It’s winter 2017 and Bitcoin breaks 10k bucks…
I was at a cryptocurrency meetup with a buddy of mine, Alex Michelsen, in late 2017. We had worked together on a few traditional startups before and started poking around cryptocurrency. A few months earlier, crypto wasn’t something that came up in conversation. People didn’t ask you how much Bitcoin you had or if you saw what Litecoin did that day. But that night, everyone, including my barber told me they just bought “a little Bitcoin,” and that Litecoin had almost doubled, so I’d “better jump on.” It was new and exciting and, like most people, we wanted to learn more about it.
At this particular meetup there were about 5 projects that were planning a token launch in the coming weeks — health tech solutions, real estate on the blockchain, gaming — you name it. The founders all had a hard time explaining what blockchain was or why it was a core part of their idea-stage company, yet were all pretty well versed on the regulatory structure of raising an insane amount of money through ICO sales of tokens that didn’t even exist yet.
Every project I saw was raising an insane amount of capital to build a product just to see if it was something people actually needed.
As a tested startup founder who had previously bootstrapped two companies, I couldn’t understand how or why these crypto projects were shuffling around the order of starting a company. Instead of testing an idea, building a product, getting market validation, then raising money — they seemed to do it in the reverse order. Every project I saw was raising an insane amount of capital to build a product just to see if it was something people actually needed.
Everyone was jumping in.
Around the same time, I started looking around the countless online crypto communities. The chats were dizzying. Reddit, Telegram and Discord were acting as these loud party rooms where ideas were flying, excitement was palpable, and projects were getting thousands of people listening to what they were doing. There was a buzz in these chats I hadn’t seen before.
After running companies for years and pushing to create a community around what I was building — I saw crypto projects doing something traditional startups just couldn’t — generating interest and getting people involved super early. They wanted to discuss ideas, learn, help, and participate. Projects that were still in their infancy had communities offering support at a critical time when it could really shape their direction and help build something that really makes an impact.
While a lot of people were seeing ICO customers, I saw real people who wanted to explore early stage ideas and get in on cool stuff at the ground floor. On the train ride home from that meetup, where we saw companies completely overlooking the moment they were in, Alex and I decided to start a project to help these early stage crypto companies get on their feet in what we believed was the right order: Community and users first to help drive their product and project evolution. It was going to be a time where we built community, explored ideas, and figured out what people who were into blockchain actually wanted to use.
I believed then, as I do now, that crypto projects have a potential for community that traditional startups can never capture. That’s a strength of the crypto space and though we didn’t have a final blueprint of what we wanted to become, we knew we had to be a place where people could make friends, explore early stage projects together, and learn about blockchain. With this idea in mind, we launched a community and called it Parachute.
Here is an image of the original Parachute home page Jan. 2018, built on an idea of letting people discover cool crypto projects.
To Infinity and Beyond
To start exploring ideas, we created a token for the community and picked a few projects we liked. The idea was that people could earn our native token, PAR, and the tokens from cool projects they liked by getting involved and supporting them as they launched. We picked projects that were willing to give out tokens over selling them, that had good ideas to explore, and valued community support.
Over that first year, our new community explored incredible projects and some total washouts. Some projects we partnered with continue to build amazing things. Through it all, we stuck with our core ideas and continued to build a community around them.
I’ve always believed that discovering what people don’t need is the fastest way to finding out what they do.
During this time, we also worked on our own ideas. I’ve always believed that discovering what people don’t need is the fastest way to finding out what they do. Over our first year, we shared ideas, tested them out, and learned a lot. Some things didn’t work because they didn’t really need blockchain; other things didn’t work because they didn’t actually do jobs for people or add value to their lives. In the end, we learned what people didn’t need, and had a few ideas around what they did.
In our first 18 months, we had also given out 250,000,000 PAR to the community for exploring ideas with us, being involved, and supporting the Parachute world as it grew. We also grew as a team, with the addition of an amazing technical co-founder who started out as a community member.
With a great team, a strong community, and a pretty good idea of what people wanted, we were ready to get to business.
By late 2018 we completed the first part of what we set out to do. We explored different areas of crypto; we saw what worked, what didn’t, what was hopeless, and what could be improved. We had crystalized exactly what we wanted to be, and the direction we wanted to take Parachute.
Every space we touched, every community we saw, every project in limbo illuminated a central theme that became our guiding light: Cryptocurrency as a whole was hard to interact with, not very fun, and isolating. This was the polar opposite of the people I spoke with everyday. We knew as we moved forward, our mission at Parachute was to make the world of cryptocurrency easy, fun, and social for everyone.
The Launch of ParJar
In December, 2018, we launched ParJar. The idea was to make a crypto wallet that could live in group chats and let people swap crypto coins in a super easy way. We picked our first social media platform, Telegram, and launched a wallet that did a few big jobs:
- It made crypto fun.
- It made crypto easy.
- It made crypto social.
What made ParJar different, was that people didn’t have to completely understand how crypto worked in order to use it. People were getting coins without setting up a wallet, sending coins without understanding network fees, and slowly learning about cryptocurrency while having it in their hands. ParJar was launched to make crypto easy, and it was doing just that for anyone who used it.
Because ParJar has no network fees, you can send someone 10 cents of Bitcoin, or a dollar of Ether as you chat. As we saw people swapping coins over thousands of times in group chats, we were seeing that crypto was becoming social.
While I do believe the coolest concept I’ve learned over the last year is that cryptocurrency lets me instantly create my own personal bank anytime I want, I believe the strength of blockchain also acts as a barrier to making it fun.
I remember my first Bitcoin transfer. I waited almost an hour for my Bitcoin to move wallets as I kept hitting the refresh button on my browser. It was amazing, but I wouldn’t have used the word fun to describe it. While I do believe the coolest concept I’ve learned over the last year is that cryptocurrency lets me instantly create my own personal bank anytime I want, I believe the strength of blockchain also acts as a barrier to making it fun.
ParJar was not made to act as a bank but, as the name implies, as a place where you keep a few bucks of your favorite coins to swap around with friends, pay for a beer, or send someone a tip. It isn’t the end-all solution for cryptocurrency, but it does make it fun for people to use and fun is a good place to start.
Today, over 9,000 people use ParJar as a way to interact with their friends. We’ve had over 100,000 transactions in the last 6 months with 75% of those happening in the last two. We’ve seen ParJar do a job that people wanted to get done. Finally, we built the tool that made crypto a place that was fun, easy, and social. We would have never started out with something like this and only ended up here after the year we spent exploring ideas and ruling out the things people didn’t need.
PAR and the Parachute Products.
The idea of ParJar is to be a launchpad for the world of Parachute products. Next, we’re launching additional products that keep true to our core beliefs while expanding how people and businesses use crypto in their daily lives; and we’re making PAR the foundation of it all.
PAR has been the lifeblood of our community but it hasn’t always had a clear purpose. Like the ideas and directions we explored, we also explored how PAR could fit into our world in an organic way that wasn’t forced, and that pushed forward our ideas of how cryptocurrency should exist. With our new products, we’ve done this.
Within the month we’ll be launching a new feature on ParJar that gives the user an option to use PAR instead of ETH for Ethereum network fees related to withdrawals and transfers. As we’ve seen with people who enter the cryptocurrency space, a common UX barrier everyone has is that it instantly becomes complicated, time consuming, and frustrating to use once they have managed to purchase it.
Using PAR, you can send any supported erc20 token to another wallet, service provider, or Dapp without having to purchase or transfer Ether. Having created an ecosystem where people can enter our products and touch PAR as their first cryptocurrency, it places a higher value on interacting in our world over buying ETH to use as gas.
Within the month we’ll be launching a new feature on Parjar that gives the user an option to use PAR instead of ETH for Ethereum network fees related to withdrawals and transfers
We’ll be launching these products and features with over 9,000 users and a target to expand to over 1 million active users by 2021.
Here's an image of a prototype of the Parachute universal QR
PAR will continue to be a part of what we build — from launching a universal QR code for all your cryptocurrencies — to letting stores connect with people through our platform — PAR now is a core part of everything we build.
We gave out 250m PAR in the last year and a half. Going forward, we’re giving out 270m more PAR scheduled over the next three years. Keeping with our original mission, we’ll be giving it out to new users and existing members who want to learn about crypto, be a part of our world, and use the products we build.
We’ve learned a ton since that very first post on Reddit. From the start, we’ve listened to the community, converted ideas to products, and tested products around them. I think the opportunity to grow with a group of people and make friends along the way is what makes launching a crypto project different than any other type of company. We owe everything to the people who have supported Parachute and wake up every day to build awesome stuff that they like to use.
As we grow, the products we’re building will go way beyond our community and live as a foundational tool that other communities will build on throughout the evolution of cryptocurrency. With a native app, a way to connect people to the stores they love, and an ethos that’s been driving us since day one, we think we can build Parachute the way we wanted to when we first started out — having fun, fostering an amazing community, and building things that people actually use.
If you want to get involved in what we do. Join us.
We’re also in over 170 communities across Telegramsubmitted by /u/lindseyscottw