RoboSats as the 2nd Sovereign Engineering North Star

19 April 2024

The future we’re heading towards will have many bots, that much seems clear. But not all bots have to be bad bots. We’ll probably have good bots too. Useful bots. Economic bots. As well as humans that turn themselves into bots, when appropriate (or necessary).

We are pleased to have RoboSats as our North Star for the second Sovereign Engineering Cohort.

As the focus of the second cohort is on P2P markets and exchanges, we are excited to learn from their execution and architecture and get insights into the thought process that led to the building of RoboSats.

Just like in the previous cohort, the North Star shall act as a guiding light, as something to look up to. Having experienced veterans of the RoboSats team join the cohort is fantastic, as everyone can learn from them, ourselves included.

There is still a little bit of time left. If you want to spend some weeks with doers and builders, apply today! Applications will close on the 21st.

SEC-02 Calling!

4 April 2024

It feels like yesterday when we decided to embark on the journey that was SEC-01. We didn’t know what we would get ourselves into. We still barely know. But just like the guy in the meme, we’re gonna do it again. We’re going to walk the walk, we’re going to ship things, and we’re going to have a good time while doing it.

We expect a lot of experimentation, discussion, and exploration. We expect that SEC-02 will rhyme with SEC-01, even though it won’t be a carbon copy of the first cohort. We’d encourage you to listen to this Plebchain Radio episode and (the end of) this Citadel Dispatch episode to get an idea of what we’re aiming for.

Scratching the Surface

Our thesis remains the same: The space that is opened up by Bitcoin, nostr, and other freedom tech is vast. We believe that we have barely scratched the surface. We believe that lots of awesome stuff is yet to be built, and we believe that the new paradigms will allow us to step outside of the extractive models that are so prevalent in the current landscape.

If you believe the same, you might be a perfect candidate for the second cohort—and you should apply today.

Markets, Synergies, and Peers

As foreshadowed in a previous post, we want to focus on peer-to-peer markets and exchange. With nostr acting as an effective and open layer for discoverability, and sats (and esats) acting as a bearer instrument for final settlement, what used to be siloed marketplaces can finally be opened up to merchants and customers alike.

It allows us to move from the win-lose of zero-sum games to the win-win-win of positive-sum games: good for you, good for me, good for everyone. In one word: Synergies.

We hope that the various peers that are working on these markets—as well as the building blocks that make them possible—will collaborate and learn from each other, just like they did in the first cohort. And even if your expertise is tangential, we hope that novel insights, products, and services will come out of it all. Just like they did in the first cohort.

That’s the basic idea of the Sovereign Engineering cohorts: Explore the unknown. Re-think how we do things online. Ship things that last.

Starting May 6 — Apply Now!

The second cohort will start on May 6 and will conclude on June 28, and just like the first one, it will be on the beautiful island of Madeira. Applications are closing soon, but we still have a couple of spots left. Apply now!

SEC-01: A Pirate Ship Full of Guinea Pigs

20 March 2024

Oh my, what a ride. Where do I even begin? A wise man once said that the best place to begin is at the beginning. So I’ll try to do just that.

SEC-01: The Beginning

I don’t even know how it all started anymore, but I know for a fact that it was Martijn’s idea. And the idea was this: let’s do something like a Bitcoin Academy on Madeira!

“Neat,” I thought. “Let’s do it,” André said. “Let’s fuck shit up and do a nostr thing instead,” Pablo remarked. “But it must have a pirate theme,” was my only objection. “Deal.”


SEC-01: What’s the Big Deal?

I don’t think we did anything special. What we’re trying to do, and what I think we managed to do, is to get the right people together at the right time. We knew from the get-go that we didn’t know what we were doing. And we decided that that’s okay.

We decided that that’s okay because any explorative adventure is by definition unknown. And that’s what the Sovereign Engineering Cohort was and still is: an explorative adventure.

So I guess the big deal was that we were knowingly venturing into the unknown. And 21 people signed up for it. Willingly.

That’s a big deal.

SEC-01: The Crew

Every pirate ship needs a crew. We started as four: Martijn, André, Pablo, and myself. We invited three more: Paul, Ben, and Tony—our North Star team for SEC-01. And then we invited 21 more to board the ship.

Our 21 participants were people with vastly different backgrounds, from vastly different countries, having vastly different ideas about how Bitcoin, Lightning, and nostr could transform the internet, and the world at large. One thing that everyone had in common was a deep-seated dissatisfaction with the status quo. Everyone knew and still knows that large parts of the internet are broken. And everyone felt that there’s something we can do about it to fix it.

We talked a lot about what it means to build it right. Or at least what it means to build it wrong.

One goal we had in mind was to learn from each other so that we may not repeat all the mistakes that we made in the past. And I think it started working immediately.

SEC-01: The First Week

We started the program with a brief introduction about what we had in mind for the eight weeks, as well as an introduction of the crew, the participants, and what everyone was working on.

One thing that we try to focus on is what I will call the loop. The loop is what I consider the Cornerstone of the Sovereign Engineering Cohort, as it neatly summarizes the main idea of the program.

The idea is simple: you talk about what you’re going to build, you build it, and you show it to everyone. Rinse and repeat. Every week. For two months.

SEC-01: Distributed Cognition

I am convinced that the problems that we are facing cannot be solved by traditional means. More importantly, they cannot be solved by a lone wolf. “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.

So the question becomes: how do we get enough eyeballs looking at the right thing? And more than that: how do we get them to look at problems from the right angle, inhabiting the right perspective?

SEC-01: Walking the Walk

Looking at things it’s necessary but not sufficient. If you want to solve deep problems you have to think about them deeply. So again, the question becomes: how do we create an environment that facilitates and allows for deep conversations?

I think the Ancients were onto something when they came together at the gymnasium to discuss deep problems, have deep conversations, and—pardon the pun—hash things out. It strikes me as odd that all the paintings of these times show people not only talking but walking.

A lot of people who figured out solutions to hard problems in the past enjoyed an occasional stroll through the park. Not alone, but with company. There’s something about walking and talking that really gets the brain juices flowing. From Aristotle to Einstein, the greats all intuitively figured out that walking facilitates proper talking, and proper talking facilitates proper thinking. Someone from the cohort remarked, “Left foot right foot; left brain right brain.” I believe it.

So that’s what we did. Not only did we talk the talk, but we also walked the walk. Once a week. Granted, not all of our walks were perfect or magical, but many of them were. And a lot of stuff got figured out. And once you’ve got stuff figured out, it’s almost trivial to build it. Figuring it out is the hard part.

SEC-01: What Came out of It

Some of you might have been fortunate enough to experience the final Demo Day of SEC-01, held on the last day of Bitcoin Atlantis. It took us three hours to show what came out of it, failing demos and all. There’s so much stuff that I had to put the list in a separate post, aptly titled:

Vibes were high, the room was packed, and while most of the presentations kinda sucked, everyone tried their best to paint a picture of what they have been working on or what problems they cared about most.

And that’s what we cared about most: Getting the people together that care, and providing an environment where they are encouraged to collaborate and discuss freely.

We strongly believe that the pie is big enough for us all. Now it’s not the time to think about competition. Now is the time to focus on collaboration. We believe that Bitcoin is a move from zero-sum to positive-sum thinking. We believe that we should aim at win-win-win: good for you, good for me, good for us and the environment we’re embedded in.

SEC-02: What’s Ahead

The space that has opened up by Bitcoin, nostr, and other freedom tech is vast. We have barely scratched the surface.

The goal of the Sovereign Engineering Cohorts is to scratch the surface as properly as we know how. So we’re going to do it again. In May. Same recipe, same crew, different participants. The focus will be on P2P markets and exchange.

We’re not here to make any promises. I want to repeat once more what we’ve mentioned in the past: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low No wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

But it’s going to be fun. Maybe.

Sign up, and let’s find out:

SEC-01: What Came out of It

19 March 2024

Some of the things that came out of SEC-01 are already live:

A lot of the projects that participants worked on have a strong focus on DVMs…

…as well as developer collaboration and tooling…

…and NWC:

Many more things are still in the making:

And if my Spidey senses are to be trusted, a lot more things will come out of the conversations that were had in the last 2 months.

Keep an eye out for:


…and other weird stuff.

Turns out you can actually re-invent the future if you put 21 guinea pigs on a pirate ship.

Meet the 1st Cohort

30 November 2023

In a little over a month from now, 21 participants will be joining us and the Mutiny Team for SEC-01, the first Sovereign Engineering Cohort in Madeira. We are thrilled that so many devs and builders decided to join us and can’t wait to see what everyone’s going to build.

If you’ve been around the lightning & nostr sphere for a while, you might recognize some of the participants:

In case you didn’t make it this time around, don’t despair. We’re gonna do it again. There will be a 2nd cohort in May, taking place from May 6 to June 28, and applications for SEC-02 are now open.

Applications Are Closing Soon!

23 October 2023

Applications for the first Sovereign Engineering Cohort in Madeira are closing soon. But what is the Sovereign Engineering Cohort? That’s a great question. We ask ourselves this question all the time.

We could throw some words at you to try to explain; words like exploration, ideation, sat-based value flow, and bitcoin standard. We could speak about un-siloing the web and fixing broken incentives. But we won’t.

Here’s the thing: we can’t tell you what it is exactly. Neither can we tell you how it’s going to be. It’s the first of its kind (we think), and we hope it won’t be the last.

The idea is simple: get the best, brightest, and most motivated people in one place and lock them into a room for two months (figure of speech; there won’t be a room). Give them the tools, the support, and the freedom to build real solutions to real problems and see what comes out. In terms of projects, apps, services, teams, and—potentially—businesses.

We believe that the combination of bitcoin (lowercase b, as in sats or money proper) and nostr (especially the “other stuff”) creates a ridiculously exciting space that is yet to be explored. We like to think of it as the vast open sea, and we’re here to build things, ship things, and chart the waters.

And we don’t plan to do it alone. In addition to the 21 participants we are selecting for the program, we’ll invite domain experts from various areas who will bring various toolkits to the table that, hopefully, will help us all to not be too foolish in this endeavor.

We want to build things, and we want to build them right. We want to build the stuff that couldn’t have been built before. We want to make the sats flow and build businesses on top of this flow. And we want you to build it with and alongside us. We have many amazing participants signed up already, but we still have a couple of spots left.

Applications close on October 31. If all of the above sounds interesting to you, please apply before this deadline. Applying is as easy as filling out this form:

So, what is the Sovereign Engineering Cohort, exactly? We don’t know. But I guess we’re going to find out.

Welcoming Mutiny Wallet as the 1st Sovereign Engineering North Star

18 October 2023

Everyone knows that on the high seas—if you don’t have a north star to follow—you will have a mutiny on your hands in no time. But mutinies aren’t always bad. This one, Mutiny Wallet, is an excellent one, and we’re pleased to announce them as the “North Star” team of the first Sovereign Engineering Cohort, SEC-01.

As mentioned on our website, we do have a rough idea of where we are going, but it’s only that: a rough idea. The reason is that the waters we are interested in are not fully mapped out yet. This is why we want to invite one “North Star” to each cohort, whether it be an individual or team, who has a proven track record of masterfully navigating these uncharted waters.

The “North Star” will represent the guiding light of each cohort: something to look up to and aspire to; something that shows the way and helps us as we are trying to navigate the open waters.

One such team is the team around Mutiny Wallet. They know the importance of Bitcoin; they deeply understand the inner workings of lightning; they grasp the power of nostr; and to top it all off, they have the necessary expertise to build upon these protocols and the necessary grit to ship a great product.

We are beyond excited to have them in Madeira for the whole two months of the first cohort so that we and the participants can learn from them and with them, explore the uncharted seas as a crew, and look up to them as a guiding north star in case we get lost.

If you love Bitcoin, lightning, and nostr and want to spend two months with the best and brightest—building, hacking, and ideating on how to ship a future that we and our kids deserve—don’t hesitate to sign up for SEC-01. We have a fantastic group of participants coming to Madeira, and you could be one of them. Only a few spots are left out of the twenty-one, so sign up today!


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