Vignesh, a Y-Combinator alumnus and crypto entrepreneur, was struck by inspiration. This was backed by a deep dive in crypto entrepreneurship (co-founded BitAccess, scaled BTMs from 0 to 100), and an early mover understanding of the crypto ecosystem. The seed of the idea was simple - what else can you do with digital assets apart from holding or selling them? By March 2017, Lendroid had sprouted into a concept.
There’s nothing quite as exciting as being ahead of the times. As we saw in the earlier chapter, the very concept of lending was new in the ecosystem. Over the next three months, the operational and tech team at Lendroid got to work building the organisation and technology. We also built a working demo of lending against an innovative digital asset - an ENS domain name!
On October 11th, 2017, Lendroid was registered as a foundation in Singapore. The nature of the enterprise, and also the decisions around registration, are indicative of our commitment to transparency and process, even when the rest of the ecosystem was still figuring out the rules. You can find our certificate of incorporation here.
By then, the protocol had evolved into a more robust, more intricate, and more decentralised financial ecosystem. We got better at being able to envision and articulate what we want to do, and after an exercise in extrapolation, realised that the holy grail of an economic engine is decentralised margin trading. A sophisticated financial system, powered by trust-independent credit, kept in check by the wholly new role of ‘wrangler’.
The Lendroid identity was complete by December 2017. We had a definitive product design, we had articulated it in a whitepaper and website, established social channels to build a community. We had begun building the protocol and also planning a token generation event. Before the big leap, we took a trip to San Francisco to soak in the Ethereum ecosystem and to test our freshly minted idea among a wide range of people - coders, marketers, investors, drop-ins and potential allies. The trip was bookended by two key events.
As we saw in previous chapters, the last quarter of 2017 was marked by a lot of overlap in protocol utility. Much of the USPs were around liquidity, privacy and portfolio management. While there were several conversations with potential partners over the weeks, five partnerships were particularly relevant to the protocol as we had envisioned it then. These partnerships were the foundation of an extended ecosystem of crypto enterprises. Market forces, regulations and technology would alter this foundation dramatically, but that is for a later chapter.
We were always sure there would be a Lendroid TGE, but we wanted a lot of things in place before it happened - community, compliance, contracts, communications and more. However, as 2017 came to an end, we sensed rather than saw that the window for a token sale was closing. It was a push unlike anything we had done. Aware every minute of the immense responsibility it is, we worked towards an impossible deadline and pulled off what is arguably the last, legitimate token generation event.
Throughout a ‘packed’ December, we were firing on all cylinders - back-end, communications and events. The private phase of the TGE took place in December, while the public TGE was announced and conducted in February.
Around the time that the TGE was happening, Vignesh was at ETH Denver, demonstrating the protocol. It marked the first demonstration, a PoC of the Lendroid protocol. It was also the first core-ETH stage in which we got to articulate the decentralised, non-rent-seeking, open nature of our protocol.
One of the most significant moments of the Lendroid journey was marked by one of the most practical and utilitarian announcements. A blog that provided illustrated, step-by-step instructions for withdrawing LST from the smart contract, and adding a custom token to the receiver’s wallet. Contributors who chose to vest would go on to receive a ~230% bonus.
In the months following the TGE, our focus was naturally on ensuring that token distribution went off without a hitch. We were focused on providing adequate support to contributors across phases. We also embarked on beginning to build on the vision of the protocol, by launching developer documentation, articulating tokenomics, fleshing out a roadmap and reaching out to like-minded partners in the space.
In order to shake off inertia and shift gears, we transitioned to a brand identity we believed better reflected our conscientious, innovative nature. It was during this period that we also formed close ties with the Maker Foundation, creators of DAI, the stable currency. With them, or rather with DAI, we built Reloanr, a proof of concept secondary market for DAI.
After bunkering down for a while and building, we took Reloanr and version 1 of the Lendroid protocol and tested the concept and content at various stages across the world. This tour was bookended by two ETH Global events - ETH India and ETH Berlin, but the conversations during and around these events were nothing short of revelatory.
Between one ETH India and the next, it was not just the passage of one year, but of a series of ideas and technological choices. The regulatory and tech ecosystem continued to change and evolve, often dramatically. In particular, the SEC crackdown on several projects in a retrospective manner gave pause to many in the space. The unique challenge in this period was to keep innovating under a cloud of uncertainty. And we did.
We also religiously documented our tech forays, as well as our learnings from the ecosystem at the time. These resulted in conversations among ourselves as well as conversations with the community. These will go on to define what we build and how we conduct ourselves going forward.
Between one ETH India and the next, we shifted gears again, fleshed out Reloanr and possibilities around it, and took it to the Ethereum community. We were fairly confident of a gradual uptake by projects who would be open to running the open source UI and the underlying technology themselves. We then launched it on the main net.
The Messari Disclosures Registry is an industry-wide exercise in transparency. The disclosures database aims to become a central repository for project information, providing a level of transparency to project stakeholders that is nonexistent today, facilitating the diligence process for exchanges, wallets, investors, regulators, and developers. Lendroid is one of the earliest champions of the idea, and a partner of Messari in this effort.
Fuelled by what we saw at ETH India, we got to work on designing a never-before-seen financial system with a singular goal of making it antifragile. DeFi as it currently stands is based on a very precarious foundation. The way it deals with risk is unsustainable - ad hoc liquidations and too-frequent exploits. We sought to counter this with a unique 4-token structure, and the invention of Multi Fungible Tokens.
While Deleuze is a complete system by itself, it was also very new and not something existing DeFi projects and users are familiar with. We knew we were in for a long haul with respect to adoption. In our search for more immediate use cases, we discovered incredible synergy in the NFT space, which was booming. We are now well on the way to building revolutionary systems that straddle DeFi and NFT in a way never seen before.
It’s time for all of it to come together. Our hard-earned learnings in DeFi, and inspired innovations in the NFT space. We are now working to build DeFi Collectibles - NFTs that will carry the power to effect a financial protocol. From introducing new currency markets, permissions to set up revenue-generating liquidity pools, to unlocking hidden token rewards, DeFi collectibles will be generated every eight hours on the protocol and assigned based on probability to LST holders who stake in the system.