The 19 and 21 Year-Old Crypto Native Brothers Rebuilding Finance
InstaDApp founder Sowmay Jain shares his vision for the future of money
Hello defiers! This week’s interview is with Sowmay Jain, cofounder of InstaDApp. Sowmay and his brother Samyak dropped out of college to focus on crypto, won first place in an Ethereum hackathon, built a platform that quickly climbed to become the fourth biggest in DeFi by value locked, and three weeks ago closed a $2.4 million seed funding round with investors including Pantera Capital, Naval Ravikant, Balaji Srinivasan and Coinbase Ventures. All from Hyderabad, India. Not bad for 19 and 21 year olds.
Sowmay’s and Samyak’s story is an example of how much decentralized finance is lowering the barriers of entry thanks to its global nature, composability among platforms, open code and welcoming community. Anyone can participate in this emerging financial system, both as users and creators.
InstaDApp founders Samak Jain and Sowmay Jain. Image source: Yourstory.com
The interview has been edited for length and clarity and I’ve bolded my favorite quotes.
Camila Russo: Tell me about your education. I understand you dropped out pretty young. What prompted that decision? What did your parents/family say?
Sowmay Jain: I studied finance and accounting. Ever since we were in our teenage years, we have started participating in the Indian stock market and discussing finance on blogs and forums like Quora, generating millions of hits to date. We then went on to building software to simplify stock market investing and investing in crypto.
This was at the same time we were getting into crypto. Comparatively, I realized that the traditional finance systems we were studying in school were slow to innovate, extremely restrictive, tightly controlled by financial giants, and bound by geographical constraints.
Parents were initially a little scared about crypto as a whole and were not happy with our decision to drop out. Coming from the traditional financial world, it was hard for them to imagine a world where financial flows are not dictated by governments and monopolies. But once they saw InstaDApp having traction and community support and fundraised then it was quite easy to convince them. Most importantly tho, they are converts after we asked them to use the service. Now they have a point to brag among relatives.
CR: What led you to crypto in the first place?
Literally, for us, it was nearly impossible to participate in the global financial system. But with crypto, we are able to not only participate but also innovate from day one. In fact, we accepted grants, did payrolls and even financed our expenses from ETH backed collateralized loans (we did not want to sell ETH!).
In that regard, you can consider us DeFi natives, since we have been living and breathing crypto and DeFi for almost our entire formative lives.
CR: Was ETHIndia your first time building on Ethereum and meeting people in the community? What was your initial reaction at the hackathon?
SJ: Looking for a way to enter the space, we triangulated on improving the user experience for using decentralized financial services, since that was the main area that needed improving. With that purpose in mind, we entered the excellent ETHIndia hackathon. We developed a cool interface on top of MakerDAO and were lucky enough to win it, which provided us the platform to showcase our work to the wider community.
From there, we were kindly invited by Kyber Network to Singapore. They extended to us an innovation grant to build whatever service we felt was needed in the space. We continued exploring our core purpose of simplifying DeFi, starting with clean, simple interfaces. We eventually moved on to building our own contracts to streamline complex transactions, and creating a smart wallet layer.
At every step of the way, the Ethereum community has been incredibly supportive, particularly those in the DeFi space. It is hard to imagine another community that would be so open to new ideas. Their encouragement and validation have been critical for us, particularly when things did not work as well at the start.
CR: How did you think of InstaDApp? What was the initial goal of the platform?
SJ: Our main orientation has always been around finding the best way for us to add value to the space. Initially, we were focused on usability, when we realized that most of the services, while exciting, were generally more complex. So our initial goal for the platform was to bring services like Maker, Compound, and Kyber under one extremely easy to use service. In particular, as users were usually managing more than one portfolio, we had a dashboard that allowed them to monitor their holdings and interest across all these protocols.
CR: How has the initial concept changed?
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