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Haste Kicks eSports Connection Lag to The Curb

by Muriel Vega

As our experiences on the Internet become more complex (think: VR/AR, medical consultations, gaming), our connection can often struggle to keep up. And if you’re in the middle of an eSports tournament, for example, a reliable connection is essential to staying on top.

Haste is a software client which aims to optimize your internet connection for a more reliable live, interactive experience. They’re currently focused on the growing world of eSports; co-founder Taric Mirza first saw the need for the product while playing League of Legends.

In the past few months, Haste has encountered “massive growth,” according to co-founder Adam Toll. They are currently in an open public beta with 150M+ online video game enthusiasts. With the Venture Atlanta pitch event, a new round of funding, and soon, SXSW, under their belts, this ATDC company will soon scale into additional industries.

But how can this software client optimize your play and give you a competitive edge? Toll shares more about Haste Check, their revenue model, and his number-one founder lesson.

What plans do you have for Haste’s recent funding?

In January we moved from engineering/dev mode into an open public beta, so we are really focused right now on operational issues including marketing/distribution, customer care and scaling the network. I’m happy to share that things are going better than expected on all fronts.

What problem are you solving?

The Internet is increasingly being used for live, real-time interactions among people — apps like VoIP and videoconferencing tech, live streaming, team-based video games (eSports), etc. — but as a network, the Internet is not really designed for real-time. As a result, many applications suffer from network “lag,” which degrades the user experience. Haste is network software that optimizes the internet for these existing applications, and for emerging applications like networked VR, the latest in telemedicine, and distance learning.

How did the idea for Haste’s software client come about?

My co-founder, Taric Mirza, came up with the idea and developed some early proof-of-concepts for what is now Haste. He was inspired to do this because of the frustrations he was experiencing playing League of Legends, which is the world’s largest eSports title with over 100 million monthly active players. While eSports is a great initial focus for us, Taric recognized from the beginning that this technology had much wider implications beyond eSports.

Why did you decide to target the eSports industry first?

Several reasons. First, because the initial inspiration came from problems playing competitive online video games due to network lag — my co-founder is literally our target customer and we have deep domain experience there. Second, gaming is already an enormous market, but it’s just starting so there’s a lot of headroom for growth. Third, frustration with lag is probably the single largest complaint among gaming enthusiasts so there’s a lot of pain out there. Fourth, despite some attempts to fix the problem, nobody has provided an effective solution across the board so we believe there is a first mover advantage to be won.

We also think that our technology gains credibility for broader applications as we solve what has to date been viewed as an unsolvable problem.

How can Haste help my competitive edge as an eSports player?

It’s important to bear in mind that timing and group coordination are critical to success in eSports, which is a team sport. The core value to the user is our network optimization, but the Haste client also provides players with some smart tools to help increase their competitive edge.

On the core network optimization side, Haste can help reduce your network latency or “ping,” which means the player is quicker to react in-game. Haste will also stabilize your latency, providing the player with steady ping instead of being subject to wild swings in ping which throws off timing. Finally, Haste minimizes network hiccups which can disrupt game play, an issue caused by lost data packets in your game stream. Together, this means the player has a more reactive, stable, and reliable network connection to the game server — something which is very important to success in eSports.

In addition to that core value to the user, Haste also gives players tools such as Haste Check which lets them test their connections to game servers before committing to a match.  Kind of like a “bandwidth speedtest” app, except specifically designed to measure network lag between the player and the game server.

As you grow past the eSports market, how can the software client help other users?

Today, high-quality, real-time network applications rely on private, dedicated network connections which are very expensive. That means that only the very top of the market can afford to operate these networks, be they businesses running corporate telepresence applications for the board room, or financial traders investing in hundreds of miles of dedicated fiber optics for their electronic trading systems. They incur these costs because the public Internet is simply not designed as a real-time platform.

The core value proposition of Haste is that we can re-wire the internet to operate at a much more reliable level for users who want to run live, two-way applications but who can’t afford to acquire and operate dedicated, private networks, or for whom using the public internet is key to their distribution. That also means that we can bring much higher quality networking to consumer applications on the internet.

That applies to enterprise remote workgroup collaboration tools, but it also applies to other telepresence applications like telemedicine and distance learning, where maintaining a high-quality connection between participants is critical to, say, a remote surgical consultation or teacher-student interaction. Augmented reality and networked VR applications will be especially sensitive to network lag. Even financial trading at the middle and lower end of the markets where traders use the internet to connect to electronic trading platforms.

What’s your revenue model?

At launch in the eSports market, we start with a subscription service sold directly to the players. As we move forward, integrations with game companies, ISPs, tournament platforms and others in the eSports ecosystem will be key to scaling distribution and users. Eventually, developers will be able to “Haste-enable” their applications and services through both direct integrations and by using a suite of API tools.

Any lessons you’ve learned as a founder since you founded Haste?

As founders will tell you, all of the lessons are constantly flying in your face from a firehose of daily experience, but what really sticks out for me is how critical it is to have deeply experienced investors who are ready and willing to put in the time. We are amazingly lucky to have an great group of investors who provide incredibly productive input and guidance at the board level, all while letting us follow our vision and execution strategy without interference. That kind of relationship is a huge force-multiplier for a startup.

How does Atlanta weave into your company’s story?

Atlanta is a great place for startups. It’s a fun city to live in and it’s relatively inexpensive to operate in. There’s great talent coming out of the many schools and there’s generally a very positive business environment. As a Techstars company (Cloud 2016 in San Antonio), we were very excited about the arrival of Techstars Atlanta which affirms Atlanta as a startup hub.  We are part of Georgia Tech’s ATDC program, a rich resource for startups in the city. I’m also really excited about Switchyards and their focus on nurturing startups for consumers since consumer-oriented startups are underrepresented in Atlanta. That’s a big growth opportunity for the startup ecosystem here.

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