How This Blockchain Entrepreneur Landed Partnerships With Citi, Nasdaq and More

Adam Krellenstein is the CTO and co-founder of Symbiont, the market-leading platform for institutional applications of blockchain technology. Symbiont’s cutting-edge tech has been used by financial institutions and governments to develop new business lines, increase transparency, reduce risks and save costs. The company has raised $35.4 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, and it has partnered with such top entities as Citi, Nasdaq and Vanguard.

Each week, GOBankingRates sets out to discover what makes the people behind top companies tick. We like to call this series “Best in Business” — and Krellenstein really is one of the best. He told us about how he cut through all the noise in the blockchain technology space, the four areas every successful company should excel in and ways that you can find (or build) your own dream job, too. Below, find our favorite moments from the story of how Krellenstein launched his business.

He Wanted To Bring New Technology to a Traditionally Slow-to-Change Industry

Before Symbiont, I was one of the creators of Counterparty, a public-blockchain smart contracts platform that preceded Ethereum. My co-founders and I were inspired to launch Symbiont after seeing how both Counterparty and Ethereum were only being used for the simplest possible applications — tokens that can be transferred and traded — and nothing more complex, interesting or valuable. I came to be convinced that smart contracts — general decentralized software applications — were actually much more compelling in permissioned-blockchain systems, such as the one we’ve built at Symbiont.

My greatest concern was working within institutional finance, which as an industry is traditionally heavily regulated, slow-moving and slow to adopt new technology. Acquiring users would have been much easier in the public-blockchain cryptocurrency space, where you can publish a binary on the Internet and have people interact with the software immediately.

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While the sales cycle is much longer with institutions, I have been pleasantly surprised by how eager many of our clients were to use our technology. Symbiont has been able to gain real traction in many major financial markets, primarily because there is such a profound need for a solution like ours within financial markets.

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But there were hard parts: hiring great talent; architect-ing the world’s first blockchain with private smart contracts; engineering a stable, secure, correct and maintainable code base; integrating with cloud infrastructure providers; selling a real product when the industry is inundated by scams and vaporware.

The critical thing for Symbiont was to build a product that brought real value to its users. Too many blockchain projects are either un-innovative clones of other efforts, centralized systems in disguise, of only academic interest or outright scams. Frankly, it’s much harder to bring value — and to convince others that you can bring value — in such a noisy, hyped-up space. And then we don’t settle for just a modicum of value — we are an incredibly ambitious business, working to completely re-architect the core infrastructure for multiple massive financial markets using a brand-new technology.

He Knows the Importance of Building a Well-Rounded Team

[When it came time to launch the business], the most important people have, of course, been my two co-founders, Mark Smith and Evan Wagner — CEO and COO, respectively. Mark’s previous startup experience, his business acumen and his deep knowledge of finance have all been invaluable, while Evan has done amazing work behind the scenes recruiting our phenomenal team and really just keeping the whole business running smoothly day in and day out.

[If you want to start your own company], make sure you have co-founders that complement your skill set well. You need excellence in business, technology, product and operations — at the very least.

Click through to find out how these female founders are leading their companies to new heights.

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