Witnet is an open-source project that connects blockchain smart contracts to the rest of the world in a decentralized and trustless way. It’s a project borne out of the team behind Stampery, a leader in blockchain-powered data certification.
Only four days after they launched their crypto crowdfunding round earlier this month, they reached the $1.07 million Reg CF funding cap. I sat down with Daniele Levi and Adán Sánchez de Pedro, the co-founders of Witnet, to talk about the project - and their wildly successful round of funding.
Q: First off, congratulations on a successful funding round! Can you two introduce yourselves?
Daniele Levi: Sure! So I’m the operations lead at Witnet Foundation as well as the CEO and Founder at Stampery. I’ve been an entrepreneur since the age of 22, and I’ve been involved in cryptocurrency and blockchain since the end of 2012.
Adán Sánchez de Pedro: And I’m Adán, the tech lead at Witnet Foundation. I’ve been programming since the age of 12. I started out making games for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. Then I moved to communication and peer-to-peer protocols. I built Loqui IM, which was the most-downloaded app on Firefox OS with more than two million users. Then I created Whatools, which is a CRM application and bots API built on top of the WhatsApp protocol. And then I moved to Stampery to keep building this distributed technology for a scalable timestamping use of public blockchain.
Q: Great! What’s the use-case for the Witnet protocol that’s you find the most exciting?
Daniele: I’m very excited about what I call Digital Knowledge Arks. Right now we’re very used to saying that history is written by the victors. If we want to trust the facts, we have to trust the source. And I think that with this kind of technology we can create immutable silos of verifiable truth that can be preserved forever. We can take information that’s important for humanity and we can store this information forever. And we know for certain that nobody is going to be able to tamper with this information or to modify this information.
So in 200 years, or 500 years, people will be able to see the same information we are seeing right now. And they can be sure that nobody modified that information. I’m very excited about this use-case, and it’s just one use case among thousands.
Adán: Because our approach to Oracle networks is really generalist, we have oracles that can retrieve information not only from websites, but also from other blockchains or protocols. We’re really excited to cooperate with other projects in the blockchain ecosystem like Aragon or district0x, to bring their networks, tokens, assets or decentralized apps in as a kind of bridge.
Q: This technology seems to work best when the information is easily verified from outside sources, like in the case of sports results or stock prices. What’s do you see as the vision for Witnet when the answers aren’t as clear?
Adán: We always say in this project that the only truth is the verifiable truth. That principle comes from the Wikipedia community. They don’t really care if you know that something is true. The important thing is that you can prove it, and provide enough sources to back up that claim. So for the Decentralized Knowledge Arks, we applied the same concept.
We want to foster the creation of a curation market made up of decentralized organizations of people who care about a certain subject and collect the relevant sources. They can organize themselves and use this technology to store that valuable digital information. Our role is to provide the technology for them to be capable of doing that.
Q: Why did you see crowdfunding as a good fit for Witnet?
Daniele - We come from cryptocurrency backgrounds, and we loved the fact that via Republic, a lot of people could participate. We loved how they helped the distribution of the future token to a very different, diverse range of people. Republic allowed us to run a very inclusive campaign, which was very important to us because otherwise these campaigns are usually very limited to a certain type of person. What republic is doing is amazing because they’re democratizing these kinds of campaigns that up to now were only accessible to a niche of people.
Q: One of the things that’s very difficult about equity crowdfunding is that you engage with potential investors in a very different way than how you would raise money typically. What was that experience like for you? What was it like to engage with those possible investors?
Daniele: That was amazing because we could have direct contact with all of the people who participated. We could engage in conversation with them. We had the opportunity to understand their motivation and discuss with future users of our protocol. You get to have a 1 to 1 experience with the participants. The platform itself makes these interactions really easy and really pleasant. It was amazing for us.
Q: Did you expect to see so much support from the community?
Daniele: Our intention was actually to have a pretty slow sale. Sales like this are usually very quick which is not good in my opinion because being inclusive also means giving people the time to think and check the information you public. When you start the campaign and it immediately sells out, it means that nobody checked the terms. It’s not ideal. We were expecting to have a slow race, and it was quick. But it wasn’t so quick. We were surprised by the support.
Q: What advice would you give to another entrepreneur eyeing the possibility of equity crowdfunding?
Danielle - Just do it! It’s an incredible motivation to allow people from all over the world and with incredibly different backgrounds to participate. I would also encourage then to use Republic to do what we’ve just done.
The answers given have been edited for length and clarity.