An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

This also goes for each individual. What is the biggest investment that never goes wrong? It’s an investment in yourself. Go learn something, go work at an interesting company, and have smarter friends.

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ganesh Swami.

Ganesh Swami is the co-founder and CEO of Covalent, a Coinbase Ventures and Binance Labs backed data provider that brings visibility to billions of Web3 data points. Swami has over a decade of experience working with database technologies and bringing new products to market.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I started my career in building protein simulation algorithms to solve cancer and my entry into blockchains crypto was quite accidental. I’ve always had this idea that the blockchain space required a standardized method to interact with, and I ended up scratching this itch at a weekend hackathon. I ended up winning that hackathon and starting a company to commercialize that project. So that was my entry into the crypto market.

Please share your favorite life lesson quote and how it was relevant to your life.

Jeff Bezos has this quote, “focus on things that do not change, not things that change”. So what are things that don’t change in society? People want things to be cheaper. People want excellent support. If you focus on that, as opposed to the new shiny thing, that gives you more room to experiment. With Covalent, we know that regular people will interact with web3 and crypto, and they don’t want to learn new stuff, they don’t want to retrain themselves, they don’t want to change the tooling, they don’t want to change the processes. That’s why this middleware technology makes a lot of sense, it really facilitates the adoption of crypto and FinTech.

This also goes for each individual. What is the biggest investment that never goes wrong? It’s an investment in yourself. Go learn something, go work at an interesting company, and have smarter friends.

People seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?

My first piece of advice is to stop being a perfectionist. A lot of people have amazing ideas and have the execution abilities to make it come true, but what stops them is actually their own mind of having to make sure everything is perfect. There is no guarantee that everything will go the way you imagined, especially in the business world, you have to learn and adapt. The best way to do that is to start acting the moment you have the framework set up, and work bit by bit to craft it how you envision it to become.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

When an idea hits you so strongly that it motivates you to undertake such an endeavor, it is likely because you understand the value that you are trying to create. These ideas don’t just come from anywhere, they come from years of experience and dedication to a field or craft. You are immersed in an industry or culture and you notice something is missing, so you set off to build something to fill that void in a way that will create value and improve upon what already exists.

Please outline the steps one has to go through, from when they think of the idea, until it finally lands in a customer’s hands.

This really depends on the type of products, some may require more steps and some are easier than others. Think about patents, supply chains, fundraising etc. However, generally, I think most of the products still follow the steps below.

Ideation, research, target market, initial concepts, production, prototype, manufacturing, marketing.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

It is imperative to first understand the market you are getting into, and how your product will impact that market. You must also have a strong grasp on your target customers and how you want them to interact with your product.

After going through these steps and outlining near and long term plans, the next phase is formulating what types of individuals you will need on your team, and how to go about assembling a high quality group to bring your idea to life.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

The answer really depends on who you are and what you aspire to do. Generally, I would say that nobody knows your idea like you and your team do, and if you are smart in building a highly effective and capable team, those sorts of problems will be much easier to solve internally.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

There are pros and cons for both, and Covalent has gone through both stages. Having Venture Capital’s funding at your back in the beginning is definitely a good feeling for any start-ups. You will have the ability to accelerate at the speed that is way faster than your peers, but at the same time, you are risking losing control of your company. Covalent started in a bear cycle in the market, which meant that we were in a pretty bad position looking for venture capital in the very beginning. We were bootstrapped, and that gave us the freedom to focus more on our product and our customers. Without all the glamorous factors of the business of meeting and keeping up with the relationships with investors, our small team could really dedicate 100% of our time into developing the best product based on the customer feedback.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

At Covalent, we truly believe in the promise of blockchain technology. It is our mission to help developers, founders, hobbyists and anybody who is curious about this new technology to unlock its full potential through data visibility.

By bringing visibility to billions of Web3 data points, we are helping to support the pioneers building the future of Web3.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It will be the data movement. I think today data skills have to be a key life skill, and the reason for that is because the world is more complicated today than it was like 20 years ago, or even 50 years ago. A lot of people have internal agendas that try to push on you. For example, with election numbers, with the vaccines and COVID numbers? Every politician has their own agenda that they’re pushing on to you. It’s not clear what is true and what is not true. The only way to understand these things is to go back to the data and understand and crunch the numbers and verify for yourself if this is valid or not.

So a movement that I would like to contribute is to teach millions of people how to crunch numbers, how to understand the data, and how to apply first principles thinking to come to your own conclusion.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Making Something From Nothing: Ganesh Swami Of Covalent On How To Go From Idea To Launch was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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