Stacker Chats Transcript and Recap with GoSats’ Mohammed Roshan

GoSats is a Bitcoin Rewards App driving adoption for Bitcoin through e-commerce purchases. The GoSats app and credit card are live and accessible today in India, with an eye toward international expansion in the future. In this episode Mohammed sat down with me to share his long-time Bitcoiner perspective on everything from smart contracts for Bitcoin, to his experience in the Stacks Accelerator, and creating an app to build wealth in India for the long term. 

Please enjoy this fascinating and wide-ranging conversation.

— Gina Abrams: 

Hello, and welcome to the Builder Series of Stacker Chats, where we connect with the amazing founders building on Stacks. My name is Gina Abrams, and today I'm thrilled to be joined by Mohammed Roshan, Co-Founder, and CEO of GoSats. Thank you so much for being here, Roshan! 

— Mohammed Roshan:

Thanks so much Gina, I'm super excited to be on your show.

— GA: 

Excellent! Well, let's dive in. You are an early Bitcoiner - how did you get into crypto and how has it led to building GoSats?

— MR:

I think Bitcoin kind of consumed me back in 2014. Since I come from a tech background I was somewhat amazed to see this gold looking coin photograph in a newspaper in India. One morning I was just like taking up the newspaper, I'm like, "Oh, what is this? It sounds very intriguing." And after a little bit of Googling and checking out the GitHub source code, I was like, "Oh wow, this is something, are people actually trying to create money without some sort of a bank or a government, is this even possible?"

— MR:

After digging deeper into it, it led me to the economic side of things. 

"Then I figured out Bitcoin is something amazing. It's something revolutionary. I'm an electronics engineer and I was involved in e-commerce, and I just left everything that I was doing. I knew I needed to focus all my time and effort on studying this thing and understanding what it's capable of. That led me down this rabbit hole and I started building applications on top of Bitcoin."

I was very much thrilled with the technology side of things. I used to build smart contracts, even back in the day before Ethereum. I was using Counterparty, which was a protocol for building contracts on Bitcoin. I was just playing around with all that and I got very intrigued and I ended up joining as the CTO of Unocoin, which was the first Bitcoin exchange out of India and seeing all that and being part of the ecosystem, I saw the ecosystem kind of grow from pretty much nothing.

India was kind of late to the crypto space, but to see the way that it's evolved over all these years, it's just amazing. I worked with a couple of the top exchanges in India and I always felt like India is a great country, it's a great market for startups, for tech. The adoption of crypto has still been a little slow. And I always felt like people want things that are extremely easy.

Crypto is poised in this very complicated manner and a very speculative asset, there’s a lot of risk associated with it, a lot of scams associated with it. Of course, I love Bitcoin a lot, having passion about it. And I was like, how can I solve this kind of problem? How can I make crypto growth explode in India? And that's when I started reading a lot about all this. And then I came across what is India good at? And India is actually one of the largest growing e-commerce markets. And I was like, wow, this is a great way. And of course I’m building GoSats now. 

"A lot of mainstream audiences are on these e-commerce websites and all the different brands that are picking up in India. I thought why not target the mainstream route for getting Bitcoin adoption?"

Because right now to get Bitcoin people have to go into an exchange and do lots of stuff and then acquire Bitcoin. I was like, why not just give it as some sort of a reward, as a cashback mechanism so that they can get Bitcoin even if they don't like it, if they feel the money might go to waste or whatever, they can get some good exposure to this because it's free.

After exploring this path as well doing a lot of research, this is a great thing to get into the country. And I, in fact, sent an email list, "Hey guys, I'm launching so-and-so thing. This Bitcoin rewards application. Are you guys interested?" I got 500 signups on the first day. That was a decent kind of confidence that, okay, I can probably put some time into building this product and then set up a team. We started talking about it and we got a lot of coverage for this. One of the important things was that before us people thought that crypto just meant exchanges and tokens. Like these are the only two businesses that can be built on crypto, nothing else.

Then we are like this is so... it's just a new industry that's in making. And we’re showing that Bitcoin is beyond exchanges. It's beyond just being a blockchain token. We actually are bringing real-life value to customers. And that's when we started getting all this on. We launched this year, earlier this year and it's been doing great so far. A little long answer to a question, but yeah.

— GA: 

That's amazing. Well, let's dive into it a little bit deeper. And what is sort of the brief description of GoSats? I'd also love to dive into how it works under the hood?

— MR:

GoSats is a Bitcoin rewards application. People shop and they get Bitcoin as rewards and cash back. We basically tie-in with all these different brands, all the top brands in India — Amazon, Uber, Flipkart. People shop with these brands through our application and we just notify them of Bitcoin cashback and rewards.

"We are also rolling out our Bitcoin rewards debit card, a prepaid debit card that users can swipe across any point of sale device in India. And they get Bitcoin back with every single purchase."
— GA: 

It seems like your team has been incredibly busy over the last few months. You have over 15,000 early customers and 120 partner brands. I'd love to hear a little bit more about your team and some recent developments and what you're excited for on the horizon.

— MR:

Roshni and I are co-founders, we are actually siblings, we've done a lot of crypto projects together. It was good to get my sister on there — this is amazing, let's just build stuff. We've been growing a lot lately. We are a team of six right now and we definitely want to expand and get the best people to work on this new trajectory to Bitcoin.

— GA: 

Excellent. And what are you using the Stacks blockchain and Hiro developer tools for in building GoSats?

— MR:

After being part of the Stacks Accelerator is when we came across a lot of tools, like Hiro was one of the things like getting our names registered as well, which was pretty amazing. We have plans for using the Stacks blockchain for giving out yield in Bitcoin through the Clarity Language and Stacks smart contract, Proof-of-Transfer.

That is still in development, but I'm a huge fan. I've built smart contracts for many years, and I'm a huge fan of the Clarity non-Turing complete language. Because when we were thinking about setting foot into DeFi and giving out yield for our customers, we've already noted it has to be something related to Bitcoin or a smart contract on Bitcoin. And we actually looked at a lot of different other methodologies to build something like this.

Then after getting into the Accelerator and we met some amazing startups from the Accelerator as well, that were able to help us to figure out how exactly we can go about this. And even the partners in the Accelerator as well were super helpful to kind of help us guide through this entire process and we're like, "This is amazing."

"I'm a newbie when it comes to Clarity, but to understand how it works and the programming as well, it's been super helpful. We're definitely looking forward to providing all the different yield generations using these smart contracts under the hood."
— GA: 

Awesome. Thank you. I'd love to hear a little bit more about the Stacks Accelerator — how has that experience been and what might be your recommendations for anyone who's interested in maybe building on Bitcoin, building in this space? 

— MR:

Don't think twice, just apply to the Stacks Accelerator. I think that's the best, because honestly when I was coming to Accelerator, I didn't know what to expect. I thought it's going to be related to a lot of technology. But the first week itself was brilliant where they actually made us go through the steps of product building and analyzing the lean startup method, which a lot of accelerators do not teach you.

I've Googled a lot, I've researched a lot of accelerators and in fact, I was even part of one of the accelerators with the company I was associated with previously. And it was nothing like that. They go step by step in preparing you to get to product-market fit. That has been a huge game-changer experience for us and the network that these partners have provided.

The Stacks Accelerator offers some amazing mentors, a lot of great investors as well, and it even helped us close our investment round. We had a sneak peek demo there and we got some amazing investors that we wouldn't have met otherwise. That has been a great experience. I would recommend it — in fact, I want to get some of my friends to sign up for the next batch of this event if they're starting a startup.

"I'd recommend the Stacks Accelerator, and it's Bitcoin friendly. That was one of the major criteria, people have been contacting us from very different accelerators. "Hey, we have this amazing new blockchain token and you can build on it and we'll give you some funds," and all that stuff. But this was amazing because it's Bitcoin native and it sticks to the values that we want to provide as a company."

And we now know so much about smart contracts for Bitcoin which we wouldn't have known otherwise. So yeah, I highly recommend the accelerator to a lot of different startups that are focusing on Bitcoin.

— GA: 

Great. Thank you. You mentioned having just raised some funding, what are you sort of planning for in terms of the next few quarters? 

— MR:

We closed a 700K seed round. Our primary focus right now is getting the GoSats credit card out to the public, to as many people as we can. We want to scale this product really well, because we're entering the FinTech space. A crypto company entering the financial race - it’s a really exciting moment for all of us in India. And yeah, I basically want to get this card out to as many people and get adoption for our product for the next few months.

— GA: 

All right. Very exciting. I believe you've talked about how Bitcoin and GoSats can together drive adoption of Bitcoin and reduce income inequality in India. I was curious to hear a little bit more about that and your perspective in terms of the benefits you're providing to users.

— MR:

Yeah, absolutely. When we give you the Bitcoin as rewards we are enabling any average shopper or any sort of consumer to become an investor, a passive investor. After seeing the crypto space for such a long while, I've noticed a lot of people falling into certain price events and people look at Bitcoin as some sort of a get rich quick scheme, and that never leads to wealth. It might lead to making rich for a short period of time but it never leads to wealth.

"We want to encourage wealth accumulation for users. And we feel that Bitcoin is a great fit because I mean, even the protocol, the way it has been built, it's very fair. Bitcoin, it is the fairest blockchain protocol that has ever been built. When a lot of more people start accumulating Bitcoin, it makes them sovereign individuals. And that is what I feel reduces the inequality in income from other places and all those sorts of things."
— GA: 

Great. Thank you. One thing you mentioned was having been in the crypto space in India, sort of since the beginning, how has it been building companies through sort of changing regulations and what are you seeing in terms of early adoption?

— MR:

Yeah, the regulations it's a very tricky slope, but I'd say it's been improving a lot over the course of years. And I know that the entire world of technical space is looking at India for regulations because it's a huge market and all of us are working really hard towards it. And one thing that I know for sure is that there are a lot of crypto enthusiasts in India, they're talking to officials and making sure that the right decisions are made.

I'm a very optimistic person and I definitely feel that something really great will come out soon. And once that happens, I think India is going to be a huge force in the blockchain space.

— GA: 

I know you're focused on India currently and today. Are you looking to potentially expand internationally in the future?

— MR:

Yeah, absolutely. India is of course at the starting market, but I think we've built a scalable product that a lot of different geographies can benefit out of. Asia Pacific is a region that I think we are targeting. I hope we don't start getting competition after I said this but we definitely have eyes on a larger adoption.

— GA: 

Right. Well, thank you. One of the other things that you've mentioned before is predicting that only 10 to 20% of the market will buy crypto. How can Bitcoin rewards sort of drive that larger crypto mass adoption?

— MR:

That's a really interesting question. And there was something that I was analyzing very recently. And I mean if you look at it, right, people try relating crypto to stocks, how it is being traded, but it's actually a completely different landscape. And there aren't many stock traders in the world because when people have to buy something, it's always a minimal amount.

The majority of the crypto space, let's say we get a billion people into crypto. A billion people aren't going to buy Bitcoin and crypto, no, like I said, probably just 10 to 20% of them would actually buy it and the rest of the ecosystem would get it from other means. And that's how you increase adoption. If the friction is payment is investment, your adoption will be a lot less because it's an investment at the end of the day, right?

People have to think a lot, especially in emerging markets, they really think a lot before investing in risky assets. And that's where I feel rewards are a way that we can definitely explode growth. Once people see that, oh, this is an amazing ecosystem that has a great bunch of people in the industry. Then they'll be convinced to put some more money into it and actually start holding a significant amount of crypto.

I really believe that the rewards and other sorts of gamification and rewarding mechanics would drive a lot of adoption of crypto.

— GA: 

Are there any sort of obstacles that you see for Bitcoin becoming the default value system of the world?

— MR:

I think Bitcoin is already there to a certain extent. 

Bitcoin has won, I would say it's just how much more it can win. Right? That is the question. But yeah, I mean, if it is competition with other protocols, I don't see it really happening. Because when people talk about first-mover advantages, they see other protocols that are much more technologically heavy and smarter and all that. But people are forgetting that Bitcoin is not competing with any of that.

When it comes to money, when it comes to finance, people do not like a lot of changes. People like things to be secure and safe. And when something occupies a market you're in the first-mover advantage, it has to fail miserably for something to overtake it. It's not like a social network where, oh, the first movers didn't work or the search engines, something else came up and became better.

I don't think that can happen in finance.

Things have to be slow and steady when it comes to finance and it has to be secure and has to be built for decades. And I think Bitcoin functions best in that way.
— GA: 

Yeah, absolutely. You're building this company to sort of drive mass adoption. What other businesses would you love to see created? If there's other founders out there that are looking for inspiration, are there any ideas that you've been thinking about that you'd love to see in the world?

— MR:

I'm kind of drawn to NFTs in a way and I mean, ever since CryptoKitties, but yeah, I mean right now to see all these different, new things. For me, it's just exciting, Lightning is one of the biggest applications that I see, which can actually drive a lot of mainstream Bitcoin adoption.

There are a few Lightning apps coming up. Not much in India not much. I doubt there are any, I think there's just one or two Indian based companies building on Lightning network, but I definitely feel a lot of these more will come up and even with Stacks right now, a lot of people start including Stacks because when it comes to India, India is extremely tech-savvy and that's the reason why Ethereum and even Solana right now is getting a lot of adoption. Because people love to code stuff and these protocols are quite a lot of amazing developers.

I really feel that a lot of more developers that can focus on Lightning and Stacks and actually start building things on a much more secure Bitcoin blockchain. It’s early stages, but I'm pretty excited to see some great stuff coming out of India.

— GA: 

Definitely and in terms of sort of your future plans you've mentioned, you're planning to leverage Stacks and potentially offering sort of yield. Are there any sort of unique business models or any unique components of the DeFi landscape that folks should be looking out for or excited for when it comes to building crypto businesses?

— MR:

Yeah. Yield generation was something that we didn't think of in the beginning, but is a use case for our existing product, because that's what our customers want. Right? And one of the other aspects that we've been looking at for a while as well is to provide crypto-backed bank loans because once we understand this market and we want to do this in a decentralized manner.

There are companies doing it in a centralized manner, but we feel that we can actually make use of Stacks to also build a contract where we start giving out crypto-backed Bitcoin of Stacks back at fiat loans, which I feel is really exciting and would work for a lot of people in the community.

I personally as well, would never want to sell my crypto or Bitcoin to pay for stuff or get something. I'd rather just lock it up and then pay whatever I have to clear it back and get back my crypto, which I feel a lot of people would prefer.

— GA: 

Definitely. How should folks get involved and follow the development of GoSats? I believe the card is about to be released soon. What's the timeline? Where can folks sign up if they're interested?

— MR:

Yeah. People in India that are watching this, log on to GoSats.io and download the app. You can follow us on Twitter @gosatsapp and be given a lot of freebies, a lot of sats [satoshis] to be stacked. And yeah, there's a ratio for the GoSats credit card wait list. We will only be releasing 5,000 GoSats cards in the first batch, and we are almost done. So join and get your card registered. That'd be really awesome.

— GA: 

That's super exciting. Thank you so much for your time Roshan. Are there any closing thoughts you'd like to share with our audience?

— MR:

It's great stuff being with Stacks as well and seeing this ecosystem growing. Stacks 2.0  experimenting with it, it's been super fun and Bitcoin looks a lot more stronger right now. 

With Lightning and Stacks, Bitcoin has become a lot stronger than what it was a few years ago. The future looks great for Bitcoin.
— GA: 

Excellent. Thank you so much for being on the show and sharing your story. And we're so excited to continue looking out for updates and sharing them as well.

— MR:

Thank you!


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