Knot is mobile commerce technology that allows peers to exchange value. We use unique network algorithms including cost, time, place, supply and demand, amongst others to connect buyers and sellers of value of almost anything, anytime, anywhere. As a mobile application built for iOS, we use Xcode and AWS for our stack and storage. Also we referenced and implemented concepts of the Bitcoin protocol and Blockchain technology.
Scale is possible but execution matters more. There are many variables and inputs in our Knot network algorithm that we will validate. Though it is easy enough to supply content postings, we want to build a useful and engaging product that is helpful, reliable and secure. Once we have accomplished this, we feel that our product can scale rapidly based on our location app features of localized to global networks.
What differentiates Knot from existing marketplaces today like eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and new startup competitors like OfferUp is our unique algorithm and blockchain implementations. With any new technology, getting new users to adopt this is difficult and time consuming so we will focus on building a great product for our early adopter, core users first and foremost.
Implementation and Execution
Knot executed well on our project goals. This project evolved from an earlier version of a proof of concept, so we wanted to make a functional app. While we did create a use case for posting and securing objects, the transactional component still needs to be implemented. There are also still some parts of the project that will need to be addressed before we can make Knot revenue generating, including legal and payment processing.
Mobile commerce is gaining more widespread adoption, especially as mobile technology becomes more ubiquitous and standard. This is our core reason to build for mobile first. The fundamental problem we are trying to solve is the exchange of value between peers using digital technology. Our solution Knot must be simple, fast and secure. Then it can become trusted and reliable for the network. If we can save buyers money and time this will be a huge win. Everyone can benefit from saving money and having more time. On the flip side, if we can help sellers list their products and create a market of high quality products and a demand that is timely and profitable this benefits the merchant sellers. All of this is made possible using modern digital technologies and staying ahead of the curve with new advancements like the Blockchain.
More details about the project below:
Inspiration: The Knot project has evolved over time, but its foundation remains true and centers around the idea that value transferred through technology is better, faster, cheaper and more secure. The beginnings for the project originate from a BlockChain University Hackathon at the Microsoft Reactor incubator in San Fransisco over Halloween weekend. This is where Nathan and Tim met and formed a team. The original theory was to find a valuable way for merchants to use the Blockchain and Bitcoin payment protocol as a service with their customers (inputs) and vendors (outputs).
Value could be exchanged and flow via a merchant such as Blue Bottle coffee throughout its network of customers, coffee suppliers and employees. Our proof of concept evolved into something of a p2p exchange of value locally or globally. We proposed a question if it was possible to trade value between peers of almost anything, anytime, anywhere by using technology. It would need to be engaging, fast and secure.
Our proposed theory we wanted to answer was: How to trade value between peers, across complex distances and chaotic time intervals, simply and quickly, securely and universally, in a modern digital and globalized system, that is more interconnected, yet protectively capitalistic and cautiously trustworthy when it comes to money and exchange?
Knot was selected as our name because of its connotations to security and the Blockchain. Originally we were looking to emphasize a trustless digital solution for exchanging value, and so we came up with the Knot Complex. Like a link or block in the chain, knots can be tied together to strengthen and build off one another. The endless knot is our logo because it symbolizes wisdom, eternity, and compassion.
What Knot does: Knot's a network as a technological solution of value connections. Simplicity, openness, timeliness, security, trust.
Knot is a technology solution of innovation that has the potential to be a win-win-win: Consumers can win by getting the products the want and need with pricing that best suits their preferences, essentially reducing their cost of living. Sellers/Merchants can win by competing on high-quality products at good prices, without the risk of losing out to less scrupulous sellers that compete through deception and inferior quality. And entrepreneurs and innovators like Knot can win by devising new ways of serving consumers in the system. It is a whole network effect that benefits the sum of its relational parts.
To create these complex tools and technology as a reliable system of exchange, one that is the sum of its relational parts, one that is accessible and valuable to all, this requires complex nodes and micro-networks to be simplified to their core: ease of use, measured in time, and securely reliable. Knot Complex Theory is the proposed solution to this problem.
Our goal is to make Knot something you want to use. Something that is engaging and fun. Keep it simple. For consumer buyers and sellers. How do you make everyone a winner? Just like the blockchain is decentralized and trustless, so too is the Knot network and everything it ties together. We’re attempting to hit both sides of the coin on this one for supply and demand. Centers around the connections of people that want to get rid of stuff, and people that want stuff, essentially everyone. By providing people with an easier way to use buy and sell the stuff they want and need we’re opening doors for a lot of people. Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist, Shopify, OpenBazaar, all these platforms provide these same abilities but not always in the most user friendly way, or even the most productive way. We take away the anonymity of Ebay so you know you’re interacting with a real person, like with AirBnb where you actually message the person that you’re contacting and can coordinate transaction details. By implementing online sales and also providing easy access to coordinate in-person meetups we let users interact on their own terms. The key here is frictionless interaction. Knot is the platform, where users provide the content and the use cases. If you can do all this within the Knot app easily, then the advantage is clear for us as a growth engine and optimization/efficiency machine for users who want to get the most out of the experience.
How we built Knot: We built an iOS app using Xcode and AWS. This is our MVP and will be evolved, based on our product roadmap and customer feedback with early beta testers.
Challenges we ran into: Difficult to build a functional MVP of the product in such a condensed four-week timeframe. It was also challenging to work on this side project with other priorities and the holidays in between. We managed to use the best of our limited time and resources to accomplish our goals. Working remotely but also meeting up in person for the project helped to ensure we were aligned on our goals and prioritize to get on the same page.
Accomplishments that we are proud of: Our first build submitted to the App Store with TestFlight. Seeing the Knot product live and in a "wild" test environment is fulfilling to see and have achieved. Also our logo, website, data storage solution and user logins were big developments for us.
What we learned: Focus and patience. We must prioritize what is mission critical and limit ourselves to do this and execute. Sam Altman has written a good write up about the Startup Playbook we used as a helpful tool. Effective prioritization and killing ideas to focus on the most important needs is a learned skill. We got better at executing as deadlines approached making our limited amount of resources more useful and directly targeted.
The best parts of the Hackathon were that it created a forcing function with milestones. Seeing all of the other projects and teams submitting their ideas and milestones forced us to follow suit. And it helped to plan and organize our thoughts and ideas into an organized manner for a functional product and project.
What's next for Knot: This is all theory, and a side project. We will test, build and validate our assumptions to confirm or refute this thesis. If worth pursuing thereafter, with a viable product and a relative business model, one which has the potential to earn immediate revenues and ensure profitability, we will reevaluate its viability, and/or to begin to take the next steps to put in motion and create a sustainable company, and an actual business with customers.
We would like to validate and test our ideas for Knot with beta invited customers. With feedback and support, we have a product roadmap of features and functionality that we would like to implement. However it is important to us to become extremely competent, in our execution and prove we are capable and trustworthy before we start implementing new ideas and features. There are also legal and financial requirements we need to clarify and lock down if we’re going to be involved with customers' payments and money. Then we need to provide a level of trust and verification that we have dealt with the intermediary steps, processing transactions, securing sensitive information, making transactions easy and painless before rolling out to more users and more app releases. It is important to master the fundamentals and core functionality of our app before we expand or release to any wider audiences.