On the road to release…

One thing that every experienced developer should know how to manage is client and customer expectations.

The old adage goes: “under promise and over deliver”.

So you wouldn’t catch an experienced developer promising that a feature will be complete by a given date. An experienced developer most certainly would not make public statements such as this:

or this:

But what can I say? I’m a relentless optimist and sometimes my excitement gets the better of me! When the entire design and development team is on a roll, you would expect that you can keep the momentum going…

But we are coming to the end of November and we still have not cut the ticker tape or asked Christopher Franko (Expanse CEO and Slips benefactor) to put on his best pyjama suit and record a keynote speech to introduce Slips on our much awaited launch.

So what’s the juice? Exactly how far are we from launch?

Moving over the last few cards…

The Slips Trello board is always in a constant state of flux: cards being added, cards being moved over. But we are finally reaching the point where the velocity of cards being added has slowed down to a trickle and the team is working hard to clear the deck:

  • The ‘Channel Screen and Challenge Interface’ is almost complete. You can make bets, participate in bets, live notifications are sent to people in the channel and of course people can win and lose bets by submitting results. Unfortunately right now, we expect all users to report the right results because “disputing bet outcomes” is not yet in place.
  • The ‘My Bets’ page is designed and coded but still requires backend APIs to be completed (scheduled for this weekend after I finish this newsletter). This page allows users to review past bets but also to submit evidence towards disputed bets.
  • The ‘Arbitration Application’ which allows arbitrators to review evidence and settle disputes is planned out and we hope to start working on that next week.

In addition, there’s a number of smaller tasks like reworking our homepage to bring it up to the quality of the rest of our application and adding profile themes.

User Testing Begins…

If you are a member of the Slips discord (https://discord.me/slips) you will have noticed that there is suddenly a flurry of activity on the server. This is down to the fact that we started testing the challenge interface with users recently.

It brings us a lot of joy when users get to play about with something we have worked on for months on end and we see that the seed of the idea that we formulated at the start of the year is suddenly a fully fleshed out product that people love and can’t wait to start using:

We managed to get a lot of feedback in the most recent tests. The key takeaways are:

  • What we have built so far works quite well — the basic idea is fun just like we had hoped.
  • There are niggly little issues. Rather than show stoppers, these are things like “If I make 5 bets and hit the max-active bets limit, the grouped challenges lists all the same bets” or “Sometimes I have a balance in my account but the web-socket connection fails and it tells me I don’t have enough money to make a bet”. So just a bunch of edge case issues or things which we need to resolve through exhaustive user testing
  • Despite all our hard work, there are still minor modifications we can make to make the user experience better. One of our newest members, Lea wanted to know why we were voting on the result after the end of the bet, she hadn’t understood the idea that we had to come to a consensus on the result and the UI could make this a lot more clearer to novice users:
  • Also, Slips abstracts away things like odds; check the following bet that was made during the test:
  • 8 users participated in the bet. Obviously there is no way for any of the participants on this bet to profit. Taking away the Slips platform fee, everyone actually lost money on this bet! If you were the 8th user and had the most basic awareness of betting odds— would you have participated in the bet?

Not making the same mistake twice…

Having promised Slips and Expanse fans that “we are launching next week” — I won’t make the same mistake and give you a definite date. Suffice to say it’s clear that we really are coming to towards the end of this development cycle and the full launch isn’t far away.

We recently took a five day break to recharge our batteries so we will put our heads down once again and continue working with the same passion we have throughout this year to get those final cards completed.

A new set of challenges

We also have one eye on our next challenge. In order to run Slips as a legitimate business, we need to obtain a gaming license.

Why?

Firstly, betting is a good way to wash illegally obtained money. You put dirty money into the platform and regardless of any losses, any money that does come out from the system is clean.

For that reason countries around the world impose “Know Your Customer” (KYC) and “Anti-Money Laundering” (AML) regulations that we need to abide by.

Why?

Regardless of the fact that we are using permission-less cryptocurrencies to power our platform, we need banking facilities in order to convert our revenue into US dollars in order to pay our future staff, utility providers and other business expenses.

You can imagine how difficult it would be to obtain banking if we had no idea who our customers were and where their money was coming from.

We also do not wish to make an obvious target out of ourselves. We think Slips is a fun / cool idea but only 41 out of the 50 states in the USA agree with us! Idaho for example has a complete ban on online betting. Which means we need to comply with them whilst also working towards changing law-makers perspectives so that they become more in-tune with how we think as a modern society.

So now that we have identified the reasons why we would want to be compliant and why we desperately need the gaming license before we open up Slips to real money betting… the question becomes: what does the process involve?

We have done preliminary research and decided that a Class 3 Gaming License from Malta would be ideal for us — it covers most of our user base and will give us enough authenticity to obtain the financial services and investment we need to take Slips mainstream.

But of course the process of obtaining the license is costly in terms of time and money.

  • There is a huge amount of paper work and we need to have our systems audited.
  • We will need to set up a company in Malta and hire a key official there.
  • We will need to pay upwards of $18,000 in license fees, application fees, set up costs and so on.
  • We will need to hire advisors who will help us set up an efficient corporate and tax structure so we do not get hit by double taxes in both Malta and the U.S.

As you can imagine, we have already started working on this next phase of the project. Our Expanse grant will not cover these costs so we need to begin the process of securing external funding — having an almost working proof of concept will help us massively in this regard.

We hope to clear the development decks soon so that we can focus our energies entirely on this process.

In the interim; we hope to launch Slips with the Slips Lite play money option which will allow us to build our user base and get more feedback about the application.

Other news which slipped through cracks…

Our co-founder and creative maestro Kyle and superstar streamer Chelz have been working on a series of videos to introduce people to the Slips platform. They produced the following 3 videos in the last two weeks:


… and we also have a bunch of new profile themes which you can select from by the end of next week:


<phew> That’s it for now!

If you have any questions about what we are working on or just want to share your own ideas, please get in touch with us on our Discord server (https://discord.me/slips).