5 Lessons From Creating a Blockchain Startup on Polkadot

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Ever wondered what creating a startup on the bleeding edge of blockchain technology is like? If you’re an entrepreneur with a vision for a better world — it can be an arduous and lonely endeavor.

I first met Antoine Najjarin, founder of Speckle OS, at Melbourne’s Polkadot meetup in November 2018. Antoine was presenting their steadfast vision: Speckle OS would be the intuitive gateway into the world of interconnected blockchains.

They would build on the Polkadot tech stack and contribute to the Web3 vision of:

“… a Web where our identity and our data is our own — safely secured from any central authority”

In this article, I’ll explore Speckle OS’s journey and the 5 key lessons learned along the way.

The Journey

Speckle OS started with 2 team members, operating completely out of goodwill. In March 2019, they secured a grant from the Web3 foundation.

This grant helped Speckle OS financially, but more importantly — it launched Speckle OS as a highly anticipated project in the Polkadot community. As a project that positively contributes to the Web3 vision, Speckle OS is guaranteed an initial customer base upon launch.

Their initial customer base will be crypto savvy, but the real challenge will be onboarding non-crypto savvy users. Antoine acknowledges that trust & reputation is critical to succeeding in the Web3 ecosystem:

“If people trust that you’re building a safe wallet and all the code can be analysed on Github — once you establish that reputation, you can move onto onboarding the average user.”

Speckle OS will release its MVP before the Web3 Summit in August 2019. The MVP includes support for the Polkadot testnet, the Kusama network & substrate chain, Edgeware.

Account creation, multiple account storage, and transactions will be available. Staking and governance features will be implemented in further iterations.

The Team

Speckle OS has grown to 5 people, 4 of whom are developers. In a nutshell, Antoine’s role is to abstract everything away from the developers so they can focus on developing a good product.

“Things are moving so quickly that you quickly get buried. Even when focusing on a niche within the cryptocurrency space. There’s information overload, it’s hard to keep sane sometimes and filter it all.”

Lessons Learned

There are 5 key takeaways from my interview with Speckle OS:

1. Easy to Code, Easy to Understand

Substrate is predictable, easy to learn, easy to understand. Documentation is still not there, but code readability is fantastic and very self-descriptive.

“General feedback is that Polkadot JS has been very clean and easy to work with than any other tech stack. It is a testament to the team at Parity.”

2. Minimal Interaction with Parity

Due to the cleanliness of the code, Speckle OS has rarely had to contact Parity to decode how things work.

3. Everyone has Access to the Same Information.

There are no secret channels to get inside information on what’s happening with Polkadot development.

“The thing I love about Polkadot is that everything is out in the open. If you go to the watercooler, you’ll see Gav and other Parity developers just talking about things they’re thinking about implementing.”

All the latest developments occur in the Riot Watercooler Channel. It’s just a matter of whether you read it in time.

4. There’s a lot of Talented Developers

Team composition came together slower than Antoine would have liked. However, being patient by vetting people thoroughly worked in Speckle OS’s favour. They’re on the cusp of releasing a really good product.

“The blockchain space here is smaller than San Francisco, New Zealand, and Berlin. Sydney is sizeable but not the biggest. We have some really good developers here.”

5. Work-life Balance is Essential

This is especially true for those working in the blockchain and crypto space. It’s almost impossible to disconnect from work because the ecosystem is rapidly evolving. If you don’t stay connected, you risk being left behind.

“I personally make that decision to take a breather. I need to get away from the space for a bit. There’s so much going on that sometimes it absorbs you…it becomes you.”

It’s important to disconnect for your well-being. Switch off Reddit, Slack, Riot, Telegram & Twitter and enjoy the things in life that make you happy. Spend time with your loved ones. Do that hobby that silences your thought machine. Go on that holiday you keep postponing.

If your response is: “I love being connected 24/7 to the crypto world and that makes me happy”, then congratulations…I think you’ve found your calling in life!

Conclusion

Speckle OS will launch its MVP before the Web3 summit, a milestone worthy of celebration.

No one can predict what the crystal ball holds, but Antoine and his team are doing whatever it takes to deliver on their vision. Keep up the good work mate, the Polkadot & Web3 community are cheering you on!

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5 Lessons From Creating a Blockchain Startup on Polkadot was originally published in Coinmonks on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.