§ Ending an Experiment, RPI without Paywall again

§ 2022-02-27

Since January 27, 2022, I've now had RPI's front page paywalled. I did it to confirm a hypothesis: Are users willing to pay for our service? The answer is: no. So what now? And how did it all happen? Here's how!

§ Feeling Inspired

I don't know exactly which piece of social media ended up inspiring me to such action, but I think it was an interview of YCombinator's Michael Seibel where he said that many founders are not seeking the truth directly enough. As most scientists strive for, startup founders, to protect their ego, don't seek the truth about their product. Instead, to further their well-being, they postpone gathering relevant information.

Anecdotally, for months, being the founder of Rug Pull Index, I, too, never took any steps to confirm my idea or its market. Instead, by having stable income from the OceanDAO, I tried aligning and nurturing the positive facts such that RPI looks like a dusty trailblazer in the monthly OceanDAO rounds. The problem: Building a narrow product and an untenable dispositif despite sufficient capital.

§ The Incentives of Inaccessible Revenue Streams

A few OceanDAO rounds ago, with the competition becoming more fierce, I had already started adjusting my commitments. Constantly winning OCEANs monthly seemed unrealistic and so I felt forced to do something. Feeling constrained severely by our finances did wonders to my prioritization skills; necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

So it became apparent that, had I the best interests at heart for making RPI succeed, I'd have to look for the paths to generate revenue: But not only that. I'd also have to take care of reducing all costs, not leading directly to increasing income.

§ Facing the Consequences

This scarcity mindset led to the following around the beginning of 2022: I stopped renewing any external contracts and cut the RPI budget to a minimum. I felt it was time for consolidation, so I set up a support contract with the sole serious user of the API: DataWhale. Additionally, to prove the viability of the public-facing product, I paywalled it to understand if users are passionate about it.

As you may have seen, the table's data sets were, at the time, limited to only the top three data sets, with a line below asking to sign up to see more. Clicking the button led to a Typeform to request "RPI PRO" or get API keys. The truth is: There was never an "RPI PRO" product unless, of course, people had signed up in droves.

§ Results

Within a month (so as of today), I gathered a total of 4 responses from Typeform. 1 for wanting to use the API, three requests for using the fantasy "RPI PRO" product. According to Typeform, 42 users ended up on the Typeform, with 4 completing it. On Discord and elsewhere, there was little resistance concerning the paywall. I had no one reach out via email either.

§ Interpretation

Now you could, of course, rationalize these numbers and say that they're anyways great, considering that I indeed have users wanting to use and pay for my services. You could also extend the project's trajectory and say that, depending on the data economy's growth, these numbers could very well expand into something larger.

But besides this qualitative objection against continuing to build out the RPI product, I think there's also a qualitative one that is that I've become less excited about it.

I am excited about DataWhale using the API. I'm excited about the RPI community, e.g., Discord: But I'm not that excited about the front page's data listing.

§ Coping Emotionally and Lessons Learned

Although not accurately depicting the equivalence of a truly scientific experiment, I think what testing some hypotheses showed me is that I prefer to live in reality rather than a fantasy I build for receiving further OceanDAO funds. It's tough to see nobody care for a product that I've created for more than a year now and that I had only the best intentions at hand when building. However, there's also a beauty in realization, failure, and the opportunity of getting to move on.

Being in control of creating these facts and the lightness of the entrepreneurial spirit to move on: I think it is worth it. So, ...

§ Is RPI dead now?


§ Then What's next?

The dispositif and intention of the Rug Pull Index Project are long-term. I happened to have the opportunity to raise funds from the OceanDAO. It may be that I can receive further funding from it too. It happens to aid Ocean Protocol's infrastructure as the first manifestation of the product. But my appetite for being an entrepreneur and choosing my path hasn't come to an end.

I don't know exactly how to move on from where I am. Or let's say that rather I don't know how visually communicate the theme of departure from building "the rug pull index." Indeed, I have moved on, so most technical work - albeit not extensive - I've focused on building Solidity libraries that could help scale a mission for whatever is next.

Having little expenses and the luxury of only needing to pay myself, there isn't the same urgency as, e.g., when building a venture-funded startup. However, I do feel the need to communicate the further departure of NOT building an index token that holds the best data tokens. The question is, how do I do that?

Unfortunately, the name "rugpullindex" holds my trajectory nicely in a specific lane, whereas I think I should switch them. Today, it seems as though rebranding is inevitable.

For now, anyway, I'd like to point out that our most recent work with Rug Pull Index, despite the misfit for the name, has been around:

There'll be more to come.