The Evolution of Milwaukee’s Bitcoin Community and My Parallel Journey Within the Greater Bitcoin Mining Industry

Milwaukee Bitcoin Meetup

By Scott Offord

Milwaukee Bitcoin Meetup

Explore the captivating evolution of Milwaukee’s Bitcoin community alongside my journey in the Bitcoin mining industry. From the early days of the community’s formation in 2013 to its development into one of the longest standing Bitcoin advocacy groups in the world, witness how initial meetups ignited my career in the Bitcoin mining industry and as a facilitator of this community’s growth. This story is one of innovation, collaboration, and transformation, reflecting on my personal and professional experiences and the vibrant spirit of Milwaukee’s Bitcoin enthusiasts, as we navigate the ever-evolving world of digital currencies and real-world community building.


Since 2006, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, and web development have been the bedrock of my professional life. My background in these interlinked fields not only introduced me to the world of digital currencies and blockchain technology but also ignited my passion for Bitcoin mining specifically. My initial exposure to the revolutionary emergence of Bitcoin sparked a curiosity that would later become a pivotal part of my career.

My experience in internet marketing and web development endowed me with a unique skill set that proved invaluable in the realm of Bitcoin mining. Understanding the nuances of online business promotion and management, I was well-equipped to grasp the marketing dynamics and social-proof aspects inherent in the Bitcoin mining sector. This understanding allowed me to leverage my online presence effectively within the Bitcoin community, enhancing both my visibility and influence.

Back in 2010, I embarked on a journey to foster a local tech community by starting the Milwaukee WordPress Meetup. This initiative quickly grew to over 2000 members, a testament to the vibrant and collaborative spirit of the Milwaukee tech community. My role in nurturing this group was not just about organizing events; it was about creating a space where individuals could share knowledge, collaborate, and grow together. The success of this meetup was a pivotal point in my career, demonstrating the power of community-driven efforts in technology.

In 2015, after years of leading the Milwaukee WordPress Meetup, I made a significant decision to transition the group into a more open-source effort. This move was aligned with my belief in decentralized, community-led initiatives. It was an empowering moment, handing over the reins to the community, ensuring the meetup’s long-term prosperity and fostering a culture of shared ownership and collaboration. My involvement didn’t end there; from 2011 to 2014, as lead organizer, I spearheaded the creation of an annual Milwaukee WordPress Conference, which was backed by the non-profit WordPress Foundation organization, further cementing my commitment to the local tech scene.

My commitment to the tech community in Milwaukee extended beyond WordPress. I was an active member of Web414 & TechMKE and participated in the Barcamp Milwaukee Unconference, hosted at Bucketworks – a Makerspace and collaborative coworking center. These experiences, spanning over several years, were instrumental in shaping my approach to community building and collaboration. They provided a solid foundation for my later ventures in the Bitcoin mining industry, where I applied similar principles of community engagement, open-source ethos, and technological innovation.

The technical acumen I gained from web development and experience in open-source communities played a critical role in my foray into Bitcoin mining. It gave me a deep understanding of the technology underpinning Bitcoin, enabling me to develop competency in supporting the growth of this highly important and promising new network technology, namely the set up and management of mining equipment and Bitcoin data center operations. This expertise was not just about handling hardware; it extended to a comprehensive grasp of blockchain technology, the foundation of the Bitcoin network. This deep technological insight was crucial in establishing myself and my brand as a source of knowledge in how to build and operate successful mining farms.

In the complex and cutthroat sector of Bitcoin mining, my entrepreneurial background and extensive network across various industries became an invaluable asset. This network opened doors to connect with leading experts and first movers in the Bitcoin mining community and stay abreast of the latest industry developments and trends. These connections were more than just pathways to knowledge; they were conduits to opportunities, deal flow, and collaborations that enriched my understanding and involvement in this domain. 

By 2015, after selling my internet marketing and web development company, I found myself at a crossroads, seeking a new venture to channel my energy and resources. Recognizing the gap in educational resources within the Bitcoin community, I leveraged my deep web marketing experience to offer courses on crypto mining and also organized a bitcoin mining industry conference. These initiatives were not just about sharing information; they were about creating a platform and building a human network for learning and professional growth. Through these efforts, I positioned myself as a resource and mentor, attracting individuals keen on understanding and participating in Bitcoin mining. This role of an educator and leader in the community underscores my commitment to fostering a deeper understanding and broader adoption of Bitcoin mining practices.

My journey through entrepreneurship, internet marketing, and web development has been a multifaceted adventure. It has shaped my approach to Bitcoin mining and my involvement in the Bitcoin community in profound ways. My skills in business management, technology, and marketing have not only bolstered my professional endeavors but have also allowed me to contribute meaningfully to the evolving landscape of Bitcoin mining. This journey, marked by continuous learning and adaptation, reflects my enduring commitment to innovation and growth in the ever-evolving world of digital currencies.

Origins and Early Enthusiasm

The Milwaukee Bitcoin scene was born out of curiosity and pioneering spirit in 2013. Founders like Will Pangman and Twitter user RangeTrainerDev tapped into the early excitement surrounding Bitcoin, creating a forum for enthusiasts and skeptics alike to explore this new frontier. These initial meetings were characterized by a sense of discovery and a shared eagerness to understand the potential of cryptocurrency.

During these early years, the community’s focus was on education and exploration. Discussions often revolved around the basics of Bitcoin and how to use it, as well as its underlying technology and  potential implications. This period laid a solid foundation for the community by establishing a culture of openness and shared learning.

Reflecting on the history of Milwaukee’s Bitcoin community, I’m struck by its vibrant evolution. Even before my involvement, key events from 2013 to 2016 played a crucial role in shaping the spirit of the community and its objectives. A notable example was the Bay View Bash in 2013, where members of the Bitcoin Milwaukee meetup group sponsored an information booth and proudly wore screen-printed Bitcoin t-shirts. 

They sold merchandise and accepted bitcoin as payment at that event. They even onboarded a few other booths to accept BTC payments as well. This event was not just about promoting Bitcoin; it symbolized a collective ambition for its mass adoption and a testament to the community’s early enthusiasm and unity.

As I navigated my way through the Bitcoin landscape from late 2017 onwards, I witnessed the community’s promising momentum and dove in head first to contribute my energy to its growth. The camaraderie and mutual support of members within the group, which I experienced firsthand, were magnetic forces that fostered a nurturing and inclusive environment. This ethos was established from the very inception of the bitcoin community in Milwaukee. The community continued to thrive and evolve, accommodating seasoned OG’s, enthusiastic evangelists, and newcomers like myself.

My Entry into the Community

In late 2017, I stepped into a new world. Attending my first Bitcoin meetup in Milwaukee, I felt a mix of uncertainty and excitement. The decision to immerse myself in this community marked a significant pivot in both my professional and personal journey. Being naturally more reserved, the task of integrating into a new group was daunting. Yet, I found an immediate sense of belonging among its members, many of whom shared similar social fears and anxieties. Knowing that we shared this common ground, our inhibitions were lowered, helping us to more comfortably explore the vast and intriguing world of Bitcoin together.

Also in 2017, I began working with Halong Mining, a bitcoin ASIC manufacturer, where I learned the supply side of Bitcoin mining inside and out. My boss, a Bitcoin Core developer going by the pseudonym, ฿tcDrak, was responsible for launching the company’s Dragonmint T1 bitcoin miner. With Halong Mining being based in China, and having customers and vendors around the world, my deep involvement with the international Bitcoin community began.  My hands-on involvement with the local Milwaukee Bitcoin community took shape in early 2018 amid surging public interest in Bitcoin due to the massive bitcoin bull run.

At an in-person meetup event organized by James Wilson at his friend’s nightclub in late 2018, I gave away two Bitcoin ASIC miners as door prizes, which boosted attendance, engagement, and interest in Bitcoin mining within the community. The local community was instrumental in the development of my professional career in Bitcoin mining. The winner of the Halong Mining Dragonmint T1 Bitcoin miner from that event eventually became both a vendor and a customer of mine. Years later, that relationship blossomed into a business partnership. That partnership would never have happened without my participation in these integral meetups back in 2018. 

For so many of us the magic of this community played a most vital role in developing professional relationships and career opportunities in the budding Bitcoin industry. Through my experiences starting with those initial gatherings of like minds in late 2017, I’ve seen how the Milwaukee Bitcoin community has been uniquely characterized by its history, its members, and the broader trends in the world of Bitcoin.

In the time following the conclusion of my role with Halong Mining, I was intuitively led to establish my own bitcoin mining equipment brokerage business and built the Crypto Mining Tools brand in 2019, which I later sold in 2020. I collaborated with YouTubers and content creators and actively managed various Telegram groups, which helped me to establish myself as a widely known and reputable figure in the Bitcoin mining industry. These efforts expanded my influence and also reinforced my position as a knowledgeable and trusted authority in this field.

I also organized and hosted a variety of in-person meetup groups. These new groups were designed to complement our online community growth, providing a physical space for members to connect, share insights, and find new professional opportunities collaborating on Bitcoin-related projects. With varied formats and finer focus, these meetups catered to the diversifying interests within our community, from beginners seeking basic understanding to seasoned enthusiasts delving into more complex aspects of cryptocurrency. Through these initiatives, I became even more encouraged to build an inclusive, accessible, and engaged Bitcoin community in Milwaukee.

Throughout all of 2018 to 2024, I have continued to help bitcoin entrepreneurs to buy and sell their new and used bitcoin miners. I continue to teach people how to build Bitcoin mining farms through my ‘Build-a-Mine Bootcamp’ and ‘MasterMINED Club.’

Adopting Telegram for Community Engagement

Around the excitement of the bull run in 2018, the Telegram chat app emerged as a critical communication channel for the Milwaukee Bitcoin community, marking a significant shift away from earlier reliance on platforms like Facebook and This transition to Telegram facilitated more dynamic and rich discussions in real-time that changed community engagement. Instant messaging with such a low barrier of entry allowed for lively, continuous dialogue, bringing a new level of interaction and connectivity among members.

During this pivotal time in the evolution of the Bitcoin community in Milwaukee, I took an active role in expanding our reach. I started leveraging digital communications platforms more aggressively, creating several more Telegram groups to provide for more diverse discussions and topics of interest that aligned with the emerging market trends in 2019. As the community grew, so did the use of important tools to support the networking and vibrant discussions surrounding the prevailing themes of the industry at that time.

From 2018 to 2020, Telegram was quickly becoming widely considered by the crypto world as the messaging app and online community organizing tool of choice. The new groups I had spun up during this time each focused on distinct segments of the cryptocurrency and bitcoin mining industries, serving topics such as ASIC mining, mining farms & colocation services, mobile mining containers, immersion cooling technology, crypto-friendly banks, crypto staking, and more. My intention with these groups has always been centered around fostering communities where ideas and knowledge could be shared freely among enthusiasts and experts alike in the bitcoin industry.

As the landscape of the industry evolved, so did my involvement with Telegram. Between 2021 and 2023, I expanded the scope of my Telegram community building efforts, creating new ones like Miner Repair Chat, Miners Pool Party, Mine Management Software, Renewable Energy Crypto Mining, ASIC Manufacturers & Design, and Sidechains & Merge Mining. Additionally, I established a group specifically dedicated to sourcing electrical infrastructure components, named Transformers & Generators For Sale.

Recognizing the challenges posed by spam and scams in these online communities, I also developed some Telegram Bots as moderation tools. These bots proved highly useful in safeguarding the participants of these groups, ensuring that discussions remained focused and our community members protected from abuse and malicious users.

Telegram Adoption & Open-Source Leadership Ethos 

The adoption of Telegram in the Milwaukee Bitcoin community introduced unique challenges, particularly in managing digital interactions and preserving the history of our online discourse. In 2021, an incident occurred within one of our main Milwaukee Bitcoin Meetup Telegram groups. Personal conflicts and sour feelings between certain individuals in our community influenced the opinions of others which led to rifts that began to tear against the cohesion of the community.

This situation led to a shift in group dynamics. One of the co-organizers of the meetup Telegram chat called “Milwaukee Bitcoin”, was at the center of the dispute. This co-organizer made some unilateral decisions that ran contrary to what might be expected in a jointly collaborative administrator role.. He didn’t consult with other admins in the group, which departed from the communal decision-making process we all valued.

This co-organizer removed all members from the existing group and created a new one that excluded me. This drastic move created a ripple effect that divided the wider Milwaukee Bitcoin meetup community and altered the group’s growth trajectory. This incident underscored the need for resilient and transparent strategies with digital communication platforms. It demonstrated the great importance of maintaining open, democratic dialogue, balanced with effective and collaborative group chat moderation to maintain order and mutual respect in digital spaces. Our community recognized the imperative to develop more robust, inclusive approaches to digital interactions.In response, we developed strategies aimed to safeguard the collective interests and contributions of all members while preserving our community’s history.

This was a turning point for the group. Moving forward, these lessons have profoundly influenced our approach to managing online platforms, striving to create spaces where healthy discourse, mutual respect, and a strong community spirit are championed.

In 2021, I  created a new business called Scott’s Crypto Mining. I launched “The Mining Conference”, which took place in 2022, attracting over 1000 attendees to our inaugural event in Texas. The same year, I began conducting multiple mining farm operations training classes and miner repair training courses at our headquarters in Wisconsin.

Diversification of Interests

Early in 2023, the Milwaukee Bitcoin community underwent significant changes, following the shifting trends of the broader Bitcoin world. Conversations evolved from foundational Bitcoin topics to more nuanced discussions about blockchain technology, cryptocurrency markets, and the regulatory landscape. This shift embraced the growing recognition of Bitcoin’s multifaceted nature, as community members engaged in deeper explorations of its economic, technological, and philosophical aspects.

During this transformative period, the local community saw the emergence of new groups forming, each reflecting different niches of Bitcoin’s growing ecosystem. I viewed this period of explosive growth in the community as a valuable opportunity to support a more inclusive environment where diverse voices and perspectives could be invited, heard, and respected.

It was also in 2023 that a new organizer took the reins of one of these emerging groups. Under his leadership, the group underwent a transition focusing more intently on developer-centric discussions. While this new focus attracted valued members who were deeply interested in the development and programming aspects of Bitcoin, it yet again presented the familiar challenge of maintaining an inclusive and balanced community. At this point, the community needed to continue to be welcoming and accessible to enthusiasts of all knowledge levels, and needed to support a collective identity that extends beyond the whims and directives of any single organizer.

As the broader Milwaukee Bitcoin community continued to evolve, it became evident that no single meetup organizer could effectively lead the community’s identity, let alone define it. The community’s strength lies in its acceptance of diverse views and skill sets, and the collaborative spirit of its members, all contributing to a rich and complex Bitcoin ecosystem.

The Scam Incident and Differing Responses

I learned early on in my time supporting the Milwaukee Bitcoin community that every deliberate action from leadership can have significant and often undesirable consequences. The community thrives on harmony, stability, and a sense of common purpose. Abrupt and reactionary changes disrupt this harmony. 

In late 2023, an unfortunate situation occurred where one organizer perceived his particular group as the only “legitimate” Milwaukee Bitcoin group. This viewpoint caused agitation in the community requiring a cautious and patient approach in response. Showing understanding for different perspectives and a concerted effort toward gradually building consensus to find resolution is a healthy path forward. The challenge to achieving this outcome is navigating various personalities, expectations, and visions. Care, patience, and striving for cohesion continue to be my preferred approach in nurturing and growing the Milwaukee Bitcoin community.

In early 2024, a scam was perpetrated on one of our community members, and the response to this event presented a sharp contrast in the different leadership styles within the greater Milwaukee Bitcoin community. An impersonator in one of the Telegram groups convinced a community member to send a not insignificant amount of bitcoin to the impersonator using fraudulent claims. The impersonator is very likely still lurking in one or more of the community’s Telegram chats. 

One of the community’s leaders thought it was sufficient to issue vague advisories to “Beware of scammers” in the chatroom that was essentially the scene of the crime. My preferred response was to proactively engage with the situation. I contacted the victim directly and also spearheaded trust-building initiatives within the community aimed at driving out the scammer and possibly even identifying the offending user. At the very least, I wanted to make an effort to support the victim in this unfortunate situation and demonstrate that safeguarding measures would be in place to prevent such a scam from taking place in our community again. My actions were solely driven by a commitment to ensure a secure, connected, and welcoming community.

My scam response strategies focused on beginning to reinforce real-world connections among members to establish a safe and resilient environment for member collaboration. Recognizing the diverse knowledge levels within the community, I attempted to place a strong emphasis on Telegram safety education using tools I’ve put in practice for years. I shared with the group a method I’ve been using in my business practices since 2021, that aims to help members identify whether they are actually chatting with me or if they were chatting with an impersonator. My desire with this initiative was to teach members sophisticated digital security best practices, such as PGP technology and concepts like building Webs of Trust, guided by the cypherpunk principle of “Don’t trust, verify!”

Sadly, again, history repeated itself. In early 2024, after being met with intense community backlash, the organizer of that particular meetup group decided, unilaterally, to completely nuke its Telegram group, destroying years of chat history and records of community participation.

Contrasting Approaches to Milwaukee’s Bitcoin Meetups

Within Milwaukee’s Bitcoin community, as discussed earlier, a few different Bitcoin Meetup groups have always coexisted, each steered by different leaders and providing their own unique viewpoints. While one group might consistently meet in person each month, another might gather quarterly, and others engage primarily through online chat forums, reflecting the varied approaches and rhythms of this diverse community.

In the Milwaukee Bitcoin Meetup group that I administrate, we meet weekly in a coffee shop and focus on embracing a wide array of perspectives about Bitcoin. We encourage participants to participate directly, share their insights, and apply what they learn to their personal bitcoin journeys and their businesses. Our group values openness, supports respectful debate, and strives for practical applications of Bitcoin in daily life. Our meetings are designed to be inclusive and interactive, with guided moderation facilitating diverse conversations on topics ranging from Bitcoin technology and investment strategies to safety and security.

Another Milwaukee Bitcoin Meetup group has been meeting on a monthly basis at a pizzeria and takes a different approach to conducting their events. Their discussions center primarily around the broader social impacts of Bitcoin and technological empowerment. The meetings strictly adhere to the use of Socratic seminars and Chatham House Rules encouraging confidentiality in Bitcoin related discussions. Their format emphasizes the importance of privacy and maintains a clear distinction from other groups with similar names, reinforcing its unique identity within the Milwaukee Bitcoin landscape.

Creating a Culture of Learning and a Legacy of Inclusivity

These educational initiatives were not just meant to be theoretical exercises; they were to become practical, hands-on sessions aimed at empowering members to navigate the cryptocurrency landscape securely and confidently. Looking forward, my goal for the Milwaukee Bitcoin Meetup is to establish it as a hub of innovation, collaboration, and professional development for the industry. I envision a community where members not only discuss Bitcoin but actively participate in projects and businesses that advance tangible applications for Bitcoin.

As we forge ahead, my commitment is to nurture a community that is inclusive, informed, and at the forefront of exploring and applying the transformative potential of Bitcoin. At its core, this vision is about embracing technology and creating a culture of unity and forward-thinking in the digital currency space. Next for the Milwaukee Bitcoin community is the formation of an official non-profit organization that will serve as a potential method of ensuring unilateral community decisions will be held at bay. As of the writing of this article, we are currently seeking founding board members who will embrace the altruistic principles of bitcoin and lead the Milwaukee community and ultimately create an organization whose leadership embraces the open-source ethos and carries the group far into the future.

Reflecting on a decade of Milwaukee’s Bitcoin community, it’s evident that our journey mirrors the evolution of the cryptocurrency movement itself. From its early days of education and exploration to the present era of digitalization and financialization, the community has grown into a dynamic and diverse ecosystem. As we continue to navigate the complexities and opportunities of Bitcoin, my focus remains on building a community that is knowledgeable, inclusive, and innovative – a community that not only talks about Bitcoin but lives by its principles.