Working Group Session - 05/18/20


Agenda is now located on Github!

  • Finalize date and timeline for PoX business competition
  • Discussion: What resources do we need to set participants up for success? (Reference:
  • Discussion: Judging projects, selecting winners, awarding prizes
  • Add action items to the “PoX Business Competition” project board
  • Facilitate targeted knowledge exchange between business school students and Blockstack Business Models working group

Table of Contents


Jenny: Welcome to the business models working group session, it is Monday May 18th at 10am eastern, how’s everyone doing? Thank you for joining us again and I dropped a link to the agenda in the chat. Today’s meeting was going to focus on making decisions on this hackathon we discussed last week. Last week we discussed the possibility of having a hackathon focused on building products that leverage proof of transfer, specifically for stacking and delegating. We had a couple of community members on who’ve been looking into the prospect and know there is interest around with others, so we thought a hackathon might be a good format to support this and to support community members already looking to build these products out. Does anybody have any questions, or who wasn’t here last week that wants some background or has questions on that?

Jenny: Going to take that silence as a no, one of the first action items on the agenda was to finalize a date and a timeline for this hackathon, looking at late June, getting pretty close to that, discuss issues of what’s possible in that time frame. How does everyone feel about a late June start date? And if it is a hackathon - how long would it run?

Patrick: The late June timeline makes sense, I think it’s enough time to do something. How long it would run, you could do 1 day, 3 days, 2 weeks. Depends on the scope of what folks are building out, if they plan to submit more than a plan.

Jenny: I guess that is the other item on the agenda we should discuss here, with the Clarity hackathon for example, we’ve allotted two weeks for each of the challenges. It’s probably a little more free-form with experimentation and shipping something. For this, do we feel comfortable focusing on an actual MVP, or are we talking about just a plan? These are projects that are very involved so I’m wondering what we think would be possible in that time frame even if we started now.

Jenny: What did you have in mind Patrick, were you thinking more along the lines of a MVP or a plan?

Patrick: Ideally, it’s a MVP, the reality is it will have to live on testnet. Something that works on testnet but could be launched on mainnet is good. In terms of us as a group setting something up like this, I don’t think it’s that involved, think we can launch something tomorrow if we wanted to. It’s the matter of getting the right rules in, the right distribution, etc. In the spirit of the BMWG having a bias toward action, I think MVP makes more sense than just a simple plan. If you just have a plan people won’t necessarily work on it. Those are my thoughts.

Jenny: Cool, that makes sense, does anyone else want to chime in there?

Jason: I was going to say I agree, I think the idea of a MVP sounds really cool, especially because its easy to come up with a plan but when you’re putting that plan into action you tend to learn a lot more as well.

Gina: I just wanted to take a step back here and ask, if folks are all on the same page, is this going to be for a general app that lives in the Blockstack ecosystem, or proof of transfer or the functionality available there, when it comes to things like setting up a delegation service for example. curious if we have defined it fully. the general outcomes we are looking for.

Jenny: Last week we talked about having 3 categories but that’s as far as we got: products for stacking, delegation, and a general category for something that would leverage proof of transfer. Don’t think we talked about if it’s an app or something broader than that.

Phillip: Think of the MVP would be the idea, the objective, two weeks to build that, unless it’s something very simple. As an example of what you can do. What Friedger has done with smart contracts, certain functionality that is very basic, shows how to use the technology, that would be something to show. Probably not an MVP, it could also be something you are learning, breaking into the market, creating new knowledge, sometimes requires more effort and resources to achieve that.

Jenny: Phillip, so you’re saying the MVP doesn’t necessarily need to be a functioning product as long as its adding value in some way? It could still be pretty comprehensive even though it’s not something that people can test out.

Phillip: Yes, like an example, not an MVP because that’s something that takes more work, proof of concept, that’s the word. Calling it that instead. A different proof of concept apply to different situations. That would be easier to achieve, doesn’t require as much development to demonstrate that. We’ve been talking about different types of models, and each one is a wonderful opportunity to understand how to put it in place. Different proof of concept for the different business models would be very valuable.

Jenny: I think that’s reasonable, I considered the idea, when we talk about plans it was more along the lines whether proof of concepts would be acceptable for submission. To Patrick’s point of being biased toward action, trying to work toward a MVP makes sense for a hackathon, but one alternative is having different milestones for this hackathon. So, perhaps submitting a proof of concept before the deadline for submitting an actual MVP, time for review and collaboration between community members, before creating something that is functioning. In which case the hackathon would be a longer one, or there would be some kind of threshold to qualify to participate, being a compelling proof of concept submitted before it starts. Is that something that sounds reasonable to you, Phillip?

Phillip: Actually, in real life it’s done like that. When you do something, you build the pieces of functionality and code and all that, and it will be a longer time to get the results. It won’t be 2 weeks or 1 month, could be longer than that. Maybe it would be every month and after 3 months of effort then we see what we get. That would be a reasonable amount of time, 3 months. The challenge is who’s willing to invest 3 months of time, what level of investment are people willing to do, maybe people who have more resources would get better results, difference of professional football or soccer player against an amateur. That’s the thing, the differences, but this looks good.

Jenny: Got it, thank you Phillip, that is actually another action item on the agenda for today: talking about resources first of all, what we would need to prepare community members to participate. Second topic of discussion being judging, prizing, and generally how we would select winners. We hadn’t talked about it last week, can talk about now, what qualifies as a good project, what kinds of judges do we want on board. Patrick, did you have any ideas around that, for a competition of this scale?

Patrick: Wanted to recap real quick the MVP stuff, feel free to push back if you think this is wrong, given we want to competition in late June we will still be on the testnet. Whatever is being created, because its on testnet it is by definition of proof of concept. I talked to a member of the core team who said they could build a delegator in a week, I know to Phillip’s point, maybe that’s 5-8hrs a day for 5 days, so it’s not nothing for sure. For prizing, not sure yet, but think it’d have to be big enough to entice people to play but not so big that it’s over-spending. Something in the thousands of dollars is my guess for first prize. Think we can talk about prizing in the Github issue. What was the other question?

Jenny: Judging.

Patrick: I think it’d be cool to have Balaji Srinivasan be the judge or a judge, maybe some other crypto VCs, as much as they get a “bad wrap” and people like to joke on them or whatever, a lot of them have pretty good insight. So I think that would make the most sense to me. What do y’all think? So Balaji is from Andreessen Horowitz, that’d be a pretty good judge, maybe the woman used to be with Coinbase and now with Scalar Ventures, could get someone from Placeholder or Union Square Ventures like Joel Monegro.

Jenny: Cool, some pretty high-profile folks. That adds an entirely new layer to the hackathon, which brings me to my next question, for selection criteria. For a lot of us, this is new territory and will require a lot of research on the floor, so what do community members absolutely have to include in their projects to make it competitive in the hackathon? I think that will shed more light on what we are working on.

Patrick: By the way, for someone who’s non-technical, might pull in a technical resource to build stuff, but maybe there’s bonus points for putting the thing into working code. Maybe you get a 3-5x multiplier for going from a proof of concept / idea / plan to actually having a real thing. If you submit a plan, you can get a prize, but likely not the top prize. That’s one way to do it.

Cameron: Have a quick suggestion, sorry it’s super early here, if the winner has a pretty robust business model, it’d be really cool to see the business model come to life. that would mean some engineering time, if they’re not technical, so maybe the prize could be engineering hours. To sort of put their project to the test, which I think would be pretty neat.

Jenny: could you recap that, Cameron?

Cameron: Having engineering hours, or dedicated engineers, to build the thing that person is coming up with. could be a cool prize, if they are not an engineer themselves.

Patrick: That’s super interesting, that actually expands, like if our distribution strategy for finding contestants is pulling in MBAs and nontechnical people, to get them thinking, then someone like myself can come in and say “I think I have a good idea”, and if I win on the plan, the folks who actually create something win a bigger prize, but my plan/idea gets enacted/executed on by an engineer or two. Get to see it see the light of day. That’s an interesting prize in its own right, the prize of seeing your idea to come to life. Who maintains it afterwards is a question, the code and software, but that’s an interesting exploration.

Cameron: If I wanted to run a validator but not going to build the validator, but let’s say I can get $50k from community members or people in my network, and all I need is someone to build it, that’s super compelling for me. It’s just an example. That’s all I’ve got.

Patrick: I was actually with you until you said that, so you’re saying you have friends and family who are willing to put money in to build the thing, then you just need talent?

Cameron: This is just an example, that’s not exactly me, but if that’s the case. If there’s a business student at USC or someone in that situation, I think it’d be really cool.

Patrick: That is cool, that brings ideas into reality more quickly, would be an awesome thing to see. A lot of times the developer is the best person to come up with an idea and execute, but sometimes it’s not a developer, just someone who understands the system well enough to generate a business model around it and just needs the idea to be put into action. Maybe we should consider that.

Action Items

Jenny: Sounds like we’ve had a couple good thoughts/ideas from this meeting. Action items would be to make a few decisions before next week’s meeting. We shared a link to this week’s rough agenda, feel free to add notes there, and it sounds like:

  • we are wanting to finalize the date/timeline for this
  • maybe 2 or 3 days, or 2 weeks long
  • deciding if it should be split with milestones
  • some cool ideas around judging/prizing
  • other kinds of resources that we need leading up to the competition?
    • workshops, one-pagers, etc.

Jenny: We can try to make some decisions and do some voting by next week’s meeting, the goal is to make some pretty good progress on this and be ready to launch a competition like this soon. Does that sound good to everyone?

Jenny: Jason, any notes you want to add, especially since we’ve been working on our processes for these meetings using Github?

Jason: Sure! So, on the management side of things, we do have a project board that is linked in today’s agenda issue that we can use to start tracking things. Definitely open issues as discussion items. That’s an easy way to say “hey, this is a topic I want to discuss” and “this is where we’re going to go with it”, I think it will be nice on the management side of things. Also, I am still working on the forum post from last week and I’ll do that along with this week’s to catch things up on that end. Otherwise, with some of the stuff we’ve talked about, this idea of two phases I think makes a lot of sense. It gives us that chance to have an approachable / easier target in the beginning, but if that prize were development time or even if it goes into a second phase where an idea goes from proof of concept to MVP, I think there’s some cool potential there as well. I’m interested, and I hope that everybody gets into the issues, I hope we see some comments and activity across it all, and I’m curious to get some more input. I know I’m seeing a little bit in our chat here as well, but I think that’s the best thing we can do, is to start using the resources we have and getting a little better flow async so things move nice and fast.

Jenny: Thanks Jason, and yeah Alex, I see your comment, thank you for sharing those thoughts, I think it’s totally a valid point about the timeline for projects as big as these. If you have other ideas on how this could be structured, then definitely throw that into the issues on the repo as well and I think we can continue discussing from there. It looks like we are just about at time, if we don’t have any other major objections or comments we will end it there, and we will see you guys on Github. Thanks for joining everyone!

(Thank yous and goodbyes - Happy Monday everyone!)