Conversations with our CTO: Part 2
Welcome to Part 2 of the “Conversations with our CTO” series where we ask Stan a few questions and have him answer them directly. In Part 1, we introduced his background and thoughts on the industry with our community. In this part of the series our CTO talks about product development, the technical team and the project as a whole.
Q: What experience have you had before joining DarcMatter and Konstellation as CTO?
A: My first commercial project in software development began in 2002. I’ve built a range of products in the mobile industry, developed native Windows API applications, switched to server software development and developed middleware solutions. I’ve also helped airlines and banking institutions upgrade their legacy systems with modern user interfaces to ensure their users and personnel are more efficient at work. I supervised development of software as Product Manager when I composed the technical requirements, led the ideation process, managed the UI and design teams to provide necessary deliverables that align with the general vision and help the product meet the ultimate goal of solving the pain of the end client. Since 2011 I have been establishing and managing technical offices for startups and built teams from scratch. Also, I have been doing commodity trading as a hobby and writing algorithmic scripts to automate that activity since 2006. This activity helped me learn a lot about the hedge fund industry and generate the vision of DarcMatter.
Q: How long have you been working with DarcMatter? How did you become acquainted with the founders of the project?
A: I’ve known Sang and Natasha since 2013 when we met to work on a platform for startup capital raising, ReturnOnChange. People usually become very surprised when I explain how that happened. I’ve been a member of New York Tech Meetup mailing list and spotted an email from Sang about his need to find a developer for this company. Collaborating as a developer wasn’t interesting at that time for me but I thought there might be some more to it-and there was. In reality, Sang needed someone who would take care of the technical product while he could focus on other parts of the business, and that was exactly what I was happy to do. Moreover, we found lots of common interests and the product directly aligned with my fintech experience. It’s not often that the business founder can talk business terms and the tech guy can understand most of it. In our case, however, the conversation about the product vision was smooth, so we started the collaboration.
Q: How many people are on the tech team? What are their respective roles?
A: We have a Project Manager, 4 developers, a quality assurance engineer and several part-timers — a dev ops, graphical/UI designer, and another frontend developer. I’m very risk averse and try to balance my team to deliver not only the best technical solutions available, but also the highest possible value for the costs we outlay as a business. I believe this is one of the key elements of long term success and one of the ways startups can increase their chances of survival.
Q: In terms of product development, what has your team achieved since the ICO?
A: We have made significant improvements in the UI for our users, added additional layers for improved product stability, improved KYC processing by working in collaboration with our provider to deliver a more robust solution, wrote applications and scripts for token transfers, obtained blockchain statistics and analytics, and digitized legal contracts on the platform. Our vision requires a lot of work that is going on behind the scenes and we make a significant effort to educate ourselves with the latest trends and look for the most effective ways to achieve our desired results.
Q: What are the future goals for the team? Are you hitting the milestones you planned for since beginning product development?
A: We treat our plans with a high degree of responsibility and each team member we bring shares a sense of ownership towards the results each one delivers, both in terms of quality and timing. Milestones usually appear after strategic sessions where we give ourselves challenging goals while also assessing the risks towards achieving those goals. As result, milestones that are produced are often met. We are looking forward to rolling out our own wallet, changing the KYC flow to ease interaction and make it more user friendly.
Q: The wallet is ready for beta testing, when will it be ready for investors to use?
A: I think 1 month of beta testing will be sufficient for the wallet to become available for investors.
Q: Can you share more information on technical update such as UX design and other elements in the future?
A: On the DM platform side, we are going to change the registration interface in order to make it more intuitive. We will make some changes to the ‘dealroom’ so that after an investor has logged in all information settles onto one page. We plan to move KYC process to the ‘beginning of investment’ cycle and make sure that we have the most effective flow for the user in our system across all screens. We want to minimize the time users need to spend on each one of our products to achieve what they want. Lastly, we plan to make pages for Real Asset Class Addition.
Q: Will community members be able to use the DM platform in the future or will it be restricted to financial institutions?
A: All people will be able to use the DM platform as long as the necessary requirements from financial authorities are met. There are numerous potential applications of the DM platform in the future, especially with Konstellation technology. This tech should enable the DM platform to reach a much bigger crowd than just financial pros and do it easily. Remember that a platform is always two sides. In this case, there is the institutional side and the investor side.
Q: Why do you personally think Konstellation is a unique fintech solution?
A: I wasn’t able to find any product that has similar goals and is intended to solve the same issues as Konstellation. It is one of the reasons I think we are doing things nobody has done before us. Also, we have a unique team with lots of investment banking, commodity trading, technical production, and marketing experience, and with such diverse cultural backgrounds. This combination has resulted in the unique vision we’ve generated.
Q: Where do you see the future of Konstellation from a technical perspective in 5 years?
A: I believe that both the market and demands from our end users will significantly determine the shape of our product. We are gathering a lot of feedback from the businesses we work with and meet with daily in regards to how we can serve the industry better to provide additional value. We formulate the hypotheses that we implement as prototypes and test them before releasing full-blown features. At the moment, the opportunity of tokenizing each individual fund offering looks like an interesting challenge to solve both from the user and technology perspective.
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