Today I have Chris Justin (@Chris_Justin) and Eathan Janney from the Run With It podcast. They are coming on the show today to share some business ideas for 2021 for indie hackers. In this episode we discuss flying cars (VTOL), NFTs, people coins, and other trends to get ahead of for the next year.
• Listen to new ideas on the Run With It podcast: https://www.runwithit.fm/
What's up, everybody? This is Courtland from indiehackers.com and you're listening to the Indie Hackers Podcast. More people than ever are building cool stuff online and making a lot of money in the process. On this show, I sit down with these indie hackers to discuss the ideas, the opportunities, and the strategies they're taking advantage of so the rest of us can do the same.
I’m here with Chris Justin and Ethan Janney from the Run With It podcast. They've been on the show before. I think we did our last episode in January, we did kind of an idea riff episode, where I came on and shared some of my startup ideas.
Today, what we're going to do is all three of us are going to share just random stories and ideas that we've heard of that we might think would be good for indie hackers to run with in 2021. This is kind of the whole theme of your show. So, Chris, why don't you explain how your show works?
Yeah, sure. Run With It is a podcast where we bring on successful CEOs and other founders to talk about business ideas that they love, but they don't have time to do themselves. It's very action-oriented stories. It's riffing. We use the word half-baked a lot to talk about the ideas on the show.
Our goal is actually to, tongue-in-cheek, goal is to get them to sabotage their own company by becoming so distracted with the new idea that they just split their attention and go off and do that.
No, actually, we claim that we're hired by their competitors to distract them from their primary business idea.
Oh, that's perfect. I'm going to have to hire you guys to get the new CEO of Product Hunt on here so they don't crush Indie Hackers.
There you go.
So, we got a giant dock here with a bunch of different notes. Chris, you got a story here that says flying cars are actually coming. What's the deal there?
Yeah, we talked about this recently in the Run With It podcast and it struck me because people have heard about flying cars forever. Henry Ford tried to popularize flying cars back in the day. Obviously never worked, a lot of technological breakthroughs that had to happen, but it's on the verge of being here.
I'll venture to say that everyone listening to this podcast within 10 years will have an opportunity to ride in a flying car. I think it's actually that close to coming out. Part of the reason that it's happening is there's this a flush of money going to find cars to startups via SPACs.
They’re super popular, going public. The traditional route has been becoming less and less popular because you basically have to do this whole road show and advertise yourself to these banks. They take a huge cut and founders don't like it. They want to keep as many of their billions of dollars as they possibly can.
Yeah, it's interesting about that. There's a little bit of an aside, but it turns out that they're likely to have less money overall going via SPAC. The fees are three to four times higher going via SPAC. It's just much less complex. The broker fee in itself is five and a half percent usually.
So anyway, three flying car companies, more accurately known as EVTOL companies, electric vertical takeoff landing companies, have gone public or are going public via specs in the last two and a half months alone.
The latest one is Lilium. Lilium was started in 2015 by Daniel Wiegand. He worked out the engineering specifications for the company for flying cars while many of his friends were out drinking, which at least makes me feel bad about my own life decisions. But anyway, he worked it out. He borrowed some money.
He persuaded suppliers to provide some free parts in order to begin building a prototype. Once he had that prototype, they raised money from investors like the co-founder of Skype, Nicholas Zennstrom, and Tencent invest in $90 million into them. The company’s now worth $3.3 billion. They got $830 million, they believe, of proceeds via a spec.
Funding aside, there's obviously a ton of momentum into this technology from a financial perspective, but technologically, I want to talk about why this is going to happen. Two main reasons: cost of batteries is coming down, and two, autonomous algorithms and infrastructure is on the verge of figuring all of this out for flying cars.
I've always just assumed that the reason why flying cars don't work out is not because the technology is super hard, but because we don't actually want every person to have a car that can fly into the side of your house. The consequences of crashing are a lot higher than crashing a normal car.
Well, I think that's probably too for drones. It would be super annoying if everyone had a small drone out there, but right now these are way more expensive than the average consumer can actually use. The lowest end that we saw is $600K or so.
Do you have any idea why people are so excited about investing? You said the technology is making it easier.
Well, one of the use cases I think is, if you imagine flying into JFK and trying to get into Manhattan, if you've ever tried to do that trip in a taxi or public transit, it's just, it's a bitch to do. A flying car, they promise to be able to get you from JFK to Midtown Manhattan for 70 bucks in 10 minutes.
So it's a cheap helicopter ride, basically.
Super cheap helicopter. It's super quiet, too. That's another benefit of it as well, and less polluting than helicopters. The run time for EVTOLs, they’re expecting to be able to run for about 2,000 hours per year. An average helicopter's only able to operate for about 300 hours per year.
So, it's a step change improvement in number of ways. The batteries just need to get there. I think that's going to happen with Tesla. I don't anticipate any indie hackers going out and starting a flying car company. I'm not advocating for that by any means. That's not the reason I'm bringing this idea out here to you, but I think that…
Why are you bringing this idea out here, Chris?
Why am I? One, it's super cool. How cool is it to be able to fly a car? That's going to be awesome.
Two, of course there's gonna be a huge infrastructure need that's going to come about as a result of these vehicles. I wouldn't want to bet on a specific company. I mean, there are literally hundreds who are trying to do this, but you can bet that one of them is going to win. There are certain things that are going to have to happen in order for this technology to take off. No pun intended.
I wonder what you could do as an indie hacker before any of this stuff gets launched. It might be five, 10, 15 years before these even take off. What can you do now?
Probably the easiest thing you can do with anything as an indie hacker is just a content business. For example, you could start a newsletter for, I don't know, flying cars or futuristic industry news, and just scoop up as much media, as much news, do interviews with the people behind the companies and others who are interested and just sort of following the tech and knowing what's going on.
Probably investors, primarily, would subscribe and might pay for behind the scenes news and insights and updates that other people don't have access to.
That ties in nicely with the idea that you had brought in here, right, about alpha sites.
Yeah. This is a whole different idea. It's actually kind of a story.
My buddy, Fred messaged me last year and told me that he was getting paid a thousand dollars an hour to have phone calls about the QA testing industry, because he runs a company around testing.
I was like, okay, well, I'm interested. I'm an expert on quite a few topics. I want to get paid a thousand dollars an hour for my expertise. Apparently, there are a number of these sort of expert Q&A services out there. Bit companies will pay these companies money to connect them with an expert and just talk to them on the phone for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, however long it takes.
One of them is called AlphaSights and I was like, all right, cool. I'm gonna sign up for this. I did. That had to be six, seven months ago. I completely forgot about it. Then two weeks ago I got an email from my AlphaSights sales representative and she was like, hey Courtland, are you an expert in technology XYZ, because we've got a company on the line that might want to talk to you.
I'm like, I sure am. Let's talk. So, I got on the phone with her and kind of proved to her that I knew my stuff, which was interesting cause she had no idea what it was. She was just trying to evaluate if I sounded like I knew my stuff and she was like, cool. All right, well, you know, what time are you available to connect to the client?
I'm like, anytime Thursday or Friday, but what's the rate? She's like, well, it's going to be either we can send you a nice bottle of wine or it'll be $75 for the call. I was like, this is not what I was led to believe by my friend, a nice bottle of wine. It's not really worth my time.
So, I was like, I'm sorry, sales rep, I won't say her name here, but I actually would only really do this for something closer to a thousand dollars. She's like, oh, a thousand dollars. That's about 10 times what I initially offered. She immediately counters, I'll pay you $300 to do it.
I'm like, well, 300 is nice. Like, I appreciate you coming up, but I'm also in the back of my mind, like, wow, she offered $75 knowing she would go to $300 instantly. We went back and forth and eventually, she was like, I can't go above $500 an hour. I have to talk to my manager.
And I was like, well, that's cool. It was cool talking, getting to know you. It's really not worth my time for less than a thousand dollars an hour. We hang up the phone and then like 15 minutes later, I get an email and she's like, we can do a thousand dollars an hour for the call.
So, how did this call end up? Basically, this guy worked for an investment firm and this investment firm is investing something like a hundred million dollars into a particular space over the next couple of years. They just have a million of it allocated to research. They don't care about hiring full-time analysts to spend thousands of dollars an hour talking to experts.
This guy knew literally nothing about the subject area. He knew zero. He was just asking these basic questions. It was pretty fascinating to me because you wouldn't think that anybody would pay a thousand dollars an hour to basically ask questions that they could probably Google or email someone for.
Yet there's thousands of people doing this and there's a lot of these expert networks. The idea and here is, how can Indie h=Hackers take advantage of this? There's quite a few different ideas, I want to hear what you guys think.
I think you probably could bring a service like this to people who are a little bit less rich than these hedge funds and major investors who nevertheless need to do research. The very low end there might be podcasters who need to do research on guests. You could connect them to, I don't know, expert researchers or something and get them all of their prep sheets filled out for $50 an episode and make it a thousand times easier to run your podcast.
Or in the middle of the end, you might have CEOs of startups who are trying to figure out basically what industry to move into or which marketing channels to tackle. There aren't really that many services. Nobody's ever emailed me and like tried to run a sales process for Indie Hackers and said, hey, I see this is how your business works. Let me sell you a package of information to help you grow or help you distribute your services, et cetera.
It seems like there's just a market for basically doing research and connecting people to experts that is criminally under targeted, just because of the value that people are willing to exchange for this kind of information.
Yeah, I think that it’s definitely underused. I personally have had some experience with this. Putting myself in that investor shoes, albeit at a much smaller scale, earlier this year, I won a contract marketing consulting contract five figures a month with a company.
Part of the reason I was able to pull that is because I found someone on clarity.fm who is an expert in healthcare sales and insurance, a super complicated topic that I knew nothing about, similar to I'm sure that investor contacting you, charge $200 bucks an hour.
I was happy to pay him for as much time as he'd be willing to spend with me. I was happy to pay that because that got me the contract with this company. They were super happy to have that connection, super happy that I did that research. It's certainly worth more than that to me.
Yeah. I'm on their website right now. Clarity.fm says startup advice from world-class experts. You find an expert, you request a call. It's almost the exact same thing is AlphaSights but targeted at startups.
Yeah, I think it sounds like there's less friction to it too, because you can just sign up there and you set your rate, people message you directly. You can, you know, you don't have that negotiation with the bottle of wine and gallon of milk or whatever. You just get right into to messaging people and send up your deals.
They're all sorted by basically price per minute. I'm looking through the list of people you can see. Get top tier PR media exposure for your company. Some guy charged in $17 a minute, which is actually more than my thousand dollars an hour rate. Someone giving just business strategy and marketing advice for $5 a minute, Stuart McDonald. There’s a bunch of people on here.
You could actually do this as a founder. Let's say you're trying to get your business off the ground. You don't have enough funding and you're not making revenue. If you are an expert in a particular domain, you could list yourself on one of these expert exchanges and hopefully get enough business and enough calls. Maybe you just spend your Monday on the phone all day talking about your industry, and then that gives you enough money to pay for rent and servers and internet costs.
I wanted to get into BitClout. This is the one idea that you've brought up, Courtland, that I was pumped to talk about.
I did a whole episode on BitClout the other day with Mubashar Iqbal. BitClout, I didn't get it at all, at first. My friend sent me a link to it was like, sign up for this, just do it.
The idea is that it's a decentralized social network built on the blockchain. That's a lot, right? Decentralized social network. The whole point is it's a social network that's not meant to be owned by anybody.
So, for years, social networks had been owned by these huge corporations, by Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. Jack Dorsey at Twitter. People have been trying to build some sort of network owned by the people for a long time, because then essentially the people own it.
We can essentially not have to look at ads. We can pay ourselves money instead of paying these corporations money. We can sort of, I guess, vote or collaborate on what we want our policies to be, rather than having Twitter decide what is and isn't free speech on the internet.
The challenge with all of these networks in the past is they've always failed because it turns out it's really hard to grow a social network. Just because you want it to be decentralized, doesn't necessarily mean that you have any real chance of succeeding, but BitClout seems like it might succeed.
They just launched in March. They have, I think something like $240 million now in a wallet, basically, worth of Bitcoin where people have put in a ton of money and that's because the entire network is built on the blockchain that runs on basically Bitcoin or this new coin they created called BitClout.
If you create an account on BitClout it's almost exactly like Twitter, but Chris, you would have your own coin, the Chriscoin and Ethan you'd have your own coin, the Ethancoin. And if I think that other people are going to start buying your coin soon and that your stature is going to rise, I can buy your coin now, just like you're a stock basically, and invest in you.
What's cool about it is it's kind of a blanket investment. I'm not investing in any particular project. I'm not investing in your podcast. I'm just investing in you as a person. If I invest in you, and then later on a bunch of other people invest in you, your stock goes up, your coin goes up, and now all the coins that I bought from you are worth more money and I can sell them and make a tidy profit.
So, if I just trust in you guys as people, it doesn't really matter what specific project that you build in the future, I can essentially just invest in all of it and sort of capitalize on that. The last sort of segment of how it works is that you can, because you see who all your investors are, all the people who own your coins, you can essentially create rules for them.
You can say, oh, the only people who can respond to my tweets are people who own at least one Ethancoin, or the only people who can DM me are people who have bought at least 10 of my coins, which should, and I think it kinda does, contribute to a lot of positivity where instead of having a bunch of haters who are following you and talking to you, you have people who authentically believe in you and want to support you; who are going to be retweeting your projects and asking you questions, et cetera.
So, that's the dream. The risk is that it's entirely a scam or that it's going to get hacked and that everybody's going to lose all the money that they put into the platform. I was pretty careful on my episode a couple of weeks back to make sure that people didn't, you know, take my enthusiasm for BitClout as any sort of investment advice.
I put maybe $5,000 into this. I would not put any more money into it than you can afford to actually lose.
I think that there's something to BitClout. I think that this isn't its final form. I don't think that BitClout is going to be the one to figure this out term.
It's not really decentralized right now. All the money's going to, like you said, one wallet, right? You can't claim to be decentralized like that. So, that's a major problem. It's still on that platform. It's not really open source.
Two, they're taking a large part of the pie for creating the network. Let's say, for example, Elon Musk is the top one on there. He's got three and a half million BitClout to his name, something like that.
Yeah. I'm checking right now, he's got 365 coins, which are worth each $70,000. Total market cap on the platform as if he's a stock is $25 million, of which he owns like eight. So, theoretically is Elon Musk joined the platform, he would have $8 million worth of BitClout and he hasn't done anything, just because other people have invested in his coin.
Yeah. So, there are two ways of looking at it and one is he hasn't done anything, and he gets that money. The other is he's seeding 60% of the value of himself to this platform for the fact that they created it.
So, if it does become this universal thing where BitClout is the way that you measure your self worth in a financial way, then I wouldn't give up that much of my financial stake to a platform like that.
Yeah, I think it's interesting cause it's weird to have a dollar amount next to your name and in a way, you see that dollar amount and you think, oh, this is my worth as a person.
But the reality is it's not really your worth as a person. This is just on this one platform how much money have people invested into what they think you're worth on this platform. In Elon's case, or really in anybody's case, you're not really doing very much, you know. He's not really doing anything. He's done nothing for people to come and give a bunch of money to BitClout.
Ideally, they don't lose all their money, but assuming it all works as planned, I think it's very entertaining to look, to log in and see how much my BitClout is worth and see what other people are buying and selling. I don't take it very personally. To be honest, I think some of the cooler things that people are doing is they're building side projects on top of BitClout.
You don't really need to be this cool celebrity. Honestly, it's probably a little risky to even post on BitClout because it's built on the blockchain. Everything you post is on the blockchain, which means it's completely public and it's impossible to delete forever for all time.
So, if you say anything even a little bit risqué, then you might be canceled 10 years from now. You know, we're murdering all of the people who once ate meat or whatever, or whatever's going on in the future and you were BitClouting about eating meat in 2021.
I actually don't that piece is that big of a deal. I think that if you post on Twitter, if you become famous enough, people can find that people's deleted tweets from 10 years ago are still coming back to bite them. Internet archive is essentially doing what that blockchain is doing in that regard.
I know people who are anticipating getting famous, for example, working on new startups and raising a lot of money, who will go through and just delete all of their old tweets. I know people who delete all their tweets now.
On BitClout, that's literally not possible, but your mileage may vary, up to you to figure out what you want to do. What I'm the most interested in is what kind of side projects would you build on top of BitClout.
Mubs has a cool one called BitClout Follow where you basically he just recommends who should you follow on BitClout. That's literally all it is. He looks at the interesting people who were on there. He groups them into categories. Then he created a profile on BitClout for BitClout Follow. I think that profile itself is now popular enough that it's coin’s worth like $1,500. Total market cap for that profile is $80,000 or something.
Mubs is doing an AMA on Indie Hackers today. He said, he's putting in a thousand dollars in BitClout, and now it's theoretically worth $40,000. He can't withdraw it because there's no withdrawals on the platform yet. But one day, if he can, he made a bunch of easy money by basically building something that other people believe in.
He probably wouldn't withdraw all that money at once because people would probably stop believing in his accounts. It’s kind of an incentive to keep it in and keep the coin price high and show people that you're not just kind of a scammer building something that's going to disappear. You're not building vaporware, but you're actually building a cool side project.
This also reminds me a different project, but similar. Zed Run is a digital horse racing game built on the blockchain. One, it's a fully functioning game where it has a number of factors. It has the NFT aspect of these horses, digital horses, are unique, but also the really cool thing that is pulled into it is the genetics component of it.
When you buy a horse, you can analyze their bloodlines, genotype and breed type, and then you can breed horses and you can actually do a digital equivalent of the real world of horse racing out there.
I haven't gotten into it at all. It's a steep learning curve apparently, but it's super immersive from what it looks like. I want to hear your thoughts, both of you, overall on the NFT world.
So, the idea of an NFT, nonfungible token, the basic idea is it's a way to create digital scarcity. It's a way to say, for example, the CEO of Twitter created an NFT for the first tweet that he ever sent.
This is the only digital representation of his tweet. Someone bought it for, I think, a several million dollars. It's almost like collectible trading cards or something where people will pay, you know, tons of money for the rarest Pokemon card or the rarest baseball card or the rarest Magic card, but a digital version.
A bunch of artists have grafted onto this. I think there's a guy, what's his name? Beeple, who sold an NFT representation for some digital art he created for like $70 million or $60 million or something crazy.
I am a skeptic. I am not certain that this is going to be popular or even around and another couple of years from now, because I don't think digital scarcity is all that new. I don't think there's any underlying technological shifts that may..
For example, Twitter handles are already scarce. If you have a Twitter handle, nobody else can get that Twitter handle because it's a unique row in a database somewhere, and nobody else can get it. Our domain names are the same. Our email addresses are the same. There's already a ton of digital scarcity.
The way that NFTs are implemented, for example, Jack made it NFT for his first tweet, there's nothing stopping him from doing another NFT for that exact same tweet. He could do a thousand NFTs for the same tweet, so it was it really scarce? Are you really bidding on any scarce resource?
The same for all the artwork that gets sold. You know, you could do an NFT for a famous painting that you've made, but then you could just do another NFT for the exact same painting or anyone who doesn't own that NFT could basically just copy and paste the image. And so, is it really digitally scarce? Or are we all sort of fascinated by the idea that it could be a radically in some weird way be considered to be scarce, but it's not.
Well, it's scarce in the way the diamonds are scarce, right? It's controlled scarcity. The producer is metering out the production, such that the value stays high.
If you take advantage of that, you flood the market with products, then yeah, it collapses. That happened in the trading card industry in the eighties and nineties. They just figured out that, hey, people want these holographic cards of Mike Piazza or whatever, and let's just make a bunch of them just crashed the market.
it's about creating digital scarcity per se. You know, there's just also the digital representation of ownership, you know, a place where you can say, I own this, and this is how we know.
The argument that there's other forms of doing that already, it's kind of, some people might think it's a valid argument, the argument against Bitcoin as a store of value, but you know, where people run into a problem.
Like I saw this one, I like this blog, this Mr. Money Mustache blog. This guy talks about saving and retiring early and stuff. He had this argument against cryptocurrency, you know, anything could be scarce. What if we started trading my toenails as currency, we could do that, but that wouldn't be Bitcoin.
And I was like, ah, you know, I usually appreciate your arguments, Mr. Money Mustache, but it's like the thing that is that people are seeing potentially value valuable Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is that it's not only scarce, something like gold, but it also has other properties that make it a better gold.
You can transfer it more quickly. You don't have to pay a lot of money to store it and move it and protect it, all this kind of stuff. I think that that's probably what's going on here with the NFTs as well. Yes, there's other ways of making something owned by one person or providing some sort of digital scarcity, but it may be the best way to do it.
That's why you're seeing, there's a company called WAX, the Worldwide Asset eXchange, who's invested heavily in NFTs for several years. The guy running it, William Quigley, is super smart. He's got ton of patents already in the space. Not only is that platform already doing a lot of business around digital collectibles, but they've looked into expanding very soon in the future.
They're working with big brands and creating licensing deals and all sorts of things. You know, he foresees a future where you have people trading tennis shoes on eBay. They literally just order the tennis shoes because they think it's a good price. They get it shipped to their house and then they put it back up on some other platform in some other way to resell it at a higher price.
He's envisioning a future where literally actually you just ship those tennis shoes to a central warehouse and people trade the NFT for the tennis shoes until maybe somebody actually wants to have it in their house.
It kind of sounds ridiculous to people who aren't in collecting, but to people who are in collecting, they're already doing it. I mean, you can't argue with it. Yeah, I think sometimes it sounds silly to trade comic books or baseball cards, but people are doing it. I don't think it's going to go away.
I think that's what it comes down to is ultimately, is there a market there and are there people who are willing to do it? And if there are, it doesn't really matter what the utility is. Nothing really matters. The fact is there's a buyer and if there's buyers, there's going to be sellers. There are market dynamics, as you said, Chris, the baseball trading card market collapsed at various points in the past.
I worry if that might happen with NFTs, there really isn't that much to stop you from opening a new marketplace for NFTs. There might be a point where there's so many sellers and not enough buyers and to be fair that doesn't mean it's the end of NFTs.
The art world doesn't have that many buyers. It's not that big of a market altogether. There aren't that many super rich people collecting fine art, and yet it exists and it thrives. It's something that we've known about. Maybe the NFT world will be something like the art world, but I am very bearish that in two or three years, it's going to be as popular and as hot as it is today.
I want to throw out one example of an NFT that I think could work before moving on to a slightly different blockchain topic.
I think it'd be super cool if someone like Beeple actually created the art on the blockchain live. Each stroke that he did with his virtual paintbrush was recorded on the blockchain. You don't actually see the piece of art. The only way that you can see it is if you have the private key. That would be truly scarce.
Maybe that's not the how it, how it ends, but I think that there is possibility for something like that.
I like it because it’s creative. If we have a creative piece of art like that, there's a story behind it. Whoever owns that now as a really cool story to tell anyone, who's like, why did you just spend $8 million on this art you can't even see?
They're like, well, let me explain to you how the blockchain works. They get this cool, unique story to tell anyone. That's the kind of story that can ratchet up the price of your art.
Well, and they could see it, right, if they have the private. But you'd literally have to be with them and they open up and…
It will be a whole experience. You know, it will be very different than any other kind of art.
One other point of skepticism I'll mention on this point is that there's just so many vested interests. We saw this with ICO's years ago where people would create a new coin offering and then they would just pump in millions and millions of dollars to it and make it look like something's happening here, you know?
There are a lot of people who own these NFT platforms and you see these sales of are going for millions of dollars, but no one really knows who exactly is funding this and who's buying it. It could easily be, in fact almost certainly is, to some large degree people who own the platforms, pumping in a lot of money to drum up excitement, to get other people who were rich to say, oh, this is worth a lot of money I'm going to buy in.
The art world does this too. Even traditional art, you'll see people basically pumping up the initial bid. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out over the next few years.
I think that the interesting thing about the blockchain application is the verifiable nature of the tokens. It's not as much the scarcity because, Courtland as you said, you can duplicate anything, but the verifiable nature does come in handy in other applications.
One of which is climate change. One of the big new applications that's coming out is the ability to offset your carbon emissions via a platform like Nori. What Nori does is people in corporations can buy these tokens. I think the average person, it's a $275 to offset all of your carbon emissions for the year.
When you do that, that money goes to farmers who are implementing sustainable farming practices that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Nori takes a little bit of a cut and everyone's happy.
The reason that you need the blockchain here, because I know you guys are going to ask me this question, or maybe the listener has that in mind is about 50% of the price of carbon offsets goes to overhead; legal compliance, accounting auditing. If you can consolidate that, simplify that into a blockchain, which is very easy to monitor and verify, then that is actually adding real value to the world in a way that I think is much more lasting and sustainable even than NFTs.
I love the idea, the basic idea behind Nori. It's NORI. I’m on their website right now. It's a carbon removal marketplace, as you said. One of the things they do in their homepage that I think is super cool, is they just give you the numbers to put things in perspective.
They kind of default you to saying how much, how many tons of carbon do you want to remove from the atmosphere? They default it to 16 because they say the average American emits 16 tons of carbon over the course of a year. They give you other examples, too. One round trip flight or a cruise can emit about a ton of carbon, literally one ton of carbon.
There are numbers I didn't know about. When you put it all into perspective, it'll cost $15 to remove a ton of carbon from the atmosphere. That could basically cover my entire yearly carbon footprint for $240 plus their actual transaction fee for this overhead that you're talking about.
That seems like a no brainer. It seems like a such an easy way to feel better about the impact that you're having. What I like about this in particular is that there's always an appetite to do good in the world.
No matter how many years you go back, people have always paid money to donate to charity, et cetera, et cetera. Those are often some of the best businesses to start because there's a market for it. Then what you need to do is basically figure out, okay, well, how do I use technology to do this a little bit better than the people in the past. Or how do I market myself to be a little bit better.
There's a lot of indie hackers who are doing this. I've talked to John O’Nolan from Ghost who is creating basically a WordPress competitor. He's super good at marketing. Five, 10 years ago, he had this whole manifesto, and a lot of people hate WordPress apparently. He had a lot of people funding him from the beginning.
I talked to Quincy Larson on the podcast who has, he runs a freecodecamp.org. That's I think the biggest resource online teaching people how to code. He's super good at basically breaking down the math so you can see, okay, for every dollar you donate, there's like 200 hours or something crazy of students actually learning how to code on our platform. It's super-efficient and people get behind that.
I think with something like Nori, the fact that they're breaking it down and they're putting it on the blockchain, they're making sure it's all transparent. Is this really that different from other non-profit charity organizations? Not really, except for the fact that they've got their marketing down and the processes down so that people like me were maybe a little bit more modern minded, want to do something like this and actually contribute.
I think a lot more indie hackers can probably do this. If you want to have a social conscious business, socially conscious business and you're good at marketing and you're good at programming and you know how to use modern technologies, there are a ton of people out there with a lot of money who are willing to donate to charities that actually can show their work and be more transparent and be more modern than the sort of old school.
There's a huge opportunity right now in general with infrastructure and just doing anything. I think if you throw a dart, you can't miss right now. Biden's team is putting out $2 trillion into the economy.
I think that the NFTs that we're seeing is a sign of people have a ton of money and they don't know how to use it productively, honestly.
It's very true. Every startup right now, every deal I get, all these, DMS; Courtland, are you an angel investor. We've got a deal for you by the way, we're oversubscribed.
It's companies that have, in my opinion, who would invest in this business. Apparently, lots and lots of really rich people are investing millions of dollars. It's crazy how much money people I guess have saved up over COVID or how much money is looking for a place to go.
Yeah, I think that there's in terms of opportunity, it's a much better opportunity right now to start something then to invest in something. That's an overall trend. Even if you have the money, just use that to build something and pretty much anything you can do well right now.
Another example of a sort of non-profit that is very modern is GiveWell. I love GiveWell. Effective altruism is basically a philosophy about having a very logical approach to helping people. So, it's how do you be as efficient as possible when you're donating money to a charity.
GiveWell was started by these two guys at a hedge fund who were thinking about donating. They started doing all this research. They're like, well, how do I know how efficient that particular charity is? How do I know how much of my money is going to the people on the ground versus overhead and marketing costs and all that kind of stuff.
It turned out there just wasn't very much data. They started GiveWell, which is basically a program that evaluates charities and figures out, where should you actually donate your money to? They have their own process and standards.
It's super cool. The way these two guys grew GiveWell was they were on Reddit and they were on internet forums and they would ask questions like, hey, what's the best way to find a charity to donate to you?
Then they'd go on an anonymous account and answer with GiveWell. They're doing the same thing that indie hackers would do to grow their websites and their businesses, but they're doing it with their own sort of charity organization. I think they've raised something 60 70 millions of dollars that they've redirected to the most efficient charities. I donate to it every year.
Their most efficient charity is called the Against Malaria Foundation. Basically, they're doing, I think distributing nets in certain places in Africa where malaria is really bad. You can reliably save a life donating three to $5,000 to GiveWell, which is crazy. It's like, oh, do I want to upgrade my apartment this year? Or do I want to literally save somebody's life?
You know that you're doing it because they are extremely rigorous about how they evaluate these charities. Even on their homepage, one of their main tabs says “Our Mistakes” and it's a list of every mistake that GiveWell has made over the last few years, broken into major issues and smaller issues. They talk about all, we had an error in a spreadsheet that led to this charity getting too much money, et cetera, et cetera.
They don't care about looking bad or looking good. They just care about being super effective. If you're asking people to give you their money, especially investors are especially people who are donating to charity and you can create trusts. That's huge.
There's a whole realm of old school charities and nonprofits that aren't doing any of this stuff who are still sucking up millions and millions of dollars from investors and donators who could probably be replaced by indie hackers, doing a better job at proving that they are trustworthy, and proving that they do care and they are going to show their work, et cetera.
I mean, that's also the idea behind this podcast is getting you two on, getting other people on, having a bunch of people share their stories. It's just creative inspiration. There are people out there working on businesses or trying to come up with business ideas. So, I'm glad the two of you guys came on, shared a bunch of different stories you got, I don't know how many episodes of your podcast do you have now?
About 80, I think. I don't know.
Eighty stories, every episode is basically two stories because you have a guest who has a story of their own company and then you have an idea that they're sharing for a new company that could be started. It's basically 160 ideas, a giant repository of inspiration for people who want to go check out the Run With It podcast.
Chris and Ethan, thanks a ton for coming on the show. Can you let listeners know where they can go to find out more about where to listen to your show?
Yeah, the best way you can find us search for Run With It on your podcast, player of choice. We should be popping up at the top. You'll see a digital representation of myself and Ethan and hopefully get inspired by some of the business ideas that you hear on there.
All right guys. Thanks again.
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