Mantle Builder Sessions Recap: IDriss
09/01/237 min read
Last week, Mantle invited the IDriss team for another installment of the Builder Sessions — a casual conversation enabling the community to learn about up-and-coming, hackathon-winning projects building on Mantle. Joining John (@0xjooohn) and Veer (@0xVEER) from the Mantle team this time were co-founders Leonard (@levertz_) and Geoist (@geoist_) from IDriss. This recap summarizes the key points from the Twitter Spaces AMA session.
IDriss is building a community-owned and operated suite of web3 tools that will help in onboarding the next wave of users to the crypto world. Their mission is simple: Make web3 more usable and accessible for everyone.
*Some sentences have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Introduction & Crypto Journey
Leonard: I’m one of the co-founders at IDriss. My background is in math and physics, where I worked in research. I’ve built chatbots and analytics tools before jumping into web3. My journey started in 2017, primarily from an investment perspective. A friend introduced me to crypto, and we started talking about cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and then I dug deeper into it. In early 2021, I started building in the space. At IDriss, I’m engaged in smart contract work, backend development, and overall logic stuff. Meeting Geoist changed the development landscape for me. We’d discuss common interests and problems that we had. Finally, we figured out we could build something here. The eureka moment struck when we were sitting at a coffee shop, trying to figure out how tokens and NFTs worked. We realized how difficult it is to send and receive tokens if you don’t have everything set up. At that time, we didn’t have an ENS name. We thought it’d be so much easier to have a PayPal-like experience.
Geoist: My background is in the traditional, non-software engineering realm. I used to run a hard tech startup for a couple of years before getting involved full-time in crypto and co-founding IDriss with Leonard. The coffee shop experience was how this idea began to shape. My role is mainly community and growth, but I also contribute to the frontend. Back in 2016 was my first interaction with crypto, where I was introduced to a project that was the first crypto nation AFAIK. I also contributed to that project. It was before the term, “Network State” was coined. The project was Liberland, a piece of land in Europe that hasn’t been claimed by anyone.
Why Build in Web3?
Geoist: I’ve been a digital nomad for the last couple of years, most recently spending about 8 months in Africa. Crypto is the real, true borderless money. The ability to remove the middleman is life-changing for many people. I’ve met numerous people in various countries, who have a hard time sending money to their family members in other countries. Usually, the fees are extremely high. This is one of the reasons I am here — enabling people easier access to crypto and reap its benefits. The aspect of decentralizing the governance of certain internet groups also excites me a lot.
Leonard: When you shuffle around hackathons, events, and conferences, I don’t think there’s an industry where you see this amount of friendliness and collaborative spirit like in the crypto space.
Veer: Crypto provides a very different use case and solves a variety of problems around the world, that I may not even feel living in the U.S. I resonate with the idea of crypto as the real borderless money. Also, I like being in the grey zone, fighting the existing structures. With crypto, we’re exploring new territories. The idea that, as a community, we can pool energy, time, and funds together to build something concrete and tangible, empowering the people, excites me.
John: It’s clear to me how crypto can help people. For me, the community was at its strongest when we pooled funds to help people in Ukraine, helping with investing and banking as a whole.
What is IDriss?
Leonard: IDriss was started as a registry of wallet addresses to some identifiers that we know, like phone numbers, email addresses, etc. The idea is that this information should be enough to send transactions. Essentially, an email address/phone number points to a wallet address, and if I have the prior information of these identifiers, I can send funds to that specific wallet address. This was the base idea of IDriss. As we built, more ideas came about — however, the registry is at the core, and everything we build other than that is around it. For example, we built a tipping tool that allowed users to send crypto assets to Twitter users as tips, requiring just their Twitter handle. Now, we have a browser extension that allows for this use case.
Geoist: We kept building the decentralized address book because we’ve seen the fragmentation in the space, meaning many dApps need to verify ownership of social profiles like OpenSea verifies Twitter names and Mirror.xyz verifies emails. We've seen these mappings are usually centralized and they are fragmented. So we figured we should build a unified standard for verifying the ownership of social profiles and other web2 identifiers in a decentralized, permissionless way, so projects don't have to reinvent the wheel and build their own mappings. We’re currently at 35,000 entries in the address book, and still growing.
We started building our own native tools on top of the address book, and one of them is the extension that is adding this social tipping payment layer on top of Twitter, and that actually connects nicely to the surprise I was talking about earlier.
Veer: Yeah, let's go to the surprise. I'm so intrigued.
Geoist: A huge majority of our funding comes from Gitcoin, and we are eternally grateful for the help from the community. We thought actually one day what if we allow people to directly donate to their favorite projects? Leonard built the MVP for this type of product at ETHGlobal Lisbon, and thanks to the permissionless nature of Gitcoin contracts we were able to integrate this and we are going to launch it later today.
John: How do you come up with these ideas? I know you like to have a written down problem that you can turn into projects. But, maybe you could share with the broader audience this strategy you have when ideating and looking for an idea?
Leonard: We have a list of like 30 ideas or so that we want to build and they just come together when we have a weekly Friday call. We talk about random stuff really not necessarily related to IDriss or crypto, but then at some point one of us always says, hey, wouldn't it be cool to have XYZ? And we just write down these things and then when the hackathon starts. We look at those ideas and we say, okay, what's feasible in a two day timeframe? It's naturally something that could solve a problem in your daily life, and not some new AMM or some new crazy algorithmic model. Usually for us it's something that we just encounter, and if we encounter it, chances are that lots of other people also encounter this problem.
John: Talking specifically about the donation station, how'd you guys get it from a hackathon project to what it is right now? What approach did you guys use to raise funds?
Leonard: Since it’s a browser extension, and we already had a browser extension, it was a very natural step for us to think: what if we merge those things? So it obviously helps if you already have a project that you’re working on.
Geoist: As I said earlier, the majority of our funding comes from Gitcoin as well as from CULT.DAO. We received their investment last year in the summer. For those of you who don't know, CULT.DAO is a decentralized VC, so a group of people in a DAO decide how the funds are spent. And I would say, with our lean spending culture, we have enough to build.
We are growing pretty fast. We have more and more community contributors who help with certain things, so we're pretty sure we can keep going like this, and then take Idris to the next level. By the next level I mean progressively decentralizing IDriss into a DAO.
There is this narrative recently on Twitter, that there are not enough applications built in crypto, and that's exactly what we are focusing on, to keep building useful applications as a community.
Veer: You should publish that list of problems that you always prepare for hackathons.. That could be really interesting content, whether it's a blog or Twitter thread or something. Like, here are all of the problems that we are considering solving for this hackathon, and maybe other hackers can also pitch in and add more, but this kind of problem repo would be fun to see.
Some excellent insight here from the IDriss team about competing in hackathons and coming up with ideas that can be applied to real life problems. We hope you all enjoyed this Builder Session, we’re looking forward to seeing more of these sorts of projects in upcoming hackathons. Mantle will be at ETHWarsaw, Ethereum Singapore, ETHGlobal New York, and Devconnect in Istanbul. Any builders who are planning on participating come find us, talk to us, and tell us what you're building!