Almost all existing e-commerce platforms have turned into monopolies of sorts: they collect our data and decide on what products we should buy from which sellers. This gives them full control over us. And we never know what else they do with our data, although they claim that it is secure.
Singapore-incorporated Runs.com aims to put an end to this by giving the control back to the user. Runs.com is a decentralised, blockchain-based e-commerce platform, which allows members to decide, create, buy and sell experiences amongst themselves, with the platform acting as a facilitator.
The startup was founded by Giri Devanur (Founder and CEO), who has over 26 years of IT industry experience, along with Dr. Artit Wangperawong Ph.D, Carlos Fernandez, and Sandesh Nanjudappa.
“Basically, Runs.com is an AI-driven e-commerce platform for curated experiences. Fine experiences are the products that trade on the site. A experience keeping units (XKU)-driven platform, Runs aims to pivot the conventional commodity-based e-commerce offerings to value-based. It is all about structuring, packaging and presenting a product in a manner that delivers a memorable experience to the buyer,” said Devanur.
An XKU goes beyond the concept of SKU (stock keeping units) in traditional e-commerce industry. Here, Runs.com can see the sourcing, check the story and validate the sustainability behind every product, so that every time when the customer buys a product, there is an experience inherent into it.
How does it work?
Runs seeks to engage users with a focussed experiential approach of offering curated experiences. The activities on the platform consist of buying/selling/auctioning of XKUs and validating XKUs and merchants.
“For Example, we provide exclusive experiences like coffee tours, live cricket viewing, and invitation to movie premiers. Can you imagine a fan watching his/her favourite cricket team play, sitting in one of the seats on the front row? After the game, he/she gets to meet his/her idol cricketer and gets a dinner offering as an XKU that can be bought and experienced. Runs.com is all about recreating such unique experiences in a transactable manner,” he said.
Experiences are transacted through the sale and purchase of XKUs on the platform by members. Members are incentivised for creating content on the Runs platform. All the content is user generated (such as text, audio, video and pictures relating to user experiences and XKUs). Subsequent sections will deal with rewards and incentives and will also delve deeper into connect rewards as well.
“Runs has the following components. The participants (members and brands), the Value Unit (experiences listed as XKUs on the platform), the Filter (Runs tokens). The combination of these three components create the core interaction and main incentives associated with the platform,” he elaborated.
Runs token users will be able to participate in all the above mentioned activities, while non-Runs token users (members in countries where token purchases are highly regulated) can only buy through fiat currency.
“We envision a growing community of users transacting with Runs tokens to share and trade their favourite experiences,” Devanur went on. “XKUs will come with their unique bar codes that will register the uniqueness of each unit that is listed. All this is then transacted on the secure blockchain platform to ensure security. After the decentralised blockchain is put into effect, members will be able to share their own XKUs (pending XKU verification) with other members on the platform.”
Initially, Runs will be following an inventory model wherein it will buy in wholesale and sell it in retail, and will slowly transition to a hybrid model. The company has already conducted pilots with PVR and Coffee Day (in India) and is in discussions with more brands for forging future partnerships.
“We have identified 25 countries and 125 cities which are our key markets. We are working aggressively to be present in these countries and cities through various initiatives. For Q6, we contemplate 30 XKUs by the end of CY 2018 and ramping that up to 120 XKUs,” he exuded confidence.
About 75 million Runs tokens are currently in the pre-sale. During this period, it is offering 30 per cent discount. Following this, Runs will launch the crowd-sale during mid-July.
There is a lot of blockchain-enabled e-commerce platforms that are coming up, for instance Storiqa. However, Devanur does not consider them as a competition, as its value proposition is the XKU. “Blockchain enables us to compete with traditional players and the XKU enables us to compete with the entire market that includes both the traditional and blockchain enabled e-commerce platforms,” said Devanur.
Devanur is of a view the hype around blockchain is making the world pause and take notice of this technology. But blockchain is more than just new technology, it includes the design and user experience which sets this technology apart. “Blockchain provides great potential for how information is shared as well as verified. It should not be limited to only those who already understand the specifications of it,” he says.