Blockchain Tech Development
When it comes to blockchain coding, how do you go about exploring and finding the right developer to work with you? Tracy and Monika get down on an application that is not getting enough visibility out in the general blockchain media – blockchain tech development. Blockchain tech is the delivered vision of how the process is supposed to work. Learn more about blockchain development as Tracy and Monika talk about blockchain developers, going through revisions, software coding, founding and maintenance budget, Ethereum, and so much more.
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Blockchain Tech Development
We are excited to talk about something that Monika is excited about. She got her tech.
I got my tech delivered. It’s the best delivery you could ever get. It makes Amazon look stupid.
That’s the first thing is we’ve got to define. What’s tech? What does that mean?
Tech delivered means you go through the process of dreaming up this idea. You have it as a technology platform. You know how it’s supposed to work. You got it all mocked up. You get all of the functionality and you learn all the technology in the background, but you don’t know how to exactly code every single piece, especially on the blockchain. In fact, I did jump into Solidity and started teaching myself Solidity. That’s the coding language for Ethereum, but you already have to have a good background as a general frontend and backend coder to be able to use Solidity. It’s some deep knowledge. You can’t go dabbling in there like you could maybe make a website on the weekends, which I taught myself how to make websites many years ago and I did it over a weekend. I can’t do that with the blockchain. I can learn enough to be able to find my way through a conversation or be able to catch someone else who’s trying to tell me it’s way harder than it is or something like that.
Mostly, you need to find people that know what they’re doing. You have to figure out how much you’re going to pay them and how you’re going to pay them. How are you going to fit it in the budget? If it’s going to be in-house or out-of-house? Do you trust them? How does the delivery work? Finding the technology component, whether it’s a CTO, a tech team, or a dev shop you work with. It’s a huge challenge because whenever there’s something like a whole new technology like blockchain, people flock into it and then people who can develop in that particular language become very high demand. That means they become high priced.
We saw this back when I was covering 3D printing a few years ago, it was the same thing. If you could get 3D designers to come into doing it, they were super expensive. Designers like us, we were in high demand because we had deep knowledge of how to design products, not just how to code 3D printing. If you have a deep knowledge and user interface and how to create a great frontend and backend to your sites and then have the added value of being able to code in the blockchain in Solidity, that’s the added step of value and that’s where we were a few years ago. What we found was that there were few people. You would quote a job and then you’d sit around and wait for them to get their funding because you knew you couldn’t quote something reasonable at that stage.You need to find people that know what they're doing. Click To Tweet
The flip side of that is that people are teaching themselves it and they don’t have that deep knowledge, but they give away their skills to people and they devalue it at the same time. You had both sides happening and what you ended up with never worked. It was never a good product. I see the same thing going on in blockchain coding as well. What ends up happening that’s difficult is how do you know if someone’s good at this? How do you know if you’re getting what you’re going to be able to get out and what you need? How do you plan for that? Let’s talk a little bit about how did you go about exploring and finding the right developer to work with you?
I’m not a CTO. I’m the CEO. Right off the bat, out of the gate, there’s an investor and they’re talking to me and they’re saying, “You have a vision but who’s going to make this work? Who knows all the tech?” I’m like, “Me for the most part.” They’re like, “Who’s going to do it?” I’m like, “That’s what we need to raise money for.” You have a chicken and egg problem. You have to get the money but to raise the money, you got to show me you have something. You don’t have anything until you get the money. It was round and round. I ended up working with and advising a couple of companies. I watched different blockchain companies that were doing slightly similar things in terms of securitization or they wanted to do an exchange or they were doing something in online payments in something.
It was close enough for me to go, “What’s your process?” Some of them were blockchain geniuses. They were empowered to make this stuff work or they already ran dev shops and they added some blockchain developers and they knew how to manage those teams. They could get them cheaper than you would retail because they were already wholesaling as their own dev shop. Tech people already had so much advantage, but I didn’t always see the tech people could understand their customer well enough to make a quality product. They needed the CEO person that goes, “I’ve got the vision. I know the market. I know the customers. I know the interface.”
You’ve got to have a nice balance of both.
You do and if you don’t, then you’ve got to try to pull all the pieces together yourself and then find people that you can work with in small pieces of it. I was looking for a CTO for a while and then I decided, “I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to throw my energy into what I know I’m good at.” That is being in front of people, writing the book, talking about it, getting the word out, getting the philosophy of it and getting the vision of it out. It’s like dogs can hear sounds that we can’t hear. If you ring the right bell, the right people will hear it. You have to keep ringing it.
They’re like, “I’ve been looking for a project that fits my skills.”
I’ve been looking for a project to invest in and I thought something’s going to eventually come out of this. I met some people who worked at one developer shop that they did an entire blockchain of their own and they were working on new use cases. As the market matured in 2016 and 2017, by 2018 they were looking for use cases and we were a use case. Because I had enough of a vision crafted, they said, “We get your use case. We have the tech. Let’s partner.” We started that conversation. No longer was it, “Who has money? How do I get their money to get the tech?” It was a partnership, mutual help and mutual benefit. Suddenly, I had built enough value on my end of it through the use case and the conversation around it and the actual vision of it that they said, “I get your vision. I want to build it. We need the vision to show what we can build.”
I’ve done a lot of articles over the last few years that I’ve been writing my column for Inc. on getting funding and doing all these things. Here’s what I found works again and again with all the people that I’ve covered over time. Those that are getting seed funding or those that are getting their early stage money are doing something. They are out there and they are pounding the pavement and they are doing something that is showing what the value is, even if underneath it’s a facade. We call that a prototype. What we call it in product world is sometimes we make a functional prototype where it’s ugly looking, but it works. Sometimes we make a visual prototype. A prototype that is pretty, but it doesn’t work. It’s essentially creating a video rather than a website that has functionality and code from button to button.
Thinking about that as which one do you need and which one is best for your case. A lot of tech companies or a lot of people with a tech background go straight into the functional. Over the many years I’ve been designing products, I find that the visual first works better than the functional first. The reason is that when you got the functional first and all of a sudden, I say, “That doesn’t do what I thought it would do.” I automatically rule you out. When I see something and I say, “Can it do this?” You go, “Of course it can.” I’m writing that down. The customer wants this because it didn’t already have those features. It looked like it. They assumed it had it. You’re able to build to the customer’s need and that’s more successful and faster adoption at the end of the day. That’s what you’ve done here. You’ve done a lot of that in the process. That is an ideal way and you are on a faster path for success and you’ve lowered your risk for failure right there.
I can go to people and say, “Here’s what we have.” It’s not just a deck. It’s not just a mock-up. We have the skin for the front end that’s already click through able. It’s already functional in terms of, “Here’s how it works.” The backend is done now. Our tech partner got the actual blockchain. It’s on the Ethereum test net. It’s going to be put under the main net soon enough. We have actual properties that you can go through and it’s dummy information now because it’s on test net. We are close to being revenue positive, it’s unbelievable. It’s incredible.
That hard work in between, people don’t realize the toll that it takes on CEOs of these companies. It took a great toll on you over that time but you’re doing it. I’m proud of you and I got a sneak peek at it. It’s cool.
We’re raising a small round to be able to get the new skin on it to make it super sexy. We don’t want to do anything until we get it looking beautiful because the artist in me was like, “This has to be pretty too.” I taught myself how to make it pretty and my right-hand guy, Austin, was like, “I can mock this up.” One of my advisors is like, “I’ll make it clickable.” I’m like, “We made it pretty too. We did all of that.”What happens so often when a founder comes in, they have a founding budget but forget to have enough maintenance budget in development. Click To Tweet
I want people to understand that when you’re going through these builds, there are so much changing in the technology that it’s going to have to go through multiple revisions. I wrote an article about a company. I interviewed Justin Shane of SoftServ. It’s a company out of LA and I don’t know that they advise in blockchain at all. He said something smart when I was interviewing him. They advise people who want to develop apps and software and online communities and things like that require deeper software coding than a website or a normal membership site. It’s deeper stuff than that.
He said, “What happens often when a founder comes in, they have their founding budget but they forget to have enough maintenance budgets in constant development and changes.” I have to say that we fell into that trap too. We did not anticipate that our site would grow as fast as it would and the members would grow on our podcast platform. What we are in the process of doing is we have to break apart our server for the files from the front end where people insert them. We didn’t think about the number of people who would upload. At the same time, people are trying to pull files off and plays. We have many podcasts that have such a high number of plays that the constant requests on that side are strong.
It’s a good problem to have but we didn’t anticipate the budget is needed early. Luckily, we have a partner like you and that partner said, “Let’s not wait. Let’s do it now and we’ll worry about paying it for it later.” I was like, “Thank God.” We’re a few months ahead of our budget schedule. We planned it in almost too late and we’re getting it a few months ahead of that and way before our need is going to crash it completely. That is important for you to plan and that’s what Justin was saying to me in his article. There are a few things that you should pay attention to. Number one, you should go for the most stable as possible software platforms, the one that has been there the longest. Is that why you choose Ethereum net?
I wanted to be ERC-20 compliant and to be able to honor as many ERC-20 coins as the market truly ended up possessing. Everyone’s throwing a coin at it. It wasn’t like I wanted to worry about the coins expect too much. I know that the Ethereum network is robust. It’s been there a long time. I love the founder, Vitalik is amazing. Philosophically speaking, I feel it’s the most robust because it’s open source and it’s collaborative. There have been a lot of things built on that particular network and it means it’s non-proprietary. There’s a way to do the test and you can branch things off and do private tests. You can do public only. I believe you can do most things with Ethereum that you would otherwise do with more private chains. Those private chains can also lock you in. It was a tough call to figure out whom. We may pivot again.
It could be that we have it built one way and then we build into our budget one year that we’re going to be switching everything over it and migrating because things are going to change. I understand that it’s going to always have to be a part of any tech company’s budget. We’ve got something now. It works and it’s great and it may evolve in the future. For now, the way that we were able to find tech partners, we were looking agnostically. We were thinking, “As long as the features are there that we want, it doesn’t matter if it’s on Stellar network or Ethereum network specifically for what we’re doing.
I can see a lot of people would have opinions on why you would never do it on TRON or on Stellar or whatever. I wasn’t going to touch TRON, but Ethereum was agnostic that if I’m going to look for possible strategic partners, I might as well not go to a used car dealership in the middle of nowhere. I should go to the biggest Toyota dealership because everybody buys a Toyota. If you’re looking for something that’s going to be able to be transferable and it’s going to be applicable to lots of consumers and lots of partners, you want to do something that’s massively embraced to some degree.
It’s hard to judge because massively is not like massive adoption. We’re talking about industry niche adoption. We’re not talking about mainstream adoption. That’s a common issue. How do you make these decisions especially in an emerging technology when you’re having it at this stage of it? The things we found over time are that these companies are in their own trajectories. Are they in the process of getting bought out? Are they being built for the right reasons? We had this happen in the podcast industry. I have some podcasters that are upset. There’s this other startup that came on. I’m going to out them. Their name is Anchor. They got some injection of cash.
There was a big announcement that they got this investor and they got multimillions of dollars. They took that cash and they paid podcasters to come onto their platform. They said, “If you have 100 shows or more or if you have this many shows, come onto our platform and we’ll pay you to podcast on a monthly basis. We’ll guarantee ads for you,” is what they said. They got bought by Spotify. In the contract of when you moved over and merged to them, you lost your rights to have a say in the advertisers and you lost your rights to get money from the advertisement. They bait-and-switch completely. I got baited and switched when I joined a software company about several years ago. I was writing up my offer letter to my guys. I was saying, “We’re about to have funding. We’re about to have real money. Here’s your offer letter.” I used my old offer letter and I got to the part where it was this tricky language.
Instead of taking it out, I highlighted it in red. I uploaded the offer letter to our Dropbox and I was like, “Check out the offer letter that I signed several years ago and how I got screwed on several hundred thousand dollars when that equity wasn’t real. It was in invested equity. What it took to invest it was going to be tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket with no guarantee of return. I highlighted it and said, “If nothing else, I want you to see this is the stuff you cannot sign on to. Let’s remake your offer letter but I want you guys to know about this part.” That’s the case to what we are trying to do here that’s against all of our principles.
I’m going to close a deal to bring on 100 high-value who are big stage presence. That’s what they have and I’m going to bring on their podcast and develop podcasts for many of them who don’t have them already. I’m doing that because they chose us as partners with them and because we won’t do what Anchor did. Our principle values of our business that your authority is yours and it belongs to you and it’s in writing. That matters to it is that’s not a deal I would take. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get multimillions of dollars to be out of your company and sell it to Spotify? If I’m selling out the people that built my company, I can’t do that. That is not in my ethics.
They didn’t know any better when they signed it. Even if you can say, “We’re going to get bought out, but I’m going to at least pass something back on to the people that made it.”
That’s something that I am looking for some people. For our audience out there, if you know someone who’s educated in this, we’d love to have him on the show so I can interview him so I could get my questions answered. I’m looking at creating an ESOP, an employee stock ownership plan. I have employees around the world. I want to create an international employee stock ownership plan for my company. I’m going to split my company into two pieces, the Podetize side of it and the production development services that we have on the other side. That’s the piece that I want to make sure that the employees own because they have put their heart and soul in helping us build this. I will make sure they get a cut one day when we sell it. I’m thinking that blockchaining it and tokenizing it is going to allow me to do that because it might have an easier international transference.If you ring the right bell, the right people will hear it. Click To Tweet
Maybe but it could also be worse. Your KYC could be a nightmare. It could be tough. It depends on how you structure that, but whether you use a token or not, make sure that you take a sleeve of your equity and you say, “Here’s how we’re going to do this.” Whether there’s a token behind it or not, the distribution part of it, you may end up having more trouble doing that internationally than if you have everybody register and own a small piece of something. Especially if the token is backed by the equity, it’s the same thing. The SEC will look at it the same way. Blockchain could help you keep those transactions clear.
It’s murky overall. It’s like, “Which attorney knows enough about this?”
In terms of we’re putting our ask out, I’m raising. Now that we have our tech done, we are post-tech, we’re pre-revenue but not for long. Before we’re post-revenue and our valuation goes up, RiseHousing.io. We are raising so you can find me at Monika@RiseHousing.io. Reach out. I am there. I’m ready to talk with more seed investors.
What we’ve been talking about this getting starting and showing people the application of what you’re going to be doing. I can see that it starts to become more real. We interviewed John Livesay and QuantmRE and he was talking about that they were creating this almost game at the front of their real estate. You could make your trial portfolio. All of a sudden, people saw how it could work and they started to get excited about it. That’s what you need. You’re having your tech delivered. It’s such a big deal because that’s when you can start to see it. As I was watching it, I was like, “I could get in that cool high rise for $50?” I was thinking that. I was like, “I could do that.” That gets people started. That’s what give businesses to take flame.
You can tell someone all day long, “We’re Zillow meets E*TRADE,” and they’re like, “How does that work?” You show them, “Here’s the Zillow part where you look at pretty properties and here’s E*TRADE part where you buy a piece of them. There you go. Now you have it.”
That is critically important and I’m glad you’ve gotten to this stage because it will take off for you. We would love to hear these stories. If you have more of them, especially ventures that are in this process and showing people what you’re working on and doing. We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from my stint on Larry King Now and from the episodes we’ve already done. What we’ve been getting back from you guys is that this application and this segment are not getting enough visibility out in the general blockchain media of any kind. They’re all talking tech and we’re talking application here. We’d love to keep this up. We’ve decided that this is going to be more of the direction that we’re going to go in because you like it and you’re interested.
We need to make sure that this is a real use case even how this happens in real time and in real life. The tech is in the background. If the tech is in the foreground, it’s for people that are deep in tech and that are not the average consumer. We’re here to talk about use cases and what makes sense and makes a difference in the actual real world.
We had Mark S A Smith‘s episode that we did on Blockchain Executive Summit. That’s an opportunity as well. We haven’t set a date for this Blockchain Executive Summit but what we’re looking for is feedback to see if you guys are interested in having one. Mark would help sponsor that and it helps make that go and it would be in Las Vegas. The more I thought about that I was like, “I need that, check. I need that, check.” What you were highlighting before about making the decision about do I need a CTO? Do I need a partner?
That’s something that they could help you evaluate if that’s what you’re looking for. If you have a corporation already and you’re like, “Do I need to bring in a blockchain team? Should I work with someone outside initially to evaluate whether or not we should take on this venture or take on this shift in our business and exploring it?” This is a great place to do that. It’s a great format for it as well because it’s tied to the business planning side of things. It has a business goal and business case study at the end of the day. It ties to getting things done. That’s our message now like, “Get things done so you can get it done sold.”
Get revenue positive quick.
Thank you so much for reading. This is Tracy and Monika.
Thank you guys so much. It’s been great going through this.
Until next time, this is the New Trust Economy.
- John Livesay – New Trust Economy episode
- QuantmRE – New Trust Economy episode with QuantmRE Founder Matthew Sullivan
- Mark S A Smith – New Trust economy episode