Entrepreneurship: Why on earth did Megawatt sponsor a race car?

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In my last column, I shared how Megawatt’s journey to 1,000 bitcoin miners was fueled by the power of referrals and community support. So how did we plan to keep our growth rolling? By sponsoring a race car, of course!

I’m not exactly a marketing guru, so when the idea of sponsoring a race car came up, my first reaction was: Why on earth would Megawatt, a lean bitcoin mining company, dive into the world of racing?

Bitcoin racing

Megawatt’s racing journey began when a close friend and bitcoin mining client shared the news that he had qualified for a professional touring-car racing series called TC America. A far cry from his day job of running a successful e-commerce business with his wife, Adam Gleason was now going to compete for podium finishes in a BMW race car. The only problem? He didn’t have a title sponsor, so he asked if Megawatt was interested in partnering with him for the upcoming racing season.

I was hesitant. Community referrals had fueled our growth more than branding, so sponsoring a race car seemed like a stretch for our bootstrapped operation. But then, an idea struck. What if we transformed this into a bitcoin-branded racecar? This could be a fun way to engage with the bitcoin community, so we designed a livery that put a giant orange B on the hood of the car.

The risk seemed manageable. At worst, the season would build camaraderie for our team, we’d support a good friend and client, and we’d get to watch some great racing. The potential upside was even more exciting: The racecar would participate in seven races across the country, offering a perfect opportunity to create memorable experiences with friends and clients. We were in.

Green flag

Our bitcoin BMW kicked off the season at Sonoma Raceway near San Francisco with a near-podium, fourth-place finish. We were thrilled just to see the bitcoin car blazing down the track, never having considered that our rookie driver might actually be the real deal!

Adam secured another fourth-place finish in New Orleans the following month, which gave us the confidence to host our first bitcoin racing event at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Would anyone show up? The fear started creeping in during my flight to Texas. Was there actual community interest in a bitcoin race car, or had we overhyped this in our heads?

I shouldn’t have doubted the community. Friends and partners all came out to the track to get a glimpse of our orange-clad car. Things grew to a fever pitch as the race got underway, with Adam in a tight battle for third place all the way to the checkered flag. So close—fourth place again.

The next race, at Virginia International Raceway, was now podium-or-bust. Things looked bleak going into the final lap. Here we go again—fourth place. Just then, the first- and second-place cars collided, causing both to spin out of contention. Adam narrowly avoided both cars and zoomed past the checkered flag. Second place. Bitcoin was on the podium!

Disaster

The next race was at Road America in Wisconsin. Our team was feeling good—Adam had exceeded our wildest expectations with his driving, podcasts had begun reaching out to hear the story behind the bitcoin race car, and Megawatt had signed up several mining clients from the racing community.

We strapped in for another run at the podium as the green flag waved. Adam began jockeying for position as he entered the first turn when a rival car bumped into his, sending him into the guardrail. Adam was uninjured, but in the blink of an eye, the bitcoin car was totaled. Disaster.

It would take over a month to rebuild the car, which meant the sixth race, at Sebring Raceway in central Florida, was off the table. Only one race left—the season finale at our very own Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Bitcoin Race Weekend

The Indianapolis race had been circled on our calendars from the beginning of the season. Our grand vision was to create a multiday event that would bring out-of-state bitcoiners to Indiana on an annual basis. But first, we needed the inaugural “Bitcoin Race Weekend 2023” to be a success.

Our team was all in, planning a program that included a tour of Megawatt’s mining facilities, a bitcoin meetup, go-karting and, of course, the main race featuring the bitcoin car.

RSVPs began flowing in as soon as we announced the event, resulting in our running out of tickets weeks before the race. Bitcoiners were coming, but how would the rebuilt car perform? What would happen if there were another early-lap crash?

Our group exhaled a collective sigh of relief as the car made it past the first few laps unscathed–only to find ourselves in fifth place at the halfway mark of the race. Adam battled for the fourth position and raced into third as the checkered flag waved. A surreal moment unfolded from there—a sea of 100-plus orange-wearing bitcoiners cheered as Adam sprayed champagne from the IMS podium.

Checkered flag

The scene was straight out of a racer’s dream, and for Megawatt, a moment that encapsulated our journey into the racing world.

The bitcoin community’s overwhelming support and enthusiasm proved that Megawatt’s racecar sponsorship was more than just a marketing endeavor; it was a celebration of community, a testament to embracing risks, and a demonstration of the surprising return on investment that comes from unconventional paths.

We can’t wait to see what next year’s racing season brings. In the meantime, our team has been hard at work on a new bitcoin sports sponsorship. Look for a “cool” announcement later this month.•

__________

Rekhter is co-founder and CEO of Megawatt.

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