Geyser is a Lightning-native, non-custodial Bitcoin crowdfunding platform that makes it possible for anyone to create and fund campaigns for projects from anywhere in the world. The team at Geyser is working to give creators and organizers a platform to raise funds for projects while providing more transparency on the state of their campaigns. Similar to Kickstarter and GoFundMe, Geyser offers project pages that allow supporters to donate, and observers to check the fundraising progress. One of the biggest differences between outdated crowdfunding platforms and Geyser is that creators on Geyser receive the funds immediately because the donations go directly to projects’ Bitcoin full nodes.
Recently, the folks at Geyser launched a podcast to highlight the projects that are fundraising on the platform. When listeners listen to an interview with the project creator on a podcasting 2.0 app, such as Fountain or Breez, they can stream satoshis directly to the crowdfunding project’s node, similarly to how the crowdfunding page works.
The Geyser team is working on additional features to the platform which includes Geyser Posts, a Medium-style blog where authors can charge viewers microfees in order to read the article. In addition, they are planning to add Geyser Grants, which will allow funders to donate to specific causes and funds will be awarded by a committee.
As of now, creators need to apply to have their project hosted on Geyser, but eventually, the goal is for creators to self-start their own campaigns. Though the platform is in its infancy, the company is participating in the DraperX Bitcoin Studio accelerator program.
We spoke with Mick Morucci and Stelios Rammos from Geyser to hear the background of their platform and where they hope to take it in the future.
How Did the Idea For Geyser Begin?
Morucci: Geyser started when I really started deep diving into the Bitcoin/Lightning space and ran my own node to understand what Lightning was, studying Lightning and just understanding that this technology makes Bitcoin actually usable at scale. I realized that you can have millions of transactions routing per minute. It all clicked when I started studying and getting into it. Then I reached out to Stelios who had written an article on Medium about Lightning transactions. That’s how we met.
Last summer, I realized, “Oh my God, there’s all these Bitcoiners doing all this cool, really crazy shit.” I noticed how many new Lightning apps and creative Bitcoin projects were being created. Yet there was little tooling that could allow Bitcoiners to support these projects and allow them to keep track of these initiatives.
There was no way for me to actually support them. I have a Lightning node and I just want to actually transact, actually do stuff with bitcoin because I am fully on a Bitcoin standard, like 100% irresponsibly into Bitcoin. I thought, “Okay, now that you have all your life on Bitcoin, you actually don’t feel bad about spending your bitcoin, because that’s all you do to spend money on groceries and everything else.”
So Geyser started when I noticed how hard it was to support Bitcoiners who were launching their own creative, entrepreneurial or educational projects. I quickly noticed it was quite hard for me to support them, keep in touch with their work and to keep track of the impact they were having. That’s when I realized we needed a platform for these creators to launch their ideas and a place where Bitcoiners could support them.
What Problem Is Geyser Working To Solve?
Morucci: We were noticing all these Bitcoiners coming up with all these different, crazy ideas. We call them Bitcoin creators and creatives. They’re people that are either building things technically or doing creative things or educating people about Bitcoin and doing important creative work on Bitcoin. There was no simple, easy platform where they could raise money. Sometimes there were Twitter threads of people who dumped their QR codes on there to raise funds.
It was a very ad hoc way of doing things, but it really made us think that you need a place for this. You need a home for Bitcoin ideas where people can go view what projects are on there, fund them, support them and be a part of them. And there’s something special about giving. So when you give something, you want to be able to go back and see what impact that has taken place and maybe contribute again, maybe feel recognized for actually having donated to a cause or a creative piece of work.
That has really helped me understand that there’s also a side note to this. If there’s anything at all that we can learn from customer relationship management, it is the importance of crowdfunding to actually enable the creative and building ecosystem to actually happen.
There are two big platforms. One is Gitcoin that uses matching donations and quadratic funding, as well as mirror.xyz. These are very much used by the Ethereum crowd as a place where people can fund and support each other’s projects.
There’s a lot to criticize Ethereum for, but if there’s anything at all that we can take away from it, the power of crowdfunding through digital assets is immense. You see this project raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and also either bottom-up or top-down support initiatives.
That really helped me understand and has helped us connect the dots with some people in the Bitcoin community. You know, this is actually really valuable and we need to build a place for Bitcoiners to actually support the Bitcoin ecosystem into actually flourishing.
We’ve seen that with the Human Rights Foundation, donating bitcoin for Bitcoin projects, we’re seeing this with the OpenSats foundation, but you don’t see this for things around education or culture or creative work or even startups. There’s so much still to be done in terms of crowdfunding and grants that can help this ecosystem thrive and really grow organically.
How Does Geyser Work?
Morucci: There’s probably a big difference between how Geyser works now versus how Geyser will work in the future. Soon anyone, anywhere — in every country — can go on Geyser and easily create a crowdfunding campaign that is linked to a non-custodial Lightning Node that only they have the keys to. And what that means is that we cannot access their funds. We can never freeze their funds and that’s very, very, very important to enable censorship-resistance at the financial level. So a person can create a crowdfunding campaign, attach their node and they can essentially raise as much money as they want for their initiative. Their initiatives could really be about anything. Funders can go on Geyser and see a campaign and fund it in literally three clicks. The fund can also give the funder rewards and badges, so people can donate, but also get a reward back from the creator of the project.
There are three key elements to Geyser. One element is that it’s borderless. I think that the current traditional crowdfunding platforms only operate in around 30 countries. Through Bitcoin’s open network anyone, anywhere can fund. The second element is a social element of it. There’s badges, there’s rewards, there’s recognition given to the funder, which we think is really important. Third, there is the interconnected, interoperability with any other platform out there that uses Lightning.
We are Lightning-native, meaning that every Geyser project has a Lightning Address, which means that you can fund a Geyser campaign from any [Lightning] wallet. We’re essentially connected to the Lightning ecosystem that is an open protocol and we don’t just connect via API, we connect through this permissionless protocol.
If you saw the recent announcement by Breez, we are now featured in the Breez app. So if you’re on the app, which is a Lightning wallet, you can fund Geyser projects directly from the wallet. This is a 10 times improvement in the user experience compared to traditional crowdfunding where you cannot fund a Kickstarter from Facebook or Twitter or the New York post, but now you can fund a Geyser campaign from Stacker News. It’s a completely different experience.
Rammos: Taking a step back from Geyser itself and just looking at what makes sense for a crowdfunding platform now and going into the future of technology like Lightning Network has really lowered the barrier for someone to become a payment processor. A company that used to want to interact with the financial system needed a partnership with PayPal. They needed a partnership with Stripe. Today, we see that just individuals can just run up an Umbrel node and start receiving payments. We’ve seen the emergence of many different tools, particularly around tipping or even point-of-sales, like BTCPay Server is doing an amazing job there.
The focus shifts away from the ability to receive payments and around the more overall funding experience and integration that Mick was describing. It’s not just about receiving payments through Lightning. It’s also about how you make the portal to your crowdfund available through much more than just a single platform: integrating with podcasts, integrating with Stacker News, integrating with any service that implements Lightning becomes the focus of a project such as Geyser, because at the end of the day, there’s going to be so many platforms that allow you to receive tipping that won’t be enough. It will be much more than just the payment part.
What Types Of Features Do You Hope To Add To The Website?
Morucci: We are building Geyser Grants. Anyone who’s building or who has a Geyser crowdfunding campaign or any other campaign can apply to get a Geyser grant specific to a particular cause. For example, we can have a Bitcoin education in emerging markets grant and maybe we’ll have $10,000 to give away to Bitcoin initiatives that are geared towards that specific cause. This is part of what we’re doing with Geyser. Crowdfunding is really the groundwork.
The grants have been more top-down than the crowdfunding, you know, “Let’s support this cause because we think it’s really important.” In the future, we have other things we want to build that converge very well with grants: Geyser Posts. Essentially, people write content around whatever they’re doing and get tipped and supported through that.
Geyser Posts are a bit like a Medium, but where people can tip bitcoin. That’s still in the making though — maybe it will be a few months before it goes out. We have more plans around Bitcoin, like Geyser Drops. Essentially, just like on Stacker News you can earn sats, on Geyser Drops, depending on your reputation and how active you’ve been, you can earn sats that you cannot withdraw, but you get to use on projects. So imagine coming on Geyser and having no money, but wanting to support causes, you’ll be able to through the sats that we’d be providing for you, that we get from grants or from other things.
Rammos: I’m not sure if it was mentioned already, but we have user profiles in the works. We’re going to be exploring much more how users actually interact, not just with a single project, but also generally with the platform and maybe start thinking about badges that are not just about what you’ve funded on a single project, but maybe how many projects you funded.
We plan to give a little bit more importance around the weight of an ambassador or sponsor, maybe extend those roles a little bit into the future. It’s still very exploratory of course, but user profiles will put a bit more accent on your activity, generally speaking on Geyser.
Why Do You Have The Ambassador And Sponsor Roles On Project Pages?
Morucci: The importance of ambassadors is recognizing that people landing on a page may not immediately trust where the funds are being sent to. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel of creating a system of recognition, so what we’re doing is we’re pulling [ambassador and/or sponsor] users’ profiles from Twitter and allowing that to be what people can recognize and kind of trust, right? Not everything needs to be trustless, so the social element will add a layer of trust that can help people understand a project better, understand where it fits in within the broader ecosystem, and make them feel comfortable supporting this cause because this popular Bitcoiner has staked their reputation [on the project].
Rammos: It’s [trust] a new form of currency. From the perspective of a funder that wants to donate, we’re plugging into a network of trust that already exists. And for people that may not want to donate with satoshis, they could donate their reputation in a way. It’s a different form of supporting a project by giving your stamp of approval in a way.
What Types Of Projects Are Crowdfunding?
Morucci: We have a bit of everything at the moment. We have a project focused on Bitcoin gaming. There’s quite a bustling Bitcoin gaming community. We have projects around Bitcoin education, especially in emerging markets.
We also have a Bitcoin movie called the “Anatomy Of Bitcoin” and another educator, Bitcoin Ballers. What’s really interesting here is that if you look at where the creators and funders are located: you have Spain, you have Brazil, you have the UK, you have Nigeria, Portugal and Zambia.
It really kind of helps explain that we couldn’t have done this with traditional crowdfunding. This is truly borderless; it doesn’t matter where you are, where you’re based, but it has an impact and it’s very important. It shows our network. It’s a network that doesn’t know borders. That’s just what we’re doing: We’re creating this network of value and a social network of value through Bitcoin.
What Do You See For Geyser In The Future?
Morucci: Geyser is essentially a platform that enables the creator and creative ecosystem to emerge on Bitcoin. So Geyser is not just crowdfunding; Geyser is a platform where creators and creatives can turn their ideas into reality and can monetize from their ideas. It’s a platform. It’s an ecosystem. It’s enabling an ecosystem in many different ways.
Rammos: We have big plans. I think medium to long term, it’s really serving this community. As Mick said, Bitcoiners need these tools. They’re the most ambitious people you have in the world right now, probably with the most positive outlook for the future. So if they come together, that’s something that’s really powerful. Eventually Bitcoin becomes a world reserve currency, so everything that applied to Bitcoiners would apply to everyone else. So in the very long run, there’s no reason that we stop at Bitcoiners, or there’s no reason that Bitcoiners remain a niche market. Everyone’s going to be a Bitcoiner.