been a B2B based firm, and why don't we get into B2C? And this is the time to do that.
[00:31:49] Akshay Datt: this is like end of 2020, somewhere around that time when you decided.
[00:31:53] Ramkumar Subramaniam: This was, yes, this was end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. So digital collectibles were becoming a thing, as much as we, we become much more, familiar with technology and stuff.
[00:32:06] We are slowly getting into the metaverse We've been someone who had had more on a physical presence. If someone bought a car, or they went ahead and, you know, celebrated their anniversary we would probably go ahead and meet their friends and tell them about it, probably, meet them in a coffee shop and talk about it and stuff.
[00:32:21] But we don't do that right now. We probably, the first thing that we do is we post it on social media. So the digital world is much more important for us compared to the physical world, right? So more and more digital world becomes important. The digital collectibles or digital assets, in the digital world, start making sense for you.
[00:32:38] So that kind brought about the need for digital collectables and digital artwork, digital assets and stuff. And the best way to prove ownership of a digital asset is obviously on a digital medium. And also blockchain is something which is immutable. And trust us, as I told you before this, we could never prove ownership of a digital asset, right?
[00:32:57] You could buy stuff from the internet, but you can't prove owner prove ownership of that. But blockchain, that you could prove ownership of that.
[00:33:03] Akshay Datt: For example, you could buy say a photograph, like a high resolution JPEG file of it, but there is no trading, which can happen of it. Like anybody can make a copy of it.
[00:33:14] Ramkumar Subramaniam: You can buy it and you won't be able to show the ownership. the ownership can be shown on a centralized record. It's not shown on a decentralized record. Once you start showing it on a decentralized record, your ownership never dies. Even the body which goes ahead and gives out that ownership with the body that goes ahead and gives out the digital asset, it gets shut down.
[00:33:31] You could still have the ownership on a decentralized network, and once you have an ownership on a decentralized network, you can go ahead and sell it anywhere you want. that kind of preparation has this whole concept of ownership on the internet. And yeah, initially, NFTs was more of artwork.
[00:33:46] Akshay Datt: so one, one question here. So we are talking of a digital asset I, I think most NFTs tend to be like images, right? So what is where is that image hosted? Is that, like for example, I can put my images on Google Drive but what happens for an nft? Where is that image hosted?
[00:34:03] How does the token link to the image and, how does that connection work that this token equates to this image?
[00:34:09] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So the image is stored in, in a file system called InterPlanetary File System. It's called IPFS. It's a decentralized file system, and that's where the image is stored. And when you go ahead and, relate that image to a token, you mint it on a, let's say an a ethereum blockchain.
[00:34:27] you create a smart contract for that. You mint that non fungible token. Basically you create the non fungible token and the data of that whatever data you want to have for that particular image. Let's say it's gonna be about someone painting about, about a mountain or something like that.
[00:34:42] You go ahead and you write about it. You have, you write a metadata and stuff like that. And then you have that image location, the IPFS location stored on the smart contract, and you go ahead and mint that. So that's pretty much how you go ahead and create an NFT and that's how you relate it to the image that is stored on the IPFS.
[00:34:59] Akshay Datt: And the IPFS would chart some gas fees for the hosting part of it?
[00:35:03] Ramkumar Subramaniam: IPFS doesn't charge a gas fees. It is like a a network fee, like you pay for it and IPFS has its own coin as well and and stuff like that. You pay a gas fees for the ethereum blockchain to go ahead and mint the NFTs.
[00:35:15] Akshay Datt: Okay. Okay. Okay. So IPFS, you pay like a one time access fees to post, and that is why you would want to buy that kind of IPFS to post your content your data.
[00:35:26] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So there are two ways to handle it. So multiple providers like IPFS, so you could go and probably use how you use an aws, you could use the subscription and use them, or it could use like a file coin or something to go ahead and pay it as well.
[00:35:37] Akshay Datt: Okay. And then on Ethereum it gets minted through a smart contract where there is that metadata and a link. And that creates a token, which is then a non fungible token, which is a monetizable asset, which can change in value and can be sold, and it is immutable.
[00:35:53] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. Another important aspect over here why NFTs make sense and why additional asset ownership on the blockchain makes sense is that you could prove your prominence on the blockchain, right?
[00:36:03] Let's say I'm the creator and I go ahead and sell it to you, and then you go ahead and sell it to someone and then he sells it to someone else on the secondary. So there is provenance of the Ram sold it to Akshay for $10 and Akshay went ahead and sold it for $20 and it has been passed on. So you have this entire provenance been shown so you could not show that before on, on the internet or any other record, right? And this, again, this record is immutable, it's all across the system. So that makes it much, much more valuable. And that is one of the reasons again, so initially when NFT started, right, the, art work is what filled this industry people are getting artworks and reselling artworks and the artificial scarcity that was created for that artwork is what made it valuable.
[00:36:47] And that's how it works in the real world as well, right? I guess the people incident really took the market big right? So the $69 million it would have sold for that, literally,
[00:36:58] Akshay Datt: sorry, how, how much was it sold for?
[00:37:00] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It was sold for $69 million.
[00:37:02] Akshay Datt: $ 69 million. Okay. The there's an basically one artwork, one, one image file, which got sold for that. Wow.
[00:37:09] Ramkumar Subramaniam: There is this people artwork called, 500 days of his Life. So, Which went ahead and sold for about $69 million and it was bought by an Indian you might have known that, right? So it it created the market and made the market big across a group and And all of a sudden everyone was into artwork and people created artwork and started trading that.
[00:37:30] And then there was another series of NFTs that came about right, regenerative artwork where you go ahead and create, you know, a base artwork and you change how the attributes of that particular artwork. Let's say you have a monkey and there is a bad face of the monkey. You add, you change the color of the eyes, you change, you put a hat on it, and you, you create multiple variations of that.
[00:37:52] You create 10,000 variations and then you sell that artwork and you create this artificial scarcity and you let people know that if you go ahead and buy this NFT which has this artwork, then you get membership to my club. And that's how projects like board ape yatch club and all that was bought.
[00:38:08] And that's how the industry turned from being an artwork to more of a club and exclusivity and stuff like that. Now the industry has moved on to become utility driven, It has gone to a stage where from being an artwork and trading artworks and more of, in mode of making money through trade people wanted to understand what's the value behind this, right?
[00:38:28] Why should I go ahead and hold onto and NFT, there are millions of projects out there? Then, as market progresses as technology progress, you understand that NFTs can have multiple use case, right? Once you start proving ownership of an asset, you can have multiple uses, use cases that you can build on top of it.
[00:38:43] And right now it's more focused towards utility, where if I have an NFT, I get an access to probably watch a video, sort of like, or listen to a podcast or go ahead and use that NFT to play a game or use that NFT to get into a metaverse event that they were creating. So people started creating various utilities and NFTs as an ownership for you to be part of that utility.
[00:39:07] And that's how the market has been progressed and We as a company also have been progressed.
[00:39:13] Akshay Datt: So say you have this lounge card, which gives you access to an airport lounge. So instead of a lounge card, you could have an NFT, which does the same thing and that becomes monetizable and you can sell it off further when you no longer are traveling and you don't need access to lounges.
[00:39:28] So that's how NFT becomes utility based rather than just hype around artificial scarcity?
[00:39:35] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Exactly. And this NFT all has all your record, what you used it for, how many times you accessed it, and stuff like that. You know, even, let's say you go ahead, on the other side of real use case of NFTs, right?
[00:39:45] You can even have an ownership of, let's say you buy a vehicle the vehicle itself, the ownership of that can be an NFT and every time from the day it's bought to when you get, it serviced when you change your parts, all of the data is on that vehicles NFT and and you resell it, the data transferred to the one who is being buying it from you.
[00:40:04] So the entire record of the ownership of the vehicle can be an NFT. I believe there was a very small country in Europe which started experimenting on having vaccine certificates as NFTs. So you would have data of every user went ahead and had a vaccine. And that's an NFT
[00:40:19] Akshay Datt: okay. Interesting. Probably real estate would like instead of having a, what we discussed earlier, instead of having a real estate investment trust, you would have a decentralized way of buying real estate. And then people wanting part of it which they can sell fractional ownership and which is easy to trade.
[00:40:36] Ramkumar Subramaniam: And people are doing that right now. There are a lot of projects that across Globe who are making real state-based NFTs. And that's one will become a thing as well.
[00:40:43] Akshay Datt: Yeah. Okay. Okay. And this would be done through a dough, So what's a dough? Let's talk about that
[00:40:47] Ramkumar Subramaniam: NFTs and dough in a way is related. Uh, The reason why is because you get into dough, usually people by buying NFTs, right? You buy an NFT then you're part of a dough. That's how people are doing it right now. Before its not, now it makes much more sense because you want to prove ownership and you be part of a dough.
[00:41:02] Akshay Datt: And what's a dough?
[00:41:03] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So it's, dough is basically a decentralized autonomous organization. So it's an organization, basically, every organization right now is centralized. There is a board, there's a chairman, there is a, you you know, CXOs and it's completely centralized.
[00:41:14] What if you make it completely linear? There is no centralized body and an organization is owned by the entire people who are part of it. And you know, if you take a look at it, and the ethereum itself is a sort of like a trust, which is behaved in a way like a dough, So people kind of changed that and started using it.
[00:41:31] It's sort of like a true essence of decentralization. So if you want to buy a real estate, what do you do? Is you create a dough. And you say that you buy 10,000 NFTs and each NFT is a hundred dollars and I collect, let's say a million dollars, and I go ahead and, buy this particular real estate. Now all of us together own this real estate and we vote on what needs to be done with the real estate.
[00:41:52] Do you want change it into a hotel or do you want to go ahead and create it as a recreational park? You decide it and we go ahead and vote on it, we get it done. And then once we go ahead and do that, what proceeds that particular real estate generates is given back to the entire dough, every member of the dough gets part of that.
[00:42:07] Akshay Datt: Got it. Okay. So yeah. Coming back to your pivot from B2B to B 2 C, so you were initially a service provider for companies who wanted to set up NFT exchanges or say bored ape yatch club, they would've probably used a service provider like you to help them make that.
[00:42:24] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So that's how we started and we worked with various B2Bs and the market was very good after the lull period into like another honeymoon for us, and then we decided why didn't we get into B2C? And as I was telling you, through a very good friend of us, we went ahead and met one of uh, person who had been talk, we've been in touch with for quite a long time.
[00:42:41] He was a mentor for us. His name was KU Patel. Another co-founder and he's a chairman of the company. And we were discussing various stuff. He said, you guys should get into B2C, and he said, this is what we need to do. We need to become an NFT ecosystem company and focus towards being building NFTs.
[00:42:57] We went ahead and restructured and we raised our first series round we raised a 12 million round Kalari was one of the investors and then another angel, a very good friend of ours, called Logan. He also invested $2 million and then we restarted the company and got into NFTs completely. And that's how we made our entry into India and what we are doing in India right now.
[00:43:20] Akshay Datt: So don't you need to have that product that becomes tokenized, like an image or whatever, say bored ape yatch club had this thousands of A photos. So did you, was that what you did or was that the plan create that digital asset, which you tokenize or?
[00:43:36] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So the plan was to become a B2C company focused towards launching NFTs in India.
[00:43:41] And the, for the way to do that. We started with initially partnering with various other firms that are there. So, so that we get into the market, we understand how the market is, create that market over here and then become B2C completely. And our first launch was with Amitabh Bachchan. We went ahead and dropped NFTs of Amitabh Bachchan where we sold for $1 million.
[00:44:02] the reason we went ahead and did that is because, he cries out loud for mass appeal and also credibility, right? You would want the Indian crowd to know what's NFTs and they have to feel secure in buying that.
[00:44:12] And I believe there's no one better than him to do that. So we launched it and probably that was the biggest project in India.
[00:44:18] Akshay Datt: What was this one single photo of Amitabh Bachchan, or what was it like? Just help me understand.
[00:44:24] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So there is multiple forms of NFTs that we launched for Amitabh Bachchan. So there was artwork, like how you've seen this regenerative artwork where we took characters of Amitabh Bachchan from various movies and we created variations of that and iconic scenes.
[00:44:40] And we created artwork and sold that artwork. And then we had an audio recording of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan he's known for his voice, And we went ahead and created an audio recording of his father's poem called Madhushala, where he explain
[00:44:55] Akshay Datt: iconic.
[00:44:55] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. And when he goes in and explains Madhushala, one version, Hindi and one other version in English.
[00:45:01] And then we had various posters, iconic movies again. And we went ahead and requested him to go ahead and sign these posters. And we had video moments of his, of these posters where he signed them and we gave the physical poster along with it. So these are the three major collections that we launched with, and it was a great success and we literally created the market over here.
[00:45:21] Akshay Datt: You sold all of this for a million dollars. Who earned a million here? Was it Amitabh Bachchan? Was it you? Was it a split?
[00:45:27] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It was a revenue split. And I think during that time, that was probably the biggest launch in India and that was followed by many celebrities and brands getting into it, And then we went ahead and started working with a couple of other brands as well. Post this. The second,
[00:45:43] Akshay Datt: so this this was done on Guardian Link, like someone who had to buy the NFT would come to Guardian Link, or what was the consumer facing brand here?
[00:45:50] Ramkumar Subramaniam: We partnered with a marketplace called BeyondLife.Club, where we had a partnership with them and we launched Amitabh Bachchan in that particular We didn't want to get into B2C right away because we wanted to understand the market very well. Before we go ahead and because we, when we wanted launch our B2C focus, NFTs, we wanted launch our own ips. We wanted to create the market first, build that community, and then launch our product.
[00:46:14] And that is the reason we went ahead and partnered and worked with various brands and celebrities. The second celebrity that we worked with was the, Stan Lee's Estate. Stan Lee, who's the creator of Marvel.
[00:46:23] Akshay Datt: One, one quick question, sorry. So if someone want an NFT from BeyondLife.Club, he has to sell it on BeyondLife.Club only, or can he sell it on any marketplace.
[00:46:34] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So we wanted to build that community within the BeyondLife.Club marketplace so he could sell it only on BeyondLife.club marketplace And then, as a buyer you could go ahead and buy it and resell it within the same marketplace as well.
[00:46:47] Akshay Datt: But doesn't that defeat the philosophical underpinning of NFT that truly decentralized, but now you're stuck with one marketplace.
[00:46:56] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So if you take a look at in markets in India how they, how people have adapted in other nations what complete decentralization and how they used meta mask, that kind of adoption is not big in India. That's why you don't see many users using a decentralized exchange in India, right?
[00:47:12] There is uni swap and various other decentralized exchanges Indian usage of those exchanges are very minimal because the overall, the experience of that is quite complex. It's not a very seamless process. And that's one of the reasons why Wazirx and Coin Switch and all these guys are actually existing in India because they provide a very seamless system, which is a quick on, you can go ahead and buy a Bitcoin as you're buying, through an eCommerce product, right?
[00:47:35] Very similarly, we want to create a seamless experience so that, you know, you don't have to use your meta mask, you don't have to, remember your private key and, get in and buy an NFT. You want to have
[00:47:44] Akshay Datt: what is Meta mask? Meta Mask is like a wallet. Is it?
[00:47:47] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It's a decentralized wallet where, you basically manage the wallet yourself.
[00:47:51] Akshay Datt: So it's like a software that you have to install and
[00:47:54] Ramkumar Subramaniam: exactly. And obviously the audience that we are catering also is someone who's, who loves Amitabh Bachchan and who wants to buy an NFT, which shows memory of a Amitabh Bachchan. He might not be a crypto enthusiast or an NFT enthusiastic, someone who's getting in introduced to NFTs.
[00:48:08] So we wanted to have a very seamless experience for him, for like how you log in through your Instagram and you go ahead and like a picture of Amitabh Bachchan that's how simple it should be. You'll be able to log in with your social credentials. And we, that's one of the reasons we had to create a closed marketplace.
[00:48:24] And what we are doing right now is as we have built the community there, we are opening up. So you can now move these NFTs to open sea and start reselling them. From the beginning, it was decent choice. The NFTs was on a blockchain, but it was in a closed marketplace to be sold within that particular marketplace.
[00:48:40] Now it's move to open sea So now you can go ahead. If you require, once we open up for Open Sea, you can go ahead and move the N FTS to open sea and it's, it'll still have the entire prominence of trading that happened on Beyond Live.club
[00:48:52] So the second set of NFTs was with Stan Lee who is the creator of Marvel. We worked with his estate and we launched NFTs for him for his last in art artwork that he created last super hero that he ever created.
[00:49:05] This is back in 2013, is then he created and it's called Chakra. And we created this chakra verse, and it was an Indian superhero that he wanted to, create it, he loved it so much, he believed it'll be the next Superman, right? And, but unfortunately he passed away and he could not do that.
[00:49:20] So they wanted to have a lasting memory as an outcome out of that. So NFT obviously is the way to go for it. And we partnered with the estate and, we went ahead and launched Chakra NFTs. And and very interestingly, we, we almost did this in about three weeks time, the entire ideation and creating of NFTs and launching them and selling them out.
[00:49:41] And we also sold out these NFTs in a record breaking time. Right. We sold 12,000 NFTs and were sold out in 51 seconds.
[00:49:51] Akshay Datt: Wow. So, So there were 12,000 images, of Chakra that were minted as NFTs.
[00:49:57] Ramkumar Subramaniam: In 51 seconds.
[00:49:58] And it was an amazing experience post that we had multiple other brands.
[00:50:02] Akshay Datt: And how much was netted from that sale?
[00:50:04] Ramkumar Subramaniam: I believe it's somewhere around 400,000 US dollars. INR coming around 3 crore or something like that.
[00:50:10] Akshay Datt: Yeah. And then post that?
[00:50:11] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Post that we had partnerships with various brands. We partnered with Viacom 18 and launched their NFTs. characters from various series they had, and shows they had fully faltoo was one of the know team and a couple of other bakra, which is part of MTV and a few other characters as well, and we created NFTs of that.
[00:50:30] And after this we worked with Hindustan Times. we had newspaper clippings, which, iconic headlines of the 1940s to the, we took that and we did NFTs out of that, we worked with Kalpana Chawla's Estate and we had images of late Kalpana Chawla and it was given out for charity. We also did NFTs of a Metaverse Wedding.
[00:50:49] It was, it's a huge rage during the time it was Asia's first metaverse wedding and we gave NFTs as invite passes to, attend that metaverse wedding . And that's how we worked with all of these brands, and as we worked with these brands we also had an interesting, opportunity to work with an FMCG brand called Cadbury's which if you know them, and we were going ahead and launching a charity based NFTs for them and we're, we are launching their NFTs next month.
[00:51:17] Akshay Datt: What does that mean, charity based, like the proceeds will go to charity?
[00:51:20] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah, so basically what happens is that we are making people submit artworks of gems themed artworks and memories, the gems and stuff like that. And whatever NFTs and the proceed that comes out is given back to charity, this charity is called Save the Children and it's for children across the Globe in need of Education.
[00:51:39] Akshay Datt: This is still not pure B2C yet, right? Because you are not yet directly selling to customers. You don't have your own marketplace, so to say.
[00:51:47] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So that's where, the real story started happening. As we started working with these brands around April is when we completely went B2C, right? We were preparing it for last four months from there, like from January to April. We were we understood as we did these launches and drops, Brand and celebrity is good enough to go ahead and sell out the NFTs, right? For the initial primary sale. But you would need to, have a reason for it to be, hold on.
[00:52:09] You would need to have it have a utility and a use case for it to have a multiple re-trade that happens post that, a secondary re-trade and the price, all that. And what we understood is that we need to start building on utilities. And that is one of the reasons we also got into initially of like a B2B to C, We wanted to go through the learning curve and understand how the market would take this. And our biggest learning was that you would need utility for NFTs. And we went ahead and decided that we go with gaming as a utility. It was a long shot. Gaming definitely is the biggest use case of uh, NFT, right?
[00:52:41] Because gaming games are all about assets digital assets that can be used within the game. And we came up with two different games that we wanted to launch. One was cricket, the biggest celebrated game across the globe. India loves cricket. We are from India. We are targeting major. And another one was a racing game.
[00:52:58] Everyone, a racing game is it's part of our gaming culture. So these are two projects that we want to get into, and the first launch that we did was for a cricket game. And we went ahead and sold NFTs for this cricket game, basically, batsman and a bowler that you buy, you you as NFTs, right? You buy a batsman and then you buy a bowler and then you also buy a bat as an NFT.
[00:53:20] And then once you have all these three, you can go ahead and participate in the game and it's an actual role playing game where you choose which batsman to play and then you choose which bowler to bowl against, your opponent. And then you chose which bat you have based on the power and you know what kind of bat it's and stuff like that.
[00:53:37] And then you go ahead and play the game. You score runs, you score fours and sixes, and then the outcome, whoever wins, he's the one who is going back with rewards and upgrades to the NFTs that you use, so every time you play the game, your NFT upgrades a skill set, and then it moves away from being a level one to a level two NFT.
[00:53:56] And then you can, keep on playing the game and improve your skillset. And you can go ahead and resell your NFT. Someone else can buy it from you and you can go ahead and buy another one and start using that. We had multiple NFTs from a rookie, like someone who is an entry level player to a legend.
[00:54:10] And all of this was our own IP that we created, right? It is our own players. That we created, like how a board yacht club is. Each player had its history. Each player had its skill set. Each player had limitations and stuff like that, and various categories of the players as well.
[00:54:25] Akshay Datt: And what time these players would evolve. Like I, I'm assuming at the beginning, all players would be at say rookie level and then as players play the game, those players?
[00:54:34] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Majority of the players are rookies. And we had few of them in rare legends. And overall About 50,000 of them were players and 5,000 of them were bats.
[00:54:44] And this was also a very quick sell out for us. We sold these 55,000 NFTs for about half a million dollars in nine minutes time.
[00:54:52] Akshay Datt: How much would a player have costed, let's say, a rookie level player? What's the cost of playing the game? Like entry level first?
[00:54:58] Ramkumar Subramaniam: If you buy it at a drop, the first sale one player would cost you $12 or $12.5.
[00:55:02] And so you need to buy it as a pack. So you would need to buy a batsman and bowler. So you'll be basically paying $25 to get into a game and a bat is an option .
[00:55:20] Akshay Datt: What is the game quality? Like how realistic is the cricket game? And how to find out the graphics and, because there's a whole spectrum of what the game experience could be like.
[00:55:30] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. One thing that we understood as we got into NFT and gaming, right?
[00:55:34] Most of the NFT based games which are commonly called as play to win games where you earn as you play the game and you get rewarded. They are not actual games, right? These are games that are just built in a way so that you can, use NFTs and do a simulation and then you earn out of that.
[00:55:50] So we wanted to build an experience what would a gamer like, right? You would want to actually play a game and the earning comes as a passive outcome of that, So that's why we also took the time to make sure the game comes out well. And we took that four to five months of building that B2C product. And this particular game is a hardcore cricket gamers game, right?
[00:56:09] It's called Meta cricket League. and it's sold through RB to C marketplace called jump dot rate. That's where you can go ahead and buy these NFTs. And this particular game, you would probably compare it to a EA Cricket if you had played that. Very similar to that in graphics and the roleplay is very similar to that.
[00:56:23] Akshay Datt: I guess EA Cricket is pretty much the benchmark for cricketing games, right? Like it's amongst the best.
[00:56:29] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. And we have mobile versions of this game and we are also launching desktop version soon.
[00:56:34] Akshay Datt: But you're not a gaming studio. How did you end up building a game as good as EA Cricket?
[00:56:38] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So what we did is that obviously the, one of the reasons we went ahead and raised funds also was to expand and acquire other talents as well, right?
[00:56:47] So as part of this, we went ahead and acquired a gaming studio and brought them in. And used that gaming studio to build this game.
[00:56:54] Akshay Datt: Okay. Okay. Okay. Which studio did you acquire? Was, is it a B2C studio? Like a studio, which makes games for other companies?
[00:57:01] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It was a B2 C studio, which focused on building B2C based product.
[00:57:06] And they also wanted to expand into NFTs in play to earn. And, And they were looking to have right partners and we decided why don't we bring them together? And that's how it happened. And, And right now the game is launched and it's been in the market for the last two months. And we have more than a hundred thousand active users as part of a platform.
[00:57:28] Akshay Datt: What's the game called? If I want to download the app or if I want to play it?
[00:57:31] Ramkumar Subramaniam: You could go to jump.trade, which is our NFT marketplace, and from that you could download the game, it's called Meta Cricket League, and you would be able to download apk.
[00:57:40] Akshay Datt: And jump.trade is, your NFT marketplace only for cricket.
[00:57:44] Or it's like a marketplace you're building for all future NFTs?
[00:57:49] Ramkumar Subramaniam: It's a marketplace that we're building for all future NFTs. All of the games that we'll be launching will be in this marketplace. Any brand collab or a celebrity collab that we're doing will be through this marketplace.
[00:57:58] Akshay Datt: Most games have a freemium strategy, right?
[00:58:01] They're free to play but here you have this entry cost and that $25 entry cost was probably when you did the initial drop. It must be much higher now, right?
[00:58:10] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. So most of the NFTs have gone up two x or four x in its value. So the NFTs have gone up to even five x of its value. So your entry costs right now is around minimum $50 because one batsman has gone from a twelve and half dollars to $25, right?
[00:58:25] The reason we started with that is because we wanted to have. A playing crowd which you know, goes ahead and buys NFTs and, uses those NFTs and start building that ecosystem where you need to buy an NFT, use that play with that NFT earn with that NFT upgrade. And we need to, to build that, playing mechanism so that, that gets adopted.
[00:58:43] And what we are doing right now is to have a mechanism where there'll be multiple NFTs dropped every week, And it'll be, there'll be certain NFTs which are much more lower in cost. So the NFTs will launch sort of like, like our Genesis collection, which have its own value and its appreciates there's a separate game play for that one.
[00:59:00] And then we have another collection we'll be launching, which is like much lower value NFTs around 1 to $2 when we drop it, and then it has a certain expiry and stuff like that. And then we have another range of NFTs, which are free NFTs.
[00:59:14] Akshay Datt: And how would you earn in this once your NFT gets goes up in skills for example, then it would have more value. So therefore it's like buying a house in a way. It would appreciate so that's how you would earn like your NFT value would appreciate. And then you can sell it and, or you can trade it and buy something cheaper and take that cash home, is that how it would help them?
[00:59:35] Ramkumar Subramaniam: There are two ways to earn for you. One as you told you hold onto an NFT. As you hold onto an NFT, there is an artificial scarcity that is there. So if you want to get into the game, and it's very rare and your NFT value appreciates. Another way is that as you play the game, your NFT upgrades, right?
[00:59:54] Your skillset of NFT moves away from being a, let's say a level one rookie to a level two rookie and a three level four rookie. So playing with level four rookie, what'll happen is that it has much more benefits in the gameplay. And if you have more benefits in the gameplay, then your earning potential becomes big.
[01:00:11] That's your third way of how you actually earned rewards, right? And that's how you make money in terms of the gameplay. So you go ahead and have an NFT, you play the game, and as you play the game and as your score runs, and as you win the game, if you win multiple games as a part of a tournament, we go ahead and distribute rewards as, winning rewards as part of the tournament.
[01:00:30] And these are
[01:00:31] Akshay Datt: what kind of rewards?
[01:00:33] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So these are basically tokens that are given out. These are not crypto tokens that are traded in the marketplace. These are in game tokens that we give out, which are equivalent to, you know, USD, so let's say 10,000, it's called JD points. So 10,000 JD points is equally basically into $1.
[01:00:48] So you can go ahead and earn JD points, and then you can move it to a marketplace and then convert that as U S D and then, move it to your bank account. So basically,
[01:00:58] Akshay Datt: can you use this JD points for buying anything inside the game?
[01:01:01] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah. You could use the JD points to buy NFTs within the marketplace and then use it back.
[01:01:05] Akshay Datt: Okay. So essentially the better your player is, the more chances are that you'll win tournaments. The more tournaments you win, the more JD points you earn. And JD points are dollars basically. And to have a better player, you may want to spend money on a on buying an NFT player from somebody who's already upskilled his players?
[01:01:24] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yeah.
[01:01:25] Akshay Datt: Got it. Okay. I, I understand the, the economics, uh, or the marketplace here. Okay. Fascinating. help me understand what is the potential of this game? What could be the value of this marketplace? Like the transactions happening on it, or, could it be a billion dollars idea or Help me understand that.
[01:01:42] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So the market is, quite big, right?
[01:01:44] I think it is progressing on to become probably in the next, if you take a look at it in the next five years or so, every other game that is there in the market would probably have their assets on the blockchain. And this is the future of gaming. And there's a very similar game that has launched few years back called Axie Infinity, right?
[01:02:00] They did a transaction of up to about a billion dollars during its peak time, right? And it came from a country like Indonesia and their majority of users were from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Southeast Asian countries. And the reason why is also because, in this particular country, you have this concept of, where there's always lower wage or an everyday wage is there, and you would want to have another source of income for you, And there is this huge market in India as well, where someone who is working or studying part-time, they want to go ahead and do another work. The gig economy in India is quite big, right? They're either getting into Swiggy delivery or they become delivery boys of Amazon and stuff like that, or they're into BPOs and stuff.
[01:02:43] So gaming has started becoming like a profession in the last few years, Earning pro gaming can be a great gig that people can adopt to, and we've seen that happen with these countries in Vietnam and all that. So I think India has a great potential and with the population and the, and the young population that we have, which is between 18 to 35, I think there are about 600 million people in that particular age group.
[01:03:05] And the potential of that the potential of that becoming massive is, I think it's huge. It's already huge because you can see what's happening with MPL, dream eleven, and all these guys where they've pretty much have uh, ruled the play to earn market, right? The, the regular play to earn market. I think wave three has a bigger potential compared to that.
[01:03:23] And I think it, it's a billion dollar opportunity.
[01:03:26] Akshay Datt: What is the total like market capitalization of all nFTs for this cricket game that you've released so far?
[01:03:33] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Right now it's would be around 5 million USD with the current rate volume that is going on. And our focus is not to worry market capitalization. I think it, it should be more on not worried about the secondary re trade that happens and what will go on that.
[01:03:47] Because India is not a market worry about secondary re trade and because India's not a collectable market, We never collect basketball cards, we never collect cricket and we are a value for money country. So we see India as a country where NFTs is really used for the use case of it where I buy this NFT and then let's say I invest $10, I probably should get hundred out or something.
[01:04:08] Yeah, I'm done with that. I believe that's the market also that we are targeting and that our business model and our product is built that way as well.
[01:04:15] Akshay Datt: And what is your head count?
[01:04:16] Ramkumar Subramaniam: We are about 4 30 odd. We have offices in India and Singapore.
[01:04:23] Akshay Datt: So do you still have your B2B business going on, or tell me about the organization.
[01:04:28] What is the roadmap for the organization?
[01:04:30] Ramkumar Subramaniam: So the B2B business is where we are focused on working with brands and launching their NFTs, our major focus right now is B2C and B2B has become a secondary focus, but it'll be an important part of the organization because that gives us learning and it gives us obviously ways to make sure the product is, gets better as it goes.
[01:04:48] And also with our B2B business, there's a lot of opportunities for us to partner and bring in through our B2C business as well.
[01:04:56] Akshay Datt: Because I'm guessing when you work with a brand to create NFTs for their ip, then it would be sold on your marketplace.
[01:05:03] Ramkumar Subramaniam: Yes. And also we could integrate those ips into our games as well.
[01:05:07] And also celebrities that we work with, you know, that NFTs launched those celebrities, NFTs can be brought into our games. So if we take a look at, recently Fortnite went ahead and launched Dragon Ball Z avatars inside fortnite. That kind of IP play is what you know, we would probably want to do in the future.
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