Interview With Acorn CEO Dr. Moritz Kurtz

CryptoBible: Why is the OAK token needed? Could your platform work without it, or even without blockchain technology?

Moritz: It wouldn’t work without blockchain technology. Put simply, the 3 main aspects are:

  • Blockchain transactions all but eradicate payment fees (typically 3-5% on other platforms). These are the fees associated with making fiat transactions. Bank wire fees, credit card processing fees, PayPal fees etc. We also avoid founders losing (typically up to 10% of their raise) money to people who signed up with a credit card authorization, but when the campaign completes successfully and it’s time to pay, the card has been canceled or the transaction doesn’t complete for whatever reason.
  • Using an ICO to scale and Revenue Generation Mechanisms to sustain our operations, we can make crowdfunding free (typical platforms usually charge 5%). We’re raising money for a global platform using an ICO to fund the platform and distribute the token to people so they can use it in the future. By having a free platform, we can attract projects and backers more easily which allows us to make money through our other revenue streams.
  • We’re working on integrating blockchain into the platform itself. This isn’t finalised yet, so I can only hint to it here. Essentially, blockchain is all about trust (no need for trust, at least partially) and transparency. If we can integrate portions of blockchain into the platform so there is more transparency in the way founders spend their money (such as providing services that require tokens and having it transparent to everyone where the founders are spending their raised money) and offering blockchain solutions to these founders, this is potentially a HUGE competitive advantage and unique selling point for us, as compared to the traditional platforms where founders simply get a large USD payout and noone knows what exactly happens with the money afterwards. Crowdfunding itself works without blockchain (as we can see from the traditional successful platforms out there). But re-orienting the commercials to make crowdfunding truly global and accessible to everyone.. that’s something that we can only solve with blockchain.

CryptoBible: How are you going to scale the project after the crowdsale?

Moritz: There are several separate fronts that we will push:

Technical front – Completing development of our ecosystem If we have a crowdfunding platform that works successfully and allows founders to generate capital through multiple successful campaigns, we will become a viable option for startups across the world and all categories of legal projects to consider us for crowdfunding. This is the same again once we get our marketplace and payments app running.

Campaign support – If we can create effective campaign support packages, this also creates a very attractive proposition to projects of all kinds in different regions of the world – We are free – We allow any legal project – We provide campaign support services that are bespoke and proven to be effective on our platform – We provide access to mentoring from accelerators in the project’s country that provides huge networking, investment and simple business support bonuses for projects.

This means we don’t just allow projects to crowdfund for free, we also give them an increased chance of success that isn’t seen on the traditional platforms nowadays.

Marketing front – Continue our marketing. Just as we are marketing for the main ICO, we can re-orientate our amazing marketing team to growing awareness of our platform, the token and the whole ecosystem. Commercial and partnerships front – As part of our project incentive fund, we are partnering with accelerators from all over the world – They will be allocated a portion of this project incentive fund for them to choose and vet projects – We have a global accelerator forum where they can share views and experience that are unique to the part of the world they’re from between one another. If you think about the combined networking effect of all these accelerators that we can recruit into this forum, that’s a HUGE amount of publicity among large advocates that we can generate and who will spread the word for us. – We will get an on-the-ground presence that can help to: recruit projects, vet projects, mentor projects and give us feedback on how we’re doing – Building partnerships with commercial providers to give us their services and in return we open up all the projects on our platform for them. One simple example is a partnership with a domain hosting provider (such as Godaddy, just an example) to provide domain names and hosting to all projects that needed it. Projects would get preferential pricing, could potentially pay in OAK (allowing us to use Blockchain for transparency so that everyone can see where founders are spending their money) and have easy access to multiple of these providers very easily as part of our platform.

In short, the commercial and partnerships front is a way for us to increase the value to projects on our platform and in return we figure out a way to give back this value to our partners. There’s no formal process or structure for this, but we have an incredibly experience commercial team whose sole function is to find partnerships and build mutual value

CryptoBible: Transparency is very important in this space, especially because there a huge amounts of money being raised. How do you plan to keep your community and investors up to date with the project’s progress?

Moritz: It’ll be a combination of good community management and making sure we continue with the public and transparent way we share what is happening here at Acorn.

On the marketing side, this means always keeping our community up to date on our social channels like facebook, twitter, bitcointalk, reddit and telegram. We’ve just hired a dedicated social media manager and also will have several people dedicated to just community management. We won’t change this even post-ICO, so you can expect to see the same level of admin engagement on Telegram and the same level of transparency moving forwards.

On our website, which is undergoing an overhaul, we will be adding a blog that will have regular updates from our commercial team, as well as dev diary updates from our tech team. We do most of that through youtube videos and medium articles, however having it all in-house on our own website in a “central” location will make it easier to get more big picture updates.

CryptoBible: What requirements does a project need to meet to be listed on Acorn Collective?

Moritz: There are 2 non-negotiable principles that we will always adhere to:

  • Must be legal in Gibraltar and the EU;
  • Must not be directly harmful to humans, animals or the environment;

Our project approval process looks like this:

Project submission by potential founder;

Review by Acorn internal moderators: simple projects that have no issues whatsoever will be approved at this stage –> LISTING;

If flagged for legal issues, project details will be sent to our legal review team (currently our legal advisors in Gibraltar, Triay & Triay) If illegal –> DENIED. If legal, but ethically questionable, project details will be sent to our ethics board. If legal and NOT ethically questionable –> LISTING; Ethically questionable, but legal projects will be evaluated by our ethics board 15-20, mostly non-Acorn people, who are make up a representative group of people from different industries, genders and cultures. For industries, we will likely use the UK SIC to differentiate between industries. In terms of gender, we will aim for 50/50 mix between male + female. Cultures are more arbitrary, but we will aim for a representative mix in general, dependent on who we know. We envision our ethics board would be made up of a representative group of individuals from different cultures, genders and industries to ensure project compliance with our principles, after being presented with full project details, a legal opinion and the concerns of our initial project moderators.

They must then answer a very simple question (not fully defined yet): “In your view, does this project, after reviewing all materials provided to you by Acorn, conform with standards of ethicality and non-harm of your own person/character/upbringing/culture/society”

Answers will be – Yes – No – Maybe/Not sure.

If still not sure, the project will be set up for a community vote. Active users of our platform (e.g. usage history >1 month, own tokens, have participated in a project before etc) will then have several days to vote on whether this project can be listed on our platform.

CryptoBible: How are you going to attract users to your platform, besides from offering services for free?


  • Traditional online marketing (just like we’re marketing to for the main ICO now)
  • Providing free services (as you rightly pointed out)
  • The expansive nature of crowdfunding itself Every project that lists on our platform is responsible for finding its own backers. That means every project we get will potentially be responsible for marketing to a HUGE number of additional users just to buy the token so they can back a project. That’s why we call crowdfunding expansive. There is potential exponential growth because each project must find its own backers and is therefore marketing for us directly as well.
  • Project incentive fund

Project incentive fund: Essentially a large fund to incentivise early adoption of our token and our platform. – Give huge starting bonuses to projects that list on our platform early on, such as match-raising, percentages of their campaign target, marketing and advertising rebates etc. – Give starting bonuses to backers as a sign-up bonus, essentially letting them take part in some campaigns for free – Investments into certain projects on our platform at very favorable terms for them as an incentive to crowdfund with us. These would NOT be geared towards profit for ourselves (as opposed to venture investments as part of the operations fund) Partner with accelerators in other countries to be our local presence on the ground Let us access their network of startups and entrepreneurs to crowdfund with us Tell us the problems facing startups and projects in their region of the world Give us feedback on how we’re doing Help us to vet projects on the ground Help us to teach and mentor projects with us (as part of our campaign support for example) Make sure projects don’t run away with their money (at least they can try better than if we’re in an office on the other side of the world) In short, be our local presence on the ground in multiple multiple countries. As you can imagine, if you upscale this to a global level with perhaps over 100 countries, this create a huge operation that can help us be a global platform, but it’ll be a global cost as well =)

What this means for the project incentive fund is that it generates huge incentives for projects and backers to use the token, therefore creating early and robust token demand.

CryptoBible: Can you describe what Acorn Local is and how it will work?

Moritz: Acorn Local will be a mobile/computer point-of-sales payments app that allows OAK transactions between projects, founders and consumers.

This is a long term strategy to allow easier transactions between token holders, provide more utility for the OAK token and also provide us with more OAK transaction data that we can take advantage of, both in terms of monetizing it and also designing future features.

Over several years, especially if we have accelerator partnerships on the ground, we will end up with clusters of Acorn projects in multiple regions across the world. This means there will be post-crowdfunded products and services, as well as backers and consumer who own OAK already. Acorn Local gives them an easy way to transact using the OAK token and improves tokenomics. Acorn Local will most likely only finish development later in 2019, as it’s the lowest priority in our development plan, after the platform and marketplace.

CryptoBible: How will you use the presale money?

Moritz: We raised about $4m in the presale, which has been allocated in the following way:

*$1.5m ringfenced for our CTO for initial development and tech team over the first year. This money is meant to last for at least 1 year and is ringfenced so we can provide financial and company security to the developer team that we’re hiring. We’re asking highly skilled developers, often with an existing job, to resign and come to join us. They will only do so if we offer them enough money and also security that we won’t go belly-up in 2 months. As you can imagine, working for a startup is riskier than working for a large corporation that has been around for 50 years =)

*$2.5m for operations and marketing – paying for all marketing and sales processes, such as attending events, paying influencers, paying advisors – operations, such as office infrastructure, team salaries, legal expenses and the million other expenses that come up during operations for a company =) The operations and marketing budget are meant to last several months until we run the main ICO (+ a few additional months of spare capacity should the ICO be delayed for whatever reason).

CryptoBible: Is there any KYC needed for the main sale? Moritz: Yes, we will require KYC, which comprises of some basic personal info like name, DOB, address, country, proof of identification and probably also proof of address. This will be a simple process with our KYC partner and should take only minutes if there are no issues. KYC registration will begin several weeks before the main ICO begins.

CryptoBible: How large is your team? What about a year from now?

Moritz: The full time team in the office is currently 20 people (also counting some of the tech team who are only coming on board in the coming weeks). This is not counting advisors, part time and outsourced team members.

A year from now is really hard to answer, because it depends on so many factors. An educated guess would be around 50-75 people. Around 20 for the full tech team and the remainder would be for the various commercial teams such as marketing, sales, management, content, legal.

CryptoBible: Will Acorn be partially/fully open source in the future?

Moritz: Yes, it will be partially open source. We are actively discussing many of the potential blockchain implementations that we can add on to the platform in the future, especially those revolving around transactions transparency and making it visible to backers about where the funds are being used by the founders.

Hopefully, we can provide stand-alone code for at least some of the features that our platforms and ecosystem will have, especially those around payments and transparency.

That’s about as far as I can go without committing to something we won’t be able to deliver.

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