Part One: Marketing and How “Fortune Favors the Bold.” (My Bitcoin Startup, Launch minus 5 days)

This is a series of posts from now until the launch of my service in 5 days.

For HNers, skip to the bottom to see the after-4-hours Marketing Results of this specific post.

Here on the Bitcoin Bulletin, I used to (back in 2011) interview  various “Traders” of Bitcoin.  Well, 5 days ago, I decided that I, too, would become one of those traders — after all of these years.  This is a story of entrepreneurship in action.

These posts (seven total) will also have the novelty of the Bitcoin community [such as: fighting the distractions of {teammate's obsession with fluctuating prices}, {paranoia about security}, {negative press about Bitcoin which de-motivates teammates}, and more); a Reward; the ultimate payoff of seeing things unfold on launch day; and the opportunity to help a fellow HNer.

Disclaimer:  Obviously, egotistical/self-aggrandizing heads up.  Note: This isn't easy for me, and it's the first time I've ever shamelessly promoted any project, regardless of its completion-status. Long time HNer here - I hope that some of you can offer feedback on the 16th of this month.

Good intentions: the service is being launched in 5 days and will be a part of a not-for-profit LLC -- with the aspirations of EFF, Fight For the Future. If you have other, immediate concerns about how donations will potentially be spent ~ you can do one of two things: direct a question at @spencenow or two, see the results of me haphazardly trying to answer this question here, on Reddit..   Today I filed for my EIN. Tomorrow I meet with a Tax Attorney/Consultant and seal the deal on that.

tldr; - I'm launching a web service on Decemeber 16th (happens to be Bitcoin related).  This post is a small part of something I promised myself I'd do: market the idea, ceaselessly.  I'm half-way between idea and launch. I also have invested some personal savings. I'm all in, and the lead developer.

The Reward: If enough attention is garnered: I will lift the stealth-status off my project before it's launched: for the HN community.

@spencenow - @bitcoinbulletin

Posts-schedule [*Marketing (12-10), Workflow/Tools (12-11), Distractions/Hacks (12-12), Team (12-13), Passion/History/Mission (12-14), Sneak-Peek/Feedback (12-15), Fav. Books & Launching! (12-16)], A Look Back at Launch (12-17) – I will listen to feedback on this series.

Part I. – Pulling out all of the stops.

tldr; – confidence is key.

“Do it, and say you did.” – mentor/friend [0]
“Don’t be nice. [We don't care about being polite.]” – Paul Graham told my friend/entr. this past summer. [1]

Story/narrative:

I promised myself (immediately) last week, when the idea popped into my head, that – for the first time — this project would be marketed.  I’ve been a part of many, many side-projects. All of their shortcomings had to do with the lack of marketing.

1. For once, there would be an honest effort on my part to message; brand, etc., the idea. [2]
2. For once –> I’d bring other people on board to make 1. add value, 2. add accountability. [3]

I have to rise above the fear of scrutiny.  An introverted developer–I have always been too unsure of my ‘skills’ and have never wanted them to be judged.

I have a massive chip on my shoulder.  I always get in my own head.  Here’s my voice:  “You don’t have an Ivy League pedigree.”  “You taught yourself to code–you’re a BA in History (bad student).”  “You’ll simply be humbled (and quieted) every time you poke your head up–as before.

Many of my friends went to elite schools.  A friend of mine just got back from Ycombinator (can give proof to verify, if necessary).

Yet, somehow, I have thought about this project differently. 

The key, I believe, was a compressed deadline.  The service, happens to potentially benefit from the Christmas holidays.  20 days seemed like ~just~ enough time to get it all ready for the Season.

The urgency of the timing caused me to drop/quit my current occupation.

I also convinced a few of my friends to join this venture. It turns out it will not be a business after all, but a not-for-profit.

– in keeping with [0] – I’ve done everything I can on this post to make it succeed, and it didn’t in the timeframe I allowed for it.  So I am back to developing the service, and will try again tomorrow!  :)  Thanks for reading.  You may follow me or this blog at @BitcoinBulletin or @spencenow

Marketing Results: (first 4-hours)

Analytics:  16 total visits.  (It’s only up from here, right?!)

Comments:  Total of 1 real comment, on the Bitcoin subreddit.

Context,extras: no gamed upvotes, spur of the moment.

Here are all related links:

Title: Half way through a 10-day Sprint. Series: Part I. Marketing (Go for it)

Link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6879555

Title: Help needed. Starting an actual Not-For-Profit/Bitcoin advocacy organization.

Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1sjarg/help_needed_starting_an_actual/

Title: (xpost – r/startups) The story of a (failing) viral marketing idea, which is unfolding in real time. Am a developer/entrepreneur who is filing a not-for-profit and launching in 6 days.

Link:  http://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/comments/1sjccn/xpost_rstartups_the_story_of_a_failing_viral/

Title: Fortune Favors the Bold: the story of a (failing) viral marketing idea, which is unfolding in real time. Help would be appreciated.

Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/startups/comments/1sjbv8/fortune_favors_the_bold_the_story_of_a_failing/

That’s all!  I’m not discouraged at all; this is a good idea because it got out in public, and was executed.   :D  The Marketing Playbook will be made a part of the “Day After” Launch post.

[0] – relevant because I literally had this idea for a series less than an hour ago.  “Fortune favours the brave”
[1] – My friend and his co. had to go through several interviews — in which Paul thought they were: “too nice.” :)
[2] – not including, of course – the low hanging fruit – such as simply making a post.
[3] – [More on lessons-learned by a noob on team-leadership that in Part Two of this series.]

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The Bulletin, an Announcement

Hello fellow Bitcoiners!

Major things are afoot here at the Bulletin. Ten days from now (December 16th), I will be launching a free Bitcoin-service that will be in (desperate) need of your feedback! :)

It’s been a long-time coming. I’ll be announcing its debut and details @BitcoinBulletin on the 16th, so get ready to check it out and (hopefully) spread the word if you like what you see!

Trust me. This one’s for us.

And Happy Holidays!
- Spencer

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Today on BTC: eBay Talks Bitcoin, Rentalutions Enables BTC Rent Payments and The Fed Looks into Legality of BTC Political Donations

eBay Talks Bitcoin

Speculation about eBay’s take on Bitcoin went wild yesterday, as this video was posted on the eBay deals website. Further investigation into the history of the post indicates that the video was put up some time ago, but made public only recently. No official statement about whether eBay might accept Bitcoin in the future has been made, and the video makes no implications either way.

PapPal, which is owned by eBay, has a history of shutting down accounts for BTC related transactions, but many in the Bitcoin community are taking this video as a sign that both eBay and PayPal may be updating their policies.

eBay also added virtual currencies to their list of coins and paper money (scroll right to the bottom) with some individuals now selling Bitcoin on eBay.

Sellers of BTC on eBay

Selling of BTC on eBay


Rentalutions Enables Rent Payments with Bitcoin

You can buy and sell Bitcoin on eBay, and now, you can pay your rent in BTC through Rentalution Property management in Chicago. This development has not been publicized on their website, but as reported by Payment Week, renters can make their payments in BTC by requesting to make a payment in the currency. Renalutions then send an invoice through CoinBase to collect the rent.

If your landlord is a Rentalutions customer, there is a 3% fee, if not, they will mail your landlord a check, and charge 5%. The company is working to eliminate these fees.

Fed Investigates Legality of Political Campaigns Accepting Bitcoin

Surprisingly soon after the Fed began investigating regulation of BTC, is has also been asked to look into the legality of individuals donating to political campaigns in Bitcoin. Attorneys for Conservative Action Fund PAC have asked if their candidates are allowed to accept donations in the currency.

Political parties in Canada and Europe have started to accept Bitcoin Donations, and whilst the request may have been unexpected, political pundits debating the topic on CNBC last night, concerned with the potential anonymity of Bitcoin donations.

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Today on BTC: Manila and Buenos Aires to Host First BTC Events in Asia and LatAm, Bitcoin LiveBets Launches and iPhone Google Authenticator Users Beware

South America and Asia to Have First Bitcoin Events

LaBITconf, will be held in Buenos Aires in December of this year, and Bitcoinvention Asia, in Manila in February of 2014. Both events will be the first in each of their regions, and promise to bring a wider awareness to their respective local Bitcoin communities.

Bitcoinvention has announced that it is inviting speakers to apply for some free slots – anyone wanting to speak at the event about the future of Bitcoin and its presence in the Asian market can apply to the conference on the site.

Bitcoinvention Coming to Manila in 2014

Bitcoinvention Coming to Manila in 2014


Google Authenticator Update Causes iPhone Users To Lose Keys

The Google Authenticator update for iPhone has caused many Bitcoiners to lose their Bitcoin keys – if you have an iPhone with Authenticator, don’t update!

BitcoinLiveBets Launches

BitcoinLiveBets is in it’s last beta stage and ready to take live BTC bets – the latest Bitcoin betting site will allow live bets on a wide variety of sports, including Soccer, Handball, Aussie rules and Ice Hockey.

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Today on BTC: Cyprus Embraces the Bitcoin, BitcoinFoundation Goes to the Polls and Canadian Political Party Endorses BTC

 Bitcoin Foundation Goes to the Polls

The Bitcoin Foundation began election voting for 2 new seats on the board yesterday. Members of Bitcoin Foundation before 23rd August will be able to vote on candidates for an extra seat for one Individual and one Industry Member representative.

There are 14 candidates for the Individual seat, including Elizabeth T. Ploshay, Communications Manager for Bitcoin Magazine, who previously served Chief Deputy Majority Whip, Congressman Peter J. Roskam (IL-06) as a Scheduler and Middle Eastern Policy Adviser and Jorge Platzer, co-founder of the Crypto Economics Consulting Group, and operator of ROOM77 – a bar and restaurant in Berlin’s Bitcoin stronghold, Kreuzberg – which is thought to be the first physical business in the world to accept Bitcoin. We loved the propaganda materials for Jorge’s campaign:

Jorge Platzer's Bitcoin Foundation Campaign Materials

Jorge Platzer’s Bitcoin Foundation Campaign Materials

 

For the Industry seat, there are 7 candidates, including Jaron Lukasiewicz, founder of Coinsetter, and Founder and Meyer (Micky) Malka, General Partner of Ribbit Capital, a VC firm focused on innovation in finance.

The first round of voting will be completed this week, and the second will commence on September 16. Voting is being supported by Election Buddy.

Cypriots Embrace the Bitcoin

A Cypriot Bitcoin Network, ONOΩN Network, was announced yesterday by a poster on Reddit, as a response, and possible solution to economic difficulty in the country. The network will call on individuals and businesses to embrace and use the Bitcoin – exchanging their Euros and other Fiat currency to develop a community where “people can connect, exchange goods and services, find jobs, start a new business without a central authority intermediating”.

Euros are scarce and expensive in Cyprus currently, making day to day living increasingly difficult in Cyprus. If the wide adoption of Bitcoin can help ease this pain, it would be beneficial for both the Bitcoin Community, and for Cyprus.

Bitcoin Endorsed (and Accepted) by Canadian Libertarian Party

The Canadian Libertarian Party has announced that it will be accepting Bitcoin donations moving forwards, and that “accepting donations in Bitcoin (BTC) is a right move to support the cause of minimum government”. The party, which stands for minimum government, spoke out against quantitative easing, as “the worst way in which a government can make money”, and endorsed the Bitcoin as a way of avoiding this phenomenon.

 

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Exchange Update: BitStamp Reaches $119, Mt.Gox’s Difficulties Continue, and CoinBase Impresses Customers

BitStamp price reached $119 this morning, for the second time in 60 days, while the Mt.Gox price stayed around $129.

BitStamp Surpasses $118

BitStamp Surpasses $118

Mt.Gox’s difficulties continue, users have been told that Fiat currency withdrawals may only be completed manually if users want their money in FIat , with a 5% charge applied to all transactions.

Mt.Gox 5% manual transaction fee for manual withdrawals

Mt.Gox 5% manual transaction fee for manual withdrawals

CoinBase, on the other hand, has impressed customers who were previously experiencing difficulties, by allowing them to purchase BTC at the price of BTC when their original transaction was unsuccessful.

 

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Prominent Seattle Law Firm Hires Crypto Experts

On Bitcoin reported yesterday that Seattle based law firm, Riddell Williams, has hired two leading Bitcoin legal professionals to head up their new Payments Practice Area, which will specialise in offering legal services to Bitcoin companies.

Daniel S. Friedberg, who has spoken at prominent  Bitcoin events, been quoted by Fox Business and Business Insider, published articles on the Bitcoin Foundation Blog, and penned many other Bitcoin articles, will co-lead the team with Ryan J. Straus. Straus has also spoken at Bitcoin events, and has been quoted in American Banker and The Hill’s Regulation Blog.

Straus stated in his interview with On Bitcoin that “Riddell Williams understand the importance of this emerging payment system,” and welcomed the recent regulatory attention received by Bitcoin, “Regulation of financial services business is inevitable and expected. We generally view the regulatory developments as positive steps towards acceptance. It is far better that we are moving towards a regime of regulation than prohibition,”

Riddell Williams Forms Payments Team Focused on Bitcion

Riddell Williams Forms Payments Team Focused on Bitcion

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TradeHill and IAFCU Cease Bitcoin Services

Just a few days after their partnership hit the news, TradeHill has announced that it will no longer be doing business with IAFCU, because of “operational and regulatory issues”. TradeHill reported that it is also ceasing its Bitcoin services at this time, though they are still hoping to resolve any issues, and restart in the future. Their full response to our information request is below.

IAFCU, meanwhile, posted on their blog that they would also be ceasing Bitcoin services, stating that:

“Starting three months ago we have enjoyed serving some individuals and companies involved in bitcoin that are within our field of membership.   While exciting, this has also been during a period of increased interest from the press, regulators, and other financial services entities that make up the financial community… Until we have further clarity, we are unable to service some of our corporate members.”

Both companies intend to resume services, as soon as possible.

“The e-mail to which you are referring is legitimate. Last night we sent out correspondence informing our clients of an unfortunate decision: Tradehill has temporarily suspended trading due to banking and regulatory issues. This decision was not made lightly and we regret having to take such action. However, we are taking this opportunity to upgrade, improve, and polish our trading platform.

We are also in the unfortunate position of having to end our developing relationship with IAFCU due to IAFCU having operational and regulatory issues. Both Tradehill and IAFCU were excited about this relationship and we both regret this unfortunate outcome. Tradehill’s integration with IAFCU allowed for clients to buy Bitcoin with a balance in an account with their own name. This allowed clients to trade Bitcoin with funds that were stored in a federally insured institution.

Though we have temporarily suspended trading activity for the time being, we are continuing with previously planned development of our trading platform to provide an improved experience, as well as additional planned products. We are also consulting with regulators to define the most appropriate licensing strategy for our current, and future, business practices. Tradehill is actively engaging with banks and regulators to continue development of best practices for Bitcoin regulation and compliance.

Thanks again for reaching out. I hope this answers some questions for you and your readers.

Sincerely,

Robin Kunimune

Public Relations Manager

TradeHill”

 

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Today on BTC: Regulator Meeting was a “Smashing Success” and Bitcoin gets its First ATM

“A Smashing Success”: Bitcoin Foundation’s Marco Santori on Regulator Meeting

The Bitcoin Foundation’s Regulatory Affairs Committee Chairman, Marco Santori, declared Monday’s regulator meeting a “smashing success”, after a full day of discussions and presentations to high level US Government executives. Those present included FinSec, IRS, FDIC, Federal Reserve, OCC, FBI, DEA, Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security.

The meeting covered Bitcoin as a protocol, a currency, enforcement and investigation of Bitcoin, and regulation challenges. Santori reported that he personally “hit some points very hard”, like how current regulation is putting businesses off of launching in the US currently.

Regardless of the outcomes of this, and inevitable subsequent meetings that the Bitcoin Foundation may be invited to – Santori confirmed in a later post the the Foundation was asked, not required to meet regulators – it is reassuring that voices from the Bitcoin community are being heard.

RoboCoin’s First Bitcoin ATM

The first BTC ATM: on sale for $18,500

The first BTC ATM: on sale for $18,500

RoboCoin’s first BTC ATM is available for pre-order, delivery is expected in Fall 2013. The machine boasts biometric identity verification, the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin for cash, create wallets on the spot, and a dedicated barcode reader.

Businesses are being invited to pre-order the ATM for their premises for $18,500 (the usual price will be $20,000) – hosting businesses will receive a total of 2% of BTC to cash transactions, and 5% of cash to BTC transactions. Anyone with a shop and interest can preorder from RoboCoin.

Bitcoin Vancouver to Host CoinFest Event, September 7th

Bitcoin Vancouver is to host a 150 person meetup at Waves Coffee House (which of course accepts BTC) to celebrate their successes in making Bitcoin Vancouver the biggest BTC meetup in Canada, and in convincing a number of local businesses to accept Bitcoin. The event will feature a mining demo, and live music, funded by BTC tips. The event is also taking BTC donations, 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the Bitcoin Outreach fund.

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Today on BTC: Bitcoin Makes the Dictionary, Bitcoin gets Credit Union Support and eGifter Takes BTC Plunge

Bitcoin Makes the Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary has officially added “Bitcoin” to the online dictionary, alongside “selfie” and “twerking”.

Bitcoin is defined as ‘a digital currency that does not require a bank’.

Credit Union Partners with Bitcoin Exchange Platform

TradeHill, the Bitcoin exchange aimed at professional Investors, Businesses and Governments, has formed a partnership with The Internet Archive Credit Union, who have a history of taking on Bitcoin Business clients, who are having trouble with their own banks.

The IAFCU, based out of New Jersey, began taking on Bitcoin clients earlier this year, after a number of services had their account shut down by other banks. The partnership with TradeHill is another move by the IAFCU that lends legitimacy to the Bitcoin movement, and opens further discussions on the dealings of other banks with Bitcoin users and businesses.

News From Inside the Regulators Meeting

The Washington Post spoke with Bitcoin representatives and other experts who attended the meeting with regulators on Monday. The Washington Post’s Brian Fung spoke with Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, who said that attendees of the meeting were concerned about the use of Bitcoin for ‘illicit purposes’, and that the Bitcoin Foundation tried to stress that Bitcoin is actually less useful for those purposes than centralized currencies.

Brian Fung also reported that while the core concern of the meeting was focused on Bitcoin’s use for crime, the discussion also reached the opportunity for business and entrepreneurship that Bitcoin offers.

eGifter Accepts Bitcoin Through CoinBase

Bitcoin’s gift card opportunities widened yesterday, with the announcement by eGifter that they will begin accepting Bitcoin – alongside Gyft’s Bitcoin acceptance, you can now use Bitcoin with most major retailers and services, albeit through a rather convoluted transaction process currently.  

eGifter accepts Bitcoin

eGifter accepts Bitcoin

 

 

 

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