Detailed information for the upcoming FundRequest ICO
In today’s interview we’ve talked with Karel Striegel and Tim Dierckxsens from FundRequest and asked them about ICO structure, about FundRequest company itself, legal issues of ICO preparation and many more!
FundRequest is a platform for funding and rewarding open source development. FundRequest offers an integrated global decentralised platform where contributors can get compensated for their work and where people can incentivise contributors to solve bugs, answer questions or create a particular feature in the open source community.
Type of ICO: Limited by money. The goal of ICO is to collect funding to further develop and maintain the FundRequest application and to add more integrations.
Minimum funding: 2,000,000 USD
Soft cap: 15,000,000 USD
Duration: the ICO will last for a maximum of 2 weeks. The ICO will be closed 24h after the soft cap has been reached.
Price: 5 FND / 1 USD invested (in ETH equivalent)
Hi guys! Thank you so much for agreeing to talk about FundRequest for our community. I would like to get some information about FundRequest in order to make a sensible decisionabout your ICO.
Karel: Hi, thank you for having us and we welcome any questions you may have. Let’s get started!
First of all, tell us something about yourself, your experience and how you started working with Blockchain technology
Karel: I’ve been in IT for more than 10 years, I would say almost 15 years professionally. Now, I came into contact with Bitcoin for first time several years back. It was really interesting but it wasn’t really hands-on at the time and then I think one year and a half ago Tim introduced me to it here. So Tim has been with the project from the beginning. Since I already knew a bit about Blockchain I was really interested, especially when I noticed that you could really develop, write code on a Blockchain. From that moment we started to think about useful applications that could be built with this technology. That’s how FundRequest came into being.
Tim: The fact that FundRequest facilitates rewarding open source contributions is no coincidence, as Karel himself works with Open Source projects. In this case we all experience first-hand what it’s like seeing open source projects stumbling to get resolved. We know there is value in it, because we want to use the platform ourselves.
Great! That’s really impressive experience. How did the Bitcoin price increase within the past several months affect you?
Karel: We didn’t really experience any impact on our project, because we run our project on the Ethereum Blockchain and it will be a token project. It could have been, if our project would have been live. Of course we also want to be able to offer our tokens to people who want to pay with Bitcoin, but besides that, we wouldn’t have had a huge impact.
Next question. Let’s talk about FundRequest product. Tell us what FundRequest is about and what platform offers to the end user?
Karel: FundRequest is a platform that will allow people to fund certain issues. The main goal is to incentivize developers to work on issues that are important to the users. That was the initial idea when we started the project, but after a lot of thinking on the business plan we noticed that there are a lot more opportunities. For example, offering code bounties and development competitions via our platform are extensions we’ve been thinking about.
Tim: Indeed. Our first target is deploying FundRequest on GitHub via an integrated platform. So basically we are using FundRequest as back-end service, so the user is not leaving the GitHub platform. That is our goal — making a really seamless integration with the existing and popular platforms out there.
So the FundRequest platform makes a seamless integration to make donations possible? Why do you think that Blockchain technology is the best way to implement such platform?
Karel: You could do it the old-fashioned way, just write a java back-end and develop the platform. I am not saying that is bad, but one of the functionalities or features that we would like to offer users is that it is fully autonomous. If you look at the core it will be a contract between somebody who wants to see something resolved and another person who resolves the issue. The blockchain is the perfect technology to accommodate the different contingencies that may arise from the contract.
Tim: Also the security reasons that Blockchain technology provides are paramount. We know the cost of security is quite high. We are talking about possibly millions of Euro or US Dollar or cryptocurrency flowing through the contracts. If we would have to develop the security features ourselves without the Blockchain, our budget would skyrocket. So we think leveraging Blockchain technology is the best approach.
Don’t you think that Blockchain technology will limit the number of users who cannot really make donations you need? I mean you need to have a wallet, then buy some Bitcoins, etc… Just to make a donation. It is pretty complex for a non-technical user.
Karel: In the first iteration of our platform we will start with accepting Bitcoins, Ethers or our tokens, which we plan to have available on the exchanges. When we launch the product the main goal is also to have an integration with PayPal, so normal fiat currencies can be used to buy our tokens which will be used by the platform. It is the only way to be able to reach mass adoption. If people can just pay with PayPal they won’t be in contact directly with the Blockchain technology, everything will happen in the backend. This will allow a lot of people to start using our platform even though they do not have any knowledge of Blockchain technology. For people who are familiar with Blockchain they can interact directly with our contracts to check statuses or maybe make certain calls if needed. Of course it is not a requirement in order to use our platform, it is more like an addition or a feature we offer.
Tim: Well, that’s indeed what we are planning to do. It’s developing a seamless integration not only between the FundRequest platform and for example GitHub, but also allowing those who fund a contract to do so with fiat currencies. Even though cryptocurrencies tend to be volatile and fiat is stable, we will find a mechanism to make sure that the funds from the person having the problem will be rewarded to the person that actually solves the issue. That is a complexity that we are handling right now.
So what’s the current development status of the FundRequest platform?
Karel: We are currently focusing on our MVP and before launching any ICO or pre-sale we want to prove that we are capable of developing such a platform and that is currently fully ongoing with people here actually in front of us. (*Points to people behind the camera).
Who are your current main competitors in this market?
Tim: Well I think we have two main competitors. One is BountySource, although they don’t use Blockchain technology. The other competitor is Commit ETH, who do use a Blockchain. The main difference between our two competitors and FundRequest is the way they will integrate with GitHub or any other cloud platform. We want the user to remain on GitHub and he can fund any issues directly from there without having to leave that platform. While on the other two, you have to fund the issues from their platform so you have to move away from GitHub in order to fund or reward or to collect an issue and then go back. That’s not really what developers and users want. Another difference with Commit ETH is related to how their repositories protect companies. Users have to subscribe to be in the platform so you cannot just fund any issue if you’re a user of that platform, while we want to open it up immediately for all the repositories and for all the issues.
Could you tell us more about how FundRequest is going to make money? Let’s talk about business part of your project.
Karel: A certain percentage of a solved issue will go to the platform in order to cover the maintenance cost, the infrastructure and also to keep development ongoing, improving functionalities, fixing bugs and to add new features because we have a lot of cool and interesting ideas that we would like to develop in the future.
Tim: We are thinking about a fee that will be 3 to 5 percent or maybe 6 percent, but this is in discussion with a financial advisor. Also we are looking into our valuation model to see if it is economically viable. Since our token model has changed, it is not about token investment, it is about value token used on the platform. So instead of going to an exchange, you can also buy it directly on our platform.
Usually with other Blockchain products, you can sell and buy tokens and make a profit on its price difference? Is it possible to do with FundRequest?
Karel: Investors who hold FND tokens will have that option.
What is your integration strategy? You wrote in your white paper that you will start with GitHub and Stack Overflow. What’s next: maybe industries or it will be only Open Source projects for developers?
Tim: Well, one of our next targets is integrating with JIRA, which is a ticketing tool used to create issues on tickets. While that may be regarded as moving slightly away from open source, JIRA is used in an Open Source context. Nowadays you have a concept called business value, so if you use FundRequest and fund a real ticket then we say: “Look! This will give you a business value, this is where the money is” and then they will choose the issues that they want to select. So for example, Jenkins — they are on Github, but they do not use issues on Github itself, they use JIRA. They make a public backlog where any member can add a ticket and integrate with JIRA, you can add funds only on their platform. If we use our FundRequest JIRA plugin then our platform can be used for many more projects on Open Source project or for bigger companies.
Karel: This will also allow to create new classes of support contracts between the “you don’t have any support” and you have “enterprise-level support”. It will allow you to customize your support. You just pay for the issues that you want to see resolved.
So I can use FundRequest not only for Open Source projects? I can use it for my own enterprise product and Open Source developers will come into my product? And again all that I can do through the FundRequest platform?
Tim: Indeed! Also if you create an issue and fund it yourself, other community members can jump in and co-fund. Crowdfunding projects is also one of our main value propositions. For example, 10 users have the same issue, each user has funded 10 USD. Now, once you go to 100 USD maybe then it turns interesting for a developer to solve the issue, meaning the cost can be split among different people that experience the same problem.
Can we make private competitions, for example, for Open Source developers and donate them through FundRequest? Does FundRequest use a public or private Blockchain?
Tim: We will us a public Blockchain.
So for example, I am a company who wants to organize a competition. All my transactions will be on a public Blockchain and everybody will know how much money the first place takes?
Tim: Yes, but at the moment we don’t see a problem with that. What we see is, for example, the Kaggle platform — this is a popular platform for data scientists and what we see is companies like Intel, Facebook or Netflix they raise competitions on the platform and we tell them what the acceptance criteria are, how much money that they plan on giving the number 1, number 2, and number 3 of the winners of the competition. So I don’t think that is a big deal.
Karel: Another vector we are also planning to target in the future is to have more specific integrations not really with platform such as Github or Stack Exchange, but for example with LinkedIn. Since our platform will be used to operate on GitHub or Stack Exchange we will see who are top commenters, top developers, whose solutions get funded most of the time, in which technology or which area, …. An example, we will be able to provide a list of the “top 10 Java developers in Berlin”. We are thinking to use such information to offer a valuable integration with LinkedIn.
Let’s talk about the value proposition. In the white paper you made calculations based on 1 ETH = 10.7 EUR and your ROI is 15%, now the price of 1 ETH is like 300 EUR and if you will recalculate it, we will see that the ROI is now 0.6. What are you going to do with this?
Karel: Well first of all regarding that, all the calculations we are doing are in fiat because at the end of the day most of the world is still running on fiat so no matter what the price of ether is as long as the fiat currency is correct, we are safe and in that specific example we just would have to update the price of ETH in the calculations that we did.
But at the same time, Tim mentioned in the beginning of the interview that the model has shifted. A decision we have taken after serious consideration with financial and legal advisors because the way we want to implement it would have serious tax implications.
Tim: The token model that we initially envisioned, giving the FND token holders direct return based on a percentage, entailed a 30% tax on the return. This would mean that a large portion of the profit would go to taxes, so we can’t say that this is economically viable. We rethought the concept of our platform and token model and we finally found a solution where we think this will actually be a better opportunity for tokenholders to use the FND tokens as a currency in our platform.
We will see this new model in your next white paper version? When are you going to deploy this?
Karel: Normally within 1 week I would say. (At the time of writing the new version has been published : https://fundrequest.io/whitepaper)
So the ICO date is also changed?
Karel: Yes, we’ve pushed back the ICO date for 2 reasons, first of all because we had to change the implementation of the token and secondly we do not want to start an ICO before we have released our MVP where people can touch the platform, get feedback and actually see what we can do and build trust with the people who are following us and support our project.
What do you think about companies who start an ICO without any product but still obtain large funding amounts?
Tim: That is exactly what we don’t want to do because we really do believe in the FundRequest platform and want to see it live in production and implemented so that we can use it ourselves. Yes, we can build an easy MVP but we are very wary of other projects ourselves and we do believe that we need a basis of trust.
This is great long term! We really tried to find such companies which start an MVP first before the ICO. Tell us about the marketing budget for the ICO, how much money are you going to invest into ICO marketing?
Karel: At the moment we do not really spend a lot of time marketing because we are mainly focusing at the MVP, we are considering to launch maybe a pre-sale alert to raise some very limited budget in order to help us a bit with the MVP and also for marketing purposes. I think if we can have a successful MVP and people are really into it and they see what we can do and they like the product, it will come by itself. We have the time, our followers are growing every day and if we can post daily updates or weekly updates, I think we would get quite far.
Tim: But we also plan to do some form of direct marketing as in the user adoption while we’re releasing our MVP or at least while we’re developing our platform by actually funding our own issues. For example, we know that we could have improvements on our design or we could have translations of our white paper and we can actually fund an issue like say: “Look! We want the translation for our white paper from English to Chinese or Russian” and we can create different pickers as opposed to that and lots of people are trying and bidding for it and get it solved. So that is one of our own use cases, we use our own platform as a marketing campaign.
As I see MVP is the secret formula for a successful ICO in your case! But let’s talk about legal problems. It’s the most important question before starting ICO, what legal problems did you run into while creating the ICO considering Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is not legal tender in most countries?
Tim: The first one was that our token model, if you take the tax consideration into account, it wasn’t viable. that was our first change that we had to make in our assumptions. Legally we are still looking into a Belgian and European law to make sure that we take the best decision. We have hired lawyers to investigate papers and to provide conclusions. We do not know the full answer to that question yet but we are on top of it.
I think it will be pretty interesting for our community, what is your budget for legal law firm in your case, if it’s not a secret of course?
Tim: Well we took the budget as a percentage of the ICO, so 5%.
Which countries can participate in the FundRequest ICO and what about the United States?
Tim: We’ve seen this with previous ICOs as well that many companies are excluding US investors from participating in the ICO. We are also taking that into consideration and might include such statement as a disclaimer in our white paper to avoid falling into a legal trap.
Karel: …but of course we want to have it open to as many people as possible.
Tim: We are talking to two other projects that have successfully run a campaign and are asking them which problems they have encountered. We continue to obtain more legal advice as we evolve and the ICO date comes closer.
In which country did you register the FundRequest company in order to avoid this regulation?
Karel: At the moment that’s Belgium but we are also looking into other project countries like Switzerland. We need to do a bit more research to make a decision on that. For now, Belgium is the country where we personally live in and that is fine, we have enough context here to validate everything. To be sure we use the optimal structure we are also checking other countries to see what is more feasible for the project.
Tim: We’re waiting for the conclusion report from our legal advisors to indicate whether it is going to be 100 percent Belgium or whether we do the ICO model in Switzerland for example.
How are you going to pay sellers after the ICO? Are you going to use Bitcoins or Ether, I mean what does the process look like?
Karel: Well the developers who will be working on the project will be paid via Ether, as simple as that. Well the budget has been foreseen to keep them active for as long as possible of course and I think for everyone involved in the project that’s the easiest and preferred value of payouts.
But could you describe this more? For example, I’m a Blockchain developer from Russia, if I want to work in FundRequest I will get salary in Ether, how could I exchange these to Rubles or Dollars? Please describe this process for I think it will be very interesting for developers who are going to participate in FundRequest projects?
Tim: I would think that for you to exchange the Ether that you receive from us you would go to an exchange or maybe I think in Russia you have some Ether ATMs or Bitcoin ATMs where you can exchange for cash. So at the moment we do not pay out in fiat currency.
Don’t you think that you limit your audience of developers who could participate in FundRequest product? For example, if I am from United States and work with FundRequest through VPN, I get my Bitcoins and can’t do something with this.
Tim: In the short term — yes. However, we do need to make sure that we can move forward with the simpler solution first and make it economically viable. At the moment the platform is used mainly by people that already are invested or know about crypto. Crypto is rising, everything is about Blockchain, Ethereum or Bitcoin nowadays, so I do believe in a period of 3 to 5 years’ time, that this issue will be of a lesser matter. But I do agree, like we said in the beginning of the interview we are looking forward to make it possible for the funders to fund with their PayPal. We can also do the integration backward and this will be like current aeration that we know is in Europe, or we can do a transfer within the protocol. But these are details that are very conceptual and abstract at the moment because we are really focusing on the technology as we speak.
So all money raised through ICO will stay in crypto currencies? You are not going to change them to USD or EUR.
Karel: Most will stay in crypto currencies, but of course we have to pay third parties like lawyers and accountants. These bills will need to be paid with fiat currency.
What technology are you going to use to issue tokens maybe you said it earlier but please repeat. Are you going to use Ambisafe, Waves platform, something else or developed from scratch?
Karel: So the main stack will be Ethereum, in combination with truffle as a framework and Solidity as program language. We will also include Solidity libraries from openzeppelin.org Then on the back-end side we use Java with spring mainly. At front-end side we currently use React, but we might want to change that, we’ll see how the next couple of weeks are going but these are the main components at the moment.
Will the FundRequest code be open source or will be there any closed parts in it?
Karel: We plan to make everything open source. The only thing will be the timing, so it will become open source every time after a new release just to keep a competitive edge. We don’t want to have every last comment immediately available to our competitors. So first release then we open source and it will be like that for other upcoming releases.
Well, please give advice to investors who will see this video and read this interview, why should they invest in the FundRequest ICO?
Tim: In the first place, they should invest because they believe it’s a good idea, they believe that we are capable, at least we hope to show them once we have our upper list and they actually wantto fund issues themselves on the platform.
Karel: I hope they can see the potential of what we are trying to do at the moment, our MVP and most of the documentation and communication that we do is focused on a platform like GitHub and Stack Exchange. For us it is just the beginning. We want to be able to fund and support anycommunity, not specifically IT but it’s broader and I hope that people will be able to see that.
Thanks Karel, thanks Tim! I think it is a really great product. Thank you for your interview!
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