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.
"Now that we have the ability to onboard new assets, decentralized finance is going to start reaching its tentacles into the legacy business world. Even getting a small percentage of that legacy economy will be exponential growth for us at Maker."
If there were a juggernaut in the Web3 space, it is clearly MakerDAO. What they’ve enabled with the DAI stablecoin has changed the entire decentralized finance landscape (DeFi). Maker’s approach is an interesting one because they have structured themselves in two parts: a decentralized autonomous organization, where the community drives changes, and the Maker Foundation which bootstraps the DAO until it can successfully sustain its growth. Regardless of what either part of Maker’s two groups are doing, the end goal is the same: Financial freedom. In fact, they want to go a step further. They want financial freedom with no volatility.
Founded in 2014, MakerDAO has raised a significant amount through MKR token sales to venture funds and institutional investors. In December, Maker raised over $27 million by selling 5.5% of the available supply of MKR tokens to institutional investors (specifically, venture capital firms). That money has helped them expand their operations. In total, the Maker team consists of over 100 people distributed around the world.
Their product acts as the underlying layer for over 500 different apps and protocols in the Web3 space, and they are focused on growing that number. They could serve everyone, but they have to be careful about picking the right areas to focus on. Greg DiPrisco, Head of Business Development, took the time to talk with us about this exact thing as many as many other topics around growth, challenges, and solutions.
How do you define growth at Maker?
We have two different areas that have different ways of looking at growth, but at the end of the day, it’s more people using Maker and using DAI in some capacity. The protocol would define growth as the increase in the amount of DAI outstanding. They also focus on increasing the spread they make on the stability fee minus the DSR.
My job is to acquire more distribution channels for DAI and Vaults. I can’t give DAI utility. I can’t set the DSR. But I can help the protocol acquire distribution channels. That translates into more DAI outstanding and more users. At the end of the day, we need to integrate in as many products as possible.
What has been the most difficult part of growing the foundation and the protocol so far?
Always first and foremost, it’s education. What we’re doing is so new for people, they have to think about us as an entirely new concept. Which is ironic because it’s not a new concept. It’s what they know from legacy finance done in a new way.
When the internet was first created, people might have thought news online would not be a new concept. Something like a scan of the NYTimes just put online. But it was just the thing people already understood - reading the news - but in a new way.
What do you think needs to happen to overcome the education barrier?
It’s important to know what you’re educating them about. A big mistake is thinking most people care about decentralization. I personally care about decentralization and that’s what got me into the industry, but it would be naive to think everyone cares. What people really care about is how things work and about how it tangibly impacts their money or things they care about. I want to better educate people on how the DSR works vs. how a legacy savings account would work. I want to educate them on how close what we’re doing is to traditional finance but in a more powerful, programmable way.
What tools do you wish were there to help you with growth as a whole?
We tell the marketing people the type of businesses we’re trying to reach, then we try to make those businesses successful when they implement. Our product is money and we could, in theory, sell this to everyone in the world. In practice, we need to pick who to target to provide us the most meaningful return.
We leverage a lot of existing tools to help us with things like creating tiers of customers to reach out to, tracking employee compensation based on sales and acquisition, and more.
What are your predictions for Web3/Blockchain growth in 2020?
I think it’s going to be exponential. I say that with some confidence because I’ve seen the traction we’re gaining from a front-row seat. Now that we have the ability to onboard new assets, decentralized finance is going to start reaching its tentacles into the legacy business world. Even getting a small percentage of that legacy economy will be exponential growth for us at Maker.
If you’re interested in leveraging MakerDAO’s DAI stablecoin either personally or as part of your company’s core technology, be sure to check out Maker.