In early 2018, my Qredo co-founder and cryptography guru Brian Spector (LinkedIn | Twitter) presented a simple but powerful idea: that the fragmentation found across the crypto market is rooted in the management of private keys.
He argued that a solution was needed to decentralize the management of these private keys (and the ownership of the digital assets they represent). Without it, the ultimate growth and potential of crypto markets would be capped by the size of the silos needed to manage and protect them.
This insight set the path and, after 18 months in deep stealth, Brian and his team landed on a concept that has proved to be way ahead of its time: a decentralized, Layer 2, consensus-driven MPC (multi-party computation) network that eliminates the need for private keys to manage the ownership rights of assets on a blockchain.
While Qredo’s story began with decentralizing custody, our work here revealed that we had also unlocked an opportunity to transform that way crypto assets are settled. This led us to building a protocol that unleashes true cross-chain settlement and interoperability.
Conceptually, it is a bit of a mouthful - and not an easy pitch to a low-tech investor. But it is radical, and 25 years as a technology innovator have taught me that paradigm shifts sometimes take time to articulate and gain a wider understanding.
Over my career, I have had the opportunity to raise millions in early-stage equity and debt. Raising money is a never-ending treadmill in an early stage company; it is difficult and requires an enormous amount of resilience.
Second to customer engagement, however, it is the most valuable exercise in building your company. There are few opportunities in a start-up’s life to expose yourself to so many intelligent and market-aware critics. It takes a thick skin but with the right attitude and a desire to learn, there is a lot more to be gained from hearing “no” (and we heard it a lot!).
We iterated carefully and continuously during this period and — by mid-2019 — Qredo had raised £2.3m in pre-seed funding. Of course, raising equity is not itself a measure of success. But it was a validation that we were on the right path.
In September 2020, we launched v1.0 of our mainnet to support BTC. The following month we brought on support for Ethereum and, in November 2020, we unwrapped atomic swaps.
Every month since then, we have been quietly launching industry-first capabilities inspired by our initial vision. Up until now, all our efforts have been focused on building, testing and operating our protocol. (And if you are wondering why you’ve never heard of Qredo, this is the reason!).
At the beginning of 2021, with our network live and a clear path ahead to decentralize our protocol, we set about to close a $4M seed round. I’m delighted to say that — through our earlier groundwork, a supportive network, and positive market sentiment — we were actually able to raise over $11M, with our seed round heavily oversubscribed.
You can see details of the raise here. Significantly, along with the high-quality crypto VC’s, we also attracted strategic investors who have chosen to become our first customers. This dual endorsement is an enormous validation of our efforts so far and the path ahead.
We are incredibly grateful to the investors who have put their faith in us. Qredo is a big, ambitious, game-changing project that we believe will help the crypto market flourish to its full, visionary potential.
The additional seed funding will allow us to accelerate our existing development plans. But, while we will remain a development-focused organization, it will also allow us to more actively broadcast our accomplishments and build our community. We are passionate believers in decentralization and will be announcing more ambitious plans soon.
In my first venture out of graduate school, an early mentor told me something that has stuck with me all my career: “To build a start-up, you need to suspend reality long enough to make it happen.”
As well as a useful aphorism for entrepreneurs, I think this also reflects crypto’s evolution — from lofty principles and ideals, to accelerating applications and real-world integration. Similarly, Qredo has done the hard yards and is now being recognized as an exciting project that will transform the way institutions and individuals hold, manage and trade their crypto assets.
Please watch this space — we would love for you to join us on our journey. Check out our project, follow our news, and participate in Qredo. We’re just getting started.