Nodar told us how he started DeFiZap, shared his future plans and thoughts on global challenges and opportunities for the DeFi space.
Hello! What’s your background, and what are you working on?
Hey everyone, I’m Nodar Janashia, and I’m currently working on DeFiZap. I was born in 1990 in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to Brooklyn, NY, in 2002. I started getting interested in accounting, so I joined an “Academy of Finance” program available in my school. This allowed me to do an internship at one of the Big 4 accounting firms - Ernst & Young - while still in high-school. In 2012, I graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting & Finance. Throughout college, I worked in the corporate tax department of another big accounting firm - BDO - and spent a semester studying international economics at the City University of London, UK.
Shortly after graduating, I decided to join a small budgeting and forecasting software company as a financial modeling analyst and essentially ended up taking charge of sales & marketing. I spent a lot of time working with both businesses and CPA firms. I believe Ethereum is doing to finance what the internet did to the media: democratizing the creation of new financial instruments. I knew I wanted to contribute to this movement.
DeFiZap deploys capital across DeFi Protocols, enabling instant access to popular opportunities in DeFi. From talking to our users, I think the most important distinction to make about DeFiZap is that when you deploy capital through Zaps, you mint & receive the same exact liquidity/position ERC-20 tokens as when separately interacting with Uniswap, Compound, bZx, Synthetix, etc., on your own. So if you are performing more than one action in DeFi (which is usually the case), a Zap can help you automate all those interactions into one.
Furthermore, we’ve registered each Zap with the Ethereum Name Service, enabling a Venmo-like experience for end-users to place margin trades on Fulcrum, add liquidity on Uniswap, or generate interest on Compound to mention a few, without going on any website. So you could send your ETH to something like ChaiUnipool.DeFiZap.eth, and in this case, you will use our Chai Unipool Zap, which swaps ~ 50% of your ETH input to DAI on Kyber to avoid ETH->CHAI direct conversion slippage. After DAI is wrapped into Chai and finally Chai + other 50% of your ETH input are added to the ETH/CHAI Liquidity Pool on Uniswap. You receive minted liquidity tracking tokens back to your wallet. So you just deployed your capital to start generating trading fees on Uniswap + 4% interest from Chai as easy as sending money to your friends on Venmo.
We will soon enable DAI input and the ability to customize your Zaps, in the meantime, reach out to us - we can build a custom Zap for your needs.
Plus, keep in mind: we do not charge any fees, all Zaps are free to use, and we don’t control or hold any funds. These are liquidity/position tracking tokens, so what I love mentioning is: DeFiZap doesn’t spread your money into “Top 10 on Coinmarketcap” - Zaps infuse capital into DeFi protocols built on top of Ethereum, furthering user adoption. So for us, the metric is “DeFiZap helped save X amount of time while injecting X amount of capital and X amount of new users into DeFi protocols.“
What’s DeFiZap backstory?
I started with building a community first. Even though I’ve been in this space for a while, no one really knew me or where I come from. And to be honest, I didn’t start with the intention of building DeFiZap as an ultimate goal or something like that. I just wanted to introduce my own friends to these opportunities by showing them live “test-drives”. Everything we’ve done so far has been purely based on constant user feedback and iterations. In August, I started writing DeFi Tutorials to highlight the best opportunities & risks involved when using new tools in open finance. I realized many end-users want to see live tests of someone actually using these tools before putting in their own money behind it.
After getting some feedback, using almost no code, I hacked up DeFiStrategies.com, which is a DeFi trading simulator. I stayed lean by using all the available tools to get MVP out to early users asap and iterate from feedback - I think this is what our space is missing a lot of. Teams need to start focusing on finding product-market fit asap. DeFi Strategies simulator lets end-users pick out which positions they want to open up. Some started thinking they would be able to execute strategies right from this app. Around the same time, I found out about Kyber’s DeFi Hackathon, and since I needed help with smart contracts, I reached out for advice on their discord.
Dipesh responded, and given our accounting backgrounds, we immediately clicked. About a year ago, Dipesh decided to make a big switch from Certified Public Accountant to Solidity developer. Today he is mentoring the same class he started in ConsenSys Academy last year. We started working on DeFiZap. Right now, we are in the process of applying for a grant with MetaCartel. We are big fans of their work, and we are aligned with our larger vision.
What went into building the DeFiZap?
DeFiZap work started on October 8th and October 26th we deployed our first Zap - Lender - which helps users get instant access to cDAI and 2X ETH Long position on Fulcrum.
Ever since we’ve been dropping a new Zap every week, our most recent ‘series’ of Zaps, helps users add liquidity on Uniswap pools using just ETH to enter. So in the background, your ETH input is auto-split into an entry ERC20 token, and the result is added to the Pool. So far, we have over 1800 ETH deployed into DeFi through Zaps.
We don’t control or hold any funds. When you use DeFiZap, you mint & receive the same liquidity/position tracking tokens as when separately using Uniswap, Compound, bZx, Synthetix, etc. on your own. Each Zap is a smart contract which you can always review. We are working on some cool new features like Anti-Zaps (reverse Zaps), Customizable Zaps, and bank connections to provide additional DeFi management. We are always analyzing user actions and seeing how we can bundle those to help save time while at the same time watching out for exciting opportunities we can remix with Zaps - Unipool Zaps would be a great example of that.
We had tremendous help from some of the brightest minds in DeFi, and we are forever grateful for this. Honestly truly unbelievable the relationships I’ve built up since starting to publish DeFi Tutorials and I want to thank everyone, especially you Nick for listing tutorials on DeFiPrime right away, as well as Anthony Sassano, Ryan Sean Adams, Robert Leshner, Fernando Martinelli, Inje Yeo, Chris Blec, Bruno Skvorc, Jordan Lyall, Crypto Dad and others (apologies if I didn’t mention) for sharing some of my early work and putting me on the map.
The process we’ve built up is pretty efficient. To give you an example, Robert Leshner reached out to me on Friday, asking to make a Zap similar to our CHAI Unipool Zap but for cDAI. We deployed a verified Zap smart contract for him within an hour and are launching this Zap on our front end with an accompanying walk-through tutorial today. Our smart contracts are modular, and actually, during this week, we will be making them upgradeable, allowing for some extra cool features we are working on.
What’s your business model?
We are currently working with some big names to further our integrations into their products in the coming months. I think because we are not a “wallet” or “an exchange” ourselves, most don’t see us as “competition” they see us as something that can help them supercharge their UI experiences with customizable Zap buttons.
As it stands today, we’re seeing a lot of repetitive users and a fair share of whales – a telling sign that people are not only liking the product but that they feel comfortable using it with large sums of capital. As mentioned, we do not charge any fees, all entry Zaps are free to use, and we don’t control or hold any funds. If you want to as someone providing great UX for users you could charge a fee, again that is up to you. Hit us up if you are interested in doing that on Discord.
The way I see it, I want to prove ourselves before trying to bring any big investors on board. I’m inherently educational first, and one big thing I want to always focus on is keeping our integrations honest. We have a lot of interest from projects reaching out to us, but I’m trying to be very conscious of only integrating products that I feel are truly DeFi.
Once all of that has been done, we want to leverage our volume as a sign of future growth. Using Zerion’s funding round as an example, we believe showing how much new capital we can bring into different DeFi projects is a unique selling point.
To start, we’re hoping to get a smaller amount of funding through grants like MetaCartel. We ultimately want to be aligned with the industry’s best partners and hopefully can rely on their relationships to introduce us to investors who share a similar mission to our core team.
What’s your position on the regulatory landscape today?
Stay out of incorporating in the U.S. is the general recommendation I’m getting so far. I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty, and we want to keep moving fast, so I guess Dipesh’s home base in Singapore might be a better place to set up.
What are your goals for the future?
As I mentioned before, I think simplicity is key. I see DeFiZap as a great way to aide in smart portfolio management. Over time, we want to offer tools that can look into your wallet and assess risk within any given portfolio. From there, our partners can advise on how to improve your risk through diversification or limited exposure.
Taking this idea a step further, we want DeFiZap to be a place for legacy funds to be able to quickly and easily enter DeFi markets. Using DeFiZaps is currently free, and we only plan to take fees on any additional service charges, our partners decide to implement themselves.
In this sense, DeFiZap provides an enhanced experience by allowing people to interact with various DeFi products at a fraction of the cost. When we start talking about Anti-Zaps – or Zaps, which convert all your DeFi positions back to one currency like ETH – users can also use our product as a means to better track ROI on something like Uniswap pooling. By entering a trade with only ETH and exiting with ETH, it’s much easier to see your potential gains and quickly evaluate that ROI.
In short, I see DeFiZap offering a lot of flexibility, and we aim for our tools to allow partners to better onboard outside capital through a few easy clicks.
What are your future thoughts for the DeFi market?
Trust minimized stable token adoption is key - I want everyone to accept DAI, unless you can find me a better alternative. My biggest problem: going in and out of the bank and paying a fee. Everyone should accept DAI for payments/salaries. But of course, I understand where this all stems from being able to pay for your taxes with DAI and not sure if the government will allow this just yet. Either way, adoption IMO is most valuable in areas with broken banking systems. For example, I was born in Ukraine and raised in Georgia(the country) and remember my parents going through tough times because of random hyperinflation bursts in an economy ultimately controlled by human nature instead of math.