Kerman Kohli
Kerman Kohli
Crypto Startup Growth: BD, Conferences & Community Building

Crypto Startup Growth: BD, Conferences & Community Building

A conversation with Jenil Thakkar on building and growing Coinvise

Recently I spoke with Jenil Thakkar from Coinvise on how they’ve thought about building the product and utilising different growth channels as a project and for the projects they’re working with.

This is a raw conversation with minimal editing or promotion. It’s meant to be for builders that want to learn how other builders are approaching growth in the wild west of crypto. I’m going to be hosting more of these conversations with other talented founders so if you know of any or would like to be featured, drop me a message and I’m happy to chat!

The focus is strictly around product, growth and building in the trenches. From 10:44 we go deeper into some of the more detailed challenges around growth,.

00:00:00 - Speaker 1

Would love to learn a bit more about like what Coinvise is and what you guys are doing at the moment.

00:00:06 - Speaker 2

Yeah, sure thing. So for those who don't know, Coin Wise started out as a platform where anyone can use our no Code tools to mint a token that would. This was an ERC 20 token, so there's typically the token you would see communities, Mint or artists or creators with Mint.We saw some examples with FWB, BanklessDAO, many others that were either started off as a product or started off as just a social club and they created the token which ended up being used as a membership into the community or redistributing some kind of economic value out to the people that were in it. So yeah, Coinvise was mostly used by people for minting tokens for their community.

00:00:54 - Speaker 2

And distributing them using AirDrop. So over like the last two years, I think what stuck out the most was being able to distribute tokens for certain meaningful activity or qualitative forms of contribution. So now what we're focusing on is like what are some a forms of contribution that are meaningful, that engage like the community in a meaningful way.And how can coin wise be helpful in distributing different forms of ownership or patronage, whether it's tokens, whether it's NF T's for those qualitative actions? So yeah, we're now highly, highly focused on any community or any Web 3 project being able to essentially distribute free NF T's if they don't have a token. Many projects today.

00:01:47 - Speaker 2

Don't really have a token, so for them it might make sense to distribute Nfts or maintain FTS either for free or at a particular price. We've seen some examples here like Open Editions drops, but yeah you can create that with Nfts or tokens on point wise and distribute them for certain activities. So what this will do is it'll create a claim page and it'll have certain requirements that you can program so and again this is all no code so you can say that you must vote on snapshot.Or you must, let's say, contribute in the app in a certain way. You can even build your own action. I think we have like about 10 to 15 actions that you can select from. So we've integrated with sound XYZ. If you're a music artist, we've integrated with mirror. If you write your newsletter on Mirror, so an example there could be if you collect the Mirror entry, you're eligible for a ward.

00:02:41 - Speaker 2

And this is essentially like programming certain incentives into existing behavior and I think that's really powerful. That's what that three stands for. So yeah, we're really focused on building high quality campaigns where you can distribute tokens or entities for doing certain actions. Again, by default this is preventing bots or any kind of spam behavior we have like.Built in ways where we protect the campaign from those kinds of activities. But yeah, this is a great way to engage your community, incentivize people to do certain meaningful behavior.

00:03:18 - Speaker 1

Sure. So I want to expand a bit more on like meaningful contributions because like one thing I see consistently is just like basically AirDrop farming at scale and like.Yeah, I feel like if I now know, OK, if I vote, I'm going to vote in Snapchat because I know that's criteria. I know I'm going to collect this thing on mirror cuz I know that's a criteria. So how do you like actually get high quality qualitative signals when you have a lot of people that will do anything cuz the reward life changing.

00:03:49 - Speaker 2

A lot of these are like one of the things that stood out to me when I was doing user interviews was like, you know how?Most creators or most projects, even Gauss, I think the lines are blurred there. But they were like recurring ways. They were dropping Nfts. So if you look at like a bunch of these newer mechanisms for creating revenue, like the best way to do that is again like instead of doing a large crowd fund. What we're seeing now is like a lot of people using NFTS as a mechanism to create content.

00:04:22 - Speaker 2

And that content can then be collected and owned by the community which then gives them access to the community. So in this kind of a campaign the the drop itself, let's say the requirement is collect this entry on mirror that might itself be priced let's say at .18 or or some kind of a gateway. So that itself like I think gates a majority of the farmers. It requires some kind of commitment to the.

00:04:50 - Speaker 2

Person itself or the project itself in in other ways. You can also say that you must at least hold let's say 75 bank tokens or you could say you must hold this NFT from the past to be eligible. So you can custom create these like white lists based on your own criteria and essentially like target a specific audience as opposed to going quite broad. And obviously you can go as broad as you'd like, that's totally up to you.But we want to give you the option that if you wanted to, you can curate it to a specific audience and then like just have them be on the allow list and then only those people can can get access to it. And qualitative like contribution is like different for different people, which is why we are building these integrations with platforms. So that we can be like, OK, let's talk to let's say mirror or juice box and be like, OK, what is like the one activity that people find really, really meaningful?

00:05:48 - Speaker 2

Now we're talking to Gitcoin. What is the one activity on Gitcoin that's meaningful? So if you can't create this marketplace of actions, you can essentially build like a interoperable, you know way where instead of like your end audience hopping from one platform to another, there's some incentive to do that now and it's a bit more fun to do it. So I think that's quite powerful.

00:06:11 - Speaker 1

Right. So like give me something like, really tangible of like say I'm in you like. I see 10K PFP project spinning up like and I'm trying to cure this new community for like adorable cats on chain. Like what levers do I have and how do I filter out the hordes of people that are here to like basically like make a quick bug like what what is that like really tangible user flow look like? Because I might have a snapshot thing. I have my website and maybe got things I can do but.

00:06:43 - Speaker 1

I now have anything I post on Discord. I know it's gonna have like a ton of people doing that thing because they know this equal wireless allocation.

00:06:53 - Speaker 2

Yeah, exactly. So in that case, like we've had a lot of requests for that. What we've seen is like people have created a requirement that you must go and mint to this or collect this NFT from Open Sea If it's Zora, you can do Zora depending on whatever platform you you choose and you can set any reward. So sometimes it's.Tokens. Let's say it's like you can even reward like just for the just for the fun of it. You can just say you get some like ape tokens. Or you can literally like attack like or have like a specific audience where you can say that if you are a crypto punk owner or if you are a board ape owner only you're eligible to do it and that's it. Nobody else.

00:07:38 - Speaker 2

Or you could like just flip it and you can be like, you know what anybody that collects this NFT and Open C is now eligible to earn, let's say 28 or is eligible to earn like let's say 50US DC, depending on what you like. I mean, it could also be like an E RC20 token that represents your community. So that's a good way to like share a stake. So that way you can get early adopters for your project and they they have some governance power or some kind of.Seat at the table when they start out at the outset. So I think that's really cool and I think that's what a lot of these people did even before coin wise. Now we're just sort of automating that workflow.

00:08:19 - Speaker 1

We're sure for sure. And like where have you seen kind of like what sort of projects like find this the most useful or like where have you seen kind of like demand for this the most?

00:08:30 - Speaker 2

Yeah, I think this is quite useful for a like projects in general, like the three projects. So the three companies, early stage companies that are just starting out for them the this is quite useful because you can have specific actions, let's say you're a D5 project or let's say you're a social app, you can have certain activities directly on your platform that can be incentivized and have a reward attached to it.So a good example of this is what Blur dot io did. If you wanted to do something similar to blur where you wanted to distribute any kind of reward whether it's a token or an NFT for doing certain action specific to your app that's meaningful to you. I think you can literally like use that, use coin wise for that and I think that's that will otherwise take a lot of engineering time and and orchestration and and this would make it really, really simple.

00:09:21 - Speaker 2

So this is ideal for web three projects today if they're starting out because there's way too many of them and there's it's quite difficult to like get off the ground. So for them this is like a really good go to market like in crypto we say this is like the first year for any project is when you see the highest amount of traction. So you want to sort of almost capitalize on the early like sort of visibility you have as a project when you're starting out and.That's like extremely short window you have to capitalize because if you miss that, it's like really hard to come back from it and I think you probably know it better than anybody else so.

00:09:58 - Speaker 1

Completely. It's so.

00:09:59 - Speaker 2

When you're starting out, it's like absolutely important for you to like get that first three months after launch, right, because people will forget about you quite like as fast as you launched. So I think like.For them, this is something like This is quite ideal for other communities like NFT communities, for communities that are looking to do recurring drops, whether they're free or whether they're priced. I think for them that might this might something like this might be useful. For I guess dows like Maker DAO, Uniswap, this might be useful because they're heavily invested in governance. For music, artists might be useful because they're dropping music on sound catalog if they can incentivize that.

00:10:42 - Speaker 2

So yeah, I guess these are some.

00:10:44 - Speaker 1

Sure. So like some of the really like hard tactical challenges like building Coinvise that like I guess nobody told you about or you weren't really warned of, like from the information you found online and I guess speaking to other people when you started the journey.

00:11:02 - Speaker 2

Yeah, I guess like if you are the first like.Again, like the when you're starting out, it's highly experimental. We are they're trying to like validate you have a thesis in your mind and you're trying to validate that, but the way like things move quite fast. There's always like a new concept like a good example of this is like 3 months ago we didn't have a lot of projects or even further back we didn't have a lot of projects do open additions, but now every almost every project that I talked to wants to do open additions.So there's always like new mechanisms, new ways of like using existing currencies or existing like assets and and using them to like drive value. So that's going to change really, really fast. So if you're a project that's like either building for doubt holding or a consumer facing product, a like you need to have a lot of patience and conviction to what you're building and B like you have to be open to experimenting because.

00:12:01 - Speaker 2

Things can quite change and understanding and having a good like insight on what's going on in the market and how your product stands there, I think that's really important. Like even today like what's being like evaluated for most projects is like how many users or like recurring users you have or how is the platform making money. And I think that's that's a good way to just understand like what the health of your company is and like how are you does that like?You know stand today, So what you built in 2021 or what coin wise built in 2021, does that still like that's still useful in 2023. So I think understanding that talking to your users building like a strong community that should never stop and I think that's it's like an iterative process as long as you're open to that, I think yeah you just have to yeah continue doing that.

00:12:55 - Speaker 1

And how have you thought about like the growth of like coin buys business like?Even it's more B2B1, have you thought about the sales process like business development, like partnerships, marketing, like when you think about growth, like what are the key levers you see and then like how have you thought about approaching each one of those?

00:13:14 - Speaker 2

Yeah. So partnerships is really like has been like a big way for us to like almost like build Legos or get access to a like it's like expanding your funnel.So if you partner off with a platform that's complementary to you, that might expand like the scope of your project quite a bit. Because there's like a small amount of users today that are in crypto and even smaller for your specific audience, right? But the value here is like if you have like a small amount of people that are highly passionate about your project.

00:13:49 - Speaker 2

I think that itself is like really crucial in a bear market. So what you want to do is like a like partnerships with platforms that are absolutely complementary to you. If you haven't worked together you should already be find ways to work together. There's probably ways where you know that might be might end up being like useful for the end consumer. So I think that's quite useful one-on-one outreach is great, but if you can find like a concentration of users that is.

00:14:19 - Speaker 2

Like found in a specific Dow or specific incubator or or some kind of a way where you can have a like sustainable value capture. I think that's useful to a good example of that is like for some projects the value capture comes from like larger enterprise users or larger consumer brands so like companies like Spotify or like companies like just larger companies they bring a value capture in crypto.The value capture could come from ecosystems. So if like let's say you directly work with Arbitram or directly work with optimism, that's your value capture. So if there's a specific ecosystem that's big enough that you can start working from, I think that's a great way to get started. So let's say you're building something super specific for Aave. or super specific for, let's say, I don't know, some kind of an ecosystem that's big enough for you to build something that ends up being your value capture and then you then you expand from there. So like.

00:15:15 - Speaker 2

If I was like you or if I was like some kind of a platform like identify a like what kind of ecosystems play are ideal for your market. Go contact them and see like OK this is what we have built. Is this at all useful to you? And I think they might end up being like your biggest user and scaling from there is like quite easy but like that initial push to like find those like first one or two users which and which are like super large ecosystems.Like a lot of platforms I know they are almost entirely dependent on projects from Polygon or projects from like let's say Avalanche, just because they have a really strong relationship with them. So there are like ways where you can find a concentration of your end users and like working or finding a sustainable way to reach out to them and work with them natively and making them making it better and better in terms of UX and brand if you continuously work towards it.

00:16:09 - Speaker 2

I think that's a good strategy to at least start out at the outset and then you can like have a partnerships, BD and like a whole process.

00:16:18 - Speaker 1

Yeah, sure. And have you thought about building those relationships with those ecosystems initially? Cuz of course the ecosystems get a lot of projects reaching out to them, so.

00:16:27 - Speaker 2

A ton of projects. So then it's almost like.There's there's this one thing that that nobody likes to talk about as luck. Like if you're if you're lucky you'll you might you might get there. But like if they'll talk about the rest of it, which is like again like this is a bit more context dependent on like what the project is like if they're building like a generic project that they get like 100 proposals for every day, then you're probably not gonna get selected.

00:16:54 - Speaker 2

But if you have like maybe like again, like we were just talking about this, like if you were at a conference, like if you reach out to them and if you talk to them that here we're building this and like maybe follow up with them, get coffee with them, whatever. Like there are, there are people at the end of the day like if you can find ways to like get in touch with their team and build a strong relationship even though like they there might be 10 other projects that do the same thing. If you have a strong relationship with them and if they trust you, I think that goes a long way and that might actually end up working for you.So it's like if you can build like a trusted brand or or or like a relationship with them, maybe e-mail them. But like this may or may not work for a lot of them. But if you have a genuine approach, if you're unique enough, maybe you get, I mean the worst thing happens is they say no, but you at least get feedback and nobody's stopping you. It's like an open ground. You just make a really good proposal like about what you're building that you post that and.

00:17:51 - Speaker 2

They might ignore it if it's like not useful to them, but at least that's good feedback for you. And if you think it's useful enough then you can maybe even e-mail them. You can ask your friends, you can DM them on Twitter. There's multiple ways you can approach this, but what I've found useful, I mean again this is highly like luck dependent. If you know like friends who work there, maybe maybe try and get in touch with them, maybe like become an active user. So I've also seen people like becoming pro users.

00:18:19 - Speaker 2

Of a specific ecosystems. And that's a good way to get in touch with them because now you're like contributing value to them and that's a good way to start a relationship. It's like to give first. Yeah. So I guess like there's multiple ways you can, you know, find ways to get in touch.

00:18:36 - Speaker 1

Yeah, on the conferencing like you've, I mean we've been speaking about like actually traveling to the places where people that you are going to be.

00:18:44 - Speaker 2


00:18:45 - Speaker 1

And physically, just being present, I know. Like it's kind of.Kind of like sexy to say like remote is king and you can do everything online, which you can, but we'd love to maybe hear a bit more about your experience of like actually kind of being where the people are and you kind of like taking on the roles like move physical locations to build proximity. Because I think that's something that isn't talked about enough. Like the common thing is just like ohh like the Internet can do everything like and it can do a lot but face to face interactions.

00:19:16 - Speaker 2

I think like one is like you you can get swayed away when you go to conferences like you need to really like have like a specific. So what I typically do is I work from India most of the time, but I'll I'll travel like a few times a year to like some selected conferences where I know like I can meet person XY&Z. Like I usually make a list of like companies that I want to reach out to and you can you can see if they're going to be there or not.So Eat India is like extremely low hanging food for me because I've worked from India. So Eat India is very close to me. So that's a good way to get in touch. There's other I'm in the US currently, so here I went to Eat Denver. And you'd be surprised like like impromptu, like 2 to 3 minute conversations you have, like even if it's a small talk with people, it goes a long way because you can then follow up, you can schedule meetings. I mean first impressions that you have on them is like quite, you know, they might remember you.

00:20:13 - Speaker 2

Again, like, they meet hundreds of people every day. But I guess if you can, you know, figure out a way to get in touch with somebody who leads partnership in BD, their entire job is to talk to you. Like, literally, they get paid 40 hours a week just so that they could talk to you. So it will be foolish not to reach out to them, right? And that's a good way to, like, kickstart a conversation. So conferences have helped.

00:20:39 - Speaker 2

Again, you need to have like a very specific plan. Like what I tell my friends is like I I get done with conferences in two days. That's it. That's all I need. And then I'm gone. I don't, like, stick around. I don't do other things. That's just not my thing. And I'm kind of now doing like a hybrid, which is like, I'll go to a few conferences that I find like are fun and I can meet people and meet friends and everybody. I'll I'll do that. And I come back to India, work from there, run for them full time.

00:21:07 - Speaker 2

And I think that's a good, like healthy way for me where I can still be like productive and the team can work and we can have like we can pair like an off site right alongside the conference. So you can kill two birds at one stone and everybody has fun. You meet new people, you talk to them, you get a lot of feedback and yeah.

00:21:29 - Speaker 1

Nice. That's really helpful. It's. What do you reckon like the.Biggest mistakes like newer founders make it conferences.

00:21:39 - Speaker 2

They, like, don't go to the wrong side events. Like if you're going to go to conferences and just go to parties and stuff, like there's a lot of that happening. I guess it's easy to get swayed away. But like, I guess that's also fine if you want to, if that's your thing, maybe that's a good way to like, meet people, like it's just having fun.I haven't seen like a, I haven't talked to a lot of founders that have gone but like maybe like an interesting thing is like one like piece of advice that I can give you is like consider really hard before your sponsor because there's lots of opportunities to sponsor certain events. So if you're a founder in that position where you're getting pitched to sponsor certain events, I would be highly selective and who you work with and see like what the value add you're getting out of it.

00:22:33 - Speaker 2

Is because as like any founder, you would get pitched a lot if a conference is happening and if you're going to be there you want to. You still want to partner with companies that are complimentary. You want to cohost conferences. That's a good way to get get your word out there. But again you have to really be mindful about the RI you're getting out of it. Often times it might actually be just be helpful in visiting those side events and not partnering at all and just meeting people and talking to them obviously like.

00:23:01 - Speaker 2

If you're if nobody knows about you, nobody's gonna care. And the default is nobody's going to care. So if you can't find like a platform where you can just be a community partner or even partner up at a reasonable sponsor rate where it might actually be worth it, then maybe consider doing it. And I think that's a good that's like your marketing spend. But again, that's like a.

00:23:26 - Speaker 2

Like the activation you get out of it needs to be really meaningful for you to like do any kind of sponsorship. A lot of ecosystems and a lot of like larger platforms like Zora, there's there's plenty of them, they host conferences, they host like Braves and those are all great. I think that's like a smart move like if they had that that that chance like you should do it because people then like associate you to that brand and.Branding is important. So yeah, I guess that's one like thing that you want to consider if you're.

00:24:03 - Speaker 1

For sure, Cool. And I guess like anything else that you'd like to tell everyone as we kind of wrap up when it comes to like building products or growth in Web 3?

00:24:13 - Speaker 2

I guess not, not really for now. We're like pretty busy like we're trying to launch our next cohort. So we're gonna start actually almost so tomorrow. Our first one goes out to the Ben and Glor. He's a music artist. So yeah, next few months are going to be very busy. We're actively if you're if you want to work with us or if you're building a platform, feel free to reach out. Feel free to message me. I'm happy to help. Again, this like crypto is like evolving pretty it's still extremely like early to say that there's like a rule book or or handbook on like how to build a product good product.

00:24:50 - Speaker 2

I think it's still a very iterative process. Like I don't think the fundamentals change. Whether it's a crypto or non crypto company, you talk to your users as much as possible. If you're not making revenue and it's been like some time like maybe look back and see what's not working. If you're going to pivot, like go all in or don't like have fast that there's plenty of things. But I guess that's just traditionally with any startup. So yeah, try to figure those things out. Those are huge problems. think this is a good time to figure that out.

00:25:21 - Speaker 2


00:25:23 - Speaker 1

Sweet. Well, thanks so much. Yeah, this is a ton of fun. I'm sure this like, definitely people would find this useful.

Kerman Kohli
Kerman Kohli
thinking in systems. data, identity, growth and war stories from being a founder in crypto.