Chronos Labs sponsorships in review


1 year ago by libs

For the past couple of months I’ve been soliciting sponsorship for my Open Source work in Bitcoin. Throughout July my shilling may have crept slightly beyond the levels I’m comfortable with as we tried to raise a target of £7,500 (about $10k) by 1st August.

That deadline has now passed and I can reveal we have raised a total of just over £6,000. We’ve missed the fundraising target, but all in all I’m delighted with the results of the campaign and of course immensely grateful to all who have supported me over the past 10 weeks.

I thought I’d follow up with a review of the campaign.

Why sponsorship

Sponsorship is not an uncommon funding model in the open-source world. Many independent developers are able to sustain their work through sponsorship, and many high profile tools and frameworks are entirely funded by the businesses that depend on them through sponsorship.

I’ve been regularly shipping open source work for a few years, and I know some of my packages are being used by businesses building apps and services on BSV. So I felt I could justify at least asking for support, and at the beginning of this year I began hatching a plan to issue NFTs in return for sponsorship.

About NFTs

I started thinking about all this over the Christmas break at the start of this year. At that time the NFT craze was going absolutely nuts on Ethereum, but was non existent on BSV.

What I didn’t want to do was spend any time figuring out smart contracts, writing code or building my own wallet for sponsors to receive their NFTs from me. I wanted someone else to solve that problem and give me a nice UI from which I could simply mint NFTs. I wanted a platform that did justice to the underlying artwork, and where token holders could prove the authenticity and rareness of the tokens.

That platform didn’t exist in January. And honestly doesn’t exist today either. Many have announced or pre-announced the “first ever NFT platform on Bitcoin”, but only Relay have shipped a solution that people can actually use.

Even still, Relay’s NFT minting form didn’t quite cut the mustard for me. Artwork is limited to 95 Kb, which is no where near enough for high quality NFT artwork, there was no way to provably limit supply of a token, and methods for proving the authenticity of a token are lacking. So, I ended up doing what I didn’t want to do, and wrote my own NFT contract code.

The things I improved were:

  • Attached both low- and hi-res versions of the artwork to the contract. Relay uses the low-res version in its UI, but token holders can get the hi-res artwork if they go to the NFT page we created.
  • Implemented limited supply of NFT tokens. Each limited edition NFT will provably only ever have 100 tokens minted (only 10 for the super rare designs).
  • Created a vanity address which “owns” the NFT contracts. This provides a way for token holders to verify the NFTs were minted by Chronos Labs. Relay doesn’t expose this information anywhere in their UI, but again token holders can find it on the NFT page we created.

Chronos Labs NFTs

I believe Relay are currently working on increasing the artwork size you can mint, and they actually did the work to allow me to implement limited supply minting, so I’m sure that will roll out to everyone if it hasn’t already.

I’d still prefer it if the Relay UI better presented the artwork, and I think they should expose more information about the contract to help users establish authenticity of their tokens. But credit where it’s due - Relay shipped fast and delivered a working NFT platform with integrated marketplace and I’ll always prefer that over hot air and a big bag of “soon”.

Sponsorship in numbers

So lets break it down, how did we do…

Sponsorship raised £6,100
Number of sponsors 50
Corporate sponsors 2
Biggest single sponsor £2,200
Average sponsorship £120
NFTs issued 192 / 500
Ultra rare NFTs issued 3 / 10

The following chart separates sponsors into bands according to the size of the sponsorship. The blue bar represents the number of sponsors in that band, the green bar represents the total sponsorship raised by that band.

Sponsorship data

The pattern in the chart is pretty clear. The majority of sponsorship is raised by a minority of disproportionately generous sponsors. I knew this would be the case up front so we intentionally reached out to a few BSV businesses to try and solicit corporate sponsorship.

Corporate sponsors

We managed to bag two corporate sponsors:

  • Coingeek who have a fabulous track record of supporting BSV businesses in many different ways. As far as I’m aware they don’t actually use my open source code.
  • BitsComplicated who is a known face on Twitter and Twetch and, to my knowledge, is not an actual business and not using my code. A very generous contribution, but I assume he just wanted to bag an Ultra Rare NFT (and who can blame him!)

A couple more corporate sponsorships and we’d have smashed that fundraising goal, but it was a tall order. Most BSV businesses are very early in their life, perhaps too early to be incentivised by the good will and PR that sponsorship brings.

Was there a better way?

Output Intern published an interesting analysis on our sponsorship model and posed a couple of questions:

I also wonder why the NFTs were not first listed for sale directly on RelayX - similar to how the RUN Hackathon raised sponsorship funds. Almost 130 BSV was raised for that hackathon.

Run is a very high profile project. We raised almost 60 BSV so in comparison I think we did pretty well. I’m doubtful that we’d have raised more if we’d just sold tokens on Relay. But more to the point, this was not about selling tokens, this was about raising sponsorship for open source development. We’ve established connections with 50 individuals and companies that support my work enough to contribute some money. In return we gave away unique and collectible tokens for free. I have no say and no interest in how much or how little these sell for on the market. I’d argue this approach is way more valuable to us, and way more honest and upstanding than if we’d sold tokens on the pretence they were worth something.

Libs could’ve been the first one to offer “developer tokens” as a reward for sponsors. … adding a few developer tokens to the sponsorship pack seems a good fit. For example each NFT could also be used for a 30min ‘developer consulting’ call for your BSV app idea.

I did actually consider something similar. Not for 30 minute slots - allowing folks to buy random chunks of my time would drive me nuts - but I did consider an option for businesses who could use a day or more of my time to assist with their open source projects. We ditched that plan in favour of keeping the offering simple, and looking at the people who have sponsored I don’t think anyone would have taken up that option.

Conclusions and what next

Whilst we didn’t hit the fundraising target, raising > £6,000 in the way that we have is good going. I couldn’t be more pleased, and I am grateful and blown away by the support shown by all our sponsors.

Now that the fundraising campaign is over I’ll ease up on the shilling. But sponsorships remain open and I hope to see new sponsors continue to roll in over the months ahead. We still have over 300 NFTs to give out and as we continue to release new open source solutions, who knows, we may put some new card designs out there! 🔜

I’m a huge fan of open source. At Chronos Labs we believe people and businesses that share openly, freely and generously win. But there’s more to it than the light and fluffy feel good factor. Through our efforts we’ve established Elixir as arguably the second best served language after JavaScript for building Bitcoin apps. This helps us build products that will outcompete the competition. Thats what comes next: we’re building products, building teams and building a real business.


Thank you 🙏


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