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Talking ‘Covalent’ and crypto with 13-year-old DeFi developer Gajesh Naik [INTERVIEW] Talking ‘Covalent’ and crypto with 13-year-old DeFi developer Gajesh Naik [INTERVIEW]

Talking ‘Covalent’ and crypto with 13-year-old DeFi developer Gajesh Naik [INTERVIEW]

The world's youngest-known cryptocurrency developer recently joined blockchain analytics tool Covalent as an ambassador. Here's the story.

Talking ‘Covalent’ and crypto with 13-year-old DeFi developer Gajesh Naik [INTERVIEW]

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate. Image includes combined content which may include AI-generated content.

CryptoSlate recently had the chance to chat with Ganesh Swami, the CEO of Covalent, a venture-funded blockchain data analytics company, and 13-year-old Gajesh Naik,  a crypto and web3 developer who shot to fame after building several DeFi tools and protocols.

Gajesh is the founder of PolyGaj which currently holds $2 million in TVL. He’s joining Covalent as an Alchemist Ambassador where he’ll be empowering those in the Covalent ecosystem and receive mentoring in return. 

In the interview, we discuss:

  • How Ganesh and Gajest got into crypto
  • What it will mean to live in a multi-chain world
  • The mission of Covalent and what problems it’s solving
  • Biggest challenges of building a unified web 3.0

Ganesh, what is your professional background and how did they get into crypto?

I am a physicist by training and a serial entrepreneur by passion. A data junkie at heart, I have been fortunate to have worked in the data space across several industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to cloud computing to now blockchain technology. My entry into the blockchain industry was through a realisation that there is a glaring heap of disorganized, unstructured, and potentially useful data across different blockchain protocols, chains, projects, and products, each producing data in various formats.

Therefore, in 2017, in an effort to increase transparency in the crypto space, my co-founder Levi and I set off to build Covalent,  an enterprise-grade solution that enables us to better arm the blockchain space with usable data with a unified API that brings data transparency and visibility to digital assets.

Levi and I have known each other for years but we came together at a blockchain hackathon in Vancouver back in 2017. This is when we germinated the idea for Covalent and the rest is history. 

Gajesh, can you tell us how you got into crypto?

In September, one of my friends had organized a webinar on the Basics of Bitcoin and Blockchain. From there, I learned a few concepts like Proof of Work (PoW), Bitcoin and more. After that, I started digging into Bitcoin, Blockchain and Crypto. After getting a small understanding of Bitcoin, I purchased Bitcoin worth $5.38. From there, Few months I was learning about Altcoins like Ethereum and got to know about Solidity.

After that, I learned Solidity and Web3.js and Since, I have been doing programming for 4.5 years, Solidity and Web3.js were easy for me to grasp. Then, I did freelancing for 3 months and built my two projects, StableGaj (StableGaj is a Stablecoin Swap) and PolyGaj (One-Stop DeFi & NFT Platform)

What is the mission of Covalent and what problem is it solving?

Ganesh: Blockchain technology has been a boon to the fintech space ushering in the next wave of innovation and bringing in decentralization, better security and transparency to the ecosystem. But as it progressed with numerous protocols, chains, and projects, it also became a hub of complex immutable data that increased with each transaction. Covalent aims to give this random heap of valuable data a structure to further enable it to be utilized by various organizations, institutions, and individuals to gather useful insights. As a data-rich solution, having indexed over 10 of the most prominent blockchain networks including Ethereum, we are capable of providing complex and granular digital asset data in a manner that is simple and effective.

How big is the Covalent team and where are they located?

Ganesh: We are a 30+ team, comprising industry veterans in database and distributed systems. Most of us are based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What are Covalent’s major milestones so far?

Ganesh: We started with Ethereum as it is the most popular blockchain at the moment. However, Covalent plans to index ALL blockchains and provide API access to all blockchain data. 

Three big milestones since last summer:

  1. Grew the team from 3 to 30
  2. Grew the number of projects building on Covalent from 5 to over 250+
  3. Number of blockchains indexed has grown from just one to over 12

What is the Covalent marketplace and what are some of the potential use cases?

Ganesh: The Covalent marketplace is a place where developers can create their own API endpoints for their projects and list them on the marketplace for others to consume. These API endpoints can be for products in all major web3 categories like DeFi, NFTs, Social Tokens, and DAOs.

What are the biggest challenges of building a unified API for multiple blockchains?

Ganesh: Currently, our biggest challenge at this point is that we are dealing with scaling. We have had 10x the number of API requests since January, and have been scrambling to keep up with demand across chains, which is why we have been heads-down building for the last few months. One of the major difficulties is explaining just what the problem is.

This is especially true for folks that aren’t into crypto, but even those that are into crypto, unless they are data geeks, initially don’t understand that granular and historical blockchain data is very hard to access. We are open to areas we need to improve. Top of mind, I’d say we have challenges with scaling as we have been growing very very fast this summer with all the DeFi craze. Second, I think market pricing is an unsolved problem. But since we have market traction, we get to be the first to solve these problems from first principles.

What utility does the Covalent token (CQT) provide?

Covalent Query Token — CQT is a native governance token that will be used for network governance where token holders vote on proposals to change the system parameters. It is also a staking asset. Validators will earn fees for answering queries. And the token fulfills data queries for users of the API.

What is the purpose of the Covalent Alchemist Ambassador program?

Ganesh: The Alchemist Program gives people a unique opportunity to showcase their skills in the Web3 space. We take particular pride in the ever-growing and talented Covalent community. The Covalent Alchemist Ambassador Program is our way of making it an extension of the core team.

Covalent Alchemists act as key leaders in developing the Covalent ecosystem. Furthermore, just as they are invested in Covalent’s development, we are invested in their own growth of all levels to help them succeed.

Gajesh, why did you decide to join Covalent as an Alchemist Ambassador?

Gajesh: I feel Covalent is a good project and they have been really friendly & helpful. Covalent provides a unified API bringing visibility to billions of blockchain data points and for my project, I am using their API for fetching the Price, token balance of a wallet and more. Their API is fast compared to fetching the same data from RPCs.

Why is it more likely we will live in a multi-chain world versus a few blockchains dominating all usage?

Gajesh: As more and more developers enter into the space, the ability to solve hard problems will get less complex. In the short term, Ethereum will win in the short term owing to its community and network effects but the future definitely looks multi-chain keeping in mind that the tooling around multichain and interoperability gets easier.

Why will generation-Z be a leader in blockchain adoption?

Gajesh: Crypto is a level playing field where anyone with an internet connection can start learning and diving deep into the space. Generation- Z’s are the first fully digital-savvy people who start interacting with the internet right from the get-go. For most gen-zs, failure or any challenge that we face is just another opportunity to learn.

Where can readers go to learn more about Covalent?

Ganesh: The best place to learn about what’s happening in the community is to join our Discord and interact with the team and  7000+ Covalent enthusiasts. We’re also very active on Twitter, Reddit, and Telegram.