Daniel Peled talks about his Get Gems project

Daniel Peled talks about his Get Gems project

Get Gems is new take on the classic mobile messaging software, which integrates the Counterparty GEMZ token into the instant messaging experience.


What's up party people? Chris DeRose here, community director of the Counterparty Foundation. And on today's show, I have Daniel Peled of the GetGems Project, who is going to join us and talk to us about his project, what he's doing with Counterparty and other projects in general. Daniel, welcome to the show. How are you? I'm good. Happy to be here. So give the audience a little overview about what it is that you're doing in the GetGems Project.

Sure, we started this project about a year ago. The main goal I had in mind after taking part in ... new users to join this ecosystem. I had quite a hard time explaining to people about Bitcoin, just opening them a wallet and having them experience the ability to send money which I think is the magic moment.

So what we thought is what is the best solution to make this experience as simple as possible. What is something that everybody can use like my parents or my younger brother, and we thought if you combine this technology inside a social messenger, it would very simplify the process and that's how we started GetGems. Gotcha. And what were you doing prior to GetGems? What was your background? I studied law and economics. I have a master's in law. I was doing my internship in law when I got exposed to Bitcoin and blockchain.

And what years were that, that you got exposed to Bitcoin and the blockchain? It was September 2013. Okay, cool. So that was like the bubble there, you've probably seen it. What was it like over in Israel? What's the community like over there? Is it a vibrant community? Is it nobody? Or somewhere in between? The Bitcoin community here is great. There was a big Facebook group with about 4000 participants. There is the Bitcoin Embassy which there is a weekly hangouts in Satoshi Square.

There is the Google campus where there is a lot of the hangouts in different subjects. So the community here is quite big and it's very enthusiastic regarding this technology. And you can see the different startups in the ecosystem coming from Israel. I think that the community here is very good. And what other Bitcoin companies are there in Israel that are large and active, besides you guys, I suppose? Yeah, and so there's COLU which you probably heard about. They're developing the Colored Coins protocol.

They also raised over $2 million recently, and so there's them. There is Bits of Gold is the biggest exchange in Israel, to buy Bitcoins, and sell Bitcoins simply by connecting a bank account in Israel. There's also other startups like Synereo which you probably heard about. Oh that's right. That's in Israel as well. Yes, it's over here in Israel.

There's also Zenith , they're trying to build the biggest supercomputer that's also in Israel. There's Nazus which are now fundraising, and I wish them the best success. There's an awesome team there. So there's really a lot of different companies in this ecosystem from Israel. Israel has a so-called manufacturing plant or two over there that's fairly large. Don't they have like a background in producing chips and wafers and such? I thought there was a pretty big tech community there in general.

Is that true? Yeah. A lot of companies from Silicon Valley and around the World actually have their R&D Departments here in Israel. So Intel has I think the biggest facility for building chips and for R&D Development. And eBay has their R&D here. Apple just opened recently an R&D. Facebook opened an R&D.

So there's a very big high tech community concentrated in Israel. Very cool. So yeah, back to Gems. Let's talk about your fundraise. How did that process start? Where did it begin and who went to who? And then how did it progress? Can you tell us that story? Yeah, sure. The most important thing for me was really to get the community rallied behind this project.

Problems I've seen from other fundraisers is there is quite a big difficulty to acquire trust in project fundraising in the Bitcoin ecosystem because of the nature of the Bitcoin payment. And I was looking for different fundraising solutions, so I reached out to Joel from Swarm. I had a conversation with him. And Tom Ding heard about what we were doing and he reached out to me to explain regarding the crowdfund. It was really early stages of their crowdfunding platform. So I was in touch with him.

I really wanted to do it in a process that had the most transparency. And I could really rally the community behind the project and behind what we were doing. In the end, I chose to work with Tom. I thought that what they are doing is amazing. They milestones-based and development, and they're very knowledgeable regarding the regulation in the U.S.

, which they also helped us study and get connected with one of the expertise law firms there. So for me, it was a very good fit to do it with Koinify. And did they push you towards Counterparty at that time or did you want to work with Counterparty going into that relationship? No, I knew I was going to work with Counterparty. I'm a big Counterparty supporter. I was one of the early burners. I think was Robby and Adam are doing is amazing.

I also were in the early stages of Mastercoin, but when Counterparty came and you see actually technology working and you see the way that they conducted the burning, they just raised it up a level, and I knew I was going to work with Counterparty because I believed in the team, the development and I'm thinking of something long term. Those are things that are obviously important to support the technology we have over a long time. Glad to hear you feel that way. There's not many burners, actually. That's cool. I'd be very curious to know which burners are out there, so any burners that are watching this, let me know if you're around.

I'd love to talk to you about maybe even just what was going on in your head at the time you were burning. It's kind of a cool little part of Counterparty history. I was not a burner. I would have liked to have been in hindsight, but not for any good reason. I just wasn't around. I burned, I think, basically all of my money during that crowdfund.

All of the Bitcoins I had at the time. I just believed in it so much. And the way they do it, if you create a crowdfund based on burning, you believe in yourself and in the project so much, I thought it was a good risk to take. Well I surely invested a lot of time and effort into the Counterparty project. I know how you feel. So, when you started doing the GetGems Project, you had to choose how to develop the software.

You guys went with Telegram. Tell us about that decision. How did you guys decide whether or not to roll out your own software in full or use open source and to what degree and to which project you were considering? Yup, so initially, we actually developed everything on our own. We had our own messaging platform and backend and servers and everything. We started developing on the iOS platform, but the more we developed the development, we realized the biggest issue is not necessarily having the best product and doing everything on our own. With social networks it's actually reaching a critical mass of users.

If you have a good application, somebody downloads it, and he's alone, he most likely is going to delete the application and move back to what he's used to, if it's WhatsApp or Telegram. So we did a pivot in the development plan, and we started the initial version would be on top of Telegram. And I think it was a very smart move to do at this stage. And tell us a little more about your developers. How many developers do you have? And how did you guys come to know each other? You yourself, I know, are not a developer. Tell us what you're doing there.

Sure, so I have a very good friend, he is older than me. He's also been a developer for a long time. He had his own company which he sold to Wix, if you know, is a very successful building website company in Israel. He helped me in all the initial stage of developing the MVP version for the crowdfund. And once we were able to raise the funds, we started recruiting developers. We have a full time iOS developer.

His name is Alon. He's also been in the Bitcoin ecosystem for a few years now. He's contributed code to Ethereum and to other Bitcoin projects. We have Stas which has also been in the Bitcoin ecosystem. He's in charge of all the backend for a few years, and he's very knowledgeable. He's also one of the early Counterparty burners.

And there's a full time Android developer, Alex. He's less from the Bitcoin ecosystem, but it's good that we have this contradiction -- people coming from mainstream messengers, developers and crypto developers so we can really combine it together to make a product that is approaching mainstream users. Okay, so we just changed rooms here because there was a little bit of an internet interference. So hopefully it's a little bit better going forward. If you're wondering why the scene changed, well, technical difficulties. So, yeah, tell me about the value proposition of GetGems over incumbent messaging software.

What's the pitch? Where do you guys add value for your users? Yup, so really when we started this project, we had two goals in mind. The first one, like I said in the beginning, was to create a simple to use Bitcoin wallet for new users. I've used most of the dedicated Bitcoin wallets. If it's coin-based, a circle, a high, a blockchain input. And every time I try to explain it to somebody new, it is still a little bit complicated. I need to explain about the public key, about the private key.

If he wants to transfer money between wallets, he usually needs to copy the public address and then send it using Skype or Facebook or a messenger. So you actually need two applications, mostly to be able to talk with the current Bitcoin wallet. And so taking this technology and adding it to a social application makes everything much simpler. You use GetGems, you just need to enter your phone number, ...

wallet, a Counterparty wallet ..., and then transferring money between friends is just as simple as typing $10 sending a text message because the Bitcoin address is an alias to the user, to the phone number which makes everything much simpler. We combined the messenger and the Bitcoin wallet together. So that was our first goal.

I think we are doing it well, obviously. We still have a lot of improvements to do there, but I think right now we're in a good position. We just added the SPV wallets to the Android version, also to the iOS version which I think is great to keep Bitcoin decentralized. If you compare it to other successful wallets which are very centralized with the Bitcoin transactions. So that's the first goal. And the second goal is to also compete with the other social messengers.

And I think we do that by rewarding the users for participating in using the application. WhatsApp is very successful. They have many users. It's obviously very fun to use, but in the end, all value goes to the startup itself. What we're doing is that we reward the users every day for using the application and for inviting their friends using the airdrop mechanism that we introduced. Sorry.

It's okay. And are the stats in your economy? Do you guys publish that anywhere? Do you guys look at that internally and review it? I'd be curious to know how the network is growing or how people are using Gems. And how money is entering and exiting this system. Can you talk about anything you've noticed on those stats? Yup, currently we have a little bit more than 3000 users on the Android version and 1,500, a little bit more on the iOS version, which we launched it just under two weeks ago. It's mostly users from inside the Bitcoin community. Because we are still at public beta stage and we're doing many changes and we're breaking many things, we don't want to do any active marketing obviously, because we're still at the very early stages of development.

We're getting a lot of feedback. We're changing many things. And instead of doing backwards compatibility for everything, we just move forward. And if you're not technical, it would really annoy you, some of the stuff that we're doing. But the community has been very supportive. There were 1,200 buyers in the Koinify crowdsource.

So a lot of them are the early users. They are giving us a lot of feedback. We have QA groups and discussion groups with them. So I think we have been able to progress very fast this way, and once we think that the applications are polished, then we'll devote more effort into marketing and growing the user base. Gotcha. Do you think you have enough funding to get to that stage or would you go for another round? Or would you hit up a traditional VC at that point? We actually already have a traditional VC backing us.

Except for the $780,000 we raised on Koinify, and we raised $400,000 from Magma VC, which is one of the famous VCs here in Israel. I think my goal is to be able to scale our user base before we need another round of funding. That's one of the many advantages, because we're using Telegram we're able to build different mechanisms able to attract Telegram users to join GetGems. For example, if you try to send a Telegram user you can get a link to download our client, our application. And if you send different kinds of gifts or stickers they will also get this download link. So if we're adding value on top of Telegram, which I think we are because we're rewarding users for their participation because we're allowing money transfer and other cool stuff that we'll be doing very soon, like you'll be able to buy Bitcoin very easily from inside the application or shop to use Gems inside the application.

You'll actually have things to buy with. I think if we can raise enough value on top of Telegram, we'll see this migration to GetGems and be able to reach I hope 100,000 users before we go to raise that large amount of money, actually to show traction and show that what we're doing is working. I think that's a pretty good place to end the interview. Where can the audience go to find out more about your project? is our website. We have an official blog that we update.

About every two weeks, we try to release a new version of the application and we update with the blog. And we have the Twitter on handle that we also supply with information about every update that we do. So that's the best ways. And obviously Bitcoin Talk, where this is like the community headquarters where we talk and people ask questions and raise feedback. So we're there also.

That's great! Well I really appreciate your time today. And maybe we can do a follow up at some point. I'd love to talk to your dev, so at some point, if he's available, he wants an interview, I'd like to try and discuss the technical side of things when I can. But you did awesome. I really appreciate your time. For everybody's who's watching that just tuned in, that was Daniel at GetGems and he is writing a communications platform that uses Counterparty on the instant messaging applications.

Telegram is a very inspiration for their project, but they add an economic side of things. So yeah, if you liked this video, and you want to see some more interviews on the Counterparty side of things or the Bitcoin side of things, certainly check out the channel, and look at other videos on your left there. And if you have any questions for me, as always, you can tweet me, @derosetech on Twitter or you can type the questions in the comments below. I always love to hear from you guys and I look forward to seeing what you say. Later, party people.