Builder Spotlight: Pravica
by Claire Topalian on October 24, 2022

Mohamed Abdou is the founder of Pravica, a Stacks company that provides private, secure, end-to-end encrypted communications tools. All Pravica products are based on decentralized identities that are secure on the Bitcoin network - ensuring that identity is owned and controlled only by the user.

In our discussion below, we hear more about what inspired Mohamed to create Pravica, the importance of security and how it is often overlooked in favor of "shortcuts," what made him decide to build on Stacks, and what's next for his team.

"You can choose security and privacy all the way through, or you can choose work-arounds and shortcuts. Some founders come up with something not totally decentralized or that doesn’t meet certain privacy standards…just to come up with a product."
- Mohamed Abdou, Pravica
Claire:
For those who aren’t familiar, can you share what Pravica is all about - and your vision?
Mohamed:
Pravica’s mission is to provide private and secure communication tools and services. We are a blind service provider. Everything is end-to-end encrypted. If you have a .btc name, everything is encrypted. Pravica can be considered a hub. The message goes to the receiver and is then decrypted at the client side.

Originally, we wanted to solve the great problem of hacking for businesses. I came from a tech background, over 23 years in information security. I know the weight of this problem.

In 2019, I saw a public report from the FBI mentioning that this problem is worth $26B in losses. The first MVP was called Dmails (decentralized emails). Then I participated in the app mining program, in May 2019, and we found that Pravica achieved first place for 4 months in a row. I realized we had something.

Then we participated in different events regionally, especially in Dubai. I started to meet investors. I closed a pre-seed round back in April 2020 just before the pandemic. We had some other investors and almost closed something around $1M in investments from prominent VCs.

We were one of the first 25 companies accelerated by Stacks Ventures, back in May 2021.
Claire:
What problem are you tackling with your project? What inspired you to address this problem?
Mohamed:
There’s a huge problem in terms of enterprise messaging. When you think about healthcare companies, banks, private equity, etc…all businesses that need to exchange critical information over a platform. It’s not convenient to use WhatsApp or other platforms like it. You need infrastructure that ensures everything is private and secure. We started to build something called “Messenger Plus.”
Claire:
What type of services does Pravica provide - how does it work?
Mohamed:
We have 3 main pillars: Web3, Messaging, and Blockchain-enabled conversations.

  • Pravica Messenger: We have the mobile app, you can use your .btc name and start using it today. Both parties need to accept each other before you can directly communicate.
  • Pravica Club: Pravica Club is the first DcFi (Decentralized Communications and Finance) platform.Users can send cryptocurrency payments, as likes, and enter stacking (not staking) pools. Content creators can thus monetize their content through “Write to Earn” or “Create to Earn," just like predecessors “Play to Earn."
  • Pravica Messenger Plus is for enterprises. This is new. We’ve seen how much the trend is going to solve the problem - crypto companies and crypto communities are facing this issue and dealing with spam, etc. There’s no crypto-based infrastructure allowing you to be connected with your crypto wallet. That’s why we wanted to build this. It will be open for the whole Stacks community - wallet to wallet communication. We will start with the Hiro wallet and then add more as we go.
Claire:
What made you want to build in the Stacks ecosystem?
Mohamed:
A friend knew that I was building on the blockchain and he sent me the link for Blockstack. I was impressed by the message at the time – the user-owned internet, and the phrase, “Can’t Be Evil.” Both phrases grabbed my attention and inspired me to explore more deeply, looking at the vision and how it could help me bring my dream to reality.

Both phrases that I originally heard made me want to build in the ecosystem. The way of thinking – the infrastructure that would allow me to do this in a smooth way – philosophically aligned.

Throughout the journey, when Clarity came out, I also noted how much better it was than other contract languages when it comes to security. With Clarity, it has what I’m looking for… my 23 years of testing in cybersecurity means I know the real problems. Competitors with Clarity are less secure, they aren’t transparent - I need to be able to see the code.
Claire:
Do you think there’s a disconnect between people saying they believe in decentralization and not making choices accordingly?
Mohamed:
Yes…And as a founder, you will face challenges in how to build your company, especially in Web3 - lots of unknown. It’s still early. It’s not mass adopted. So when you want to do something and you start to develop these things, you will come across a lot of problems and you have choices.

You can choose security and privacy all the way through, or you can choose work-arounds and shortcuts. Some founders play around the model and come up with something not totally decentralized or something that doesn’t meet certain privacy standards…just to come up with a product. You need to try different things until you reach the most scalable and robust infrastructure - while keeping the value proposition of data security and privacy. This is the real asset of Pravica - 3 years of non-stop building and solving the tech issues to make sure that privacy and security are not lost or diluted. Solutions that really protect the users are so much harder to create, but very important.

Blockchain is slow by nature. Don’t expect the high-performance from the blockchains. If you really decide to work on a blockchain that is totally decentralized - technically and philosophically - then you must be ready to accept the slow aspects. If you need increased performance immediately, you are still in Web2 in a way. When things are very fast, you have to look more closely to see what isn’t decentralized…sometimes, it comes to the marketing. I think that we are in Stacks - we need something that allows us to be in front of the blockchain communities. We need to bring Stacks in front of people. Not enough people know about it. Solana - there’s so much marketing, buzz, etc. Solana is popular because of the marketing. But popularity is not a function of decentralization. We need to see more activities and get the word out.
Claire:
Are there any updates/announcements coming up that readers can look for?
Mohamed:
Only some people really care about privacy. Who is facing the real pain? The enterprises are. The crypto communities are facing this too. We need something crypto-based with a decentralized identity. When you check Pravica.clock

Coming up - Pravica Messenger Plus is for enterprises. This is new. We’ve seen how much the trend is going to solve the problem - crypto companies and crypto communities are facing this issue and dealing with spam, etc. There’s no crypto-based infrastructure allowing you to be connected with your crypto wallet. That’s why we wanted to build this. It will be open for the whole Stacks community - wallet to wallet communication. We will start with the Hiro wallet and then add more as we go.

At Stacks, you have something from every standpoint: decentralized, technology, everything. These aren’t extremely well-implemented in terms of the user experience. The user doesn’t care what’s going on behind the scenes, they need a great experience.
Claire:
Where can we send readers to learn more about Pravica?

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