This week we talked to Laurent Dedenis, Founder and CEO of Chainstack. Blockchain is such a hot topic globally and even more so in Singapore, it is about time we dive into it!
Laurent, tell us more about yourself?
I first arrived in Singapore in 1997, a long time ago! I lived here several times and I have always shared my time between Singapore and the US. Two of my three children were born in Singapore!
I came back in Singapore five years ago, for the third time.
I had diverse experiences. I worked for various funds where I took several companies from 0 to 100 millions. It was great but I always wanted to really start my own company from scratch. I was in San Francisco in the 2000s but I was too young to do it there. So finally I founded Chainstack last year and thought Singapore was a great place to do it.
You’ve known Singapore for a long time now, how do you see the evolution?
It has changed a lot. In the past it really wasn’t a place to build something. It was complicated, expensive and there were very few talents especially in technology.
There’s been a real change four to five years ago, when the government decided to make things easier, attract more entrepreneurs, provide grants and build a stronger environment for tech companies. They’ve been able to attract the tech giants here, a lot of talents, and create strong universities.
Today there is a small but true fintech ecosystem that works rather well.
So what is Chainstack about?
Chainstack is a platform that acts as a control panel for blockchains. It’s a multi-cloud and multi-protocol environment. Whether you’re an enterprise or a developer you can use our platform as a service to quickly build, deploy, and manage decentralized networks and services.
My co-founder is Eugene Aseev, a former director of Kaspersky Labs specialized in cryptography. Early 2016 we were working to create a big R&D center for Acronis, to think about how people would protect their data and privacy in the next 15 years. We focused on security, blockchain and artificial intelligence.
The basic question we were trying to answer was: “How could blockchain replace today’s very centralized world?”.
From there we actually decided to do a spin-off from Acronis. We founded the company a year ago, we raised several millions dollars and hired people. We are now 17 staff strong and we’ve released our first product a month ago, which we’ve developed in just 11 months.
It’s been a real adventure because the market is fascinating. Everybody talks about blockchain but in practice there aren’t many players and it is not very mature yet. The technology is still new, and obviously the recent press is not really in favour of the blockchain.
A lot is being said about Blockchain, what’s your view?
Everything and anything has been written about blockchain. We are very focused on a few use-cases that bring value to our customers to ensure whatever we do delivers results.
There were similar discussions on cloud a few years ago. There was a debate between public vs. private clouds, and today we see that the main trend is actually the hybrid cloud, with many companies having a mix of both.
I think it will be the same about blockchain. There will be public and private blockchains with different uses. We see well-defined use-cases in finance, supply chain, pharma and transport. Blockchain becomes a tool among others to optimize costs and flows to do business with customers and partners.
Our customers are traditional companies trying to improve existing systems. Let me take an example: many of them are existing SAP customers. Blockchain will never replace your ERP, but it can enable new decentralized use-cases on top of it. Technically you could do it with SAP, but it would be very manual, extremely costly and it wouldn’t scale.
Again, we deeply believe the winning model in the future will combine existing systems and blockchain, in a hybrid way just like cloud.
What are the main use-cases you’re addressing?
We focus on 3 use-cases
Limit the costs of inter-company reconciliation.
There’s an important costs to reconcile data and reports when several enterprises do business together. It is a huge cost for the global economy: for instance it represents 5 to 6% of the cost structure for banks. This is often referred to as the single version of the truth.
Limit the intermediaries
Today any business involves many intermediaries which add some value but also create a lot of friction. The blockchain, with smart contracts, can transform these processes and reduce the number of parties and make them a lot leaner.
Many industries need to trace everything they produce. Think food or pharma industry, but also luxury. What is interesting here is that it works both ways: using our platform a pharma company can control how they put a new drug on the market, but it also enables them to withdraw a product when there is a problem.
What’s your last word?
I think something is really happening in Singapore at the moment especially in the fintech and blockchain industry. For the first time in the history of technology, these are not exclusive to the US. It comes mostly from Russia and China, and it’s really exciting to be in the first generation of non-american tech! Today the heart of fintech is not only NYC, it is also London, Paris, Singapore and Hong-Kong.
For us at Chainstack, we just released our product and we’re running full steam to make it the most universal blockchain platform to help our customers. By the way, we’ll hold our official launch on April 23rd at the Google office so join us there!