Kin Developer Program Q&A: Blastchat
A tennis player named Jhamar posted a message on Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook to rally some friends and organize a match. But when he didn’t get a response, he researched and found that only three percent of his followers were seeing his post because of the algorithms these platforms use. This prompted him to start Blastchat, a multi-purpose messaging app that lets you blast direct messages to your most important friends, customers, and fans.
Blastchat is one of the 32 apps integrating Kin through the Kin Developer Program. We had the opportunity to chat with Kelsey O’Hara, Blastchat’s CEO, to learn more about the app and its Kin integration. From Blastchat’s challenges before integrating Kin to being the first app from the Kin Developer Program to be approved by Apple, Kelsey gave us a deep dive on Blastchat’s entrance into the Kin Ecosystem.
What were some challenges that Blastchat faced when it launched?
The problem was retention. We had about 5,000 users but at the time the app wasn’t the best. It was really buggy, we had just started out, and we were trying to define our MVP. We also bootstrapped the company so we had low capital. With low capital, it’s hard to allocate funds to marketing when you have to actually program, too.
If you had access to Kin when you started Blastchat, do you think it would have helped you build a better product from the beginning?
I think it would have. The reward from engagement is what keeps users coming back. With the developer program and the capital that we received, we’re using Kin to create an economy in the app. It helps us with the monetization problem, and it also gets people engaged with what they’re doing — it creates a community. So if we had Kin from the beginning, it would have been a big help.
What sparked your interest in building with Kin, and why did you think it was a fit for Blastchat?
We started off with a point system called BLP. The whole goal of the point system was to gather points to reflect how you engage with the community, and what value you offer to it. I started researching how to start our own cryptocurrency that would be called Blastcoin. It would turn your points into a cryptocurrency, and avatars and brands could pay you for the influence and engagement that you give to a community and assign a real value to it. But when we found out about Kin, it fit that model. It was a backed cryptocurrency with a lot of potential, so we decided to go with Kin.
What were some of the challenges that you anticipated with doing an ICO?
We didn’t have the resources or funding to do our own ICO. We also just didn’t have the knowledge about how to do it, and we wanted to do it correctly. With the environment that ICOs were in at the time — there were a lot of fraudulent ICOs — being a small company and a startup, it may have worked against us.
Blastchat had the in-app point system, so you knew how currency fit into the app. But how did you come up with your use case for Kin in the app?
We sat back and looked at Kin and the Kin Rewards Engine (KRE), and what we could do with Kin. We looked at it as an economy: what can we make for people to provide value and receive rewards back. When they take from the community, they have to spend, creating a give and take aspect. So we looked at all of our different features and assigning value to them for earn and spend. Then, we assigned a value to our peer-to-peer transactions. It’s a self-sustaining, decentralized economy through social media.
And you were the first app in the program to be approved by Apple. Why do you think your use of crypto was approved for iPhone, given Apple’s tough stance on coins?
I think they saw the value of the economy. They have guidelines, like you can’t refer people to gain currency, you can’t post to social media to get cryptocurrency. But with Blastchat, it’s not posting to add content — it’s posting to show that you’re engaged and adding to the community. I think for people that are trying to get approved by iOS, they should really look at what they can do to create a real economy for a community so that Apple doesn’t see it as a scam or a money making method.
You’re also looking to work with influencers, correct? Tell me more about this.
At the moment, we’re looking for influencers that have a following in a static market — a market that doesn’t really have a place they can call home. So, for example, people who sell clothes or make music or write poems, and offer them on Instagram. They have to go through a third party to do PayPal transactions. On Blastchat, we want to make it so that instead of all these likes and views that you get, people just give you a plus one — it’s a quick tip or microtransaction. The bigger you get and the more people you influence, the bigger your return will be.
In the future, we want to let people list their product or brand in our marketplace. It creates a real economy for people to work through, and it creates that give and take element that we’re looking for. You give and expect others to compensate you for your time and value. We’re trying to give people an option to actually pursue their own dreams, their passions.
We have a similar mindset at Kin and believe that people should be compensated for their attention. Do you see this as the main value of cryptocurrency, or is it something else?
That’s definitely the main value of cryptocurrency. If we try to use it to buy a milkshake, buy a car, you can definitely do it, but what we need to be using cryptocurrency for is to apply value to things that don’t have an assigned monetary value. If you think about it, the attention and the amount of time that people have in their day, to you it might not have a value, but to big companies like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, it’s everything. That’s how they make all their money — your time. How many of your 24 hours can they get you to monetize their product. We believe that should be at a consumer level, not the big business level.
And how have users responded to the integration?
Users like it a lot. We were already pushing for Blastcoin, so users were expecting the cryptocurrency aspect to come into play. I don’t think they expected it to be as seamless as Kin is, though. You just keep using the app as you were already.
Do you think users were receptive to it because they were previously using an in-app currency?
Yes, it was definitely easier for them.
Why should other developers want to build with Kin?
For developers, specifically, I would point to the KRE. The problem with a lot of apps is that you can create them but they don’t always have a return, and you have to stray away from your goal of the entire app and place ads so you can make money. But with Kin, you can stay with your goal, stay on the dream that you have for the app, and keep pushing with that without compromising. I strongly believe that if Kin was around in the early 2000s, the way that the internet operates now would be entirely different.
Anything else to share?
We’re really hoping for influencers to get on Blast. Not just for us, but for them to get the value of Kin to create this economy. I also hope that other apps are pushing for actual economies, not just giving away Kin through an app, so that Kin is actually sustainable and doesn’t run out.