One thing I've come full circle on as I've accumulated more experience working with many different projects in the blockchain industry is the role that community plays in crypto.
I started out helping to build community in my spare time for this entity called FinTech Connector, which is kind of a dream organization started up by big banker Angel Lorente in New York City. It's a global community, which makes it kinda fun to be a part of because by branding the events you organize you feel like you're a part of this much bigger movement that spans the globe. When I was doing that gig, I wrote this piece called "The Value of Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Resides in Community."
But then the bear market hit. And the only projects that did any positive price momentum were ones that bought Twitter bots and fake Telegram accounts and, in general, just kinda faked the FOMO till their backers and private sale investors could get out of their positions. Yes, I'm looking at you Justin Sun! (If you haven't read this article by The Verge about The Man Who Ruined Steem, please do so now.)
Then I read Saifedean Ammous' The Bitcoin Standard and dabbled a bit in Bitcoin Maximalism. Needless to say, it was a dark period in my life! I still don't understand how I became so enamored with digital pet rocks. Anyhow, the industry came to refer to that period as "Crypto Winter." Thankfully, I came to my senses early enough to get involved with DeFi projects like FinNexus before DeFi became DeFi. I then got involved in lots of other DeFi projects and it's been a helluva lot of fun. Busy... but fun.
What I can say from that experience is that the underpinnings of every single one of those projects is their community. As the community goes, so go the projects. That's just how it is. So now I've come full circle back to my original thesis from way back in 2017: Community is king.
If you're not actively taking part in your community and constantly looking to grow and nurture "real" community, i.e. actual people that go to your various social media sites and actually GAF about your project, if you're not doing that, then what exactly are you doing?
Because the lifeblood of any project is its community. Lose them... and you lose the project. I've seen it happen many times!
Here are some prescient notes [distilled by Jared Polites in a recent interview with Binance's Yi He for an article in Entrepreneur that outline 4 great reasons to prioritize community building over all else.
It's cheap advertising!
It brings authenticity to the brand in a scam-filled industry where authenticity is certainly at a premium.
It helps you innovate quickly as your users engage with the product and provide instantaneous and usually quite helpful feedback (Because they GAF and everybody else doesn't).
A great community provides the best customer service. (And again... For free!)
One of the great debates I see out there in the industry these days is whether or not you should be doing public fundraising before you have a product ready. But if you've read this far, how could you not? If the key to the success of a crypto project is not its product but rather its community, then why not get started building that early? And what's the best tool to bring together a group of people who don't otherwise know each other? To me, the answer to that is simple:
Shared financial incentives!
The best advice I can give anybody trying to enter the crypto fray at this particular moment is to remember one thing above all else. Your product is not your product. Your token is your product. And what is the best way to drive value into your token?
Great insights for those of you looking to leap into the madness of blockchain.
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