Taking the Hot Seat: An Interview with the Lead of HornHub.
Today Rocco — founder and CEO of HornHub Finance — sat down for a long conversation with Stuart (AKA the Wordsmith) to discuss in detail the project and its future prospects. Below is that interview presented in full:
So firstly, what inspired you to start the HornHub project?
The best way I can describe this is that I like to analyze and look at cultural trends and how concepts evolve over time. It has been clear to me for a while that due to the evolution of the internet we are slowly moving away from unidirectional and static content such as television and films — or at least that we are looking to supplement those mediums with more interactive content that feature a more bidirectional system, often those which have mutual benefits for both parties. At the same time however, I became aware of the extremely large fees that many of the bigger companies charge their content creators, often going as high as 25%. In addition, I felt that there was often very little remuneration for monumental hard work, with some major platforms often requiring millions of views to generate a small amount of regular income. It became apparent that a new type of content creation ecosystem was needed, one that rewarded creators fairly for their hard work — regardless of their follower count. At the same time I could see the rise of cryptocurrency and its newer counterpart — decentralised finance, and the natural conclusion was to combine the two. Doing so would be an exceptional opportunity to provide fans with an alternative platform that not only rivalled the traditional platforms, but could give an even better experience, while simultaneously allowing for explosive growth due to the rapid evolution of the sector.
So is HornHub simply an adult platform?
Not at all. In fact, let me take this opportunity to clarify as there has been a lot of confusion surrounding this topic. Admittedly the project did start out primarily as an adult-based platform and I felt that the name I chose reflected those contemporary values. Mature content appeared to be the most effective way of providing users that sense of enjoyment and connection that has been so absent in recent years. However, over time, it became apparent to everyone on the team that the inclusion side was what most people really wanted. We all seek to be part of a club, to be on the ‘inside of the circle,’ as it can make us feel special in a time where we are often reduced to irrelevant statistics. People want to feel that connection, to have unique access to those content creators they have a passionate interest in, and this extends far beyond adult content. After all, people are passionate about a vast number of things, as we are complex, layered individuals. Cooking, gaming, art, make-up, dance, music, fitness — these are all things that a vast number of people enjoy, regardless of whether or not they also enjoy adult entertainment — and the same sense of inclusion and interaction can be achieved via all of these interests. As such, it became very apparent that the site needed to evolve, to become about so much more. A further point of note is that a lot of the above industries can no longer provide a fair traditional process for new content creators (especially with the music scene) where any advances have to be paid back in full before the artist can earn any true income. Streaming with fair payments means that no matter what industry the content creator is talented in — adult or otherwise — they can begin earning straight away, and build their audience over time, without the pressures of the conventional gatekeeping system.
To be crystal clear in answering the specific question itself though, HornHub still has what we call ‘Not Safe for Work’ content, but now also includes an incredibly diverse selection of other content genres too — there truly is something for everyone. A lot more about this will be shared in the next scheduled Voice Chat, which will be a major one featuring a lot of new updates.
Sounds excellent. However, what do you feel sets HornHub apart from its competitors?
A great question, and the answer is quite a lot. From a user experience (UX) point of view, the key factor is its simplicity. Many other traditional content creation sites are convoluted and difficult to navigate. HornHub was created with social media sites such as Facebook in mind, which most of us are familiar and comfortable using. Everything from finding talents to buying credits, to tipping and even setting up a hub talent account are extremely intuitive and streamlined. In this sense the UX is far higher and therefore we expect retention rates to be higher too. After all, if you find a site easy, relaxed and fun to use, then you’ll spend more time using it.
From a technical point of view the platform incorporates a trio of fundamental utilities that set it apart from its competition and it is this interoperability that forms the ‘secret sauce’ of the project. Firstly, there is the subscription-based platform itself, which requires no crypto knowledge to use due to its Fiat on-ramping system that allows anyone to use a simple credit or debit card to buy credits. The site’s back-end is directly connected to the second utility; the native $HHUB crypto token, which is interwoven into and fuels the platform itself. The third linked utility is the upcoming HornHub Marketplace, where NFTs can be bought, sold, and traded by fans, all while earning lifetime royalties for the talents who mint them (with one click of a button). These connected utilities are what truly set HornHub apart from other content creation sites and give it the potential to evolve far past them all. In addition, there are four new exciting products that we have lined up that we will be unveiling soon, one specifically that will cater to those who are interested in the investment side of HornHub, but might not have the best cryptocurrency knowledge. We don’t want to give too much away right now, but suffice to say we are very excited to share it all soon!
Another aspect we are extremely focused on is content legality, wanting to make HornHub not only a fun and enjoyable platform, but a safe place for fans and users alike. That is why all talents will be required to KYC (Know Your Client) and also undergo a verification process, to ensure that they adhere to our stringent guidelines.
So, can anyone of any age use the site?
This is something which is currently under review and we are actively speaking with our lawyers about it before we make a finite decision. The key potential issue is that adult material is present on the site, and as such it might require us to have an 18 and older verification page that all users must confirm before they can access the site, regardless of what content they choose to watch. We will make an official statement on this closer to full launch, along with presenting our updated roadmap, which we are getting ready to share soon!
Okay that’s understandable. So, can anyone join up to the site as a talent?
Unlike our competitors who have a very elitist attitude, we feel that if someone has a talent to show the world then they should have an opportunity to do just that. In that sense we actively encourage content creators to apply to have a Talent account and begin their journey with HornHub. As mentioned before however, they will need to undergo KYC and verification to ensure they adhere to our guidelines.
What are you most proud of about the HornHub project?
I think apart from the platform and the progress itself — which is truly going to blow everyone away when it finally releases — I would say the team. I feel really blessed to have such a dedicated group of talented individuals standing with us, from my partners to my incredible developers and graphic designers, my superb content and copy writer, our social media guru who doesn’t miss a trick, and of course the community moderators who ensure that every investor question is answered to the best of our ability and that there is always some activity in the Telegram community. I am really proud of each and every one of them, and they form the HornHub family. This project simply couldn’t exist without their tireless support.
Another aspect we are really proud of are the incredible connections we have created and partnerships we have formed through this long and sometimes arduous process. We are extremely privileged to have met such incredible individuals and companies who believe in what we are building and are vocal about their willingness to support our growth. Again, however, I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll leave it there!
Amazing. So, speaking of community investors, will they have any say about the direction of the project?
Great question. So yes, we always invite and encourage active feedback and input from our community. In fact, at release of the beta platform, the majority of testers for the fan side were indeed members of our community, and their reporting of bugs and user issues were invaluable in us being able to get the platform shined up and as good as it can be for official, global launch. In addition, the suggestion that our social media management was lacking led to us onboarding an expert as well as a dedicated GFX creator, who between them have completely overhauled our socials. That said however, myself and the team do have a specific vision for the project and a very comprehensive whitepaper and roadmap with specific milestones that we intend to hit. In that sense we know that we can’t please everyone, and some suggestions that come in to request us to alter something fundamental because of a personal preference are politely declined.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far?
A difficult question to answer as there are so many facets that require constant time and attention, and it can often be the combination of these and juggling them all that effectively creates the biggest challenge. For specifics though I would say there are three that are fundamentally challenging. The first is legitimacy. We have done everything in our power to show that we are genuine, and I am confident that the majority of our community feels they know and can trust us. But unfortunately, DeFi still has a bad reputation — particularly the Binance Smart Chain space as there are a lot of scams and rug-pulls out there. So, when we are having big meetings with important individuals (which I can’t speak more on yet) the key thing we first have to convince them of is that this is a genuine project and that we have very real plans and structured milestones that we intend to hit, which have been created through months of pre-planning. Sometimes having to consistently reinforce, defend and prove that legitimacy can be frustrating, but we do recognize it’s the nature of the beast. I feel that as time is going on though people are understanding and accepting that we are here to stay and that we have every intention of becoming the most popular content creation platform in the world.
The second biggest challenge is far duller, but it’s back-end development. There are so many moving parts when creating a streamlined and complex product like the HornHub platform, and lots of functions it needs to perform while utilising interoperability to work in conjunction with other products, such as interacting with our smart contract to feed the crypto side of things. Unfortunately, when pioneering something this unique and great, you invariably run into issues. That was particularly true and evident from when we moved the entire platform from the testnet to the live beta, and about half of the entire thing broke in the process. However, again that is just one of those things we knew that could happen and we had prepared for that exact situation. So, it was (and still is) a case of knuckling down and working hard to get things back on track, as well as adding in the new features. This is exactly why beta testing is such a crucial stage and can’t be skipped. If we had shortcut straight to a full launch from testnet like many other projects would, it would have been disastrous and could have spelled the end of the entire company. However, no matter what people say or demand of us, one thing we never do is rush. We take our time, and we make sure we get it right. I refuse to release something of sub-par quality. It has been a big challenge though, but I am pleased to say right now [at the time of this interview] we are at around 90% fully complete on all bugs and added features. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting very bright!
The third problem is that of getting investors to understand that patience is required. We operate within the cryptocurrency space where everything moves at a million miles an hour, and projects can be born and die within a matter of months. However, what we are building is vast and would take companies in the traditional sector years to complete, yet we are doing the same thing in a fraction of the time. We understand that some people may become frustrated because we have had to delay things and feel that we aren’t moving fast enough, but if you take a step back and truly analyse what it takes to turn a project into a full blue chip company, as well as develop, design and test the numerous softwares needed to allow full function, we are actually moving at an insanely rapid pace. So I’m extremely proud of the team’s progress and the pace at which things are moving. Regardless of this, there is unfortunately constant pressure to provide updates and explain every facet of what we are doing, but the energy of doing so takes away from the process of creating the actual platform and getting everything ready for full launch. People often mistake silence for inaction, and that could not be further from the truth. We could not be working harder if we tried — often surviving on only a few hours sleep per night — to build something we feel will not only rival similar platforms, but will fully blow them out of the water in every conceivable way. We are of course desperate to share what we have been working on with our amazing community but we cannot reveal anything until we are in a good position to do so. Doing that is similar to a magician showing how the trick works before he pulls the rabbit out of the hat — it would kill all of the hype and everything we have been working so tirelessly for. So instead, for the time being we have to remain tight-lipped, and that can be stressful, as it’s hard to convince the community we haven’t given up — which I can assure everyone with my hand on my heart — could not be further from the truth. So yeah, that can be very difficult.
Sounds stressful indeed, but it does sound like you have a clear focus of what is needed. With that in mind how do you see HornHub progressing in the future?
A good question and one that we have an extensive roadmap for. We have already achieved so much including creating an entire platform and building a community in under five months — which I feel is a fantastic timeline given the magnitude of what we have undertaken. That said, we are always looking to push HornHub further as quickly as is physically possible, so we have lots planned. In the short-term we of course want to focus on onboarding as many high-quality Talents as we can and growing our user base in as many countries as possible. We also constantly review feedback from both content creators and fans, so that we can make the user experience on both sides as streamlined, accessible and fun as possible, and will continue to add and refine features as the platform grows. We also have our exclusive NFT marketplace launching soon after the launch of the platform itself, which will add an entirely new element that will elevate the ways in which Talents and fans interact with content.
Another aspect of growth that we are actively exploring is collaborations with other DeFi projects that we see as being in-line with our values and potential. As many people know, we are very passionate about charity, and we are actually in active discussions with a project we feel is doing great work in the sector. We will reveal more information about this collaboration as soon as we have something official to announce. We have also been looking into the HornHub brand as a whole, and how we can evolve that from the ground up, now that we have diversified our content. Again, that ties into the elements we are purposefully keeping secret and we will announce more the moment we have it all ready to share with the community. However, where we are most excited in terms of future application is that of the metaverse, which will allow a whole new dimension of interactivity and immersion.
Can you elaborate on the metaverse part?
Of course. So, one of the most interesting applications of metaverses is that of augmented and virtual reality, which brings immersion to a whole new level and will continue to improve as technology evolves. For HornHub this will mean a whole new suite of features that can provide fans with an exceptional and unrivalled experience. One element that we are exploring for future application is that of a virtual reality home hub for the fans themselves. When the user logs into their home environment, they will be taken to a hub that they have created and designed themselves, to express their unique style and interests. NFTs that they have purchased as pictures can be hung on the wall just like art in real life, and a living room setting could have video content played back on a virtual cinema as often as required.
However, it can go so much further than this. Another possibility is that NFTs for specific Talents could be purchased as ‘keys’ that allow the fan to unlock exclusive content. Imagine a musician hosting a live and intimate concert, which a fan could have played out in a dedicated stage housed within their own home, which they can enjoy right from the comfort of their own real-life sofa! Even more exciting, this can be evolved to create an entire home experience, where walking from room-to-room could feature something new. For example, a fan could start in the kitchen where they can watch their favourite virtual reality chef prepare a meal in real-time, moving around them to watch the process and seeing accurate representations of all the ingredients as they are incorporated into the process. From there they could head into the garden to watch a singer or dancer perform on an outside stage, before heading into a dedicated entertainment room where their favourite video gamers are streaming exciting esports tournaments. If they then fancy something a little more adult-oriented, they could head upstairs to the bedroom, where they can watch an immersive performance by top adult talents. Finally, they could head to the gym to take part in an interactive workout regime with a top fitness athlete, or relax in an impeccably created library and listen to an author narrate their latest book. The possibilities truly are endless and with the interoperability that decentralised systems provide, this will all flow together seamlessly, without any red tape issues that can hamper centralised metaverse systems. HornHub is intending to be at the very forefront of these types of immersive experiences as they become available, and it is a part of our future expansions that we are exceptionally excited about.
This all sounds amazing. Any final words for the community or anyone else reading this?
I think we have managed to cover pretty much everything. All I can say as a final note is to reiterate that we are working hard behind the scenes to get everything ready. We have all of the team members, resources, connections and talent necessary to produce everything that we have promised and much, much more. We are itching to reveal to the world exactly what we have been working on, and when we do, it will become very clear to all that it was well worth the patience and trust. When we say we are going to be the biggest content creation platform in the world, we are deadly serious, and we are well on track to do exactly that. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. It is going to be well worth it!
This article was written by the Wordsmith. Please note that the Wordsmith is not a financial advisor and nothing written above should be taken as financial advice. Always do your own research before investing.