Forbole #6: Rejection, Review


Like most other startups, we have faced a lot of rejections by incubators, accelerators, VCs, advisors, government schemes, etc. Most of the rejections are simply “no response”. A few rejections will state some general reasons such as “there are a lot of applications…”, “we are prioritizing other investments right now…”, “not interested”, or  “we will pass on this investment opportunity” (actually this one is not a reason). But there is one (and only) rejection with a concrete reason which is so beneficial to us, and this has inspired us to review our plan for the next 12 months.

“You guys felt very excited about Cosmos but not as much about your project.”

One of our fatal mistakes was that we have spent too much time talking about Cosmos. Given the duration of the interview is only 15 minutes, we have failed to manage the time efficiently and we have no time to talk about Forbole.

What if we only have 3 minutes? Are we sure we can explain the entire concept of Forbole, which is composed of a blockchain (with staking token “Desmo”) and a social network (with contribution token “Phanero”)?

How to explain we have created an award-winning block explorer “Big Dipper“?

How to explain we are also on Polkadot?

How to explain we have spent quite a lot of effort on Cosmos?

To us, all the above are not optional. We treat them as the building blocks of Forbole. They are all dots that we will connect to become lines when the time has come. Let me explain a bit further:

  • We can transfer all our knowledge (and even the works we have done) in Cosmos to Forbole Blockchain
  • Forbole Blockchain will also need a community of validators and crypto-lovers. We are confident that the relationship we have built with all these Cosmonauts will speed up the development of our own community
  • Learning in the Cosmos community is an efficient way to become a competent blockchain entrepreneur

Still, we understand that these will obscure the visibility of our project. That’s why:

  • We have not scaled our team yet
  • We keep our expenses as low as possible (eg. US205 for a round-trip flight between Hong Kong and Seoul)
  • We raised fund from people who believed in us such that we didn’t need to spend time to persuade skeptics

A year ago, people should not be convinced by us when we only have an idea.

Half a year ago, people started to show some interest when we have made some progress and have come up with a dual-token model.

Three months ago, some more professionals have joined as our angels.

Bear market is the perfect time to show our resilience, tenacity and ability to execute.

Special thanks to that VC who has given us the chance for an interview and provided us with two precise and more importantly actionable comments. We hope that more institutions will provide reasons for rejections to startups such that they can review and improve.

Forbole #5 – BUIDL Seoul 2018

Not a typo. We believe that “BUIDL” will be recognized in Oxford Dictionary, sooner or later. We are excited to join this amazing BUIDL Seoul 2018 organized by KryptoSeoul. Special thanks to Lunamint for inviting us!

BUIDL Seoul Forbole

Korea is a Cosmos-friendly country. We have heard that there are over 10 Cosmos validators in Korea, which I guess is more than the entire Greater China Region. We are glad to be an early team in Hong Kong to join Cosmos community. We look forward to seeing more Cosmonauts in Hong Kong.

BUIDL Seoul Jae Kwon
Jae Kwon, Co-Founder of Cosmos, is talking about rearchitecting the blockchain ecosystem
BUIDL Seoul 03 Harriet Cao
Harriet Cao, Co-Founder of IRIS Network, on the topic “Interchain Service Infrastructure and Protocol for Building NextGen Application Blockchains”
BUIDL Seoul 04 Awa Sun Yin
Awa Sun Yin, Co-Founder of Cryptium Labs, on “Variants of PoS Networks and the Importance of Building a Strong and Engaged Community”

Just like our trip to Global Blockchain Summit in Shanghai two months ago, in Seoul we finally met some comrades, the fellow Cosmonauts we have known for nearly a year. They included Aurel of Dokia Capital, Martin and Henrik of, JayB and David of, Dongsam of B Harvest, Nodebreaker, etc.

Cosmos is such an amazing community that a group of seemingly strangers are working towards a same goal spontaneously. During the second day of the event, we know about the launching of gaia-9002 and hence we started to move and work on that:

BUIDL Seoul 09 Lunamint
Lunamint team
Aurel, Martin and Kafka (Lunamint)
Martin, Henrik and Kwun
Josh (Lunamint) and Kwun
Erica Kang, Founder and CEO of KryptoSeoul
Jae is sharing his journey with us
BUIDL Seoul 06 Lunamint
Peter Yoon, Co-Founder of Lunamint, is presenting their amazing Project Telemint, which is a messenger and payment application built on Cosmos SDK.

The after party was amazing in the sense that we have shown how gaia-9002 was running, live! (Glad to see Big Dipper was useful).

BUIDL Seoul 11 Gaia-9002
Josh is introducing the validators by showcasing their status on Gaia-9002 through Big Dipper.

We met some old friends…

BUIDL Seoul Cosmonauts

… and new friends

BUIDL Seoul Kakao


Seoul Gelato and the Hyperbolic Time Chamber of Cosmos

This was 4pm Nov 30 2018, Seoul time. After fixing Big Dipper for the late live show that night, Kwun and me (Terence) of Forbole, secretly walked out of Le Méridien Seoul, the base of BUIDL Seoul for another mission – searching for gelato.

Kwun on Big Dipper and Gaia-9002
Kwun on Big Dipper and Gaia-9002

But we are spotted by Kafka of Lunamint, one of the most active validators of Cosmos, a sponsor of BUIDL Seoul and a guardian angel for Cosmonauts.

“Where are you going?” Kafka asked.

“Urrrr…” I stammered.

“We are going to have ice cream.” Kwun saved me as always.

“See you guys soon!” Kafka replied.

We disguised him successfully. Ice cream is NOT gelato. We arrived at our target gelato shop and spent an hour there.Seoul Gelato

And this has made all the difference – for that the Gaia-9002 testnet is the Hyperbolic Time Chamber in Cosmos.

Hyperbolic Time Chamber 00
Hyperbolic Time Chamber

In the chamber, the inflation rate of Atoms is 1,000X of the normal level. An hour in the chamber is equivalent to almost a year outside. This is an amazing place for training Cosmonauts to fight in the upcoming Game of Stakes.

Missing some hours in the chamber does matter:

We need to transform to Super Cosmonauts. It’s time to enter the chamber again.

Cosmos is such an amazing community that a group of crazy strangers working together for the same initiative. Bugs and haters are everywhere, and they cannot stop us. Thanks to the amazing Cosmonauts.

The first step of building your network of referrals

Referral implies recommendation. We will only refer opportunities to someone that we endorse and recommend. While we know referral and recommendation about ourselves are important to our career or business, have we done the same to the people we trust?

Imagine, when we have resigned from our job, we would usually request a reference letter from our employer. But have we ever thought of writing a reference letter for our employer? If the answer is no, why? Obviously, it’s because we are not told to do so. And it looks weird to do so as no one else is doing such thing.

But people on Amazon, Taobao or Airbnb are doing this. The sellers and buyers on these platforms are rating and commenting about each other. It’s because these platforms know the importance of this rating system to their success, and hence they have spent considerable effort to design, promote and educate their platform which incentivise the users to provide rating.

If we want to build a network of referral, we need to act proactively to promote the giver mindset. Users need to see the visualized and quantified aspects of how the recommendations and referrals they have made are contributing to the community and how this contributions would become their self-actualization.

FRN - Referral Community
Start your network of referrals by making recommendations

Making quality referrals may need some skills. But making recommendations is rather easy. There are various kinds of connections you can write recommendations for regardless to your level of experiences. So, start to build your network of referral by making recommendations about other people who you want them to succeed.

Bitcoin Freefall

Forbole Newsletter #4 – Award

Nice! We have won a prize in HackAtom3. We have had a wonderful learning experience. The more we know, the more we know what we don’t know. Thank you!

By the way, the prize is USD5,000 equivalent of BTC. Timing is key… …

Bitcoin Freefall

Forbole Newsletter #3 – The Road to Giver

You will become more successful by helping others to succeed. An effective way to achieve this is to help people to seize opportunities. If more people choose to become a giver, a powerful community of givers will arise. This post suggested how this would work.

Whenever there is a community, no matter it is online or offline, there will be some kind of central authority to run it. But central authority tends to corrupt. I have cited a real life example how an offline business community could go wrong and how Forbole would solve this problem.

As we want to build an inclusive and diversified community of givers, the culture of our team should be the same. That’s why we need people who are different from us to join us.

And we are not alone. Institutions are now more concern about diversity. AppWorks is one of them. As a leading accelerator in South East Asia, they are now inviting blockchain/AI startups all over the world to join their next cohort. Diversity matters.

Unsplash Handshake

Referral Network should be Inclusive and Diversified

We have a lot of experiences in offline business organizations. We notice that those organizations are subject to corruption due to their centralized multi-layers business model which includes franchise and membership. This creates misalignment between the benefits of the central authorities (on the top of the pyramid) and the individual members of the organization. Luckily, we also see how decentralization and distributed ledger technology (eg. blockchain) can create a brand new kind of offline-to-online business organizations. I will dig it out piece by piece.

Some business organizations use a kind of exclusivity as a selling point. For example, they claim that in each of their smaller unit (eg. a chapter) only one member per business category can join the chapter. Let’s recall this graph on my first post of this series “The Giver Mindset on Forbole“:

FRN - Referral Community

It looks great! Now each member comes from a different profession and hence they will not compete with each other. For example, all the insurance-related referrals from the other eight members will go to the only member who is the insurance agent.

But this is just a gimmick for the top-tier franchise owners to sell the franchise to their downline. It provides the downline franchisees a good selling point to acquire members and earn the membership fee.

Exclusivity is an illusion.

Firstly, if the members are experienced networkers, they should have their own preferred choices of insurance agents or other service vendors. Unless there are stringent and enforceable rules, a business organization will not be able to force the members to treat each other as their sole or preferred choice of vendors. Secondly, being a member in an organization does not make you a reliable service provider. Will you choose a service provider just because he is belong to your organization, even you know he is not reliable?

We all have our own preferences.

This fake exclusivity does not worth its price (the membership fee and the time cost). Members should focus on building their personal brands and reputations, and help each other to spread the words out. To empower this, a business organization should be as inclusive as possible rather than exclusive. The more inclusive the organization is, the more diversified it members are and hence this can really help to spread the reputations of each quality members and help them to obtain more referrals.

To achieve this, a business organization need to manage both the offline and online presences by removing the hindrances to inclusion and diversity. Here are some measures we at Forbole Referral Network (“FRN”) will take:

1. Remove the concept of “chapter” which is static. Even children know how to make groups. Members of the organization will gradually and spontaneously form their own small groups according to their own characteristics, resources and needs. Groups need to be dynamic to cope with the rapid change of the business environment.

2. Remove the regular, frequent and boring meetings which are standardized with brainwash-style.

3. Focus on the commitment to the members, not the commitment to the centralized authorities.

4. Adopt an offline-online-offline approach to balance the need for real and authentic interaction (offline) and efficient virality (online).

5. Introduce a brand new business model by redefining members to become the owners of the community through the use of gift economy and decentralized governance powered by blockchain.

We will explain each of the above measures in more details later on.

(this article is subject to further modifications)

FRN - Referral Community

The Giver Mindset on Forbole

In Forbole Referral Network (“FRN”), givers are the people who are eager to help others to succeed. In the developers world, we have already seen the great development in free and open-source software, or FOSS community. We also see platform like Unsplash for people to share photos according to Creative Commons CC0. They are all generous givers.

In terms of business or career, we can also become a giver. But why should we become a giver in the first place? It is a simple maths. As a community, if we help each other to succeed, collectively all of us will have a higher successful rate. When A helps B to succeed, B will become more successful such that she has more resources to help C to succeed. Then C will be able to help A to become more successful.

Imagine a small community of three small businesses: an accountant, a designer and an insurance agent. Obviously they can become each other’s clients: the accountant and designer buy insurance from the agent, the agent and designer seek accounting services from the accountant, and the accountant and the agent seek marketing design services from the designer:

FRN - Referral Community

This is nice. But this is not big. What if each of them refer two business opportunities to one another from sources outside of this small community?

FRN - Referral Community

What if the new 6 people are each from different background and become part of this community?

FRN - Referral Community

So now this is a community of 9 people who actively refer suitable opportunities to each other. It just like each of them are now having a sales team of 8 people with business acumen and a strong giver mindset. One of our missions at FRN is to grow both the quantities and qualities of this community of givers such that the sole proprietors, small businesses and early-stage startups can rely on word-of-mouth referrals to obtain sales lead and tractions.

Polkadot World Map

Forbole is on Polkadot now!

Polkadot World Map
Polkadot World Map

Forbole is on Polkadot testnet now! Thanks to the generous referral and guidance by Melea! It seems like Greater China Region and the entire Southeast Asia have quite good potential!

Forbole Validating Polkadot
Forbole Validating Polkadot

Polkadot is a heterogeneous multi‑chain technology. It consists of many parachains with potentially differing characteristics which can make it easier to achieve anonymity or formal verification. Transactions can be spread out across the chains, allowing many more to be processed in the same period of time. Polkadot ensures that each of these blockchains remains secure and that any dealings between them are faithfully executed. Specialised parachains called bridges can be created to link independent chains. Let’s take a look how Dr. Gavin Wood, Co-founder of Polkadot made the introduction:

Deed of DID – Decentralization, Inclusion and Diversity

From the retweet on Twitter yesterday, I knew about Project Include which was co-founded by Ellen Pao, the ex-CEO of Reddit. Although I cannot say I agree 100% with their idea, inclusion and diversity are always the core values I want to pursue. When I read more posts by Project Include and Ellen Pao, I am inspired to think about how to integrate decentralization, inclusion and diversity.

May I call this the Deed of DID (Decentralization, Inclusion and Diversity)?

As you may know, we are building Forbole (ˈfɔːbəl) Blockchain, which is a blockchain designed for distributed reputation. Blockchain is just a state machine to facilitate application. Then what is the idea of our application? We decided to build Forbole Referral Network, because we think word-of-mouth referral can empower the underrepresented talents. In fact, as a graduate with mediocre academic performance, I was able to get a job offer from a bluechip banking group amidst the economic downturn in 2004 thanks to a referral by a lecturer who spotted my potential the transcript couldn’t tell.

Just as Ellen Pao said, we may have taken some actions that inactivated inclusion and diversity without knowing them. I see that a sound decentralized governance model may help to protect and foster inclusion and diversity. The product of decentralization, inclusion and diversity is permissionless:

Forbole - Deed of DID
The product of decentralization, inclusion and diversity is permissionless.

Our purpose at Forbole is to empower people. We would like to fight against the internet tyranny dictated by the elites. Our solution is to introduce a decentralized business model for social networks, and Forbole Referral Networks is our first experiment. Besides all the dense technical stuff, our own startup culture need to be decentralized enough. Culture is built by people.

As suggested by Ellen Pao, “When it comes to creating diverse teams, the sooner the better.“. So the best time to build our diverse team is now! We need to build a team of contributors from various backgrounds other than our existing team. The roles we need include but not limited to advisors, evangelists, developers, designers and content creators. We prefer remote freelancers at the moment. We can design remuneration in equity, fiat and tokens. To avoid breaching the regulations, we better state our own backgrounds instead of stating the opposite explicitly:

  • Both co-founders are males;
  • Both co-founders are Chinese;
  • Both co-founders are native Cantonese speakers;
  • Both co-founders are from Hong Kong;
  • Both co-founders are right-handed;

May I say that the contributors with backgrounds other than the above are preferred?