The purchase of a Sari in Vancouver triggered Pavel Bains to start Bluzelle, which focuses on providing blockchain powered applications for businesses. Read more to find out Pavel’s entrepreneurial journey.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am the CEO and co-founder of Bluzelle. Prior to Bluzelle, I was the co-founder of Storypanda, a digital book publishing platform for mobile which released titles with global up-coming authors as well as books from DreamWorks, Peanuts and Warner Bros. I am an expert in digital media having operated video game companies, working with with Disney, Microsoft, Activision and Nintendo. I am also an early investor in the SME digital bookkeeping firm Bench and VR startup VRChat.
What is your business venture about?
Blockchain is major innovation for not just financial businesses but also for logistics, medical, digital rights and more. But using blockchain technologies is difficult for businesses to grasp and manage. We make it easier for them to leverage the blockchain by taking care of the back-end.
What is your mission at the outset?
To improve the lives of a billion people through blockchain powered products.
Blockchain technologies can bring new products to new markets, especially those that are unbanked or underbanked. It’s been proven that access to financial services increases the living standards of communities.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
My wife bought a sari in Vancouver for $1000. I thought that the person who made it in India is probably from a village and made $10. Along the way people marked up the price multifold and made all the money from their hardwork. I thought if it can be guaranteed that the product arrives and the producer gets immediate payment, then the person in India could get paid a lot more and my wife could possibly get 5 saris for $1000. I believe blockchain technologies can make that happen.
What is unique about your business?
Where others focus on a single customer facing product, we focus on the middle. We are similar to Oracle who provide applications and middleware for managing databases for businesses. We do the same except the databases are distributed. Our applications cover payments, smart contracts, and records managements. Our middleware takes away all the blockchain management from our customer. With this model we are able to provide payment networks, insurance products and KYC-Identity Management.
Who do you sell to and how do you get customers?
We currently sell to banks and insurers and are starting to work with logistics and pharmaceutical companies. We use a blended approach of digital marketing, direct sales and channel partners such as KPMG and BT.
Why will customers stay or do repeat business with you?
Because we take away a major pain. Customers should not have to build up in-house blockchain tech teams. They should focus on their customers and the product. Its quite similar to them leaving cloud management to AWS, MS Azure or core banking to TEMENOS and Fiserv. Why build something new that isn’t core to their business.
What have been the biggest obstacles?
Both my CTO and I come from the technology and digital media world. Entering B2B enterprise is new, especially financial services. The benefit is that we are unbounded by prior experiences so we can be creative and innovative in this field for our customers. The obstacle is learning how long the sales the process is and the educating the market on these new technologies.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Really think about if you have the stomach to handle this. It is not a “cool thing” to do a startup. Its very illogical and experimental. You have to think and act like professional athlete where you are willing to just grind away at it despite every statistic telling saying you will not make it to the pros.
What’s next for you and for Bluzelle?
2016 established our base and credibility in Singapore. 2017 is to take the work we’ve done and get more customers and build up our team in Singapore. We plan to get customers in other parts of Southeast Asia now.
Hock Lai has 18 years of experience in the financial industry, having performed roles in both business and technology. He graduated from the National University of Singapore (Real Estate), Nanyang Technological University (Infocomm Technology) and Nanyang Polytechnic (Fund Management & Administration).
He is also a Fellow of the Singapore University of Social Science, advisor to FinTech Startups and mentor to student FinTech projects.
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