In this interview with Chris from the CardanoCafe StakePool we are talking about his motivation to join the Cardano Community, play an active role in the community and start his own StakePool, which profits are now supporting many charity organizations. We are also digging into support, challenges when operating a StakePool. As well as important considerations for Cardano Delegators.

      Why Cardano?

      Chris, you are a real Cardano grassroots OG and enthusiast supporting the ecosystem and runnning a Stake Pool. What made you stay with Cardano compared to other blockchain projects?

      Thanks for your time Mirko. When I discovered Cardano in 2017, I was thrilled by the roadmap and the scientific vision behind it. Cardano’s ground breaking technology has the ability to help solving some of the most ubiquitous real world problems.

      What distinguishes Cardano from Ethereum and from many other cryptocurrencies is that it is one of the first blockchain projects to be developed with scientific philosophies by a team of leading academics and engineers. Cardano runs it’s own protocol, Ouroboros, which was built from scratch in Haskell. One of the main leaders in Ouroboros’ team is Professor Aggelos Kiayias of the University of Edinburgh.

      As you have seen at other crypto-projects, when a network evolves from having thousands to millions of users, requirements arise to change and update the algorithm of the corresponding coin to meet the demands and tasks of today! Cardano’s protocol is highly modular to have enough flexibility to accommodate these changes. This unique modularity allows the efficient implementation of features the Cardano Foundation strives for, like for example delegation, sidechains and in future also smart contracts and dApps.

      For example, Ethereum had to struggle with many limitations in the past. The most visible consequence was probably having difficulties getting transactions included in blocks. I guess many of the readers here using official eth mist client in the past remember this issue.

      The Motivation to start a StakePool

      Yeah, I remember! Chris, you founded CardanoCafe in 2020. What motivated you to start your pool?

      Today, one of the most challenging tasks for mankind is finding the balance between technology, nature and wildlife. In addition to this, we are faced with countless humanitarian crisis that require urgent attention to preserve human life; such as providing immediate aid to those affected by conflicts, epidemics and disasters. As we advance and our population grows, so do our conflicts with the natural world. It is becoming increasingly evident that achieving this balance between when to prioritize humanity or the environment is both complicated and potentially catastrophic when miscalculated.

      CardanoCafe wants to participate actively in fighting against these problems.

      Thus, while supporting blockchain technologies by operating CardanoCafe, I additionally decided to contribute a regular monthly amount to charity organizations that support projects in three key aspects of our world: mankind, nature and wildlife.

      The Delegator Choice

      Why should delegators choose your pool?

      I would like to highlight three attributes which characterize CardanoCafe:

      • Each delegator can easily be part of our contribution. By joining CardanoCafe you can support the worldwide engagement to charity organizations without spending additional money for it. Instead you receive ADAs as rewards. This is unique.
        I want to be open-minded, honest and transparent: You can view all donation receipts of my contributions on CardanoCafe’s website.
      • To support Cardano’s decentralization, CardanoCafe uses own dedicated servers – not automated created virtual ones and we do our own hosting to be independent of the global 5 big players in data center business.
      • At the moment, CardanoCafe operates at the lowest fee possible of 0% + 340 ADA (it is not possible to reduce the fees further) which results in one of the biggest possible rewards. Therefore we are looking for delegators who are passionate about Cardano. We would be happy to mint new blocks together with their contribution.

      Oversaturation in Cardano StakePools

      Why should oversaturation be prevented?

      In Cardano’s ecosystem, it is important to understand that once a pool becomes oversaturated the rewards paid to delegators decrease. Due to changes of Cardano protocol, as of December 6th 2020, a pool will be oversaturated once the active stake reaches ~ 64 million ADA. As of March 2021, a pool becomes oversaturated once it hits about ~ 32 Million ADA. Therefore, delegators who wish to receive highest rewards should not delegate to oversaturated pools.

      Infrastructure Setup

      What’s about your infrastructure? How do you assure high uptime to not miss any blocks?

      CardanoCafe operates a couple of dedicated servers to power two relay nodes, one block producing node, one machine that receives the daily backups of relay and block nodes, one monitoring machine that receives the statistics and metrics of all relay and block nodes. I am in preparation to launch one additional relay node and one hot backup node within the next few weeks.

      Community of StakePool Operators

      What do you think about other stake pools?

      Like many others, I have followed a lot of other cryptocurrency projects for the last years. At some of them I noticed that papers and documentations were missing / were poor and the communities were small and seldom helpful to others.

      I am happy to say that the Cardano community is completely different: SPOs help each other, they share maintenance scripts, they publish lot’s of helpful content on YouTube, they build tools for managing nodes, they build up communities and sometimes welcome new delegators of their pools personally by mail or social media!

      I remember, just recently, a new user joined the official german telegram channel and was overwhelmed by the huge support he received to solve his first steps in Cardano. I also remember stake pools which advertised for other stake pools for free – just to help them reaching a fair live stake – although this might cost them one or another delegator themselves (Natasha from Dubai pool did so multiple times). Such a mutual support is only possible by administrators who are passionate about the things they do! I have never seen such a helpful, open-minded and active community at any other cryptocoin!

      So, I guess I speak for the whole community when I say that the stake pools aren’t rivals – they are friends!

      How do you help others?

      CardanoCafe does this in two ways: First, I offer help to other SPOs via mail and via telegram. Right now for example, I investigate another SPO’s problem about his blocks getting rejected / marked as invalid and I assist another SPO to build his first stake pool from scratch. Second, I also maintain a small knowledge base with helpful articles available on CardanoCafe’s website. Just recently I published a new article in there about how to setup the monitoring tools prometheus / grafana. In case anyone has questions or needs additional help please feel free to get in contact with me, I am happy to help! I encourage every SPO to try these tools. They don’t burden your nodes since they can be installed on a separate machine.

      What help do you need from others?

      Right now, I’m looking for someone who is interested in writing deep tech related articles about Cardano. So in case any reader of this interview is interested to earn some additional ADA each month I would love to hear from you.

      Future Plans

      There are few pools with such low fees. What plans do you have about your fees and thus rewards in future?

      It is one of CardanoCafe’s goals to deliver best cups of ADA-rewards to its delegators at all times. To achieve this, following three items are most important for us:

      • keep fees low; we will stick to the rule to always guarantee best competitive fees
      • ensure a high uptime so that no assigned blocks get missed
      • avoid oversaturation; Therefore CardanoCafe’s website offers the automated saturation notification service (ASNS). Delegators who wish to use this service can subscribe to it via mail address to get automatically notified in case CardanoCafe gets oversaturated. Thus, there is no need to manually check the saturation level. The tool does this job for you automatically so that you can rely on receiving highest rewards continuously.
        This is especially helpful for people who do not want to deal a lot with the principles and the theory of staking and delegation and who prefer to do a delegation once and leave it there. In case you should shift your delegation to another pool due to oversaturation, this tool lets you know.

      What challenges will you meet within the next few months?

      I plan to setup additional relay and backup nodes to create a few more layers of redundancy.

      I am also about to create a new about-us page on our website which gives information about our team and a bit more details of our infrastructure. I also would like to show some photographs of our servers so that delegators get to know CardanoCafe’s unique coffee machines. 😉 I’m working on that.

      My next goal is reaching an active stake of 10 million Cardano.

      Barrista Hobbies

      One last question: what hobbies do you have?

      Well, I want to mention one hobby: I like growing theobroma cacaos (cacao trees). When cultivated correctly these plants bloom the whole year. The largest one right now is about 2 meter tall. So, in case you want to do your own chocolate one day, let me know… 😉

      Thanks for your time, Chris

      Thank you, too! Thanks for the effort you put in!

      About The Author

      Mirko Schmiedl

      is the CEO & Co-Founder at Staking Rewards. He was included in the Forbes 30 under 30 class and raised over $4M to advance Staking Rewards on its mission to make Staking easy for everyone.