How Kift capitalized on a social media trend

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If you look on Instagram or YouTube or TikTok, you’ll people who are living out of their vans. These vans are usually beautiful and these van-lifers travel the country and live and work wherever they want.

But the challenge with vanlife is that it could be pretty lonely. At some point, you do want a community.

Well, today’s guest came up with a solution for that. Colin O’Donnell is the founder of Kift, which combines vanlife with a network of community houses for co-working, cooking, and connecting.

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Colin O'Donnell

Colin O'Donnell


Colin O’Donnell is the founder of Kift, which combines vanlife with a network of community houses for co-working, cooking, and connecting.


Full Interview Transcript

Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Imagine this. I imagine you’re someone who looks at your city and says, you know, I’m getting fewer and fewer benefits out of living here. And actually a lot of my friends are even leaving.

And maybe you’re not someone who wants to go into the suburbs or to yet another city. You want to have a little bit more personal freedom. And if you look on Instagram or YouTube or Tik TOK on so much other social media, you see that there are people who are living out of their vans. Beautiful looking vans. They travel the country. They get to be where they want and wherever they open up their laptop, they could have high speed internet and work.

Well, that’s the van life. And the challenge with that is that it could be pretty lonely. At some point, you do want a community. You want someone to knock ideas around with, you want someone to hang out with and have a drink at the end of the day. Well, the idea behind Clift. Is to come up with a solution for that. And you’re about to meet the founder. His name is Colin. O’Donnell.

He created a decentralized autonomous organization, a Dao. That basically unites a lot of van lifers. And gives them a group of people that they can get together with and the different cities that they end up in. And. Since it is a Dao. They all get to vote on major decisions for this organization, including where should we buy land next? And how should we run this? And as you’ll hear to some degree, what should we even have for dinner? That’s the idea behind a dao where a group of people can make decisions really well together and allow their idea to grow bigger than it could if it was run as a standard organization well

You’re about to meet Colin. he is the founder of Here’s the interview Oh i should also say i did this in conjunction with origami so no sponsorship beyond letting you know this is presented with our gummy the company that puts together dows Here we go.

Andrew: Colin, it’s good to have you here. Where are you?

Colin: I am currently in Baja, um, right southernmost tip, actually with Mattai. And, uh, yeah, super, super excited to be traveling with him and about 30 other gift uh, members.

Andrew: And so tell me how this works right now. What does he as an N F T holder have and what is in the community now? And then we’ll talk about the future.

Colin: So we’re a, uh, we are a membership organization. We’re a community and we share space together. So we, we realized that there’s a better way to live outside of cities where we can. You know, be closer to nature and hang out with cool, interesting people without the expense and overhead that you find in cities.

So we have four properties currently from the Pacific Northwest down to Southern California. And we go, we found this hack where we use camper vans as a, as a bedroom, as a mobile bedroom, and, uh, Kind of take a two bedroom house in some beautiful location near National Park and turn into a 20 unit apartment building overnight.

Um, so all of our members are NFT holders and we all vote on community, um, decisions. And we also use the, uh, the treasury from the NFTs. We’re, uh, we’re saving up to purchase our first property. So we see it the future as a. Fluid change locations whenever you want. Come together with your closest, uh, friends and chosen family and be able to, you know, live that life that mattai.

Um, so well demonstrates.

Andrew: And the idea is that, Eventually he and other members will be able to go to any one of the properties that Kift owns and have it feel like home, be able to stay with his van, have a community of people who are, who are people that he would like to spend time with, and maybe meet one or two of them and drive out to another location.

And throughout all this, continue to work online because the internet is becoming ubi.

Colin: Yep. And that’s not a, eventually that’s a here and now we’ve been doing that for about a a year. So, um, yeah, we have about a hundred people on site, changing locations coming together. We also have little, um, have camp outs where we might have a hundred people come and. people play music and put on events for each other.

We are all working professionally, doing various jobs from storytelling, to programming, to, uh, you know, coaching and, uh, . Yeah. So we’re we, starlink has really changed the game. I mean, really a year ago this was not possible to be working, um, in southern Baja on a beach or in the mountains, and today it is.

So yeah, eventually we really see, um, purchasing and building a much larger locations where we could have, you know, dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of people living in community. Um, all part of a self-governing, self-funded, uh,

Andrew: And so is this more than just buying a ticket to a c. , is it also ownership of it? Meaning that if I, Andrew, who’s not part of Kift, come in, can I, can I rent space in there and then that money will go into the treasury and eventually create an A growing a growing pool of money and a growing asset that if any one of your members wants to cash out because they’re ready to stop Van Lifeing or retire, they’ve built up some asset Or is that not part of the.

Colin: So, , your NFT is really your, your governance token and it gets you in the door and it gets you voting rights. And we use the revenue from that NFT to, um, you know, collectively, we’ll, we’ll decide what to do with that. And that is the mission is to purchase real estate together. So, um, it’s really not a, an investment tool, but it does give you rights to governance, which, if you’ve ever been a tenant and you’ve wanted your landlord to do something, and we all know.

Difficult or what a horrible experience that is sort of being at somebody else’s mercy. And so this really puts those tools of change and governance right in your hands and your friend’s hands. And so we think this is just the future way of, of really, um, of governing together. And so we’re all experimenting here.

It’s not like simple. It’s not easy. It’s a collective decision making. It’s probably one of the hardest things you can do. Um, but we think this is a better.

Andrew: talk to me about the vision. If you could do this the way you imagine it, what are we gonna see? 5, 10, 20 years in the future?

Colin: So I think there’s like an amazing thing that’s happening right now. Um, just cities are going through a. A transition where we’re going from, uh, you know, we went from a factory based, factory centered city in the late 18 hundreds to an office centered city in the 19 hundreds. And now all the things that cities, the concrete and steel cities used to offer, they used to offer the culture, the music, the entertainment, the education, the information sharing, the.

All that obviously has moved online. And the op, the offerings online have just been growing at an exponential rate. While the offerings in the city have been stagnating or are getting worse, they’ve been getting dirtier, they’ve been getting more difficult to access, more expensive, and meanwhile, you can be out in nature and access the latest music, access, great paying jobs.

So we think that. The city, these office based cities of the, of the, um, 20th century are really, um, in for a massive change. And we think that there’s a new opportunity to build a city that is not centered on offices or factories, but really focused on the human connection and what we really can’t get online, which is, you know, access to nature, access to each other, uh, coming together.

And so instead, Maybe cities of office buildings or factories were building cities of parks and places to, to eat together food halls and plazas and piazzas. So we think the f and we think this is a distributed city, much like the network state that b uh, described. Um, we think that that can happen on the, the.

State set, um, scale. But we think what happens on the city scale is just even more important because that’s something that we all interact with every day, and that’s likely a digital community of people who know each other, hang out together, um, as well as a physical place where you can come together.

And now I think that physical place is going to not just be a single place, but it’s going to be. Maybe it’s gonna be Portugal for a couple months and then Austin for a few months, and then up in Oregon for a couple months. And you want to show up and know that you can work and know that you share the same culture and that you can have the intellectual stimulation and creativity that you look for in a city.

And so we really think that over the next 10 years, the shape of cities is gonna change from a monolithic place to a really distributed. Probably smaller, um, gathering spaces and tight affinity groups that come together online and, uh, show up in, uh, in physical space together.

Andrew: It’s interesting the biology is talking about the network state, that it’s an online group of people who start to buy offline assets and then get recognized by, by other states, maybe first by, by states within the US or small, uh, communities, but eventually by countries you’re saying? Well, The city is even more important than the country right now because that city experiences what people experience in their lives day to day.

I think we should, with Kift be recreating that the state can come later, the city, the environment, the friends, the connections. That’s what we need to focus on now.

Colin: I see networks of people and I think state hoods have like really interesting, you know, definitions. They have boundaries and they have like, I dunno, they can do things maybe that we’re not interested in, like, uh, purchasing weapons or coming up with trade agreements. It’s like, for me that’s a bit, um, too much.

What I’m interested in is, What can these groups of people do together? And so once we start to collectivize, can we actually provide services that the government, uh, we’ve been asking the government to provide, but we can’t come to a decision on that. And so could you, you know, can we start to take on some things like single payer healthcare?

Um, you know, could we create a city that had a universal basic income? Uh, we think there’s so many different things that we can do collectively. That if we just take the bureaucracy of the government outta the way, we could just actually start to do them.

Andrew: Okay, and so today it’s vans. The people who are part of Kift, why is, what is it called? Why is it called Kift?

Colin: Um, Kift was this kind of cool, like turn of the last century back to the land movement and the UK where. Actually is like an alternative to the Boy Scouts. They, they, they got a little more, uh, got a little more freaky with their ceremonies and rituals and just really had a, a really interesting, um, desire to spread peace and love and harmony across the planet.

And so we thought it was a, a, a cool, um, group to, to recognize and just little re.

Andrew: And it was called Kebo at first, right? What was Kebo?

Colin: it’s the same. It’s actually called the, the kibo. KIF was the group. And um, and yeah, due are some potential confusion in the marketplace. We changed our name to Kif.

Andrew: Okay. And so the vision is today members will have vans, but in the future it could be small houses and maybe even any other kind of structure, right?

Colin: Yeah, I mean, vans first off are magical. They’re like, you don’t have to pack a bag to change locations. You just turn your key and your entire bedroom goes with you. All of your personal stuff, you know, your books. So it’s way more convenient than packing a backpack and only, and say, going from a, you know, co-living space through a co-living space where you don’t have all of your.

the van is really a, an ideal thing. It’s also, you know, we think like many people, the future of, um, housing is, uh, you know, manufactured offsite. Um, these are basically tiny homes on wheels and the cost of adding a drive train isn’t that much more than a, an ADU that you would put behind your house. Um, so we think they’re really vital, um, long term they’re really, um, central.

But we also recognize that people who have. Living in apartments or houses, you know, that might be like, okay, I want to be in community, but like, maybe the van is too much. I want some more space. So we’re looking at creating, uh, spaces that would be, um, accessible to all people. And so people who are in vans, people maybe wanna live in a co-living community house with, you know, 10, 15 other folks.

Someone might want a cabin or a glamping tent. So we’ve actually just started, um, a partnership with JU who makes these really cool. , uh, portable bedrooms. It’s basically like the Tesla skateboard of a, of a glamping tent. And we’ve just dropped a couple out of one of our locations and to test that out to see like how the community grows beyond, um, people just in advance.

Andrew: How is it spelled? I’m looking it up because dude, I freaking love your vibe, your sensibility, your design. Like it’s so, I’m feeling like if you like it, I wanna get one just for my house here.

Colin: Oh, you gotta

Andrew: u u p?

Colin: uh, J u P E.

Andrew: J u p e. Have you always had this vibe? Like, uh, usually people who have been like in tech the way that you were, you’re the guy who turned phone booth to New York, into little wifi stations.

They look like dorks. You look like the kind of guy that we would watch on TV and wanna emulate,

Colin: Oh

Andrew: I’d have a poster of you if I was in a teenager. I’d have a post review on my wall to try to look like you and feel bad that I have Middle Eastern roots and could never look.

Colin: I am so flattered and I love your Middle Eastern roots and uh,

Andrew: I’ve learned to really come to terms and enjoy it.

Colin: Yes, you should. Um, no, I just, I mean, I think design is so important and just like it conveys so many things and, um, it’s also, I think the, the smallest investment that you can make that will continue to pay on forever. And, you know, you can build some huge platform for millions and millions of dollars.

And if you haven’t really cared about the design, maybe no one wants to use it or they devalue it. So, no, I appreciate that you recognize. Hey, you like our design. Uh, we definitely want to try and make it accessible to everyone. Um, as well as just convey that, you know, we are about diversity, equity, inclusion, we are about sustainability, we are about caring for each other, for the planet.

Um, and I

Andrew: What about bathrooms? This place looks

Colin: and bathrooms also

Andrew: What do you do about a bathroom when you have one of these juts jus.

Colin: well it’s interesting. Juke just launched a toilet, which is, um, yeah, like the Tesla toilets. I think if you look in the top there, it’s pretty dope. I mean, usually we take a, an existing house and turn the bedrooms into co-working and we use the kitchen and we use the bathrooms.

Most of ’em have like hot tubs or saunas and you know, because we can actually, if you have 20 people sharing a house, you can actually afford to get a really decent house. Um,

Andrew: Yeah.

Colin: And these places where these houses are, like near Zion say, or near, um, Olympia National Park or Joshua Tree Park. Those houses haven’t had internet in the past.

And six months ago they didn’t have internet. You know, they might have had a one meg dial up and nobody wanted to be there. You really couldn’t, you couldn’t operate, you couldn’t buy things, you couldn’t get, um, you know, Weird parts for your sprinter van or like, you know, present for your friend now. It’s now with starlink, with Amazon, with, you know, online delivery services.

It’s actually easier to live outside of the cities and near a national park than it is to live in a city. And I have better access to, um, retail, to entertainment, to, you know, whatever it is. I, I don’t. Sometimes they’ll spend a month on a, at a site and we’ll be doing yoga every day. We’ll be doing exercise, we’ll be doing meditation.

Uh, we’ll be eating. I say we’re like, we’re the best restaurant in town because every night it’s a different, um, plant-based meal and different, and a community member will cook it and cook for 20 people. It’s fabulous and you won’t spend any money. It’ll be a month and you’ll be like, I didn’t actually pull out my credit card.

Maybe I ordered one or two things online, but like you might not have bought anything. And that’s all. That’s all included because it’s a community. I think we have everything we need to be happy. We have,

Andrew: somebody buys, if I buy an N, an N, if I buy an N F T right now, how much do I pay and how can you use that to pay for my food? In addition to rent on the space?

Colin: So, uh, currently it’s about, so your nft, um, you purchased that and that’s, you know, your, your membership card to our Discord. Um, and all of our onsite members are also NFT holders. So then on top of that, you pay a monthly fee for access, and that’s about 500. So for about 500 bucks, you get basically all the food you need coffee in the morning.

You get a place to, uh, to call home, to co-work from. You get all of your utilities. You’re also a member of a community of 20 people, and if you took a slice of 20 of your favorite, Community members, 20 of your favorite people, and you’re like, we all have something to offer. Someone’s a musician, someone’s a great bread maker.

Someone’s a a yoga instructor, someone’s a meditation instructor, someone’s a life coach. And what if we just said like, Hey, maybe like once a week. You wanna offer your thing to the community, all of a sudden you’d have an incredibly rich week of things to do. And by the way, you don’t have to be an expert to lead an exercise class.

You can throw on a YouTube video and just encourage other people to join you, and all of a sudden you’ve got, you know, a gym happening. And so it’s all those things that we have been separated from that make us happy, and it’s so much more enjoyable, I think. Be a part of a yoga class where your friend is teaching it and you didn’t have to go down the street and pay 20 bucks and you don’t really know the instructor, the other people you’re with, and it’s, you know, it’s just so much more meaningful when you are part of a community that is providing those things.

So I think for me, the, the three big things that we can provide for each other that we’ve been sort of separated from is our housing. Our food, our and, and our community based services. You know, um, I get my haircut from, of our community members. You know, we, we have people do stick and poke tattoos. We have like, it’s a really interesting eclectic group of people.

And so for 500 bucks a month, which I think is probably a quarter of what you would spend in a city given rent, utilities, restaurants, uh,

Andrew: It’s nothing. Groceries in, in San Francisco? Well, we are a family of four, but still, we, we had work where you eat at work, groceries, loan are 1500 bucks. And then, uh, well, I’m always comparing things to San Francisco. An apartment there was $5,000. It’s 500 is nothing. And obviously you’re giving me a different experience, but what you’re saying is, People don’t want that city experience, and I didn’t. There’s a lot that I didn’t like about it. People also want a community. They want diversity, they want change, and this is the way to do it. Here’s what I, what I wanna ask you, Colin, really, man to man, why not do this as just a straight up startup? You have the backup, you have the vision.

Why not say, I’m gonna raise money not from Republic, but from a few VCs. And then I’m gonna buy some properties myself. These people, instead of paying 500 bucks, will pay me $800 rent. I’ll eventually allow people to go everywhere. Why not

Colin: Oh, I do wanna, I do wanna say we do have some, you know, cuz we started four years ago, we do have some vc, um, some amazing VCs who are on board and I just want to thank them for being like, incredibly patient and like, you know, willing to go out on a journey and try new things that are. I think one of the things about VCs, they can recognize when something is an outlier and something’s really special, and maybe no one else will believe in it, but one person will and they can make that happen.

I think that’s where VCs shine compared to the Dow. But what. I think we absolutely recognize as if, I don’t think what you described is the VC world. I think it’s like the private equity world. Like let’s rinse and repeat. Let’s put the money in this, let’s extract the profits and let’s move on and just keep, keep cranking it out.

And what you end up with is you end up with strip malls, you end up with suburban home developments, you end up with faceless, um,

Andrew: Airbnb, which is a very face forward company that is very, that that does have good vibes and good people. Doesn’t have to be that.

Colin: but Airbnb, have you stayed in Airbnb recently? It’s usually, it’s like a gray box with a couch that, you know, the person who owns that is just flipping it on Airbnb

Andrew: has become

Colin: I, I’ve there.

Andrew: is, it always is going to become that we can never have a thing that feels like Tony Shay’s campground if we start with a venture firm. And even Tony Shay ended up angry at his VCs because they ruined his, the work that he did by forcing him to sell.

Colin: You’re gonna grow from the seed that’s planted. And if you’re gonna grow from private equity, you’re gonna seek those 20%, uh, returns, and you’re gonna build, you know, housing developments and back up the strip mall. If you’re really focused on the vc, uh, the VC angle, you’re gonna end up with. , a very thin platform that pushes all the risk down to the Uber driver, the homeowner, and just is out to, uh, you know, to extract the profits.

We think that those are not sustainable business models. We’re seeing, like all this economic disruption I think is based on non-sustainable business models. So we think a real radical notion is that you can be community funded, that you can be, uh, healthy and growing and not. Not exploitative and not extractive.

Uh, and we think that you can have, you know, a triple bottom line or I like to say even a quadruple bottom line business where it’s a good investment, it’s good for the community, it’s good for the planet. But I also think, you know, the investor is like, this is the world that they wanna live in. You know, do we wanna live in a, in a world of increased isolation and, you know, climate change?

Or do we wanna live in a world of like increased community and like harmony with the planet? Don’t think it’s that hard of an argument to make.

Andrew: Okay, so the way you started, I do see the Republic. Um, The Republic offer, and I have to tell you, I remember being shown this by friends when I got sick of San Francisco and I said, what if we shouldn’t could buy some land and create this thing? People kept sending this to me and it was too late. The offer was already closed, so I got some time to drool over it and didn’t connect it to the Dow for a long time.

What I wonder now is how do I connect this, this company that raised money from investors with this company that’s selling NFTs in more community, how did you go from one to the other and what does one own and what does the other own?

Colin: We’ve kept, um, we’ve kept a pretty bright line and, uh, the, the gift. The company is really about the membership and Kiff. The Dow is really about land ownership, and so that’s. And now we’re starting to experiment of like, what do the two look like? Can we take a lot of these? What would be corporate functions and make them community functions?

And what if we, um, started to look at, you know, sharing equity with our community members? Um, I think it’s an interesting, you know, we started, it’s, it’s really, I sometimes I think I’m crazy. I’m like, wait, DAOs, were really just last year, like, you know, we did that Republic raise in 2021. If you said the word doo, people would be like, yeah, that thing in 2016, people tried it.

The actually original proposal for KIF 2016 was a Dow. And so I think, um, there’s so much we’re actually talking about. Not just theoretical something, let’s buy a constitution or whatever and see if that works. We’re talking about people who are living and relying on this for their livelihood, for their health, their safety.

Um, so we need to have some, you know, some practices that are tested, tried and true. And so I’m like, we’re, we’re go, we’re, we’re dipping our toes in this, you know, we’re figuring out what we can. Um, put into the community’s hands and what we, what, what needs a further check and balance. But we’re actively moving towards a, you know, fully community run experience.

And, you know, I am

Andrew: the idea to, I’m sorry. The idea today, if I understand you right, is the, the investors own this membership revenue and the expenses that go along with it. The DAO will own the land that all the members get to participate in.

Colin: Yep. That’s how we’re set up. Um, and the move is to start to explore blending those two. But if you think about it, when we started before Dows were a thing and we didn’t, when the real estate and also the real estate, , you know, look like a, a typical VC investment. You know, I think it’s incredibly attractive at this point to be land banking and to, you know, have some upside there, you know, but, um, yeah, it’s a, it is a very different investment profile.

Andrew: You know what I was just talking to the founder of Under Canvas, which has these high end glamping tents on, uh, land that they buy now. But in the beginning, they rented and Sarah Dusek, who’s the founder, said that one of the things that they discovered was land, even if it’s, even if it’s a little bit outside of a city, but especially if it’s so far outside that it’s near National Parks.

It’s pretty inexpensive and so super

Colin: a,

Andrew: Uhhuh

Colin: can I just say, I’m like, we’re looking at a thousand acres for, you know, a million and a half dollars, you know, so it’s

Andrew: unreal. Where? What city?

Colin: I’m not telling you

Andrew: Okay, I’ll tell you, I’ll give you one basic example that I had when I was trying to think of, I don’t wanna live in San Francisco. Can I just even get a place and live outside and have some friends come on hip camp, for example, maybe I put some hip camp tents and have this vibe, which is what I’m going for here in Austin, Texas.

Um, I discovered was you could get a two bedroom apartment on our block for two to 3 million, excuse me, two floor apartment. So it would be one apartment. I don’t remember how many, uh, bedrooms they broke it up into, but that doesn’t really matter cuz people will break it up into whatever they want.

Or I can go two hours south. And so that’s just a little bit south of Silicon Valley, what we call silicon. and I could get multiple acres for 300, 400,000. The only issue I had with that area in California was there were a lot of restrictions on what you could do on the property and

Colin: California, like California is tough. Like the restrictions are tough. The nimbyism is terrible, but like Exactly. You’re probably looking down in Mercy, hot Springs area, , it’s pretty amazing down there. Two

Andrew: I don’t, I don’t remember, but it was amazing. The weather was more beautiful than San Francisco, and here’s the deal. If you’re not going into the office every day, the way my wife used to go every day, and now she doesn’t have to. The idea of let’s just go live out and have some space and then drive up to the city when we need

Colin: It’s the dream. The thing is like who would, it’s like, who would you talk to as well? The question I always say is like, there’s a reason, so if everyone from like Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, um, you know, uh, Oregon, you can shut your ears, but like, I wouldn’t live there because I didn’t, couldn’t get a job that would satisfy me.

Like intellectually I couldn’t. Um, Have a community rich with like very different personalities, diverse, uh, perspectives, backgrounds, and, sorry, where would I work? Who would I hang out with? And I couldn’t get on the internet. And that was six months ago. So now with Kift, we can roll up with a community of really interesting people that we want to hang out with.

We can work from anywhere and we have the internet. And so all of a sudden you have this arbitrage where you had land that was a thousand dollars an acre. You know, Utah, Oregon, you know, Colorado, um, Wyoming, these incredibly beautiful places. And you’re like, it was kind of worthless before because there was no one there and there was no jobs, no economy, no culture.

And we bring all that now. And so now we can look at really, um, You know, creating these beautiful new places to live. And so start off with 20 people, get five groups of 20 people, we’ve got a hundred on site and get, you know, multiple groups of a hundred. And you’re, you’ve got some really interesting stuff happening.

Andrew: Um, how’d you get your early members, the people who bought into this vision and were willing to come out when it wasn’t fully there?

Colin: Yeah, we, um, I wrote a blog post, um, I think it’s called Like Why I Started Kift, and it just talked about the journey and talked about freedom and community, and I think those two things really resonate with people and they’re like, yes, I want freedom. I want to be able to. Move according to the weather, according to my whims or, but I also want community and I want to cook dinner with people.

I want to play guitar at night. I want to have that feeling of family that we’ve probably had for a hundred thousand years and only in the past 50, you know, 75 years have really been start. You. The suburbs and with, uh, office work, and we’ve been really, and the rise of technology, we’ve been increasingly separated from each other, and so that really resonated with people and we just had a number of people reaching out and asking what they could do to help and saying, I have land I wanted to join, et cetera.

Andrew: From this. I, I see, I see what you’re talking about. It’s, I think it’s a, it’s quoted on the founder’s note page of Kift. You’re saying you just wrote a blog post saying, this is what I want, this is the life I want. And other people who had a similar vision said, let’s see if I could help you get the land, get what you need.

I wanna be a part of it.

Colin: Yeah. And a lot of people were like, oh, you invented this thing. I didn’t do anything original. This is something that we’ve all wanted, that so many people have wanted. And this is really just about catalyzing it. Put a, putting a flag in the ground saying, it’s okay, we can do this. We’re gonna make it. And um, and frankly, it’s not that hard, you know, we’re gonna figure it out.

And so that’s, Yeah, that’s the beauty of the community. It’s, and as much as we think DAOs are resilient and interesting, and great tools like this can happen just through dialogue, you know, at some point we’ll hit a, a scaling problem and that’s where the Dow really comes in, uh, to help. But, you know, you can sit around and circle or on a Zoom call and, and raise a hand and say what you want and, and if there’s trust and faith there.

So we think it’s really interesting. Um, trying to encapsulate our culture into the, uh, into the white paper and into the dow and into the way that we operate. And, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s, uh, been a real fun process and just incredible learning experience.

Andrew: Let’s talk about some of the challenges before we got started. You’re saying you, you were telling me about the difficulty of dealing with wallets. I think even experience web three, people have challenges with wallets and they’ve developed what Paul Graham would call schlep. Blindness that you just do a thing that’s really difficult and then you say, okay, I, and you forget it.

You forget that it’s there and it’s not until someone comes and eliminate it. Sit that you realize, oh, wait a minute. It was really difficult for businesses to accept credit card processing. I’m so glad that the Coon brothers ended up creating Stripe. Talk about some of the real challenges.

Colin: I mean, that, that is the absolute truth is that we’ll, we’ll know that Web three’s adopted when people stop talking about it , it’s, uh, it’ll just be like, no one’s talking about D C P I P or like, you know, like different protocols. And so I think it’s the same thing. I think it’s also like when we get on a call like this, when we talk about Dows like, Hey, can we talk about the Dow?

I’m like, it’s probably like being the 19 hundreds and being like, let’s talk. Incorporating and like all the things you can do with a corporation and

Andrew: me right. I don’t think that, I think you’re right that when we stop talking about the basic wallets and the basic infrastructure, then it means that it’s established and it makes sense. But to me, maybe it’s because I’m more of a business minded person. I think it is interesting to see what the token omics are.

I think it is. I think it’s valuable to walk in. , okay. If I buy an N F T and I contribute to this community, if I ever need to get out, do I have an asset or do I just have a history of paying for something that was valuable and both are good, but at some point, especially when it comes to living, I want to think about what’s the asset that I have.

Colin: I think this is like, how do you, um, increase value up the real estate stack and, sorry, glitched out for a second, but it’s like, how do we increase value going up the real estate stack and. I was buying real estate and that’s where the value was. And then I realized if I put on a building on it, that would be more valuable.

But really like why the East Village is cool or the mission is cool or it’s more valuable, or why Williamsburg blew up so much in New York City. It’s not because it was like ideal piece of real estate. It’s not like the beaver trade, you know? Um, it’s really because. The people made it great. And so I think like we need to get to a place and we’re not there mainly because of, um, the SCC and, and, um, No, your customer and all these other things, like why this can’t be an asset that we trade, but we need to get to a point that someone is creating value in their community by being a great community member.

And then the, the token that they own is the values encapsulating that. So if I pick up the bicycles in my neighborhood that have fallen down because like I’m a nice guy and like all of a sudden, like everyone else is doing things like that. And we have got a great neighborhood because of it, and house values go up.

Like why should the person who owns the real estate get that value? I’m the one who created the value. So I think that that is where we need to get.

Andrew: If you’re a renter and you’re a great, great member of the community and a great neighbor, the neighbor gets, the neighborhood gets an advantage, you get a temporary advantage, but ultimately, the long-term value goes to the landlord. I see. All right. What you’re saying to me is, Andrew, I feel, uh, the pain that you’re bringing up, I can’t address it now because the s e c is not allowing me to say this is an asset.

And my worry is, Colin, that I don’t know if you heard Adam Newman talk to Mark Andreesen in one of the A 16 Z conferences. There was a lot of blah, blah, blah, about what his new thing is. I don’t know if he was intentionally being vague or if that’s just the way he talks and big ideas and not specifics, but one of the things that he kept touching on was.

There are a lot of people who don’t rent. We’re not gonna shame them into not renting. We’re gonna accept that there’s this, excuse me, who don’t buy. There are a lot of people who don’t buy. We’re not gonna shame them into not buying. There’s a thing they’re looking for in renting, but there’s also another part of buying that they’re missing out.

And so Adam Newman wants to create some kind of financial asset that they get to have. And he didn’t explain it well, but he did touch on the pain really, really, um, emotionally in a way that resonate.

Colin: There’s also a, like a core thing that we talk about, challenge, talking about challenges is like, what do you incentivize as a to and through technomics or some kind of behavior? Um, and what do you just say? Like, if we incentivize that, it’s actually gonna kill it. So if you’re like, I’ll pay you to love me

It’s like, I’m not gonna, it’s not gonna be a good thing. So like, When you, like, we wouldn’t give someone a, a badge of recognition, you know, a, a token or something because they washed the dishes. Because that needs to come out of like your love for the community. And so it’s really an interesting thing. Um, you know, we have had this strange situation where, you know, The, you know, the house is something you can live in and it can be an investment.

A lot of people have seen a lot of value from that. We’ve also seen a lot of, you know, disaster in 2009 come out of that kind of over exuberance and it, yeah, I think it’s, it’s an, I think we shouldn’t confuse like the feeling of ownership with, you know, this financial instrument. Frankly. I’d love to, to create an abstraction where people can actually.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Colin: Have equity in something that’s more liquid than a house, but they can also have, what I’ve, you know, heard is pride of ownership and how do you like, um, really feel like, and frankly, like one of the reasons why we wanna buy a place together is not because we need to own it, but like, we wanna plant a garden, we want to set up an outdoor, you know, gym and we wanna like, you know, Make it really cool and vibey and not have like, and not that you can’t do that with a rental place, but it’s always up in the air.

Like, are we gonna leave next year? Is this, you know, I kind of re resent it cuz we’re making this place nice for this landlord who I don’t really care

Andrew: or worse, you make it nice for them and they don’t appreciate it. They tear it all down because they just need empty lot for something and now the whole community’s work has gone. Okay, I see where you’re coming from. Let’s talk just a, a coup about a few problems involved with web. F the web three Part of this, and the reason I wanna bring it up is not to be negative and frankly, I don’t even love highlighting Web three anything.

But I do think that if we talk about it, we present opportunities for developers, for builders to find a solution instead of having this Pollyanna. Obliviousness to the problem that’s keeping people away. And so wallets I think absolutely are problem. I’ve actually heard even internally at Origami, we set up Doos for really technically sophisticated people.

They forget which nft they put the wallet in they, which wallet they put the N F T into, and they have problems logging into the Dow that they’re part of. And so that’s one issue. What other, what other issues and then how are you addressing them?

Colin: Well, I think. You know, we use, um, you know, most of us use Meta Mask as a wallet. We vote, so we use Snapshot, um, snapshot’s pretty cool. It’s pretty simple. It works well through the browser, but you know, like it’s through the meta mask browser. Um, doesn’t always work, uh, through the desktop or mobile Chrome.

Um, I think, I think the proposal process could be, um, Could be slicker. Like right now we’re using Notion and it’s unclear, you know, like you write a proposal, it’s hard, it’s impossible to please everyone. And so you’ve got a bunch of comments coming in. Notions a, a bit of a pain to, uh, to build a proposal from.

So I’d love to see tools that are like, maybe I was just, if people could comment and then if you could like upvote that comment, maybe this exists, please let me know. Um, You know, you kind of wanna see the weight of the comments behind these, or you’ll see like 10 different comments in the same vein. Um, so I think just having some of that a little tighter, um, to go from, uh, idea to proposal to vote.

You know, that, that feels like it could just be a, an all in one kind of thing. And I think we’re seeing this, like we’d love to see, um, less, you know, doesn’t have to be on chain even. It could be bundled up and, uh, and written, you know, later. But, you know, cuz a lot of our decisions aren’t, you know, you know, are you gonna spend a million dollars on this or that?

It’s like, let’s make a new covid PO policy or like, let’s like update our pet policy. Um, let’s figure out, you know, what our, what. Buying for dinner. Um, and so like smaller consensus building tools would be great.

Andrew: Okay. That makes sense. All right, let’s close it out with this part of what you’re creating is an experience. Creating like even this toilet that you showed me, it looks beautiful. I don’t know why people kept, do you have these beautiful like structures, beautiful campgrounds, and then they’ll have one of these honey bucket plastic things that you could smell from miles away.

And they go, why? Cuz nobody created it. I could see the Jude is, They got something beautiful here. Um, that’s easier though than creating the right vibe, bringing the right people in, and not being somebody who’s discriminating against somebody who doesn’t feel like they, there’s too many issues with how do you create the right vibe?

What do you do to create the right vibe? How do you do it right?

Colin: I mean, it is the most critical thing is, you know, if the vibe is. It’s, it’s off. You know, you’re not gonna want to be part of the community and if the vibe is right, people are gonna want to amplify it. It sounds so simple and basic, but that is basically the key to life is finding those people that you resonate with and, um, doing whatever you can to support them.

We’ve started with an amazing group. Um, diversified Van Life, uh, has been like a huge part of us getting off the ground and, and. Building a strong community and making an open, inclusive place, but also just creating, you know, focusing kind of relentlessly on creating a safe space where people feel like they can bring their authentic selves and not be judged or criticized.

And when you’re in that safe space, you find that you’ll try and do and be miraculous. You’ll, you’ll, next thing you know, you’re DJing in front. You know, a hundred people and crushing it. And even though you never did it before, you’re like trying to lead a yoga class or you’re like, you’ve come outta your shell and you’ve told people how you really feel about different things that you’ve been hiding your whole life.

It’s, uh, such a liberating thing to be in a safe space like that. And that for us is everything. And so part of the core of. Allows that to happen as a commitment to rejecting violence in all his forms, including like violent communication stuff that we think is normal. And back in, uh, you know, back in the corporate world, you’re like, you know what?

You’re projecting your fears onto this other person. And it’s, it’s, we can see this happening. And so we all commit to learning and unlearning, um, behaviors and really showing up for each other to create a safe space. And that’s probably the biggest challenge. And then the vibe, the vibe sets itself and we see people.

We’re multi-generational. We have people of all ages, all backgrounds. And it’s not just like the Cool Kids Club. We have every kind of person and everyone’s cool in their own way. And so we think that this is, yeah, this is the, the key to it.

Andrew: What about, um, like what are some little touches? That create community. Like I’ll tell you the one thing I noticed is a, a campfire, if I could put a fire here, people feel a sense of warmth and connection the way that that they do. If you put a, a candle in the house, even though they’re not getting any warmth from the fricking fire pit, they’re not really sitting around it necessarily.

What are some of the others that their touches that we miss but have outsized impact on a vibe in a c.

Colin: So two anchors that people, that members have brought to us and that we have. Basically anchor every single day is we have morning check-ins at eight 30 in the morning. Um, and that means we just come in into a safe space and we talk about how we’re feeling. We could be talking about how we slept, or we talk about like an argument we had with a partner.

Um, But it’s a safe space just to share about yourself and to listen to others. And we don’t try and problem solve or solution in that. We’re just there to listen and acknowledge witness. And so that’s a beautiful half an hour in the morning. And you know, and then right after that is the, um, is announcements.

So like, you know, who’s going for a run, who’s cooking dinner, what’s happening? And so that really pulls people together. Um, and then, uh, at night we, every night for dinner we, someone cooks and. N I think there’s probably, you know, 2% of the, the organization is, uh, strictly plant-based and, um, , but we cook plant-based.

And I think that’s something that actually has been something that it’s like, it’s like a challenge that we’ve all tried to figure out and we think it’s, you know, there’s lots of reasons why, um, probably the biggest reason is because I’m one of those 2% and I’m like, Hey, let’s, let’s figure this out together.

And so people sharing recipes, um, you know, learning, but every. It sounds corny to say it on a podcast. You know, we hold hands, someone tells us what we cooked, and you might have five people, you might have 30 people outta sight or something. We’ve had up to a hundred people hold hands and the chef will tell us what they cooked for everyone.

And then we all dig in and we eat together. And I don’t know any group of people that was eaten together every single night for the past year and a half, and without arguments, you know, without this, this is chosen family, this is what it’s about. And so now, Really thinking about how we scale this, not from a, Hey, how do we make the most profits in the world, but like, how do we spread this magical thing that we found and share it with other people and know that we, that other people are looking for these, uh, you know, connections with each other with nature, freedom and community

Andrew: Well, I’m looking forward to, to experiencing it, to sharing it. Apparently you’re gonna do it here in Austin or out south by Southwest. I don’t wanna miss it. I don’t know what, can I buy a ticket now? Can I put myself on the list?

Colin: We have a killer event, so we’re doing a talk with, uh, city Dow folks in, uh, cabin Dow. That’s, uh, Monday 13th, 1130 South by, and then later that day we are going to have an Epic kind of cities event, I think in Waterloo Park. But, you know, follow Kiff Dow on Twitter. Um, and we’ll keep everyone posted, but we have an amazing group of speakers lined up and we’re just gonna be talking about like how we.

How we figure out what’s next, how we take this inflection point, post covid, post remote work, and figure out the next, uh, vision.

Andrew: Okay. All right, Collin, thanks so much for being on here.

Colin: Andrew, thank you for so much. Great questions.

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