Playkey’s Egor Gurjev Turned A Student Love For Gaming Into A Startup Innovating With Blockchain

We hear a lot about how blockchain could revolutionise business, and this founder has innovated a brand new solution for gamers, outpaced by expensive advances in hardware – Playkey’s loyal, paying user base jumped from 4,000 to 250,000 in one year – RSNG asked him what he learned about startups along the way…

RSNG Can you explain how blockchain has opened the door for you to innovate a new gaming business model? EGOR GURJEV, FOUNDER ‘Blockchain technology has allowed us to begin working on a decentralised cloud gaming platform with the goal of making gaming cheaper and increasing the number of servers used in the Playkey platform, all over the world. This technology creates a network, which supports users by lending them server power, or ‘miners’ who wish to lend their computer power to other users in exchange for Playkey tokens, which they will be able to monetise… with a lower risk level than standard crypto mining.’

RSNG Have people gone for it? EG ‘In terms of costs, we offer a selection of packages available on a monthly subscription basis. The growth of the user base has been incredible – by early 2016, we had 10,000 subscribers, 4,000 loyal paying users and 200,000 registrations. Jump forward to late 2017 and those numbers had vastly grown to 250,000 accumulative paying users and 2,500,000 monthly users-visitors.’

RSNG How do you go about raising funds from investors – is it about demonstrating value or building confidence? EG ‘Both. We are demonstrating the current cloud gaming platform as well as sharing the statistics on how many players all over the world do not possess the PC required to run modern games. That illustrates the relevance and the importance of cloud gaming, and this platform in particular. Moreover, to attract participants to your idea, you need to clearly demonstrate that you are solving a problem or improving something that currently exists. There are many examples of people claiming that their solution will transform an industry – ultimately the best solutions, and first to market, will win the race to success. This idea also needs to include how and why blockchain is the solution to the problem you are trying to solve, or the improvement you are trying to make.’

RSNG What are the benefits of using blockchain technology? EG ‘The brilliance of this creative solution is the way it allows for decentralisation while remaining invulnerable to tampering or fake transactions. These are the qualities that need to be considered when predicting the impact of the technology on the popular industries. The smart contracts used in blockchain transactions could be revolutionary in ensuring safe payments, by allowing the involved parties to make arrangements in a secure and transparent way. It also has the added benefit of recording each transaction instantly across all computers within that company, and even updating the inventory.’

RSNG Could this have implications for the whole entertainment industry? EG ‘The way we, as fans, are able to consume products such as movies or TV could also be in for a drastic change. Currently, so much power and reliance is placed into the hands of intermediary platforms like Netflix, Spotify or Amazon Video to distribute and host entertainment services.’

‘They are necessary, for now, to ensure that people are purchasing the necessary permissions to watch their favourite shows or hear their favourite albums. Blockchain however, could completely bypass the middleman and directly send media files to consumers, automatically confirming any required information before allowing media to be played on any software the consumer desires.’

Focus is the most important thing that can bring success to your company and joy to your life

RSNG What’s the best bit of professional advice you’ve ever been given? EG ‘Four years ago I decided to gather all my five-plus projects and ask one of my friends – a manager of the huge venture fund Genesis Capital – how to raise money or sell some of the projects. He told me: “Egor, throw all them into the trash, except one. Focus on this one and make it a one-billion USD company.” Focus is the most important thing that can bring success to your company and joy to your life.’

RSNG How can you balance innovation and execution, so that you’re coming up with new ideas while still getting things done? EG ‘I don’t like the word ‘innovation’, I think that only execution based on the data, proving a hypothesis, will drive your business. Innovation, as a process to imagine cool things, that can change the world and your company, is useless. You have to perform actions, test them on your customers, look for the feedback, and find insights from data. So the only thing matters is execution.’

RSNG Do you use any productivity hacks to get more out of your day? EG ‘The best hack is to surround yourself with people that can inspire you to do great things and excel in any task. Wake up at 7am and start your day by talking to your team and planning a job.’

RSNG What’s the most important thing when scaling up? EG ‘Any manager, who upgrades to a top manager or entrepreneur, faces the problem that you cannot scale your company as you did before, using your energy and knowledge. When you have 30-plus people in your company with different skills and managing different departments, your business relies on your team and less on you. So choosing the right people and then training them, finding their advantages and inspiring them, will be your main priority.’

You cannot build a startup without failing a startup – so fail fast, make mistakes fast

RSNG What would be your top piece of business leadership advice for a new CEO launching a startup? EG ‘You cannot build a startup, without failing a startup. So fail fast, make mistakes – fast.’

RSNG What’s your favourite game? EG ‘I am 100% sure that there can’t be only one favourite game! My student-hood was focused on Jagged Alliance 2, Xcom, Sudden Strike and Fallout 1&2 for sure – tactical games, where you can take decisions and change the game results. Right now I play mostly on my XBOX One X and Mac using Playkey. Xbox for open world games such as GTA, Dying Light and Mac with Playkey for RPG and tactical games like Divinity Original Sin and Wastelands 2.

WHAT NEXT? Watch Mike Schwartz explain the business potential of blockchain in his Ted Talk.

Follow the writer @mattfitnessray