InkSight8: Bringing Wealth of Expertise to Advance Web3 Innovation — an interview with Azeem Khan, INK’s newly onboard advisor
We are delighted to share the exciting news that Azeem Khan, a serial entrepreneur, renowned crypto investor, and Head of Impact at Gitcoin, has joined the Advisory Board of Ink Finance, the leading Web3 Financial SaaS. A warm welcome from the Ink Finance team, Azeem!
With an impressive background in academics and entrepreneurship, and a strong influence in the crypto industry, Azeem brings tremendous insights and expertise to the table. As the Head of Impact at Gitcoin, he has played a pivotal role in directing millions of dollars towards impactful projects worldwide.
Azeem’s vast experience and leadership will undoubtedly contribute to Ink Finance’s mission, which is enabling on-chain organizations to establish financial credit and competence. His advisory will provide strategic guidance as well as hands-on support, ensuring the project’s success in the ever-evolving Web3 world.
In this exclusive InkSight interview, Azeem will share his insights on organizational governance and financial management, his vision for the future of Ink Finance, and the role he envisions playing as an advisor to the project. As an influential figure in the industry, Azeem’s perspectives and experiences are sure to offer invaluable insights to the Ink Finance community.
Q1: Could you share how your journey as a serial entrepreneur, along with your stellar academic background in medical sciences and genomic research, led you to the blockchain industry, and how your previous work helps the current ones?
Honestly, the blockchain world was one I came into contact with being on Twitter in the early 2010s. I joined Twitter at some point in 2010 and had been hearing about it here and there for a bit. Then in 2012 I was in the middle of applying to medical schools and working at a biotech company when I started taking a bit more time to better understand what exactly it was.
What mostly fascinated me were people discussing monetary theory and the philosophy of money in general that made me start thinking about it. From there I started to follow certain thinkers online and found my way into buying some.
I’d say that having studied STEM, it’s helped me to understand how to work long hours and deal with abstract concepts in my mind more than anything else. And even though I don’t use my biology degrees, I have a feeling I’ll be getting into DeSci in some way over the next few years.
Q2: As the Head of Impact at Gitcoin, you have directed tens of millions of dollars to innovative projects worldwide. Could you share with us what you see as the key elements of success for a project in the nascent blockchain industry?
These days I tend to search for entrepreneurs who are building for problems that the technology could solve. We’ve spent years building toys that are only really for the already existing user base of those in blockchain products, which is so small that it’s ridiculous we continue to only focus on them.
While we continue to need infrastructure, it’s important we start to think about what it would take to get everyday people who don’t know or care about to use blockchain products in a way that would make their lives easier. And so when I meet with projects that’s what I’m looking for more than anything else of late.
Q3: Blockchain industry has come a long way. In its ups and downs, many of its core tenets, such as “code is law” or “trustless”, prove to be utopia at the best, if not outright harmful. What’s your view on trust and credit establishment on blockchain? How important is self discipline and effective governance in a grassroot driven industry? Do you see regulation as a necessary element in this regard?
I’m a firm believer in the idea that utopian thinking leads to dystopian outcomes. And what we’ve seen over the past few years in this space with the scamming has been dystopian at best.
At the end of the day, humans get greedy, and it’s why effective regulation is so important. To date, the issue we’ve encountered with regulators is that they’re not educated, don’t care to be educated, and have already created built in biases about blockchain products from the bad news we all see online.
Where I’m hopeful is that we’re starting to see regulators from various countries all over the globe looking to find meaningful ways to promote blockchain in ways that seem balanced. Will it take time to get to the right place with all this? Absolutely. But it’s important to have impartial individuals in government assessing these things and working with the right people in the industry for us to get to the right place.
Q4: What excites you the most about Ink Finance’s mission of driving innovation by combining the power of blockchains and the best practices from traditional corp or financial governance?
While this feeling makes me a heretic in many circles among the purist crypto crowd, I don’t believe it makes sense to throw away many of the achievements from traditional corporate and financial governance in an attempt to recreate it for no reason.
From the start, I’ve felt it made sense to take the best of both worlds and combine them in a way that benefits the most people. For example, the fact that RWA comes from the real world makes it imperative to take into account how trad-fi risk manage and run compliance, as on-chain RWAs can indeed bring huge benefits to normal day-to-day people. In these applications, it is not whether we have a choice or not; it is rather about how we leverage blockchain technology to adopt the best practices. There should be no ego about having to use things from the non-crypto world, and it’s what’s so exciting about Ink Finance’s mission.
Instead of trying to recreate the wheels, they’re combining things from both sides of the table in a way that will lead to some of the most realistic and practical solutions on blockchain. I’m excited not only to be part of but to contribute to what I consider this eventual future.
Q5: How do you plan to leverage your expertise and influence to help position Ink Finance as a leading Web3 financial SaaS on a global scale?
Having spent almost a decade in this space I’ve been very fortunate to build good relationships with people who are doing some amazing things within the industry now. On top of that, my time at Gitcoin has been amazing in that I get to work with organizations and individuals across the aisle. If a company is a competitor makes no difference to us because we work at operating in a credibly neutral manner where what matters most is helping to further nurture the ecosystem holistically.
I’m excited to find unique ways to bring the relationships I’ve built over time with different players in the ecosystem to better understand how and why they should be working with Ink Finance in a way that will be mutually beneficial to everyone involved. Also, through INK.HK’s positioning in Hong Kong as a pioneer RWA originator, I hope to contribute my insights to the regulators and industry at large in that exciting region.