Bitcoin startup Brawker is on a roll. On October 16, the company enabled a New Hampshire-based reddit user “Rossby” score what is a world’s first: pay a parking ticket with Bitcoin, and while at it, get a discount in the process too.
Brawker is an online marketplace that connects people who want to buy Bitcoin and people who want to buy things with Bitcoin. Brawker allows you to buy anything you can find online with Bitcoin, or use it to buy Bitcoin with your credit card or PayPal account. You can even use Brawker to pay your bills with Bitcoin, as well as buy books that are supposedly “un-buyable” with Bitcoin.
This writer interviewed Cyril Houri, CEO of Brawker Ltd, and the following is what he had to say about the company.
Join CCN for $9.99 per month and get an ad-free version of CCN including discounts for future events and services. Support our journalists today. Click here to sign up.
When did you begin Brawker.com?
We started this project in October of 2013. That’s exactly one year ago.
Was there any ‘eureka’ moment that made you think of starting Brawker.com?
The “eureka” moment came by connecting two concepts: I always wanted to create a decentralized exchange for Bitcoins. Something that would let people trade Bitcoin on a peer-to-peer basis.
Like everyone else, I kept hearing about the first real-world Bitcoin transaction consisting of someone ordering a Pizza for someone else in exchange for 10,000 bitcoins. After that, it was simple: by applying the Pizza transaction to everything else, we could build a truly decentralized exchange that would piggy-back on the existing e-commerce infrastructure, which offers less friction than the banking infrastructure.
How many people are behind Brawker? Would you be able to share their stories?
Right now we are a team of five people. A couple of years ago, I was contacted by the two other co-founders who were working on a payment system during their internship. After they graduated, I naturally turned to them to discuss the Brawker idea. They loved it, so we started working together. I then contacted some other talented individual that I had worked with in my previous two startups in order to assemble the rest of the team.
As far as I’m concerned, I am a technology entrepreneur since 1999. I founded my first company in 1999 (the first company doing IP address geolocation) that I sold in 2004. I then proceeded to start Navizon in 2005 that offers wireless positioning solutions (GPS technology).
The business is located in Hong Kong. Is there any specific reason for locating it in that jurisdiction?
I think that Hong Kong is a great jurisdiction to start a business: their government is very much pro-business and they won’t try to regulate things that should not and cannot be regulated. Of course, this only applies to Hong Kong and not to Mainland China that has an opposite model.
A Global Company
What has been the uptake of Brawker’s services in the global market? Are there any countries that stand out in terms of where your clientele is located?
Since we are a global company, we are not limited to specific countries. We have seen uniform growth around the world. However, I recently saw a map of all the IP addresses in the world. http://cdn.eteknix.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/aQUHzgu.png
If you look at the heat map of where our users are located, it would be pretty much the same (although with smaller numbers of course).
Do you have any plans or products that you are planning to launch, and which you would like to share?
We are currently working on making our site even more decentralized. We realized after the MtGox bankruptcy that this market desperately needed less centralization. So we will soon release a version of our website that goes one step further in this decentralization process by having both the e-commerce transaction and the bitcoin transaction happen OUTSIDE of our infrastructure, without ever having to hold the users’ funds. And the best way to not lose your customers’ funds is never to hold them.
What do you think? Comment below!
Images from Brawker and Shutterstock.