A good lot of people in the Blockchain space have constantly wrinkled their forehead from thinking about how to simplify DeFi for the average user and build a sustainable ecosystem that aims for long-term growth & accelerated user-adoption. Another lot have been scratching their heads on how to build a sustainable career in crypto space.
PlotX co-founder Ish Goel recently sat down for a podcast with Blockchain Enterprises to share his journey in DeFi from building Nexus Mutual to PlotX, providing some food-for-thought to both sets of people.
Coming away from this podcast, you will get to know about…
- The behind-the-scenes journey of making PlotX right from the scratch to being production-ready
- How it came to be dubbed as the Uniswap of Prediction Markets
- How to explore the uncharted territories of the Blockchain space vis-a-vis a CEO’s perspective
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The transcription for the podcast follows.
Host: What’s going on people, welcome to the blockchain enterprise podcast. Our podcast aims to show you how anyone can start a business, find their dream job, or develop a revenue stream in the emerging blockchain industry. Most, if not all of our guests started with just an idea, a few hundred dollars, and a Twitter account.
Today, we are joined by Ish Goel, the founder of PlotX. PlotX is a non-custodial prediction protocol that allows users to earn rewards on high yield prediction markets. So, let’s go ahead and speak with Ish.
Thank you very much for joining us. How are you Ish?
Ish: Very well, thank you for having us here. Really excited to be on this podcast.
Host: Our pleasure. So, we mentioned that you are the CEO of the PlotX project, but before we talk about that, do you want to tell us a little bit about your background and how you became the founder and CEO of PlotX?
Ish: Absolutely, and thanks for that question. So, I’ll quickly introduce myself. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 14 years now. I entered the blockchain ecosystem back in 2016, and that was a time when I was exploring the London FinTech ecosystem. I heard about Ethereum for the first time back in 2016 as well.
I spent almost a year researching the technology and eventually ended up winning the London Blockchain Week Hackathon, which happened in January 2017, and interestingly, after winning the hackathon, that was the time when I met Hugh Karp from Nexus Mutual. Back then he was the CFO at MunichRe, and Nexus Mutual was still getting started. Hugh had written a whitepaper and I was trying to build a team.
So, I was actually pretty lucky to have met him. He’s an excellent chap. I joined him as the CTO at Nexus Mutual while using my India based venture studio to actually set up the development team for Nexus Mutual. So, I served as the CTO and started building NXM for almost two and a half to three years.
We launched it in May 2019 and I’m super proud of the kind of work the entire team has done. Today, it has become one of the better projects out there. And that’s an achievement for the entire team. So I’m very excited about that. Apart from Nexus, I’ve done a lot of other work. I also co-founded another project called GovBlocks, which is an on-chain governance toolkit. And have been very actively involved in a lot of other projects as well. And that’s really my background and where I come from.
Somewhere around February 2020, something occurred to me, and you know, my team, which has built what we have today at PlotX. One of the key things around the idea behind PlotX really has been, how do we simplify DeFi for the masses? And that’s how PlotX really started.
Host: Fantastic. So we talked about DeFi and some of the features briefly, do you wanna tell us a bit more about PlotX the platform and the features available?
Ish: Sure! So, as I said, you know the inspiration for PlotX really was, how do I simplify DeFi. You know, I don’t have a trading background. I’m a techie, I’ve been the techie all my life and then an entrepreneur. But you know, when I was working at Nexus Mutual and a lot of other stuff that we’ve done over the last four years, there was one thing that used to always pester me, which is the fact that for an average non-professional trader, somebody who’s trying to understand how Crypto space works, DeFi space becomes very complicated. The user experience is complicated and then the products themselves are not so straightforward.
So, you know, the journey of how exchanges came through. For example, 0X protocol, bank call, and then finally Uniswap came in? So, what Uniswap did to the exchanges by using an automated market-making algorithm, is that they removed the whole concept of buy orders, sell orders, and they made it so simple for people to actually exchange their ERC 20 tokens, or even make money by providing liquidity.
That really became the inspiration for me and the team at PlotX. To actually build what we’ve done today. So, coming from an insurance background, working with Hugh at Nexus Mutual, we thought why not apply an automated market-making algorithm to a prediction market engine?
There have been a lot of attempts in the past four or five years around building prediction markets, but there hasn’t been a prediction market which has used an AMM algorithm to simplify the user experience, just like Uniswap did for exchanges. And that is how we started building PlotX.
Host: Fantastic! You mentioned you came up with the concept in February, so it’s very impressive to think that you’ve come so far in such a short span of time.
For the people listening out there who are interested in the platform, do you want to tell us where they can visit the website and what you guys are up to at the moment in terms of development?
Ish: Oh, absolutely. So the website is plotx.io. And since we’ve been building it for the last six months, we’ve got an alpha that we launched in the first week of August. That alpha can be reached at alpha.plotx.io. The product which is out there has been posted on the Ethereum Kovan Testnet, so it’s free to essentially come and test the platform. Over the last month, we’ve been very lucky with the kind of vibrant community which is forming on our discord and telegram channels.
It’s really nice to see people coming along and, you know, giving their ideas on how to improve the product, giving suggestions, asking questions. It’s been an amazing one month and I would really love for your listeners to also go on the alpha and test out what we’ve been building.
Host: There you have it folks, if anyone’s interested, you can go and check out the platform. So, coming back to, you know, you mentioned you’re an entrepreneur at heart and you’ve been working in this space for quite a while which is very impressive. You mentioned you won the hackathon in London in 2017, you worked for Hugh at Nexus Mutual, and you’ve also built several little projects, kind of culminating in PlotX.
For anyone listening out there, and we always say that building successful blockchain-based projects is quite tough, what challenges have you faced along the way and what sort of advice would you give to anyone interested in launching their own startup?
Ish: Absolutely. So I think one of the biggest, I mean, in terms of my journey, I think the biggest differentiating factor in the whole crypto/blockchain industry is the ethos of this industry. I think for somebody who’s trying to enter this space or, someone who is excited about the whole crypto and blockchain ecosystem has to do some work to actually understand the ethics of how this space works.
Now there are obviously different sides of the story every time, but essentially, my feedback to anyone who’s essentially coming into this space is to stand for the aspects of decentralization, stand for the aspect of community-driven ecosystems. Because I truly feel that blockchain has given us the power to design the networks of the future, the networks that we want to live in. It has given us that sense where power does not need to be centralized, it can be absolutely decentralized. And you know, I talk about this in my TEDx talk as well, I did one TEDx talk in 2019, and in it, I speak about the whole aspect of aligned incentives, which has been allowed because of platforms like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It just makes it super interesting and super intriguing, that the ability to create and design the future of how solutions are going to be delivered is now within our grasp. Whether it’s about cloud infrastructure, or social media, or DeFi, almost every business which has existed in the past is standing to be disrupted with this new idea of decentralized infrastructure. And I think that is massive.
So, if you were to ask me, what is it that people need to first understand? I think, if you are a developer, you should not look to learn the syntax behind Solidity or, for that matter, the syntax behind any other blockchain infra out there. You should rather first focus on understanding the ethos of the space.
Why is decentralization important, why are aligned incentives important, what is it that blockchain is trying to do, learn all that first. Because otherwise, if you just think of it as a technology, then I think we are not doing justice to the whole aspect of the decentralization which is happening in front of us. So, long story short, to understand the ethics is absolutely critical.
Host: I think that’s a fantastic answer. And again, sometimes people jump into this industry with a business idea and like you mentioned they don’t really understand what it is that they’re actually trying to solve. They just look at the technology thing that can be applied to the real world and not actually kind of meeting anywhere in the middle.
So again, I think it’s great advice if anyone’s out there interested in or thinking about starting their own startup in this space, just take some time to think about what’s going on in this space, how you should approach it, where the idea may meet and kind of help people along the way. Which leads us on nicely to our next question.
We often speak to CEOs in this space and we can understand how busy it is sometimes arranging podcasts and getting time out of their day. So we know it’s a very busy industry to be working in, as most things are 24 seven. What does a typical working day look like as the CEO of an emerging blockchain project?
Ish: Thanks Digi for asking that question. I think I’m having a ball. Honestly, really excited to be in this space. Specifically, this phase of PlotX where we are doing some fundraising, and at the same time gearing towards the launch of the product on the main net around the last week of September.
These days are very busy. I would say that I’m doing around 14–15 calls on a daily basis, but it’s all very exciting. It’s really exciting to talk to such different personalities all over the globe. You know the aspects of boundary-less operations essentially takes you to places that you could have never imagined.
And this can only happen in crypto. As far as I know, I’ve been an entrepreneur for 14 years, and I can tell you that in other industries, it’s not as easy. People are helpful, everybody is excited to make sure that they are working on aligned incentives. And I think that’s the beauty of this space and that’s also where you drive most of your energy from. So I think these are busy but very very fun days.
Host: So I think you make a great point there. When you actually enjoy what you do, as most of us do in crypto, it doesn’t actually feel like work. So, even if you are working very long days, you don’t mind.
Ish: Absolutely I agree. I mean, the days don’t seem so long.
Host: Especially when it’s a bull market as well.
Ish: Yeah, definitely the market dynamics are definitely a big factor. But yeah, I think for folks like us, it’s about building the tech as well. So, we’ve been doing it for four years now, I’ve seen the 2017, 2018 boom, and now the 2020 boom as well. But there has been a lull in between, and it’s been the same for us.
Host: This leads nicely onto another thing I wanted to ask, you mentioned your alpha is due to be released or the main product is due to be released in September and you came up with the concept in February. So it’s very impressive to see the progress from where you started from to where you are now. How has the team grown since you first came up with the concept and how many people are currently working at the PlotX project?
Ish: So, this is somewhat of an interesting question because I come from a background where I’m a part of a venture studio called Somish Blockchain Labs. Now, Somish is one of India’s largest venture studios. More than 45 people are working on different projects at Somish. I think the headstart that we got because of the venture studio was amazing. And everyone at Somish is essentially working on blockchain and DeFi related projects.
In terms of the team at PlotX, as you know, we started as a small idea. It was just about five people who started with this idea, and then, we did a hackathon where there was a winning team of around 10 people who essentially started coming up with the first prototype of PlotX. So, if you asked me how many people are working on PlotX, we are 17 people in total who are building out PlotX. So there are developers, researchers, then there are people who are on the marketing side of things as well, there is a team of lawyers also who is essentially helping you as in getting things off the ground.
So yeah, I think this is the team size Digi that is working on PlotX. And we are very excited to further scaling it up as well.
Host: Fantastic. I always love to see the growth of projects in this space from just maybe an idea between two or three friends or a handful of people, to then you know, six months to a year down the line when there’s actually a team of developers, a team of marketers, and like you said you’ve now got legal people on board.
So it always makes me feel very positive to actually see this growth in teams because then, you also feel involved as part of that. Whether you’re an investor, whether you’re someone who works on the project or someone who’s using the product or service from a company, it’s always kind of nice to be a part of that journey. To see where they come from and what they grow into.
So, I guess the next thing I wanted to ask was, as your team’s grown, and as you got more and more people on board on the platform, what kind of qualities do you look in an employee before bringing them into the PlotX team.
Ish: A great question. So, I’ll be honest, up until a couple of years, I used to look for a lot of different things in potential employees, which was essentially around my expectations that used to be “Hey, you should understand how Ethereum works, you should at least know how blockchain works, what blockchain is”. But I have learned the hard way, I guess. Today, I think I’m a more evolved Entrepreneur or CEO as you may put it, and I think that the most critical element that we now see is the eagerness to learn new stuff, because it is clear that this space needs a lot more people to come. And if we create barriers of having a certain set of understanding of blockchain or of crypto or Ethereum or Bitcoin, for the purpose of hiring people, I think then we are not doing justice to people who are already a part of the industry. I think it is absolutely critical for people like us to be able to give the opportunity to new folks who are coming into the industry, and at the same time, just judge them by their eagerness to learn and their proactiveness.
So I think that we look for those are the two key things: eagerness and proactiveness. And we really don’t care if you understand the space or not. So, I think that’s something which we work together on, you know, imparting knowledge, sharing knowledge, and essentially doing something meaningful together.
Host: I think that’s great advice. And again, for anyone listening and out there, who’s wanting to get involved in this space one way or the other, you don’t have to be a coder, you don’t have to have any sort of qualifications. As Ish mentioned, if you’ve just got that eagerness to learn, and also the ability to be proactive and put content out there, or engage with people and networks, to chase after things, it really makes a big difference. Which then leads me on to the next question, as your team grows and your project grows, and as the platform goes live, if anyone’s listening to a podcast and is interested in working for PlotX or joining the team in the future, where could they apply for any job vacancies?
Ish: Oh absolutely, we are very soon going to launch a “careers” section on our website as well, but we are actively hiring, having conversations every day through our network. So, if you guys are interested, we are looking for developers. We are looking for more folks on the research side of things as well. I think what we are building has the potential to transform the prediction market segment. And also, it’s actually very interesting because I feel that prediction markets have the power to attract the wisdom of the crowd. And if we are able to go to the masses, if the masses are able to use the product, we might end up creating something which hasn’t existed, in the traditional world as well.
So, I think there’s huge potential. We are looking for bright minds. If you guys are interested in having a conversation with us, hit me up, I’m available on Twitter and LinkedIn, my messages are open. There’s also an email address- email@example.com. Whenever you guys want to apply, I’m always very happy to have conversations and take it to the next level together.
Host: Fantastic. And again, for anyone listening out there, I think this is a great opportunity to join an emerging project. And as Ish mentioned, it’s potentially something that’s never been done before, you think of how Uniswap has disrupted the exchange market. You guys are looking to do something very similar in another element of the industry. So just as we wrap up here, it has been very interesting Ish to hear your journey, where you’ve come from, your experience, the challenges involved in building the platform, how you’ve grown. One thing we always like to talk about on a positive note is, for anyone listening out there, although it’s probably been tough at times to come from where you started to where you are now, what’s something that makes you feel very positive when you think about the journey of building PlotX, something that makes you proud.
Ish: I think, in terms of what made us proud Digi, honestly, the fact that we were able to build out a very complicated idea, in a span of months, and then launch it, test it and put it out in the public. I think we are absolutely very proud of being able to do that in a short span of time. So, I think as a team we’ve been able to deliver something very quickly, at least on the alpha, and be absolutely very proud of that in the journey of PlotX.
I’m also very proud of the love that has been given to us. I mean it feels like the last one month has probably been the busiest of my career. The kind of openness and kindness which people have trusted us with, they are coming forth and giving us feedback, telling us what not to do, what to do, how to improve. And we’re proud of the whole idea, which is the fact that PlotX is essentially built for the community and there is absolutely no control by the founder or the CEO once it launches on the Mainnet. It will be governed by the PLOT token holders, the token which we are going to launch, and community governance will essentially lead to decision making on the platform. So I think even though that has not happened yet, that ideology has kind of drilled down in the community today and they have taken the ownership of this by coming forward and discussing their ideas on the discord channel and the telegram channel as well.
And this space is like that. I mean, if you try to do good, at least we would like to believe that we are trying to do something meaningful here, it’s not like your corporate industry where people would not do anything unless you cut them a check. Here people come to you and they give you ideas. It’s an open ecosystem, the code is open, so anybody can go there, and in fact, people are actually going on the code and telling us how we can improve a particular side of the code. I mean, that’s absolutely phenomenal!
So, in terms of what we are proud of, I think, we are very very proud of the fact that the community which is being built up understands that PlotX is essentially by and for that community, it’s not just a bunch of developers trying to build something crazy and then just going nuts over it. This is something meaningful which is happening and that’s I think the biggest proud moment for us up until so far.
Host: I think it’s something to be very proud of. I mean, again, like someone who’s experienced in this space, the community is pretty much the core of any project and they’re pretty much the heart and soul. So having a good community as you launch, as you grow, is something very much to be proud of.
So it’s been very interesting to have you on the show Ish. Finally, as we wrap up, we touched on a little bit, a few things there about governance and DeFi etc, they’re like buzzwords at the moment. Where would you see the biggest opportunities for growth over the next couple of years in the blockchain industry?
Ish: I think I am personally very bullish on Ethereum. I’ll be honest, I think this is one ecosystem, which is best massively undervalued. And the kind of ecosystem which Ethereum has been able to build, again, which is in line with the ethos of the people working on Ethereum, and the kind of projects that have started specifically in the DeFi space, I think Ethereum plus DeFi, these are the two areas which are going to boom over the next two years. DeFi alone is a massive industry right now, it’s just the beginning.
So, if you want to ask me, where am I going to put my money in the next two years, it’s going to be Ethereum and DeFi.
Host: Fantastic. So yeah, there you have it guys. Don’t sleep on Ethereum and don’t sleep on DeFi. It’s a market that’s only going to grow over the next couple of years and it will be very interesting to see platforms like PlotX and how they kind of grow within that as well.
So, as we wrap up here Ish, it’s been great to hear your insights. Thank you very much for coming on. We’d love to have you on maybe again in a few months time, after your launch and just talk to you about how that’s been and how the platform has grown up from when we speak today.
Ish: Absolutely. I would love to come back Digi. It’s been an amazing half an hour with you. Thank you so much for the lovely questions and thank you guys for listening in as well.
Host: Fantastic. Oh, and that just reminds me just before we go, in case anyone wants to contact you or they want any further information about the platform, where can they find you on Twitter and your socials?
Ish: My twitter is very simple. It’s @ishgoel and the same on LinkedIn. Again, if you search for Ish Goel, I think my name is a little unique, you will find my LinkedIn on google very easily.
Host: Fantastic. Thank you again, Ish for coming on and all the best with your project.
Ish: Thank you very much Digi. Thanks for having me, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
And that’s it! You can head on over to Blockchain Enterprises to listen to the entire podcast using this link: https://blockchainenterprisespodcast.com/podcast/episode-37-plotx/
As Ish said, the PlotX Alpha is already live on the Kovan Testnet and you can check it out here: https://www.alpha.plotx.io/