Tell us about yourself?
Hi, I am Brian – co-founder of zkLend. zkLend is a money market protocol built on StarkNet (a zero-knowledge rollup layer 2 on the Ethereum blockchain), which caters to retail DeFi users and institutional clients.
Prior to starting zkLend, I have been working in the financial industry for the past 14 years – started off working in investment banking coverage and private equity investment.
My experience in TradFi has been useful in catching the paradigm shift in crypto and DeFi at the verge of massive institutional adoption.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
In my experience, one of the biggest misconception about startups is that you have to have the “killer idea” and have worked out all the details about the idea. The truth is plans change much more often than expected in the startup stage.
Ideas evolve, ideas get discarded and replaced by better ones. During the startup stage where you are trying to provide an innovative service new to public, there will be many moving pieces, such as customer trends, technological enablers and other external dependencies that affect the ultimate product design.
It is important to be fluid and open-minded – having a clear idea on what are the “jobs to be done” for your target customers, while maintaining total flexibility in the approach getting there, which may sometimes included giving up on the original plan so you can move onto something greater.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
If I get this chance, I would go back to tell myself to get into crypto early, like real early. Getting involved both as a retail investor and also a community contributor.
The space was so nascent and small that it is easy to get connected with and helping out great builders who turn out to build extraordinary projects in web3 space.
This would mean getting exposure to some of the bleeding edge innovation and application of blockchain technology.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
The way I stand out as an entrepreneur is that I have spent my first portion of the career in the incumbent industry.
Having to experience these pain points first-handed, I am ever so motivated to find better solution to get out of the cycle.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Problem solving under high pressure and fast pace environment, attention to details, and strong working ethnics around risk management and compliance.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
zkLend is building the base level lego blocks to enable the next generation of finance. The company is a cryptoassets borrowing and lending platform that link both retail users (typically higher deposit demand) and institutions (typically higher borrowing demand), in order to maximize the capital efficiency by bridging different buckets of capital.
Where do you see your business in five years?
zkLend is aspired to become a comprehensive crypto lending and borrowing – which offers borrowing against on-chain cryptoassets for off-chain uses, as well as using off-chain financial instruments and assets (i.e. bonds, mortgages, depository notes, FX, commodities contracts, tokenised real estate, etc.) as collaterals to enable borrowing on-chain.
This is the vision that will truly merge crypto and DeFi with TradFi, and launching financial industry into the next generation.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Compliance landscape and regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies are still unclear and ambiguous at best.
There needs to be a clear guideline on what is or isn’t allowed, while factoring sufficient flexibility from regulators / law makers in order not to kill off innovation completely.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
zkLend raised $5 million from some of the top VCs in the crypto space earlier in 2022, and in the 6 months following then, we have cultivated a community of over 28,000 who are interested in the project and actively participating to support the growth of the ecosystem.
We have launched our testnet and on the way to mainnet launch after having completed code auditing work. This is an amazing win our team has achieved in a short period of time.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
They can find out all about zkLend from our official website (https://zklend.com/). Our team is active in Discord, Twitter and Telegram – we will respond immediately should you have any questions about the protocol, our team and our development roadmap.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Stay focused on the issues to be resolves/improved or customer experience to be delivered, while maintain bird’s eyes view on the trending landscape and be fluid to adapt to new changes and new market norms.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I hope I will be able to create a product that will help the transition of the crypto-traditional finance, and will be able to attract and benefit from massive adoption into crypto and all its use cases (just like the Web2 revolution).
This is what success would look to me.