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5 Questions with Lucian Todea (Elrond): Blockchain can make the shift to a more human-centric computing

Elrond Network is joining How t Web 2018 as Blockchain Partner. They are hosting a very cool Roundtable on the 1st day of our conference – if you’re interested in Blockchain, you definitely should not miss it.Elrond is also supporting our Best Blockchain Startup prize for Startup Spotlight competition, which offers the equivalent of 10.000 € in Elrond tokens (ERD)!

We had a talk with Lucian Todea, Elrond COO on his big entrepreneurship lessons and the Blockchain story of Elrond.

Q1:  Can you tell us 3 challenges you faced when you started your first company and how you overcame them?

When I started my first company, back in 2001, I was still a student at that time and, although I was theoretically studying at The Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE), I had no clue what building a company involves or how to manage people and the day-by-day operations and challenges. So I learned by doing.

On the other hand, at the beginning I was so focused on making my start-up work, onboard as many users as possible and start generating revenues and profits, that everything else was irrelevant at that time, secondary or postponed. And it payed off for me, so that once we started growing very fast and we had the resources we could focus on learning and re-building the company in a better and hopefully a proper way.

To summarize, the 3 challenges for me at the beginning, looking backwards now, were: not-trusting people (I was under the impression everyone wanted to steal my idea) and not empowering them enough as a side-effect, no background and education on how to scale and finance a start-up (even a fast growing and profitable one), unaware of the market, historical and technological context and of the big picture of where my start-up was positioned at that time.

Q2:  You’re not only an entrepreneur but also an investor. What are you looking for in a company when you are investing? And how does your experience as a CEO influence your decisions?

Although I did several investments in the last few years, I am not considering myself a very active investor as I am still enjoying being a maker and building stuff. Nevertheless, from time to time, there are those people or teams or startups that stands out and you feel the urge to invest or support them or be close to them.

Usually there are just a few things I take into the considerations. The first and most important, is the team and the people. No surprise here. Are they trustworthy and are they able to execute and deliver based on their initial vision/idea (that might change in the future). Another important factor is if I can understand the product or service and the market they are addressing. I invest, usually only in the startups that are technology startups.

Last but not least, I try to focus on startups that have the potential to grow globally or become the leader in their country or region. As a CEO my self, when I invest I try to stay out of the way of the startup and just offer support and advice when is needed or I feel like I can give a different or better angle.

Q3: Name 3 pieces of advice you would give to an entrepreneur looking to expand their business globally.

I’ve never been a fan of general advice. Especially for the case of startups, the story and the road map are almost personal and any advice or any consulting  should be tailored to their particular needs.

Q4: There are many use-cases for Blockchain. In your opinion, what are the most important areas where Blockchain can bring the most change?

One reason why blockchain often emerges as an answer to many problems (or a solution looking for a problem for others) is that it is easy to imagine a high-level use case of the blockchain technology. One of the most widely spread misconceptions is the idea that blockchain can solve everything from global financial inequality, to the provision of ID for refugees, to enabling people to sell their houses without an estate agent.

While blockchain use cases are exciting to explore and research, it’s important to point out the gap between potential and tangibility of implementation. We, at Elrond, hope to bridge this utility gap, bringing a practical solution to any enterprise and startup application wishing to build real use cases and maximize blockchain’s benefits.

There are many potential valuable use cases — such as royalty distribution in the music industry, cross-border payments network, luxury goods network, customs declarations, supply chain, asset registration and tokenization, (decentralized) identity services, fraud prevention and compliance, management of shared ownership such as timeshares, health records, Token Curated Registries (TCR), new advertising models (Basic Attention Token – BAT) and many more. Ultimately, blockchain should be considered also as a business model enabler, in addition to a technology layer.

We believe “tokenisation is to ownership as digitisation was to content”. The success of the Web 2.0 era over the past two decades has been mainly influenced by three core technologies: Cloud, Social & Mobile. Web 3.0 is a paradigm shift driven by 3 trends: Edge Computing, Machine Learning and Decentralised Data. The edge computing on billions of devices is capturing millions of data points every second; the advancements in machine learning algorithms and AI is ingesting this wealth of data; decentralised data will enable secure & scalable communication, coordination and fair incentivisation. Compounding these 3 technological waves will open up a wealth of data that is currently still locked away for privacy, trust, or competitive reasons. A fundamental problem that has historically plagued network and platforms of all varieties can be simplified down to the mismatch between value creation by a network/platform and value capture by an equity structure (see Google, Facebook, etc).

Considering the above fundamental problem and the three new technological waves, we believe blockchain in general and Elrond, in particular, have the potential to change the fundamental structures we have in place right now and see a shift to a more human-centric computing and the raise of the Sovereign Individual.

Ultimately, the main reasons to consider using blockchain is censorship resistance, permission-less programmability, industry-wide databases and trust(less).

Q5: Soft32 has been around for more than 15 years now, and you have seen first-hand how the trends have changed over the years. For the entrepreneurs looking to start a software company, what do you think is the next big thing when it comes to apps? 

One might think I am biased and subjective on this, because I am directly involved in Elrond, where we are building a new blockchain architecture, that will enable a scalable value transfer protocol for the digital economy. Nevertheless, on one hand, I still believe software is eating and will continue to eat the world, on the other hand, I believe decentralized apps (dApps), smart contracts and permission-less programmability, tokenization, compounding programmable and economic incentives and strong underlying network effects governing blockchain architectures, to be the next big things when it comes to apps, but not limited to apps only.


Remember that you can see more of the Elrond story in their hosted Roundtable -“Scaling trustless computation via Adaptive State Sharding and Secure Proof of Stake” at How to Web 2018. Registration is available to conference ticket holders only, so grab your ticket now !

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