ICO Spotlight: Interview with Ben Stevens from BlockCAT
This post is part of the ICO Spotlight, a series of posts with the teams behind the different projects covered by Coinschedule.
Hello Ben, please tell us about BlockCAT. What is it?
BlockCAT makes smart contracts accessible to everyday users by providing a visual interface to create, deploy and manage contracts, no programming required. We believe in a future where smart contracts are used by everyone: a local club holding deposits for equipment, co-workers raising funds for charity, small business owners taking monthly payments from customers, huge companies managing their supply chain, communities holding transparent and verifiable voting. Our visual smart contracts could even be combined and chained together, building out entire business models – the possibilities are truly endless. If the smart contract you need doesn’t exist, you’ll have the visual tools to create it with BlockCAT. We even provide a marketplace to share and use contracts created by other users.
So in a way it’s like an app store for smart contracts? Am I getting this right?
The App Store analogy is very appropriate. Apple made it easy for everyday people to purchase, install and use software on a global scale. BlockCAT believes in the same vision for smart contracts. Just like the App Store, users can submit their own contracts to our marketplace and earn a portion of the fees when these contracts are deployed. Last year, developers on the App Store earned over $20 billion from app sales. There’s a huge untapped potential for the global adoption of smart contracts.
We also allow users to stake their CAT tokens on the validity and reliability of smart contracts. Once the contract reaches the staking threshold, it’s published to our marketplace and stakers earn a portion of the fees generated by the contract. Staking is far superior to user reviews. Since there is a monetary value to staking, users have the incentive to stake accurately and honestly. It also allows for decentralized verification of contracts. You can be confident that smart contracts with large staking values are not just the most popular, but also the most secure and trusted on the market.
That’s fantastic. But what if I need small changes (or big ones) to one of the pre-made smart contracts? What are my options?
During the setup of your contract, you’ll be presented with options to customize the deployment. All of this is done through our simple visual interface. As for big changes, our final phase of development will include a visual contract designer, which allows users to design their own smart contracts from scratch using a drag-and-drop interface, and even submit them to the marketplace!
How do you plan to prevent others from just copying your code?
Great question! Our intention is to enforce a license that is open source, but rights reserved.
So it would be illegal for them to rip the code. I can understand how this might not stop someone, but the way we see it, anybody who has the know-how to rip our contracts is not the target demographic of BlockCAT anyway. Plus, all they get is the smart contract itself without the interface – our UI is the major selling point of the platform.
So to that end, we feel a stance similar to how some game developers treat piracy is appropriate. To quote Gabe Newell of Valve – “Piracy is almost always a service problem”. So we won’t try to lock things down with draconian measures that hurt our honest user, but instead offer a service so easy and accessible that it’s a much better experience just to use it, than going through the effort to steal it.
What can you tell us about your team?
Our team is composed of highly regarded academics who have published over 80 papers combined. Our CEO, Eric Huang, has even been recognized by Forbes for his excellent contribution in Computer Science education. As a business advisor we have Dr. Ramon Lawrence, consultant for many Fortune 500 companies and defense organizations.
Our vast experience in the field of embedded databases (which has a similar ecosystem to the blockchain) and our natural drive to push the boundaries of technology, made Ethereum smart contracts a perfect application of our skills. The blockchain is after all, a giant append-only database.
Thank you so much Ben and good luck with your ICO.
Thanks Alex, it’s been a pleasure! Our token sale is still ongoing until Aug 15th and our public alpha release is even sooner. So come check us out at https://blockcat.io/