Gregory Zaitsev’s co-founder and CEO of Unique Network Alexander Mitrovitch, calls his CTO the brains behind the operation. Zaitsev blushes at this compliment but he concedes he loves to come up with new ideas. Like his co-founder, Zaitsev also enjoys the rigors of being an entrepreneur.
“I like finishing things – right to the very end – and that is better suited to an entrepreneur than someone who perhaps works a 9-5 job. I enjoy the responsibility that comes with owning a project.”
Zaitsev came across Blockchain back in 2013 when Bitcoin was big, but the other cryptocurrencies were still questionable. He set up a Bitcoin miner on his laptop just to explore what was possible.
The question of remittances was close to his heart as he was currently living in the States and witnessed friends sending money back to Mexico.
“People forget but money transfer was like the wild west back then – it cost a fortune and was very unpredictable. So decentralised money transfer made sense. Then I began to look at the smart contracts on Ethereum and I became even more interested.”
It was about this time that Zaitsev met what was to ultimately be his co-founder, Mitrovich. Already Mitrovich was ahead of the party and encouraged Zaitsev to start reading up on the whole subject of blockchain.
“Alex gave me a whole bunch of materials to read. He is really smart – he may not be a dev but he’s able to spot really interesting things, early on. He really gets the possibilities and make things happen.
“When we met, one of his first questions was – what can we decentralize, what can we disrupt?”
Part of that process was to look at which blockchain made the most sense for this vision of disruption. Zaitsev was very keen on Polkadot from the beginning.
“Interoperable blockchains are definitely where the technology is at, people are pushing the edges, trying to break things but that is where the magic happens. That is what we are looking for and the challenge is the price we pay for breaking conventional rules or absolute rules that we may not even need anymore.”
Zaitsev prides himself on the unique approach with which the eponymously named blockchain approaches NFTs.
“We aim to build a network that will allow us to build NFT applications that are for everyone – we want to bring NFTs to the masses. With Polkadot we have greater flexibility and remove unnecessary friction so that someone who knows nothing about crypto or wallets can use this application just like any web application.
“That is why we are trying to achieve.”
Unique Network has launched two sets of NFTs as proof of concept; CheloBricks and SubstraPunks. Zaitsev won’t be drawn on which set are his favourites. SubstraPunks came first and were a way to demo Unique Network during an early Polkadot Hackathon.
All 10,000 SubstraPunks were claimed in under a week – proving their popularity.
“They are not terribly expensive, but we wanted to create a tribute to the CryptoPunks. Then some bright spark tried to steal some of the SubstraPunks so we set up a marketplace so people could trade them fairly – I mean if someone wanted to scam them then we reckoned they must have value.”
They also now trade strongly on the secondary market – proving their longevity.
“There are some other interesting projects coming on Polkadot such as RMRK – they are building a platform for interactive and nested NFTs.”
Again Zaitsev won’t be drawn on favourites but he does say that the fact that SubtraPunks were first makes them … first.
Chelobricks are also proving popular, despite being second. To celebrate both, Unique is organising a giveaway to holders of both punks and a Chelobricks. The plan is to giveaway a percentage of the commissions made on the marketplace. In the next giveaway, more than 200 KSM will be divided between the holders of both.
“In the past three months the marketplace traded more than 5000 KSM, the equivalent of $2million, so the payout will be of significance.”
These giveaways will happen every three months, and the last one was to give away 262 KSM to 1747 people, resulting in roughly $50 reward for each.
Unique Network is copying the format of Polkadot itself in its development. Polkadot is very stable and has limited changes as befits as the main, trusted net, whereas Kusama is the wildcard of the community trying out innovative changes and opportunities.
So. Unique Network is first deploying on Kusuma with Quartz and the mainnet will deploy afterwards on Polkadot.
“Our mainnet will be more stable too with less updates. It’s hard to say at this stage what applications will deploy on which chain, maybe most will deploy on both.”
Another of Zaitsev’s projects is to give a workshop where he can explain to devs how to build a marketplace in an hour.
“Yes, we have a team working on this full time. They can provide the deployment tools, the Docker container units and the GIT repository links where everything is stored. Anyone can deploy a marketplace in a very short time and then they can customise as they see fit.”
Up next Unique Network is planning for a crowdloan on Polkadot. Then to build the tech functionality outlined in the white paper. It’s a crowded path with lots to come to make Unique Network one of the most innovative as well as fun blockchains in the sector. To make this happen, they need projects to come and talk to them
“Please yes, we’d love to do a callout for any projects looking for a safe home.”