In mid-February 2018, I started as Head of Community Relations at Bloom.
I first heard about Bloom thanks to ETHLend, when they announced their partnership in the fall of 2017. As I began reading about Bloom's intentions to build a decentralized identity and credit scoring system, I started thinking about what that would mean for my relatives in Europe who live under a very odd credit reporting regime, and how this could be extremely beneficial to several billion people all around the world.
I was in. In my mind, this had to be built. And it had to be built this way, in a unified system. I am all for best-of-breed solutions, but it seemed like a no-brainer that identity and credit scoring belonged together.
I became a passionate and active supporter in Bloom’s Slack community, producing an overview video for my own personal YouTube channel and inviting others to learn more about Bloom. This all led up to the first job postings going up, and knowing I wanted to be a part of the team that would eventually help bring millions out of poverty and improve the lives of billions more.
When I got the call from Jesse with the job offer, I was ecstatic! And a year later, I'm still extremely proud to be part of the team.
Since February 2018, Community Relations has had a number of issues to handle. Of course, we hit many major milestones; releasing phase 2 on testnet, introducing delegated voting, launching the iOS app, and many more. But it's all the other nitty gritty details you don't see, the stories I have been told, the eager partners, and many other exciting developments that has me waking up with a smile on my face almost every day.
Job number one was implementing the Community Alliance Program. Over the course of the year, I had lots of ideas we could implement. In the end, those lead to a variety of steps taken to better connect and communicate, like:
- I started providing regular updates on on our subreddit of what the team has been up to. Those got a very positive response, so they were also brought over to Telegram and Slack.
- Bloom Fireside was started, interviewing our partners to introduce them, their teams, their goals, and why they were excited about partnering with Bloom.
- Ensuring we launched several sets of community polls, and the next round will be launched in the near future.
Not that it's all been sunshine ☀️ and roses 🌹 around here...
The primary challenges we have faced in Community & Developer Relations centre around a few key areas, those being:
- Reminding yourself of existing versus future capabilities
- Learning about the eKYC regulations in hundreds of jurisdictions
- Learning how to engage with different types of people, like people in developed countries compared with those in developing countries, or BloomID holders versus app developers
- Troubleshooting web dApp and iOS app issues
What that has meant is a lot of listening, understanding, tweaking, plodding on, and then pivoting when things aren't working. It has also meant taking existing skills, but applying them in different ways; I know how to speak to developers, but typically as a project manager or sales representative. Now I also need to ensure I know enough about Bloom's APIs to explain them at a high level, and recognize when I don't know the answer and bring in the expertise needed.
It’s has been important to find fun and interesting ways to keep people engaged in what's happening and the progress that is being made.
We have handled questions about how Bloom compares to other decentralized and centralized identity providers, unsuccessful SMS attestations, bugs that pop up in the apps (and are squashed as quickly as possible), linking devices, deleting BloomIDs, GDPR compliance, when there will be live integrations with the Bloom protocol (so soon!!), how BloomIQ will work, what benefits a BloomID has over traditional identity platforms, when BloomScore will be ready, our partners, and others.
Not mentioned above, but affecting your ability to do any of these things, is simply a lack of time! We have all sorts of things we would love to build, roll out, and experiment with, but there aren't enough hours in the day or week to get it all done at once. To be honest, it's just as frustrating for me as it is for you when there isn’t new public releases, or I can't get a timely answer to a question you have asked, or you want to see us more engaged out in the real world. At the same time, we have recognized this, taken your feedback to heart, and are planning to be at lots of events in 2019.
Well, really, the opportunities are boundless, aren't they? The types of people and organizations we have been in contact with over the past year include:
- Traditional financial institutions
- Peer to peer lenders
- Employment verifiers
- Documentary (photo ID) verifiers
- Bounty hunting platforms
- Open company platforms
- Government representatives
And many others. Underlying all of this is the knowledge that tying all these into a unified ecosystem, on the Bloom protocol, will make your life (and mine) much easier. It will be easier for you to apply for a small business loan, it will be more secure to share the bare minimum of data on your command, you will be able to access buildings without a keyfob, verify government grant eligibility, and so much more.
What that has meant for Community & Developer Relations is listening and coming to an understanding of each stakeholders' needs, being able to communicate how Bloom can address them, being open to feedback on things the protocol may be missing, and ensuring we have the most accurate answer for each question when asked.
It has meant exploring and evaluating dozens of communication platforms that Bloom can use to get its message out there, including various decentralized video hosting platforms. For example, we're trying out Minds.com, and I'm personally sharing Bloom's news on cent.co. It has also meant that sometimes messaging has to be customized for different platforms, especially if you want to figure out which ones are helping and which aren't. That takes time to research and craft the best message for each.
And, more and more, we are having people find out about Bloom organically and contact us to discuss how to work together. I have become the primary point person that asks the first few questions, sometimes has a phone or video call, and basically triages the request and gets the individual or organization in touch with the right person. That could be Anne, Shannon, Jesse, or someone else on the team.
I also get to hear about new attestations being made live first, and I have the opportunity to test them out and ensure they work! I got a chance to do this most recently with the addition of our address and utility bill attestations, where our product team was working with a new API.
A whole lot! We are continuing to explore new communication platforms, we are lining up multiple speaking and exhibiting opportunities for 2019, we have a goal for the number of Share Kit integrations we want to see among highly trafficked websites and apps, more video content, more Fireside podcast episodes, an Ambassador Program, sponsoring more hackathons, and lots of other really exciting initiatives that you will see during the course of the year.
We are updating the Community Alliance Program, and will unveil the changes soon. I think you will find at least some of what we have to offer very exciting, and will give big fans of the protocol a much deeper way to engage and support what's happening!
I hope that gives you a feel of what it has been like for my first year at Bloom. I'm looking forward to many more as we democratize the ability to improve one's life through technology and access to services. I am really looking forward to it, and I think you should too!