Interested in building an app on blockstack, unsure about a solid business model


tldr: Want to make an app, possibly on blockstack, but want to have a solid plan about how to monetize.

I have been working on a music education software project for a few months. You can think about it vaguely as a duo-lingo for instruments, although that’s not exactly correct. It wouldn’t really qualify as social media because user-to-user interaction isn’t the core of this app, although it is a small part. The app is currently closed source, but might go open source depending on what I decide for a business model.

I want a business model in mind because I can see this app being something amazing in the future, but probably only if I am able to find a way to work on it without also holding a full time software position (my current situation). I also want to be compensated for the effort I’m putting in, but not at the expense of losing users. I’m considering developing on blockstack because I love what it stands for and I think it might be able to offer me options that I wouldn’t have building a traditional web application.

I’ve heard that the freemium model works well with blockstack. Unfortunately I don’t think that my project would be something that could offer additional features to corporations (possibly to educational institutions) if it were open source and free for everyone else. If I was going to keep any functionality from free users, it seems like my best option would be moving that functionality server-side so it can’t be easily pirated. I’d prefer to keep all functionality that could be provided by client side javascript vailable to all users.

I have a problem with ads although I wouldn’t be completely against them. I don’t like what’s happening with app based platforms and I don’t like having them on my page.

I’ve considered taking a donations based approach. If successful it would allow the software to be free for all users while allowing me to invest more of my time into it.

I was thinking about maybe doing an old school licensing model. I haven’t thought it all the way through but I could tie versions of the application to a blockstack id and allow them to make a one time purchase for access to the software. I could make the software available for a 30 day free trial that doesn’t boot you off when you’re past due (similar to Reaper DAW), simply reminding you to purchase a license if you enjoy the software. This would let me keep all code client side without worrying about piracy (it’s effectively free but if you find it useful and are able to pay then you’re on the honor system). It would also allow users to own their software and manipulate it if the wish.

I’ve also considered going open source and pursuing the app mining rewards. I think I could potentially get a lot of users but they wouldn’t be your typical blockstack user.

These are just my ideas so far but I do have a few questions as I’m not sure if I understand blockstack completely.

  1. Every blockstack app I’ve looked at is open source. Is this a requirement or just a part of the culture? Can I get app mining funding if my software is proprietary?
  2. How much more difficult is it for your users to register than on traditional web applications? Are there plans being made to improve this? I see the “friction” in registering as a potential issue for me. I don’t see my users as being particularly interested in blockstack unless it really isn’t any different for them as signing up for any kind of online account.
  3. Do you know any good routes or resources on securing funding for open source projects? I am not very well informed about open source funding so I could be wrong in dismissing it as a solid option.
  4. How common is it to mix blockstack with server side functionality? It seems like it kind of defeats the purpose of owning your own data.

This is an x-post from


Thanks for laying out your thoughts here. Figuring out a business model for an app is always challenging, and hopefully we can help you navigate your way through the process.

Per your questions:

  1. There is no requirement to be open source. It is indeed a significant part of the culture but closed source apps are perfectly welcome and encouraged to build on Blockstack, and participate in App Mining, as well. Both closed- and open-source apps can receive App Mining rewards.
  2. We’re constantly improving the registration flow for new users into Blockstack apps and Blockstack itself as an identity platform. Our studies show that registration rates are not hindered by as much as you might expect (a large majority of all users who try across the most popular apps register successfully). But we’re aware of its shortcomings and continually working to resolve them.
  3. I’m not personally aware of the best routes for open-source financing, aside from App Mining, of course. Maybe others here have more insight.
  4. I’m not exactly sure how common it is but anecdotally at least a few of the most popular apps on Blockstack do combine a server-side element, especially when it comes to indexing user data. I suppose it matters how you implement that server-side piece. You can theoretically build out server-side tech without impinging on the concept of data ownership at all, if you canonically store data using Gaia in a way controlled by users instead of storing it centrally in a different solution.

I’d note in general that, whether built on Blockstack or not, open-source applications often find a way to make money from freemium features (WordPress comes to mind). Even if you can effectively clone a lot of the open-source components behind an app, there’s often a market of customers who don’t want to go through the pain and suffering of copying and hosting the app themselves (which turns out to be a lot more costly than just paying a subscription fee to you).


No idea how would you monetize that music app. But I have a killer app idea of my own. I am thinking of building a decentralized market for selling 0day products, trojans, worms and malware on top of blockstack. It would be an automated decentralized blockchain powered marketplace with a functionally encrypted negotiation area for buyers and sellers by adding Hyrax zero-knowledge protocol. The market-size is more than USD20Billion worldwide and growing at 100% plus rate annually. Would you like to collaborate with me on mutually beneficial terms?


Your question on monetizing inspired me to revive the following question asked a little while ago: Creating your own token on Blockstack. Possible?

And to your business model question–

The potential of Blockstack enabling bottom up organization as it relates to the structures of business models maybe one of the platform’s most undervalued or yet to be realized capacities this early in a paradigm shifting app creation space.

Poor folk like myself & even adept software engineers from prestiges education backgrounds have been plugged into prebuilt industry models & locked out of influence of said structures in previous waves of app creation.
Much like technosocial structures of centuries past…

Early in this new web 3.0 space we will likely see devs and have already seen devs who are aware of the tech–emulate both UX & business structures of cloud based apps while improving where the web 2.0 apps fall short…this seems to be necessary in some ways of course & what is most familiar & most accessible…
But leveraging community development platforms like Xpo network & venture creation platforms like Misthos, with genuine approaches to bottom up structures in business models may reflect as unimaginably beautiful UX innovation yet to be seen by previously restricted waves of app creation.

Music [specifically the app idea you mention] is a dope example of how bottom up structures might reflect in never before seen UX, as the app could be a reflection of structures we have unfortunately never been able to see in the industry [just a generation ago my community picked cotton in my area of this country until the 70s, also watched them play guitar just like Jimi & eddie hazel, bass like larry graham, & compose like sly at will growing up] …making accessible assets like the hidden capital of the old black musicians steeped in mastery of craft but left behind by an extractive/exploitive industry…i.e the way AirBnB found recent $billion success being the app that makes accessible assets always there…

hope all this helps…

Will be building out research projects with local & remote researchers/design/engineering professionals that will act as PoCs for just this approach. Beginning with a comprehensive design for hackathons/meetups…

Feel free to keep in touch:
the app sounds promising hope to see it.


If you haven’t find a way to monetize your dapp - don’t build it. I saw many developers building apps people don’t want already. Save your time man.

Some college students build apps because they can. They think real world is like final exams - if professor love it, they will have a good grades. No no no no… professor is just one person and most of the time majority don’t give a f**k to his opinions.


I strongly disagree with this. If you’re trying to build a business, obviously you’ll need to find a way to monetize your app, but if you’re just interested in building dapps, why shouldn’t you? If it’s just a side project and you have the money to, you can easily find cheap hosting, and domain names aren’t that expensive either (depending on the TLD). You could even host on github pages (free hosting) and just register your own domain name. Building a dapp just because you can is fantastic reason to do so, sometimes it’s more about the learning than it is about reaching huge audiences and getting rich.


Yes, my answer focuses on the title of this thread.

Yes, imo building dapp is better than playing game.

Total agreed! But it’s very very very stupid when you building a dapp just because you can and expecting got money from anyone.