Loom Network is a platform as a service built on top of Ethereum that allows developers to run large-scale decentralized applications. This lets developers build DApps with the trust and security of the world’s most secure public blockchain, along with the computing resources necessary to run commercial-scale services.
What's your background? How did you get started in crypto and then to co-found Loom?
I started as a developer, and then moved into entrepreneurship where I learned the marketing side of things.
I had been involved with bitcoin way back in 2013, and then had just forgotten about it for awhile. Around last year, when the whole crypto market started to blow up again, it started getting a lot more of my interest.
An old friend of mine, who is also a developer, was working at a blockchain startup, called Blockmason. They were building a credit protocol on the blockchain, and basically he was running into a lot of scaling issues with ethereum. He was the one who conceived of the idea of Loom - that was Luke. And our third co-founder, Matt, was another mutual friend of Luke's, and he had also been building apps on ethereum experimentally and running into the same issues. All three of us had been working with blockchain stuff as developers, and we were running into the same kind of issues, which validated the idea that there was a need for ethereum scaling.
Then we started the project officially in October 2017. We started by building some developer tools for the ethereum ecosystem. One of them is EthFiddle, which is a code sharing website for a solidity. Then we built CryptoZombies, which was an ethereum programming tutorial, and that of course really blew up. That's how we got to be well-known and how people discovered our project.
How big is Loom?
We have multiple rooms in Telegram. Our main chat is around 15,000 and developer chat is around 1400 people. Then we have Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and we have a number of other chats. We have social media channels for each platform. We have Facebook groups in multiple languages, we have Twitter accounts in multiple languages. We have Chinese specific platforms like a WeChat group or WeChat announcement channel and Weibo. We have so many different platforms that it's hard to give a total community size.
How has building developer tools fit within your overall community and marketing strategy?
It primarily was a marketing strategy from the get-go. We knew we were going to need to reach the developer community because we're an infrastructure project and we're going to need developers building on our platform.
The notion “If you build, they will come” is incorrect in my judgment. You need to provide a lot of value to people from an early stage and have multiple funnels to get people acquainted with you and your company, your brand, and what exactly you guys are building. The initial focus was to build things that we as developers think the ethereum community needs, and then if we provide a ton of value then we'll get a lot of eyes from the community that we're really targeting. It'll help us build our brand recognition, and at the same time just deliver a ton of value, which I think is the best way to grow a brand.
In addition to building these developer tools, how else did you grow your community?
CryptoZombies was huge for us - it really blew up. That dwarfs any other singular effort of anything else we've done. But the other big portion of our strategy was in content marketing. We wrote a lot of articles on our Medium hitting a range of topics. For example, talking about our thesis on scaling, and how our platform fit into that picture. Somewhere just straight developer tutorials, very technical topics. Some of them were more introductory blockchain topics - explaining things like Byzantine fault tolerance, proof of work and proof of stake, and the different consensus algorithms. Some of them were just visionary or thought leadership articles like why we think developers should learn to build blockchain applications or why we think games are going to be one of the next breakout success cases for blockchain apps, or why we think ethereum is the platform for decentralized applications of the future. Our content strategy targeted a bunch of different angles so we could see what really resonated with the community.
How have you grown internationally? How does that work within your community and marketing strategy?
We're a very international and Asia focused team. So the three co-founders - I've lived in Korea for 10 years, Luke lived in Japan for four or five years and he's ethnically Chinese, and he speaks Chinese, now he's living in Shanghai, and Matt had been living in Bangkok for five years. From the get-go we were very familiar with the Asian market. We just knew that the Asian market is huge in the blockchain space. From very early on we hired staff in the major Asian countries: China, Japan, Korea, Thailand. We had all of our articles translated to those languages. We started working to build social media presences in those countries, and a lot of that has just come down to us making good hires. The people that we hired in each country have turned out to be extremely motivated and competent, and in each country we've had a slightly different strategy. For example, our community manager in Japan has gone to a lot of events, meetups, and networking type things, and spoken at a few [events] about our project. That's been good at getting us exposure in Japan.
China is more of an online focus strategy. Again, our community manager there has been very proactive about figuring out what channels people are using, and making sure we have the presence on there. Mainly it’s just been a very strong content strategy, and then making sure that it gets translated to all of the major languages in Asia, and then having full time staff in those countries that are thinking “Where is this audience gathering and how can we get our content in front of them?”. It's different country by country.
How would you define a successful crypto community? What metrics would you use to define success?
To start, here's what I do not defined as success. The focus on the number of members of the Telegram community is totally ridiculous, but we also recognize that this is the way people are judging projects. We set a target where we want to have at least 10,000 members on our main Telegram chat because even though we think it's really stupid, we know that that's what exchanges are going to look at.
The most important thing, which is hard to measure, is engagement. You could come up with some different metrics to measure that. I'd say that our most important metric is viewership, how many readers will be getting an email list sign ups, how many people are opting in to hear directly from us. Twitter has been our main social channel in English. Obviously, the Twitter follower count going up is a nice metric to see, but that's not something that we've actively targeted to optimize. That's been a matter of making sure we're always putting good content out there and seeing how much engagement or tweets we’re getting. I don't have a strong clear answer there, but overall our main focus has been the content we're putting out there, how many views is this getting, how widely spread are these articles.That's helped us really pinpoint what the community is reacting positively to.
If you can go back in time, what would you do differently? What do you wish you knew early on?
I'm pretty happy with how things have gone for us. We've done a pretty good job! We got lucky early on in that we thought CryptoZombies was going to be something that the community would respond well to, and that worked out perfectly for us. Most of our small bets have worked out really well for us too. So I don't have any strong regrets or something that I look at and think that we should've done that differently.
For a long time we, the three co-founders, were very active in our Telegram community, and it's a huge time suck. But then again, I can't say necessarily that I regret that either. Because possibly that was really helpful to us in the beginning and bootstrapping our community, where people could see that they could have direct engagement with the founders and direct feedback.
What are Loom’s goals for the community?
Our major goals right now are focused around Zombie Battleground, which is our game that we just launched on Kickstarter, it’s running fully on our Loom Network. So our goals for that are to get a really strong player engagement because it's going to be a strong test case for Loom Network, our product and what it's capable of. So if we can make this game really blow up, and get tens of thousands of users playing this game on our platform, then we can show the world “Hey, look! This is what our platform is capable of handling. And you can download the game and play it yourself, and see what the user experience is like”. So one of our primary goals is getting as many players as possible onto Zombie Battleground. It's enclosed beta right now, so we'll be giving people a way to get access to the closed beta. Towards the end of this year, when we release it publicly and it's on the PlayStore, we will be driving as many downloads of that app as possible.
The other main goal for us is around ZombieChain, which is our shared sidechain hosting. That's more of a developer focus, where we just want to find strong applications to deploy to ZombieChain. Zombie Battleground will be our example of something we built in house that we want to reach a really massive scale. These games and apps that are building on ethereum and encountering issues, we want to get as many of these strong cases as possible deployed to ZombieChain.
Is there anything else that you want to say about community management and marketing for new projects starting out and trying to develop their communities?
In terms of our community management and the Telegram channel, something that really helped us from the beginning is we had really strong rules around no discussion of investing, no discussion of trading, prices or exchanges, no discussion of moons or Lambos. That really helped us a lot. We did that primarily because of the SEC regulations around not marketing your token as a security, and just being very clear, not giving people expectations of earning money through the token as an investment. I think that really contributed to the health of our community. I've heard from others that our community is one of the best they've seen because we don't allow discussion of these sorts of useless topics. The discussion in our community has been really positive and healthy and helpful. We have attracted a lot of developers, who are actually building things, people talking about what's possible, and really asking questions about blockchain technology, and getting some really good discussions around that. That’s something that has been really helpful, and we've told people that if you want to discuss these things take it to another channel.
Someone in the community ended up creating an unofficial Loom trader chat, which we're totally fine with if they want to discuss it there, but just keep it out of our official channel. That's been really helpful for our community and keeping the discussion productive and positive.
Another thing that really helped us is after we had DelegateCall ready we started funneling our Telegram questions into DelegateCall. Because one of the problems with Telegram is it demands constant attention and people expect immediate responses. Something we started doing for our own sanity so half the company doesn't have to monitor Telegram and answer questions all day - we would tell people “Hey, that's a great question. Ask It on DelegateCall and someone from the team will get back to you with an official answer within 24 hours”. By funneling people that way then we could batch them and have the co-founders or some of the tech leads of the company answer these questions when they have time. As opposed to people expecting an immediate response because the question is going to disappear with the sands of time in Telegram.
What do you think about airdrops and bounty programs?
I don't think it's useful because it's such a noisy space. In marketing in general, a tactic that was once effective, once everyone starts using it, it's no longer effective. Maybe for the first projects that was a cool way to get attention. Now the space is so noisy that people don't really care. The types of people who are going to flock to these airdrops are not going to care about your technology, they're just going to try to flip the token to sell it immediately. It's not something that we've ever used. My thoughts on it are - I don't think it's particularly useful. I think it's better to focus on what's a unique way we can deliver value, but then I don't have any personal hands on experience. That's just my gut reaction to it.
This is probably not what people want to hear, but there is a quote from an entrepreneur from Andy Dunn who is the founder of Bonobos:
You have to be doing something newsworthy. When building a brand, if you're not getting PR, your problem isn't "which PR firm do we hire?" Your problem is that your company isn't that interesting.
- Andy Dunn
This is always in the back of my mind. Are you doing something people care about? If your project isn’t getting attention, the question is do people really care? Or should you be building something that people truly care about? That’s how I think about looking at everything.
Where can people get in touch with you?
If they have an official question about our project the best place to ask is on delegatecall.com. It's the first application we built that's running on Loom Network. It's a question and answer site for blockchain based topics, and we do use this for official community support as well. So if they want an official answer from someone on our team, they should ask on there. They can also reach us on Twitter. Twitter is probably our biggest channel in terms of engagement. They can also pop into our Telegram group.