Podcast — Episode 1 — Who can we trust?
- Shayan Zadeh, Cofounder of Zoosk, an online dating site and dating app
- Alex Senemar — CEO/Cofounder of SherBit , a digital health company empowering patients to understand their health
Different Worlds But a Good Match
Shayan is an immigrant from Iran who became a successful U.S. entrepreneur. After dropping out of his PhD and work at Microsoft, he moved out to the Bay Area. There he started a company with an old roommate which got huge revenue. Since last year, he has gotten super involved with crypto.
But Shayan had bumps along the road, even culture shocks. The other cultural difference is the pace of innovation. But thankfully being a grad student at a U.S. research university helped Shayan with immersion.
What also helped were close people around him. Two of Shayan’s closest friends from Iran also started school at the same time. Shayan attributes most of his accomplishments to mentors and trusted advisors. To pay forward on the many opportunities the U.S. has given him, he wants to give back to the community.
Alex, on the other hand, is a Bay Area native. The community there gives so much to entrepreneurs. Growing up there and not feeling about building something cam natural. This is basis of his entrepreneurial drive and ultimately to start Shertbit as a healthcare analytics company to help patients. The Harvard Medical School recently called his company the most innovative company in primary care.
Trustroot — The Journey
Trustroot provides decentralized identity verification and reputation management for blockchain. Often developers trying to solve a problem they faced themselves. Alex and Shayan tapped into their experience in IT security and building consumer apps, coupled with personal pains of checking blockchain transactions to make sure it’s valid and goes where it needs to go. If crypto is going to be mainstream, they argue, we need to build these critical infrastructure that allow transactions to work properly.
They wanted to bring clarity and confidence at the point of transaction, so users can trust the party they’re transacting with, which will expand the ecosystem and bring wider user adoption. To make it ironclad, they’re building this into the browser to signal verified blockchain transactions. It’ll be just like the green lock you currently see in your brower’s address bar for trust SSL certificates on the web. They’ll work with standard setting bodies and popular browsers so Trustroot can bring confidence to the broader community.
How is Trustroot different?
On the identity side, Trustroot plays a different role than Civic. Civic performs P2P identity verification and can manage access to data, which can be great for individuals sharing data with businesses. Meanwhile, Trustroot is like a one-to-many relationship, which covers identity with different use cases. For example, ICOs right now are constantly being attacked by phishing attempts — a good chunk of ICO funding are stolen by scammers. We need a trustworthy infrastructure brought to the masses as a way to increase broader adoption for all the amazing new technologies.
Don’t forget recent malware attacks that changes the addresses of users. A Twitter account was made to look like a celebrity or a founder carrying a fake address that asked for Ether from investors. After Telegram announced plans for an ICO, a bunch of websites popped up with fake ICO websites conducting live ICOs. The vectors are so big and profound. Some teams have found ways to combat this. Recently, when the Bee Token was about to launch a live ICO, its CEO did a live video and hand wrote the Ether address, but even then forged videos came out using a still picture of that CEO.
Over the next several years, Trustroot will work standard bodies and major browsers. Users of the Trustroot protocol will know who they’re dealing with, but they’ll also need to know the reputation of the organization that they’re dealing with. So we’ll add a layer reputation empowered by blockchain to cut out a lot of middlemen.
The Trustroot team is actively developing the protocol that includes an interface layer with browser add-on, and their smart controls are in good shape. They’re relying on a third party to validate assumptions on security and identity. Shayan and Alex are anxious to share with the community when they’re confident about the alpha release. On the business side, they’re in a pre-ICO phase, starting with a private pre-sale. The public pre-sale will be in Q2 2018, possibly Q3 2018.
A Star Advisor On Board
Looking at Trustroot’s one pager, you’ll notice one advisor who sticks out: Tai Lopez, a huge personality who is an investor, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and social media star. Tai happens to be a dear friend. As a crypto evangelist, he has held a series of education forums including the crypto mastermind. When he got the briefing from Trustroot, he wanted to help out, possibly with public content and crowdfunding strategies.
Market and Regulatory Landscape
Looking beyond Trustroot, Shayan and Alex are particularly encouraged by several things. First, the regulations coming into this market that could help validate the tech’s maturity and market growth while providing consumer protections. On the technical side, the releases around scalability (e.g. segwit adoption) that will help us continue to expand opportunities to build more interesting applications (more crypto kitties).
They advocate for regulation that balances core fundamentals and innovation. Most of the community want a safe, a secure way to play. If the industry has best practices, external regulators don’t have to come in with a strong hand, so it’s important to have a effective public-private partnership. Compared to other countries, the U.S. government has had a steady hand approach to this which will hopefully help the industry prosper.
Advice to Your Younger Self
Make sure you choose really well — the team that you’ll work with, structure of your team, capabilities of the individuals. Also, don’t go cheap on your lawyers, especially for an early startup, or you could pay dearly for it. For advisors, legal or tech, get the best people to work for you. It will pay off especially for critical decisions that you make. It’s important in crypto world, having access to legal counsel is the best way to maneuver.
When building your team, if you don’t have experience, get advisors who can guide you. With experience, you can take time to look at what individuals have done for companies — whether it’s engineering or marketing team, you can better vet that individual. Don’t hire the position for the job if you don’t know what the job will entail. With those insights you can gauge the individual’s comfort level and capability so you can choose the right candidate. If marketing isn’t your expertise, get an advisor or someone in your network to leverage insights, even ask them to help out with interviews or partake in the vetting process.
Just like everyone, we’re doing our part at Trustroot to make this a safe ecosystem to transfer value. You’re seeing folks logging a lot more experiences with technical capabilities and folks providing mentorship and engagement with the community compared to early stages when the ecosystem wasn’t easy to plug into.
Accredited investors in the U.S. and investors elsewhere can reach out to our team regarding the pre-sale at Trustroot.io or email email@example.com.
Trustroot: Trustroot | LinkedIn
Podcast hosts: Jeff Peterson & Alain Leon
Show Writer: Dang Du