Lessons in Blockchain Startups

Lessons in Blockchain Startups: Noticing the Obvious Problem Can Be the Hardest Part

Matt Cutler

By Matt Cutler in assist on February 15, 2019

Exactly one year ago, at ETH Denver 2018, the soon-to-be Blocknative team got hooked on blockchain technology. We learned it was powerful. We knew it was complex. And we started to realize it had the long-term potential to change the very fabric of our society. We also knew the learning curve for new users was <understatement> pretty steep.

We’re builders at heart. And experience has shown us that the best way to really learn something new is to start working with it. So we set out in a relatively straightforward direction: creating an ERC721-based crypto-collectible game that would be both fun to play AND teach people how to navigate the basics of blockchain. At a higher level, we felt this game might be one small step toward accelerating the arrival of the block native generation. And, if we’re being honest, we would’ve happily followed in CryptoKitties’ paw prints (sorry, couldn’t resist).

We quickly learned that playing a trading card game by yourself is a lonely experience, so we hopped on video chats to play the game together. But all too often, we found ourselves narrating what was happening while attempting to conduct multiple on-chain transactions. Which, as it turns out, isn’t all that much fun.

The truth is, the game felt like work. And not just busy work. Frustrating and uncertain work.

When we invited our friends to test it out, many wanted to give up during the onboarding phase — over which we had zero control or input. When we played the game, there was essentially no feedback about transaction progress or failure. It wasn’t clear why sometimes things happened quickly, other times they happened slowly, and sometimes nothing happened at all. Etherscan became both our best friend and our nemesis. If you’re part of a dapp team, this is probably a familiar sensation.

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