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.

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 Annual Letter 2018 – A grassroots movement

Put aside the difficult terminology and technical discussions of blockchain, let’s talk about what the technology means as a grassroots movement.

A year of change

It has been a year of rapid advancement for us at Forbole. We have evolved and dealt with change, and even our pitch deck has been revised from time to time.

However what we know is that human nature has not and will never change. It starts with greed and ends with fear.

ICO hype

Looking back to Nov 2017, people were lost in the hype surrounding ICO’s. It was thought that ICO’s would fundamentally disrupt traditional startup financing. However we soon learned that we were wrong. What ICO’s in fact created were new kinds of intermediaries and centralizations, which set a high barrier for startups trying to access the ICO ecosystem.

The unavoidable truth of this time is that information asymmetry creates intermediaries. Intermediaries will evolve into centralized authorities. This evolution is inevitable regardless of the underlying technology, no matter if it is block-chain or block-rope. To make matters worse, blockchain has created a large information asymmetry due to its inherent difficulty. The result is a hotbed of scams and industry spam. Suddenly countless people have become “crypto investors”, “ICO experts”, “family office” investors and “venture capitalists”.

Luckily for us, two core messages could be pulled from this that helped keep us on track.


In early September of this year, a friend told me there was a 5-day tour being organized in mainland China. Participants would be given the opportunity to connect with various famous VCs. The fee? Not cheap. USD8,500 per person. The tour didn’t even disclose the names of the representatives for those VCs. I had no idea of the potential ROI for this trip, but one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t have the money. We already had a trip planned to Shanghai in the same month. Despite my friend’s opinion that the cost was in fact cheap when compared with other similar events in the crypto space, I gently declined applying for that tour.

During the Shanghai trip, we directly connected with the co-founders and key people in some of the leading blockchain projects such as Cosmos, IRISnet and Polkadot. We also connected directly with some of the most well known VCs in the crypto space, some of which were even listed in the above USD8,500 tour.

I finally came to the realization that crypto hype has twisted people’s minds. Startups are asked to pay large sums of money for just a small chance (not even a guarantee) of getting in front of the right people who have access to funds. This is akin to farmers in the Middle Ages who were forced to pay tariffs just to enter the castle to sell wheat.

What’s really striking to me is that people think this is normal.

“Outright scams”

Here’s the second message: A friend tried to refer us to another potential angel investor – before we even had the chance to send our deck, our friend delivered the investor’s reply: “These are all outright scams. Don’t waste my time.”

Honestly, I thought this was a reasonable response. People should be skeptical: No tractions, no finished product. That’s it. Period. (Later I found out that the angel investor was a bitcoin maximalist – lesson learnt.)

Back on track

Why do people think that paying a considerable intermediary fee is normal? Why do people think all these projects are scams? While seemingly negative, these experiences have in fact helped us clear our minds and focus on our mission. Our initiative is to disrupt the centralized business models of social networks. We need to first disrupt ourselves through a ground-up movement, a grassroots movement.

Most startups fail because the founders quit. Founders quit mostly because they are starving. With two co-founders that have a combined skill set of coding, hardware, design, coaching, finance, marketing and sales, all we need is to survive long enough to gain tractions and hit our targeted growth metrics. To accomplish this, we have hit some key milestones:

  1. Raised funds from individuals again
  2. Restructured the business of previous venture to provide passive income
  3. Assembled a team of talented professionals to moonlight for us
  4. Explored the opportunity of becoming validators (Cosmos and Polkadot, then Tezos & IRISnet)

The above measures provide us with a 12-18 month runway. We will also earn validation income once those mainnets have launched. As Adam Draper of Boost VC put it, be the nuclear cockroach.

Big Dipper  – Lead you the way to explore the Cosmos

We are excited to announce the launch of the Big Dipper (beta), a Cosmos explorer, and it is also our contesting project for Cosmos HackAtom 3: The Validator Series.

The Big Dipper is an opensource explorer tool to monitor the status of any Cosmos compatible blockchain using the BPoS. We aim to provide a better user experience with nearly real-time response to show different information and metrics in different aspects regarding the network. We utilize different endpoints from Tendermint, Cosmos SDK and the Command Line Interface to aggregate data into a single web interface.

Governance proposal details being updated on the Big Dipper in a very short time.

Currently, the Big Dipper offers the following features.

  1. Monitor the consensus status of the network
  2. View blocks created time and number of transactions
  3. Monitor the change of validating power
  4. Show short term uptime and latest seen time of validators
  5. Track proposals creation, details and status update
  6. Easy to switch colour theme with any Bootstrap CSS themes.

We do not stop here. We keep enhancing the Big Dipper to show more information about the Cosmos. Features on user registration, status alerts, WebSocket event subscription on transactions, Prometheus metrics integration, etc. will be available very soon. Stay tuned.

You are welcome to give us feedbacks and fork the project to run with your blockchains. Please visit the project Github.

Souvenirs from Global Blockchain Summit 2018 in Shanghai

Forbole Newsletter #1

Souvenirs from Global Blockchain Summit 2018 in Shanghai
Souvenirs from Global Blockchain Summit 2018 in Shanghai

Dear Bo-Le,

Thanks for your support to Forbole. As the number of our stakeholders are growing, it’s time to start our regular newsletter. Below is our recent progress:

  1. As of 30 Sep 2018, we have 12 individual investors based on SAFE. The latest valuation cap is USD1.5M.
  2. Our resources can support our development for the next 12 months, and invest in the network infrastructure we need.
  3. We have become an active validator on Cosmos (current testnet version: gaia-8001).
  4. We have developed the Big Dipper, which is a real-time block explorer on Cosmos Hub. Big Dipper helps people to keep updated on the status of Cosmos Hub.

The last 12 months was our age of enlightenment. We finally chose to use Cosmos, which aims at creating the Internet of Blockchains. And that has made all the difference. After joining the Cosmos community, our value and philosophy about blockchain have changed completely.

What’s next:

  1. Join Cosmos’s HackAtom3 and Game of Stake competitions
  2. Launch the beta of Forbole Referral Network
  3. Apply for blockchain-specific accelerators in Shanghai or Singapore

Thanks for your support. Feel free to follow us on Telegram and Twitter.
Desmo and Phanero (English)

The dual-tokens model of Forbole Blockchain

(中文按此) In the world of proof-of-work blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, if you would like to mine the tokens, you have to invest in your computing power and consume electricity, These are the costs you need to bear, in reward for Bitcoin or Ether. If you have committed wrong calculation or other wrong-doing or misbehavior, you will suffer a loss as you have used your computing power and electricity but have not gained the reward. This is the Law of Equivalent Exchange.

What if we no longer need mining by adopting proof-of-stake consensus? Who’s gonna do the calculation? How? What if they have done something wrong?

Base on Cosmos, we adopted a dual-tokens model, The first one is Desmo [ˈdɛsmɒ]. Holder of Desmo can stake their Desmo in return for the eligibility to validate the transaction on Forbole Blockchain, and hence can earn transaction fee in terms of Desmo or Phanero. As such, one can view Desmo as a long-term asset that can generate income. If the computing power of a Desmo holder is not qualified to become such a validator, he can delegate his Desmo to other and gain a share of transaction fee. Desmo is the token we will issue in our crowdsale campaign..

Desmo is designed as a long-term asset such that we will have enough qualified people to validate the transactions and hence maintain the governance of our blockchain. So Desmo should not be relied upon as a trading tokens as this will encourage Desmo holders to use Desmo for short-term purpose instead of participating the governance of the blockchain. We need to have a more liquid token which is suitable for short-term purpose, and this is Phanero [fəˈnærəʊ]. There will not be any crowdsale of Phanero. Users can gain Phanero by making contributions to Forbole (except if our proposed hard spoon on Steem will take place).

Simply put. Desmo is like investment properties which can generate income. This will discourage you to do short-term trading or speculation on Desmo. But if the holders are all holding Desmos, there will not have enough Desmos for people to trade or utilize. That’s why we need a more liquid Phanero which will act like a monetary asset to provide liquidity to our blockchain ecosystem.

On Forbole Blockchain, we have Desmo for long-term purposes and Phanero for short-term purposes. They make our tokenomics more complete.

Our private pre-sale of Desmo has started. Please refer to our Whitepaper for more details. We are also opened for discussion of hybrid investment using future equity (SAFE) + tokens. Please send message to our co-founder Terence Lam if you are interested.
Desmo and Phanero (中文)

​為何 Forbole 採雙代幣模式?​

(English here) 在 Bitcoin 或 Ethereum 等的工作量證明 (PoW) 掘礦世界,若你想參與掘礦,你就需投資於提昇運算力及消耗電力來為區塊鏈計數,這是你需付出的成本,用於換來可能掘到的 Bitcoin 或 Ether,若你計錯數或做錯事,你就會受到白白浪費了運算力及電力但掘不到幣的懲罰,等價交換是也!

但若區塊鏈不使用掘礦的方式,而是用權益證明 (PoS),誰去計數?怎樣計數?計錯了怎辦?

所以我們參考了 Cosmos 的方式,採用了雙代幣模式。首先是 Desmo [ˈdɛsmɒ],持有 Desmo 的人,通過將 Desmo 抵押,就能獲得審批區塊鏈交易的職能,通過審批交易來獲取更多的代幣 (Desmo 及 Phanero),即 Desmo 是一種長綫生財工具,若自己的電腦規格不勝任此職能,亦可以將持有的 Desmo 委托他人,以換取交易收益分成。我們的代幣眾籌將會發行 Desmo。

但由於 Desmo 應該作為長綫生財工具,以確保我們有足夠多的人審批交易,維持區塊鏈上的管治,所以 Desmo 本身不應該被依賴作為交易的代幣,這會令 Desmo 持有人以 Desmo 作短期目的而不是用於維護區塊鏈,我們需要有一種具備更大流通性,適合短期操作的代幣,這就是 Phanero [fəˈnærəʊ]。Phanero 並不會通過眾籌發行,而是由用戶通過對區塊鏈作出貢獻而換取 (除了我們初擬的 Steem 的 hard spoon 將會執行)。

再簡單點說,Desmo 像投資性物業,你持有它就能收租,所以你不會輕易作短期買賣操作,但如果人人都持有 Desmos,巿面就會不夠 Desmo 給他人買賣或使用,所以我們有要像流動​貨幣的 Phanero,為我們的區塊鏈生態帶來流動性。

我們的布樂區塊鏈上,有適合長綫的 Desmo 及適合短綫的 Phanero,令我們的經濟體更完善。

我們的 Desmo 代幣私人預售已靜稍稍展開,詳情請參閱我們的 Forbole 白皮書初稿。除了預購 Desmo,我們亦歡迎你洽談以未來股權 (SAFE) + 代幣的方式來參與我們的區塊鏈世界,如有興趣請 PM 我們的聯合創始人 Terence
Unsplash Road


(English here)


多謝各位支持 Forbole。或許你知道,我們是一家區塊鏈初創,正在開發一個基於介紹、引薦及回報的商務社交網絡,我們的項目將會是 Cosmos 生態系統的一部份。

作為一個早期初創,我們正與擁有龐大財務資源、僅需要一份白皮書就能做 ICO 的企業競爭。我們亦同時面對來自 Facebook 及 Google 等巨頭的對區塊鏈的敵視態度 (我們在 Facebook 上有關區塊鏈的發佈,都不獲 Facebook 廣告的審核)。

但我們始終將實現我們的想法。我們希望專心於項目,而非複雜的 ICO 架構及宣傳。要達此目的,我們正規劃使用權代幣眾籌 (Utility Token Crowdfunding)。我誠意邀請你加入我們在 Telegram 上的社區:


林肇峰 Terence
Forbole 聯合創始人