Our founder and CEO Mayur Relekar was recently invited to a panel discussion titled, “Decoding the Playbook for Building Blockchain Startups” by The Crypto Summit. The panel discussion saw founders in the blockchain and crypto space sharing invaluable advice on creating a blockchain product thesis, finding engineers for a blockchain startup, and getting the MVP right, among other aspects.
What we have here is a blog post covering most of the questions answered by our founder and CEO as a part of the panel discussion. We thought our community members would appreciate finding out several behind-the-scenes details about our company, how we came into being, and what our vision has been throughout the journey. Without further ado, let’s jump in.
Note: While what we have below is extracted from an interview, we’ve taken some editorial freedom to refine bits and pieces of the content to provide a better reading experience for our community.
Question 1 — What makes you the right person to found the company you’ve founded? I would like to know a little more about why you guys are building for or solving the problem that you are!
Mayur: I’ve been working on the idea of decentralized storage back in 2018, and by 2019, Newfang was founded. We built a PoC and took it to the market, only to realize that it wasn’t the right time and we’d overestimated the Web3 market. Moreover, many consumers were happy with centralized storage providers, and oftentimes, for reasons such as free credits that Amazon offers to its customers.
So we pivoted and built a privacy-centric product. Somewhere along the way, we realized that going knee-deep into areas such as cryptography would make many cool things possible. As a matter of fact, there are enough resources online, be it books or research papers, that show how high-quality privacy can be achieved without having to compromise on the user experience front.
That’s when we started to adopt a new position where we were more of a privacy stack, with data management being a priority. Many were surprised by the fact that a startup from India was building something such as what we were building. We’d like to believe that we (Indians) are pretty well-suited for building such products.
Question 2 — Who is your partner in crime? How did you meet them? Did you ideate with them or did you find them later? Is there a playbook to find a co-founder once you have an idea?
Mayur: I actually got a bunch of guys that I was working with in my team to quit their jobs as well. So when I quit my job in 2019, they joined me as co-founders. In general, I feel like the playbook for finding a co-founder, in reality, involves a lot of serendipity for sure.
But at the same time, I think you, as a cofounder, should have the drive to really put yourself out there and network and meet as many people as possible. Because that’s how serendipity will happen. So the more connections you have, the more likely it is that you can actually find another person. While the other person needs to believe in it as much as you do, sometimes, you have to make the other person believe so they can take the leap of faith.
Question 3 — MVP — This is a fast-moving industry — so what would you say is enough for version 1, with individual examples of your product?
Mayur: People say move at the speed of light. But we’ve been moving at the speed of sound. It’s sort of like a double-edged sword, really. That said, we’ve been known to be very deliberate when it comes to the way we do things. It may mean we are late to market, but at the same time, we’re also confident that we’ll find our market. I think it’s super important that the idea of like this proof of work that you can put in for like a community to get behind you, or you miss. Because those are the good ones to back you, and it’s not something to be kind of taken lightly at all.
While a pitch deck and some form of token, a few connections, and some money can probably drive a moderately sized community, it isn’t the answer for the long run. If you want to be in the long haul and say building something that will last like 10 years, it’s super important we get the right people involved from the get-go, which brings us back to the importance of being deliberate.
Question 4 — How do you look at the energy efficiency challenge in blockchain and what are your solutions for that?
Mayur: I personally think the blockchain industry is very large, and it ultimately recommends moving from energy inefficient solutions to efficient ones. And even when I say Bitcoin is going to, if at any point, is going to introduce any modicum of DeFi in the future, it will happen on like a Bitcoin L2, which will be far more energy efficient. So from a long-term perspective, in five years from now, we’ll be in a much better place.
Question 5 — Almost every blockchain project has a token payment. So, um, what were you thinking during your token design and how did you start planning?
Mayur: Talking of token economics, you know, we first went through a journey where we were like, we need a token. Is there another token or coin that fulfils the needs of all of what we’re building? Can we just leverage that? And then finally get around to realizing that yes, we need a token. So what are the various use cases for that token? Starting looking at things like you know, how the value accrual will happen in the token. Because that’s obviously super important and making sure that things like token velocity, the economics of it all, and how to ensure that there are right incentives in place for maximum value accrual to happen in the long-term.
Once you arrive at that, then you can start thinking of more complex things like, who are the parties that I really need to incentivize? And what those sorts of incentives are and modeling them.
I would say start with the fundamentals, figure out if you need a token, and if you do, what token is that going to be? Yours or someone else’s? That’s basically our journey into tokenization.
Question 6 — What would you say personally is the end goal to your startup? You are at, you know, zero right now. What would one be for each of you?
Mayur: For Arcana, we have a singular goal, which is to essentially become a community good. Similar to how bitcoin exists. Early on, we imagined that we’d have to bootstrap the core infrastructure. You know, you agree at a point that you need to bootstrap it. You need to have a strong team that’s incentivized to then go back to build this infrastructure out.
And for us, we see the timeline as being anywhere between five to ten years, at which point we would like the majority of governance to be on chain. All the off chain governance moves to something such as a DAO (decentralized crypto organization). And, um, there are the right incentives in place for the entire community to actually kind of take over and start, you know, formulating the next 10 years of Arcana.
So that’s what we’re looking to do.
Question 7 — So can each of you share your favorite achievement in your startups? And to add onto that, if you guys could also give some advice to aspiring entrepreneurs that are watching us right now on how to get started, what to look out for, how to navigate through the space, and so on.
Mayur: For us, the biggest thing or achievement is the next thing that we do. I mean, we persevered for as long as we had, and I think that’s something that we’re truly proud of. In terms of advice to people, I’d say Web2 already has the entire playbook for building a successful product. How to focus on users, optimizing for users, and all that. Considering how capital in Crypto is cheap, it’s never going to be a problem.
But getting a bunch of followers to come and start aligning with your views, having people using a product that is worthy of use — these are the things that you need to optimize for and build something up. Everything else that you want, any sort of success, will just happen. And people will start chasing you. That’s nothing to worry about.
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About Arcana Network
Built for Ethereum and EVM-based chains, Arcana is the web3 infrastructure to easily onboard dApp users and enable user data privacy and ownership. Web3 developers use Arcana’s SDKs for a seamless, familiar user onboarding experience via social authentication and passwordless login. All user data is encrypted, secured with data access fully controlled by the users, and powered by blockchain.
Arcana has raised 2.7Mn USD from some of the leading investors and founders in the ecosystem such as Balaji Srinivasan, Founders of Polygon, Woodstock, Republic Crypto, and Digital Currency Group.
Watch out for Arcana’s upcoming Testnet and Mainnet in 2022.