Nodl - The easiest way to run a bitcoin node- plug and play
[00:00:00] Laurent: The, the purpose for us is, is to really build tools and maintain infrastructure and network infrastructure that, that enables people to, I like to say, like reclaim their own narrative. It it's like reclaim some, control over the, their lives and have, um, more of a purpose and feeling that they're able to make a change in, in strive for better.
[00:00:28] Laurent: I think there's a lot of people like around us that, that suffer from. Those bullshit jobs where they don't feel in control of anything. There's a way to get a lot of power back. Bitcoin is one of these things. Um, so we just wanna build tools so that people can reclaim ownership of money, time, space, um, and eventually it means safe communications.
[00:00:55] Didier: Welcome to the Swiss road to crypto podcast. I speak to the biggest names in crypto, mainly in Switzerland, but also from around the world. Through these interviews, you will hopefully gain an insight into the future. That is not obvious today. I seek out people that are doing something innovative or interesting.
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[00:02:22] Didier: . Next up shift crypto, are you looking for a hardware wallet to store your Bitcoin or other crypto assets? Consider a bit box made by shift crypto they're based in Switzerland and have been very well audited.
[00:02:35] Didier: The CEO Douglas backroom was on this podcast and you can find that episode in the same place you found this episode. The other co-founder Yohanas Shelly was a Bitcoin core developer and submitted his first line of code to Bitcoin core in 2000. 13 also, if you like cool design, this product has the coolest design of all hardware wallets.
[00:02:54] Didier: I know use the link in the show notes to get started and to help support this podcast. And finally brain trust. Are you a software engineer, UI designer, content manager, content marketer, and would like to work independently, the freelancer and you think privately held platforms like Fiverr or Upwork take much too much of a company.
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[00:03:50] Laurent: Hello? Did you?
[00:04:15] Didier: It is financial self sovereignty in a box. We will explain how to get one and how to set one up.
[00:04:20] Didier: Welcome Laurent. So first, can you sort of like describe the, found the product, you have several products and like what it is and how, how easy it makes it to for a newbie to start running an node.
[00:04:37] Laurent: Yeah. Um, so I, I think, um, a lot of people know us for, um, our hardware nodes and, um, because that's how we started. So we are the, the longest tenured. Hardware node provider on the market in activity. Um, we launched end of 2018, um, around the same time, just a couple months after the Casa node came out. Um, and at the time these were the two only options.
[00:05:07] Laurent: To have a node in a box for consumers. Um, we had noticed at the time that there was some interest in the lightning network that pretty much had just come out and we wanted to offer a plug and play box for people to start running a node, because we realized that a lot of people weren't running Bitcoin, even people who were interested in, in active in Bitcoin, a lot of them weren't running an node.
[00:05:30] Laurent: So we thought, you know, the market needed, uh, a consumer ready, uh, device. That was easy to set up and, and run every day, basically.
[00:05:40] Didier: Okay.
[00:05:40] Laurent: a lot of people know always for this.
[00:05:43] Didier: Okay. Just for maybe people who've never seen your node, . You order over your site uh, a box, a hardware device. That's gonna look about, about the same size as a router. And it's really very simple. You plug in the power, you get a Rooter, you pull it out of the bulk.
[00:05:59] Didier: You plug in the power cable you plug in. I suppose the internet connection. You might have a direct, uh, ether cable. And, and then is it going to be as well? I forgot plugged in directly to a computer or for somebody
[00:06:10] Laurent: Now, so it, it, it's a really simple device, as you say, like it, it's a small form factor. It's a small box. You just plug it into your power outlet, uh, which everybody has, and then you plug it into your router, just using an ethernet cable. And that's it, that those are the connections. Once it's connected, you just turn the power.
[00:06:31] Laurent: And then any device that's on your network, whether it's a computer or a smartphone can open the, the UI, the user interface of the Nodl and access all its parameters in, in settings. But basically the only thing you need to do is plug it in and press power. And that's it. You're running.
[00:06:51] Didier: So then, so by the way, in fact, is it going to at first download the whole. Uh, blockchain history or so.
[00:07:00] Laurent: So, I mean, originally the first devices we had that came out, um, almost four years ago, the computer downloaded the entire blockchain from scratch. So the first customers, we had had a box that was pretty much empty, um, where their own node was going to validate to download the entire blockchain. So do the, the I B D process, um, which was kind of time consuming.
[00:07:29] Laurent: And that's why our node was fairly successful at first is it was a little more powerful than, than the other nodes. And you could do that within 24 to 48 hours. But what we have right now is a slightly different setup. Um, so all is open source. So if you wanna scratch the blockchain that comes loaded now with the, the Nodl devices, when you buy them, now you can actually scratch it and redo the entire IBD yourself.
[00:07:56] Laurent: So you have to trust no one really, but if not most people, when they get it, they just sync the blockchain from whenever we built the node, to probably a couple weeks later when they have it back home. So they sink like probably two weeks worth of blockchain, something like that, uh, which makes it much faster.
[00:08:18] Laurent: So you get up and running within a couple hours, you know? Yep.
[00:08:21] Didier: Okay. And. Yeah, a little bit before you also have a cloud product, but just to, before we get onto the cloud product, so people are gonna interface with the, the node, which is, uh, like we said, like a box that looks like a router more or less, it's a little bit more colorful and looks snappier nicer with the, whatever other devices on that same wifi network, or say here, whatever your computer and for people who don't realize you, they also get all the.
[00:08:52] Didier: All the associated applications that people might want to use with a Bitcoin node. So you want maybe like over, like wasabi wallet or running your own lightning node, a coinjoin coin joint could be interesting for people you want to run through those?
[00:09:05] Laurent: Yeah. Um, So the main two elements of the nodes are that it run, it runs Bitcoin core. So you're actually running Bitcoin, the, the application. And, uh, you're also running lightning because you're running L and D on our devices. So it's a Bitcoin node and it's also a lightning node. Um, being a node means you're one of the peers on the network and your node will verify for you all the transactions that go through it can enable you to push and, uh, propagate your own transactions to the network.
[00:09:43] Laurent: But in order to, to really leverage Bitcoin and lightning, there's all sorts of tools. Can be associated to your node that will actually run on that node. It's a small computer, the node really that's what it is. And that help you have a graphical user interface, for example, to see your lightning channels and manage them.
[00:10:04] Laurent: Um, you can have. What we call indexers, which are applications that, um, serve as a backend to your, to your mobile wallets, for example. So you get all sorts of different little apps that run on top of Bitcoin in that you connect directly to in order to protect your privacy and avoid using third.
[00:10:29] Didier: Okay. And your, the node will be hidden behind usually toward Tor, to the node uses a Tor?
[00:10:34] Laurent: Yeah. So, so when, when it came out at first three and a half years ago, you had Bitcoin, you had lightning and you had Btp pay server. I think our node was the first one to actually have a, a full, uh, payment processor for merchants. And over the years we implemented, um, a lot of features that enhance your, your security and your privacy, basically.
[00:10:57] Laurent: So we implemented, uh, Tor, I think the first two. Um, so your entire node in services can run behind Tor to protect your privacy. Um, we have dojo and Whirlpool. Um, so you can use that as your, your backend for coin joining. If you use samurai wallet and you want a coin. Um, which is great, cuz it's the, the best privacy focused wallet.
[00:11:24] Laurent: Uh, so that was the first two. And then we implemented like some very specific, uh, security features like, um, full dis encryption. So, so your SSDs are encrypted, um, which protects your, your node from, you know, harmful physical access. And um, what do we have? We have a kill switch. So that's another physical security Divi.
[00:11:46] Laurent: Um, Property that, uh, if someone has access to your node, which is turned on, uh, they cannot access your, the inners of the node basically. And your, your hot keys without opening the node. At which point, the node just disconnects because of the kill switch.
[00:12:07] Didier: And how does the interface work with, uh, just for people to realize that. The node is a node and it's not yet the wallet. If you want to have your own keys, not your own, not your keys, not your coins. As we say, you need to have your own hardware wallet, something like a bit box or Trezor or ledger that produces keys and manages your keys for each single Bitcoin or UT XO that you have.
[00:12:30] Didier: So how does one interface with the node if with their own hardware wallet, does they plug it into so.
[00:12:39] Laurent: Yeah. So I think the ideal setup for any Bitcoin or really is, um, you want to have a, a mobile wallet on your phone. You want to have. Probably a hardware wallet to, to generate and keep your keys and you want to have a node so you can check public data, blockchain, it's public data. So you don't need to go ask someone else to go check the public data.
[00:13:04] Laurent: You can do it yourself. And that's the purpose of the node. So what you're gonna do is, um, The hardware wallet helps you securely generate, uh, private keys. Um, you can't really just choose your keys randomly, cuz no one knows how to do randomness properly. So you need a hardware device to do that and that's gonna manage your keys.
[00:13:27] Laurent: Bitcoin keys and the Bitcoin keys are never gonna touch the node. Okay. So the hardware wallet's gonna keep your keys, maintain them. Your node's gonna connect to, uh, the Bitcoin network and run Bitcoin core. It's gonna, um, use those indexers to serve as the back end to your wallet. And, um, every time you want to transact your.
[00:13:53] Laurent: Software wallet, whether it's on your phone or on your desktop will use your own nodes to check transactions and to propagate them to the network. So it's a trifecta basically of services in, in applications and infrastructure that, um, work together to give you the most privacy and, um, better security.
[00:14:18] Laurent: And that's why we built the node at first is. Bitcoin is precious. We don't want Bitcoin processes to be running on your day to day computer, where you get spam, where you potentially have viruses, malware, et cetera. Like anything that's dedicated to Bitcoin is on a separate box that does only Bitcoin.
[00:14:40] Laurent: And yet we don't want your keys to touch that.
[00:14:44] Didier: How are you gonna naturally get the hardware device to look at the Nodl
[00:14:47] Laurent: I, I think the, the preferred in a way Bitcoin's a process like there's the totally like new friendly beginner friendly solutions that are custodial that, uh, are maybe easier to use in where you don't have to have such complex setups, but obviously they have some, some warning signs and warning.
[00:15:12] Laurent: Um, That that need to, to company these solutions, because you're not in full possession of your, of your Bitcoin. Um, the ideal setup for us requires you to use hardware wallet that can be air gapped. Okay. So if you want to use your computer, what you can do is you can use Sparrow wallet. Okay. Sparrow wallet lets you choose.
[00:15:40] Laurent: Backend server you want to use to run Bitcoin. So you tell the Sparrow wallet. Okay. I want to use my own node. This is the address of my node and you can connect to it through Tor okay. And so Sparrow's gonna connect directly to the Nodl through Tor. It can be on the same network. It could be on a different network, actually.
[00:16:01] Laurent: Doesn't really. What you're gonna do is you're gonna prepare transactions because you've loaded a next pub in, in Sparrow, you're gonna prepare your transactions. Um, so that they're created, and then Sparrow will ask you to sign the transactions. At which point the signing is actually happening on something like a cold card.
[00:16:23] Laurent: So cold card would be the hardware wallet in that case. The signing will happen on the cold card itself, not on your network, cuz the cold card is never connected to the internet at all. It never touches your computer. The signing's done on the hardware wallet. You take the file out of the cold card wallet, you put it into Sparrow and then Sparrow checks that the, the signature is valid and you can choose.
[00:16:47] Laurent: Then once this signature is verified to broadcast it to the network, at which point Sparrow sends it to your node and your node pushes it to the network. Um, so, I mean, it's, it's fairly simple once you, you get used to it, but this is the best way for you to make sure that you maintain. And you're the only one to maintain your keys
[00:17:07] Didier: Where are people gonna download the da the, the software suites that they're gonna use to interface on there, for example, on their computer, with their node? Is that, is that,
[00:17:16] Laurent: So.
[00:17:16] Didier: from you or do they have to go somewhere to get that.
[00:17:18] Laurent: No. So on the Nodl you'll, you'll have all the backends you need. Um, what you're going to do is on your own desktop or on your own phone, depending on what type of desktop or what type of phone you use, Mac PC, Android, or, or iOS, for example, um, you're gonna use the wallet you want. Okay. okay. Some wallets, not all of them.
[00:17:40] Laurent: Let you connect to your own node and really use, um, Better practices for security and privacy. Those are the wallets you want. And pretty much you can run any one of them because they'll be able to connect to our node.
[00:17:56] Didier: . Okay. Like the, the interface to, to the Nodl to your node is gonna
[00:18:00] Laurent: The
[00:18:00] Didier: Okay.
[00:18:01] Laurent: to the node comes with the node itself and the different applications that we run on the Nodl, Are actually available as you, you, you start the nodes. So your, your electron servers are there, Whirlpool dojo. Um, you have Bitcoin core lightning. You have your BTC P um, you know, you have your RTL to manage your channels.
[00:18:24] Laurent: All those applications run natively on the Nodl, in our accessible, um, from your phone or from your computer.
[00:18:31] Didier: Great. And just, I like the name Nodl because it's sort of a, a mix of hodl and node, so that's good. Just for people get an idea if they wanna buy the box what's what's the price tag it's more or less $400 or what is it? More or
[00:18:45] Laurent: It's uh, 550 and 850 right now for the two models we have. Uh, we have the Nodl one, which is the, the main, um, you know, node offering. We have. We have the Nodl dojo, which comes with, um, with the Samurai wallet branding, because we had a partnership with them. And that comes with, um, with actual two, two SSDs.
[00:19:07] Laurent: So we have raid storage, um, configured on the Nodl dojo, which is, um, I think, unique on the market. I think it's the only node that comes with two SSDs
[00:19:19] Didier: I have to say, I imagine your hardware is more, maybe reliable than I've run a node on a, on a raspberry P and then once or twice, the raspberry P comes down and then takes me a while to get it up and running. And if I would, if you're running a lightning node on raspberry page and raspberry PI goes down for a while, you know, you, you want to get it up before somebody steals money out of your channel, things
[00:19:40] Didier: like that.
[00:19:40] Laurent: Yeah. Well, you know, my co-founder that, that, um, people know from Twitter, I guess is keto minor. He comes from the hardware and, um, Fields and electronics. Uh, those, those are, you know, passions of his. And at first, when we launched the first product, we thought, you know, this has to be like a commercial grade product people when buying a device, that's $500, we imagine would expect it to run for a few years.
[00:20:10] Laurent: So because it's computer products and, and they tend to evolve fast, you'd say maybe 4, 5, 6, Would be something that's very respectable as a consumer great product. Um, and the original node. So I have the very first production ready, Nodl what we call, not OG now. Um, it's been running for, you know, well since day one for like almost four years now without a problem.
[00:20:35] Laurent: And it's an older version of the hardware that, that has evolved since then, but we've had, we've had customers running for four years now, which I think is pretty good. Yeah.
[00:20:45] Didier: Okay. Great. And moving on to your other sort of big product is, uh, the cloud. So basically for people who don't wanna buy a box and a piece of hardware, and that's too intimidating for them, can you explain your other product, the, the cloud product. So basically people never buy a piece of hardware.
[00:21:02] Didier: It's like a saas. You wanna describe it? Yeah.
[00:21:06] Laurent: Um, So our first offering was hardware only because that's what really leverages the properties of Bitcoin. So to us, it was everybody should be running their own node. And that means having their own hardware, but we felt like people weren't necessarily, um, able to do it. So we packaged it in a box and eventually some of our first customers who are pretty hardcore Bitcoiners are, are very of aware of like security or privacy trade offs.
[00:21:34] Laurent: Um, surprised us by. Actually, um, telling us that they'd be comfortable for certain situations or setups to actually have us run some of the hardware services for them. Um, and the first reasons they, they mentioned was that, um, sometimes they weren't necessarily at home, they were traveling. They don't know where to host the node themselves.
[00:22:01] Laurent: um, they needed it to be available 24 7, which you can't necessarily do, uh, when you're not physically located where your node is. And I, I know I've, I mean, I run several nodes, but I've had the problems. For example, I have a node at my parents. Um, I know when the electricity goes down there, cuz my node gets shut off and I need to call them to say, Hey, make sure you, you turn it back on.
[00:22:23] Laurent: For example, you know? Um, so the cloud offering. Is basically us telling customers that they can use the, the exact same stack of applications as if they had the node themselves, but it's professional grade, um, machinery that we own as a company that we operate as a company hosted in data centers that we control and with, um, you know, basically bar guaranteed uptime, um, in, in service.
[00:22:55] Laurent: So we manage the infrastructure for you and you rent it on a, on a monthly or yearly basis if you want. And then you have access to every, every single feature with only one third party. So that's the trade off. We become a third party, which, you know, adds additional risk, obviously. Um, but I think for merchants, for people who don't necessarily wanna manage things themselves, because that's not their knowledge or that's not that their main business, um, some of them are.
[00:23:25] Laurent: Having us do it for them in, in having the reliability of something that's maintained, uh, professionally.
[00:23:32] Didier: Okay, because this, the thing I sort of thought was interesting with your cloud service, which is a little bit like a third party service. It's a little bit like a SAS, however,, you could say if you like, there's sort of two components, there's the software, that's public software, like Bitcoin core and, you know, dojo and coin joint, and all that.
[00:23:53] Didier: And then in running your own and being self sovereign with Bitcoin, there's the part that's, you have to be self sovereign, which is a little bit the most important part, which is, uh, the keys, the private keys to. So in fact, even with the cloud service, the client. Maintains control, exclusive control. If I understood correctly, if it's private keys, do you understand?
[00:24:14] Didier: You want to explain how that is
[00:24:16] Laurent: Yeah. So I, I guess this is where you have to be careful when you mention keys. If you're, if you're talking about, um, the keys to, to whether you're on chain or off chain. Okay. So you have the Bitcoin network and you have the lightning network on top of it.
[00:24:35] Didier: wanna
[00:24:35] Laurent: Um, so let's take the example of a merchant. A merchant can, um, right now accept Bitcoin payments using.
[00:24:45] Laurent: Um, and that's what, you know, you, you saw, I think last weekend in Neuchatel, when, when we had that, that, that event, the payments that were accepted during the event were accepted either on chain or off chain through BTC pay server. Okay. BTC pay server was running on the Nodl cloud infrastructure that day.
[00:25:04] Laurent: Okay. So we were running it for, for the event, organizers. The hardware, um, that generated the keys. We never had access to it. Wasn't our hardware. It was the organizer's hardware and he generated the on chain keys. So that's fine. We don't have access to the funds, but for the lightning components, the way lightning works, you need to have a node running 24 7.
[00:25:31] Laurent: So that's a major reason for you wanting to have a node, whether you run it home or. With a, a, um, a company like ours, the hot wallet for BTC, uh, requires the keys to be on the device. Okay. So if you own the device and it's in your home, the hardware for the on chain stuff never touches the internet, but the keys to the lightning hot wallet are actually on the device.
[00:26:00] Laurent: Okay. And I think it's important for people to understand that trade off. Um, so if you use the Nodl cloud, you will have the same thing. You will have your on chain keys in your possession, but if you want the payment processor, the hot wallet keys will be in the data centers where those are operated, which is a trade off.
[00:26:25] Laurent: People have to understand. But I think a lot of people are actually okay with that. But, you know, we're, we're pretty upfront about what the, the trade offs are. What we came up with now, thats new that doesn't exist yet, uh, um, out there. And it was a proof of concept that, that we discussed and presented at, um, adopting Bitcoin last year is a different setup is a setup where you can have a lightning only device, a lightning node.
[00:26:52] Laurent: Okay. That's controlled by the merchant itself. So it's a very lightweight low-powered device. That the merchant has in their store. It's connected to the internet. And on that device that they have physical control of. You can have your hot keys, your hot wallet, keys, and you just use the cloud services for the on chain stuff where you still as a customer, maintain your own keys.
[00:27:16] Laurent: And you have this mixed model with parts, hardware, part cloud, SAS servicing, where you maintain as a merchant or as a customer, or both the on chain and off chain keys, And I think that's pretty revolutionary because you get the better parts of Bitcoin without necessarily having to run everything yourself.
[00:27:36] Laurent: So that gets really interesting. I think.
[00:27:39] Didier: So, if you're a merchant and you decide to run just a lightning node in your own shop, , how am I going to communicate with it
[00:27:48] Laurent: The thing is up till now, the way we built anyone built nodes was you had Bitcoin core in LND or C lightning or whatever you want running on the same device. Okay. What we're doing is we're separating both. So the merchant will have his lightning only device. That's gonna run L and D or core lightning or, or whatever lightning implementation you want.
[00:28:12] Laurent: But just that, and it will be connected as a customer to, , um, server that can be dedicated to you, the merchant, or that could be shared. Mutualized among several clients for Bitcoin core. Okay. And you'll be okay. Renting the Bitcoin core service that the lightning nodes needs, but you'll just have the lightning node.
[00:28:36] Laurent: And so a much smaller surface.
[00:28:38] Laurent: .
[00:28:38] Laurent: It's a little bit like a wallet setup, uh, for, for some light, uh, lightning wallets. Um, but we do that as a hardware product for, for customers. Now it'll come out before the end of year.
[00:28:51] Didier: Okay. And just for people, uh, also to understand these backups, where these, where the backup's gonna be, they're gonna be on a separate, uh, drive or memory within the device or on the cloud.
[00:29:05] Didier: Uh, in other words, if my node goes down, where do I recuperate the information basically?
[00:29:11] Laurent: So you're gonna recuperate it on your SSD. Um, The, the, the problem you might have with nodes that have only one SSD, which is probably 99% of the nodes out there is, uh, data corruption. So that might get tricky and usually you need some, uh, help from pretty good technicians to recuperate PS. Um, and so that's been, uh, uh, a problem, I think for everyone out there.
[00:29:37] Laurent: Up till now. Um, that's why we implemented, uh, double SSDs in Ray format on, um, on the N dojo and on future models. We'll, we'll probably have that always too. Um,
[00:29:53] Laurent: So
[00:29:53] Didier: dojo's yes. Your, your upper end product, your more expensive
[00:29:56] Laurent: yeah. And, uh, and that's why it's more expensive is you have more hardware and you have more security features basically.
[00:30:03] Laurent: Um, well that security feature is. It is added to, to the standard offering. And then, um, on the server side is different. It's like we do that for you
[00:30:15] Didier: Okay. All right.
[00:30:16] Didier: Like moving on like your customers of what have you seen? So, so far your customers have mostly been, I would suppose at the beginning, there were individuals who were like in the ethics of Bitcoin and , how are you, how are you seeing your pro your clients evolve and how are you seeing the use of your product evolve?
[00:30:33] Laurent: Yeah, , I think it, it evolves with, um, with the technology and with the usage, the, the first customers, I think we really benefited from the fact that lightning was new in that a lot of people were very intrigued by the lightning network. Um, so it was the first lightning node and lightning requires you to have an always on device.
[00:30:55] Laurent: So unless you run lightning, you can't really interact with it. Um, And so that helped the fir the first, um, onboarding of, you know, geeks and fans of Bitcoin lightning, people who were curious fairly tech savvy, then, um, you know, you had a, a bull market that brought in new people that weren't as tech savvy, but that started hearing about, oh, you need to.
[00:31:23] Laurent: Have your own hardware wallet, you need to have your own node. And we saw customers that, um, needed more help to get onboarded, but that were willing to do it. And, um, I think there was another way of people who started realizing that maybe they didn't wanna get Bitcoin through an exchange by just purchasing Bitcoin.
[00:31:45] Laurent: But they wanted to be exposed to Bitcoin by earning, um, salary or wages in Bitcoin offering their services in Bitcoin and the, the appeal of having your own payment processor to manage invoices and receive payments was, um, I think a big hit. Now smaller customers that our merchants are coming in.
[00:32:09] Laurent: Um, you can also, I think we're not there yet, but build tailor made solutions for much larger like enterprise grade. So, you know, companies. Um, that's what owning your own infrastructure enables you to do. And that's why we're really big on the whole model cloud infrastructure. You can, you can cater to anybody, whatever size business it is, and you can do some things that are very specific to them.
[00:32:35] Laurent: I think that's interesting. Um, and maybe the last type of customer is the unique customer that needs a lot of nodes. If, for example, their. A lightning application where their clients can be in the hundreds or thousands. And for each and every one of them, they need a, um, a node, but they don't necessarily wanna maintain the infrastructure.
[00:32:58] Laurent: So they use you as a kind of white label infrastructure provider for them to, to scale.
[00:33:11] Didier: wanna. Lightning node to make money, to be a routing, really known more than people who buy lightning node just to make and receive payments.
[00:33:20] Laurent: There there's always a few people. Uh, but generally when they come in, uh, they're the people who are much less tech savvy, who come in, um, with a lot of curiosity, but sometimes. Mistakenly believe the nodes might be mining nodes. Uh, so first of all, you don't mind with our nodes at all. It's very different.
[00:33:44] Laurent: Um, just to make it clear if anybody has a question, but, um, yeah, it it's people who usually think, okay, I'm gonna run a node and tomorrow I'm gonna be rich because I'm gonna make a lot of routing fees in which case? Um, we tell them, no, you're not, uh, you're probably gonna lose money doing it. It's tricky business.
[00:34:02] Laurent: It, it's not that easy. Um, and I don't think people should have that first expectation when running a lightning node that they're gonna make money off of it, unless they really know what they're doing technically, unless they can maintain some of the stuff themselves. And probably unless they have a lot of liquidity to put into the, the network.
[00:34:26] Didier: All right.
[00:34:27] Laurent: So I wouldn't recommend it.
[00:34:29] Didier: And just like, I don't know if you have any general numbers you could share. For example, I would imagine, I don't know, four years ago, 95%, or I imagine, or 90% of your customers were individuals who wanted to run an node. And I don't know now, what is it? 30 or 40% of them are maybe merchants who are using this as a means of payment and self sovereignty.
[00:34:53] Didier: Or do you have any idea of, uh, how, what, what the proportions are becoming.
[00:34:58] Laurent: Um, no, we don't and whatever we know, I'm not sure is very accurate. Um, because, uh, of a very simple reason is we don't ask our customers who they are. , so we ship our, our products in like probably like 40 different countries in the world. Um, we use ups DHL, and those types of companies, the transporters require, uh, a name in an address.
[00:35:27] Laurent: So we ask our customers to give us a name and an address, but we're very clear on the fact that it doesn't have to be your real name or your real address. It just has to be an address that, that the transporters can use. We don't care who our customers are because, um, we really do believe in privacy and unless someone wants to willfully tell us who they are.
[00:35:47] Laurent: We're not asking the question. Um, so we do have a lot of feedback from a lot of customers that we end up knowing, and, and actually have friends now that are, that are customers. Um, but I'm not sure how represented if they are. So I don't want to draw too many conclusions from that. Um, you know, we have our own assumptions, but, um, you know, um, we, we believe in private business and, you know, we run our business that way.
[00:36:13] Laurent: Um,
[00:36:14] Didier: I have the impression that you run a lot of nodes for outside clients, uh, or you, you do the infrastructure of lightning nodes for various
[00:36:23] Didier: Clients.
[00:36:25] Didier: Can you talk about that?
[00:36:26] Laurent: Yeah, I, think it's, It's a big, uh, development opportunity for us as a company. Um, so people might , be familiar with apps like syyphnx chat, um, where a new user will, will download the application. The application requires the user to have a node and they don't necessarily know it, but parts of the nodes that Sphynx runs, um, are actually on Nodl infrastructure.
[00:36:51] Laurent: And so they use other node providers and they have their own infrastructure too. But a customer will be onboarded without knowing that the node runs and without knowing who runs it for him. And we do that as a service.
[00:37:05] Didier: Okay. Good. So that's a big business opportunity for you, I suppose. Yeah.
[00:37:08] Laurent: Eventually what we have is we have a kind of profile where. I'm not good at, at making comparisons, but if you wanna make it easy to understand for people, we can be like some kind of, uh, telecommunications provider where you get a phone.
[00:37:25] Laurent: With us and you get service with us. So, okay. You get a hardware node, uh, from Nodl and you get services and infrastructure from Nodl um, so those two components that you're accustomed to, as someone who has a phone, you could get the same thing for Bitcoin, from us, uh, that, that this, the kind of model you can build all cloud, all hardware or a mix of both.
[00:37:48] Didier: Yeah. Well, that's what I think is one of the things that's unique with, with, uh, Bitcoin is that it's a little bit like saying most people don't wanna run their own mail server. So they subscribe to a mailing service. Whatever Google or apple, whereas with Bitcoin, you can, and a little bit through you, you can be self sovereign and run your whole node and be completely autonomous, like having your own money in your own vault in your own house and just using cash, or you can use the bank,
[00:38:14] Laurent: Exactly. And we're really building for that. We're we're building for, um, you know, whatever you want to call it, whether it's like the information age or the digital age, or just the modern day in time, it's you need a certain number of things to, um, happen for you to be able to, to maximize or leverage all the privacy security.
[00:38:39] Laurent: Um, economical, um, properties that you want. And that means like good communication, uh, services that run whenever you want. And however you want. And I think people fail to understand that, like in the digital age you want property and custody of your digital assets, which Bitcoin allows you to do. and you also need to have, um, control over some of that infrastructure.
[00:39:10] Laurent: If not someone else is gonna do it for you in like censorship and gate keeping are so big in even our modern democracies in the west. Um, you probably want to have a way to move away from that a little bit, or as much as you can. And today you are capable of doing that. We have the tools to do it. So, so we need to really push in that direct.
[00:39:32] Laurent: I think it it's full of opportunities for companies or people, you know, interested in it.
[00:39:37] Didier: . What, was the original, vision of the company and how would you say it's evolved over time?
[00:39:42] Laurent: The, the purpose for us is, is to really build tools and maintain infrastructure and network infrastructure that, that enables people to, I like to say, like reclaim their own narrative. It it's like reclaim some, control over the, their lives and have, um, more of a purpose and feeling that they're able to make a change in, in strive for better.
[00:40:05] Laurent: I think there's a lot of people like around us that, that suffer from. Those bullshit jobs, where they don't feel in control of anything. There's a way to get a lot of power back. Um, Bitcoin is one of these things. Um, so we just wanna build tools so that people can reclaim ownership of money, time, space, um, and eventually it means safe communications.
[00:40:29] Laurent: It means a lot of mobility, a lot of freedom, um, to move around transact with whoever you want. Bypass censorship, um, go against like regulated monopolies. Um, you know, regulation now is a, is a big tool used by, you know, lobbyists, big companies, governments to, to protect whatever is in place. And I think that is done to the detriment of, of most individuals.
[00:40:59] Laurent: And, um, you know, if we, we can help people fight that we we're, we're happy to, to provide tools and knowledge for.
[00:41:06] Didier: Okay. And where would you think were the biggest obstacles, um, that you encountered when you've developed your company?
[00:41:15] Laurent: You know, there's, there's quite a few. Um, we started out as, um, it, it was Al like almost, it was a side project at first. Like we had jobs, um, it was entirely bootstrapped. We're team of, we, we say two and a half, uh, you know, we're two founders. We, we have some help from like my, my co-founder's wife. Um, we have someone doing support for us part-time but, um, it it's a very small structure and everything being bootstrapped. I think we focused on building a good product first in and took our time doing it. Um, but at some point you need help, uh, whether it's like financial help, um, whether it's it's help with development. These are open source projects and everybody raves about open source for good reasons, but there's a Darth of, um, Of, uh, knowledgeable help that you can actually, um, leverage easily because, uh, you know, everybody's looking for, for developers and a lot of open source projects are, are actually resource starved.
[00:42:24] Laurent: Um, you know, and I don't mean only financially. I think, I think, uh, you know, there's so much to be done. This is very early. Still people have a hard time understanding it, but, um, you know, you, you need help left and right. Really. So that's one thing, one major area. Um, and then I think there will be at some point, depending on your business, um, At some point, you know, years passed.
[00:42:50] Laurent: We, we kind of wanted to set up some kind of exchange and we worked on it for a few months and both keto and myself figured out, um, independently, but we agreed on it afterwards. We don't wanna have anything to do with the Fiat to Bitcoin, um, conversion that point where Fiat in Bitcoin converge is where the regulation is. If you choose to go in that direction, you have a lot of financial insecurity because you don't know how much it's gonna cost. You don't know how long it's gonna take. How laws can change, how they can just kick you out of a market because the regulations change. So that means financial uncertainty too.
[00:43:35] Laurent: In time uncertainty. We don't want anything to do with that as founders because we want a project to succeed. Um, so regulation is, is a big thing that I think will be very problematic for, for a lot of companies in the space. Especially those at the frontier, um, to Fiat. So we wanna avoid that at, at all costs.
[00:43:58] Laurent: Um, but then we'll still be submitted to regulation at some point. I'm sure. Um, we just know what don't know what to expect from, from governments in, in local regulators. Um,
[00:44:09] Didier: Okay. And what would you say? Were the biggest assumptions were you made when you started the company assumptions you made that were mistaken or obstacles that you not didn't see coming that actually happened
[00:44:22] Laurent: I think one assumption we made that was fairly accurate was that people would be interested in lightning, uh, in, that helped us out at first. What wasn't necessarily an, an assumption or at least we didn't think of it as an assumption was that, um, everybody would running would be running only hardware because we didn't even ask ourselves the question.
[00:44:47] Laurent: We, we just, you know, went from basically the idea that you should, and, um, It's only probably our customers that opened our eyes to the fact that no people will want to be serviced. And so that was the, you know, the beginning of no cloud, probably two and a half years into no. Um, so, you know, it's much more recent service, so maybe that was a surprise.
[00:45:12] Laurent: Um, but then I think with, with new markets like that in, like, I'll say it again, it's very early on. We don't wanna make too many assumptions. We just wanna be able to probably first of all, survive and second is be open to, uh, serendipity in probably not luck but opportunities. Um, so it, it it's being much more agile and ready to try a few things.
[00:45:44] Laurent: Uh, you know, there could be hits. There could be miss. But be able to, to adapt quickly because Bitcoin changes at is a, at a crazy SP uh, speed. So, um, you know, assumptions, I, I, I think, uh, we shouldn't rely on too much.
[00:46:00] Didier: And today, what would you say your biggest pain points?
[00:46:04] Laurent: Well, we had, um, a few pain points last year, uh, with C and COVID and, um, A lot of companies in the space are software companies. Okay. So, um, they raise money to pay salaries and that's pretty much it. We have to order, uh, components. A lot of them come from China. Um, getting the boats to come into the ports last year, sometimes you'd order components that would take six months to reach you.
[00:46:35] Laurent: Um, logistically that's a real big pain point. Uh, so we had inventory issues, um, which anybody in the hardware space is aware of. So that was a big pain point. Um, that said, you know, I think right now it's very difficult to find raspberry pies. So everybody seems to be outta stock. We actually never use raspberry pies.
[00:46:58] Laurent: Um, and we can. Whole batches of our boards made custom for us within acceptable timeframes now. So we were able to navigate it. Um, but it was kind of tricky. Uh, so that was a pain point. And that what comes when, when you have, uh, such a small company, you know, with, uh, with limited resources, I think.
[00:47:22] Didier: Okay. All right. Great. Okay. Thanks very much. Let's move on to some, finish it up with some rapid fire questions, the best book you ever read, or the most important book you ever read aren't necessarily the same thing, but you can
[00:47:34] Laurent: Yeah. Um, I don't know. I, I, I had a, a, um, long time favorite that had really nothing to do with, with our, our questions here, but, um, I was a big fan of, uh, the picture Dorian gray. Um, because I had the, I don't know why, but I felt during while I was reading the book that like Oscar wild was a genius, you know, where you don't necessarily agree with a lot of the horrible things he says in the book, but you find that it's a very, just a smart person that, that that's talking and they, you know, drives you a little crazy sometimes.
[00:48:12] Laurent: I was in the presence of someone smart and, and I like that. And I think I like I enjoy in life. Maybe that's what I find in the community. There's a lot of very smart people. Um, so that was a book I liked, but maybe more to, to our like, discussion. Um, I think if there's a book that people should read, it's like the sovereign individual.
[00:48:32] Laurent: Uh, that's a very good
[00:48:34] Didier: Yeah . Somebody else on this podcast mentioned that book as well.
[00:48:37] Laurent: It's a fantastic book, um, because it's, um, I guess it it's really not mainstream in their analysis of what , is going on with the world right now. And, um, it was right in like 20 years ago and, , uh, already envisioned things that definitely were not mainstream, like, , the heavy use of cryptography, some digital currencies and, and things like.
[00:49:05] Laurent: So they had a lot of foresight, not because they invented it, but because they probably were reading or aware of things that were going on, that definitely were, were hidden from the public view. And so their analysis is really good. Um, and I think it gives you a lot of hope that you have. A fairly bright future for reappropriating, some power, um, as individuals, um, in a society when you have like microprocessing, um, you know, a lot of mobility and things like that.
[00:49:38] Laurent: So that ties into Bitcoin really well. I know there's a ton of Bitcoiners who like that book. It's, uh, it's a fantastic read.
[00:49:46] Didier: Okay. A great piece of advice that helped you in life and who gave it to you?
[00:49:52] Laurent: Um, I don't, it's not necessarily advice, but I remember being very frustrated when I was a kid watching, like, you know, Japanese cartoons, um, with my mom who used to criticize them heavily and who tried to show me how much garbage it was. Um, and I think she tried to, to. Yeah, especially in France, it's a big thing, you know, they, they like to rave about it, but like have some kind of critical sense.
[00:50:21] Laurent: Um, and maybe I've been a little more critical than people around me, you know, growing up and, um, and I think it's very healthy to maintain good, critical sense. So, so it's not advice, it's more like a way of educating that I've been living my entire life that I try to, to pass on to my children too, because I think it's very.
[00:50:44] Didier: Okay. Uh,
[00:50:45] Laurent: mom and
[00:50:47] Didier: Okay. And a li a lighter question. favorite movies.
[00:50:53] Laurent: I don't think I have any, um, I'm not a big TV fan. I'm not a big, uh, I, I can go weeks or months without watching a movie. So I don't think I have any
[00:51:03] Didier: Okay. All right. Okay. Thank you very much. Laurent it was a pleasure to speak to you. And if anybody would like to buy this product, where can I, where can I send them? Where can I get in touch with you
[00:51:13] Laurent: So, um, you can, uh, go to Nodl so that's N odl.it or.eu actually, um, which will bring you to, to our, um, to our webpage. Um, we we're on Twitter too. If people wanna DM us. , we're definitely happy to, to chat with anybody who who's interested in the products, or, you know, if there's open source contributors, we're, we're always looking for, for people who wanna participate in these projects.
[00:51:43] Laurent: Because there's so much to be done.
[00:51:45] Didier: All right. And if anybody buys an Nodl and they've heard the product through this podcast, they can mention it to, to Laurent and you might be able to help the podcast like that as well. Okay. All right. Thank you very much. Laurent it was a pleasure to
[00:51:58] Laurent: well,
[00:51:58] Didier: to you. Okay.
[00:52:02] Laurent: thanks for having me. It was a pleasure. Bye bye.
[00:52:02] Didier: If you enjoy the episode and want to help the podcast, you can do this in several ways. You can share the link to the episode on social media, whichever social media you are most active on. Also, you can subscribe on your favorite podcast player or watch it on YouTube and click the subscribe button there.
[00:52:21] Didier: You can also contribute directly to the podcast by visiting the website, this with road to crypto.com and clicking on the link on the homepage and donating either in thoughts or on PayPal. Finally, if you want to become an early adopter of the lightning network, you can listen to this podcast , on a lightning enabled podcast player.
[00:52:41] Didier: Currently I aware of three such podcast players, the breathe app, which is also a lightning wallet, Sphinx and fountain. You will need to have some sites in lightening wallet. Thanks. And don't hesitate to give me your feedback either by email, that you'll find on the website, this with road to crypto.com or on social media, I read all the messages.