Interview - Cardano SPO #097: Hazelpool [HAZEL]

Written interviews with Stake Pool Operators (SPOs) on the Cardano blockchain.
Link to post on my Medium

This week’s guest on the Cardano SPO Column is a stake pool run by Nils and Nicole who were born and raised in Germany with a mission to help as many cats as possible: Hazelpool [HAZEL].

The previous guest was a stake pool based in Chile and operated by Rodrigo and Sebastian who are hosts of the podcast “Descentralización Total!”

This initiative is a point of reference for everything Cardano and every week or two we will invite a Stake Pool Operator (SPO) to answer some questions and give us an update directly from within the Cardano community.

Hi, thanks for your time. Tell us something about yourself / your team, where are you based and what are your backgrounds?

We are Nils and Nicole from the HAZEL stakepool. We are a husband/wife team that was born and raised in Germany.

I grew up spending most of my time as a hobby and later professional software developer. Nicole got her Masters Degree in Biology before we started globetrotting various countries for science and work and ending up moving to the United States about a decade ago.

Since then we have been enjoying the greenery the Pacific Northwest has to offer, while we are both working in the technology sector.

What’s the path that led you to Cardano and to become a Stake Pool Operator (SPO)?

In 2021 I had yet another encounter with someone who pointed out that Cryptocurrencies are an exciting new technology that is worth learning about. The always-eager information sponge that is me did not take the necessary time to learn about it when first encountering it in 2010 and 2017, but I told myself that this time around I would put in the effort. Since lockdowns took a good chunk of exploring out of my normal schedule, I finally took the time and started learning — 10 years too late if you ask me :wink: .

It started with exploring the capabilities and backgrounds of the Top 10 coins so I could dive deeper into the one that would be the most exciting and relevant to me. With the scientific approach taken by the founding entities, a clear winner emerged in Cardano after a few days of research.

The next step was to explore the technology itself, and running a node and then a stakepool seemed like the natural path to learn and provide value to the ecosystem at the same. Within a few days, I had a relay set up, documented all my steps and hooked my block producer into the testnet.

My goal was to do my part in the ecosystem, so I moved on to mainnet shortly after and I hopped on Twitter to get to know the community. From there, the rest is history.

You’re the maker of Can you give an overview of what it is and how can it be used by the Cardano Community?

Most people that are in the Cardano Community and are part of DeFi, NFT or Stakepool communities are likely to have used HAZELnet by now — knowingly or unknowingly. We have built a community integration tool that fixed many of the issues early Discord bots had, including a lack of privacy (addresses would be open for everyone to see), unknown security (I secure Enterprise level applications for a living) and a tedious user experience.

In addition to just giving people a better experience to verify their wallets and receiving access to holder-only channels or whitelist-opportunities, our main drive is to bridge the gap between modern community building tools and social media platforms like Discord and Twitter and the infinite possibilities that Blockchain technology can provide. As such we have partnered with various DeFi teams, Stakepool operators and DAO developers, to build a comprehensive integration platform.

After developing the always free, basic functionality like scam-protection and token-gated access, we worked with those teams to add extensive additional features, for various use cases that are relevant in Cardano and other blockchains. This includes off-chain and on-chain polls, surfacing marketplace activity in Discord or creating wallet-privacy ensuring ordering systems for physical merch.

Lastly, we combined our feature set with a unique funding model, which gives significant discounts to delegators, and even enables them to use the application for free. In the end we want adoption and to show the unique opportunities that currently only Cardano can offer.

One of the goals of your stake pool is to help foster cats, can you tell us more about this initiative? Why is it important to you?

I have had cats for the better part of twenty years before moving out of my childhood house to attend college with my wife. While always remaining a cat person and somehow being able to connect with cats of friends and family, even when others could not, with our moving between different countries, having cats of our own was never an option.

When we moved into our own house a few years back, that all became an option again. I remember stepping out of a pet store and Nicole asked me which one of the cats I would have liked to adopt the most. I gave her a baffled look and said “which ONE? It would have to be all of them!”.

A few days later, she had found a cure for my malady — cat fostering. We soon started fostering for the local cat shelter Cat Adoption Team here in the Pacific Northwest and are now in our 5th year. It is a great way to help your local community — we enjoyed volunteering for many events as a way to get familiar with the neighbourhood. In addition, it allows me to indulge in my cat-addiction, learn about cat behaviour, and get swarmed by kittens. CATs foster program has saved tens of thousands of cats and kittens from euthanasia and bad living conditions, which without the volunteers that are foster parents would not be possible. What better way to give and receive?

Great, thank you for your time. Any closing remarks? Where can people stay in touch?

I encourage everyone that would like to know more about developing Web2/Web3 bridging applications, cats and kittens, or how to connect their community with their NFT collection or DeFi token to reach out to us on Twitter or Discord — we are always happy to share our experiences and knowledge and onboard people to the ecosystem. Stay Frosty, everyone!

Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the SPOs are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOG.

1 Like