Welcome to the interview with our second grantee, Unslashed! If you are part of any staking related chat rooms or Cosmos groups, you will see Marouane frequently sharing ideas and commenting on the future of staking. This may be one of the first times that Unslashed is being introduced to the broader community!
Daniela (Q): Where did you two meet for the first time?
Alexandre: We met in early 2018 in Holo ICO chat rooms. We both were very inquisitive about the technical choices the team made back then and spent hours arguing and debating about general blockchain architecture, issues and future.
I’ve followed Marouane’s projects for a while, providing external feedback when I could and giving him different perspectives. When he came up with Unslashed, I really liked the overall idea and was very interested in joining. This was an opportunity to build a much needed piece of the DeFi structure and a chance to become active within the Cosmos ecosystem.
Marouane: We met thanks to Holo indeed. It was a funny encounter: everyone was in full “to the moon” mode on the last days of the ICO and I was trying to figure out the economic rationales for the token at that time. Alexandre was one of the few sensible voices there and we quickly started discussing other projects and sharing views. It’s funny that months later we started working together.
Daniela (Q): What is the idea behind Unslashed?
Marouane: Unslashed is an insurance protocol that is focused on the slashing risks for Proof of Stake protocols. We are starting with Cosmos Hub and planning on expanding to Tendermint based blockchains and eventually other Proof of Stake blockchains.
The interest for staking and staking derivatives-like products started on my side in 2018. The insurance part came earlier in 2017 when the exchanges and smart contracts were getting hacked regularly. During an exploration period of different designs for liquid staking derivatives, a slashing event happened. This led us to discuss with many validators about how they were approaching slashing. The different discussions and brainstorming sessions with them was how Unslashed was born. So it is not really an idea but rather a process that happened with validators and delegators that led us to build this product.
Daniela (Q): What has changed for your project from its beginning?
Marouane: Our approach changed a lot. When building a protocol, one needs to focus on the users and we somehow missed that point when we began. Having anything else in mind often leads to bad design decisions. So we had to redesign the protocol based on feedback we received, to bring more value to the future users and put them at the center. I think this is a mistake lots of projects made early on (one example would be Bancor and how it was quickly overtaken by Uniswap) and often it is something rather hard to come back from after product launch. We were fortunate enough to receive honest feedback, be able to change paths and make the right design choices.
Daniela (Q): What are your team’s goals for the short-term and long-term?
Marouane: In the short-term, we would like to deliver the best slashing insurance product possible.
In the long-term, we hope our design for an insurance protocol will allow it to take on a larger typology of risks. I think a lot of the approaches of insurance on the blockchain are broken and insurance is exactly the place where things are not supposed to break.
Daniela (Q): What is your opinion about the Cosmos community? What are the things you as Unslashed could bring to this community to add more value?
Alexandre: I’ve been in the crypto space for a while and I’ve seen different types of communities. When you have a decentralized ecosystem, most of them fall into one of these two categories:
- Either most of the developers act on their own, not caring that much about the people supporting them. When you have an idea, you’re basically left alone to build it and to understand every aspect of it. You will have a hard time gathering decent feedback from the relevant people to know whether or not that piece is needed in the ecosystem.
- Or the developers are extremely directive towards their product and leave little room for innovation. They have a roadmap set in stone and are having trouble bridging external ideas to their code and allowing new people to expand their ecosystem.
For me, Cosmos is the best of both worlds. A dedicated core team is building the best product and at the same time, focused on developing a community and a strong decentralized ecosystem. You are not left alone In the Cosmos community channels and ideas are not only welcomed, but encouraged.
When we first came up with the Unslashed protocol idea, we immediately encountered a lot of people in the Cosmos ecosystem that wanted to help us realize our vision, provide much needed advice and show us the right path to become a stack on their expanding structure.
Marouane: I think that one of the reasons blocking more holders from joining the staking world is the risk that it involves. Offering them an insurance product would calm this fear. There is also the predatory behaviour of different exchanges that started to offer staking and who are more interested in their trading fees than really securing the network. Validators are gonna need to compete with these exchanges and offer additional services. Insurance is one of the services that independent validators could offer.
Daniela (Q): What could encourage an ATOM holder to stake with grant.fish? What does it mean for your team to receive the grant? What are your plans for this grant?
Marouane: Unslashed can bring a different type of value to the ecosystem. Staking derivatives is a hot topic and there is a need for an insurance product. Insurance is the safety net that enables fearless growth and this is what we are bringing to the table.
Being one of the grantees means having support from a strong community, the Cosmos community. It also means that our project will have more visibility. The funds will be used to cover some of the costs related to the product development and allow us to continue moving forward.
Daniela (Q): Do you currently have open applications for your team?
Marouane: Yes! We are looking to hire a Senior React Developer. The position could be remote, we are flexible. We are looking for hardworking and passionate team members who are strong believers in crypto and DeFi and eager to help build one of the central pieces to the ecosystem.