AMA with Aventus founders — August 2018

In the first of what we intend to be a (semi!) regular series, Aventus founders Annika & Alan sat down to answer some of the questions recently being raised by the community.

We’re planning more of these in the future, so if you have anything you want to know please join our Telegram Groupor follow us onTwitter, and ask away using the hashtag #AventusAMA.

Full transcript below the video.

Alan: Hey everyone, we have spent the last couple of weeks gathering a bunch of questions from the community and we’re going to give our best attempt to answer them now. This is going to be the first in a series of a AMAs so that we can engage better with you guys and ensure that your questions are answered straight from the source.

@MJ: How much non crypto funding remains & how long do you anticipate that it will last for?

Alan: We have an extensive range of diversified holdings of the initial Ether that we received in turn for selling AVT in the token sale. So we had 60,000 ETH originally; as is still publicly visible, I believe around 10,000 ETH still sits in our multi-signature wallet that anyone can see. There’s about 5,000 ETH that we’ve diversified in various ways to make sure it’s safe, and the rest of the funds — a portion of them, a few thousand ETH, went to people who helped us, corporate partners, I the token sale — which left in the order of 40,000 ETH that we have turned into fiat currency. Of that pool that we turned into fiat currency, the Foundation has about 20–25m USD left to be spending on the development of the Aventus Protocol and the accompanying ecosystem. Those funds will go various different entities and we expect them to last for another 3–4 years of developing out everything, both on the biz dev side to bring traffic to the protocol, but also on the fundamental further developing the technology and the ecosystem to make it easier for anybody to perform at the biz dev side. Also, as a pool of funding we obviously have the new user incentive that we communicated during the ICO and the token sale, which was in the order of 19%, so 1.9m AVT. That will slowly start being deployed over the 3 year coming time-scale and we expect that to go a very long way in developing the ecosystem.

@MJ: What is being done to grow the business/generate customers?

For instance:

  • How many people are on the marketing team and working full time on that area?
  • How many people have been appointed to work on partnerships?

Annika: So in terms of the marketing, biz dev functions in the organisastion, across the various companies that have service level foundations to develop the Protocol and market the Protocol and its ecosystem, we have about four full-time marketing roles currently occupied, we have a couple of biz dev / marketing, and a whole new biz dev function that’s starting out now in conjunction with a VC in the states, which we can’t really talk about yet but we will be soon and it’ll be really exciting.

@Auberlin: Can the current problems in the ticketing industry be solved with another technology than blockchain?

Annika: Many of the problems can be improved to a great degree without blockchain; the ticketing industry, the most difficult part of it is the politics and the execution. A bunch of great technology has launched over the years and it hasn’t really been adopted because of the approach to the market. AXS and Rival are doing some very interesting things; so Rival, run by Nathan Hubbard, ex-Ticketmaster CEO, they are doing face-recognition at venues basically for access control. That’s a brilliant solution and something we see as very complementary to the Protocol. In and of itself that component does not solve the touting problem because you need vertical integration across the supply-chain, from the primary all the way through to the access control. AXS and FlashSeats, they are probably the closest at solving this problem that we’ve seen from the big guys in the space around touting. The problem there is that it’s still stuck in the AXS silo, so any big event typically won’t have a full allocation with AXS, and then you’ll still have the touting problems on any components of that inventory that aren’t controlled by the AXS system. So yes, those are steps in the right direction but we feel like blockchain will help both of those solutions and we’re actively talking to these people to be able to do what they want, more wider-reaching across the industry.

@Auberlin: Do you plan a minimal AVT stake (something like master nodes) in order to participate to some voting activities or to be eligible as matcher for the secondary market?

Alan: A lot of what the Aventus Protocol is based around is proof-of-stake based mechanics, so yes there will be this to a degree across the board. Specifically though this question this question is around matching, and for us matching is not yet built — and it’s on hold until we see the commercial benefit of matching. This has been the biggest sticking point for the traditional industry as it is, and there’s no interest for this component of the Protocol as it is today. We can deliver on a lot of the value without this component. In the bigger vision, we definitely see this becoming a very prevalent part of the Protocol, and at that point we’ll decide what exactly the staking mechanisms around it will be.

@Auberlin: One of the major sell point for Aventus is to be/to implement an interoperability layer between different players in the ticketing industry. Is this approach really needed/wanted? I guess big players like Ticketmaster or AEG can take 25% fee for a ticket because they use a vertical system and own arenas, so that it is impossible to do something without one of them.

Annika: This is a really good question, and again it comes back to the politics in the industry. You are right in saying that to get the two big companies in the space to work on something together is very difficult to do, given the competition, but having an open distribution system effectively can actually add a a lot more value than either one of those could on their own, just because of the way targeting a specific audience works. If you’re able to use all kinds of distribution channels, with your own rules, your technology and your rights enforced, you should be able to reach a wider audience and gain more money and data without siloing it on your own. So yes, that’s why they vertically integrate now, because the way it works with traditional infrastructure is it’s very difficult to transfer value across a supply-chain without having to trust some intermediary. With our solution, there is no trusted intermediary; there are smart contracts with rules that you set up and therefore we can realise this kind of system that adds that value. Before we couldn’t, and that’s why people had to vertically integrate to exert a certain level of control.

@Auberlin: My next question concerns the payment problem (Fiat<->Crypto<->Fiat). Could you find a solution so far? And if not what do you think about introduce a stable coin?

Annika: So in the interim, what we’ve found is not only do many of the companies in this space not want to change from their current payment service provider because of the benefits they get and the relationships they have, but also because of the scale that we currently have with blockchains, it becomes impractical to do an initial ticket sale on the blockchain and have a confirmation within a decent period of time. Whilst we have our own scaling solutions that we’re developing here that we’re excited to talk about, these would still require modifications to provide on-chain transactions with cryptocurrencies. There are lots of solutions we’re exploring now, other crypto-projects, working with banks, other existing card networks etc., where we’re looking at the possibilities of implementing it sooner, but really this is an industry-wide problem that just needs to be circumvented by governments and verified authorities giving some kind of customer guarantees around crypto for this to actually be implemented and actually grow. Right now, you still have the likes of Wells Fargo, for example, cancelling any crypto transactions on credit card. Until those kinds of issues are sorted we can’t implement things like this.

@Tommy: Who do you think are the strongest competitors in the blockchain ticketing space and how does Aventus compare to the competitors?

Alan: So we get asked this a lot about competitors. One of the downsides is everybody thinks “blockchain and ticketing”, therefore we’re all doing exactly the same thing, but actually there are great differences in our solutions. I’m not going to address any particular competitor, we don’t feel it necessary to pick on anybody — we’re all in the same job here, trying to convince the industry of the legitimacy of blockchain, and in that respect I think we’re all working together and should be working together on that front. What I will say is there are a few different categories of solution to the industry; so some people think a full stack eCommerce platform taking on the likes of Ticketmaster or AXS is the way to go and having a blockchain back-end plugged into that. We, from analyzing the industry and seeing other people trying to enter the industry, think the play for us and our expertise and the way we want to scale this business is not to be B2C but rather B2B and let people leverage the benefits of the blockchain. Rather than outright competing with Ticketmaster, for example, we’d like to work together with them. Another thing that should be said is there are a few people looking at infrastructure-based projects, but again, you need to look very closely at the actual Protocol to ascertain whether or not we’re doing the same thing. We’re not all delivering the same value: blockchain doesn’t just have one category of value that it adds, it’s the way that you apply it and use those properties.

@Dominik: What do you believe will be a turning point in the perception of blockchain by ticketing companies?

Annika: People are talking about blockchain in this space, but it’s still at an extremely high level. They don’t know the difference between a private blockchain, proof of authority, proof of stake, proof of work and the relative implications of using public vs private blockchain etc. And actually if you look in the press, the way the ticketing industry speaks about blockchain, it’s like a blanket thing where it’s like, “the blockchain solves all these problems, we should be using the blockchain”. The inflection point in my opinion will be when people start realizing that the actual implementation of the Protocol matters, and the type of blockchain matters, and I think this is only really going to happen when trials start occurring — especially ones with a very anti-touting, pro more interesting economics in the secondary market for artists or whatever — and those rules end up getting circumvented by malicious actors. Once that happens it will become very clear that there’s a lot of subtleties to these solutions. But until then, it’s very much “this is a new thing, it’s very important, it solves these things, we should all be looking at it.”

@Dominik: Where do you see the state/adoption of the Aventus Protocol by 2020?

Alan: This question is, given that it’s by 2020, is essentially asking us what we expect to happen next year, in 2019. So to answer that, I would say the state of the Protocol itself we expect to have — we’re already launched on the mainnet, but we’re still in a sort of version 0. Release, you could say a beta release, in the mainnet. We expect to be fully in production with the vast majority of what has been currently described in the whitepaper. We have a proprietary scaling solution that solves scale on Ethereum for our particular use-case and similar use-cases, and we expect to see a version of that be live. And we expect to see various supporting infrastructure with the open source community being much more engaged. As goes adoption of the Protocol in the industry, if we don’t see a million+ tickets flowing through the Protocol next year, we’ll see that as us not having delivered properly on what we expect. So we very much expect that we’ll be able to deliver on that, plus more, but like we’ve touched on here already, there are a couple of announcements coming in the next couple of weeks, specifically around the partnership with a VC in America, that will really help push this forward.

@Dominik: What are the main milestones the team would like to hit by year-end, fundamentally, how much progress has been made since the start of the year?

Annika: So from the beginning of the year, as you know, our team overall in the different companies has grown to surpass 25 people, across mainly development but then also marketing, biz dev, and then management and operations. We released a beta version of the Protocol in April, subsequently we have a lot of other modules and stuff — especially around voting — that have been developed and are ready to be released. We finished a partnership with a big VC and we expect to have that roll out a lot more biz dev and partnerships in the coming months. By the end of the year, what we really want to do is get a scaling solution working that people are using. We also expect to have partnerships and tickets flowing through the Protocol in some shape or form by the end of the year as well.

@Dominik: What are the founders planning to do with their AVT after the vesting period is over?

Alan: This question has actually… we weren’t aware that it had come around so quickly that our AVT was releasing out, we were first prompted by our community. Our intention, given that we agreed on an initial year-long vesting period and that’ll be up in September I believe, is to continue to hold that AVT. So we will quite likely set up a formal structure where everyone can formally see us locking up those funds for another year or two. So, we fully intend to hold, we have great belief in this vision, and we will be very transparent as to what happens around our tokens so that everybody can have the same confidence in the project as we do.

@Dominik: How do you see the general crypto market evolving in the next 6–12 months?

Annika: Well as you guys have seen with utility tokens and Protocol tokens, a lot of stuff has been built already, and now people are fleshing them out. I believe in the next 6–12 months we’ll see a lot more vertical applications, people with actual partnerships, real companies starting to move onto the blockchain and that being very important — rather than the technical infrastructure that’s building blockchains and figuring out toolsets for people to use them. So basically moving to a higher level.

@Zeb: What action is Aventus taking to take care of investors and the token price?

Alan: So this is a question we get quite often. First of all, I’d just like to make it clear that this was never an investment; we didn’t sell equity in a company; this was a purchase of AVT in return for money and you purchase a bundle of rights associated with the Aventus network. So, we’ll call it “sale participants” for the purpose of this question. We’re very much worried about our sale participants, the previous question I answered around what we’re going to do with our AVT that is vested kind of proves that again. One thing that we’ve been very focused upon is in not engaging in the “hype cycle” that exists around token sales. So I know some people have been disappointed, because they expected to see huge returns very quickly, as we’ve seen with some other projects. But like we’ve always stated and will continue to maintain, we’re all about fundamental value and building a business that is still going to be here in ten years’ time, when all of the regulation that we’re going to see through FCC and all of the various governments in the world, and make sure that we come out the other end. We see this very similar in terms of market dynamics to what we saw in the explosion in eCommerce around the turn of the millennium; obviously a lot of companies survived that, a lot didn’t, and we want to make sure that we find ourselves on the right side of the line.

@Azeen Rama: When will the 18% of AVT be distributed to the Aventus team members?

Annika: I think this question has a misconception about the ratios of AVT divided between partners, sale participants, team etc. Actually, less than 10% has been allocated to the founders plus teams working on the project. The 18% that’s being spoken about in this question is our new-user incentive pool, which as a Foundation we intend to distribute to many different projects and teams working on the Protocol to expand the ecosystem. It’s not going to be going to the core Aventus/Artos and other associated companies teams, it’s going to be other people who are completely independent.

@Azeen Rama: When will Aventus have a desktop and mobile wallet available?

Alan: Quick and easy answer to this question really is we’ll have the mobile wallet by the end of the year, it’ll be in use in some of the partnerships Annika alluded to. Desktop version of that won’t ever make sense for our use-case because the wallet itself will need to be present when you attend an event, and you’re never going to bring your desktop or laptop with you to validate that. So it’ll be exclusively mobile-based, and by the end of the year.

Annika: Thanks for your time guys, hope we answered your questions. If you have any more, please use the hashtag #AventusAMA and ask anything, and then also please subscribe to our Youtube, Twitter, Telegram, etc etc.

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