A year ago today, HeartBit was introduced to the world with the following tweet. Our goal was to go beyond Bitcoin as just a store of value by integrating it into the healthcare sector we were working in.
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Imagine connecting doctors directly with patients in need, unhindered by geographical borders or insurance networks, with payments made using Bitcoin.
After numerous theoretical explorations, we honed our product around the hypothesis that establishing such a free market in healthcare could address the challenges faced by patients in the U.S. and elsewhere — namely skyrocketing healthcare costs and limited access to services. Approximately six months later, we released an alpha version of our application and presented it on Bolt.fun.
Confronting the Truth
As we ventured forward, encouragement came from people around the globe, including medical professionals. I deeply appreciate their support.
Ultimately, however, I recognized our endeavor as a failure. In hindsight, I had observed a decline in key performance metrics months before but chose to ignore the signs, indulging in wishful thinking and conjuring only positive outcomes.
Charlie Munger famously stated, "Don't sell anything you wouldn't buy yourself." Despite his skepticism about Bitcoin, there's substantial wisdom in his words applicable to business.
They struck a chord with me. I must admit that I never used our product even when my own family was ill. It was neither reasonable nor fair to expect others to use what I had not.
The product needed to evolve into something that would satisfy both users and myself. However, during that critical time, my co-founder, who led our technical efforts, departed for other cryptocurrency ventures. Additionally, Apple's rejection of our app for not incorporating their in-app purchase system, coupled with my father's rapidly declining health, made it impossible for me to maintain a facade of optimism.
In the end, I accepted that our initial venture had concluded. The team disbanded with hopes for brighter futures. The alpha app version remains accessible on Google Play, offering basic features without the capability for Bitcoin transactions through a Lightning Wallet. We plan to discontinue it once our remaining AWS credits are exhausted.
Embarking on New Missions
1. Making HeartBit Open Source
Though HeartBit's initial foray didn't pan out as we hoped, I see our failure as specific to our circumstances, not to the concept itself. I believe in the possibility of success for a similar project under different initiative and at a more opportune time. I'm also open to revisiting this venture if the right situation arises.
In light of this, I've decided to open source our developments, allowing others to pick up where we left off. By doing so, I hope to stimulate continued development in this domain, and I would be excited to join hands with any inspired individual looking to take up the challenge we started.
It would also be very rewarding to see the code we've written to build products on the Lightning Network be used to accelerate new Bitcoin and Lightning-based innovations.
2. HeartBit as a Soft Infrastructure Builder for Bitcoin
Despite the South Korean Won's recent position as the most exchanged fiat currency for Bitcoin, the ironic reality is that the infrastructure supportive of Bitcoin-centric businesses in South Korea is underdeveloped, particularly regarding human resources, institutional knowledge, and software expertise.
One notable hurdle was the scarcity of talent. While some dedicated Korean Bitcoiners have emerged via Twitter and local communities, finding individuals with both the willingness and the expertise to join a startup in the Bitcoin space is at least ten times more challenging than in other industries. To mitigate this talent gap, I utilized Bitcoin-focused job boards like Bitcoiner Jobs and recruitment services like Layer4Talent. Nevertheless, this often led to a distributed team spread across various time zones—an arrangement with its benefits but also with inherent limitations on the agility required for a startup in its formative stage.
To address these issues, I believe it's crucial to demystify Bitcoin for a broader audience beyond the niche spheres of Twitter and Nostr and to devise structured approaches to conducting businesses with Bitcoin at their core. Fostering a greater understanding of Bitcoin can attract more skilled people and subsequently lead to the emergence of new ventures propelled by these talented individuals. This has inspired me to reposition HeartBit's identity towards becoming a developer of Bitcoin's soft infrastructure, concentrating on initiatives that align with this vision.
One of our key projects is BitcoinSeoul 2024, slated to be the inaugural Bitcoin-only conference in South Korea. We're collaborating with Seoul Economic Daily, the country's mainstream economic media, and the SeoulBitcoinMeetup—Korea's most established Bitcoin gathering—to set the stage for Asia's most largest Bitcoin conference. Our ambition is that this event will shift the Korean public's perception of Bitcoin and ignite a wave of innovative new enterprises in the industry.
The End of the Beginning
One of the profound realizations from my time in the Bitcoin sphere is that personal or company setbacks do not equate to a setback for Bitcoin itself. It's reminiscent of the dot-com bubble: numerous companies didn't make it through, but the internet, as a technology, continued to thrive. Each failure contributes valuable lessons that nurture and potentially pave the way for future successes.
Success isn't solely measured by financial gain, yet it's worth noting that over the past year, Bitcoin's USD value has surged by over 150%. Today, it even reached the $45K mark—It's clear that Bitcoin doesn't care about me. As HeartBit closes its inaugural year, the continuance of Bitcoin provides me with the privilege to embark on new ventures.
Moving forward, the HeartBit blog will serve as a source of updates on our initiatives and provide insights for those with an interest in the Korean Bitcoin market, as well as for the general public eager to understand critical Bitcoin topics. For those who wish to stay updated, I invite you to subscribe to our newsletter and stay connected with us.