Introducing ketl 🫖: sharing tea with founders and vcs 🍵
Hey everyone, it's Jason here.
We're building a new pseudonymous app called ketl - a decentralized social app built with zero knowledge credentials for the workplace - starting with startups.
Our current iteration of ketl is for sharing tea, asking hard questions, and gathering insights from industry peers. Our current iteration is built specifically for startup founders and people who are part of the early-stage ecosystem. The vision is to scale to every type of professional space where information asymmetry runs amock.
The current version is a forum, but we're soon releasing new tools, such as reviews, polls, and q&a bounties.
The app is built using three foundational guiding pillars, which will share in more details in this and future blog posts:
- Pseudonymity x Verification via cryptography
- Decentralization <opensource> + Censorship resistance
- Incentivisation, Reputation, and Compensation
We’re currently launching ‘season 1’ of beta testing and are onboarding YC founders (50+ have signed up already). To do this we built the world’s first anonymous yc founder verification through email, orangedao badge, or twitter. We’ll have another blog post about how the onboarding flow works and our roadmap for it soon.
We have about ~150+ verified founders, VCs, using the platform today. Season 0 was our chance to test with friends and close connections that work in startups.
We ran a cohort of approximately ~100 founders/vcs, which many included top venture-backed founders as well as top VCs from leading seed and multi-stage funds. We saw a lot of engagement, juicy threads such as “what to do when you raised money and your cofounder still wants to work full time at a FAANG” and many questions about the state of the market, side letters, and dicey topics that would be hard to discuss under people’s real identities.
Why are we working on this?
Growing up in Canada as a first-generation immigrant with blue-collar parents, I had to learn most things on the internet. It opened doors for me, helped me gain skills, and completely transformed my life.
This experience shaped my deep appreciation for the internet's ability to level the playing field. It breaks down information barriers, empowering knowledge seekers to explore and understand the world.
However, we also noticed some gaps along the way—gaps that we aim to fill with ketl.
Platforms founders often use, like Twitter, Linkedin, Slack, and Discord are great for networking, discovery, education, and sharing knowledge. However, it's not great for asking intimate questions, conducting deep diligence, or truth-seeking. Too many of these platforms are built for status games that prioritize looking good or looking smart versus truth-seeking.
The internet offers freedom of expression, but it can sometimes be tricky when sensitive information is involved. Anonymity and pseudonymity can provide a safe space for professionals to express their thoughts openly. However, the credibility of these voices often suffers due to the lack of verifiable sources. To address this, ketl combines anonymity and verification as the foundation of our platform.
Current web2 anonymous or pseudonymous platforms are not built with privacy, censorship resistance, or mechanism design in mind. They'll leave your data in plain text on some server or build systems in ways a simple legal order will get them to rat out employees to employers for speaking the truth or calling out bad behavior.
Current platforms are black boxes with a history of selling users out. Our fundamental ethos is to be an evolving, open-source platform which is why our verifications, frontend, backend, and cryptography are open-source and built on top of blockchains and decentralized tech (Polygon and IPFS for now). It's in beta, and the work is just getting started.
But the tech is not the important part here, or at least not in this blog post.
The important part is that the startup world is filled with important questions that often go unanswered. How do you handle conflicts with your co-founder? What do you do when your mental or spiritual well-being is affected? What startups are cooking their numbers? How do you navigate complex business negotiations? A lot of the startup landscape often encourages maintaining a perfect façade, leaving these underlying challenges unaddressed.
At ketl, we are here to change that.
ketl serves as your go-to platform for uncovering the realities of the startup and vc world beyond the flashy headlines and carefully curated twitter psyop. It empowers you to conduct thorough research, gain insights, or shit post – all under the veil of pseudonymity and verification.