Chainstack partners with DApps Dev Club
DApps Dev Club is excited to announce that we will be partnering with Chainstack. Chainstack has kindly offered us a venue to host our sessions once per month - so every alternate DApps Dev Club session will be held at their space, starting with our next session.
Let’s hear about it from Ashlie Chin, who is a product marketer at Chainstack.
Brendan: Hi Ashlie! Before we start, I’d like to say a big thanks from Kenneth and myself for offering to host our sessions at your offices. It has been quite the tough journey for us sourcing for venue partners - finding a once-off venue is hard enough, and finding a recurring one has been a most daunting task. So you coming through is somewhat akin to the light at the end of the tunnel!
Ashlie: Not a problem! I think it’s great what you guys are doing, and we’re happy we can help.
Brendan: And of course, much thanks on behalf of all the people attending our sessions. A few have asked me in person, as well as DM’ing me on our discord about when the next session will be. Each time I’ve had to tell them that we don’t have one confirmed yet, because of the venue. So they’re going to be quite happy to hear this news!
Ashlie: AWH! Yeah, I feel the same when I’m waiting for a bus and I can’t check when the next bus is on the bus app because my phone is dead. I’m so used to being comfortable with knowing what to expect. When is it going to come? Is it ever going to come? Not the same situation? OK.
Brendan: OK let’s talk a little about yourself, and then about Chainstack. I noticed from your email that you speak Spanish; and from your blog that you’ve received a thank you letter from the Japanese ambassador; and now you’re doing product marketing for a software company. What’s the story there?
Ashlie: Oh, well I had to learn Spanish as a course requirement. But I had the opportunity to spend a summer in Mexico last year, and I spent 2 months of that traveling on my own. A lot of my proficiency came from trying to speak to my Uber drivers, or people that sat next to me on buses. It was a lot of fun, and just for the record, Mexico is my favourite country. I don’t know how to say blockchain in Spanish though - just kidding - blockchain in spanish is just blockchain.
Brendan: Google translate tells me “bloque encadenado” - I would have been fooled!
Ashlie: With regards to the thank you letter from the Japanese ambassador… this is a story from a pretty long time ago. When I was 15 I started a project to collect socks (there is a reason why socks specifically) for some of the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and I had approached some companies to help out with the freight. I never really thought much about it, because I couldn’t do anything big for bureaucracy reasons and left it as a very informal effort. They ended up putting that story on the newspaper and I guess the Japanese embassy read about it.
Brendan: That is a really awesome story - I wish I was that switched on at that age! You can read the full story on Ashlie’s blog. It is also a story about big an impact a teacher can make on a student, and I enjoyed reading it very much. Let’s next talk about what brought you to Chainstack.
Ashlie: I’ve don’t really have a long, overarching story that has led up to me being in this space, but what I can say is that I enjoy being in situations that seem completely foreign or ambiguous to me, and the challenge that comes along with it. Which is why I’m generally quite fond of working in startups, that I have had some experience with. In 2017 I also spent 6 months working in a FinTech startup in Tel-Aviv. The company focused on democratizing access to financial services by providing online remittance services to migrant workers. I always enjoy the learning and exposure that comes along with being in this type of environment - I like being exposed to new solutions that solve real problems and have real, tangible, impact on people.
Also, being in an environment that values leaning is extremely important to me, because at the end of the day, if you can learn anything, you can do anything (…eventually!) I also have a tattoo that reminds me to always make mistakes. Not that the tattoo was a mistake, but it’s a representation and a reminder that I should never let the fear of failing stop me from doing something. Also, making mistakes are the best way to learn.
I had initially applied for a product designer role when I first came across Chainstack’s profile, but they thought I made a better fit as product marketer. I felt that one valuable thing that UX provided was a framework that put your users at the center of design, which at the end of the day is relevant in many functions, including product marketing. Blockchain is interesting in this aspect because it’s still a relatively new technology, and many people are still trying to figure out how to integrate it into the existing ways that we do things today, like trying to make application interfaces user-friendly, and understanding how to communicate its value effectively.
Brendan: Well you are off to a terrific start, I have to say, with product marketing. Your setting this up is certainly going to get Chainstack, and therefore its product, a lot of exposure amongst the dev community here.
Ashlie: Long story short, Chainstack has a really great, passionate team, and we're doing some amazing, cutting-edge work that could create some very practical and valuable impact, so that sold me. I think it was also a great space to be in. The people here are extremely knowledgeable and amazing at what they do, and they’re always willing to answer all my dumb questions. I’m essentially feeding off everybody’s genius-ness here, it’s great.
Brendan: Yeah. What stands out to me, from what you’ve just said, is that the mission is to apply this particular new technology to solve real world problems. Thinking in broader strokes, it isn’t only technology for technology’s sake, but getting it to be used in a practical way by real people. That is something I’d certainly like to see a lot more of in this space myself!
Ashlie: I completely agree! I’m personally very new to the blockchain space, and it’s been a lot - Incredible, but a lot. Though what I really love about it is that everyone’s extremely willing to engage with you and share their experience. You also get to meet a lot of extremely passionate people, which are personally some of my favourite people to be around. There’s also a lot of effort for community engagement which is extremely encouraging to see.
What I’ve found to be really interesting also is the broad range of people interested in DLT, just because it crosses so many different themes (governance, economics, political philosophy, etc) and it also has so much transformative potential. You can’t look at technology in a vacuum, and blockchain is one of them that can have massive implications on many existing structures and today.
Brendan: I know the feeling, you can really geek out about everything that involves applying a set of rules to a large number of people participating in a system. It’s fun to geek out about how one would reinvent concepts that we have grown up taking for granted as being set in stone. Everything from Athenian democracy, to the Magna Carta, to the stock market, can be reimagined and implemented independent of the control of a nation state. This is very powerful stuff at our fingertips - you just need to be able to express it in code! But I’m going to stop there, and get back on topic …
Ashlie: … so Chainstack.
Brendan: Yup. Before we get into Chainstack, when Kenneth and I visited your offices, we saw that you’re located within Acronis’ offices. What’s the link between Acronis and Chainstack?
Ashlie: Chainstack is a spin-off start up from Acronis, a leading backup software, disaster recovery, and secure data access provider to consumers, small-medium businesses, and enterprises. Both the co-founders, Laurent Dedenis and Eugene Aseev were working on blockchain projects during their time there. So they’re familiar with exactly what it’s like trying to work with blockchain. Their experience essentially inspired them on a mission to make blockchain implementation simple.
Brendan: So what does Chainstack do?
Ashlie: Chainstack is a multi-cloud and multi-protocol Platform as a Service that empowers businesses to rapidly build, deploy, and manage decentralized networks and services - think AWS for decentralized applications. This makes it easy for users to create networks - of their choice of protocol - that they use to build their decentralised applications on top of.
Essentially what Chainstack is doing is that we’re making it simple for businesses to implement enterprise-grade decentralized solutions, so that they can quickly progress from proof of concept to production on their use cases.
Brendan: I’m a fan of the AWS analogy that you just used. In fact, in the kickoff session for the DApps Dev Club, I used one myself - calling out the similarities between invoking an EVM smart contract function and invoking an AWS lambda function. So how does Chainstack’s platform help?
Ashlie: It’s always very exciting to talk about the platform just because of how powerful it is. We get people telling us that the platform can accomplish in minutes what they’ve taken weeks to do, without the hassle of hours or days of trial-and-error and troubleshooting.
Chainstack is great because its solving many of the issues that have made implementation difficult up till today, and this is based on experience the co-founders have had while actually working with blockchain themselves, and also having engaged with many people that are doing the same - across industries and projects. Chainstack was born out of the problems that many developers and enterprises face trying to leverage off the benefits of decentralized technologies. We’re very much focused on making the complex simple.
There is a lot of demystifying that comes with working at a blockchain startup. Blockchain has the potential to streamline a lot of processes and industries, but these improvement don’t have to be “revolutionary”. If anything, blockchain is a technology that brings change that is foundational more so than disruptive. In the past few months there have been a couple of articles/ opinion pieces emerging that have alluded to the notion that blockchains will be boring in the future, because technology that becomes normal always stops being interesting. And I think it’s funny because my co-founders often say this “we’re not super sexy – we’re a really boring company solving very practical - but boring problems.”
Brendan: I actually do hope it becomes more boring too. I’d like blockchain to become less of a marketing buzzword, and back to being about the technology and applying it to solve a particular set of problems. Where can we find more about Chainstack?
Brendan: Finally, let’s wrap this up with the vision. What do you see coming out of the collaboration between Chainstack and DApps Dev Club?
Ashlie: Right now there are lots of issues that have impeded blockchain adoption, one being its sheer complexity. We know that there is heaps of interest in the technology, but many people just don’t know how or where to get started - even I’ve faced this. I was there for the DApps Dev Club Kickoff, and I thought it was a great initiative because it was extremely informative even though I don’t have a technical background. I think Chainstack and the DApps Dev Club are both aligned in terms of wanting to make DLT more accessible. We’re also on a mission to make blockchain implementation easy, so being exposed as much as possible to how we can simplify this process is always going to help us be better. We love the idea of a community, and we want to create an environment that engages and supports people within the blockchain space and make it easy for people to enter.
Brendan: It is really great to hear that you enjoyed our first session, and found it informative. I also love that you want to support education in the space, as that’s what we’re about too!
Ashlie: We’re also planning to roll out a series of podcasts featuring people within the blockchain space in the near future, so look out for that!
Brendan: Will certainly do.