People of OST: Akshay and Junisha

In this week’s People of OST we interview two more members of the OST founding team, Akshay and Junisha. They have both been working with Jason (OST’s CEO) and Sunil (CTO) for many years.

Don’t forget to check last week’s interview with our global Chief Financial Officer and GM of OST North America, Renee Wong.

Also, we’re always on the lookout for new talent: Visit our Careers page for all open vacancies in Berlin, Pune, Hong Kong and New York!


AKSHAY RAJE

Hi Akshay! What does a Lead Software Engineer do at OST?
Software Engineering can typically be divided into Back-end, Front-end and DevOps streams. I work as a Lead Software Engineer in the Front-end team. My work includes implementing the designs that the UI/UX teams provide us with, from OST KIT to KYC and VIEW. I mostly work with JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Node.js and Angular. Front-end excites me, as I get to work on things that make the first impression to our potential customers.

You were working in Human Resources before: What made you switch to Software Engineering?
I had a very fulfilling career in Human Resources, but over time I became interested in programming. I followed this passion in the form of side projects and open source contributions for many years, until I started working for Pepo and then on to OST. I seized the opportunity to transition into a full time software engineering role so that I could turn my passion into a career! At the core, I look at software development as the tools needed to express my creativity by turning ideas into tangible products used by thousands of people.

I look at software development as the tools needed to express my creativity: I get to work on things that make the first impression to our potential customers!

What made you interested in Blockchain?
I first got in touch with Blockchain back in 2012, when I tried to mine BTC on my laptop. The average blockchain was about 30 GB in size, an impossible task with my slow internet connection back then. My interest in Blockchain got revived in 2017, as we started talking about PepoCoin. This project eventually lead to the ICO for SimpleToken. I think Blockchain combines the best of both worlds: It is trust-less and decentralized like any traditional medium of exchange (e.g. gold), but it can be digitally transferred for just a few pennies. And the immutability without a central trusted party is what really fascinates me!

What makes for a well-designed interface?
A well designed interface is easy to navigate, intuitive and a delight to use. These aspects are typically worked on by UI/UX designers and product managers. As front-end engineering, we’re responsible for flawless execution of this vision and making sure that it works and looks the same across devices and screen sizes. For example, we make sure that all our products like KIT, KYC and VIEW speak a consistent design language and that they work across all targeted browsers and on mobile devices.

Thank you, Akshay!


JUNISHA MALKANI

Hey Junisha, what’s your job all about?
As a Product Manager I bring together the right people to implement all sorts of concepts. We work in an agile and collaborative environment that helps us ship products the community values. OST KIT and its APIs are the two products I mainly work on. As a team we also strive to have the right feedback loops in place to make sure we understand what’s working and where a course correction is needed. The challenge is to integrate new learnings while still maintaining the momentum.

What made you interested in Blockchain?
We were working on what is called a “retention sprint” at Pepo, back in 2017, with a strong focus on building a Reputation system within our platform. We were looking for ways to incentivize the community to share their top destinations, itineraries, and so much more. We also wanted to make it easier for our users to become more engaged with the community. We studied and re-searched about cryptocurrency micro payments and came to the conclusion that it has the potential to facilitate all our needs. This was my first experience with Blockchain and ever since it has been a very intriguing experience.

As a team we strive to have the right feedback loops in place to make sure we understand what’s working and where a course correction is needed.

What have you learned so far from the Alpha I & II programs?
The feedback from so many different users helps us to learn more about people’s needs and expectations; it allows us to make quick iterations. During the first Alpha program we learned how KIT’s APIs are being used: What are the current constraints that affect the directions developers can take, and what motivates them to try new use cases ? These learnings were incorporated in the latest version of our APIs, which were released last week. These insights are very motivating and empowering!

Tell us about a recent technical challenge and how you solved it?
I’d say: Finding a way to pay for the “computational resources” performed across different branded tokens in one unit. To achieve this, we came up with OST Prime. Every operation that can be performed by a transaction or a contract on the OpenST Network of sidechains requires a certain amount of computational resources. Our network can hold multiple branded tokens on one chain. In short: OST Prime is the base token on the utility chain that accounts for all transactions fees. It’s similar to what we know as ‘Gas’ on Ethereum Mainnet.

Thank you, Junisha!

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