This is the second article in a two-part series. To read the first half of this interview, click here.
The ICO landscape is littered with pump-and-dump schemes, scamcoins, and coins that simply lack substance. Last week, we spoke with Viberate COO Vasja Veber about building trust and success in the current ICO landscape and the future of blockchain technology in the music industry.
Viberate is a blockchain platform for musicians, booking agents, venues, and fans to connect and transact with one another. Recently, Viberate was recognized by the European Commission as one of eight European startups that will change the world.
Finance Magnates: Can you tell us a little more about the Viberate ICO?
Vasja Veber: The thing is that we (most of the founders) have a marketing background, so we know how to present things to the public. Like I said, we were in Silicon Valley for four months, and if there’s anything we learned there, it’s how to hustle, and how to present your projects so anybody can understand what you’re pitching.
This was really helpful because we approached the whole ICO thing and the whole blockchain scene, with the same approach that we approached VCs, so with a lot of respect. We invested a lot of money, and effort, and working hours into the materials and the whitepaper.
We did a video that I think cost about $5000 for one minute, but it all paid off, because we managed to present the project in a way that everybody could understand what we’re doing, and why we need the blockchain, and what our roadmap is gonna be. I think that people saw potential.
Other than that, we got a lot of support, a lot of institutional support, which is also very important because, you know, there are a lot of scams out there, and still, at the end of the day, we’re an Eastern European company from a country that nobody really knows.
We went the extra mile to prove to people that they could trust us. We managed to get an official endorsement from the Slovenian government. The minister of technology signed an endorsement letter for Viberate, and we put it online. That was really helpful.
We also got a big, big recognition by the European Commission. (The European Commission would be like the federal government for the US.) They recognized us as one of eight European music startups that are gonna change the world.
That was also extremely, extremely helpful. We continued working with the authorities, right now we’re helping the government with blockchain legislation for Slovenia, so we’re kind of consulting for them.
Actually, my partner and I are going to the World Economic Forum, with the invitation to join the panel with the representatives of the government next week, so that’s also huge recognition. So yeah, I mean, we really needed to go the extra mile to get that kind of amount, and get it as quick as we actually did it. We actually closed the market cap in under five minutes.
So how much was raised in the ICO? What was the hard cap?
$7 million. Which wasn’t high in ICO terms, because the scene is just crazy, people are raising insane amounts of money. But it was like raising serious B in Silicon Valley, it was a lot of money, and this was when Ether was $280, and today it’s $1,300, so… that went up.
— Viberate (@Viberate_com) January 10, 2018
Here in Slovenia the cost of living and the cost of workforce is much lower, so this is equivalent to raising $50 million in the US. So we have enough money to finish everything that we started, and then some.
So, a couple of minutes ago you mentioned the roadmap that’s outlined in the Viberate white paper. Has Viberate managed to stay on track so far? The ICO took place in September, so what’s happened since then?
We’ve actually met every deadline that we set in our roadmap. We had to hire a lot of people–we’re still hiring–like I don’t know 20% of the people’s names that are working for us. We had to triple the team, so right now I think we have around fifty employees. We had to move into new offices because we wanted to employ enough people to meet the deadlines, and so far we’ve managed to do so.
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The last big update was introducing the booking agency profiles on Viberate. So now, we have artist profiles, we have venues, we have events, and later on we’ll add booking agencies. We also managed to score a couple of really nice partnerships, so we signed a contract with a two-time Grammy award winner, we’re gonna reveal the name in the next couple of weeks.
She’s gonna be a big asset to the team in terms of promoting Viberate. She’s not gonna promote the coin, she’s gonna promote the service to propel musicians. When we do endorsements we don’t want celebrities to show the coin–first of all, it’s illegal; second of all, it’s not how we want to do business.
We wanna develop the service first, and then the market’s gonna reward us with the profit that comes automatically. We also started working with Paradigm Talent Agency, one of the biggest talent agencies in the world, so we’re gonna promote the service at their industry events around the world.
The first one’s gonna be one in Miami for Miami Music Week, we’re gonna sponsor the event, we’re gonna present the service, because the event is kind of a big name for the music industry managers, label executives, artists–this is how we wanna penetrate into this market.
So you’ve got some exciting partnerships. Is Viberate doing anything else to increase its presence in the music industry?
We’re investing a lot of money into online advertising, we have a couple big events still coming up because we wanna sync the campaign with its product markets. We have a big update of all the profiles scheduled for this year, once we update them, we can start doing some influence for marketing.
That’s why we partnered with the talent agency, because they have a really interesting roster of superstars, and we’re gonna try to leverage those to promote the service. The number one strategy is promoting the service through big names.
How can fans use the Viberate platform to make money for themselves?
They can contribute. Most of the content you see online is user-generated, so let’s say you have a friend who has a rock band and they’re not on Viberate. You can go online and log in and add their profile. That means that you add their name, you add their social links, and we do the rest.
We’re gonna take the information from the links you provided, and we’re gonna put together a profile. Once the profile gets confirmed by the editorial team, you’re gonna be awarded some Vibes. Right now we’re giving out 5000 Vibe tokens each day. That’s around $2500 right now. That’s a lot of money. A couple of early adopters made more money in a month than they’d make at a regular job.
I think I saw that one user had made more than $7000 in a month?
Yeah, and there are also other rewards. You can promote the service on Twitter, Facebook–we take great care in having people do some good promotion, not just spamming around. If you just retweet or if you just tag us, you’re not gonna get anything. You have to put some quality content online in order to get the reward.
Everything we try to do is in a decentralized spirit, so we wanna give everyone a chance to take part in the music industry, and also earn some money. Like I said, we’re music managers, and we’ve been in the management business for ten years. This is one of the most attractive jobs.
When you talk to your friends, or when you’re at a high school anniversary, and people ask what you’re doing you can say, “I’m a music manager.” This is better than saying you’re a doctor. People are really fascinated and everyone wants to work in this industry, so we’re giving everyone a chance to work in the industry and actually make a living out of it.
I wanted to ask you a couple things about the tokens themselves. When Vibe tokens were launched during the ICO, they were worth about $0.088, and then they hit an all-time high of about $0.85–they’ve since corrected a bit. In terms of market cap, the VIB tokens are hovering around 214th place, so what is Viberate’s goal with regard to the VIB token value in 2018?
Well, it’s hard to say. I usually don’t comment on the price prediction because it’s hard to say how the market is gonna react. All I can say is that it would also be unprofessional for me to say, ”It’s gonna hit $5, I think,” because I don’t know that. I wish it was gonna hit a couple dollars, but I cannot guarantee it, and I cannot predict it.
All I can say is that we’re gonna keep delivering our promises, we’re gonna keep communicating the service, and we’re gonna keep working on marketing and product development. I strongly believe that if we hit all the deadlines that are on the roadmap, and if we’re gonna continue with our good work on marketing that the market is gonna see that, and reward it.
This has been proven many times in the last couple of months. Every time we announce a new product launch, every time we announce a partnership, or some extra money through promotion, the market usually reacts in a positive way. You can see, it goes up and down. Tonight, during the night, it went from $0.50 down to $0.40, but so did Bitcoin and Ether and most other currencies. It’s really a rollercoaster and it’s hard to see how it’s gonna develop, but we wanna stay away from bumps.
We’ve seen one too many market manipulations–we’ve seen tokens going up 1000% per day, and then just falling down to the same level they were at before. I wanna stay away from that. If you take a look at our chart, the trendline is really like one from a schoolbook.
We wanna keep it that way. It’s steady growth, we’re getting adoption each day, we’re trying to get on as many good exchanges as possible. Right now we’re on Bittrex, we’re on Binance, we just got listed on OKEx.
We’re upbeat. We’re looking into different markets, looking into different exchanges, to see what they can do for the token and just going for it. We still have some surprises in our sleeves in terms of exchanges so those are gonna be interesting.
Say I wanna go buy some Viberate tokens right now, where could I store them?
You can actually store it in every wallet that supports ERC20 tokens, like my Ether wallet. We’re also very proud to be operated into Jaxx, which is in my opinion, the best wallet in the world right now. You can also do quick exchanges in the wallet using ShapeShift. It’s supported by most of the mainstream solutions on the market.