Luke Willis - $39k Launch

Luke Willis - $39k Launch

Jonathan: Hello, and welcome to Ditching Hourly. I'm Jonathan Stark. Today I am joined by guest Luke Willis. Luke, welcome back to the show.

Luke: Thank you, Jonathan. Glad to be here.

Jonathan: Luke has got a fun story to share with us about a very successful launch, and I, I know almost nothing about it except for how successful it was. So, wanted to have Luke come back and just explain the mechanics of how that worked, and maybe people could get some good takeaways from that. But first, even though I think you might have the record for most appearances on the show, but could you still give people a quick background before we jump into the launch story?

Luke: Yeah, well, thank you. Yeah, so I'm, I'm Luke Willis, and I spend my days thinking about writing about and working on blockchain. And so as of late, I've been working on the QoS blockchain and been writing and podcasting about that. And a lot of variety of things over there since 2021, I think it was. And I wasn't sure how to really monetize the expertise that I was building, but I realized that there was a need for applications to be built on top of this chain as it's pretty new and not a whole lot of developers over there yet. So I was going to try to sell my services, but ended up building a couple apps now, and then recently launched CAP and had a very successful launch, made about $39,000 in the first 24 hours. Cool. And it's been going up steadily from there.

Jonathan: Okay. So it's not an N F T?

Luke: Well, it is,

Jonathan: Yeah. So explain the mechanics. Yeah.

Luke: Yeah. So if you've ever worked with like Ethereum, you're familiar with e n s, which is where everybody on Twitter has these dot eth names. Right. And basically it's, it's kind of like a domain name where you buy, but what you're actually buying is an N F T on the blockchain that is just a permanent record of your ownership of this name. So you can think of it as a domain name or a username or whatever you want it to be. Yeah. So the COOs didn't have one of those yet. It seems like every chain out there has to develop their own name service, but we didn't want to just, you know, skin the same experience that everybody else was doing. We wanted to make it better. So we, we built cap, my co-founder and I, and we leaned into some of the, the uniqueness of QoS, but our, our initial launch is effectively an N F T name service where you can get a name for a certain amount of dollars.

Jonathan: Got it. Okay. So, so let's go a little bit into what might be obvious to your normal audience, but not to mine. So what would someone use this for?

Luke: Yeah, yeah, great question. So when you're sending an email, right, you know the person's email, you know their phone number, you know their address there, there's some kind of fairly easily memorized identifier for the person, right? So if you want to get ahold of somebody or send them money or whatever it's, you want to do, it's not that hard in the real world, right? You don't have to remember their bank account details on blockchain. You have to have the person's public address, which is like, I don't know, 40 characters of HEXA decimal. And it's a mess. So it, it's impossible to memorize and it's easy to mess up. So if you're sending tokens from your address to mine, you have to copy it, the address that I send you and make sure you get it right. And that's fraught with issues because, you know, other people can create addresses that look pretty similar to mine, starts with the same few characters, ends with the same few characters.

Luke: So you might not realize that you're sending money to the wrong place. So there's a lot of difficulty around addresses. Yep. And so having a name like I'm Luke dot coin is the name that I have. So if you can just send tokens to Luke dot coin, then that's way easier, right? You don't have to memorize anything else. So in the same way at any time you are, you know, if you build a chat app that uses the, the private and public keys of your, your blockchain address for like end-to-end encryption of chat, then you can back that up with actually displaying the, the username that the person selected on chain. So it's kind of a portable identity for any application built on top of or adjacent to the blockchain.

Jonathan: Any blockchain or just the QoSs?

Luke: Well, it's for the keys that you're using on the QAs blockchain, and any app would need to pull the ownership of that N F T off the QAs blockchain, so. Got it. We'll say qo. Yeah.

Jonathan: Okay. So $39,000, how many customers, like how did the pricing work? Yeah. You know? Yeah. And, and why were the people who were in, why were the buyers interested, I guess, in what's the problem that it solved for them? How much did it cost them to solve this problem? I mean, you just explained the problem, so you don't have to do that, but

Luke: Right, right,

Jonathan: Right. But so like, yeah, walk me through like the pricing. Was it auction based? Did it go up and down based on length or anything?

Luke: Hmm. Gotcha. Yeah. Yeah. So pricing wise, we we're, we're pricing it based on the length of the name. And so if you wanna buy a one character name X coin or something like that, that costs a thousand dollars a year. And if you wanna buy a two or three character name, that's $500 a year, four, five or six characters is a hundred dollars a year, and then 7, 8, 9, 10 characters is $10 a year. Got it. So we, we tried to hit a lot of different price points where anybody could come in and get a name regardless of your budget. And we didn't really expect a lot of people to grab the, the top tier of names at a thousand dollars a year, but we actually made most of the, the money, well, I mean like a quarter of the money off of that top tier.

Jonathan: Interesting.

Luke: Later this year we're gonna be launching a free tier where anything 11 characters or longer will be a hundred percent free, and there won't be an annual subscription for that.

Jonathan: Interesting. Alright. So, so that brings us right into, well, in, in the Ethereum world, I guess would be gas fees, right? So, you know, I got J Stark dot e, you know, e t h eth, and it was like, oh, it's $5. I'm like, okay, $5, I might as well grab that. And then like $300 later I had it, you know, so what, but you know, Ethereum's different now, it's actually different now from when I did that. But what is the difference with Coin OSS that allows you to even offer a free tier?

Luke: Yeah. Yeah. And so this is, this is really the big difference. And, and the reason we have a free tier, and the reason why this is kind of our differentiator compared to other blockchains with every other chain. Even if something is offered for free, you still have to pay gas, which is for anybody who doesn't know, it's the, the transaction cost. So it's kind of like paying shipping, right? Just because somebody's gonna send you something for free, you still have to pay postage. So the actual cost of the transaction can vary pretty wildly. There's a lot of chains that are pretty inexpensive, like the gas is really not that much a couple pennies, but on Ethereum, which is the most popular smart contract chain you can spend, I mean, 10 bucks on a cheap day to a, a few hundred dollars on a really expensive moment.

Luke: And this is because it's supply and demand. If there's a lot of people trying to get on the blockchain and, and use it for something, then prices spike way high. And that mechanism, like that's used even on the less expensive chains. So even if it's a couple pennies now, it could get more expensive later. Now, I'm personally not too worried about the, the monetary cost of inexpensive chains. I feel like they're, they're pretty good for people who know what they're doing. Like if gas is cheap, it's cheap and that's great, but the real problem is the user experience. Before I can use your DAP to get my name or do, you know, play a game or something like that, I have to get tokens for the blockchains that I can pay the gas. So even if I'm not gonna hand any money to you as the creator of the application, I still need to have money invested in this ecosystem.

Luke: And so that means that I have to go to a completely different company, a centralized exchange, I have to give them my personal information, scan my id, and go through this, know your customer K Y C process that is required by law. And then you have to buy tokens, you have to connect your bank and spend money and then, then set up another wallet and transfer the tokens you bought into that wallet. And now you have a wallet full of tokens that you can actually use on the blockchain. So it's a really difficult experience just to get to the point where you can actually do the thing you wanted to do in the first place. So even if it's cheap, you still have to go through that unless you have a friend who's willing to send you, you know, a couple bucks, which is fine, but not everybody does.

Jonathan: Okay. So how, what's the experience on yours?

Luke: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, so this is the reason that I built on coins. Coins doesn't have a gas mechanism. It has something called manna. And so the difference is that every token is still used to pay the cost of the network, but you're never actually gonna drain your balance. You're gonna lock your tokens to your wallet for up to five days. So when you spend banner, what you're doing is you're spending opportunity cost, you're saying, I wanna use the network now, and so I won't be able to use it later. So the more tokens you have, the more access to the network you have. But there's, it's an opportunity cost of deciding do I wanna do this or do I wanna do that? So that's pretty good on its own because for people who have tokens, they can use the network now and not feel like they're wasting money. They're just saying, well, this is the only thing I'm gonna do this week. I'll come back next week and use more.

Jonathan: Right. Inter that's a very different mechanism,

Luke: Right? Yeah. Yeah. So that works. But then the real killer of this is that, and you can do this on gas chains, but nobody does because it's economically and feasible. And it depends on the chain as well, but I can actually lend my manna to people for free. So I can just deploy a smart contract that says anybody can use my manna and then, you know, build an app that, that uses that. And now people who don't hold any tokens don't even know they're using a blockchain, can come in and use my app and actually have a transaction that is on the blockchain and belongs to them. But I paid for it, so it's free for me to do that because I'm not actually spending any tokens. I'm just spending my opportunity cost.

Jonathan: Right. So you, you basically, someone else used your manna that week, so you can't

Luke: Correct. Yep.

Jonathan: Interesting. Yeah. O okay, so we're super far down in the weeds. So, so let's zoom up to, to the, the kind of marketing and sales angle of this that I think anybody could kind of relate to. So how was it that you were able to announce this and get, I don't know how many buyers you got, but, you know, raise the amount of money that you did in such a short time?

Luke: Yeah, yeah. I don't actually know how many buyers it was on day one either, but we had about 500 names sold to get to that 39,000. Got it. Okay. And so that was probably across a couple hundred wallets.

Jonathan: Okay. And like, so walk us through it. Like did you, you just posted on social media, was it, were most of them from your list? Why do you think people trusted you to, you know, 'cause you could have just in theory could have been a scam, right?

Luke: Right, right. Yeah, so like I said, I've been writing and podcasting in this space for a year and a half now. And during that time I've built a lot of rapport with the people around this blockchain, the people who already hold coin. And so I, I'd already built the trust and hadn't really been paid for it at all. Right. And so it was that constant publishing. I, I had a daily list, which I've been semi-daily for the past few months, so I've been building this and weekly podcast as well. And so I added a lot of value to the community. And then when the blockchain launched, I deployed two DAPs applications on right away that were well received, are still in use today, weren't quite as big of money makers compared to, to this just because they were smaller in scope. But those were just good, you know, initial demonstrations of, of what I could do. People were excited about those. And so it was a, a natural progression that when this launched, the people who already had coin had seen me around, had had experienced the kinds of things I could build, and there was trust there. Hmm.

Jonathan: Okay. Do you have a sense of how many people, so it's gonna be mostly interesting to people who hold coin already, right? Or do you think you got people from outside?

Luke: Yeah, for now we are, we're only accepting payment in coin, so it's only people who hold coin. Okay. But when we launched the free tier later this year, we're also gonna be adding credit card support and, you know, a couple other things to make it really easy for people who don't.

Jonathan: Okay. And did you, where did you announce it? Was it just social media, just your list? Did you do, like, on your podcast, did you do an episode, like how coordinated of a launch was it? Or did you basically just send one email and like Oh, 40 grand?

Luke: Yeah, it was a little bit everywhere. My co-founder also does a fair bit on YouTube. So we had a bunch of posts on social media. I had a few emails that I sent out. We had a podcast episode we did together. He put out a few different videos. We talked on the, the social channels, discord and Telegram for, for Kunos and the, all the, the Twitter for the actual Enos blockchain. They, they picked it up and they ran with it too. So we were out there.

Jonathan: Nice. And how much of that was, was leading up to the launch and how much of it was post?

Luke: Good question. I'd say most of it was leading up to, once we launched, we were pretty quiet, didn't announce too much, it was more just supporting people if they had questions, making minor fixes to the experience here and there. We, I mean, I, I sent out a thread on Twitter after the fact explaining kind of our strategy and how we got to the $39,000 launch. But yeah, we, we've got more planned in terms of content around it, but I haven't hit the, you know, my email list or anything like that with it since.

Jonathan: Got it. So basically all leading up to it is kind of hopefully stoking demand evidently successfully and, and then it's just like, okay, launched. And now does it continue to, I mean, people can continue to buy stuff, right? But I imagine after that big spike, was there a big drop off?

Luke: Yeah, it, the, the spike was definitely the majority of it, but like I said, we had like 500 names there. It's been steady for the past two weeks, so we've got around 750 now. Hmm. And more like $45,000. So like all the, all the expensive tier ones were day one. And then it's been more of the, the cheaper tiers and a few in the middle tiers as well since then.

Jonathan: Hmm. Cool. Okay. So maybe to get a little technical for the, the software to people in the audience, what's the experience like? Does somebody, presumably someone goes to a U R L and there's some kind of app there that you connect your wallet to? Yeah, yeah. Like what's that? What, what did you build? What are the pieces that you built and what's the experience for a user?

Luke: Great question. Happy to give you a demo after this if you want, but Sure. You go to Cap, do Domains is our website. So KP do domains and they're, you're presented with a screen where you're just able to search and so you put in whatever name you're thinking of, Luke, Jonathan, whatever it is. And you are presented with a results page. It says, oh, this name is available or it's not available. If it's not available now you can click through and you know, try to go buy it on an N F T marketplace and that kind of thing. But yeah, it's just a search page and then you add it to your cart, which opens a little drawer out of the side of the page. You can add as many names as you want into your cart, extend them for one to 10 years. So you can pay, you can kind of prepay for names and then just click check out and your wallet pops open and you sign the transaction just by putting in your password, clicking a button.

Luke: And that's it. Now you have the name, you own that N F T. And then from there we have, it's something you can actually do with it. We take you to this kind of account management page where you can enter like a little biographical information, choose which name, if you own multiple is like your primary, you can set like a background color and pick an N F T you own as like a profile picture. And so then we give you a link for Cap plus. So if you go to Cap, do plus slash luke dot coin in your browser, you'll see my profile and there's, it's got my social links on there and that kind of thing. Okay.

Jonathan: So that's,

Luke: Yeah,

Jonathan: So those are, they're like two little basically web apps. I, you know, that's don't mean little in a bad way, it's just like, that's fine. Yeah. Doesn't need to do much. Yep. And is the backend, so like for example, when I search, is it searching the blockchain or do you have like, like some sort of caching layer, like what's going on there?

Luke: Yeah, I, I have no backend for this. It's all just front end and blockchain. So everything you type in goes straight to the blockchain and, and queries for what's available or not. It'll tell you if it's gonna, you know, when it's gonna expire. If somebody else already bought it, it'll show you their profile. So you can see if they're even using it as like their primary name or if it's just one they're holding onto. Right.

Jonathan: Squatters.

Luke: Yeah, exactly. So yeah, there's, there's a lot there, but it's all entirely powered by the blockchain. And so the, the, the work that we built put in a lot of it was, you know, building this front end, but then there's just a few smart contracts that we had to write as well for the blockchain side of it.

Jonathan: Right. So what is, just for folks, what does that look like for people who haven't been exposed to that?

Luke: Yeah, so it depends on what blockchain you're on. Ethereum uses language called Solidity, which is JavaScript. Like, so it, it's pretty easy to get started with and there's great documentation and it's easy to be effective with solidity, but it's also really easy to, you know, have mistakes. Smart contracts are, it's an area where you need to be careful. You, you want to not have bugs in your code, right? Because if, if there's an exploit, then it's like, you know, opening up your whole backend and exposing it to the world. So, so yeah, the, we have, I think it's four, four smart contracts that are pretty small. Really. You can think of it as like if you're, if you're building an a p i, it's like the controller and all of the logic behind it and the database layer. So it's just kind of everything packaged up and deployed on the blockchain and it handles the storage, it handles the logic and it handles all of the, the end points basically. Hmm. Yeah. And then the, the front end is just like a normal front end and I'm just talking to the blockchain instead of like a rest a p i. Right.

Jonathan: Yeah. I, I was always one of, one of the most fascinating things to me about blockchain was that, well, the combination of the ledger and the wallet, right? Where you keep all of your, essentially your identities is real from to a, to an old school web developer, it's like, oh man, is that interesting? Because all of a sudden you don't have to do like any of the authentication stuff and any of the database stuff. I mean, it's pretty limiting what you can do compared to like, I mean, you're gonna have a million blocks on the blockchain or whatever, like you couldn't see a database and there's all kinds of pros and cons to it, but man, that's, it always was really, I, I was like super fascinated by that. I, you know, goofed around a little bit with solidity and made some stuff and I was like, it got up to the point where I was like, a variable can hold literal money. And I was like, whoa, I'm not touching this.

Luke: Yeah.

Jonathan: It's like, that's scary. It's like, oh, I, I, I don't know, I added two strings together and instead of two integers and now I have, you know, right. Instead of, instead of $2, I have 11. So, or or someone else it wouldn't be dollars, but you get the idea.

Luke: Right, right.

Jonathan: So, cool. Alright. I think the moral of this story for, I think for the average listener who's got whatever built some kind of tool, maybe it's a, a small web, but that has a, you know, database. It's not, that's the point about this is nothing really to do with blockchain. It's more like you essentially made yourself an insider into this community, built up a lot of trust, provided value through the, the mailing list and the podcasting

Luke: Yep.

Jonathan: Proved that you could develop some stuff with a couple of prototype apps or smaller apps or DAPs and then created something that probably more, I mean I'm sure you didn't know how it was gonna go, but it's, since it's not the first one of these kinds of services, it seems reasonable that people would be interested in it. Yeah. And just sort of leveraged that attention asset or that trust asset. So like, hey, I created something cool and people trusted you for those reasons. And then they're like, yeah, I'll do that.

Luke: Yeah,

Jonathan: That's great.

Luke: Yeah, it, it's been fantastic. I, I really didn't expect to have a launch this large. We were kind of hoping for maybe like $10,000 and we really didn't think we'd get any of the top tier sales. Maybe one or two. But yeah, it's been been great. A lot of good reception.

Jonathan: I noticed J dot coin is still available, so

Luke: Yes, it is.

Jonathan: Cool. Well what do you, what do you imagine is next?

Luke: Well, we've got a roadmap from here, which is up on our website, but the kind of, the strategy from here, 'cause we just launched with these premium names, is we're working toward launching with free names, which, I mean, there's no reason that we couldn't have launched with that initially, but we felt like that would, it would only be really accessible to people who were already on QoS anyway at this point. So we wanted to do more in the lead up to that where we made it. So people who've never even heard of Coin Os don't hold any coin, maybe don't even have a wallet set up, can still come in and get a name and then use it to actually use other DAPs for free. So we want there to be, you know, a game or two on the blockchain ideally, and some things that you can actually do, because we're gonna use our manna to let you get the name for free, but then by having the name, we're also gonna give you manna to go spend wherever you want. So if there's other applications that you can go play with now, that's a great entry point into blockchain because now you can do things without ever holding a token. And that's pretty cool to us. So that's kind of the, the idea.

Jonathan: And that was one of the big attractions that you had toward conus in the first place, right? Like

Luke: Exactly, yeah. That's why I got involved. Well, I mean that and I, I knew one of the, the founders from college, but that helps.

Jonathan: Cool. So what about other projects? Are you working on other things or is this your focus for the time being? This

Luke: Is definitely my focus for the time being. I have a handful of other projects I'd like to get to, but this is gonna be it for the rest of the year and into next year. I've got a lot of things to be working on here, and then plan is to decentralize this app next year. So to do that we're gonna be launching a token, issuing it to people who've bought names and then basically handing over control of whether the contracts can be upgraded, what we can do with the protocol to the people who hold the token. So everything is gonna be vote based at that point instead of just, you know, we have the power.

Jonathan: Wild. Well it's, it's, it's funny talking about crypto right now. It's been, it's been sort of a, a bit of a winter, but yeah, it has, but in spite of that, you still had a, a launch that was like four x more successful. Yeah,

Luke: Yeah. That's been, it was pretty exciting. Yeah. And, and honestly, I think that the, the winter aspect of it is kind of a good thing for us because we launched and we're accepting coin and so that $39,000 is like 70,000 coin. And so, you know, obviously we're, we're speculating on this token and expecting that it will go up in value over the next few years. Not financial advice.

Jonathan: Right.

Luke: So, I mean, as long as we can hold onto that, use the manna to power people's usage of the blockchain and you know, at the same time potentially be taking profits along the way, you know that $39,000 could be a lot more later if we're Right.

Jonathan: Right. 'cause it's not in dollars.

Luke: Right. And, and you could also be wrong, right. There's always a, a risk aspect to speculation, but Sure, yeah. We can still extract economic value by giving away the manna without really worrying about whether we're right or wrong. And then if we are right, we can take some cash off the table.

Jonathan: Right. Yeah. Wild. Well, dear listener, don't be confused by the, the manna and the coin and all of that. Like the, the, the takeaway here is, you know, if you wanna have a big launch, have a podcast and a mailing list for a couple years,

Luke: You know,

Jonathan: Yeah. It, it comes back around and it's fun. It's like fun to do that stuff like research that you get to meet people, interviewing them on a podcast. And it's a, it's a fun way to spend time that, that if you do successfully build trust with an audience and you, you know, bring them something that they want, there's some demand for what do you know, they pull out their wallet, digital or otherwise and are like, chip in.

Luke: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Jonathan: Cool. Okay, well, you know, just a quick episode to give people a particular story of building this sort of trust and authority through daily and weekly publishing and it's a nice little success story.

Luke: Thank you.

Jonathan: Yeah, thanks for coming on Luke.

Luke: Absolutely.

Jonathan: Where's the best place for people to go if they want to, you know, find out more, maybe get their dot coin?

Luke: Yeah, yeah. Easiest place is probably just to go to luke I don't have to spell that. And you can find links to Cap and to the Coin press, which is my, my mailing list and podcast. And everything else I'm doing is over there as well.

Jonathan: Cool. Thanks again.

Luke: Great. Thanks Jonathan.

Jonathan: Alright, folks, that's it for this week. I'm Jonathan Stark and I hope you join me again next time for Ditching Hourly. Bye.

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Jonathan Stark
Jonathan Stark
The Ditching Hourly Guy • Author of Hourly Billing Is Nuts • Former software developer on a mission to rid the world of hourly building