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KeyFi 2021: The Year In Review

Ben Gervais 28 91

Via Medium

KeyFi 2021: The Year In Review

On December 9th 2020, the KEYFI Token was launched alongside a basic MVP of the KeyFi Core app. This was preceded by a period of observation, research and development of the DeFi industry while I was…

On December 9th 2020, the KEYFI Token was launched alongside a basic MVP of the KeyFi Core app. This was preceded by a period of observation, research and development of the DeFi industry while I was working as Head of R&D at SelfKey.

January 1st, 2021.

KeyFi had just completed its launch and we just wrapped up an airdrop for KEY token holders on Christmas. The app, whitepaper and token had not been particularly well received by the SelfKey community. Perhaps they didn’t understand DeFi, or perhaps they didn’t see the potential in project.

In any case, by that time, interest in KeyFi from the SelfKey community was almost nil. Our token price and liquidity had plummeted. At this point I think there were only 3 people staking Uniswap LP tokens, myself, SelfKey and one random Chinese farmer (who would later go on to dump his tokens and leave the project later in February).

During this time which I refer to as “KeyFi Winter”, there was some internal discussion with SelfKey about whether or not the project would even continue. The original designer we were working with quit. I was being questioned constantly about “product market fit”.

At this time, almost none of the current existing team had been assembled. It was pretty much me and my laptop, working on a plan on how to move forward with this. I put together a presentation with a list of different features to build, ideas about business models, growth strategies etc…

We agreed to give the KeyFi project 6 months to achieve traction or be cancelled.

Getting right to work, we brought in a true world class UI/UX designer in Ferenc, who immediately re-designed our website and app into something more professional and presentable. Mahmoud, who was the first dev I hired was a big help around this time and we pulled some late nights to make sure things happened.

We brought in Amanda to help manage a lot of the non-technical administrative tasks we needed help with. Things were starting to go smoother already. I had already wanted to work with the Chinese community since I have connections there so we made sure to have the app and some marketing materials translated.

In February, we announced the Binance Airdrop and suddenly over the course of about a week, we had a community seeded in our Telegram chat of people who a) knew what DeFi was and b) could see the potential of our project. Of course such an event would not be without drama. We saw extreme volatility in the token during this period, but we also were starting to build legitimate traction, starting with the Chinese community, but also building up in the European region as well.

We continued forward, improving the app by adding more integrations and features. We improved the team, hiring our CMO Vinny who helped take our marketing and community management to an entirely new level of professionalism and consistency. We also hired BK our lead app developer to take on the integrations challenges and also help improve the app experience overall.

New ideas for what the KeyFi app should do came and through discussion with the team and iteration, became clearer. We had lots of feedback from the community and other DeFi users which helped us to identify many of the pain points that needed solving.

In April we signed our first partnership and DEX listing / farm / pool with ApeSwap after we launched our token on BSC. Next we signed another partnership with Alkemi to focus on the identity credentials integrations alongside SelfKey.

In June we announced the development of KeyFi Pro. The objectives of KeyFi Pro became clear by this time, and we’ve been able to communicate these points on our website and other marketing materials.

In the original whitepaper of the project we outlined some details about using AI/Machine Learning in order to solve some problems around DeFi. Since then we’ve identified a dozen or so different ML approaches and features to build.

As we continued scaling our entire team, we hired Brian and Toby, 2 dedicated specialists to work on the Data Science and ML. We also hired a dedicated DevOps team to help us build and manage our backend infrastructure.

All summer we worked hard on KeyFi Pro. We ignored the markets and focused on building the product. We also started an outreach campaign, to help find more strategic partners to help us grow the project to the next level. We can’t wait to announce these as we move forward into 2022.

As summer turned to fall and then to winter, the markets recovered and interest in the project spiked when we pre-released the KeyFi Pro dev app to closed group for testing, in preparation for a full private beta launch. We received invaluable feedback from this core group and and currently in the process of addressing each of their concerns with the app.

As the year wrapped up we continue to expand our reach. We had the website and app translated into 7 languages with another 12 to be added soon. DeFi is a truly global industry and being able to offer our tools to users in their own language is extremely important to us and is a core part of our growth strategy. I personally also think it looks so cool seeing our tools in other languages. On top of the app and website, we also have several community driven groups in Chinese, Turkish (led by our OG community manager Mustafa) and Russian, with others on the way.

KeyFi Pro development has not always been totally smooth. We’ve had delays, communication problems, technical hurdles and all the typical things you might encounter during software development. Fortunately, this is a position where I feel very comfortable. Coming from a background of software development, specifically from the startup environment, I’ve already been through these problems many times and am lucky to have both the patience and the experience to find ways to solve problems and ensure forward progress continues.

Finally, to wrap up the first year of KeyFi, we made a significant move on our Decentralization roadmap by burning 1m tokens, airdropping 1m tokens, providing tokens for cross chain bridge and allocated 1m tokens the KeyFi DAO, which by the end of 2022 will be in full control of the project smart contracts. This helps to clarify going forward which parts of the project are decentralized (tokens, smart contracts, open source software) and which parts remain under private control (data, ML models, proprietary software)

During this period, we’ve seen our team go through life at the same time. Team members get sick, have babies, move house, need to take care of other family members, have had their lives interrupted by the weather. All this while still pushing forward on our project and dealing with the other issues presented by having a company forged in the time of Covid. I’m fiercely proud of how our team has handled all different kinds of adversity and come out stronger and further ahead than many would have imagined.

Thank you team and thank you community for an incredible first year. You are all amazing people and I’m proud to have you all with us going into year 2 and all the challenges and all the opportunities that may come.

Ben Gervais
Co-Founder & CEO at KeyFi