levy — Fantom Community Spotlight

levy — Fantom Community Spotlight

Welcome back to the Fantom Community Spotlight, where we shine a light on the outstanding individuals who make up our vibrant community. This time, we’re featuring levy!

Read about their crypto journey’s start on a sketchy Second Life marketplace, their belief in DeFi overturning traditional finance, and their work on =DAO on Fantom.

What’s your background?

My professional background is in real estate development. Although not technology related, I am an internet native, so jumping into crypto was very natural for me. My experience also gave me a strong foundation in micro and macroeconomics and financial analysis, which lends itself well to the DeFi space.

But, it was not a prerequisite to my crypto journey. I am a naturally curious person who picks up quickly on technology.

And how did you first get into crypto?

My first exposure to crypto was back in 2013/14. As an internet native, I spent much time online gaming, in forums, chat rooms, etc. I had heard of Bitcoin for the first time because people were talking about making money on it.

That got my attention. I recall buying my first Bitcoin through a sketchy Second Life marketplace website and my first altcoin purchase in Vertcoin (VTC).

Diving into the idea of Bitcoin as “internet money” immediately clicked for me. I have already sent instant messages, streamed on-demand videos, and used VOIP calls.

So the idea of a digital asset you can send and receive with the click of a button just made sense, and I never thought twice about it.

But it wasn’t until the 2017 boom that I was drawn back into crypto. This time I recognized the true extent of blockchains’ potential. And in 2020, I fell in love with on-chain DeFi and have been captured ever since.

So what fascinates you about on-chain DeFi?

Like many in the space, I have become disenfranchised by the traditional financial system. The last few years of inflation have just solidified that, and in my mind, the public is waking up to the fact that the existing banking sector cannot exist in a digital age. We have passed the point of no return on blockchain adoption.

My interest in the space is specifically the economics that drives finance. The experimentation in tokenomics, incentives, flywheel systems, and so on never fails to blow my mind. And the ability to launch code and observe human and market behavior around it in real-time with quantifiable data is fascinating.

Many people's entry into DeFi was through an AMM exchange. That technology, while now “basic,” was certainly revolutionary at the time. My first experience buying unlisted alts through Uniswap was the first time I realized the power of DeFi. Aside from on-ramping, all financial transactions could theoretically be done exclusively on-chain.

My second eureka moment was with DEUS DAO on Fantom, which is developing a peer-to-peer bilateral agreement RFQ system derivatives trading. That was the moment I saw a “breakthrough” from the DeFi 1.0 primitives to now DeFi 2.0 primitives that solved not only crypto problems but also real-world traditional finance problems. That is the next evolution for all this crypto tech to disrupt the conventional world.

Just like how email overtook mail and cars overtook horses, I believe it is genuinely inevitable for DeFi to overtake traditional finance. When you have a technology that allows for increased efficiencies of magnitude, it is only a matter of time before the adoption takes over. There are so many aspects to it, including security, custody, accessibility, composability, etc. In every way, it is superior.

Ever since trying DEUS DAO, what has your experience been on Fantom?

I first used Fantom to access DEUS, and thus far, my experience with the platform has been flawless. I love it! The instant finality and insanely low gas fees create a great user experience.

I also feel that as a currently smaller community, it is more tight nit. I have made many great connections interacting through the ecosystem. I find there is a very open and inviting culture in Fantom projects.

During my Fantom journey, I was interested and invested in Equalizer Exchange when I met Tomby, who had come up with a DAO project idea called =DAO.

It was natural for me to join and try something new in the space!

I have never been part of a DAO or an NFT project before, but this one spoke to my interests and skills!

What is =DAO and what's your role there?

=DAO (just rebranded) is a community-driven social experiment that merges the world of NFTs and DeFi. As a community project, we hope to collectively maximize our earnings, output, and influence. From there, we strive to support the growth of Equalizer Exchange, the Fantom ecosystem, partner projects, and our community.

The basis of our treasury strategy is to amass as large a veEQUAL position as possible. This is done by auctioning off =punk NFTs. NFTs grant you entrance into the DAO. 100% of the revenue from the NFT auction goes to buying and locking veEQUAL into the treasury. This is our bootstrapping mechanism. We will then use the veEQUAL treasury position to build products on top that create value for our =DAO members and the greater ecosystem.

My role as a member of the Founders Council is to help lift the DAO off the ground by setting long-term goals, vision, and culture. Along with other great members, we have developed innovative ways of creating value for =punk holders. My role in this specifically has been conceptualizing a token design, which will be used in our future product line.

The first product I am working on is a “retail” method to maximize LPing on Equalizer. In the same way protocols can take advantage of Equalizer to vote for a liquidity pool with their veEQUAL and then farm it with their protocol-owned liquidity to accumulate a larger position, our product will allow retail users the same opportunity.

This will benefit not only retail users on the platform but also Equalizer and the DAO by creating value. Once we have a product line and treasury built up to sustain our operations, we will branch out and support more of the Fantom ecosystem.

We aim to be the #1 DAO in the Fantom ecosystem, supported by the #1 exchange on Fantom, Equalizer.

And other than =DAO, are you working on anything?

Yes, I have recently joined the team at Chronos Finance.

We are working on innovating the Solidly ve(3,3) exchange model. I first fell in love with the model on Fantom through the Equalizer Exchange.

After considerable research and study around the economics, I personally found some tweaks and optimizations that could be implemented to strengthen the flywheel.

In collaboration with Fantom OG’s Byte Masons, we are utilizing their revolutionary Reliquary technology to better align liquidity provisioning on the Solidly model.

Other than my involvement with the =DAO, this is my primary focus at this time as we are working towards launching soon.

You're accomplishing a lot in DeFi, but what do you see as its biggest challenges?

The biggest challenges of DeFi I see are twofold:

  1. It is a very closed system. Most projects being built in DeFi just exist to serve existing DeFi projects. This is not inherently bad, but as long as this remains the case, DeFi will stay a very niche market. Real-world use cases must be developed, whether tokenizing real-world assets, payment rails, etc. There will eventually have to be a bridge to real-world finance.

    We are slowly seeing this start with real-world assets such as tokenized gold, treasuries, etc. Once these assets are onboarded on-chain, then all the DeFi infrastructure can start to be utilized productively.

    Currently, I see far too much capital “trapped” in DeFi, yielding nothing tangible in the real world.
  2. There is a stigma around crypto. Many retail users have been set back by either being burned on scams, pumps, and dumps, or just by getting lost in the hype. They dismiss the entire sector based on the actions of a few bad actors and the harsh reality of free markets.

    It will take a long time for this one to turn around. But moving all activity on-chain with smart contracts operating as security will go a long way.

And regarding your second point, have you faced any setbacks personally?

I have. The most challenging part of working in such a volatile nascent space has been watching my money evaporate. Whether it was the 2017 ICO bubble, the 2020 Covid crash, the 2022 CEX collapses, etc.

There are always strong emotions tied to money and it can be excruciating to watch everything you have worked for in the last few months or years disappear in hours and days. Over time, you learn how to ride the markets, accept the volatility for what it is, and disassociate your emotions from the number on the screen.

It helps to have conviction. Having seen multiple cycles play out now, I know that what goes up must come down. And through it all, my conviction and thesis on DeFi and crypto adoption does not change. Whether Bitcoin is $10,000 or $100,000, the fundamentals are the same.

If you don’t have conviction in what the space is building, then it is very likely the markets will shake you out. The most important thing is not to give up, stay engaged during down cycles, and trust in your conviction.

That’s great advice, could you share some more guidance for DeFi newcomers?

Just get involved. It doesn’t have to be a lot of capital but start playing around and exploring every opportunity you can. Try out and learn at least the basics behind AMM DEXs, perpetual trading, options, yield aggregators, lending markets, stablecoins, liquid-staked derivatives, etc.

Learn a broad general understanding of how the core DeFi infrastructure works and how they operate together.

From there, take what you find most engaging and interesting to you and hone in on that one specific aspect.

If you find, for example, that stablecoins really speak to you, you can dive deeper into decentralized and algorithmic stablecoins such as FRAX or DAI.

Learn the difference between overcollateralized and undercollateralized stablecoins. Learn how the liquidation models work. Learn what each stablecoin is trying to achieve and how.

Now that you have expertise in one of the DeFi pillars, start using it! Whether that is in DAO governance, educational content, Twitter threads, Medium articles, etc. Make connections with other like-minded individuals and start sharing your thoughts with them. Build connections around your common interests.

The beautiful thing about crypto is that it’s entirely permissionless. That means anyone can join a project and help out. And when you start putting value out there, you find other people who want to build with you. Opportunities will start coming to you if you are creating value.

The most important part is to get very deep expertise in a field, and then leverage that into opportunities using your unique knowledge base.

What does your own future in crypto look like?

I see crypto as the future of finance. And I believe strongly that the world will eventually conduct its financial transactions through DeFi. All roads point to this. The critical thing at this moment is to build the infrastructure, primitives, and tooling that will serve for the next 10, 100, or even more years.

My personal goals are to continue building. I see so much potential everywhere and strongly believe in creating value. Some are here to extract value, but that is a zero-sum game. I am here to create value along with the many great minds in the space.

This is how we will collectively succeed.

Who would you recommend to follow on Twitter?

  • Juan Angel
    Great follow and addition to the Fantom team. Very dialed in, focused, and in tune with the ecosystem.
  • Mark Jeffrey
    Have gotten a lot of great insights from his podcast.
  • DeFi Cheetah
    Has some of the best takes and is an expert in DeFi.
  • unified
    Great all-around individual and very active in the Fantom ecosystem.
  • Drake on Digital
    Another great DeFi mind, I have learned a lot from what he has shared.

Thank you! Any final thoughts?

I’ll just close out by saying I see a really bright future for Fantom, and I am excited to be a part of building it out through my involvement in =DAO. I think everyone has a lot to gain from working together and that is our focus in the DAO.

We are looking to collaborate with other projects in the Fantom space, not only to produce limited edition NFTs but also to assist them with liquidity on Equalizer. If you are a project on Fantom, please reach out; we would love to chat!

Thank you to levy for featuring in our Community Spotlight! Make sure to drop @levysaur a follow on Twitter.