People of OST: Paul J du Plessis, Business Development Director, EMEA
Paul J du Plessis is OST’s Business Development Director of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Paul has 10 years of experience building technology for enterprises and growing startups in Fintech, InsureTech and blockchain technology. Paul joined OST as the business development lead working closely with the member companies launching their own branded tokens on the OST network of networks. You can find Paul in Berlin.
Tell us about yourself!
As some can probably tell from my accent, I’m originally from South Africa. I currently live in Berlin, where the product and blockchain team for OST resides. We run many of the operations from here. As far as education, I had quite a technical education by way of mathematical statistics and ended up working in Fintech and InsureTech for almost a decade in all kinds of developing markets. From there, I joined an MBA program and it was there that I discovered blockchain. Following that MBA in 2015, I immediately joined blockchain before crypto trading made it cool.
What led your interest in blockchain technology?
In 2015, I started getting involved in blockchain, specifically in Ethereum. I think that Bitcoin was interesting in and of itself and there were altcoins that excited people about being a new intermediary-canceling medium of exchange and store of value. I studied economics and found that very interesting, I just could not really see how it would broadly impact society within a shorter time span. It was during that year in 2015 that I saw the Ethereum use cases jumping up. In fact, it was the first DAO that really caught my attention because it’s a reorganization of how we look at aligning interests and using technology to solve problems.
The overlap with blockchain and smart contracts became immediately apparent to me. I gravitated towards blockchain and found a project that worked very closely with the core ideal of smart contracts and that was Eris Industries. Those that have been in blockchain in for a long time would know the name, now known as Monax. This is where Ben Bollen, Jason Banks, and myself (all co-founders of Simple Token) came from.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about Blockchain?
I definitely think that the big misconceptions lie in the area of how people will use this. It’s true to say that one of the big challenges of blockchain adoption is usability. There are projects that are doing great work out there to further that cause, to bring us a step closer towards what it would take to make the average man on the street be able to use this technology. I think paired with that is the question “Why do I need blockchain for this?” as there are already solutions that work, but that’s not the key idea. Blockchain is an example of solving the innovator’s dilemma.
What blockchain technology solves in a very unique way is how to take ownership of a thing and put it into the hands of the end consumer. The usability problem is how to make it simple for that end consumer to work with that ownership. That ownership can be of data, money, or votes to the extent that you can take complete ownership of your things and the institutions that we’ve built to organize society will find their role being changed. I think the anarchists often refer to this as displaced or removed, but it is for sure changed. Solving that usability issue of making it easy for users to manage their personal key, that’s where the surprise is going to come from and it’s something that we are definitely working on at OST.
What does your role as Business Development Director EMEA at OST entail?
Well, it’s a startup and in startup land, you get involved in as many things as you can. Late nights aside, the main focus of my role is around our go-to-market strategy. We have a long run business model that would convert all of these partner companies into users of the OST platform. Our platform will help them tokenize their App and unite their users into a digital community. Their community can now build value for itself and place the value into the hands of end consumers.
The focus is lining up these partner companies and allowing them to explore tokenization as a partner. It involves a lot of partnerships, discussions, whiteboard sessions, and very interesting stimulating conversations, often with founders of scaling startups that are really interested to see in which ways they can use blockchain for their business or how they can defend their business against other newcomers.
THANK YOU, PAUL!
Be sure to check our last interview with Rachin Kapoor, OST’s Senior Director Engineering. Subscribe to our YouTube channel or listen to the audio format on anywhere you listen to podcasts, including on iTunes, TuneIn, and Spotify. We’re also now available on Alexa! Simply add “OST LIVE” to your flash briefing.
OST blockchain infrastructure empowers new economies for mainstream businesses and emerging DApps. OST leads development of the OpenST Protocol, a framework for tokenizing businesses. In September 2018 OST introduced the OpenST Mosaic Protocol for running meta-blockchains to scale Ethereum applications to billions of users. OST KIT is a full-stack suite of developer tools, APIs and SDKs for managing blockchain economies. OST Ppartners reach more than 300 million end-users. OST has offices in Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and Pune. OST is backed by leading institutional equity investors including Tencent, Greycroft, Vectr Ventures, 500 Startups.