Alan Vey, CEO of Aventus, tells us about a layer-2 blockchain protocol that brings scalability, lower costs and speed to Ethereum transactions.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alan Vey: I’m fortunate that my family is doing well and hasn’t been touched in the same way many others have by the pandemic. It’s helped me keep my focus on Aventus and our new strategic direction that COVID accelerated with the shut down of live events.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Aventus, and how does Aventus innovate.
Alan Vey: Everything started back in 2015 when I approached Professor William Knottenbelt, Director of the cryptocurrency research center at Imperial College London, with my ideas to apply certain Artificial Intelligence algorithms to Bitcoin price prediction. Ethereum had just launched, and he told me Bitcoin is old news; look to the future and explore Ethereum.
I spent the subsequent year researching and doing my Master’s thesis on Ethereum and specifically an application thereof to film rights distribution with BAFTA and The UKs Film Network. When I finished, Will provided an introduction to Daniel Masters, who was looking for innovative projects at Imperial College to commercialize.
With the support of Danny and Will, my co-founder, Annika Monari, and we started researching, building, and networking, which is where everything subsequently came from.
It was then, when studying for a master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence with industry leaders at Imperial College London that I conceived the idea for the technology underpinning the Aventus network (AvN).
In 2016 we closed a small seed round with Daniel Masters (Coinshares Chairman), and in 2017, we raised serious funding to fulfill the mission as outlined in our original whitepaper. However, necessity being the mother of innovation, the pandemic meant we had to change the company’s direction.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Alan Vey: The pandemic shut down live events, which was our original target market. Therefore, what began as a live entertainment ticketing protocol to reduce ticket fraud quickly expanded to something much larger as COVID restrictions meant there had been no live events. Fortunately, we realized the technology had multiple additional use cases.
Aventus Classic relied upon the Ethereum network solving their infamous issues of scale, speed, and cost. However, in the intervening years, transaction costs on the network have skyrocketed one-hundred-fold with no improvement in transactional speed or throughput.
For those reasons, the team pivoted to create the Aventus Network that now lets organizations ranging from financial asset managers and supply chain coordinators through to customer rewards schemes and live entertainment companies to easily develop and implement efficient, highly secure, and future-proof blockchain solutions.
The Aventus Network is currently processing more than 8.5m historical transactions following the live launch in February 2021, with many more live transactions to follow.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Alan Vey: Of course, some tough decisions had to be made, and we did use the furlough scheme for some team members to get us through the worst of the pandemic. However, we were quick to pivot, which opened up continuing sources of funding for us, so we were able to keep every core member of the Aventus team on board.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Alan Vey: We have taken a personal approach to customer relationship management to date. We haven’t felt the need for new tools yet, and everyone has worked extremely hard during these times to make sure that all of our partners were given special amounts of attention and care. We managed to get through to the other end without losing a single participant.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Alan Vey: We used the UK furlough scheme for a few months while we were pivoting in the hope that we would be able to bring the team members back once we had a clear path forward. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened, which would not have been possible otherwise. It would have been even more painful for the team members affected without that support net.
Your final thoughts?
Alan Vey: Today, we’re focused on helping businesses and apps build on Ethereum at an enterprise scale. We have partnerships with businesses in loyalty points, live event ticketing, gaming, supply chains, and more.
We want to be the market leader in helping businesses build solid, lasting frameworks by building on Ethereum at an enterprise scale without the typical costs.
Part of Aventus’ core mission is to help enable blockchain interoperability. That means enabling transactions between different blockchains as this is the future of the technology. Without it, it’s like Gmail users only being able to email other Gmail users.
I want to see Aventus thrive in its role of helping enable mass adoption of blockchain technology through interoperability.
This is only possible thanks to what I consider one of the best aspects of the community — open innovation. All the biggest public blockchains and protocols are,, to some degree, open-source, and that mindset exists with many of the people who are willing to review ideas together and provide feedback.
The space attracts such a diverse set of people from big financial corporate types to eccentric anti-establishment revolutionists and everything you can imagine in between, all contributing to the evolution and innovation.
There has never been a better time to enter blockchain or tech industries, and things are only improving each day. Blockchain is rapidly growing. It’s a highly creative and innovative sector where the best products with the right use cases will win. There are so many opportunities for entry as everyone is crying out for talent to meet growth needs. It is fascinating to be at the heart of it and to be leading this change.
I would focus first on finding a mission you believe in and finding opportunities where your skills can make the greatest impact. Together, we can all work to create a better world.
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