VALK & BC Blue Sky Ventures AMA
The transcript of AMA (17-Jul-22)
Q1: Can you give me a brief introduction about your management team and VALK?
Of course! First of all, let me thank you for welcoming me to this amazing community — for all of those who are DeFi traders and want to know how much they lost/ won and how to trade better please visit Merlin App.
And to answer question 1. We come from slightly different professional backgrounds — I came from Finance (Private equity and investment banking), and Elie from Technology, being an early Blockchain architect of BNP Paribas.
We both had various issues with the industry that we were working in; I didn’t understand why Finance (particularly private markets) wasn’t digitized, and Elie wanted to apply the knowledge and experience of tech and blockchain to his own products.
We met in 2018 as a mutual friend put us in contact and by 2019 we founded VALK. We both saw a significant need to digitize the financial ecosystem, and so we developed a tokenization solution back in 2019 for private capital markets. Since then, it has grown to host 100+ regulated financial institutions as clients and support $5B+ of deals.
Merlin by VALK is our first and primary DeFi product. Merlin provides full historical information, total gas fees spent, total yield generated, comparison to fiat value, and other advanced analytics features.
Merlin analyzes the blockchain data about all the transactions across multiple protocols that the user made with a particular wallet. Our calculation engine spots the date on which the user deposited the crypto, the price of the token at the time of deposit, and the current price of the token.
The above information helps to show the portfolio balance as well as the portfolio total and daily gain or loss in percentages, ETH or USD values, including the total gas fees, total yield generated from a specific transaction in ETH, and USD values.
Merlin shows portfolio performance over time taking into account both current and historical actions and values, so actions related to liquidity provision on Uniswap, or lending in an Aave pool are all accounted for and understood.
Q2: Please share a few major milestones of VALK during its development process.
The last 6–12 months have been incredibly busy since Merlin requires a lot of data indexation using the Graph, but our development mode has been growing strongly!
Merlin has been in various types of beta mode, with the first version out earlier this year. However, this was very private and mainly used internally to check for bugs and UI issues. We launched publicly on 5th July.
Our whole team is currently focused on adding more protocols to Merlin and perfecting the user experience ahead of our launch. Also, soon we will be going beyond pure data and allow you guys to trade better, without any execution headaches and high fees.
This will be revolutionary and you will hopefully soon be able to benefit from the best complex trading strategies and yield optimization, with no effort and time required from your side.
Other milestones include:
- Closing our seed round in 2020 with major investors including R3, SIX Group, Metavallon, Generali, and more.
- Winning major FinTech awards such as TechNation, FSTech awards, and more
A strong community not only brings interesting ideas to the project but also attracts larger partners. So how is its community planning initiative? And is there a plan to recruit people with Blockchain experience to VALK?
At the moment we are trying to actively engage with our early adopters to understand what they like in our platform, and what they want to see changed or introduced.
To that end, we have a feedback bounty live on our Discord channel and a testing competition on Gleam with multiple rewards for anyone who wishes to participate.
At VALK we always try to tailor our products to our user's needs, and through such processes, we aim to provide the best user experience possible and grow our community based on the merit of our product. Regarding the second part of the question, we are always looking for exceptional talent both on the Product, as well as the Business side.
For this, we actively encourage all of our community and everyone on this chat to help us with this feedback competition.
I see VALK has three essential components as a protocol which includes the “VALK DeFi”, “Merlin” and “MetaFinance”. Can you please elaborate to us on each of your products and how can users get involved and benefit from them?
We came up with our 3 phase plan with accompanying solutions:
1) Merlin: Merlin is our first DeFi product. It is our smart DeFi portfolio tracker which allows both institutional and individual users to obtain in-depth historical analytics and accurately tracks their DeFi positions. Merlin offers accurate PnL, NAV, Yield, Impermanent Loss and more calculations across multiple protocols and chains, all in a single interface. We hope it can help investors navigate the complicated world of DeFi and lead them to make more efficient, data-driven trades.
2) Our DeFi aggregator: an interface from which investors can access and trade on different protocols without leaving it. These trades include both simple (lend, borrow, withdraw) transactions, as well as complex (flash loans, arbitrage, leverage boost) transactions. This will be combined with Merlin’s data indexation tools to allow comparison of strategies, back-testing and yield optimization.
3) Metafinance: Our long-term goal is to bridge TradFi products with DeFi liquidity. Before VALK DeFi, our tokenization platform catered to private capital markets. We aim to bring these assets on-chain to interact with DeFi liquidity. However, this will come only once we have the best-in-class portfolio management and tracking solution through Merlin and our aggregator! Then we will be able to build connections with liquidity providers across major DeFi protocols.
Which Phase is MERLIN building? Was it open to Regular users or was it open to private beta testing?
Merlin has been in various types of beta mode, with the first version out early this year. However, this was very private, and mainly used internally to check for bugs and UI issues.
The other main issues we saw were:
- Being able to understand different DeFi strategies by end users
- Implementing the correct way to calculate PNL
However, through trial and error and fantastic feedback from early users, as well as 100s or even 1000s of iterations from our fantastic product team, we have ironed them out and are almost ready to launch.
More recently, in the last couple of months, we have opened beta mode to more users which included over 800 users who had previously registered on a website and 40+ institutions (DeFi funds, asset managers etc.), although this wasn’t 100% public until the 5th July. Since then we have had 8786 visits to our page, and nearly 1600 unique visitors.
The current version is free to use and we are opening our APIs soon so that Merlin is also accessible from the back-end.
Many projects every day promise great utility and functionality, but they end up throwing away the carpet a few days after the pre-sale. How do you really know that your project isn’t going to throw away the carpet? What guarantees do investors have?
We are building a product that will endure the ups and downs of the DeFi market. It is positioned such that there is no incentive for us to leave users and other stakeholders in the lurch — Merlin is a service provider that constantly iterates and improves with our exceptional product team behind it.
After all, that is the point of Merlin: to allow DeFi users to improve their portfolio monitoring techniques and understand key metrics such as PNL, net worth and asset composition, better than other portfolio trackers.
The success of a project also depends on how large the community is. Do you have plans to spread awareness to both crypto users and non-crypto users in the world? Especially non-English speaking countries that may be restricted from accessing you?
We are spreading awareness worldwide! Our preliminary market research, customer feedback ventures and beta testing showed that our early community did not lie just in Europe and USA, but also in Turkey, Vietnam, and South Africa. As a result, we are working on ensuring accessibility is not just for English speakers, but catered for other languages too.
This will include the content that we publish, our social media communities, and more. Regarding crypto vs non-crypto users, we are committed to making DeFi investing accessible to all: retail, institutional, and first-timers. Therefore we are of course aiming to spread awareness even to non-crypto users.