New startup Honā taps into the power of ‘micro’ to improve remote worker productivity

Honā: An accountability platform leveraging Bitcoin

Community builders Faiā have launched Honā, an accountability platform that leverages Bitcoin to help remote workers with motivation, isolation and productivity slumps. We had the chance to catch up with Faiā Managing Director, George Samuels, to learn more about Honā, which has received investment interest from Silicon Valley venture capitalists and will beta launch in Q4 2020.

A conversation with George Samuels

What is Honā?

Honā is an accountability platform that helps people honor commitments, achieve goals, and become better, together. It is currently focused on improving the productivity of remote workers worldwide. 

How does Honā work? 

At a fundamental level, you choose a goal, set a deadline, and then commit an amount. If you hit your goal, you get your money back. If you don’t, you don’t! Honā differentiates itself by tapping into a unique blend of micro-commitments, micro-communities, and micro-transactions – three areas Faiā has always been quite passionate about. Honā was born in response to the needs of a paid community of ours, which has been running since 2016, called The Pack.

Recently, Honā was voted #1 Judge’s Choice and #3 People’s Choice during the Draper University Pitching Competition, can you tell us more about the pitching competition and why Honā got voted #1 by the judges?

The Draper University pitching competition took place as part of the Fall intake for their “Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship” program. The pitching component occurred at the very end, where 15 finalists were selected from a cohort of 80 and had to pitch their ideas live to Tim Draper and other judges. Based on what Tim Draper said during the live session, Honā was selected due to its relevance right now and where the future is headed. Many workers have been forced to work remotely, and so are seeking ways to be more productive online. Our platform addresses the accountability issue, which is a top concern for many managers/leaders of organizations, but also for high-achievers who may be experiencing slumps in motivation during isolation or stay-at-home notices. 

What did the Judges as well as the audience (People’s choice) like the most about Honā?

Honā addresses a relevant problem for people. Many have goals, but not everyone commits properly to them. By strategically adding financial incentives, it provides a different dynamic that forces you to think about the goal itself (e.g. “if I’m not willing to put money towards this, is this what I really want? Why or why not?”).

How does Bitcoin fall into Honā or how does Honā use Bitcoin? 

One of the problems we’ve seen in the Bitcoin world, and crypto for that matter, is the incessant focus on technical features. This is a faux pas for those familiar with sales, marketing, or UX design. Humans are emotional creatures. The extreme volatility of unregulated crypto markets should make this evident. A few circles assume the “free market” is filled with rational actors, but we take a slightly opposing stance. Humans are generally irrational, but try to be rational where they can. 

For Honā, we applied what we’ve been advocating for since Bitcoin started spreading—focus on the actual problems of users and keep Bitcoin in the background. Bitcoin should be treated like the plumbing that it is. 

Now, because we understand people’s fascination with buzzwords, we’ll only use “Bitcoin” if it makes sense with who we’re talking to. For a large majority of people outside the crypto bubble, not so much. Otherwise, we try to leave any mention of Bitcoin out completely from conversations about Honā. Again, why? So that the focus is kept on the problems we’re actually solving. 

In terms of how Honā uses Bitcoin, we do so primarily for the commitment tracking aspect, which is the perfect use case (in our opinions). Since Bitcoin is one big “trust machine”, trust goes hand-in-hand with accountability. While the Bitcoin ledger provides auditability for financial transactions, we’re building upon a layer that addresses people’s actions towards goals. So Bitcoin actually adds further reliability from both a financial and technical standpoint, something competitors have not attempted to do just yet. It also future-proofs our company in terms of protecting our user data privacy, ownership, and handling, while also keeping us accountable as vendors (preventing mismanagement of funds). We chose Honā because it sounds like “honor”, and we want to be known as the world’s most honorable company. 

Our key differentiator won’t just be the use of Bitcoin. Our team has a background in culture and community-building. Therefore, there’ll be a big emphasis on building a strong brand culture that sits on top of any technical innovations. Since we already have paying users, we know that this will make it very difficult for others to replicate. You can copy tech, but you can’t copy culture—that’s all about people’s experiences and the stories they tell. And if you’ve been in Bitcoin for a while—you’ll know this to be true. Just look at the different brand cultures of BTC, BCH, and BSV. All the same genesis, but varying beliefs and values amongst its supporters. 

There’s much more to come with Honā, but you’ll have to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated! And if you’re looking to work with us, feel free to reach out on Twitter.

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