Transcription Episode 87

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Living on Blockchain. Today we are speaking to Vikram. Vikram is the founder and CEO for Antier Solutions.

Basically, Antier Solutions is a leading full-stack blockchain consulting firm. They become like a tech arm for your vision and ideas. They worked with the government.

They’ve also helped in developing FIO, which is an L1. So this conversation was interesting from the perspective of service providers, for people who are building in this space and perhaps somebody, you know, who got into Web3 with a bit of serendipity and has stayed in because of the technology. So very insightful conversation once again.

Antier has done really fabulously well for itself from a modest team of five professionals to a powerhouse of nearly 600 experts. They are doing wonderfully well. They are based out of Mohali and I can’t wait for you guys to hear this conversation.

So let’s deep dive right in. Hi Vikram, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you doing? I’m doing very well, Dhrusha.

How are you? I’m doing great. It’s a lovely sunny day here in Delhi. So all things good, things are looking up.

You know, for our listeners, I would love to know from you, how did you get into Web3 and now you’re the founder and CEO of Antier Solutions. So share a little about your personal journey and what led you to establish Antier Solutions. OK, so we used to be known as Antec earlier and I started in 2005.

It was more of a circumstantial startup. I would say I was badly done for two months. I had spondylitis and didn’t have any other option but to start up my own.

So that’s how we kind of started. And, you know, it was a blessing in disguise, we can say. Initial three, four years were quite lean and I was kind of working only one-man army.

And it was in 2009 when I started again with maybe like five people team. So gathered to have five people team around me and with one month backup only in my pocket. So but by the grace of God, after that there was no looking back.

And today we are close to 700 team members under one roof, which makes us the largest blockchain consulting firm out of India. And blockchain we came in 2016, 17 like that. So, you know, I would say like, you know, little success in my entrepreneur journey 2017.

So I got into my own infrastructure, like we bought a new building, like almost 1000, you know, kind of what you call it two canals. And so I was looking around that what should be my growth driver from there on, like we were like 75 to 80 people team at that point of time. And crypto was making a lot of noises.

So when I looked around, so and when I dwelled deeper into it, like why crypto was invented, I was completely sold out. Three reasons I found out. One, the economic recession, when these kind of recession used to hit the Western countries, the people used to lose their hard earned money, you know, sitting with the banks, laying with the banks.

And that was a challenge because people were trying to find something which should be, you know, beyond the control of these, you know, banks and, you know, the governments. And second was like, you know, the gross border payments was a challenge like it, you must have heard like, before five or eight years, it used to say, like we used to say, if you want to send money to UK, it’s better to take a plane and, you know, deliver it physically. So that was the issue.

And third is the financial inclusion, like even after, you know, so much widespread, you know, fintech revolution, setting up a branch for a bank, you know, in a remote area was still a challenge, actually. So those are the three issues people are trying to address with a digital money. And that’s why the crypto was invented.

And though it landed in their own hands initially, but the vision was actually sacred. And we always believed in the power of technology. We always believe that whether the Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency will be able to make it to the government regulation, but one thing it will be able to achieve that it will force the government to come up with their own CBDCs.

That was the belief we carried, you know, while entering into the, in this space. And fast forward six years, now you, I would say like six to seven years, we have already seen a lot of countries and already like starting trials with their CBDCs. And so that was the reason.

And we started developing exchange platform, you know, considering that when we can envision a paperless world, only this kind of platform will be required. So let’s build a finacle of crypto world. So that’s the kind of, you know, statement that we gave to ourselves.

And good thing happened, we evolved with this space, like, you know, from exchanges to wallets, to DeFi lending going protocol, to NFT marketplaces, to Gamify solution and Metaverse, which is also a current focus. So we evolved with this space and fast forward again, like, you know, seven years, we built up, you know, whatever you can think of in blockchain, we can do that. That’s what we tell our customers.

Yeah. Okay, that’s, that’s wonderful. So this is pretty much like you said, that your company was created for you to say, and it was kind of serendipity that led you down the web three path, and you elaborated kind of on the motivation as well.

So if you had to perhaps sum up, you know, what Anteo does in two, three lines, how would you put that across? I would say, you know, a transitioning from web 2.0 to 2.5, you know, maybe like in the current scenario, because I do feel like 3.0 is a kind of like long term reality, which can never happen as well, but because you always need to know your customers. So we help, you know, customer, you know, decide their web 3 footprint, help them, you know, come up with their, you know, web 3 products, 2.5 products, and help them, you know, launch them into the market as well. Okay, so you are probably one of the full stack blockchain consulting firms.

So you help the, you know, founders with end to end solutions regarding building their vision. Would that be correct? Yes, absolutely. Right.

Like if you want to do something in web 3, but you have an idea, but know the technical know how, know the, even the business functional know how we can help you end to end. So, you know, starting for the product development to the customer acquisition, brand awareness and customer acquisition, we help 360 degree. Okay, that’s wonderful.

So, you know, your video background and your experiences, how did, like, you know, you’ve mentioned that this was more serendipity, that, you know, you got into web 3, what has made you stay in this space, you know, through these bull and bear cycles, and every market sees ups and downs, but how have you managed to sort of survive and what kind of belief system has kept you in web 3 over the years? So, Trisha, as I said, like, you know, we always believed in the technology and vision is always 1%, 99% is always alignment. So, that’s what we believe in. And what, you know, kept us moving through even the beer markets.

So, you know, the rise of something is the fall of something else, right? So, we always kind of made sure to keep a very close eye on the trends and what kind of like, you know, the incidents or the changes in the market would lead to the disruption. So, we always try to, you know, keep finding our, you know, blue ocean, where we would be operating on or the kind of, you know, the service we will be chipping in to respond to the market challenges, changing market trends as well. So, I would say persistence and a strong vision to be the most trustworthy brand in the world.

Like we used to say, like, let’s build the emphasis of blockchain. That’s our vision. Like our vision is to create a successful out of this region, because how many companies come to your mind if you think of a successful IT company based out of Mohali or maybe Punjab.

So, we want to, you know, kind of, you know, create that big story, which, you know, can inspire others in our area to rise up to their personal, you know, goals, and, you know, do something which is towards like, you know, the larger, you know, vision, you know, beyond themselves, you know, for the society. So, that’s kept us moving and still, you know, making us move as well. So, that’s the reason, yeah.

So, how large is your team size? And how many projects do you take up in a confident way? Like, parallelly, how many projects do you work on? So, we are close to 700 team members under one roof and being out of our own infrastructure, which is fully capable to, you know, support additional workforce of 500 to 800 team members. And we work on, you know, 25 to 30 projects, you know, at one point of time. Okay.

Yeah. So, because of our size, and a lot of work is being done in the protocols development, we also, like, hold the capability of working with, you know, the top 15, you know, public blockchains. And as I said, like, our vision is always bigger, because as we want to, you know, become the largest in our space and trustworthy.

We also have like a one another initiative, wherein we have given ourselves like four goals, like one, to create a B2C success story, two to create a B2B success story, three to create a B2G success story, I mean, to say, business to government, and then B2E success story, which is business to education. So, we talk about the first one, which is a digital asset to wallet, where our vision is to become the Google crypto, that’s what we are aiming for, which is very much at a level where it can go very big product is completely ready. In B2B space, we have built a product, which is more of on the infrastructure side, which every company would need.

On the B2G side, we have, you know, innovated one of the largest, we have sold one of the largest problem in the government space in the government space, which is called question paper leak. So, what we have done, we have built a solution using public private key combination is which can conduct government recruitment exams without any intervention of any human being without the intervention of human being. So, what we have done, we have done two pilot projects with the health department Punjab as well, wherein we have created the history, where a question paper was designed in a trustless fashion, and printed in a real time environment.

That’s the kind of history we have created last year. And we also got a reward award for this product from MSME console of chamber of commerce in Delhi last year only as a product in the blockchain space. And last but not least, that is the B2E.

So, if I it is a very proud, I would say like, we feel very proud to state that 95% of our team member learned blockchain after joining us. So, which was the reason because of so the reason behind that was our kind of L&D division in house in house L&D division. So, we had understood it very early on that the people who will make it big, you know, in this industry will have to learn how to make their own bread, because of the niche, you know, technologies.

And so now we have, you know, spinned off that, you know, vertical as a new organization, like which is called entire school of block tech, which aims to spread blockchain education in the nearest local colleges and universities. And because our statement our submission to the government of India is like, you know, when you teach databases in the course in the universities in your BTech programs, MCA program, you also need to teach DLT as well. So, it should be essential subject in all the technical curriculums, technical subjects.

So, that’s our submission. And that’s what we are, you know, trying to, you know, kind of take it to the governments and get it implemented in Punjab, starting with Punjab, and then moving on to India level. Right, right.

I think you’ve made some very good points here, you know, in terms of introducing this kind of learning and these skills should be derived within the organized education system and how you guys have a very impressive repertoire when it comes to working with agencies, government and startups. Can you highlight a few of the projects that you’ve done or are those confidential and you know, you really can’t name them? No, we can definitely, you know, name a few of them. So, if you in the protocol development space, you must have heard of fire chain, is a, you know, kind of environment sustainable kind of blockchain.

So, we build, you know, we are the people behind that solution and in terms of technology, we are their technical partner, technology partner. And so they one of the unicorn from India. Another one is a, which was a latest addition was cyber.

And there’s another customer we are helping them in asset organization platform, which is called opium pro marketplace. They are also about to, I would say like, you know, closing their next round of funding. So, but this is a very important to know that what we have achieved in the asset organization space that we have covered three jurisdictions, India, UK and US.

So, all these startups are working very closely with the, you know, local regulators. And so, our solution is being is powering all these startups, you know, to kind of, you know, help them in their business. Right, right.

So, you mentioned that, you know, you’ve worked with fire. So, were you guys the architect of their testnet in the main chain? Yeah, as I said, like, we are their technology partner. So, which means like, what direction comes from them, we provide them the entire, you know, solution and you know, how to achieve those goals.

Apart from that, I can also, you know, name a few of initiative in the Metaverse space, like, you know, Tata Steel and PT Lite. So, we also have them and we also had one of the customers from Saudi Arabia. Okay.

Converting their, like, bringing up, you know, like developing a hospital on to Metaverse. So, again, like, we are handling a use case where we were trying to simulate the same experience when what a person goes through when they are kind of, like, under, like, fear of heights kind of, you know, mental health diseases. So, yeah.

So, this kind of work we do a lot. Oh, brilliant. That’s wonderful to know.

How do you take care of the security aspect? Like, do you also do the auditing of these contracts that, you know, you guys are building? Or do you have, like, a security audit partner? Yes, we do internal audits. And at the same time, we also encourage our customers to also, you know, conduct their, you know, external audits as well. Because you can’t, you know, take any risk because of the high levels involved.

Yes. So, both are in their, like, function in tandem. Yeah.

Okay. That’s wonderful. Because security becomes, like, a bigger concern when, you know, technology is being, you know, when there are technology partners.

I think, you know, any investor gets a little iffy when there is outsourcing being done or there is a technology partner. So, I’m glad that you guys are kind of taking care of that as well. You have described yourself as a blockchain evangelist, right? So, how would you entail, what does that role really entail for you on a day-to-day basis? How do you advocate for this technology, both within the and, you know, reaching a wider audience? Right.

So, what we, you know, from the leadership perspective, we work very closely with the various blockchain associations as well and play a very constructive role in most of the, you know, events when we get an opportunity to speak or address or give our views on certain topics. So, that is a level which are, you know, the people from the leadership position, you know, in our organization. So, they participate in the various events.

And even recently, we had our own presence in the Token2049 in Singapore, which happened last year. So, it was a very good experience and the kind of work we have produced so far, like, I would say we, people know us, like, so, we generally tell our people, like, you know, whether, you know, in the last five or eight years, if anybody would have asked Google, like, who are the people building in Web3 space, they know us. Whether they have hired us or worked with us, that is a secondary thing, but they know us.

And on the day-to-day perspective, so, as you know, like, every organization has, like, you know, three layers, you know. One is the always focused beyond one year, two years things. The second is, like, short-term, six-month, and third is the, like, day-to-day task.

So, that’s how our organization function as well. So, there is a very promising second layer of leadership, which, you know, works towards the short-term goals quarterly and half-yearly. And then day-to-day works are being handled at the DLs levels.

Yes. I hope this answers your question. Yes, absolutely.

This does. This is wonderful to know that, you know, you guys are taking such initiatives. And as an evangelist, are you actively trying to create content as well for people who are perhaps new to the space or people who

Yes, so that is our one of the, I would say, strategy. We produce, I would say, like more than 10,000 words every month, you know, worth of content. And people refer to and take it as a go-to place to learn blockchain.

If you look at our website and our blog section, so you would cover each and every topic which would have been, which would have made news in the last five or eight years. Okay, so you try to cover basically whatever is making the news and making sure that it is being disseminated in a way that people are really understanding it. Yes, so the part of your job, as you mentioned, is also to educate your people as well, because the barrier to entry towards crypto and towards blockchain, I would say, right.

So, it is very important that we make them understand in the language they understand, right, in their own language. It’s very important, yeah, that, you know, it should be in the words that are more accessible. It cannot always be so esoteric, yeah.

Right, right. And I can recall that back in the days when we were entering into this space, we were hiring people from Delhi on a daily basis, a regular basis, for one day session and bringing them to each team member. And I, myself personally, like used to decipher the blockchain, you know, like in front of my team in a very, very plain language, you know, in kind of a way even a layman could understand.

So, I would say that has become as a USP to, you know, us, because we got so many gestures and recognitions that the way we explain blockchain, you know, it’s so easy to understand that where people would have like spend hours of another platform, so training them on the blockchain, but our content has content and explanation has proved very handy for them to understand it. Right. Lovely.

Now, I want to kind of talk a little about your, you know, your council member for the Cointelegraph Innovation Circle. Can you tell us a little more about this role and its significance within the blockchain community? Yes, so Cointelegraph in itself is a name to reckon with when it comes to the crypto industry. And it’s also like a proud moment as well, prestigious, well attached to it when you are able to, you know, have your presence in at such a level and kind of an opportunity to share your thoughts and views from that platform with the industry at large.

So I would say that’s a very good, wonderful thing. And we are also a member to Economic Times Leadership Council as well. We were awarded as the Asia’s Best Leadership Award last year, you know, in Mumbai.

Yes. Lovely. So how does one go about becoming a member of both of these like Cointelegraph Innovation Circle? I believe that there is a form that one can fill, correct? Is there a criteria there as well? And what about the EG Council that you just mentioned? Yeah, both these organizations have their own criteria, right? And I don’t think there is any shortcut to, you know, they also have their own, you know, like they vetted, you know, all the information.

Yeah, there must be like a selection criteria as well, right? Exactly. Yes. Yes.

So, yeah. Yeah. OK, so can you tell us a little about what does this role really entail for you on a day to day basis? Like, is there something that you actively have to do as a member of Cointelegraph Innovation Circle? So it’s mostly like, you know, like other way around, like you when you produce, they do float, you know, certain topics where they would like to have the opinion of the members.

And if your time allows, because there’s no such, you know, as a kind of like deadlines or these kind of stuff or commitments. But yeah, if your time allows, you feel free to, you know, produce the content and share it with them and which they can, you know, kind of like publish. And it goes through some iterations as well, but depends like, yeah.

OK, lovely, wonderful. So moving on from, you know, the kind of work that you’re doing with Antia Solutions as well as on a professional level as a thought leader. Can you tell us the next big milestone perhaps for Antia that, you know, you’re really, really excited about? So as I said, like, yeah, so very good question as well.

And so we have certain milestone on the turnover side, which we are getting very closer to in the last couple of years. And so we are also trying to close this financial year on very good numbers. And even despite nine months of bear market and at the same time, we are very bullish on, you know, you know, for entering into the new financial year from 1st of April.

And because of the Bitcoin halving, which is coming up and the market is very bullish, as you can see. And because a lot of the time this market is more on the sentiment driven as you can understand. Yeah, I think most markets are sentiment driven.

Yes. And we are the kind of, you know, the builders basically. So the people who, you know, get who succeed in a in such an environment are the one who makes the tools, you know, tools of the trades.

So so we are in a very interesting position and place as well. And so we are just trying to, you know, reap the maximum benefit out of this opportunity. You know, you’ve mentioned several times that you have a commitment to making blockchain, you know, mainstream across different verticals.

What strategies do you employ to drive an adoption and overcome common barriers apart from, say, creating accessible content? Yeah, again, a very interesting question. So see, I started my career from design, you know, and then went on to do PGD in computer application and journalism. So I’m a blend of three things, content, technology and design.

So I believe anything which needs to be, you know, on like which requires people to onboard any platform, you know, should be designed with the design thinking approach. And which can only be applied once you have a certain technical level. Right.

So how you can, you know, make your platform user friendly, which has always been the key criteria. And even for the adoption of web three technologies, we have to ensure that the web 2.0 experience remains the same, can have underneath 2.5 or 3.0 kind of technology. However, you can’t, I would say, like, you know, make the user experience level difficult.

So that is the one thing which we are trying to achieve even through this B2C wallet. Again, we are making sure that our narrative is very simple, that if you can use WhatsApp, you can use crypto. That’s our narrative.

And at the same time, the question paper leak, the project which we have kind of initiated. So we have our goal is to make it as a de facto protocol. How the web 3.0 application will be applied in government domains, in governance side.

So there’s a kind of like example we want to set in the industry and also give direction to the multiple other web 3.0 companies. You know, how to tailor their projects and how to solution architect their projects, keeping in mind the web 2.0 experience. Yeah, I think it’s very, very important that we create platforms and make this technology more accessible because that is the only way that we are going to see large scale adoption.

So I totally concur with you there. Now, looking ahead, what do you envision for the future of this technology and its role in shaping the world or tackling global problems? So, as you know, like web 3.0 or as we say, like blockchain is synonymous to trust, right? So when and one of the foundation fundamental thing in this world, like, you know, is for any transaction to happen is the trust part, right? So when the trust can shift to the technology, to the machine, and you have better kind of assurity that, you know, the machine will not have any inclination towards any party, right? So, in my opinion, we are going through a very important phase of the history, wherein the trust is being established and innovations, new innovative platforms are being discovered and in different areas. For example, we also have one other product, which is at the idea stage, wherein we are trying to solve one of the largest problem in the supply chain, which is called drug counterfeiting, you know, so product counterfeiting.

So, again, if we can, you know, change our system, I would say it is not the people’s fault. Most of the time we hear that people are corrupt. But what we at NTR believe that when we can make our system robust enough, and don’t leave any opportunity for any actor to, you know, act dishonestly, that is where the, you know, the crux lies.

That’s where the success lies. And we can’t change people, we can only change systems, right? Everyone has the full right to achieve their own, you know, goals in whatever way they want to or they wish to. Nobody can control that.

Right. Yeah, I think that is very, very true. And so I do think that, you know, I’m very bullish about this technology.

And I do feel that blockchain technology does have the power to change and tackle, you know, a lot of problems. A lot of the kind of issues that we are seeing globally, just because of the sheer technology itself and the way it kind of functions, because as you mentioned, it is kind of synonymous with trust. And that is something beautiful in this day and age.

So I think we’re pretty much aligned there. Would you have any advice for, you know, aspiring blockchain leaders or individuals who want to make a key impact in this space? Yes, I can, at least, you know, share my own learnings. For any, like, area, like if I want to succeed in any area, one thing, which is very important that you should know is you should have like fundamental understanding of that particular domain and how it can add value to the current functioning of the systems, right? So, and you must know where you are going before you embark upon a journey, because as we say, like, if you don’t know where you’re going, where you have to go, any road can take you there.

Right. So one must understand that the roadmap we are taking, you know, where it is leading you. And are you fully prepared to embark upon and maybe address all the challenges which are going to be there? And do you have the capability or the people around who can guide you for those challenges? Because what we believe, again, like that success is equal to when opportunity meets preparedness.

Right. And when you are prepared to, you know, address the opportunities which are going to come maybe down the line six months or one year, and do you have the stomach or maybe the heart of entrepreneurship or only the stomach? You know, so you have the capability, what I’m trying to say, do you have the capability and ability to see through all those severe market, you know, scenarios as well? Your monthly requirements are so high that, you know, which are first to be, you know, achieved rather than your vision, you know, so, and again, like, is your vision is important or is just a wish? Right. So these are the, you know, some guidelines or maybe like a few things which I believe that everyone must have, must know before they embark on their entrepreneurship journey.

Right. I think that is just, in general, very good advice for anybody who wishes to be an entrepreneur. Are there any resources that you would like to perhaps recommend to people who are listening in as entrepreneurs or even just as retail users? Okay, I’ve always learned from books, actually.

So I never went to a college. My highest education was only, you know, full time, I would say, plus two. So, but I went on to do, you know, the complete my education through distance learning.

Again, it was a substantial not because I was not interested in, you know, but I would give a lot of credit to my reading habit. So that’s what I can say, because life is always about reading and writing, running, because you get running here, because you get a lot of challenges and but you never stop, you kind of you stand up and again start running, reading, because your life is too short to learn from your own experiences. So if you can, you know, have the ability to learn from other’s experiences, that is what is called wisdom, right? Wisdom is not only when what you learn from your own experience, but what you can learn from other’s experiences.

Right. So that’s the some of the thoughts actually I carry, you know. Is there any particular book that you would like to recommend? No, again, it matters like what area you want to read on.

You have leadership, you have management, you have technology, you have communication, you have sales and marketing. And that’s what I also like most about entrepreneurship, because it makes you especially when you’re working in a service industry, it makes you like complete man. That’s the tagline of Raymond, you know, but once if you are, you know, successful in your service business, you cannot achieve that success without, you know, learning about all these areas, you know, without all the challenges of different areas.

And so, yeah, I look at a couple of books,1which comes to my mind. One is on the leadership side is the three laws of performance. And there’s another one, which is called Objective Leader.

Yeah. Okay. So these are two which are my favorite, but there are many others, but these two stand out.

These are great recommendations, and I’ll link them up in the description of the podcast as well. You know, this has been a really wonderful conversation, Vikram. I think usually conversations with people who are in the service industry, it can be very monotonous and repetitive.

But I do think that you brought in some great insights, and there will be something for everybody to derive from this conversation. So thank you for making the time. But is there anything that, you know, you’d like to add before we wrap this up? I would first, thanks for having me here.

And I would say like, you know, entrepreneurship is always a journey, is always a kind of choice you make. And there are certain, you know, criteria which needs to be, you know, be there, or skills needs to be honed, before you actually, you know, take the path of entrepreneurship. And if you have the time, I can take another two or three minutes.

Yeah, please go ahead. And I can, you know, so first is like, you must have the skill of a, you know, like a collaboration, you know, so when you can collaborate people towards one single vision, you then second is your curiosity, like your first level should always be, you know, at a level where you should be a lifelong learner, right? Third is resilience, you know, you being defeated is a kind of a temporary condition, but giving up is permanent. So that resilience needs to be cultivated before you embark upon any, you know, entrepreneurial journey.

Then you should also have a strong vision. Again, I discussed that like, whether your vision is just a wish, or it is a vision. A vision will let you pass through the hard times as well, which will, you know, kind of make you disappear from the industry.

And that’s I think a few things which are very much important. And last but not least, you should have an intrinsic motivation to achieve your goals. You should not be depending on anybody else to come and motivate you.

You know why you should come up and get out of your bed and go to get to work. So these are the few things which I would, you know, advise everyone that who want to be entrepreneur and entrepreneur. And if you feel like it is not a kind of a something to be ashamed of, if you don’t have, but there’s always a term called entrepreneurship, which you can always assist others, because no entrepreneur can grow without a good team behind him, right? And those are the members, you know, when they are under one single vision, only then things grow.

So that’s my advice and maybe last two cents. Thank you. Thank you so much once again Vikram for making the time to speak to us today.

This has been a really wonderful conversation. Thanks. Thanks again.

And yeah, you’re welcome.

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