OtterClam: The Story of Us
OtterClam is a story of community. It is also a story of individuals. The culture of any community reflects the values of the individuals who comprise it. So, if you want to know more about the origin of our community culture and the values we embrace, the founder is likely a good place to start.
Today, my aim is to pull back the curtain a bit and offer a little background on the OG of OC — the founder we all know as “Otterking.” I hope this interview allows people to get to know OtterClam in a more intimate way- through the mind and vision of its founder.
Note: I’ve omitted most of the conventional formalities in the transcript to save space and maximize readability. The answers to the following questions have been summarized to reflect the essence of his responses. The interview was a voice call, so I’ve done my best to preserve the casual nature of the exchange. The answers I recorded here have been carefully reviewed and approved by Otterking to ensure an accurate representation of his responses.
How did you get into crypto? When was your “A-ha!” moment?
A: I was listening to a local podcast in my country, sometime in mid-2018. It was a general podcast that covered crypto, DeFi, and NFTs. My “A-ha!” moment occurred after I tried out Uniswap, and dug a little deeper into the concept of AMMs (automated market makers). I also tried MakerDAO and Compound and realized the power and autonomy that decentralized platforms could provide. I always had some distrust of centralized exchanges because I’m an engineer and really appreciate the power of trustless code. The more I explored, the more interested I got.
Why did you decide to start your own project?
A: I always wanted to start my own project. I’ve started several projects before OtterClam. I started a SaaS (software as a service) company in my country that was designed to help restaurants manage reservations. That software is now in 90% of the restaurants in my country. Also, I’ve always enjoyed building things that could be useful for people, but OtterClam is my first crypto-related project.
Why did you think you could do it? What I mean is, many people have the idea to start a project, move to another country, change careers, etc., but you are actually doing it. What made you actually go through with the idea?
A: Hmm…Well, because this is not my first time starting a new project. I have done this many times, so I am confident that I can create an awesome product.
Appppo said you were the one who suggested using otters. He mentioned they’re always holding things, so it seemed easy to connect to the HODL meme. Was there any other reason you decided to use otters?
A: I’ve actually used otters in previous projects for various reasons, but it fit this project perfectly and the name is easy to pronounce and it’s easy to identify otters. And to be honest… my girlfriend really likes otters and suggested that I use otters for this project.
Why did you decide to create a DAO for this project?
A: I created the DAO because of the way the community responded to the idea of having one. There were several examples in the space already and I saw it as a valuable way to utilize the talents and skill sets of our global community. It also reflects transparency and communication, which are values that are important to me. I’ve always wanted to have a higher level of transparency in my prior jobs, and the DAO seemed like a very useful model that could help me achieve this goal.
Why Polygon? There are many EVM compatible blockchains.
A: Well, Polygon isn’t as centralized as Binance Smart Chain, and it is an important side-chain of Ethereum that I think has a bright future. I believe that Ethereum will be the foundation and security layer for crypto. It is the most decentralized and secure blockchain. But currently, it is too expensive, so Polygon makes sense as an L2 solution for this problem, and I believe Polygon has a lot of room to grow over the next several years.
What is your professional background? Have you always been a programmer/developer?
A: I have a Master’s degree in computer science, and most of my career has been in software development. For a lot of that time, I have been an engineering manager. I really enjoy coding, but I also enjoy coding together with a team to make a bigger project, because I believe that you can accomplish so much more as a team than you can as an individual. So for the last couple of years, my work has been mostly in engineering management. Helping each other and improving each other’s abilities has been the central focus of my most recent work.
Do you enjoy your work?
A: Definitely. I actually put 100% into my work. I work from morning to night and it fulfills me, so it’s not just busy work. I think it’s important to love your work, or you’ll waste your life doing something you don’t enjoy. The best experts in their fields enjoy their work b/c they spend so much time doing their work and improving themselves. If you enjoy your work, it doesn’t feel like a burden or something you don’t want to do.
The cryptocurrency space moves incredibly fast. The DeFi/NFT/Metaverse spaces are no exception. How do you balance maintaining a community culture and project identity with the need to innovate?
A: Basically, I believe that the community identity is created by the kind of people who are attracted to the type of work we do as a team. If innovation, which involves consistent growth and change through adaptation, is not important to you, you most likely will not be drawn to our community. So I think the community should naturally be a reflection of the values we hold as a core team. It is a natural byproduct of what we do. So what we do creates the community we have.
The project is not even half a year old, but the community has grown and taken on a life of its own. How do you feel about the changes that have taken place and the pace of growth in the Otter kingdom?
A: We’ve been through a lot already. It’s only been about 3–4 months, and I feel there has already been a lot of things we have learned from and improved. The need to communicate has been really highlighted for me during this short time. I’ve realized transparency and communication are even more important than I thought before. The community and the protocol are getting better and better because we’re moving forward and learning without being paralyzed by the possibility of making mistakes. Progress is far more important than perfection. We’re still working on these things. The pace of growth has been really fast, but we have learned the most by taking action. I believe this has created a clearer path forward for us as a team and as a community.
Where do you see OtterClam via the Otter Kingdom going from here?
A: This has been a good experience for me, and I believe that with our current team we can build the foundation for what we’re going to do in the future. For now, I think we just continue to improve, and I think we can accomplish everything on our roadmap — we will deliver on the NFT marketplace and take some market share from the Polygon NFT ecosystem, and this will help us build and maintain the treasury, and through that, the Otter Kingdom community members will share in our success.
Now for something just slightly less technical — what is your favorite food?
A: Ramen. There is a famous ramen restaurant near my home, and I go there to meet with my colleagues and eat every week. It is so delicious!
In your view, what sets OtterClam apart from other projects in the space?
A: Our focus on creating value in what we build. People will see it soon. But, you don’t know when, or how, or how long it will take, but they will definitely see it. Of course there is risk because it is a start-up and you need a certain amount of money and exposure to succeed. As we continue to build, I believe this can become a very valuable asset. We have to continue working. It’s easy to see what will continue to deliver value and what kind of project is just waiting to die. OtterClam focuses on long-term value creation. We have the team, the DAO, and the community to make that possible.
Considering the relatively short lifespan of the project — OtterClam is not even 6 months old — it is incredible to see how much has happened in such a short time.
There’s no shortage of books and articles proclaiming the “must-have” traits of a successful start-up founder, or the perfect ways to develop the ideal business community. Most often, however, even the most successful start-ups experience growth in fits and starts before a true identity emerges from the uncertainty of its beginnings. Leaders are exposed to these growing pains more than anyone.
What’s rare about Otterking’s leadership is his willingness to consider unpolished and unconventional ideas that may completely alter the trajectory of the project. To be certain, the DAO’s ability to filter, brainstorm, and achieve consensus plays a major role in this process, but ultimately, Otterking needs to be willing to submit his vision to scrutiny, and he does so daily. It may be counterintuitive to some, but this process requires trust.
For many entrepreneurs, the team-building process can be one of the most trying aspects of getting a project off the ground. For engineers, especially those within the crypto industry, trust is a term reserved for references to code. “Code is law” and “Trust the code” are mantras that now define a trillion-dollar industry.
OtterClam’s technological developments have been meticulously recorded. Every transaction executed is permanently recorded on a blockchain. The code on which our protocol depends is open-source and can be audited by anyone interested and capable. Trust is virtually coded out of the protocol. Paradoxically, the only thing left to trust is the code itself. Or is it?
What about us? What about the “everyday Otters” that hang out on Discord, the other founders who shared his vision and took the risk, the talented, skilled members of each department in the DAO who work tirelessly to execute the vision? What about the mods who manage channels and wear as many hats as necessary to keep things from going absolutely bonkers in Discord? And yes, what about the lurker-Otters, those who prefer to watch from afar and support us from their cozy dens?
Ultimately, OtterClam is a story about us. All of us. And none of this would be possible without each one of you interacting with one another to create the community we have come to love.
Transactions can be recorded. Even the majority of our interactions are recorded. But the growing sense of connection you feel from interacting with one another, and your decision to continue participating — that is sacred. It is sacred precisely because it cannot be recorded on a blockchain or some other storage device. It can only be experienced. This is the Otter Way.
“In Otterking we trust” is often thrown around jokingly in chats here and there, but what I’ve learned from this interview is that Otterking understands that his trust in our Otter family cultivates the trust we have in him.
Otterking made the decision to share his idea and his vision with us. What seems to be, at least on the surface, an ecosystem founded on trustless transactions, is in reality, a community that depends and thrives on trust at virtually every turn.
Otterking trusts the code. He also trusts us as co-creators working to realize what has become a shared vision of the Otter Kingdom. We trust each other to carry out the will of the community. There really is no us without trust.
In closing, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share this interview with our community. I hope that you all come away from this article with a renewed sense of connection and pride for our Otter family and its leadership.
As we move forward, remember that our ability to innovate and execute will depend entirely on our willingness to grow first as individuals, and then as a community. Only then will we realize our full potential.
See you downstream Otter fam.