Crowdfunding On A Bitcoin Standard With Geyser

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Geyser is a Lightning-native, non-custodial Bitcoin crowdfunding platform that makes it possible for anyone to create and fund campaigns for projects from anywhere in the world. The team at Geyser is working to give creators and organizers a platform to raise funds for projects while providing more transparency on the state of their campaigns. Geyser is similar to Kickstarter and GoFundMe. It offers project pages that allow supporters and observers to donate and monitor the progress of fundraising. Geyser has a unique feature that allows creators to receive funds immediately. Donations go directly to the Bitcoin full nodes of projects. This is a big difference between old crowdfunding platforms and Geyser.

Recently, the folks at Geyser launched a podcast to highlight the projects that are fundraising on the platform. Listeners can stream satoshis directly from the crowdfunding project’s node to listen to an interview with project creators on a podcasting 2.0 app like Breez or Fountain.

The Geyser team is working on additional features to the platform which includes Geyser Posts, a Medium-style blog where authors can charge viewers microfees in order to read the article. Geyser Grants will be added to the platform. This will allow funders and donors to donate to specific causes. Funds will be awarded by a committee.

As of now, creators need to apply to have their project hosted on Geyser, but eventually, the goal is for creators to self-start their own campaigns. Although the platform is still in its infancy the company is participating the DraperX Blockchain Studio accelerator program.

We spoke with Mick Morucci and Stelios Rammos from Geyser to hear the background of their platform and where they hope to take it in the future.

How Did the Idea For Geyser Begin?

Morucci: Geyser started when I really started deep diving into the Bitcoin/Lightning space and ran my own node to understand what Lightning was, studying Lightning and just understanding that this technology makes Bitcoin actually usable at scale. I discovered that millions of transactions can be routed per minute. It all clicked once I started to study and got into it. I then reached out to Stelios, who had written an article about Lightning transactions on Medium. That’s how we met.

Last summer, I realized, “Oh my God, there’s all these Bitcoiners doing all this cool, really crazy shit.” I noticed how many new Lightning apps and creative Bitcoin projects were being created. There was not enough tooling to allow Bitcoiners to support these initiatives and keep track of them.

There was no way for me to actually support them. I have a Lightning node and I just want to actually transact, actually do stuff with bitcoin because I am fully on a Bitcoin standard, like 100% irresponsibly into Bitcoin. I thought, “Okay, now that you have all your life on Bitcoin, you actually don’t feel bad about spending your bitcoin, because that’s all you do to spend money on groceries and everything else.”

So Geyser started when I noticed how hard it was to support Bitcoiners who were launching their own creative, entrepreneurial or educational projects. It was difficult for me to keep up with their work, support them, and keep track of their impact. This is when I realized that we needed a platform to help these creators launch their ideas, and a place where Bitcoiners could support.

What Problem Is Geyser Working To Solve?

Morucci: We were noticing all these Bitcoiners coming up with all these different, crazy ideas. They are called Bitcoin creators or creatives. They are people who either build things technically, do creative work, or educate people about Bitcoin. They could not raise money on a single platform. There were sometimes Twitter threads where people posted their QR codes to raise funds.

It was a very ad hoc way of doing things, but it really made us think that you need a place for this. It is necessary to have a place where people can view the projects on Bitcoin, help them, and support them. Giving is special. You want to be able see the impact of your donation and to feel recognized for it.

That has really helped me understand that there’s also a side note to this. If there is one thing we can learn from customer relationships management it is the importance crowdfunding to allow the creative and building ecosystems to actually happen.

There are two big platforms. Gitcoin uses quadratic funding and matching donations. Mirror.xyz is another platform. These are used by the Ethereum crowd to fund and support each others’ projects.

There’s a lot to criticize Ethereum for, but if there’s anything at all that we can take away from it, the power of crowdfunding through digital assets is immense. This project is raising hundreds of thousands of USD and supporting either top-down or bottom-up support initiatives.

That really helped me understand and has helped us connect the dots with some people in the Bitcoin community. This is really valuable. We need to create a place where Bitcoiners can actually support the Bitcoin ecosystem to flourish.

We’ve seen that with the Human Rights Foundation, donating bitcoin for Bitcoin projects, we’re seeing this with the OpenSats foundation, but you don’t see this for things around education or culture or creative work or even startups. There is still much to be done in crowdfunding and grants to help this ecosystem flourish and grow organically.

How Does Geyser Work?

Morucci: There’s probably a big difference between how Geyser works now versus how Geyser will work in the future. Anyone, from any country, can soon go on Geyser to create a crowdfunding campaign. This campaign will be linked to a Lightning Node that only they own the keys to. This means that we can’t access their funds. We can never freeze their funds and that’s very, very, very important to enable censorship-resistance at the financial level. A person can start a crowdfunding campaign and attach their node to raise money for their initiative. They can do anything with their initiatives. Geyser allows funders to see a campaign and fund it within three clicks. Funds can also offer rewards and badges to funders, so people can donate and also get a reward from the creator of that project.

There are three key elements to Geyser. Geyser is borderless. I think that the current traditional crowdfunding platforms only operate in around 30 countries. Because Bitcoin’s open network allows anyone to fund, anyone can. The second element is the social aspect of it. We think it is important to have badges, rewards, and recognition for the funder. Third, Lightning allows for interconnection and interoperability with other platforms.

We are Lightning-native, meaning that every Geyser project has a Lightning Address, which means that you can fund a Geyser campaign from any [Lightning] wallet. We are connected to the Lightning ecosystem, which is an open protocol. We don’t connect via API; we connect through this permissionless protocol.

If you saw the recent announcement by Breez, we are now featured in the Breez app. You can now fund Geyser projects from your Lightning wallet if you are on the app. This is a 10 times improvement in the user experience compared to traditional crowdfunding where you cannot fund a Kickstarter from Facebook or Twitter or the New York post, but now you can fund a Geyser campaign from Stacker News. It’s a completely new experience.

Rammos: Taking a step back from Geyser itself and just looking at what makes sense for a crowdfunding platform now and going into the future of technology like Lightning Network has really lowered the barrier for someone to become a payment processor. A partnership with PayPal was necessary for a company that wanted to interact with the financial sector. They needed to partner with Stripe. Today, it is possible for anyone to set up an Umbrel Node and begin receiving payments. Many tools have emerged, including those that deal with tipping and point-of-sales. BTCPay Server is doing a great job.

The focus shifts away from the ability to receive payments and around the more overall funding experience and integration that Mick was describing. It’s more than receiving Lightning payments. It’s about how you make your crowdfund portal available through more than one platform. Integration with podcasts, Stacker News integration, integrating any service that implements Lightning become the focus of a project like Geyser. Because there will be so many platforms that allow for tipping, it won’t be enough. It will go beyond the payment.

What Types Of Features Do You Hope To Add To The Website?

Morucci: We are building Geyser Grants. Anyone can apply for a Geyser grant to support a specific cause. For example, we can have a Bitcoin education in emerging markets grant and maybe we’ll have $10,000 to give away to Bitcoin initiatives that are geared towards that specific cause. This is part what Geyser does. Crowdfunding is the foundation.

The grants have been more top-down than the crowdfunding, you know, “Let’s support this cause because we think it’s really important.” In the future, we have other things we want to build that converge very well with grants: Geyser Posts. People write content about whatever they are doing and get tipped.

Geyser Posts are a bit like a Medium, but where people can tip bitcoin. It’s still in development, so it may take a few more months before it goes live. Geyser Drops is just one of many plans we have for Bitcoin. Basically, you can earn sats on Stacker News. However, depending on how active you are and your reputation, you can withdraw sats but you can use them to fund projects. Imagine you have no money but want to support causes. You can use the sats we provide, which we get from grants and other sources.

Rammos: I’m not sure if it was mentioned already, but we have user profiles in the works. We will be looking at how users interact with the platform, not just with one project but with all of it. Maybe we’ll start to think about badges that don’t just show how many projects you have funded.

We plan to give a little bit more importance around the weight of an ambassador or sponsor, maybe extend those roles a little bit into the future. Although it’s still exploratory, user profiles will give a little more emphasis to your activity, generally speaking on Geyser.

Why Do You Have The Ambassador And Sponsor Roles On Project Pages?

Morucci: The importance of ambassadors is recognizing that people landing on a page may not immediately trust where the funds are being sent to. We don’t want the system of recognition to be rewritten. So we are pulling [ambassador and/or sponsor] user profiles from Twitter and allowing people to recognize that profile and trust it. The social element will help people understand a project better and understand its place within the larger ecosystem. It will also make it easier for them to support this cause [on the project]..

Rammos: It’s [trust] a new form of currency. We’re connecting to a trust network that already exists from the perspective of a donor who wants to make a donation. People who don’t want to donate with satoshis could give their reputation. This is a different way to support a project. It involves giving your approval in a certain manner.

What Types Of Projects Are Crowdfunding?

Morucci: We have a bit of everything at the moment. We have a project that is focused on Bitcoin gaming. There is a vibrant Bitcoin gaming community. We also have projects that focus on Bitcoin education, especially in emerging countries.

We also have a Bitcoin movie called the “Anatomy Of Bitcoin” and another educator, Bitcoin Ballers. It’s interesting to note that the creators and funders of the project are located in different countries. For example, there is Spain, Brazil, the UK, Nigeria, Portugal, and Zambia.

It really kind of helps explain that we couldn’t have done this with traditional crowdfunding. This is truly global. It doesn’t matter where your based. But it has an impact. It shows our network. It is a network that does not know borders. This is exactly what we are doing: We are creating a network of value and a network of value through Bitcoin.

What Do You See For Geyser In The Future?

Morucci: Geyser is essentially a platform that enables the creator and creative ecosystem to emerge on Bitcoin. Geyser does not only allow for crowdfunding. Geyser allows creators and creatives to turn their ideas into reality, and can then monetize them. It’s a platform. It’s an ecosystem. It is enabling an ecosystem in many ways.

Rammos: We have big plans. It’s serving the community in the medium- to long-term, I believe. These tools are essential for Bitcoiners, Mick said. They are the most ambitious people in the world, and probably have the best outlook for the future. If they get together, it’s a powerful combination. Bitcoin will eventually become a global reserve currency. This means that everything that applies to Bitcoiners would also apply to everyone else. In the long-term, Bitcoiners will no longer be a niche market. Everybody will be a Bitcoiner.

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