The best version of Web 3.0 should combine business and tech minds”
Recently, Hacken’s marketing specialist Taras Talimonchuk conducted an interview with the CTO and Co-Founder of ScaleSwap, Stanislav ‘Stan’ Stolberg. ScaleSwap is one of the largest decentralized multi-chain fundraising platforms. Transparency and fairness are the key principles of ScaleSwap. In the interview, Stan shared some interesting information about his professional background, first steps in Web 3.0, his own observations on how to succeed in Web 3.0, and what is the real value of cybersecurity for projects. All insights shared by Stan are provided below.
Road to Web 3.0
- Taras: Stan, tell us about the transition to Web 3.0. You’ve had vast experience in different spheres. Please tell us how you see those connections, and how that happened for you.
- Stan: Yes, the transition was logical because I started my way in the research space as a physicist. At the beginning of my professional journey, I realized that I wanted something more. I wanted to make a bigger impact. I wanted to work for people in the “here and now” and when you do research you cannot get the results immediately. I assume every entrepreneur has this feeling. After my time in research, I worked for different companies, mainly in the banking and insurance sectors. It was always within the IT space, specifically IT management of different projects. Generally, I specialized in security, namely, security-related and cybersecurity projects.
Interestingly, the corporate sector – at least in Europe or, more specifically, in Germany, where I currently live – is not about doing something interesting, with new ideas or at scale, but rather about how to keep the leading market position and play political games. For some time I’ve been interested in it, but then I got tired because I believe myself to be, as they say, “entrepreneur by heart”. I do have this type of mindset. I paved the way for my leaving in 2016-2017. If you remember well, it was the year of blockchain, the first ICO boom.
I had my first project named Photochain. The project is still there but frozen in status. Before the NFT hype, the Photochain idea was similar – to keep the rights for digital assets, such as video, audio, or photo on the blockchain. That’s why whenever I think of Photochain I believe it was a pre-NFT idea. We were working with corporations and content producers. Photochain, in its first iteration, was a platform where photographers could sell licenses on their photos in exchange for money. We had a lot of conversations with photographers of different levels and agencies that bought those photos and none of them believed in the blockchain system back in 2018-2019, so we were not able to enter the market. However, when NFTs became popular in 2020-2021 – their idea reached the market.
I’ve taken part in many projects as an advisor as well. My friend Ralph Gerteis, a German guy living in Switzerland, and I were united in 2021 and together we generated the idea of a Launchpad for startups. Thanks to the advising experience, we could understand what startups’ needs were. Also, 2021 was the period of the blockchain boom, which meant more startups coming to the market. New startups needed the platform, where they could make their first sales. So we created this platform – ScaleSwap.
Today, we’re still growing the business. As a result, this platform turned into a so-called Web 3.0 accelerator-incubator where we find early-stage projects, help them to fill in the gaps they have, and guide them towards a successful IDO.
Stan and cybersecurity
What is my relation to cybersecurity? Well, I mentioned that I specialized in this topic from the start of my corporate career and, as for being a physicist, it was never hard to find my way in the technological sector. However, it is worth mentioning that cybersecurity is not only about technology, it’s more than that. It’s the form of organization and building a whole mindset. All the projects I built as an entrepreneur were focused on cybersecurity, especially Web 3.0 cybersecurity. Because Web 3.0 is about transactions, these issues are mostly related to finances where there is a risk of losing money. So we needed to build systems in a way to prevent this from happening to people.
Scaleswap clients and their attitude to cybersecurity
- Taras: How much do the clients of ScaleSwap understand the importance of being secure? How do they feel about this mindset?
- Stan: I feel that cybersecurity is being popularized not only in Web 3.0 but in other sectors as well. And being in this sector, I understand that many discussed things are just empty threats to gather more clients. I assume every industry is actually experiencing this.
We do get more digitized in all aspects and everything goes into cyberspace. That’s why security awareness is important to random users and much more than it used to be 3-4 years ago. Users assume that every platform should provide a particular level of cybersecurity so that they do not risk losing money, and there’s nothing fancy or complicated about it. There’s no “wow” factor for the end users.
- Taras: Are we talking now about end users for any random decentralized application? I would like to inquire about the platform’s customers, meaning other entrepreneurs, who come to the launchpad.
- Stan: I’m talking about them exactly. I still call them random users. Non-random users are, for example, product owners who build their products and have to think about security by design. I assume that for random users, cybersecurity is still a basic necessity, a must-have.
- Taras: Well, it’s their money so they are worried.
- Stan: Of course! Well, for the backend it’s important, but on the front, they treat it as something basic, not a ‘bonus’ feature.
ScaleSwap journey: achievements and challenges
- Taras: So, you started in 2021, and it’s been one year already. What was the biggest achievement throughout this year?
- Stan: I assume the biggest achievement is that we actually started the platform. The whole platform is about how to conduct transactions. So far, nothing was lost and nothing was hacked – it’s the biggest achievement. I was really worried about this because if something happened it would have a horrific impact on our reputation. We built our services and platform to be DDoS resistant. That’s the moment I’m most proud of.
- Taras: What was the hardest in preventing DDoS or any other attacks? Also, what was hard in organizing the company? Since you’re a startup, I can imagine how hard it is to build one?
- Stan: It was hard for me having previous experience in the corporate sector, I had never come across real big attacks. I was working in Deutsche Bank, PostBank, and Ergo Insurance, but I heard much less about cyberattacks than I could come across in Web 3.0. Previously, I could only hear about some small DDoS attacks, but before we built resilient defenses, here I had faced them. It was the first time I really came across cybercriminals. At the early stages of our growth, we had around 300,000 community members and we got attacked. Our defenses were not strong enough and we lost 20% of the community. Things had to change.
The impact of cyberattacks on Web 3.0 projects
- Taras: How do you estimate the damage caused by cyberattacks?
- Stan: Well, there are different projects. If we talk about DeFi projects, all of them are connected to transactions and finances straightforwardly. Therefore, for DeFi projects, security is the number one priority. However for us as a launchpad, there were 2 key points – security and DDoS resistance.
Cybersecurity in ScaleSwap
- Taras: When you started, did you have someone in the team, except for yourself, who was aware of cybersecurity?
- Stan: No one. I was the CTO of the project and I was hiring a technical team. Of course, our developers are familiar with cybersecurity. But I strongly believe that if you’re technical lead or CTO – you have to control the key points yourself. You cannot fully rely on developers, no matter how great they are. Thus, the key points are researched much by me first.
Successful Web 3.0 project: a combination of business and tech minds
- Taras: That’s good for you. You already have a technical background. I assume not many entrepreneurs in the DeFi industry are technicians. What do you think? I assume they are more business people.
- Stan: I can talk to other entrepreneurs, because we are like an incubator for innovators, with over 100 projects a year. I was talking a lot to other entrepreneurs and I can say that the best team is the one combining business and tech minds. For projects where there is only one out of the two are typically failing. I do not believe in successful DeFi projects which are built only on business skills. At the same time, I do not believe that genius developers without business, marketing, and sales skills can run successful projects. Usually, they have no idea where to market their skills and how to sell them, they just focus on creating the best version of the product possible but it’s no use if they can’t reach the right audience.
The most important aspect is customer development when you know who you’re developing for and why. We have one project, an off-chain data decision-making solution for VC. I’m also a CTO there. At first, the team started by putting everything they wanted into the product. I had to stop them and put customer development as a higher priority. After this, it turned out that people wanted something absolutely different. Customer development plays a key role for me.
ScaleSwap and Hacken: first contact
- Taras: That was exactly why I got interested in the startup industry. I’ve read a few books and got excited by the fact that you can understand what is needed on the market right now and get feedback immediately. Zhenia mentioned that you started working a year ago. So it means you’ve just started, right?
- Stan: A bit less, I would say. Probably 10 months ago.
- Taras: Okay, a few months after the start you realized that you needed to get someone involved.
- Stan: Well, at the start, when we were hiring the ScaleSwap team, I was making contacts with different technical organizations, including cybersec and that’s when I met Zhenia. I did like the team and she also gave me a few more developers I am still working with. She is still helping us a lot. So we’re also referring clients to Hacken.
Great thanks to Stan for this wonderful interview. Transparency is one of the main attributes of prominent businesses. The more industry leaders speak with the community about cybersecurity, the higher the chance to stop cybercrime.
We are preparing the next interviews for you. Stay tuned!
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