OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Video Interview with Yummitea

Interview with OpenBazaar Vendor Yummitea

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem and share their stores. Today we trying something different to feature the delicious loose leaf tea company, Yummitea, via a video interview by our Community Manager, Jenn!

Check out the video or read the transcript below to learn about what it’s like selling on OpenBazaar, living in Belgium and the MOST important thing an ecommerce store needs.

And of course you can view Yummitea in your browser or shop on OpenBazaar here!

 

Jenn (Community Manager, OB1): So, thanks again for joining me today, Ben. I have a few questions for you, just to talk about your story and your involvement in OpenBazaar. First, could you just tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do and how you ended up with an OpenBazaar store? And then we’ll segue into the next question.

Ben (Owner, Yummitea): Right, so one of the things that my wife and I set up in Belgium was a couple of years ago we created our own tea label. We are selling loose leaf tea, biological [organic] tea most of the time, different flavors, and we have a web shop for that which has been running for a couple of years already. People are buying from the web shop, and since I got in touch with OpenBazaar, well I thought why not give it a try? It’s a new channel. The web shop that we have is right now limited to Belgium, but with OpenBazaar we’re actually reaching the whole world. It’s a different kind of selling, it’s a different kind of people buying the products, but it gives a lot of opportunity I think for creating your brands and for reaching new people.

Jenn: That’s awesome. And you noted too when we were talking before that it’s a cool idea to have this software that connects you to the whole world, but you realized pretty quickly that maybe normal users that weren’t super technological might have problems with it, and so you came up with your own solution. Could you tell us a bit about that, how you help people that are less technical get involved with OpenBazaar?

Ben: Yes, well, that’s a second story. While I was setting up the OpenBazaar store for our Yummitea brand, I noticed that it is still quite complex if you’re not into all these technical things. And because I believe that many people should benefit from the OpenBazaar software, I tried to create a cloud host platform, per say, where people can open a store just by clicking on a button and paying for their store. I did limit the payment to Bitcoin because…

Jenn: Naturally.

Ben: That is also what you would use on OpenBazaar, so it is really integrated with Bitcoin, and it’s a setup which takes literally only a few minutes, and you have your own store online.

Jenn: Excellent, very nice. So how has your experience been using OpenBazaar so far?

Ben: Well, I have two views, I have two inputs if you want. I have the one from the shop, from the store that we run, and I have an input from the hosting that we offer or the store that we offer for people. So first from the buyer side, let’s say, it’s still limited. Not too many people are buying on OpenBazaar yet, but I think that’s normal. There are some steps you need to take. You need to install the software, first of all. So it’s not accessible through a browser yet, at least not for the buying process, so it means that not everyone has access to OpenBazaar yet.

Second, payments go with Bitcoin and recently with all the cryptocurrencies, which means that you also have to be into these cryptocurrencies, know how to deal with them, know how to store them, and that’s also a limited world right now. So, the number of users is still limited, it’s still very technical people, I think, but in my opinion, if the software gets, well, more accessible for people, we will see a lot, a lot more people using this platform I think.

Jenn: And have you seen the plans and features that we’re talking about releasing with the 2.0 build?

Ben: Absolutely, so that will be a big step forward, and that’s the other thing. From the hosting that we offer on BazaarCity, I also notice that many people are still experimenting with the shops. They are opening a shop, and then a few months later they close it again, maybe because they still feel it’s not the right moment, maybe because they still don’t have time to run the shop, but I think that will improve over time. People will notice that the shops get visitors, that the shops sell products, and that it will be easier to access those shops. So I’m pretty convinced that more and more people will start using it, certainly with the new 2.0 version, which is coming up.

Jenn: Excellent, glad to hear it. So, what is your background and your interest in cryptocurrencies as a whole? Did you start with Bitcoins specifically?

Ben: Yes, well, in fact, I learned about Bitcoin in 2013 and that’s when my interest also started. I started investigating a little bit and then once you get in, you learn to know the other cryptocurrencies. I also had some interest in investing companies, FinTech companies, small companies, so yes I follow the whole scene a little bit. I invest in it, it’s my interest.

Jenn: So, this whole space is kinda how you occupy your free time. You just hang out in the forums, and Reddit, and keep learning about new technologies. Do you actually go to conferences, or do any travel?

Ben: Not too much at the moment, but in Belgium I do some things. I also give some, well I give advice, I speak about it. So yes, I’m quite involved in it on a local scale.

Jenn: So what’s the temperature like in Belgium? Is there a very active base of users that are interested in Bitcoin and what it can do, or is it kinda small and scattered? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Ben: Yeah, it’s still small. Bitcoin, while people thought it would go mainstream in 2016, it didn’t happen yet. It will probably happen maybe in 2017, 2018, let’s hope. So it’s still a small community, of course, the whole cryptocurrency world, but people are moving in. Everyone noticed that when Bitcoin touched one thousand dollars, interests went up. Of course, when Bitcoin went down, people pulled back again, but we will see who’s coming up again. And yeah, I think Europe as a whole, not only Belgium but Europe as a whole, is quite positive in its regulations against Bitcoin. So, I see a good evolution in the future. And I think more people will start to learn it. It’s an easy way of payment.

Of course there are some aspects going on, there are some discussions about how Bitcoin must grow, whether Bitcoin is really cash or gold, you have those things going on, and nobody can really answer those questions yet. We will find these out in the next years, but I’m a strong believer in the system. I think we need it, and the integration with OpenBazaar of course is a great thing.

Jenn: Do you think it’s important to have applications and utilities like OpenBazaar right now? Like you said, even though it’s rough, is it important that we have a community that is experimenting and trying a store, and maybe taking it down, and putting it up again, and really kinda pushing the limits of the technologies we do have in order to figure out exactly what the future looks like?

Ben: Absolutely, we need it. And I can tell you that on BazaarCity, for instance, we already have more than 100 stores that have been created.

Jenn: Wow!

Ben: Yeah, it’s really, it’s a lot, yes. They’re not all running. We only have like 25 shops running now, but it means that many people are experimenting with it, they want to know how it works, and that’s a good thing. You need that, you need it for development. So I can only say, try it. Find out what it is. It doesn’t cost you money, well a few dollars per month. Sometimes people don’t realize this, I think. It’s a whole new world. It’s not eBay, it’s not where you pay commission on what you sell, it all goes in your pocket, and that’s how the new world will work. Go straight to the customer, and that’s what OpenBazaar is offering.

Jenn: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. People want to immediately compare OpenBazaar to something like eBay, or Etsy, and it’s fundamentally different. It’s a completely different kind of technology and a thing that we’ve been really excited about is encouraging people just to experiment, get in there and figure out what you can do with it right now because only that sort of activity is how we’re gonna, together decide what this is ultimately gonna be and how it can help everybody. I think most people in this space are very passionate about the opportunities this can bring for people all over the world.

Another thing we encounter in the United States too, is that a lot of people have a hard time thinking about Bitcoin in a way that matters really urgently to them right now. There’s not a lot of things that you need Bitcoin for when you’re just doing things in the U.S. as normal, and we keep saying it’s not about exactly the application right now, it’s about being able to experiment and define and drive that through our own actions. Do you have many opportunities to use Bitcoin or any cryptocurrencies in Belgium? I’m just wondering, can you buy train tickets, or is there anything practical going on there for you?

Ben: Not that much yet. Well you can buy tea on our website in Bitcoin, so we do a couple things.

Jenn: Yeah, there you go.

Ben: But I must say, I think we have it for two years on the website now and it was only used once. So, yeah it just shows that not many people are buying with Bitcoin. I also think that most Bitcoiners, if you want, are holding their coins at the moment. That’s another story. But no, in Belgium there’s not too many things where you can use Bitcoin straight away. No, not yet.

Jenn: So with your website, you just have your own personal website, right, for Yummitea? You don’t use a platform like Shopify, or Etsy, it’s just custom built for you?

Ben: In the beginning, we were on the Shopify, but for the same reason that I was looking at OpenBazaar, on Shopify you pay quite a commission on everything you sell.

Jenn: And a monthly fee, right? You have to pay each month to have the site?

Ben: Right. And since I have the experience, I have put up our own website based on WordPress. It runs on Amazon, so I have all under my own control, and I pay, well of course I pay a commission on the payments that we receive through Visa or other payment systems.

Jenn: Right.

Ben: But I do not pay “commissions,” if you want, on the products that we sell.

Jenn: Is there a reason you’re only selling in Belgium there? Is there like any kind of political boundaries around that? Or is it just because you do local delivery? How come that website only sells to people that are in Belgium?

Ben: Right now there’s two reasons. First of all, our website is in Dutch, so yeah, we could also go to Holland if we want, it’s the same language. But we are planning on putting the website in three languages, and that would allow us to open up the website to France, and Germany, and other countries around. And the second reason is that the products we sell are not really expensive and the shipping cost is a big part of it. Of course I have the same problem on OpenBazaar right now because if someone from, let’s say, where you are in California, or there’s tea and it’s only a fifteen dollar package, then it is almost the same amount in shipping, maybe even more. The shipping in Belgium is quite expensive, if you want, but I’m kind of subsidizing it right now on OpenBazaar just to make it possible to ship to people. So yeah, we are doing a little effort there, but I can’t do it for all customers in Europe, so gradually, we will expand to other countries, but we need the languages and better shipping conditions.

Jenn: Interesting that you say that because we use just simple Google Translate, which works pretty well for our partners that speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French, but there is a drop off when you get into languages that are a little less similar such as Dutch. Chinese is a really big one we’ve got a big barrier on, and so we are looking at human translators to help us help us with OpenBazaar 2.0 and get really solid translations in there that are accessible to people in those languages. So, is that the same thing you find as well, that just using Google Translate on your Dutch website is not enough for people to be able to access it and move around? It has to have that human translation that’s a higher quality as well?

Ben: I think you need it, because Google Translate is great just for understanding some sentences, but if you want to explain your product and you want to do that with the right words, it’s not gonna happen through Google Translate, I think. So you need to have it done quite well, better than Google Translate. And, I don’t know how it is with you, but here in Europe, we have a lot of languages. In Belgium only, we have three official languages, if you want. We have Dutch, French, and German. So in effect, we would need three languages to reach all people in a country as small as Belgium. But English is also a necessity, yeah I think we must do it. It’s quite some work, so if you can automate this, on OpenBazaar, that would be a great thing because I think most customers like buying in their own language.

Jenn: Yes, absolutely. I don’t know, there’s got to be a solution for that, and maybe it’s a matter of someone puts their translation services for sale on OpenBazaar and you can have any store translated into their native language and the languages they represent for a certain amount of Bitcoin. Maybe that’s the solution that we need, for now.

Ben: Maybe, why not? Yep.

Jenn: Awesome, so anything else you can think of, exploring OpenBazaar in a cryptocurrency space? What are you looking forward to in the future? What do you think … What are you wanting to see happen in 2017?

Ben: Well, I haven’t looked in all the details of the 2.0 version, but what I saw in the beginning is that OpenBazaar, I think, I’m not sure but I think in the beginning, OpenBazaar was really targeted to selling products, individual products I mean, like on eBay. And I can see that, for instance, if you are in the version one, now, if you create a product, you have to for every product, you have to tell the shipping cost and which countries, and so on, but I have the impression that the people that are using OpenBazaar already today, are looking for more than just selling a product. They are looking, I think, for setting up a store, a real store. And that’s something I hope we can improve in the 2.0 version, is that we get more of the feeling and the possibilities of setting up general options going for the whole store instead of just individually per product and so on, because I have the feeling that OpenBazaar can be much more than just an eBay. It can really be a platform, yeah as I said, for full-blown stores.

Jenn: Agreed. We have a lot of requests for more flexible shipping, the concept of a shopping cart where people can add multiple items into a cart.

Ben: Absolutely, that’s one of the important things. If you go to a shop and you want to buy two or three items, it’s not possible today on OpenBazaar.

Jenn: Right.

Ben: It’s also one for one. And it’s not how you want to shop.

Jenn: And I’ve noticed, you’ve taken a clever approach to trying to make the current OpenBazaar environment work for you. I know you have the different quantities available. When we first started talking, I reached out to you on Twitter, and I was trying to make sense of how you’re doing the quantities. You were trying to offer a 20%, it wasn’t a discount, it was 20% more than what you would normally get, and I was trying to get some clarity around that. But I really appreciate seeing your creativity, and trying to adapt that in a way that works for you right now.

Ben: Yeah, for us it was really an issue. Every canister of tea sells for around seven dollars, or so, but most customers buy two or three cans of tea, canisters.

Jenn: Right.

Ben: And since that was not possible, it’s not possible today on OpenBazaar, we tried to find a solution for it, so we are actually offering a kind of, let’s say, a coupon, just a value. You buy a value of let’s say, twenty dollars, and then you send us an email and you tell us, “Well, I want these three tastes of tea”. And this way you can in one go, you can make one payment, but you can buy more products. If you need four teas, just do the calculation four times seven, and then buy a package, just a value pack I call it, a value pack of that same order and send us an email or a message on OpenBazaar saying which teas you want. If there is just one or two dollars too much in the pack, we will pay it back so you will only pay what you will get. But it allows you to make one order, to make one payment and then to select more products out of our shop. That’s how I tried to do it.

Jenn: Now, what is your preferred method of communication with people in OpenBazaar? Do you prefer to start just an email thread, Twitter even, the chat feature? Do you like the chat actually in the app?

Ben: Yes, I do use the chat. Of course you’re not always online so people sometimes have to wait a little bit longer. Sometimes I do not open the shop, most of the time I open it once a day. But if it doesn’t happen and there’s a message, people will have to wait maybe longer than a day to get the answer. You do not always have the email because it’s a little bit anonymous on OpenBazaar.

Jenn: Right.

Ben: So you have to ask for it from the customer, but we are also available on Twitter.

Jenn: I vouch for that personally, I reached out to you on Twitter and you were very prompt responding.

Ben: Right, yep. So we use whatever possible and whatever the customer wants or prefers to use. That’s not an issue.

Jenn: What is your most active form of communication with your regular web shop? Do people, do they fill out forms on your website or what does communication look like for your web store, typically?

Ben: It’s a mix, but the most communication I think today is through Facebook.

Jenn: Really?

Ben: Yes, that’s where we also have a page and that’s where most questions come up. But we also have a form on the website so people can fill that out. And our email is on the website, so it’s a combination of all those things.

Jenn: Awesome. I love learning about people who are doing traditional eCommerce because the insights you have having a grounding in that environment and being able to note the similarities and the differences between being there and being on OpenBazaar. Quick note too, how important do you feel merchandising is on your website? How important is it to have beautiful photos and great descriptions?

Ben: It’s the most important, I think. My wife is a photographer so yeah, we have the advantage of doing that in-house too. But even we sometimes make remarks and say, well we need to improve on that or that. It’s really important to have great images on the web shop. The pictures need to be good, clear, the description needs to be good. I think it’s one of the fundamentals of having a good store.

Jenn: I lost my train of thought, I just had it, where did it go? What other forms of online marketing do you use for your web store? Do you use Instagram, or have anything that is telling stories a lot through visuals? Do you do that on Facebook? Is Facebook your primary outlet?

Ben: Facebook is important, yes. It’s probably the most important today, but we also use Google AdWords so when people in Belgium search on loose leaf tea, they can find our website. Next to that, we also have an Instagram account, we have a Twitter account, that’s about it I think, yeah.

Jenn: Train of thought again, what is with my brain today? I was talking about your website, marketing, I don’t know. If it comes back, it comes back. If it doesn’t, we’ll just dismiss it. So thank you very much for taking time to do this today and for coordinating with me over the last weeks as we figured this out. Anything else you’d like to say in closing? You want to tell people where to find you on OpenBazaar as well as just on the web?

Ben: Yeah, Yummitea can be found on OpenBazaar by enter just @Yummitea, and the website also is the same, its Yummitea.com or Yummitea.be.

Jenn: Wonderful.

Ben: On Facebook and Instagram, it’s all the same. It’s all Yummitea. Everywhere.

 


Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?
Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Would you like your store to be featured on our blog and/or in a video?
Awesome, we’d love to know your story! Please email jenn@ob1.io

 

Read More

OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Nuichan

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem and share their stores. Today we are featuring the beautiful handmade women’s clothing store Nuichan! You can view Nuichan in your browser or on OpenBazaar here.

 

Nuichan Women's Clothing Store on OpenBazaar

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you make/sell?

My name is Yaowalak Nuichan, I was born in a big family (8 sisters and 1 brother) in the South of Thailand in a place called Phatthalung. After finishing high school and university in Bangkok, I worked a few years in 5 star hotels as their Spa Manager. But my true passion was never far away–fashion. My entire family makes clothing, traditional Thai dresses for ceremonial occasions and more modern designs, so it was only a small step for me to change my career and started doing what I’ve seen for the most part of my life. Designing dresses, making patterns and putting it all together. With help from my sisters of course! :)

How did you get started selling online?

I started selling online as I noticed a growing demand from overseas ( Europe, USA, Middle East, etc.) and it is/was easier for me to supply for my niche market.

How did you find out about OpenBazaar?

Stumbled upon OpenBazaar via Twitter if I recall correctly.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

I’m always looking for new markets and for once I want to be part of the start of something which I feel could become really big. I really like the direct link between buyer and seller without an intermediary person/company but the main reason is Bitcoin of course.

You also have a very active Etsy shop which is great! How has the approach of dual listing your items there and on OpenBazaar helped you?

At the moment I do not have sufficient time to properly monitor this setup as I’m in the process of setting up a new website. I did have some requests in the past from Etsy buyers to pay with Bitcoin, but that has come because I do mention the possibility of paying in bitcoin it in my Etsy listings. So far I haven’t noticed any significant traffic coming from my Etsy shop towards OpenBazaar or the other way around.

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

Actually it has been really good besides some setup issues, but that was mainly due to me not having the technical skills. I had great help from [OB1 Co-Founder] Dr. Washington Sanchez setting up the nodes for both of my shops and guiding me through the set up and also afterward whenever I had any technical issues. Also the guys from Duosear.ch are top notch, they even bought an image from my husband and they use it on their homepage. :)

From a seller’s point of view, I have only had easy, swift transactions so nothing but thumbs up there!

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

I’ve been following Bitcoin for a couple of years now and am pretty familiar with it, although I would like to be better at the technical side of things. But everything changes so fast that it is really hard to keep up!

What changes would you like to see to OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

I would love to see some improvements on the back end, making it more user-friendly to make listings, bulk edit, grid overview of products in stock, ability to share listings on social media from within the client.

What’s it like behind the scenes of Nuichan? What can you tell us about your design & manufacturing process & doing business day-to-day?

My inspiration for our designs comes from my home country, Thailand, with all its wonderful cultures, colors, landscapes, intoxicating smells and the friendly people. But I also allow Western influences to inspire me which helps me to visualize designs and create some more classic looks. Recently I took a trip to Japan to study the amazing shibori technique. This is a traditional manual resist dyeing technique which produces the most stunning patterns. These techniques include cloth wrapping on a diagonal around a pole or pleating sections of the cloth very finely and evenly or sandwiching cloth between two pieces of wood which are held in place with string, just to name a few. The possibilities with this traditional technique are endless and combine perfect with modern dress patterns. Together with my sisters and their 30 years of experience making the patterns and carefully creating each dress I try to keep the business going and growing.

 

 

 

Read More

OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Rob Smith

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today we are featuring Rob Smith who has a unique approach to selling on OpenBazaar and reasons for joining that are short and sweet.

Creativity is key in this marketplace. OpenBazaar is a place to explore.

You can view Rob’s store and check out his deals on OpenBazaar here.

 

Robbie17 on OpenBazaar

 

How did you find out about OpenBazaar?

I found out about open bazaar through Reddit. I watched them grow to a serious venture and am thoroughly impressed.

What do you make/sell?

What I started doing on OpenBazaar is offering discount on products at Amazon.com, similar to purse.io. I am offering more of a tailored experience and better customer service and of course better rates.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

I want to facilitate the usage of Bitcoin for those who use it as currency. Some people want to use BTC for every purchase they can.

I feel like I can help Bitcoin be perceived as the currency of the internet through OpenBazaar’s platform.

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

Setup on OpenBazaar was an absolute breeze. I find the UI to be great. Plenty of options for a vendor to customize a store.

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

I am a long-term Bitcoin supporter. I’ve been involved in Bitcoin since 2010.

 


 

Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?
Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Would you like your store to be featured on our blog?
Awesome, we’d love to know your story! Please email jenn@ob1.io

 

 

Read More

Webinar Recording – Marketing Your OpenBazaar Shop

Here is a recording of our first vendor-focused webinar called “Marketing Your OpenBazaar Shop.” We plan to host more events like these in 2017 for our vendors, partners and interested community members so please stay connected & let us know what you think! Anything YOU would like to hear more about, WE want to hear about.

 

 

Oh, and speaking of feedback…

We would love it if you could spare just a few extra minutes to take our survey(s) below and let us know how you use OpenBazaar. Your input is necessary to help us build this marketplace to be unbelievably usable for everyone in the world who wants to trade free.

It’s a big deal, and it means a lot.

 

Are you a vendor with your own store?
Tell us what you think @ openbazaar.org/survey_merchants.html

Have you purchased something from an OpenBazaar store?
Please tell us about it @ openbazaar.org/survey_buyers.html

 

 

Read More

OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Tyler Nieman

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today we are featuring the evolving store tsnieman by Tyler Nieman who has several items listed now including his original art prints, tech gear and web development services while he defines his focus.

That’s part of the beauty of OpenBazaar, you don’t have to have it all figured out to get started!

You can view Tyler Nieman’s store in your browser or on OpenBazaar here.

 

Tyler Nieman Store on OpenBazaar

 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Tyler Nieman and I’m a full-stack web developer/designer, artist, gamer, and general all-around nerd currently living in Tacoma, WA. I run @tsnieman on OpenBazaar.

How did you find out about OpenBazaar?

Probably by means of some Bitcoin-related subreddit. I’ve been learning a lot more about decentralization and cryptocurrencies in general lately, and OpenBazaar is a big name in that space.

What do you make/sell?

A lot of different stuff with no real specialty carved out yet. Right now I’ve got: some 12×18 locally screen-printed posters of my original Fox-themed artwork, rare vinyl (The Weeknd’s “Trilogy”, hand-numbered), some computer parts, a mechanical keyboard (with some fun free keycaps!), and my own by-the-hour full-stack development and design services.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

I think decentralization is a very powerful concept and I’m excited to learn more about it. OpenBazaar seems like a great way to do that. It’s proving a great way to learn about how decentralized markets can work, cryptocurrencies, open source development, and even just general server maintenance practice. It’s a great way to network with other people in the space too.

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

Fantastic for such an early version of the concept! I’ve only been up and running for a week or two, so I haven’t had any real sales. I’ve made a purchase (shoutout to Cryptobooks!) and I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of “The Internet of Money”, a book by Andreas Antonopoulos. I’m finding so many great shops online by so many talented people. I’m hoping to open up another shop or two with more focused themes, as I really believe in what OpenBazaar could be.

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

I learned about it years ago, when it was first coming out, though I didn’t get into playing with it until 2013 or so (what a shame, right?). It wasn’t until the last year or two that it really started to become a serious hobby/interest. Since then, I’ve consumed a lot of Satoshi’s writings, bought a few hardware wallets (shoutout to LedgerHQ — check out their OpenBazaar shop!), got a few friends interested, dabbled in other cryptoassets, started connecting people with Bitcoin in the area, and recently started a local Tacoma Bitcoin interest group. I’m hoping to compile some educational material and educate more local folk soon.

What changes would you like to see in OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

Aside from all the awesome work coming in OpenBazaar 2.0, more folks on the platform and shopping would be the biggest improvement. I would also really love if there was a way to see some analytics like number of vendors online (and over time), number of sales per day, etc, though I imagine that getting people on OpenBazaar and making sales is first priority. I’m excited to see how OB1 helps grow OpenBazaar’s community and tech with their most recent round of fundraising.

Tyler cited this video OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman made recently that demonstrates some of the development work to date toward Milestone 1 of version 2.0:

 

 


Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?
Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Would you like your store to be featured on our blog?
Awesome, we’d love to know your story! Please email jenn@ob1.io

 

 

Read More

OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Honey France (Best Honey on Earth)

The OpenBazaar ecosystem features hundreds of vendors from around the world who want to list their goods and services for free, set their prices, and get paid in bitcoin. Buyers can purchase items ranging from clothing, food, electronics and home decor to applied services and digital products in this marketplace and often for lower prices than those available elsewhere on the web.

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today we are featuring Honey France (Best Honey on Earth), a quaint little store selling delicious French honey from their own family-kept bees and trying to make the world a better place. They are no strangers to using Bitcoin and have a pioneering story that will make your stomach drop a little! You can find Honey France on OpenBazaar here and browse their listings on the web here.

 

Honey France Best Honey on Earth on OpenBazaar

 

How did you find out about OpenBazaar?

Since we work with computers and are admirers of open source initiatives, we have been following the development of OpenBazaar with interest, after reading about it on the bitcointalk forum.

What do you make/sell?

We mainly sell our honey production of the year, but shipping costs remain our main concern. Recently, we added two donation initiatives to help save the bees: a small donation, since the bitcoin simplifies micro-payments, or to adopt a queen from one of our hives for a season and to be more involved in the preservation of pollinators, who are essential to our survival. In the same principle, we will propose the adoption of a whole hive for the season: the “Bee part of the solution” project 😉 Soon, we will add honey & spice mixes for your gourmet recipes. For our honey, we had fun writing an offbeat description addressed to “geeks”, most likely the early-adopters of OpenBazaar. Have a look at the presentation page of one of our jars of honey on Duosear.ch.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

We like all decentralization initiatives. This is probably a habit of those of us who live in the French countryside, since our politicians and leaders think that only Paris exists in France 😉 We also like the idea of introducing the bitcoin to others: reduction of fraud, no borders, Escrow system, micro-payments… So finally, it’s not only because there is no fee that we prefer OpenBazaar to eBay.

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

We started the adventure by installing OpenBazaar on our family iMac and then to avoid leaving it on permanently, we transferred our store to a RaspberryPi II. But the server was unstable and difficult to monitor, so we decided to install it on a dedicated server. This was not the initial idea, since we didn’t want subscription fees for our store. After an unsuccessful installation on an existing hosted server (mostly difficulties installing the libsodium library), we had the pleasure of using the Deploy solution from OB1 where everything was installed in 1 click. We are hoping that version 2 of OpenBazaar will be released before the end of our 2 free months with DigitalOcean :-)

We didn’t expect a miracle when we opened our honey store. We have been faced with expensive international shipping fees for heavy jars, and current visitors are not really interested in this kind of product, since they generally prefer to buy locally. Our two other offers may be more successful: the protection & survival of bees is an international challenge. But using OpenBazaar is not limited to opening a store, we also made some purchases and enjoy this great marketplace. For a first version, all the processes were very well thought out.

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

We were among the first to mine bitcoins, when it was only experimental (as admin of an Xserve farm). We are virtual millionaires, like many who started mining bitcoins at the beginning, never imaging how valuable it would become. We lost our key by the replacement hard drives or other breakdowns, and it was only in 2013 that we cried when we discovered the fortune and number of hives we could have had, with the several thousand bitcoins we had mined at the very beginning. That’s learning about the crypto world the hard way. 😉

What changes would you like to see to OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

With the arrival of Duosearch, the link between the web and OpenBazaar has become easier, but it’s not enough. In addition to a currency still too confidential, the need to install a special software to purchase on the platform doesn’t help. Fortunately, the great diversity of products available has aroused the curiosity of some adventurers.

For mainstream use, the acquisition of bitcoins by OpenBazaar shoppers needs to be facilitated, even if they only acquire them for their purchases, and without having to install a client software. It is our understanding that these 2 improvements are planned, including the evolutions related to shipping fees, which is essential, and the addition of visitor statistics, which will motivate us from time to time.

Finally, we would like to add a very specific request: to be able to present our store in different languages. Currently, the UI adapts to French, but the product descriptions remain in one language. We would like to present our products in the native language of our potential and probably our main customers, given the cost of shipping. And also in English so that the whole world can discover our products (and why not in German/Italian/Spanish, our close neighbors). But please not an automatic translator, that would be catastrophic.

As you can see, we are impatiently awaiting version 2 because it looks very promising. Good luck to the developers!


Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?
Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Would you like your store to be featured on our blog?
Awesome, we’d love to know your story! Please email jenn@ob1.io

 

 

Read More

OpenBazaar Company OB1 Raises New Funding Round

We’re pleased to announce that OB1 has raised a new round of funding in order to make OpenBazaar the most free and open trade platform in the world.

Last year, OpenBazaar entered a new phase when the core development team received funding to create a company in order to properly develop the peer-to-peer trade platform. OB1 worked hard, together with developers from the community, to release OpenBazaar 1.0 in April. Seeing people around the world trading without middlemen and only using Bitcoin has been exciting, and after learning how to make major improvements we’re now working to make peer-to-peer trade better than ever with the 2.0 version of the software.

Details of the new funding are in the press release below. We’re fortunate to have investors who understand the value of networks, decentralization, and Bitcoin.

We believe that with such good investors, developers, and our community, we can fundamentally change how online commerce is done. Let’s make trade free!

Press Release

OpenBazaar Company OB1 Raises New Funding Round

Washington, DC, — Dec 13, 2016 – OpenBazaar-based company OB1 today announced it has raised a new round of funding from BlueYard, Union Square Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz totalling $3 million in order to further its mission of making trade free for everyone, everywhere.

Brad Burnham – managing partner at Union Square Ventures – said, “The reach and diversity of OpenBazaar usage shows the potential for decentralized applications: within a week of its release, buyers and sellers from 129 countries joined the network and began transacting with each other for free.

We believe OpenBazaar has an opportunity to fundamentally transform the market structure of commerce, and we’re excited to welcome BlueYard as a new partner and co-investor in OB1.”

OB1 previously raised a $1 million seed round from Union Square Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and angel investor William Mougayar in May of 2015 in order to build and launch OpenBazaar, a completely decentralized marketplace that allows anyone in the world to buy and sell anything to anyone else, anywhere, for free.

The peer-to-peer software isn’t controlled by any company or organization, allowing its participants to engage in trade directly with each other using Bitcoin. By removing the intermediaries for commerce online, OpenBazaar enables its users to avoid paying fees or having their trade controlled by middlemen. OpenBazaar has been used by tens of thousands of people internationally since its launch in April of this year.

This new round of funding will allow OB1 – with assistance from contributors around the world –  to continue improving the open source software and growing the peer-to-peer trade community. OB1 is among an ecosystem of businesses building on the OpenBazaar software and offering their own services to users on the network. OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman said, “After launch we were so excited to see how people have been using OpenBazaar, and with this new funding we’re confident it will allow us to bring the benefits of truly free and open trade to the world.”

The OB1 team has written about their vision for the future of OpenBazaar – including the upcoming 2.0 version of the software – in this article.

Join us

We have a great community behind this open source project. If you’d like to join our community, come visit us in our Slack group.

If you’re a developer, we’d love help with the 2.0 version of the software, both client and server repositories.

If you’re not a developer but you’ve used OpenBazaar, we want to hear from you in order to make the 2.0 version the best it can be. We have a buyer survey and a vendor survey to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Read More

OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Kimchi Clothing

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today we are featuring Kimchi Clothing (Director Nola), a brand new store on OpenBazaar that will be featuring socks and hand-tailored clothing. You can find Kimchi Clothing (Director Nola) on OpenBazaar here.

 

Director Nola/Kimchi Clothing on OpenBazaar

 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Jason, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana but been living in South Korea since 2013. I been living outside of the U.S. since 2008.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

I am selling on open OB because I want to earn income in bitcoin that will cover my living expenses and build a savings. I believe in Bitcoin and the movement. I want to become an advocate for the community.

What do you make/sell?

I sell socks and I tailor suits from South Korea right now.

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

I need to setup hosting my store on a server instead of my laptop. That way I can be open 24/7. (UPDATE: the shop has been moved to a Digital Ocean VPS using OB1‘s Deploy tool!)

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

I am super familiar in bitcoin. I am saving and doing business with bitcoin.

What changes would you like to see to OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

Right now, I don’t see any changes since I am still learning how to use it like a pro.

 

BONUS: Check out this special video Jason made that is the first in his new series discussing blockchain!


Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?
Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Would you like your store to be featured on our blog?
Awesome, we’d love to know your story! Please email jenn@ob1.io

 
 

Read More

How to Choose a Good Moderator on OpenBazaar

How to Choose a Moderator one OpenBazaar

“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
– Bob Dylan (1941 – ), American Singer-Songwriter, Musician, and Poet

Everyone likes the idea of freedom, right? To do what you want when you want to is a nice concept on which most of us can agree. We also know that exercising our freedom comes with the responsibility of making good decisions.

A decentralized network is a practical place to apply this dream of freedom, a place where a buyer and a seller can trade directly with one another and not have anyone else telling them what they can or can’t do. It’s a space that offers a lot of opportunity but there is also risk involved when strangers first gather together to buy and sell–and trust that outweighs or eliminates risk is necessary for building a lasting business network.

How do you establish trust on a free network where people there will likely never know one another through anything other than pixels on a screen?

Our solution on OpenBazaar is to introduce an objective third party on individual transactions.

Presently there are two types of ways for buyers to send payment to vendors in OpenBazaar:

  • Direct Payment – The buyer sends his bitcoin directly to the vendor and trusts that the vendor will then send the goods purchased.Direct payment is risky because once bitcoins are sent the payment cannot be reversed. If the vendor is dishonest they can take the payment and not send the product. We recommend that buyers only use direct payments if they completely trust the vendor and are dealing with small amounts of bitcoin.
  • Moderated Payment – The buyer adds a third party to the transaction, called a moderator, to provide assistance in the case of a dispute. Moderated payments are much more secure.

Moderators and Multisig Accounts

A moderator is a type of user on the OpenBazaar network who helps offer a secure payment method called moderated payment. The buyer adds a moderator and then pays their Bitcoins into a sort of escrow address, called a multisignature or “multisig” address, which is then jointly controlled by the buyer, the vendor, and the moderator. In order for the funds to leave the multisig, any two of these parties need to agree how to release the funds. (Read more about how multisig accounts work here: Can Bitcoin and Multisig Reduce Identity Theft and Fraud?)

In most cases a transaction will go through smoothly, the buyer and vendor are both happy, and they agree to release the funds. In that case the moderator isn’t even aware they were chosen to provide escrow and they don’t receive a fee.

If the transaction doesn’t go smoothly and the buyer or seller open a dispute, then the moderator will provide resolution. The moderator will determine which party is at fault, and will then join with the winning party to release the funds (either release payment to the vendor or refund the buyer). In return for offering this service, the moderator will receive a percentage of the transaction called a dispute fee. These fees are displayed when selecting a moderator and can be viewed by visiting the moderator’s page as well.

Choosing a Moderator

It’s very important for the buyer to select a trustworthy moderator for this arrangement to work. If a moderator is dishonest he can join with the other party to release funds regardless of the situation. If a moderator is unresponsive then a buyer and seller can be locked in a disagreement with no way out. Currently anyone can become a moderator on the OpenBazaar network and we would like to provide some advice on how to select someone trustworthy!

Scope them out in advance

Don’t just rely on the moderators the store you want to purchase from has chosen to add! You can use this moderator index from Duo Search as a great starting point. Note that “Trusted by” indicates the number of vendors who, when they set up their store, selected this moderator to be available to their buyers and does not reflect on the number of transactions on which they’ve actually assisted. Vendors are also able to select multiple moderators for their store. Check out their profiles and look for these 2 things in particular:

  1. A posted moderator agreement
  2. An email address

And it’s also very helpful if they are active in our Slack. The best way to find that out now is to join Slack and ask around or ask them directly.

Make contact

Using the contact information available in the index, reach out to a moderator to gauge their responsiveness and ask them a few questions! We recommend:

  1. Why have you chosen to be a moderator on OpenBazaar?
  2. How many disputes have you settled? Can you tell me about some of them?
  3. Are you in the OpenBazaar Slack? What is your username?

Start small

This environment is still very grassroots so start building relationships here the same way you would online. If you are still wary, start with just a small purchase to try them & the vendor out to minimize your risk. If all goes well then continue on with your adventures and let others know; word of mouth referrals are an excellent way to help others build their reputation and move around confidently in the marketplace!


Want to get to know some people and do some stuff?
Join us on Slack, Github and Twitter!

Would you like to shop or sell on OpenBazaar?
It’s easy and completely free to start as a buyer or vendor! Download now at OpenBazaar.org

Read More

OpenBazaar Ecosystem: TomisCraft Jewelry

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today we are featuring TomisCraft, a beautiful handmade jewelry store on OpenBazaar. You can find TomisCraft on OpenBazaar here and browse on Duosearch here.

TomisCraft jewelry store on OpenBazaar

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you make/sell?

My name is Tomis and I come from Thessaloniki, a town located in northern Greece. I graduated from Mechanical Engineering in Aristotle Polytechnic School of Thessaloniki. I have studied jewelry-making since 1986 and went professional in 1994 when I opened my retail shop. By the end of 2015 I thought I should try and go international using e-commerce sites because I wanted to see if people worldwide like my creations. Every single time, It’s one of the best moments in my life when looking at customers’ expressions and enthusiasm when asked to tell me if they enjoy my jewelry. All items are handmade and manufactured by me completely. Silver and gold in primary form take their final shape through the usage of techniques rarely used in the pro world, like fusion, which renders the junctions between gold and silver unbreakable.

I love traveling the world! I’m so intrigued by the unknown and the different and I have been led by my insatiable appetite for excitement to the heights of Himalaya and scuba diving in one of the deepest seas in the world. I have been a fan of extreme sports since childhood, my eyes have seen a lot. In all my endeavors I have found various sources of inspiration for my jewels. The oceans, the rocks and the landscape helped me imagine and design the current collection, which I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

My cousins introduced me to Bitcoin and OpenBazaar. I find it very interesting and I am keen to accept the new currency and be part of this new global marketplace.

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

It has been good, although we only had a couple of sales via the site. It seems that only a specific group of people is on OpenBazaar and it needs to become more mainstream.


Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?
Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Would you like your store to be featured on our blog?
Awesome, we’d love to know your story! Please email jenn@ob1.io

Read More