How to start building in Web3/Web2 ecosystem - AMA with Arindam Roy

Hello folks! Welcome back to our weekly AMA series. This week we were elated to invite Arindam Roy, Founder Pillow.

Arindam is founder & CEO of Pillow and is a huge crypto nerd. He was previously working at Hyperverge and Shopee as Product Manager before embarking on his mission to bring DeFi to Masses.

So let's jump straight into the AMA!

Will Digital Rupee aid in the boom of the Crypto Scene in India?

I unfortunately currently believe the CBDC will be built on a proof of authority blockchain and will not be compatible with permissionless public blockchains such as Ethereum.Unless there's liquidity for CBDC being created on public blockchains, this will have little to no impact on the Web3 ecosystem. Just my view.

How can non developers participate in web3? Portfolio of work is difficult, so how to show POW apart from hanging around fav app’s discord channels.

  1. Write. Educate. Do Content.
  2. Learn to do marketing. Crypto marketing is not done on FB/Insta/Google Ads. You need special skill sets.
  3. Build community. Community managers are the core of Web3.
  4. Reach out to me and work with Pillow.

What are the projects built in the web3 ecosystem from India that you are most excited about?

  1. Onjuno (get paid in crypto)
  2. (cross chain money market)
  3. NFTically (shopify for NFTs)
  4. Stader Labs (liquid staking for Luna)
  5. Leap Wallet (Best Luna wallet ever)

Aside from FinTech, what other areas do you believe Web3 will have a significant impact?

  1. Creator economy (NFTs)
  2. Influencer economy (see Irene DAO)
  3. Gaming (see Axie Infinity)
  4. Infrastructure (see IPFS)

How do we determine the future of web3?

That's the beauty of it, right? We don't!

We own it, it's ours to determine what we want it to be BUILT.

How different is building fintech on web3 as compared to web2? What are the pros and cons?

  1. Horizons are much broader. Financial innovation is severely limited in Web3 fintech.
  2. Web3 fintech is community driven, much more so than web2 fintech.

You can build global from day 0 in web3 fintech (same blockchains everywhere), but much harder to do so in Web2.

How can Indians work for other dapps if the tx is being done in stable coins? Wouldn't you say this is a blocker for many Indian engineers? 

Dapps are traditionally built by DAOs, not centralised entities.You make money in DAOs by creating a killer product and community, and tokenizing the value of the product and the community. For a gig-based DAO payday, I suggest taking payouts in stablecoins and cashing out when convenient.

Web3 is a lot more community-driven, how does that make its way into a company's functioning and culture, and how does that affect PM-related processes? (Are they more user-driven, or something else?)

Company culture: Everyone does support. The reason you see the entire team responding to users on Telegram is because we mandate that everyone does. We must relate to the pulse of the community at all times. PM: This job surprisingly becomes easier. An engaged community is much more willing to share feedback. You just have to listen. If you are on our Telegram, you'd notice our users have basically written our portfolio update feature PRD for us. We just had to listen.

We now see a dip in the hype around image based NFT art. People see the value getting stagnant? Nothing more to do once you own? What do you feel about these NFTs and it's future?

  1. Art driven NFTs, according to me, need to have no purpose. A Bored Ape is just a Bored Ape. It doesn't need to be anything else.
  2. Utility driven NFTs will do well, in my opinion. Unique avatars/weapons/ecosystem components in gaming for example.

Digital land NFTs are growing. What's your take on that?

I love it. It is one of the best examples of tokenizing real world value of a completely digital asset. Gaming accounts with gear, land etc were being sold on eBay for ages. These innovations are just doing it without the marketplaces taking a giant cut.

How to understand DeFi?

Read Ethereum docs.

Whom should we follow on the internet to learn the basics about web3 and crypto?

The Internet is too noisy. Read Ethereum docs. And then start building.

How can someone with no prior experience to DeFI, but experienced in Finance transition into working for DeFI products. Are there any learning paths / blogs / resources that you recommend ?

  1. Hedge funds who now do crypto trading.
  2. Work for DAOs and contribute to building financial models.
  3. Reach out to me and work with Pillow.

What is the one thing that annoys you about your space (crypto/web3)?

  1. Metamask scam bots.
  2. Influencer pump and dumps.

What are some interesting DAOs or DApps that have or will get great adoption according to you?

We're talking about the future, right? I think DAOs where you can work for bounties would completely change the gig economy. A good example is

Who you look upto in this space of Web3, Crypto, etc.

  1. Sandeep, JD, and the entire Polygon team.
  2. Scott Lewis (DeFi Pulse)
  3. Andre Cronje
  4. Chris Dixon, Sriram K (favourite Web3 VC)
  5. Aniket Jindal and the Biconomy team (shipped BICO from India)
  6. Balaji S

What do you think would be the best starting point of the web3 era in application?

  1. Lending has been completely disrupted (Aave, Compound, Maker)
  2. Trading has been disrupted. (dYdX, Uniswap)
  3. Art (NFTs)
  4. Gaming (Axie)

Which 1-3 books have greatly influenced your life?

  1. Black Box Thinking - Matthew Syed
  2. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy - Richard Rumelt
  3. The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri

Which has been your favourite failure and your learnings from it?

At a SaaS startup I was at, we built a feedback tool that converts comments on facebook/insta/twitter posts as support tickets and allows brands to manage customer communication on native platforms. It was brilliant, and did very well. So naturally, we thought the next step was to build a tool for them to post on facebook/insta/twitter. BIG FAIL. Big brands use marketing agencies for this. No one bought the tool. The agencies had their own. Learning: Validate, validate, validate. Even if it's just an adjacency, an add-on, every tiny thing. You never know what you don't know.

What drew you to this field?

I was building an onboarding journey for a credit card company in my previous role. During the same time, I took a loan from Compound after posting $ETH as collateral. It took 3 seconds. I became a believer. Never looked back.

How does Pillow manage to give consistent returns for stable coins? Do you invest in other assets to generate a larger interest or loan out to retail / institutional investors? Isn't that risky?

If you're a part of the Pillow community, we answer this there as well, but here you go.

  1. No unsecured lending.
  2. No leverage.
  3. No margins/futures/options.
  4. No trading.

is ever done with your crypto in Pillow. We generate interest via 

  1. Over Collateralized lending
  2. Participation in money markets
  3. Staking

We are just super deep in DeFi and actively manage the portfolio. We operate on 10+ blockchain, and work with 450+ protocols.

Pillow gives 18% in return. Practically speaking, is there a chance that the user may not get returns? The investment value may go down for some period? Since it's all investment, right?
  1. Pillow gives APY. That's APR compounded optimally.
  2. Pillow protects you from market risk and custody risk almost completely. Protocol risk is also almost completely mitigated due to deployments happening in blue chip protocols only that manage $Bs in capital.  

How much red tape did you have to overcome to build something like Pillow? Are there still legal grey areas from the government?

  1. We do KYC for every customer.
  2. We insure assets for over $100mn.
  3. We have AML/CFT and on-chain fraud checks for wallets interacting with us.
  4. We are now partnering with folks to automate your tax reporting too.

Red tape is both good and bad. While it is painful for founders, it protects you as investors. Please do research. Any product claiming to be completely safe is not. If there was no regulation, people would try and claim these things. Now, they won't.

How did Pillow get its first set of users and establish credibility? 

We did this differently. We asked our initial users to deposit money, and they told us what things they would want to be built before they even consider depositing funds to Pillow. We then built those things, and went back to the users. They deposited, and then saw outcomes. Then they referred to people. Now, we are an unstoppable army. Simple rule of fintech/Web3: Ship what you say you'd ship. Believers will come.

What are the top 5 challenges you are facing while building Pillow?

  1. Regulation and Compliance.
  2. Getting initial users to trust us with even a single dollar.
  3. Getting smart folks (who now love being here) to take the leap and join Pillow.
  4. Educating users about a completely new asset class.
  5. Making @Suhas Motwani a Pillow customer.

What are your top 5 learnings while building Pillow?

  1. Be honest while building fintech. People crave honesty in fintech.
  2. Educating about reward is easy, educating about risk is harder. (see how hard Pillow tries to explain protocol risk to you before investing)
  3. Investors are okay taking risks. They are not okay taking unknown risks.
  4. Treat capital with respect. Both customers', and investors'.
  5. Love your team. Love them with all your heart, and hope to dear god they love you back. My team does, and I am in heaven everyday.

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