zkLend X Astraly AMA Recap 15/06/2022
On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, zkLend Co-Founder Jane hosted a new AMA with the Astraly team (prev. zkPad). CEO Matteo, CTO Matthias, CMO Nicolas, and Jane got to chat about community building, launchpad protocols, and of course, soulbound tokens, among other topics. Check out our recap below:
Listen to the full recording on our Spotify now.
Matteo | Astraly: I’m Matteo CEO of Astraly. I’m a computer science engineer specialising in embedded systems and I found out about Web3 thanks to Matthias who introduced it to me three years ago. That’s how we started building in the Ethereum community and eventually on Layer 2, Arbitrum, and StarkNet.
Matthias | Astraly: Hello everyone, as Matteo said I’m Matthias the CTO of Astraly. We both went to the same engineering school, building in both DeFi, NFTs, and also participated in many hackathons. We were very interested in L2s, we were right at the beginning of Arbitrum and quickly realised the trade-offs between optimistic rollups compared to zk-rollups which ultimately led us to come to StarkNet.
Nicolas | Astraly: Hi everyone, my name is Nicolas I’m the CMO of Astraly. I’m an engineer by formation and a marketer by heart. I’ve worked at Amazon Web Services and then at a venture capital firm operating in between Paris and San Francisco so investing in crypto startups. I got into the space two years ago by basically being surrounded and meeting crypto entrepreneurs. Just before joining Astraly I co-organised NFT Paris which was one of the biggest events around NFTs.
- Jane | zkLend: What does Astraly do? And who does it serve?
Nicolas | Astraly: We’re a launchpad and community engagement platform for Web3 projects focusing on the StarkNet ecosystem. We help early-stage Web3 projects launch their token and we allow them to pick the right orders using on-chain analysis.
- We review the project and make sure we align with the team, and their long-term vision, check they have good tokenomics with our advisors.
- The project gets listed on Astraly.
- Astraly users can now apply to participate. They get selected based on the number of lottery tickets that they own which is determined by staking our token and doing quests.
- Quests can be social quests like interacting with the protocol on social media or product quests that include on-chain interaction with the project.
- Next step is you can burn your lottery ticket and try your luck at being selected to invest in the project.
- To make sure that the project delivers and that everything runs smoothly. The funds are delivered to the project gradually through a vesting program, roughly one year. And if things don’t go according to plan users can get refunded.
Our long-term vision is we want to create a protocol that helps projects issue their soulbound tokens. We see this as a way to bridge off-chain actions, like sharing things on social media and rewarding them on a way that is verifiable on-chain.
- Jane | zkLend: You guys went from zkPad to Astraly a couple of days ago. Can you share more on the reasons behind your rebranding?
Nicolas | Astraly: We thought the name zkPad was too similar to our launchpad, and that’s not the only thing we want people to remember when they think about Astraly, we have a broader vision for our product and we intend to bring value to projects in other ways as well.
The name Astraly is also a tribute to StarkNet the L2 that we are really proud to build on. Since a lot of their branding elements are close to the world of space and stars, we thought of Astraly which refers to stars as a really cool name.
- Jane | zkLend: Community is at the heart of what you do. You connect founders with investors. What were some of the challenges you saw in protocols when they’re trying to grow or maintain their community?
Nicolas | Astraly: We spoke to many projects building on StarkNet and we noticed that one of the hardest things for any project is getting the right people on board. By right people, we mean active users who will understand the value of the project and bring value to it.
For example, close to 50% of the project’s building on the StarkNet ecosystem are on-chain games. And what they’re really looking for is users, because, without users, the game is not that much fun to play, especially multiplayer games.
- Jane | zkLend: Could you tell us a little bit more about soulbound tokens? What it is and why would someone want one?
Matthias | Astraly: To give a bit of background, there was a paper recently released by Vitalik around soulbound tokens and how they can really leverage more use cases. A soulbound token is non-transferable NFT, think of it as a badge something that you get rewarded for, like your degree, or your diploma it can be issued as a soulbound token.
Because you can’t sell it means you start to think about it as something more powerful than you can really rely on to compute different things.
Matteo | Astraly: The use case is just to have something non-financial, unlike NFTs which a very financial since this transaction function enables your NFT to have some kind of value and you can exchange it.
But a soulbound token has no financial value as it’s just to showcase something like an achievement or just to attest your competencies. You cannot really pay for a soulbound token, and depending on which soulbound tokens you own your on-chain reputation will change.
We will be able to profile each address on StarkNet which will allow projects to make better choices with their fundraising or to engage with their community. The goal is to bridge this gap between off-chain and on-chain activity. And to grow your community with those on-chain achievements.
- Jane | zkLend: And surely it’s also not just community but also in the DeFi world, having an on-chain credit score will be very helpful. So my next question is then how far are we away from the real deal? How do you guys really see the path to implementation?
Matthias | Astraly: I think it’s still pretty early. They have been looked at since 2017 even but still not a lot of protocols can issue soulbound tokens, or maybe they don’t even see why they should do it.
And it’s not easy, there is a lack of infrastructure around this new kind of token, how NFTs exploded because we have a great infrastructure around it like OpenSea and other tools that really made it easy for people. So I think that’s what is lacking right now for the mainstream adoption of soulbound tokens. When we see the right projects using them with some great use cases then it can go very fast from there.
- Jane | zkLend: Seems like all three of you guys are actually devs, so would love to hear a little bit more about your experience on building with Cairo? As I like to ask all the projects that come on to our Twitter spaces.
Matthias | Astraly: I’ve been learning Cairo from the start of the year, January/February, something like that. I had a Solidity background so it was pretty useful to start building on StarkNet. I think it’s always better to have some experience in smart contract programming language before.
The StarkNet community is amazing, and it’s very exciting to be in such an early ecosystem. There is pretty much everything to do so right now if you’re a dev and you want to jump in into Cairo and StarkNet there is a lot to do since it’s still fairly early.
Pretty soon you start to realise why we use this new programming language to build on Starknet and how powerful it is because we are not constrained to EVM.
- Jane | zkLend: You mention something about market conditions, right? I was wondering how this has impacted your guys’ building process and what are the next steps? I guess how are you guys adapting to not only your own development timeline but obviously the development timeline of other protocols in which you guys will be serving.
Matteo | Astraly: Yeah, the market is not that great, so you have to focus on the most important things and let all those secondary aspects aside. So, we are just focusing on building and on designing everything.
I think the bear market is the best way to see who’s engaged in your community. You can continue to build your project and build your community. Those who stick around will help you thrive in the bull market. I see the opportunity to build your product with the best people in the community.
We want to thank the Astraly team and all the community members that joined this Twitter Space. In case you missed it and want to check out the full recording be sure to check out our Spotify.
zkLend is an L2 money-market protocol built on StarkNet, combining zk-rollup scalability, superior transaction speed, and cost-savings with Ethereum’s security. The protocol offers a dual solution: a permissioned and compliance-focused solution for institutional clients, and a permissionless service for DeFi users — all without sacrificing decentralisation.