This is part of a series of interviews with founders and builders in the Web3 space called the Web3 Growth Handbook. The official handbook will be released in the coming months, but you can read all of the other available interviews here.
"The most difficult part of growth has been trying to convince people to do more dog-fooding. They believe strongly in the ethos and have strong vested interest, but a lot of people expect the value to increase without doing anything. It’s important that if we believe in these products, we need to start using them ourselves. If we want to learn what the friction points are in the ecosystem as a whole, we have to be using the crypto products ourselves."
Subscription based pricing and individual purchases are slowly by surely replacing the ad-driven revenue model of publications. Unlock Protocol hopes to extend this transition to cryptocurrency-based memberships. Whether it’s a blog, a personal site, an e-commerce platform, or anything in between, Unlock wants to make it easy for people to start using crypto to pay for services. Their founder, Julien Genestoux, wants the entire Web3 community to start using Web3 products more frequently, and he built a product that makes doing so incredibly easy.
Founded in mid-2018, Unlock received investment from some of the biggest names in funding through a pre-seed round led by General Catalyst. Julien’s background in publications (he sold his previous company to Medium) helped him as he built Unlock and helped him land at least one big name. Forbes is now using Unlock as an option to provide ad-free content in their blockchain and crypto section. Creating a paywall with crypto is a novel idea in and of itself, but being able to build Unlock in such a way that it’s easy for anyone to drop into their application really sets the product apart.
Julien was kind enough to chat with us about growth in the Web3 space, building products people actually use, challenges he had to overcome, and more.
How do you define growth?
The core metric we look at is how much value has exchanged between consumers to and creators.
What has been the most difficult part of growing your company so far?
The most difficult part of growth has been trying to convince people to do more dog-fooding. They believe strongly in the ethos and have strong vested interest, but a lot of people expect the value to increase without doing anything. It’s important that if we believe in these products, we need to start using them ourselves. If we want to learn what the friction points are in the ecosystem as a whole, we have to be using the crypto products ourselves.
What do you think needs to happen to help solve that problem?
I wish I had an answer for the question. I think we should tell people that they don’t have legitimacy if they aren’t using the products. It’s important to call people out if they are not using the products.
What tools do you wish existed to help grow Unlock?
I think there are still a lot of scary problems with using crypto. People are afraid to do things in volume. It feels less secure. It feels easier to use your bank card because there is some recourse there. There might need to be work done on wallets to improve trust, but wallets have done a lot to improve this so far.
What are your predictions for Web3/Blockchain growth in 2020?
I think 2020 is going to be huge. There are tangible, usable, and useful products. The challenge is making sure the price and value stays up and aligned. The only sustainable growth is by building usable and useful products.
If you are building products with memberships of any sort, you should consider giving Unlock a try. They will help you manage payments in a way that taps into everything Web3 stands for.