This is part of a series of interviews with founders and builders in the Web3 space called the Web3 Growth Handbook. The official handbook will be released in the coming months, but you can read all of the other available interviews here.
"If programmatic trust is a value proposition to your company, you’re going to be migrating to blockchain. That may not happen in 2020, but you’re going to see the seed being planted."
There are a lot of things that need to go right for blockchain applications to succeed. There are so many moving parts that it could be overwhelming for some founders. Not for Alan Curtis of RADAR. Rather than let himself get bogged down on all the challenges, he decided his company, RADAR, would solve many of them.
Founded in August of 2017, RADAR is, as they say on their website, building products for our next financial system. That means they are supporting decentralized finance initiatives on both the Bitcoin and the Ethereum sides of the Web3 space. RADAR currently has four products: RELAY, an application that allows for peer-to-peer exchanges of ERC20 tokens; Ion, a educational platform designed to inform people of what’s available and what can be done in the Lightning Network space; Redshift, a bridge to the Lightning Network that powers trustless transfers; and Deploy, an infrastructure service that allows you to configure and deploy Bitcoin or Ethereum nodes. RADAR has raised over $13 million as they build out the future of decentralized finance.
We had the chance to sit down with their founder and CEO, Alan Curtis, to talk about the state of Web3 and what the future might look like.
What does growth look like to you?
We subscribe to pirate marketing. Much of our growth comes from piggybacking on other businesses and services. The top of the funnel is the whole planet, and then there’s the web3 world. But then when you look at services and exchanges, the users there have to pick a wallet and then explore the fragmented and wild and beautiful web3 landscape. If they make it to RELAY, we have to retain them. We define growth as being a deeply relevant destination at the bottom of a complex funnel.
What has been the most difficult part of growing your company so far?
In a traditional business, there’s a lot of surface area you can leverage for customer intimacy moments (social graphs, etc). But our customers deeply value privacy and are actively trying to minimize customer intimacy. We have one opportunity to do this really well, and that’s when things don’t go really well for the customer. The moat we’ve built around our business is world-class support. When people get confused, we lean into that friction. We do what needs to be done to make sure we don’t lose that customer.
What do you think needs to happen to overcome growth barriers?
At a macro level, all these different web3 companies we’re all fighting hand to hand combat to get web2 users interested in the blockchain space. There’s been 23 billion in capital that has poured into our industry. It’s like a 23 billion dollar a/b test to see what’s relevant and useful in our industry, but most of that a/b testing is being done by people who don’t know how to do marketing. When you look at the industry from a macro perspective, you can see why it’s so confusing to the layperson. What we need to do as an industry, we need to identify the core value propositions and start marketing the technology, not the specific companies. At RADAR, we’ve really tried to market the new user actions and create educational material rather than promotional pieces on our products. Right now, we’re in the “crossing the chasm” phase.
What tools do you wish existed to help you overcome growth barriers in the Web3 space?
Because the exchanges and the fiat gateways are the line of first defense for the 99% to get into the space, I feel those products carry the fiduciary responsibility to educate users. Only recently have you seen Coinbase invest in education. We still haven’t seen many exchanges really double down on education. For many people, they show up on exchanges for speculation, but for others it’s to experiment with the wild and beautiful world of web3. If I were an exchange, I’d like to really work with those lower in the value chain to bring them to market through education.
I would have loved to have more connectivity to the top of the funnel in a way that would benefit the 99% coming in.
What are your predictions for Web3/Blockchain growth in 2020?
If you look back at the 23 bil dollar a/b test trying to understand what blockchain is good for and what the value prop is, you have to zoom out further and look at blockchain as a database. If you look at the history of databases, we would measure databases in terms of faster transactions and scalability. Now, we have a brand new type of database with a new value prop called programmatic trust. I think our entire financial system has an opportunity to go through a massive database migration. If programmatic trust is a value proposition to your company, you’re going to be migrating to blockchain. That may not happen in 2020, but you’re going to see the seed being planted. DeFi is a movement, it’s a case study. For some industries, this will be a dramatic distribution. We’re going to see more proof of concepts and more financial use cases being proved out. RELAY and REDSHIFT has shown off the value prop all in service of the value prop programmatic trust.
If you’re building in the Web3 space, excited about decentralized finance, or interested in learning more about blockchain concepts and developments, check out RADAR. They’ve got you covered from all angles.