Hey everyone, I caught up with smoke.io founder @stoner and thought I would share some of that conversation, hope you enjoy the update. If you read closely you can almost hear the beach and smell the ice cold beer ;-)
What are we smoking, tastes great?
A Swazi Skunk hybrid. It's mellow and affordable and allows me to get medicated without becoming lazy or unfocused.
How are things going in your view, can you give us the good & bad highlight reel?
Better than expected for the first month of mainnet. Some of the good highlights for me include the trending page being relevant and on topic and showcasing awesome content. Large stakeholders are acting in the way that aligns in the growth of the entire network. Witness are competing to provide access + security to the blockchain as well as building tools for the community. Most content creators & curators are finding a home on the network. Chain is stable with no forks or consensus rule changes.
Personally I'm stoked to see the concept working, and seeing surprising posts I did not expect such as the comedy stylings of @devils-lettuce & @mrspacely or the smoke cartoons by @kryptik. I'm also surprised by the sheer amount of engagement on the platform and effort both witnesses and users are producing on chain.
Some of the bad (or challenging aspects) include a large number of accounts from pre-sale and ico have not yet redeemed their tokens on chain and so not all participants are being represented than I initially thought which creates less unique individuals voting on content. The more unique users curating and posting content, and the more Smoke vested into Smoke Power the better it is for the network as a whole. Some other challenges include hitting our milestones on time and getting exchanges to list a DPoS (delegated proof of stake) coin.
Since launch what are some of the things that have surprised you the most?
Some of the people in the blockchain and cannabis industry that have contacted me since launch, there are some pretty big names and while they have not invested yet they are showing interest which i didn't think would happen so soon. I am also surprised everyday by my team, advisors, the community, stakeholders and witnesses that are showing initiative and are working extremely hard on aspects they believe will foster the growth of the network.
Can we talk about some stats - we are 1 month in?
Sure, we have 2.2k registered accounts, with 40k unique visitors last month and are averaging 2000 unique visitors per day. Users are spending an average of 8 min a day on the site. We are working on a new explorer that will show a lot more stats such as the operations per 24 hours and supply, which includes the current reward pool etc
And the roadmap, what are you guys currently working on?
An internal rest api that will replace some of the rpc functions is currently something we are working through in private repos. Once thoroughly tested we will open it up to the public and introduce an o-Auth application for developers to create applications using the Smoke chain with simple sign in features and permissions. Due to this being priority to Smoke (We are not using steemconnects codebase for this but rather our own) it is taking quite a chunk of work as it has to be thoroughly tested and secured.
A more reliable image server that can handle larger loads is also being worked on at the moment as well as small bugs on the current front end application.
Outreach to coin listing sites and exchanges and creating and accommodating API's for their needs. (Readers may not be aware but CMC requires a API for circulating and current supply while sites like blocktivity require an API for ops/24hour).
Outreach to other cannabis blogs for guest posting opportunities that gain us solid backlinks and exposure within the online cannabis community.
Outreach to brands that may be looking for a social media platform that does not delete their content and profile or may be looking to advertise in the future.
Damn, sounds like a ton of work... So what's next?
A strain review front end that will allow users to review strains is at the top of our list once the API and o-Auth is completed, sites such as leafly and weedmaps are plagued with review manipulation (on dispensary reviews) and I believe the social consensus mechanism the smoke chain utilises can solve most of these problems.
What are some of the skills you have personally developed in order to pull all this shit off?
Perseverance and motivation to get up each and every day and either learn or build something. It really is about just never giving up on a goal and pushing through any challenge that comes along.
Getting to grips with the ins and outs of delegated proof of stake (And I mean all the quirks, game theory, sys components etc) with limited documentation to learn from was pretty intense and took quite some time. The first white paper took a good month of work (As you would know :P ).
Learning to code, at least enough to work on the front ends and take some load off my devs was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done for myself, and the project. It has allowed me to understand and work with my devs on a much more personal level and allowed my vision to really come through in the work that we release to the public.
Building a solid core team of people you can rely on when things don't go exactly to plan is essential... Without the hard work and endless days and nights of @baabeetaa I'm not sure where we would be right now.
Lastly the business skills to manage not only people but capital and deploying that time/capital efficiently while we are still in startup phase and yet to produce revenue. This is something that unfortunately is only learnt through experience and that experience is often costly and requires substantial risks.
What do you think are short term areas of opportunity that the community could focus on to help drive growth?
Writers looking to post content would do themselves and the network a great service by doing keyword research prior to coming up with article ideas and writing with good SEO practices in mind. This will drive traffic and followers to their articles over the long term as well as increase the value of the network.
Continue to produce, reward and engage with high quality and original articles, blog posts, artwork, photography, strains, bud porn, poetry, cannabis related questions, grow journals, music and reviews that are related to cannabis or cannabis culture. These posts increase engagement and enjoyment on the platform.
Continue to curate content thats on topic and allows our trending page that inspires current users and draws in new users and creates a safe space that cannabis users relate to and want to join.
Create a community ethos that you are proud to be a part of. We are all in this together.
And lastly spread the word of smoke.io where-ever and with whom ever you smoke. (Stoner laughs out loud...)
What do you think are short term areas of opportunity that community devs could focus on?
Run seed nodes
Build tools for witnesses & users that make their life easier like @chronocrypto's smoked.online
Build bots such as ones that help people with different bits of information or improve user the experience on the network such as @blackman's Afia and Welcome bots
There are plenty of other services and opportunities to build out. Mobile apps, games, competitions, wordpress plugins, payment gateways are some that come to mind
Where do you see Smoke.io and Smoke network long term 1-2yr?
Due to the power of the DPoS chain and strong foundation we seeing today, I believe Smoke will become the blockchain of choice for cannabis services in the next few years. There are many ways to utilize the network and leverage the users and that will only grow.
I see Smoke.io as the main source of all the content running on the chain while I envision other applications and sites running on the chain that allow a more focused and targeted sub niche or use case within the cannabis industry.
What is some of the scope creep you have encountered during the build phase?
... Well there is always something. We are currently building services and API's that will allow us to build and expand past the smoke.io front-end. This has been a challenge and a lot more work than initially anticipated.
Lets talk user adoption, what are the current user adoption plans?
We have been issuing press releases such as this one which aim at gaining exposure from prominent news sites and get in front of journalists.
We are constantly on the look out and pitching brands and content creators that have been shunned by traditional social media platforms and have had their content taken down.
We have a strong SEO plan in place to gain relevant back-links to strong content being produced & targeting keywords that have high search volumes. This is a never ending job that will pay off in the long term.
There are also a few gorilla marketing tactics in the works tho I can't spoil anything yet.
According to smoke.network, you only sold x coins in the ICO out of the 21M for sale, what are you doing with the balance?
As per our allocation we still have coins in reserve that we plan to offer to VC's over the counter at a later date. We also plan to use some of these coins to create initiatives on the blockchain to reward excellent content creators & developers. Something we working on currently is the Smoke Ambassador programme, which will be announced soon, and aims to foster great content producers with a consistent upvote.
What the plan for exchange listings?
Escodex has announced that smoke will be listed soon, and we are constantly pitching various exchanges on the benefits of DPoS and the Smoke coin.
What about binance?
While we do fit the listing criteria for the most part we still need to prove we have a large enough user base that frequents the platform daily before applying to Binance.
What did we miss? Any parting words to close the interview off?
You know, just a few years ago, all of this would have been impossible. The worldwide cannabis movement has really moved along way forward and we should feel proud to live during a time society is mostly waking up to the power this plant has to help in transforming and improving our standards of living, health and wealth.
I would also like to humbly thank everyone that has made this platform possible and got us to this point. Firstly Dan Larimer and the Steem devs for producing and battle testing the code our blockchain is based upon. Our team, you guys and gals are amazing really! The early investors that believed in us. The advisors, who have helped me understand the faceted mindset of various potential users and opportunities. The community that rallied around before we had even launched a product and the witnesses that have kept the chain alive and continue to do exceptional work.
I hope this platform improves your life in some way and impacts the lives of each and every one that passes by, or joins our humble community, in some small way.
As always, Happy Smoking!