At the Inside Bitcoins event in San Diego, AllCoinsNews had an opportunity to meet with Valerian Bennett, a co-founder of PopChest. The startup is a bitcoin micropayment service provider for videos and won second place in the Inside Bitcoins startup competition in San Diego. Bennett provided the following answers to our questions.
ACN: How did you get started with PopChest.com?
My background is as a network television producer/editor in Los Angeles. When I got bit by the bitcoin bug, I knew I had to do “something” in the space. So, I started videotaping our local bitcoin Meetup in LA. Our first guest was Andreas Antonopoulos. I put that video on YouTube and got an amazingly positive response…but not much revenue. I felt this was the perfect use case for bitcoin micropayments, but no one had built a functioning system yet. After a few months of frustration, I went to the bitcointalk.org forum and talked to every engineer who ever mentioned micropayments. I ultimately found my technical co-founder, James Poole, and the rest is history.
ACN: What are the backgrounds of the team behind PopChest?
I’m the media guy. I attended film school at the University of Southern California and built my career in Hollywood. James is a network security engineer at RSA. He did some pioneering work with bitcoin micropayment channels dating back to mid-2014. He’s the blockchain guy. So, PopChest is a great mix of both disciplines and reflected in our collective background.
ACN: How are videos hosted through PopChest?
Currently we use a traditional content delivery network to host video around the globe. There are a lot of brilliant decentralized file storage technologies being developed (Storj, Sia, Alexandria…). When one proves to be faster, cheaper, and more reliable than Amazon Cloudfront, then we’ll definitely take a much closer look.
ACN: Who do you see as your main customer base?
We can offer great value to YouTube stars. There is a growing frustration among the artists who feel they aren’t getting their fair share. The YouTube platform brings in $5 billion a year for Google. But many of their content creators are struggling financially. We want to turn that whole business model upside down. PopChest allows video producers to get paid directly, in real-time, for every view. Our hope is to drastically increase the amount of money going directly from viewers to artists. And, for fans, we give them a super smooth way to connect with the online personalities that they love the most. It’s a win for everyone involved.
ACN: Are you developing mobile apps on platforrms like iOS and Android?
PopChest is web-based, but built around HTML5 so everything is natively mobile-friendly. We’re really excited about building for OTT (over-the-top) devices such as Roku, Chromecast, and AppleTV. Our micropayment technology could usher in a whole new era of cord-cutting and a la carte programming.
ACN: Is the model only using Bitcoin for micropayments or are you also time stamping IP of customers?
We’re taking a very modular approach. Right now, we’re trying to nail the micropayment mechanism. But, since we are encoding video, there’s no reason we couldn’t add a “digital fingerprint” for authenticating original content. We will be well-positioned when the demand for that technology rises.
ACN: What kind of funding do you have at this stage and what are you looking for?
PopChest is entirely self-funded at this stage. We are seeking to raise an angel round with the start of 2016. Anyone interested in helping us grow can get in touch at IR@PopChest.com or ping us on Twitter (@pop_chest).
ACN: Does Bitcoin’s volatility impact the interest in PopChest?
That has not been the case so far. The most important thing that affects interest/traffic is quality of content.