Peer-to-peer digital advertising system TonicPow is one of the many successful projects that came out of the Bitcoin Association’s Bitcoin SV Virtual Hackathon. The TonicPow team won second place at the CoinGeek Conference in Toronto in 2019 and recently received a sizable investment from Calvin Ayre, founder of Ayre Group and CoinGeek.
We recently had a chance to catch up with TonicPow founder Luke Rohenaz, who shared the team’s Bitcoin SV Hackathon experience, their recent investment from Calvin Ayre, as well as TonicPow’s plans for the future.
How did the TonicPow team come together for the Bitcoin SV Hackathon? Did everyone already know each other?
When the hackathon came up, Austin and I had been working together for a couple years already. I had also worked with Attila in Unwriter’s slack (Atlantis) and we co-authored Author Identity (AIP) and Magic Attribute Protocols (MAP) for side projects we were building at the time. I got the three of us together just to have fun and build something cool. Little did I know it would be the beginning of this incredible journey we find ourselves on now.
How did the team come up with the idea for TonicPow?
We had a couple brainstorming sessions that led to a list of about 30 project ideas. We then scored them on various categories like business viability, onboarding potency, fun factor, and a number of other things. We actually almost built a photo sharing app before refining the idea further and coming up with the original TonicPow widget.
What were the team’s thoughts when creating TonicPow at the hackathon?
We did some preparation beforehand so we had a plan of what should be done, by who, and in what order. We also planned out which tools we would lean on to accelerate the development process. We separated our feature list into core components and stretch goals. We ended up delivering the core product as well as several of those goals as well. I don’t know that we had much time to have any other thoughts!
What obstacles did the team face at the hackathon?
I think our preparation really paid off because the development went surprisingly smooth (for the most part). We didn’t really prepare to be finalists so getting a passport in time to leave the U.S. was a race for me. The other guys were more seasoned travelers already.
What was the feeling/experience like when the TonicPow team learned that they were Hackathon finalists?
Honestly, we were really surprised when we found out that we were in the top 14 teams (there were something like 200 of them). Each round afterward was even more exciting, and by the end it was just surreal. Hackathons were new to us, so it was that much more intense.
What are some of the most memorable moments of the Toronto Hackathon?
No question it was the people we met at the conference. It was there we were first introduced to Jack Liu, other finalists like BitPing, many devs we had worked with in Atlantis before, some online personalities from this space, and of course Steve Shadders, Craig Wright and all of the brilliant minds working tirelessly to make all of this possible. We would later go on to participate in both CambrianSV events, and form alliances with many of the other upcoming BSV businesses.
What caught Calvin Ayre’s eye and made him want to invest?
TonicPow is one of the few places you can earn Bitcoin without having to figure out how to acquire it. TonicPow’s platform can help the entire BSV ecosystem with onboarding the rest of the world.
TonicPow also empowers application developers to build really cool incentive systems, which apply to every industry. There’s amazing potential here and the investors we’ve spoken to noticed this immediately.
For those who don’t know, how does TonicPow work?
In essence, TonicPow is a BitCoin recommendation network. You can earn money for browsing products & services and sharing the ones you like with anyone who would appreciate them. If they purchase a product, or sign up for a service, you earn more.
TonicPow is also a platform to promote your business with some advantages over traditional advertising. When creating a campaign with TonicPow, users choose to share it with their audience. When recommendations come from people you know, you’re more inclined to engage than with traditional ads. It’s also more transparent since each payout is recorded to the ledger in real-time.
TonicPow also offers a robust API which allows customers to bake flexible incentive systems into their applications unlocking infinite possibilities.
How long were investment talks going on for? Are there any other investors interested in TonicPow?
We began talking with Calvin and the team after the first Bitcoin Association hackathon. The world was very different back then to say the least. We really didn’t expect this to become a company when we entered the hackathon but it quickly became an obvious path forward. We’ve also had a few good conversations with other potential investors.
What do you think the BSV ecosystem needs that it currently lacks?
BSV itself is ready to roll. What it needs now, is all of the developers from the other blockchains. Not to work on BSV, but to build applications. We’ll get there.
What does TonicPow have in store for the future? What are TonicPow’s next steps?
We plan to finish what we’ve started and deliver a great experience whether you’re a no-coiner, or have followed BitCoin through the forks. We will lean more heavily on Bitcoin as a platform while respecting user privacy as a rule. There are also new features planned to empower advertisers and promoters to come to their own terms. There’s lots of work to do!
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.