Dawson Botsford and the Acquisition of Earnifi’s $150M Airdrop Tool

Dawson Botsford shares the story of how he built and sold Web3’s most simple, yet favorite tool that’s earned users $150M.
Dawson Botsford shares the story of how he built and sold Web3’s most simple, yet favorite tool that’s earned users $150M.

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Mint Season 6 episode 29 welcomes Dawson Botsford, Co-founder, and CEO of Earnifi, the tool that’s helped web3 users claim $150M in airdrops. Dawson comes on the podcast to share his story as a creator and entrepreneur, lessons learned while building Earnifi, and why Bankless decided to acquire web3’s notification layer.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:48 – Intro
  • 07:55 – School Experiences
  • 10:31 – What is Earnifi?
  • 14:12 – The Most Difficult Part of Bringing Earnifi to Life
  • 15:02 – Avoiding Scam Airdrops
  • 18:49 – Introducing Monetization On Earnifi
  • 20:09 – Product Marketing
  • 22:07 – The Vision of Becoming the Web3 Notification Tool
  • 26:14 – How Do You Manage Your Time?
  • 28:35 – Best Practices When Announcing an Airdrop
  • 30:21 – Getting Acquired by Bankless
  • 32:23 – When Starting Earnifi, Did You Consider Getting Acquired?
  • 34:48 – Will Web3 Take Over Web2 Communications and Notifications?
  • 38:23 – The Future of Bankless Labs
  • 40:00 – Did You Come into Bankless Labs With a Specific Vision Yourself?
  • 43:00 – Outro

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Sir Dawson, welcome to mint, from one podcast or to another. I’m very excited to have you on. Thank you for making the time.

Dawson: Yeah. Thank you, Adam. It’s great to see you.

It’s great to see you, too. We first met at Eth Bogota. I think we were getting snacks. I think it was like the Friday. Oh, you’re also repping the shirt. Let’s go or the hoodie. Respect. I have the socks with me here in New York. So, I didn’t get a hoodie, but respect, respect.

Dawson: Yeah, those tube socks are epic. I’ve been wearing them skiing lately. They’re awesome.

Dude, I found that crypto merch is best utilized at the gym or doing something active. I wear. Yeah, I wear my Ave shirt to the gym. I wear my Eth global socks in the gym. You know, it is what it is.

Dawson: Athleisure.


Athleisure. I’m a, in all seriousness Dawson. I’m excited to have you on. You just made big waves last week with an epic announcement, with the acquisition of Earnifi and bankless. So, a lot to talk about. This episode, I just want to really uncover your story as a creator, the birth of Earnifi, and everything in between, I think a good place to start for those who don’t know you. Who the hell are you, man? What does the world need to know about you? We can start there and then work our way forward.

Dawson: Okay, yeah. What’s up, y’all? I’m Dawson. So, I’m Daws.eth on Twitter. I’m a founder, and I’m an engineer. And not just an engineer, I’m like a hacker engineer. So, I go to a bunch of hackathons and I submitted hackathons. And I’m always trying to build open source and hackathon projects. What I did last week was that I sold my company to bankless. And I now a part of bankless, as the CTO of bankless labs, which is their tech division, where we will now be building out more and more tech tools. So previously, bankless was a huge media organization. Now it’s going beyond media. And it’s building tools for your bankless journey.

Very simply put, I like that. But you also forgot that you’re a podcaster as well, Dev three, right? What about Dev three man?

Dawson: What about Dev three? Great, thank you for that. I actually, I do too many things that I can’t usually remember. So, I’m a podcaster, as well, I do a podcast called Dev three, which is for developers in web three, we don’t hold back on technical content. The idea is it’s for engineers to stay up to date on the engineering side of crypto, because there’s tons of new sources out there. But very few of them are targeted towards engineers. And to stay up to date on the technical side can be tricky.

Got it. So quick plug for Dev three. For those who haven’t come across a podcast yet. What are some of the like the day-to-day episodes, or the common themes that you sort of discuss?

Dawson: Yeah, a lot of the themes that come back, over and over are with Patrick Collins. So, if you don’t know Patrick Collins, and most of the rest of this intro may not make as much sense. But he’s a smart contract developer and developer advocate at chain-link. So, Patrick, and I, for instance, we jam on like just current topics. So like tornado cash happened, the Dev went to jail. And we’re both just like, oh, no, are we about to go to jail? We talked through like, oh, are any of our projects, like jail already? Like, are we gonna go to jail if these get looked into. But then we also just talk through like some really specifics around solidity, which is the programming language on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s like the main language people use. And just like nerdy stuff about solidity that only developers would get really.

Got it. And how long have you been a developer for?

Dawson: I’ve been a developer, let me check on my website right now, actually. So, I set up my website. 

It’s a developer thing you could say, let me check on my website really quick to let you know how long I’ve been developing for.

Dawson: Yeah, so I, on my website, I have a resume section. And I count the duration of doing software engineering to eight decimal places. So, you can watch it just like tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. So, software engineering for 11.1798 years.

Nice. No, that’s sick. That’s really cool.

Dawson: Oh, and Ethereum is close to four years.

Okay. Wow. How did you get your start? Like, what was your go to project? What was your initial inspiration for jumping into code?

Dawson: Or getting into code was just like, so at first it was, it was like a fun puzzle. And it actually started to help people cheat in geometry class in high school. So, I made programs on my calculator that other people could just plug in and put onto their calculator and all of us were getting A’s in geometry. And yeah, like I really enjoyed having users right away. So, for software, like I’m not the kind of person who likes to just build in private all the time. That’s something folks will know if they follow me on Twitter, is like I’m always posting like teaser stuff and just trying to like, really share this the stuff I make, because if it’s not usable by other people, then is it worth making at all? Is it worth my time? Yes, I was like, I was helping folks cheat on the geometry test and then people actually pulled that into the ACT and SAT. And that’s when I like hard quit because I’m a rule follower. I was like, no, no, I’m not doing that. I don’t like cheating. But other people took the program and I couldn’t hold them back or stop them.

You would think as a hacker, you’d actually be the opposite. Like you’d be a rule breaker versus a rule follower, right? Or am I thinking about this wrong?

Dawson: You’re definitely accurate when it comes to like, when it comes to crypto, it’s now big enough that there’s people like me who are rule followers in it. I think like early days of Bitcoin, early days in Ethereum, it was just folks bucking the trend. But nowadays, like, there’s space to come in and be like an ethical hacker, or like, you know, the type of hacker that competes at hackathons. And it’s like peaching on stage and stuff instead of like hacking people’s computers. That’s not the type of hacking I do.

Got it. I think, it’s interesting to hear your initial entrance into code was through geometry and helping your friends with their exams and their homework. And everybody has a sort of a different story as to how they got into software development, let alone how they got into crypto, from geometry where did it go from there? You go into college, I mean, obviously, middle school, high school, of course. But then did you study computer science in college or what would that look like for you?

Dawson: Yeah, I got super luck in my senior year of high school, I had done like I said, a tiny bit of programming with the calculator stuff. And my high school actually placed me into this internship program. Over at the National Lab, which is the National Lab in Tennessee, where I’m from is where a part of the nuclear bomb was made for World War Two. So, there’s still like a massive science and math community there. And as a senior in high school, I was doing protein folding for cancer research. But I like literally did not know what I was doing. So, it sounds really hardcore, which really helped me get a lot of stuff after this, like in my career and whatnot. But I was totally entry level, like just learning how to write some really basic script stuff.

Interesting. Seems like a very impactful project. What did that lead to next?

Dawson: Yeah, well, that one definitely was a, didn’t lead to anything on its own. We like submitted in a real, I was working with a PhD student, submitted and just like, you know, a high schooler can’t write a good PhD paper. 

Right. Right. 

Dawson: Definitely flopped.

Right. Did you did you go to college, though?

Dawson: I did. Yeah. So, I did go to college for computer science. But the catch that I like to give, like mentioned is that I actually hated it for the first year and a half, and almost quit, almost switch majors. And what saved me was actually I went to a hackathon. And I saw that that software can actually be cool and fun, you can make things that real people can use. Because the computer science degree just has such a great way of smashing the fun out of everything. It’s just dry, it’s math, it’s science, it’s like black and white code and I almost push me out fully.

School Experiences

I feel like as an entrepreneur, you often hear either, like the commentary of like, schools for chumps. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you got to drop out of college and go be the entrepreneur, or you actually find people on the other side of the spectrum. Like they completed college, they even gotten their masters, excuse me, their masters and their PhD. And then they became an entrepreneur and did amazing things. Were you the type of person that would just like, ditch class or not pay attention or did you do well in school? Or what kind of persona did you play?

Dawson: Yeah, I was the kind of person that I always did decent at in classes pre college, without having to try hard. Once I got to college, I was definitely riding the line of like, B minus, which at my school, you couldn’t get C’s in your major classes, or you’d have to retake them. So, I was definitely like, I would literally sleep through, I think half of my classes, but I would show up, I would always show up, and I would always be there. I wasn’t, yeah, I wasn’t the kinda like, completely ditch everything and be like, oh, gotta start stuff. Instead, I would go to class, try to listen out of the side, and then work on hackathon stuff. And I made the hackathon at my college as well. So, I was like already an organizer and like trying to build community stuff then.

Cool. That’s sort of how I got started as well. I mean, at least into crypto. I was terrible in school. I got like D’s and F’s on all my exams but thank the Lord for the curve, and being able to round me up to like a C and B. But I spent a lot of my energy just trying to do extracurricular stuff, because I was just able to maximize my time the best, that way versus being locked in like a study room for God knows how long, so joining all these clubs, even starting clubs, and I did, I helped organize like the first hackathon, like crypto hackathon.

Dawson: We didn’t talk about this; I didn’t know that.


Dawson: What was the name of it?

It was the USC blockchain hackathon or something like that. Yeah. One of those trio of keywords, whatever order but a lot of my interest came from all the extracurricular stuff, which also I feel like explains my love for going into all these conferences and all these events, because it’s very it works in tandem with sort of my early beginnings in my quote, unquote, career and kind of like reflecting on how we met, right? We met at Eth, Bogota, at the hackathon. It was on a Friday, went to go grab a snack, and it was like me, you and Ellie, we just like bumped into each other. And for whatever reason, just like kicked it off, just like immediately. And at the time, I didn’t know this, Ellie didn’t, like we didn’t know this, but you’re already in discussions to get Earnifi acquired, I presume.

Dawson: Very much so.

What is Earnifi?

And, yeah, a few months follow a month later, and here we are today. So, I want to, Dawson I want to talk about your entrance into crypto. Because Earnifi is a very unique product. It’s also a very simple product, but it works. And it’s done wonders to people in the community. So, for those who aren’t familiar with Earnifi really quick, can you explain that? And then I’d also love for you to talk about, how did you get the idea for it and the entire process of just like bringing it to life?

Dawson: So, Earnifi has done super well, the last two years, since I started two years ago, is it’s the airdrop checker. What this means is you can paste in your address, and I’ll tell you if you have unclaimed Airdrops. And these are only high-quality Airdrops. So, Earnifi filters all the spam for you. And what that’s led to, is over $150 million found. And I did this as a solo indie hacker, builder, Dev, CEO, all the things trying to operate a company solo. But  Earnifi is becoming more than that, too. Only as of recently expanded past airdrops, we can get to those other areas of things that we are expanding into shortly.

Okay, so how did you get the idea for it initially?

Dawson: Yeah, so if we rewind to February 2021. This was, think about it about one year after COVID started, defi summer had finished. So, there was like a lot of different defi things launching, uniswap had launched v2 and uniswap did their Airdrop and then come Christmas, the Christmas that’s, you know, two months before what I’m describing here, that Christmas uniswap. One inch, sorry, one inch did their job and then one inch did another Airdrop and then. So yeah, come February there was an Eth global hackathon that was online only because during COVID, they were just online only. I realized that there were actually multiple things you could aggregate to search for. So, there’s like, there was already uniswap and one inch. And I was like, well, maybe this will be useful already for just two. Did some quick Google searching and there were actually five different Airdrops that had happened already. And I didn’t even know about the other ones. And so, I was like, wait, if I don’t know about the other ones, and I spent all day in this stuff, then like, geez, how many other people aren’t up to date? Like you have to scroll on Twitter and discord all the time to search for these things, for your wallet. So, I threw it all into one really simple user interface, where you just paste your address. It’s just a search input at the top. And literally the UI from two years ago, on the homepage is the exact same as it is today.

Wow. So that started at a hackathon. We met at a hackathon. Everything just happens at a hackathon for you and your line. That’s literally just the conclusions that I’m coming to.

Dawson: Yeah, and Eth global hackathons. So, I owe a ton to the Eth global team.

That’s epic. Was this your first project that you attempted to start in crypto as an entrepreneur?

Dawson: It was yes, I submitted hackathons before, but I always did them as kind of toy projects, things that stay on GitHub or things that just stay open source. But as soon as there was traffic on this, like I had a really lucky launch. So, the launch of this, I posted kind of like a sizzle, like a sneak peek tweet with like confetti falling and this person had a bunch of Airdrops in the GIF in the little video. It got like 600 likes; at the time I had 200 followers on Twitter. So, I was like, whoa, people want this thing. I was out skiing the next day; my phone wouldn’t stop blowing up. And my roommate was just like, dude, is that thing like Is that thing blowing up? Like what are people doing? He was into crypto, so he like kind of got it. And so, when we got back from skiing that day, I just went so intense, like actually publishing it, and giving people your all to go to.

The Most Difficult Part of Bringing Earnifi to Life

What was the most difficult part of either bringing Earnifi to life or just maintaining it’s existence for so long?

Dawson: Yeah, I think the hardest thing is battling spam. So, Airdrops just have such a bad rap of like that literally, like 90% of them are low quality or not worth your time. But in addition to not worth your time, like, there’s even ones that are dangerous for you to sign the wallet messages and whatnot, like, insecure. And so, like taking something from the moment it launches on Twitter, like 30 seconds after to try to figure out if that’s worth pushing notifications for, is like a ton of responsibility. There’s 250,000 people subscribed on Earnifi. So, if I push out some garbage, you bet I’m going to feel that and like I’m less support person, so I’ll get those support messages.

Avoiding Scam Airdrops

That’s wild, because I remember getting a lot of Airdrops, and I still get a lot of Airdrops that just seem really shady. But they’re like $15,000, you know, or at least they look like that on the surface. I remember one time, because I use the Ariza mobile app to wallet watch. Especially my wallet, my portfolio. And I remember one time, dude, no joke, I got an Airdrop of like, a million dollars, I swear, it literally showed my portfolio being a mill plus, and I was like, what the hell did I just get in my wallet? I was like, this doesn’t make sense. And I remember in like the meta description of the Zerion token details. It was like visit this website to claim your tokens, you know, and I’m like, wait, so, I just got an Airdrop of supposedly a million dollars. But I have to go to this website to claim the tokens. And checking on all these pools, like there’s very low liquidity on it, like they manipulated the price. And just to understand, I don’t know, it was like, it’s super confusing. And I can imagine how many people actually fall for scams like this. So how do you sort of like combat the bullshit Airdrops versus the shitty Airdrops? Like, what is your signal for filtering noise?

Dawson: Yeah, I’m glad to use that example. That’s actually such a good example with manipulating liquidity. But the way that I would like to encourage folks is, is like education. Education is what gets you from falling for some things in crypto, like from bad stuff. But the like 32nd TLDR, like too long didn’t read for Airdrops. I’d say these things. So, on Ethereum, if someone sends it to you, they pay the gas. Definitely spam. Don’t even touch it. Don’t touch anything there. That’s how I’ve lost money on other networks. I’ve like totally fallen for that exact play you just described. I hope you didn’t, but I did. So, like these high value Airdrops that I’m describing, you have to actually go claim them. So, you have to pay that transaction fee. And that’s the whole point of what makes Erna useful, is you don’t know what you have unclaimed out there, you kind of just get added to this whitelist. It’s very similar to NFT whitelists, or NFT mints, like early mint, is like your addresses uniquely on this one list out there. But you have to know to go to that, to actually call that claim. And like pay for the claim, in some instances.

Got it makes sense. So, from a technical perspective, underneath the hood, is that entail you just sort of indexing, like on chain data, right, and trying to find all the new uploaded, I guess, allow lists to make sense of all the noise and whatnot, or how does that work underneath the hood?

Dawson: Yeah, if you were to simplify it, it’s basically like a huge list of just checking which things you match. But to make that happen of course, it’s so complex with how many types of different claimable things there are these days. So yeah, Earnifi covers Airdrops, as you mentioned, like some whitelists, some early mints, all po ops tokens. So, they’re just like four thousand or four six thousand, I can’t remember, po ops tokens that it searches you for. And they will have kind of like different methods of how they search and check within the system.

Got it. It’s crazy. It’s such a simple tool. It’s literally, like it solves such a simple problem, but such an important problem. And the fact that you’ve been able to unlock $150 million. Do you ever just like, do you ever reflect on that for a minute? That’s wild, that’s actually insane.

Dawson: It’s actually insane. I have such a hard time imagining the 150 million. But what I recently imagined, because I’ve been watching the World Cup, the soccer matches, one of the stadiums that holds I think, 90,000 people. And one day I was watching, I was like, oh Earnifi is that times two, like times two or three. That’s the amount of people in this database. That’s crazy to see and think about, like my college times 10, that kind of thing.

Introducing Monetization On Earnifi

When did you introduce monetization? How far into the process?

Dawson: So, I had actually a really weird situation with monetizing, that’s kind of entertaining I think, for anyone out there, who’s a creator, builder, entrepreneur. You know, they say like moonlight if you can, like try to keep a stable income, work on side, I had the opposite. I had a sudden change in my main work, right around when the Hackathon was happening, and I was unemployed. And so, I was suddenly in this moment where I could execute on this mission of starting my own company, I’ve always wanted to, I never felt like the time was right. And so, when  Earnifi came out, and it won the hackathon. I was like, now I need to figure out monetization. So, from day one, as it was catching traffic, traction, I would I accepted email addresses. That was going to be how he’s going to start re-engaging folks. And I didn’t know what I was going to do yet, but I knew that if I had a list of people, at least I could start to create a community here. And so.

Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.

Dawson: But I was just gonna say like, a couple weeks later, an Airdrop came out that I just decided I was going to put behind a paywall. So, I’ll tell you the dollar amount you have, but I won’t tell you what AirDrop it is. Let’s see if this pattern works. And that’s been the pattern ever since for how Earnifi works. So, you never paying for something you won’t get.

Product Marketing

Got it. Very fair. I’d argue that’s very, very fair. Let’s talk about product marketing for a minute. Because the fact that you just said that you’ve captured essentially like a web two data point, that is otherwise very frowned upon in web three, like many websites don’t even have Google Analytics to understand where their users are coming from. They don’t capture emails; they don’t capture any of that data to retarget. But it sounds like from a product perspective, capturing email was like one of the most important things to Earnifi success, because that constant feedback, feedback loop and drip emails sort of led to that constant communication, can you walk me through that a little bit more?

Dawson: Yeah, definitely want to add that I didn’t figure out any kind of advanced marketing scheme. I actually haven’t done any type of drip emails. I’m like the engineer of engineers. Like I didn’t develop my marketing skills really at all during this time. What I did do though, is I would reengage with folks on email, only they matched an Airdrop. So, it just has this reputation of zero emails, like people think it’s broken. Because if you’re not getting emails, you’re not getting Airdrops and then you’re just like, well Erna is broken. Now, that just means you’re not getting Airdrops and so that was the pattern I always took is like, as few messages as possible. very minimalist. But you’re absolutely right, I had to accept emails. That’s the catch about Earnifi. If you’re gonna get notifications, well, how do you get notified? There is no web three notification tool. Push Protocol is trying this, which I’m using Push. So, Earnifi pushes out notifications decentralized. Like you don’t need your email address, if you sign up through push, but like, yeah, email is that way. And I think that’s okay, for certain types of applications. You just got to go for it. And that’s why Earnifi is now becoming the web three notification tool, so that not everyone has to go accept emails individually.

The Vision of Becoming the Web3 Notification Tool

Let’s talk about that. Because the idea of this vision of becoming the web three notification tool. Is that a relatively new vision with the acquisition of bankless? Is that something that you’ve been preaching for a moment now? Or what does that really mean? Like the notification tool for web three? Explain that further.

Dawson: Yes, I’ve been preaching it for a while, and really pushing into that slowly. And the reason I push into it slowly, is I just, I care so much about not sending spam. I have all people hate emails you don’t need or misleading emails. And so, I’ve really added these features slowly. The first one I knew everyone would want is like, is your ENs name about to expire? Yeah, you want to know that, you want to get an email for that. Everyone who has an ENs name, paid real dollars for it. And so, I think in almost all situations, you want to get an email there, and you’ve got a po op token. Yeah, you need an email there. That’s not an airdrop. And so, Earnifi is definitely expanding past that already. And then just understanding and learning about token mints, and NFT whitelist. That’s been a whole new world. Y’all go hard when it comes to whitelist and like minting early, and all this and it is really a tricky move to keep up to date. But that’s hopefully something Earnifi is gonna do better and better from here on out as well.

Got it. That makes a lot of sense. I remember. I remember I had this idea for like the Ens fairy. I remember seeing this meme on YouTube, Remy galley art, I forgot his name old, old like YouTube creator, where he would just troll people in France. And he had this one bit where he’d walk around pay machines like that were cars sort of like the pay meters. And he just goes around and like put quarters in them. You know, if you saw them expire, and you just like literally were like a fairy suit, just like dumped quarters, and all the pay meters. I was like there needs to be like an Ens fairy that just consistently like reimburses or just like re-up somebody’s balance as soon as they see it expire. And I feel like that’s like the closest thing I’ve heard to that solution. So, props to you.

Dawson: I think Ens fairy is a pretty interesting idea. I’m pretty sure that name is actually taken by someone who is in ENs ferry but I love the theory idea. And that’s actually an idea of noodled around as well. There’s some pretty cool stuff that could be done for. We haven’t discussed expiring Airdrops but something that folks really need to understand about these is that they expire sometimes. So Ens, for instance, it’s gone forever. And when it happened, it was $8 billion, yeah $8 billion distributed out. And so, like getting a timely notification is really important. But like what if at the very last second, there was like Earnifi fairy, and it swept the entire amount of unclaimed assets for everyone, like I could pay for those claims. That’s like, that’s a real possibility. But like should that exist? I don’t know yet because it was created in this way for a reason, where you had to come claim it, and one of those reasons is, they don’t have to mint extra tokens that are going to just, that are going to just not be used. So, like anyone who wants there’s should come get it. All the other ones get burnt. 

I wonder if there would be a way, if you’re just realizing it. It’s like coming to the last few seconds and nobody has claimed their $12,000 AirDrop, if there would be any way for Earnifi to take it, like if you’re not going to take it, like it’s up for grabs. Obviously, I don’t think that’s possible. Because as it’s hard coded, right and written in contract, but I don’t know. That’d be, that’d be a fun concept. Like you could work in the real world. Like, you’re not going to take them off and I’ll take it, you know, like, can you just like get out of there. 

Dawson: Hey Dale, bagels are half off. I love that.

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Dawson: You’d be shocked the amount of folks that send in support messages with a picture of Vitalik.eth. And they’re like, 50k AirDrop, they’re like, why can’t I claim it? And I look at the email, and I’m like, You’re not Vitalik. And so, this is like, it’s understandable. It’s a confusing concept, the way these claims work. But yeah, you can only claim for your address. Or you can pay for someone else’s, but you’re not going to get those tokens, still going to go to that final wallet.

How Do You Manage Your Time?

Yeah. I’d love to talk more about your journey of being a solo entrepreneur, because as a one man show, you’re doing everything, and everything is on you. And one of the strangest things I can imagine with a tool like you built. is the customer support, amongst other things that you’re probably taking care of, on a day-to-day basis. How do you manage your time? How do you split your time between adding new features, fixing old ones, answering customer support, doing all the social and Twitter engagement? All the above, like what does that look like for you?

Dawson: Yeah, I think the important part is to determine, I’ve heard this analogy. So, you’re juggling. And when you juggle, you know you’ve got three objects. Some of the objects you’re juggling are made of rubber and some of them were made of glass. And I heard this analogy in terms of like family. So, like one of the things you have as a family, you’ve got your work, you’ve got your fitness, you’re juggling it all. You can drop your fitness for a couple days or a week, it’s fine. But if you like stopped loving your family for a week, that might shatter. And so, when I’m working on Earnifi, I think about my entire life in the same way. So, when I’m juggling, I am willing to put aside fitness, for instance, I’ll drop that for sure, if I need to. And when it comes to customer support, and Twitter and engineering, I’ll drop Twitter first off, that’s for sure. Twitter does not bring me much joy on the Earnifi account. On my personal I love doing all things Twitter, I’m pretty much always scrolling it. But like if I have to turn that off, absolutely. Turn off my phone. Absolutely. I’ll do those things in order to make it work. And no, and then once in a while, you gotta give up some sleep. But in the end, keeping the focused, keeping the product really focused and simple, is what has allowed me to do what I’ve done. As you mentioned, it’s a very simple product. If you if you arrive @erna.phi, and you don’t have Airdrops, you’ll just be like, I don’t get it. What do I do now? Like this doesn’t make any sense. And that’s part of how simplistic this thing is. If you do have Airdrops, it clicks right away. And you’re like, oh, oh, this thing just, like is this real? Like you had mentioned, Adam, that you have some on there. It’s like when you arrive, you’re like, oh, that was fast. That was easy. And that’s what it does. It does that well.

Best Practices When Announcing an Airdrop

Yeah. What are some of the like, AirDrop best practices you’ve seen companies implement?

Dawson: Do you think, are you asking from the, like you’re announcing an airdrop you’re doing one.

For example, like we talked one about one, where you have to claim your AirDrop, were actually the most iconic AirDrop, the uniswap AirDrop was actually AirDrop to your wallet, right? And then I feel like it sort of shifted from there. Are there other like best practices you’ve seen companies sort of, yeah, exemplify when they try to reward users?

Dawson: Yeah, I think the best thing you could do is message me early. Message, Earnifi so that I can push out email notifications, the moment that happens. Now, that was self-serving a bit. In reality, some of the best things you can do are, you can get really complicated with Airdrops, if you want. If you want to go down that rabbit hole, you should read about what optimism did with their civil, anti-civil mechanisms. So, I think it was Hop protocol and optimism, both in AirDrop within a few weeks. And actually, shared this like really intense anti bot search. They like gave out these rewards through Twitter, through the internet, to folks who found people that were trying to gain this AirDrop and then they threw them out. And so, it was his way of giving all the real humans even more tokens. Because every bot that got thrown out, they would redistribute that out to the real people. That’s like next, next level you know, below that level, like what you should do is, make sure your claim page works well. Make sure it’s clean and simple that folks in common sign with their wallet, and not just Meta mask. Make sure you’re supporting other wallets, you’ve got Coinbase wallet, you’ve got Gnosis Safe, like Gnosis Safe is a huge one that if you don’t make your claim page, work properly, you’re not going to do that because it requires multiple signatures.

Getting Acquired by Bankless

Right. Yeah, that makes sense. I feel like you have so much depth and so much knowledge. Just going through this journey for the last two years. And now coming across this new announcement with bankless. I’m really excited for this next journey of eanify I’d love for you to share, like why bankless? How did that come about in the entire story of this new this new collaboration, this new partnership?

Dawson: Yeah, so I’m a fanboy of bankless. And I have been for a long time, if you look back, actually, I spoke at a conference like eight months ago about Earnifi and the story of Earnifi and just how to build products and web three. And I had the bank, I had my bankless shirt on. This is way before I talked to them ever. And then in addition, there’s a separate conference like two weeks later, I wore the same shirt. So, I’ve really always been a fan of the media that banklesss puts out, bankless such a good news source for legitimate Ethereum news, legitimate, like news about being banklesss. So, not just on the Ethereum blockchain, but they cover a few other things as well and they’re trying to always push what is the ethical way that we can decentralize and move away from banks and move away from these hacks. Like, they never supported FTX, for instance, they never, like they’re totally good actors in this space. And they’re folks that I’ve learned how to do defi, how to do web three by listening to them. I listened to at least an hour a week for the last two years.

Yeah, so you’re a bankless fanboy. You’re like as girly as it gets. That’s great. Like such an organic sort of next transition, it seems like.

Dawson: yeah, I would have never considered bankless doing this type of expansion. Otherwise, this would have been a goal of mine, like way before they even reached out. But yeah, as soon as they reached out, I was like, absolutely. If I were to consider an acquisition with anyone in the world, it would be Ryan and David, Ryan and David are the guys that run bankless.

When Starting Earnifi, Did You Consider Getting Acquired?

When you started Earnifi, did you think that this would be acquired one day and it like it’d be a part of something else? Or have you ever felt like I can continue this, I can grow this out, I can make this bigger, better and just be like the solo entrepreneur that I am.

Dawson: Yeah, well, so something I never considered that it would be acquired. No, I understand that other folks might be interested. But I actually thought that it would be something that I would always have the market cornered, and I would never need to expand. And now I realized that there’s actually a lot more need for claimable asset notifications of all kinds, like, just web three notifications are so much bigger than I had, it was two years ago. Like two years ago, it was gone claim these air drops, and like, maybe your compound finance, loans need like, they’re gonna get liquidated, you need notification. So now it’s become so much bigger that, now like I could have never imagined this, and I’m excited about it. Because this step was required, it was either bringing on more developers and potentially getting venture capital funding, which is something we haven’t mentioned, Earnifi had zero VC funding. It needed some type of growth for sure, because of where we are right now in the market. And the folks that are coming out with similar or products in places that Earnifi could have expanded into, that’s now happening in this market.

So, elaborate on that a bit, like what do you see else that’s needed?

Dawson: Yeah, so something else that I see needed is, there’s this idea of getting notified of something right now. So, you have an asset to go claim right now. But then there’s these things of like longer term. So maybe you are always holding your ENs name, for instance. Or you’re always watching to wait for this one ENs name, to be available to go bid on. There’s this idea of like, in the moment things, so it’s not just like uniswap came out and now I add it to Earnifi, and I push those notifications. This is something like, at all times, anyone who has a wallet, could be paying attention to this thing, and this thing should notify them. And that’s mostly an engineering difference. But in the end, it’s going to end up enabling way more types of notifications.

Will Web3 Take Over Web2 Communications and Notifications?

Got it. That makes sense. I’m curious, like, as someone who actively uses web three, I’ve actively come across scenarios where I wish I was notified when something was to happen. I think the closest thing that I guess most recently that I’ve come across is, like SMS notifications when a music NFT artist that I like is dropping a song, you know, and getting notified when it’s happening. Because many times you have to be there in the moment to claim the limited edition, right? Otherwise, you’re going to pay a premium on the secondaries. I haven’t come across an instance personally. And that’s because yeah, I guess I haven’t come across an instance where I’ve had to claim an Airdrop that was, I guess, had like a countdown to it and it was limited on time. Until recently, where I’ve been using more Earnifi, like I’ve been integrating Earnifi into my day to day, my weekly kind of like web three consumption. And I’ve come across new tokens that I had never heard of, that was like, oh, wow, like, I don’t even know I qualify for this and it’s mine. Like, I’m gonna go claim it. So, I see like, I see the notification layer. Something troubles me, is like the notification layer for wallet-to-wallet messaging. And I think web two has done like distribution and communication really, really well. And web three is trying to like make its way into that category but we’re not there yet. So intertwining, like web two communication tactics, like email, or SMS, or integrating telegram notifications, Discord notifications, whatever may be, with all the value that’s happening and being captured on chain, is a super captivating, do you think there’s a world where web three ends up becoming the end all be all destination, for communications, for notifications, and whatnot? Or do you think that web two will play that pivotal role as the industry expense?

Dawson: I think there’s a massive opportunity, what you just said, for web two to continue being dominant. I don’t think we’re, like Push Protocol for instance, or Earnifi email system. It’s not anything better than what was in web two. As far as like, we didn’t invent a new notification style. You still just getting push notifications on your phone, or email notifications in your inbox, or SMS on your phone again, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those methods. Of course, they can be overwhelming or maybe you don’t have that app downloaded. So, you don’t get that notification. But like something that you don’t always see is that web three is built on web two. You can’t separate them. We can try to separate from these, like silo towers of you know, Facebook and Twitter having your data, yes. But like, you know, when you’re publishing in Leinster, you’re still hitting a lens API, you’re still hitting one server, located in one place on the East Coast, ran by lens by the Ave company for the time being. Like, for the time being, we’re still built on web two. And that’s okay. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Obviously, Earnifi is a product where like I said, except email addresses. You know, there’s a database, like sometimes the web two technology stack is useful. You need to keep with it. 

Got it. And I, if I recall correctly, I have to ask because this is a podcast and its clickbait is hell. What’s the acquisition amount public? Are you open to sharing?

Dawson: The acquisition amount was not public.

Okay. And we’re gonna keep it that way. Is that what you’re buying? 

Dawson: And we’re gonna keep it that way. 

The Future of Bankless Labs

Okay, so I, I’m excited because you’re on to bigger and better things. Integration with bankless, labs, the CTO of bankless labs, web three media driving the future of all the cool products that are gonna come out of that vehicle. Can you share more about what the future looks like in that department?

Dawson: Yeah, part of the future that I wanted to mention is, I noticed that you’ve been doing podcasts NFTs. I saw NFT podcast, podcast NF Ts. We did like a funny switcheroo on Twitter. And entirely separate bankless tweeted podcasts NFTs like 30 minutes after you tweeted podcast NFTs. That stuff in area that that bankless media is pushing into. Yeah, but when it comes to what are we doing now? What is bankless labs going to do? So, I’m the CTO of bankless labs. I’m hiring two engineers. This is huge already. That’s, you know, three times as many engineers. Like once we’ve got those engineers, we’re going to push into getting these notifications in more places, super interested in integrating with wallet providers. So, imagine one day you open up meta mask and meta mask tells you that you’ve got $1,000 to go claim. It’s pretty useful, right? You shouldn’t really need to know about Earnifi in that case, if it’s integrated at that level. And Earnifi has by far the best data source on all this stuff. So, it’s mostly kind of getting the firepower now to have these conversations with the right folks. So, if anyone’s set Metamask or Coinbase wallet or similar, I’d love to speak with you because people deserve their notifications. This is their money to go claim.

Did You Come into Bankless Labs With a Specific Vision Yourself?

I feel like you have some level of autonomy and leadership as a CTO there, it’s still very young, the department. So, there’s a lot of fresh ideas, a lot of fresh energy. Did you come or are you coming into bankless labs with a specific vision yourself? Or is it kind of like, the entire team was like, alright, we have this vision, we need more technical help to help execute on it. Like, what is a combination of the both or how do you look at it?

Dawson: Yeah, it’s a bit of a combination of both. Ryan and David are the best marketers in web three, some of the best marketers in the world. And just like how big of an empire they built is like, they know how to drive eyes to things and I know how to make early-stage products. That’s what, like I’ve always done at hackathons. And we think that combining these two skill sets, together with some of our engineering talent on the team, means that we can do the full circle from launching something early, to growing it and making this thing, help more and more people. So, they came in with the idea of we want to make Earnifi better and bigger. And I came with the idea of like, I would only have sold Earnifi to someone who I can continue doing Earnifi with. Like, I don’t want anyone to kill this thing because the world needs this. The world needs these notifications, if it’s gone. That 150 million that happened last year, or last year and a half, that’s gone too, these like notifications to everyday people. So, they want to just grow bigger and so do I.

Okay, well, look, dude, I’m excited for you, as I’ve said multiple times, because I genuinely am. I think it’s an epic collaboration, a W for the entire space. So, congratulations to you. Congratulations to bankless. I’ll be watching. I’ll be playing with the products. Shout out to podcast NFTs. Before I let you go and we wrap up, Dawson, anything that I missed, anything that you’d like to shout out or anything you’d like to cover, before we close it down?

Dawson: I don’t have anything on deck that I was thinking about. But I do want to encourage folks to go be active and have fun in web three. So, if you’ve gone and been a collector for a while, maybe go try minting something I actually minted to just yesterday, after talking to you, Adam, I minted on Zora and practice like getting the revenue back and claiming it and I added notifications on Earnifi for unclaimed Zora Treasury assets like it is a complex world out there, but you don’t have to know everything. And no one knows everything in web three. Like I spent all day watching it and yet I didn’t know about the unclaimed Zora Treasury stuff till yesterday. So, I would encourage folks, like don’t be just a consumer, be a creator. You know, if art is not your thing, do some code. If code is not your thing, do some podcasting. Podcasting is not your thing, show up at a conference. This space is so welcoming because we’re all still so early. So just get out there and make something cool.


Amazing. Dawson, where can we find you? Where can we find Earnifi? Where can we find bankless? Show away and we’ll wrap it up?

Dawson: Yeah, you can find me primarily on Twitter. It’s Dawson Botsford. You can find Earnifi at Earni.fi. So that’s Earni.fI. And then bankless labs is, actually we’ve parked the Twitter, but bankless is for you to follow for now. Bankless labs is kind of this tech emerging thing that we’re figuring it out. Yeah, Ryan and David had been sure to say this on the podcast, which is that, this is early, like we’re one weekend to merging these ideas. So be patient with us as these things get more of a cohesive story. For example, the bankless membership and the Earnifi membership are still separate. That’s because a week ago they were separate companies. Yeah, so be patient with us. But we’re definitely building stuff for your journey to go bankless.

Amazing, Dawson. Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon as we release more products but till then, have a good one.

Dawson: Thanks so much, Adam.

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