How many of us understand blockchain?
I don’t, for sure. I love writing about startups which are harnessing new-age technologies such as blockchain to solve big problems, but I hardly understand what is actually going on inside all these path-breaking softwares.
Early this year, I had a chat with the CTO of a Singapore-based blockchain startup, who walked me through the different aspects of this tech. But the more he explained things to me, the lesser I understood.
I can stoll “proudly” say that I am still an infant when it comes to blockchain and allied technologies.
Incidentally, I am not the only one facing this problem. Many non-tech entrepreneurs, and even Fortune 500 companies with billions of dollars in revenues, who are keen to jump the blockchain bandwagon, have little understanding of this technology. This often forces them to wait for the tech to mature before going for an all-out attack, but by the time they take the plunge, the world will have moved too far.
Probably this Malaysian startup can be of great help for such organisations and entrepreneurs.
Tetrium, co-founded in 2017 by Ana Mouratidou (Greek) and Marcus Toy (Malaysian), has developed a solution for enterprises to create blockchain-powered digital tokens using RESTful APIs.
“Everybody talks about blockchain and wants to jump in, but frankly very few understand it or walk their talk of producing a “real functioning” product that can add value. Last year, we saw tons of startups promising to revolutionise this and that, and going for an ICO merely with a whitepaper and roadmap,” says Mouratidou, who holds an MSc in Strategy and International Business from Aston University.
“If you do a basic research, you will see that in reality very few startups have actually stuck to their promise and delivered at least a first version of their product. Sometimes one can be amazed how long can certain startups take to launch a not-so-complicated system even with millions in their bank (or in their Ether or Bitcoin wallet in this case). Unless you are building a new protocol which is complex, it is hard to comprehend why some startups take one to two years to launch something. The point of all these is simple. If startups with millions to spare take so long to launch a blockchain product what are the chances for those that do not have these privileges?” she asks.
Tetrium is a blockchain enabler. It is a cloud-based private blockchain that wants to make implementing blockchain technology simple for the masses. In Mouratidou’s own words, Tetrium wants to strip away all the unnecessary technicalities of blockchain. It offers ease of integration, maximum data security and zero-to-very minimal cost, she remarks. Integration into an enterprise’s own system is easy as they would just need to insert RESTful APIs into their existing codes. And these API will live independently, very much like a plug-n-plug system, without needing any physical assistance from Tetrium.
“Unlike other solutions out there, with Tetrium, you are not required to buy any cryptocurrency to be able to use the product,” Mouratidou brags about the features. “Consider us as the blockchain tech backbone for a digital payment company. We are the tech infrastructure supporter where we free them from having to handle the intricacy of blockchain.”
What differentiates Tetrium from other popular blockchain protocols such as Ethereum? “To implement any ordinary blockchain protocols, one has to learn all the technicalities and understand those protocols inside-out. There is a very steep learning curve. Tetrium provides a high-level layer of abstraction that enables non-blockchain developers to use just simple RESTful API calls to create blockchain powered digital tokens. You can even dive straight in without learning any terminology of blockchain technology.”
The product was launched only a couple of months ago. The company is already in talks with several organisations for partnerships. Among them are a US university and several e-commerce startups. However, the no deals are signed yet. Apart from that, Tetrim has two local startup clients and a few in Europe and the US interested in experimenting with the product, she adds.
Tetrium is suitable for anyone who wants to harness the power of blockchain in their applications/businesses, according to her.
Started as a software development house that built mobile apps for clients, especially startups, Tetrium wanted to do something revolutionary for the enterprise world, but the cash-strapped founders had sometime to resort to taking projects not to their liking. “We were the software house that built the initial version of TheSugarBook, something we have not really been proud of. Hence, we have always wanted to come up with our own proprietary product that we could focus on building, improve the financial condition and hopefully change the world for the better,” she narrates the story to e27.
“It was the autumn last year that Toy and I attended and witnessed all those crazy blockchain projects showcases in Tokyo. We then saw a huge potential in blockchain in changing the world in the next five to 10 years. Although we had only a month of runway left, we sailed ahead right away and focused our whole team to experiment with blockchain technologies over the next few weeks,” she shares.
The duo came up with several ideas ranging from tracking the supply chain to tracking building materials. But one day an idea struck them: instead of building one single solution for a single industry, why not build a tool that enables others to build multiple solutions for multiple industries? From that moment on, Tetrium took the blockchain route and it took a total of four months to build the product.
Tetrium banks on a freemium business model, and the charges are based in the number of API calls made to Tetrium. The free plan has free 2,000 API calls per month, which can handle approximately a total of 1,500 digital token transactions. This is a plan for people to experiment and build small-scale apps.
For any API calls above 2000, clients can subscribe to the premium plan where they’ll have 10,000 API calls per month, plus a pay-as-you-go mechanism for extra calls made.
Unlike other blockchain companies which are keen to launch an ICO even before the product hits the market, Tetrium wants to approach it differently. “There are there too many promises in ICOs and not much delivery. A cool website and a white paper and you are good to go to fund millions. But there are so many projects that we have yet to see whether they would eventually deliver what they’ve promised or turned out to be scams. Hence very early on, we have decided to first build a solid product then only to do an ICO. We think that is how we can be responsible towards our potential clients and investors. Until then, we will continue to bootstrap,” Mouratidou signs off.