Regen Network Retrospective
Looking back on three years of building a regenerative future
After three years with the Regen Network team, co-founder Will Szal is stepping back from a day-to-day role in the company. He will continue to serve Regen Network’s mission as President of the Board of Regen Network Development, Inc., and President of the Board of Regen Foundation.
During this transition in roles, he has taken a moment to reflect on the road Regen Network has traveled thus far.
My passion for the past decade has been at the intersection of alternative economics and regenerative agriculture—two of the foundational domains of Regen Network.
I met my co-founder Gregory Landua on the shores of Lake Champlain on the day before my 20th birthday in June of 2010 at the Second National Gathering of Slow Money. In 2015, I met his co-founder in Terra Genesis International, Christian Shearer in Barbados while working together on a project that became Regen Network’s first remote sensing pilot—Walkers Reserve.
In the spring of 2017, Regen Network’s co-founders Brecht Deriemaeker, Christian, and Gregory began to ponder the question:
What would it look like to put blockchain and remote sensing technology to use for planetary regeneration?
Into the humus of this question Regen Network took root.
Around this time the crypto space was starting to heat up and projects were able to fundraise for visions that were unpalatable for conventional startup funding sources such as venture capital. In June of 2017, Christian, Brecht, and Gregory took a European crypto tour to start socializing the idea of Regen Network.
At that time Gregory and I were putting on regenerative economy and regenerative agriculture programming at the first Slow Food Nations in Denver. As soon as that project wrapped up in mid-July of 2017, I joined on board at Regen Network as the fourth person on the team.
During this time Regen Network was incubated by Terra Genesis International, Christian and Gregory’s regenerative supply consultancy.
In the Fall of 2017, we retained MME, the preeminent law firm pioneering the Initial Coin Offering craze of 2017 via the Swiss Foundation structure. The more we looked into the structure, the more realized that it didn’t reflect our values around decentralization; Swiss Foundations are self-governing, so it is explicitly illegal for a decentralized network to participate in their governance. Also, as a mission-oriented enterprise, we had significant reservations about the get-rich-quick rhetoric of a lot of the projects in the space. So instead we went back to the drawing board. Regen Network has always had an international team, and at the same time, we’ve had a strong US presence, so it seemed prudent to utilize a US-based structure.
Also during this period, our CTO Aaron Craelius joined the project as a co-founder to design a credible system architecture. This thinking led to the development of our initial whitepaper.
In the winter of 2018 we had a series of team retreats: Iceland in January, and then Barcelona in February.
We engaged the global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright during this time. By April of 2018, we incorporated two legal entities: Regen Network Development, Inc. (“RND,” our for-profit), and Regen Foundation (our non-profit). Since then, the vast majority of business activity has occurred under the umbrella of RND.
For the summer of 2018, many of our team relocated to our headquarters in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where we maintained an office up into we moved fully remote during Covid-19.
Cosmos & Interchain
As early as 2017, during our architectural explorations, we had a leaning towards Cosmos Network. Given our ecological commitment, Proof-of-Work was out of the question due to its energy us. Cosmos both has a suite of powerful foundational technologies, and is modular and customizable in a way that allows us to build domain-specific infrastructure. Aside from amazing technology, the biggest asset of Cosmos is its community; it is creative, pragmatic, diverse, and tight-knit. If you’d like to learn more about our process of selecting a chain, see Gregory’s post on the subject:
How to choose a blockchain
How do you chose a blockchain or distributed web technology stack to build world changing applications?
In the beginning of 2019 we received our first Interchain Foundation contract. In April of 2020, this relationship blossomed into RND taking over maintainership of the Cosmos SDK.
GOAT and OpenTEAM
During our first team retreat in Great Barrington in the autumn of 2017, our friend Dr. Dorn Cox stopped by to contribute to the brainstorming. Dorn is a cofounder of the Gathering for Open Agricultural Technology (GOAT)—a consortium of enterprises all oriented around building pragmatic open source tools for farmers. GOAT has always resonated with our community-first ethic at Regen Network, and we’ve been a participant in the community in intervening years.
In 2019, the Dorn and the GOAT community established the Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management (OpenTEAM), of which Regen Network has been a founding member:
In September of 2019, we hosted the first OpenTEAM-wide retreat in Denver.
In July of 2019, RND was initiated into the 2019 cohort of Techstars’ Sustainability Accelerator with the Nature Conservancy in Denver, Colorado. For the following three months, various members of our team flew in from around the world to participate in the experience. You can read more about our CEO Christian’s reflections on the program here:
Regen Network continues to grow and develop. At RND, we now have around a dozen full-time people on our team, with an additional crew of another half-dozen part-time and contract-based members. Both the blockchain space and the regenerative agriculture space have emerged out of their infancy into world-shaping forces. At Regen Network, we’re honored to play a role in these movements, and continue to find fulfillment in pioneering technologies that can be in service to planetary regeneration.