Recently, I conducted an interview with Genius Yield’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, Marvin Bertin, and Head of Finance, Dikemba Balogu, CFA. We discussed the Genius DEX, the requirements for participating in Genius X launchpad and the advantages of the Cardano blockchain. If you want to know what ISPOs are and what is so special about Genius X multi-token ISPO, and what exactly our interviewees have in their crypto portfolio, don’t miss this piece!
U.Today: Hello, Marvin and Dikemba. Can you tell us about your backgrounds and how you got interested in the crypto sphere?
Dikemba Balogu: I have a finance and capital markets background. I’ve worked in the investment industry in portfolio management, equity research and mutual fund research. I’ve also worked for multiple Fortune 500 companies in corporate finance in areas such as treasury, where I managed the balance sheet and cash flow needs of a company, and financial planning, where I created monthly budgets and multi-year financial forecasts.
My interest in crypto grew because of the financial and economic implications of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Billions of dollars in untapped wealth could be brought into a global financial system that is interconnected and more accessible than the current financial system. Crypto is also a disruptive technology, decentralizing current power structures and giving individuals more control over their financial futures.
We’ve already seen how crypto has completely disrupted the way the world previously handled cross-border payments and remittances for decades by giving users lower transaction fees and faster settlement times. My interest lies in crypto's future innovations that will happen in decentralized finance (DeFi), Web3 and many other applications.
Marvin Bertin: I have a background in machine learning/AI engineering, with years of experience working in biotech - specifically designing algorithms that can perform early cancer detection from sequenced DNA. I got started in crypto as a data science consultant on the Ethereum and Cosmos blockchains developing DeFi products for clients. I have in-depth knowledge of DEX architectures and ML-driven yield optimization strategies.
U.Today: Can you share the concept of Genius Yield? What are the benefits of the platform?
Marvin Bertin: Genius Yield is a DeFi asset management solution implemented on the Cardano blockchain to provide superior yield optimization and high returns to users. Genius Yield has developed a concentrated liquidity DEX combined with an AI-powered Smart Liquidity Management protocol that algorithmically automates asset allocation to maximize users’ APYs while minimizing risk exposure.
Dikemba Balogu: The Genius DEX by Genius Yield will allow permissionless trading of thousands of digital assets. The Genius DEX uses an order-book model instead of the typical Automated Market Maker (AMM) model utilized by other DEXs such as Uniswap. The order-book model will enable more order types than an AMM DEX, such as stop-loss orders. In addition, liquidity providers on the Genius DEX can concentrate their liquidity across a desired range of prices, boosting capital efficiency without the effects of impermanent loss caused by the constant product market maker model used in most AMM DEXs.
Genius Yield is also developing an AI-powered Yield Optimizer that allows you to passively obtain interest as the optimizer actively manages your funds to obtain the highest risk-adjusted APY. When saving your funds, many users have little options to passively accumulate interest outside of the very low interest rates offered at banks or the buy-and-hold strategy with traditional securities. Depending on your country of residence, you may not have either of these options. The Smart Liquidity Management protocol provides a solution for those who want higher yields but may not have the time to actively manage their funds as a liquidity provider.
U.Today: Thanks for the details. Why did you choose Cardano to build your platform on?
Marvin Bertin: Cardano has key protocol-level features and guarantees that make it stand out from all other blockchains.
First, Cardano employs a unique ledger accounting architecture called EUTxO, which allows for parallelizable dApp architectures like the Genius DEX, leveraging a more efficient and expressive order book design. Second, Cardano smart contract uses Haskell - a functional programming language that reduce contract hacks and vulnerabilities via formal verification. Third, unlike EVM architecture, Cardano’s ledger can be easily sharded, allowing for an isomorphic Layer 2 to achieve exponential scaling.
Also, Cardano is the most advanced and decentralized proof-of-stake blockchain in the world. With unique features like noncustodial staking, it is the basis of a revolutionary fundraising mechanism called Initial Stake Pool Offering.
Dikemba Balogu: In addition, Cardano is completely open source, and its technology, such as its delegated proof-of-stake mechanism, has all been peer-reviewed by professional third parties. In summary, Cardano stands out compared to other blockchains because of its EUTxO model that is built for scalability, its functional programming language that limits errors and its scientific, peer-reviewed methodology for development. These attributes can create a long-term competitive advantage compared to other blockchains.
U.Today: Genius X is an accelerator program and launchpad launched by Genius Yield. How does it work? How do you choose start-ups you are going to work with?
Dikemba Balogu: Since smart contract functionality came to Cardano in September 2021, there has been a surge of smart contract applications being built on the blockchain. Today, there are over 1,000 projects building on Cardano. Genius X is an accelerator program for projects building impactful solutions on Cardano. Through our network and expert team, we provide advising on token design, pitch deck presentation, legal entity set up, budgeting, product development, fundraising and much more. Genius X’s goal is to help these start-ups bring their products to market successfully.
Genius X is selective about who joins its accelerator program. Start-ups have to fill out an application, have its founders’ work experience verified and undergo an interview process by our team before they are accepted into the program. We look for projects that are typically at the early stage of their development and have a proof of concept or minimum viable product. Today, Genius X has only accepted around a dozen projects. With thousands of projects building on Cardano, the community is finding it harder to assess the quality of each project. Genius X provides a solution for the community, seeking quality over quantity with our accelerator program.
Genius X also has a launchpad, which allows projects to conduct a public sale of their tokens via an Initial DEX Offering (IDO) in conjunction with their token generation event.
U.Today: You are launching a multi-token ISPO for selected start-ups built on Cardano. Could you please start by briefly explaining what ISPOs are?
Marvin Bertin: An ISPO, or Initial Stake Pool Offering, is a decentralized, permissionless funding mechanism that utilizes Cardano’s unique delegated proof-of-stake architecture. Normally, users delegate their ADA to stake pools and receive ADA staking rewards. However, in an ISPO, instead of the delegator receiving ADA staking rewards, projects keep all of the staking rewards paid to their stake pool. These ADA staking rewards are used by the project to fund its development. In exchange for delegators giving up their staking rewards, the project gives them the native token that usually represents governance or utility in their project.
In traditional finance, start-ups typically only get funding from venture capitalists or accredited individuals of high net worth. However, a defining characteristic of the ISPO is that it is open to everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you have only 20 ADA or 20,000 ADA, you can support a promising start-up.
U.Today: How does your multi-token ISPO differ from other ISPOs? What’s so special about it?
Dikemba Balogu: In most ISPOs, a user delegates their ADA and receives that project’s token in exchange, based on a predetermined exchange formula. For delegators, this model has become problematic as the Cardano ecosystem has grown and there are multiple new ISPOs happening on a monthly basis. Many delegators would like to support multiple projects instead of just one at a time.
The Genius X Multi-Token ISPO is a solution to this problem by allowing delegators to receive the tokens of multiple projects by delegating to only one ISPO. The multi-token ISPO allows delegators to maximize the value of their ADA by receiving the tokens of projects that are in the Genius X accelerator program.
U.Today: Which start-ups will participate in your multi-token ISPO?
Dikemba Balogu: The five startups and their token allocations for the first cohort of the Genius X Multi-Token ISPO are: Smart Places - 900,000,000 $SMART tokens, Ledgity - 82,800,000 $LTY tokens, Outlaws Brawl - 300,000 $HYN tokens, Reach Metaverse - 16,650,000 $REACH tokens, and Drunken Dragon - 60,000,000 $DG tokens. Each startup can offer solutions or products that people can utilize and enjoy.
U.Today: Do you have a crypto portfolio? Name the top three positions.
Marvin Bertin: ADA, BTC, ETH.
Dikemba Balogu: ADA, BTC, GALA.
U.Today: Do you have a piece of advice for people who want to join the crypto space but don’t know where to start?
Marvin Bertin: Blockchain is at the intersection of so many fields. If you are a programmer, economist, politician, artist or just an enthusiast, you can get involved and contribute. Blockchain is a tool for social change that empowers the individual.
Dikemba Balogu: Try to get involved. The crypto community has grown tremendously over the years. There are many local groups and conferences where you can connect and learn more about crypto. In addition, many projects are open source, allowing you to easily find information about their technology and products online.