Coin Forest Wants to the Be the Groupon for Bitcoin
Group Deals with Bitcoin on Coin Forest
It seems like every week there are new companies springing up that are taking proven business models and applying Bitcoin. Bitcoin has several advantages to these businesses: instant transactions, very low fees, and fully digital.
We sat down with the co-founder John Mardlin and Business Development Manager Brandon Gains of Coin Forest, a group-buying site that specializes in deals for Bitcoin, to learn more about their new business.
On Bitcoin: What is Coin Forest and how did you get started?
Brandon Gains: Coin Forest is a Bitcoin-only business that offers special group-buying discounts to the bitcoin community. Coin Forest is a boot-strapped startup out of Victoria, British Columbia.
John Mardlin: Coin Forest is like Groupon for Bitcoiners. Though the main difference is that we care about our community, and our primary motive isn’t profit.
I got started just by finding out about Bitcoin from an acquaintance while I was visiting San Francisco. It wasn’t the best timing really, I put about $1k into BTC at $140 in early April. We know what happened after that.
I got to thinking about how little the price of Bitcoin is really tied to it’s utility as a means of exchanging real goods and services. I also got to thinking about how effective of a differentiator the currency could be.
At the same time, I was working at PMRobot.com, a project management tool in a really crowded market. The whole SaaS space is so crowded, I thought there might be some opportunity for a group buying site focusing on B2B SaaS.
At some point, all those disjoint thoughts just kind of coalesced into the idea that looks a lot like what Coin Forest is right now.
On Bitcoin: Why the focus on Bitcoin?
John Mardlin: Bitcoin is the whole point! My dream was never to run a daily deals website, but I am very motivated to help expand the reach of the bitcoin economy, and I think this is the perfect model to do it. I wrote about why that is here: http://blog.coinforest.
This quote is the first time someone has really effectively put my vision into their own words: http://www.reddit.com/
Brandon Gains: We want to grow the bitcoin economy. Many people have heard about bitcoin but don’t see a reason to buy it unless they are investing. By providing short-term discounts we can create a temporary situation where the only way to get a certain item at a certain price is with bitcoin. We want to be the reason many people get their first bitcoin.
On Bitcoin: Who do you think should use your site?
Brandon Gains: We think our site’s deals will be targeted towards anyone interested in buying: bitcoin related goods/services, 3D printing services, equipment for makers, online education, tools and services for building software, and services for startups/online businesses.
John Mardlin: We want to provide products that will appeal to any bitcoiners, not all of the time, but at least some of the time. As we progress, we’ll discover what people are the most interested in.
Aside from helping people get deals though, we really want to be the place that people go when they want to use bitcoin to buy a particular companies products. My dream is that we can get enough people together, pledging to purchase a major companies product if they begin to accept bitcoin. This would likely be someone like github, or 23andMe, shapeways, autodesk, atlassian, adafruit…. any tech savvy company that’s shown itself to be a leading innovator.
On Bitcoin: How fast can you scale, considering there are only 11 million Bitcoin in distribution? Whats your long-term view?
John Mardlin: You might look at it like that… or you might see it as one of very few companies providing a service to an economy worth 1 billion dollars. We don’t expect to bump up against the limits of the bitcoin economy, we expect to grow by helping it grow.
Brandon Gains: We feel that bitcoin has started a global movement towards a decentralized economy and we believe that cryptocurrencies are the future of global currency; even if bitcoin falters in a few years there are several promising alt-currencies there to take it’s place. We feel that we can scale up the company quickly once we prove the success of our first deals. We will be able to attract bigger and bigger companies to start accepting bitcoin-only deals.