Ish Goel | Founder and CEO of Somish Blockchain Labs
Success leaves clues.
Finance Strategists sat down with Ish Goel, founder of Somish Blockchain labs. He shared his insight into the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the wisdom and knowledge he gained along the way.
Who is Ish Goel?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
My name is Ish Goel and I am the CEO at Somish Blockchain Labs. My story has been from riches to rags and back to riches again.
I started my career at the age of 18 when my family was in a major financial turmoil. I got an opportunity to team up with my father to turn things around for us and that led to setting up a new technology venture, in the name and style of Somish Solutions Limited back in 2006. From 2006 to 2014, we ran multiple turnkey projects across public & quasi-government organizations in North India with a vision to provide financial inclusion & eGovernance solutions to the millions of fellow unbanked Indians.
In 2015, I decided to further our vision by exploring the use of blockchain technology in bringing inclusiveness across a global economy. That’s when I came across Bitcoin & Ethereum and got enamored by the idea of a decentralization-driven inclusive economy.
After spending a year in research, international travel, and participation in workshops, we ended up winning the London Blockchain Week 2017 Hackathon. This was a transformative moment in my career and led to rebranding Somish as Somish Blockchain Labs.
Three years since we won the hackathon, Somish has successfully established itself as one of Asia’s leading blockchain venture studios.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
The biggest influence on my life, personally and professionally, has been my father. He came from a humble background and spent 30 years of his life building multiple manufacturing businesses that got acquired under the group Reva Industries Limited.
As a child, I used to listen to his very wise proverbs about life & business that have formed the basis of my being today. One of the founding principles of life that my father taught me has been around “the more you give, the more you receive.” Being compassionate with your own team, building businesses that try to maximize value for not just customers, but the entire supply and demand side of the business has been a great learning experience for me and I continue to strive on this path.
I’m also blessed to have a very smart and passionate team at Somish that has defined the business that we have today. Each one of us continues to influence and inspire each other in our dream of moving towards a more inclusive economy driven by decentralization.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were in your twenties?
In Hindi, there’s a popular saying “boond boond se sagar bharta hai.” This translates to “many a little makes a mickle.” I wish I knew this when I was starting my career.
One of the core learnings in my journey is that there is absolutely no shortcut to success. Persistent and patient investments in building human capital and solutions that can compound over a period of time make for a successful business. Investments in areas that don’t compound are often the wrong ones.
So yes, I would have told myself to strap in, enjoy the ride and stay persistent! And of course, never bet against an idea whose time has come.
What is Somish Blockchain Labs?
Q: What is Somish Blockchain Labs?
Somish Blockchain Labs is one of Asia’s Premier Blockchain Venture Studios. In the past 3 years, we have built cutting edge products in the Crypto, Enterprise & the Government space – all of our efforts have been aligned towards our vision of building an inclusive economy by leveraging blockchain technology.
There are three practices at Somish – Blockchain Consulting, Blockchain Development Services & Products Studio.
In our blockchain consulting practice, we work with startups and enterprises globally to consult them on their blockchain journey. We cover everything from public blockchains to permissioned blockchains. Our consulting practice has provided advice to projects in DeFi (Decentralized Finance) around token economics, liquidity mining, decentralized governance, lending protocols, stablecoins, derivatives, and associated tools that are required to build out game-changing DeFi protocols.
At the same time, we’ve consulted Fortune 500 enterprises in their digital transformation journey of moving supply chain data exchange onto permissioned blockchain infrastructure and around use cases like invoice discounting, refactoring, track and trace, and others.
In our blockchain development services, we work as a technology development studio for startups & enterprises who engage us in building out their ideas and launching the products on different blockchain platforms like Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, Indy, Corda, Stellar, and a few others. Our development team is comprised of leading blockchain and full-stack developers that have built production-ready blockchain systems for over 5 years now.
In our product studio, we’ve built 3 products that are a result of our knowledge and gap analysis in the blockchain ecosystem since 2017. Our 3 products are – GovBlocks, Data Exchange Framework, and Plotus. GovBlocks is built for the Ethereum ecosystem and provides an on-chain governance toolkit. DEF is built for the Hyperledger Fabric ecosystem and provides a middleware for enterprises to launch their consortia and blockchain networks in minutes. Plotus is built for the DeFi ecosystem and crypto traders with a vision of providing prediction capabilities on Ethereum.
Q: What makes your company different from its competitors?
Our first-mover advantage, enormous human capital in terms of knowledge of the ecosystem, and a very rich and diverse clientele spread across the globe in over 19 countries are the top 3 reasons that help Somish stand out.
Our team has been lucky to be associated on both sides of the blockchain ecosystems – public blockchains and also permissioned blockchains. We are strong believers in both ecosystems converging in the near future and that places Somish at a unique position in being able to deliver our services & products to new age networks.
Our associations with successful DeFi startups, like Nexus Mutual, have provided us with the experience of launching production-ready systems on blockchain that have raised several million dollars and continue to expand.
With a deep understanding of various blockchain platforms, our core technology team has been contributing to core platform improvements and also providing security audits to top applications on Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, and others.
Q: What led you to start Somish Blockchain Labs?
I’ve already described the story behind Somish in the first question. I also talk about my journey of pivoting Somish into a Blockchain Venture Studio in my TEDx talk.
Winning the London Blockchain Week 2017 Hackathon opened a lot of doors for us. One thing led to another and before I even realised, we were talking to Fortune500 companies like Standard Chartered, Thales, Tata Group, and many others to help them with PoCs and Pilots leveraging the technology.
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
3 core principles that I’ve learned so far while building this business:
1. There’s no shortcut to success – you have to be persistent, patient. There’s absolutely no other virtue for success.
2. Founders should learn the “art of relaxing constraints” – nothing will be perfect at any
given time. You may not have the right team, expertise, regulatory support, or tools to build out your idea, but you need to think ahead of time and relax the present constraints by assuming that those constraints will be fixed in the times to come and then focus on building your idea. Otherwise, you’re always stuck in a chicken-egg problem.
3. Founders must plan to unlock their wealth, not just by waiting for their equity to get them the money, but also by withdrawing salaries if the company is in positive cash flows. This is one of the biggest mistakes that founders make.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years?
I think we’re just getting started! I see emerging markets like India becoming the hotbed for a lot of blockchain-related innovation in the coming 5 years. I am also very bullish on regulators taking a favourable stand for crypto, specifically as the ecosystem becomes more trustworthy and mainstream.
We can already see the market growing massively and more people and businesses are understanding the value of using blockchain. There is a lot to build in this space – the sky’s the limit really!
As a business, our focus on Public Blockchain and the DeFi ecosystem will continue with tech collaborations, security audits and our own products. We shall continue to build out products & solutions for Startups & Enterprises who understand the value that blockchain brings with a vision of moving towards a more inclusive global economy.