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.
"I think there are a lot of great off the shelf startup SaaS tools available. There’s a bit of reticence in the community to use them because they don’t align with some of the values in the industry. But they are there and available. Things like analytics tools and marketing tools are available. We aren’t extreme on either end. We use traditional tools, but we also subscribe to a lot of ideals around users’ freedom. We take a more nuanced approach than most, I think."
In the way that Shopify makes it easy for ecommerce companies to get started, Origin Protocol makes it easy for Web3 companies to launch decentralized marketplaces. The sharing economy has changed the way we do business. Uber connects drivers directly to riders, GrubHub connects restaurants to their customers, and Airbnb connects open properties with people who need a place to say. But the sharing economy has its downside, and Josh Fraser, Co-founder of Origin Protocol, believes that by leveraging blockchain technology he can help create a more equitable sharing economy through decentralized marketplaces.
Founded in 2017, Origin Protocol raised more than $38 million from traditional investors like Foundation Captial, new crypto funds like Pantera Capital, and world-famous individuals like the founders of YouTube and Reddit. . They’ve launched their flagship marketplace but plan to power hundreds of decentralized marketplaces in the future.
We had the chance to speak with Josh about building in the Web3 space, the challenges he faced, and how Origin will grow.
How do you define growth?
I think growth is the most important thing for any organization. How do you get more people to use the thing you’re building? That’s the question most businesses are asking, but it’s one of the things that gets overlooked a lot in the crypto space. People aren’t thinking about it enough. People are always concerned about tx per second and protocol level problems without ever asking about user growth.
We need to obsess over how we get people to use us. How do we solve real problems for real people? That’s the focus.
What has been the most difficult part of growing your company so far?
The first thing that comes to mind is managing people. Working with people, especially in a distributed team, can be difficult. We also have 170 open source contributors that we have to work with. For any organization, managing people tends to be the biggest challenge.
Two-sided marketplaces are notoriously hard to build. It’s a lot easier to recruit sellers than it is to recruit buyers. Sellers are motivated to post and get more buyers, but finding new buyers is an ongoing struggle.
We’re working on a new product, a decentralized Shopify that allows people to run their own stores on IPFS. It allows us to work on one side of the marketplace rather than focus on both. Our token also gives us a huge advantage in growth. We have an incentive for people to care about the project growing. They have a stake in the company. Uber, Airbnb, companies like that had incredibly important early users and partners who didn’t get anything when those companies IPO’d. So the token helps us with that. We can compete with the big companies because we can offer a stake in the platform and give the users a vested interest in the long-term success. We can do all the incentive programs, the big Web3 companies do, but we can do it with our own token.
What tools do you wish were there to help you with growth?
I think there are a lot of great off the shelf startup SaaS tools available. There’s a bit of reticence in the community to use them because they don’t align with some of the values in the industry. But they are there and available. Things like analytics tools and marketing tools are available. We aren’t extreme on either end. We use traditional tools, but we also subscribe to a lot of ideals around users’ freedom. We take a more nuanced approach than most, I think.
What are your predictions for Web3/Blockchain growth in 2020?
I think we’re going to continue to see more adoption. I think DeFi is very interesting. We’re seeing more capital flow into the Web3 space. My trading friends are talking about how much fresh capital is coming in. I think that’s a very positive sign for crypto as a whole. There will be a lot of growth around DeFi and some killer use cases for Dapps, but it’s still going to be a lot more niche. A few categories with a clear value proposition, largely around financial products will grow. Marketplaces have a clear flow of funds and need an escrow, so there will be a lot of growth there.
If you’re interested in selling products directly to the people you want to serve with no middlemen, Origin Protocol can help. Check them out today.