Ishan Pandey: Hi Ish, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind PlotX?
Ish Goel: Hi Ishan, glad to be here. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 14 years. I spent the first 9 years trying to build businesses in tech - SaaS and eCommerce. Most attempts didn’t scale, and I pivoted multiple times.
I got into crypto before it was cool :) Won a couple of hackathons, one being the London Blockchain Week Hackathon in 2017.
Joined Nexus Mutual (NXM) as their Founding CTO (2nd employee) in 2017 and got a 100x exit in 2020.
I started building PlotX in 2020. We raised $2.4m seed in 2020, pre-series A of $5m in 2021. As of Jan 2021, PlotX has crossed 150,000 paying users, growing at 144% MoM for the last 6 months.
Ishan Pandey: What are your views on NFT based games?
Ishan Goel: Decentralization + NFTs + Games + Finance = GameFi = 1000x opportunity to bring the next billion into crypto. I have a strong belief that GameFi products will redefine how tech communities design experiences for the next wave of digital products post the pandemic.
NFTs have provided the much-needed impetus for the web3 space to go mainstream as artists, players, the gig economy creators have realized the potential of their work being 10x higher when they utilize NFTs for value transfer. This is still the tip of the iceberg and there’s a lot being built under the hood.
At PlotX, we are building an X-2-Earn GameFi ecosystem that will redefine how users from emerging economies access the new age skill-based games. The community has seen initial success with over 150,000 paying users in the current game in just 6 months, and we’re now ready to diversify.
Ishan Pandey: The Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC) has recently debuted as an open platform for Bitcoin miners in the wake of an outcry over the volume of fossil fuel-based energy used to mine the cryptocurrency. Do you think this council will really be able to make a difference in terms of protecting the environment?
Ish Goel: Any new technology will have unforeseen effects. In the case of proof-of-work blockchains, it turned out to be the impact on our environment in the form of energy consumption. The best way to solve a problem is to first understand its scope, and BMC’s recent survey does well both in setting out the reality of that scope and underlining the improvements made through voluntary self-regulation. The positive take-out from this situation is how the community has reacted - by taking accountability and creating transparency and best practices. There’s still a way to go, but it is definitely a step in the right direction and a testament to the power of community.
Ishan Pandey: Please tell us a little bit about PlotX protocol and the current market surrounding crypto predictions?
Ish Goel: PlotX, in its current form, is a non-custodial decentralized prediction protocol that enables users to predict the future of crypto assets. We use an Automated Market Making algorithm to create, settle, and distribute rewards. We have developed the ‘Web 2.5 UX,’ where users can conduct transactions for as low as $1 without having to pay any gas charges.
The fairness of the protocol can be gauged from the fact that the more people engage with the platform, the more their prediction accuracy improves. This was a happy observation for us since it implies that knowledge and skill are the primary attributes towards getting rewards on the PlotX protocol and that these attributes can be developed over time through practice.
Prediction markets as a category have been around for a while and the inherent attractiveness of it is simple - can we harness the knowledge of the masses to get a sense of what the future holds for us? There are legacy players in the category in the likes of Polymarket and Augur, so it was exciting for us to see the kind of growth that we experienced.
That being said, we are now moving towards a shift in the product, where we are looking to leverage our prediction protocol to get into GameFi. We will soon be launching our Play2Earn game intending to bring the next billion onto web3.
Ishan Pandey: The parent organization of Facebook, Meta, is seeking deeper compatibility with blockchain technology. Do you think we are fast approaching mass adoption of Blockchain technology across all sectors?
Ish Goel: A 100%. I think we are at the cusp of mass adoption and the craze around NFTs has led that. What Meta is doing with their metaverse attempts now looks like a natural progression of how social interactions evolve over time. However, it will be interesting to see if Web2 companies like Meta respect the ethos of decentralization that is the original promise of blockchain technology, commonly known as the Web3 communities.
I think the real mass adoption will be a function of when Web2 companies realize that it’s no longer about data - but instead about decentralization and communities.
Ishan Pandey: What part did the pandemic play in traders being able to benefit from their cryptocurrency investments? Further, how do you envision the blockchain ecosystem in the post-Covid-19 era?
Ish Goel: The way I see the pandemic - I think it acted in many different ways for different people. A lot of smart people I know dedicated a substantial amount of their time in 2020/1 in going deep into the crypto rabbit hole, understanding the core tenets of the technology behind it.
That has resulted in a lot of smart money moving into the ecosystem. If you look at the bull cycle of 2021 vs that of 2017, there’s a stark difference in the kind of capital that’s available today, the maturity of Web3 teams, the quality of talent and so much more.
The pandemic has served an excellent purpose to the crypto ecosystem, especially as people observed how unstable the global monetary policies can get compared to limited supply non-custodial and decentralized monetary policies promised by Web3 communities such as Bitcoin & Ethereum.
Ishan Pandey: Walmart has announced aspirations to explore the extremely immersive virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) and Blockchain-based world amid the excitement surrounding Metaverse. What and how do you think metaverse has revolutionized the industry ever since it was launched?
Ish Goel: I think we’re all living in a Metaverse given our Gen Z already spends about 8-10 hours on a screen. The majority of the internet today is on mobile and we’re immersed in digital experiences across all spheres of life.
The name metaverse adds more focus to that aspect. And to the fact that our digital interactions can start feeling a lot more real with an overlap of immersive VR/AR.
I think Walmart’s announcement is just one amongst many that are about to follow.
Ishan Pandey: The amount of Bitcoin spot trading has declined considerably over the past six months. How has this impacted the industry and when and how can we expect the prices to rally upwards?
Ish Goel: Spot trading volume has nothing to do with the impact on the industry. Every market goes through cycles of bull & bear. The current decline in volumes has come after a massive surge in the last two years. For what it’s worth, lower trading volumes have historically signalled a high development phase across the crypto ecosystem which has always taken the industry ahead in terms of tech innovations.
Ishan Pandey: What does the roadmap ahead look like for PlotX and the crypto industry as a whole?
Ish Goel: I’m very excited about the future of PlotX. Our new product, the Play2Earn game, is going to be the gateway for web2 users to enter the web3 world. We will be allowing users to turn their time into money, hopefully becoming the best platform for crypto earnings for emerging economies. We will be unveiling multiple core gameplay features such as PvP battles, individual avatars, NFTs with special abilities, leaderboards, daily/weekly quests and many more. Really really exciting times ahead!
From a macro perspective, I think this time around, many things have changed in the crypto industry. Massive amounts of smart money via institutions are coming in, web2 talent is moving towards web3 at breakneck speed, the web2 giants are trying their level best to catch up with the web3 culture, emerging economies are taking advantage of this generational opportunity and course, the technologists of the web3 space have been on the job of taking crypto mainstream.
I think in the next 2 to 3 years we’d see large amounts of web2 companies teaming up with web3 communities to give a massive surge to crypto mass adoption. There hasn’t been a better time!
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to remove informational asymmetry existing today in our digital markets by performing due diligence, asking the right questions, and equipping readers with better opinions to make informed decisions.