As a person who is educated enough to have a thirst for acquiring more knowledge and experience by understanding the world around him or her via the capitalist system, whose theoretical roots lies in the concept of ‘free will’ (freedom) and ‘meritocracy’, it is expected that this person will come to the realization that building and scaling a product or service of his or her own creation ought to give them a stint of holistic learning about life itself. Few journeys, if ever there exist, are more spiritually fulfilling, assuming again of course that the person is self-aware and mature enough to do so.
Ever since the internet era began as the most reliable medium of written and video content ever (due the telecom infrastructure and the dipping costs of smartphones), multiple industries have tended to become more personalized and their governing authorities decentralized. It started with the media. Now it’s prominently here in education, retail and finance. Expect the authority of their centralized governing institutions to steadily diminish as the years pass by, creating even larger platform institutions in the process.
Today, at Bangalore Insider we spoke to Nischal Shetty, the founder and CEO of WazirX, India’s most well known cryptocurrency exchange. Cryptocurrency, as a medium of exchange between two parties, requires no central institution to ‘verify’ a monetary transaction. We had a fascinating talk. Below are the excerpts from our conversation.
Give a brief info about your startup?
We launched WazirX in March 2018. It is India’s largest and fastest growing cryptocurrency exchange with over 600,000 users. WazirX is available for global audience with features like:
Instant INR (fiat) deposit and withdrawal options
Smart Token Fund to help crypto investors find expert traders, and let them manage their cryptocurrency portfolio
World’s first auto-matching P2P engine with high liquidity
Within 20 months of building WazirX, we got acquired by the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance. Our native token, WRX, is listed on more than 7 global cryptocurrency exchanges.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
I’ve been a blockchain believer for many years. However, I got serious about crypto when centralised social networks like Twitter and Instagram started cutting off API access. I realised that you cannot depend on centralised companies because they can change the rules of the game anytime they want. I’m determined to contribute towards the growth of a global decentralised ecosystem.
Then in 2017, I also tried using Indian cryptocurrency exchanges, and was disappointed with the UX and lack of transparency. Having built Crowdfire, a social media management product with 20 Million users, we understood what it takes to build and scale a global tech product out of India. We love challenges, and decided to build WazirX – a cryptocurrency exchange which offers people world-class UX, transparency & trust.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I started my career as a Software Developer and built the first version of my previous startup. It was a social media management app called Crowdfire with over 20 million users. WazirX is my second startup. I’ve known about crypto right from 2009 but became deeply involved in 2017. I’m currently the top crypto influencer in India and also creator of the very popular #IndiaWantsCrypto hashtag. I’ve been on India’s very first Forbes ‘30 under 30’ entrepreneurs as well.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We’re based out of Mumbai and Bengaluru, but working remotely for now. Mumbai is the financial capital of India, and Bengaluru is the financial capital. So, it’s actually the best of both worlds for us.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I’m the most paranoid about losing momentum in the growth of our startup. This is what keeps me awake at night. I want to make sure that we are increasing our output and growing week on week because once a startup reaches a place where it’s not growing, it’s really hard to get in back on the growth path again. So when you’re on the growth path as we are with WazirX, I want to keep the momentum going. I spend a lot of my time thinking how to further our growth and ensure our team keeps increasing the speed of the growth.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
WazirX has the biggest market share in India with the highest liquidity. Our mobile apps are the highest rated. Our unique P2P solution with the world’s first auto-matching P2P engine has helped us solve the fiat <> crypto problem for 1 Billion Indians. We also have instant INR deposits and withdrawals to help users enter and exit anytime 24×7.
Similarly, another WazirX feature – Smart Token Fund (STF) – helps non-traders participate in crypto. STF helps you choose smart traders who will manage your crypto investments for you. This feature has shown good initial response from users. We also have a spot exchange with 100+ tokens and the platform is available across web, Android, iOS, and desktop apps.
I’m the most popular crypto influencer amongst other competitors. Above all, we’re part of the Binance ecosystem which will help us rapidly scale WazirX products globally.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
I’ve started using Google calendar a lot. I demarcate my professional time, and try to set all my meetings and tasks in the working hours. It has been really helpful in ensuring that I’m excited about work the next day and there is no burn out. I’d recommend this to everyone. It is very important to demarcate the hours you’ll be spending on your professional work. You can give the rest of time to your personal self. Do some light exercises and meditation as it helps improve mental health as well.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
No, we have not raised any funding for WazirX. We got acquired by Binance in November 2019.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I don’t think people have any misconceptions about me. I’m a really straightforward person when it comes to communication and telling people what I expect. So that helps set expectations right with the people I interact with. This is why I think I’ve not come across situations where someone has a misconception about who I am or what I do. I think the expectations are set by us; I’ve always ensured that I speak and act the way I am. That’s how I represent myself in front of others, and my colleague. It’s the same.
What gets you excited about this company?
It’s the fact that we’re a part of the blockchain revolution, and how we’re working to make crypto accessible to everyone in India. Besides, crypto trading, we’re also working towards educating the masses about blockchain and crypto. We have already been very innovative. Now that we’re part of the Binance family, we have more resources to further our cause for Crypto in India.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I usually wake up at 6:30 AM. I meditate a bit, and then I start walking around the house in the morning with a fresh mind. It gives me a lot of new ideas, and helps me plan my day. I also try to think about what I did the previous day and how it turned out. After that, I help out with household chores; it is a good exercise and a break from constantly working. Then, I begin with my work. I have a daily work schedule which is calendar. In between, I have a few hours which I dedicate to working on my own with no meetings. Towards the end of the day, I try to meditate a bit, exercise if I can, and read a book, or watch television at times.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Most of the current team of WazirX were working on Crowdfire before moving on to building WazirX. Over time, we’ve expanded our time by hiring more people.
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