As a part of our new series we will be uncovering the inner workings of companies and meeting the people behind the brands in honest interviews with their CEOs, founders and team members.
This week Snovian.Space spoke to Ternio’s co-founder Daniel Gouldman. Ternio is best known for developing the first scalable decentralized blockchain framework – Lexicon, capable of performing 1 million transactions per second, servicing industries from banking to manufacturing, while still letting them utilize whichever cryptocurrency they find best for their business.
Ternio created Lexicon to change the way blockchain is used in our daily lives and we spoke to Daniel Gouldman to find out more about the product and what goes on behind the curtain, both in his work life and personal life.
Daniel Gouldman: Co-Founder at Ternio A highly political person Location: Greater Atlanta Area
I: In your own words, tell us about Ternio
DG: Ternio really has two main products. First, our Lexicon blockchain which is at the core a custom blockchain architecture that allows for scalable transactions on blockchain. Our first use case of Lexicon is in the digital programmatic space which requires more transaction speed than any other industry on the planet. And secondly, our Block Card which will allow anyone to spend their BTC and ETH on a Visa or Mastercard.
I: What pushed you to create Ternio?
DG: My other co-founders and I have worked in the digital programmatic advertising and media space for quite some time. We understood that blockchain could solve a lot of the issues that plague the $250 billion industry in everything from transparency of inventory and preventing fraud to resolving a lagging payment system.
“…When I was 17 years old – I was homeless. I lived out of my car, worked two jobs and found a way to graduate high school…”
I: Apart from investors, who would be interested in your ICO?
DG: There have been people within the finance, advertising and tech industries all buying Ternio tokens. We have been approved for up to $10 million in a Series A from an investment bank out of San Francisco. Ternio has had a lot of real, organic interest.
I: How is Ternio different from its competitors?
DG: There are a couple of blockchains focused on scaling – so a blockchain can handle high number of transactions per second. None of them are doing it within the first vertical we’re working on – the digital advertising industry. We’re also the only ICO to have a third party audit of our transaction speeds and we’re in discussions with some of the world’s largest well-known companies about licensing our technology.
I: How have you grown Ternio’s presence in the market?
DG: Within the digital advertising there’s no question that all the major ad agencies and players know who we are. We have already built out a large supply chain, which is quite a big deal, and we’re the only real blockchain product that will have all transactions on the chain. That’s because we think we’re the only ones who have really figured out how to scale a blockchain.
I: How does your team work? Do you use any specific techniques?
DG: We work really hard. We have a very talented team of senior developers; each of them has a purpose and provides tremendous value to the company.
I: What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome as a company?
DG: It’s really difficult to build a business and raise money at the same time. Building a custom blockchain is expensive – no question about it, but it also has tremendous upside if we can make it demonstrate value. We’re sort of fighting two wars on both our east and west flanks; on one side, we have to be relevant to the digital advertising industry, and on the other, we have to be relevant to the crypto community as well. There’s a lot of bullshit in the crypto business and it’s hard work. But we’re lucky to have the best community that could possibly exist.
I: How was it starting a cryptocurrency and trying to take your company global?
DG: We’re still doing it! It is kind of cool that we’re talking with the largest companies in the world about using our technology, because they don’t have the capabilities yet. Many of the companies we’re in discussions with are well known brand names in China, the US and Europe – truly global brands. Very exciting times.
I: What’s next for Ternio? What’s in the nearest future?
DG: We’re focused on proving our product in our pilot with partners in the advertising ecosystem. That’s this year. We’re also working with two banks on our Block Card so that anyone can use their Bitcoin or Ethereum to purchase anything they want as long as that retailer accepts Visa or Mastercard. Upload your BTC – make your purchase – done. That’s also on track for this year.
I: Where would you ideally like to see yourself in 5 years?
DG: In 5 years there are going to be a few blockchain companies that will be the next Google, Facebook, Tencent, Amazon etc. I want Ternio to be one of the few that really sets the standard for blockchain.
I: If you had to give one piece of advice to a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
DG: [Starting a new business] is not only a lot of work – sometimes 24 hours a day with no sleep. Your time will be filled with a lot of emotional highs and lows. And if you don’t believe in yourself – why should anyone else believe in you. You’re going to hear “no” a lot. You’re going to be told all the reasons you can’t. You’re going to have to really question yourself as to whether your plan is good before you even start, because most are destined to fail. If you have the capability and know that you’re doing something special – don’t give up. And make sure that whoever you partner with is an excellent partner; the tough times will always show you who people really are.
I: Is there something you believe your team can do better than anyone else? What is your strength?
DG: Our entire development team is in house here in Atlanta. We have a very senior level. We’ve built out the world’s fastest blockchain and I’m proud of that.
I: What is the skill you wish you or your team could perfect?
DG: Executing on timelines is everything. That’s what we talk about in house all the time – what are the tasks and what’s the timeline.
I: What’s the best and/or the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
DG: It wasn’t so much advice as it was something I read that really resonated with me. The Harvard Business Review did this survey of 36 self-made millionaires. They were trying to figure out what was the underlying factor that tied all of these people together. What makes a person successful? They compared race, gender, education … everything you could think of. The single factor that connected all of them together was this: each of them failed on average a total of 17 times before they finally made it. When you consider how hard that must’ve been – to try and fail that many times … it’s understandable why most sane people would have long given up on their dreams and instead opted for security and a so-called “normal life”.
I: What is the most ridiculous advice you’ve heard from a colleague?
DG: Maya Angelou is famous for saying something along the lines of “You don’t always remember what people say, but you remember how people make you feel.” And there’s no shortage of ridiculous things being said in the crypto community.
I: Do you believe failure can make or break a person?
DG: It can make a person and it can break a person. A person can only handle so much failure before they give up. It’s understandable – you have to know when to call it a day. On the other hand – it also can refocus a person’s perspective and instill discipline.
I: How do you know when you’ve succeeded?
DG: When you accomplish your plan. If you have a plan with goals and you meet those goals – congratulations, you’ve made it.
I: What is the best investment of money, energy and time for someone who’s trying to succeed?
DG: That depends on what your business is, I suppose. Plan well, invest a lot of your time into planning. Make sure that you know what you’re doing and have a realistic shot at making things work out, because even with a great plan and a great person running things it’s still really hard.
I: Do you have any weird or extraordinary habits? Any guilty pleasures?
DG: It’s not uncommon for me to work until 2am. I work off my calendar – if it’s not on my calendar or email – I’ll probably forget it.
I: What’s the best decision you’ve made in the last 10 years?
DG: Having two beautiful kids who drive me absolutely crazy. But I love them and that’s my biggest legacy. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done with Ternio and while that story is still being written – I’m optimistic about our future.
I: What are the top 5 books you would say have influenced your life or your work ethic the most?
DG: The Oz Principle is about personal accountability and not working “below the line” – I’ve given speeches on it. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I live by the Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern philosophy. I don’t have time to read books anymore honestly, but those two stand out.
I: What would you say is or has been your worst time-waster both at home and at work? Do you watch TV? If yes, what is your favourite TV show/movie?
DG: I need time to watch TV. My favorite shows are Homeland, Power, Succession, Billions, Game of Thrones and I love documentaries or anything about geo-politics or history.
I: How do you wind down after a stressful day? How does one achieve that perfect work-life balance?
If you need advice on work-life balance – I’m not your guy. I work constantly. I work 7 days a week but I know my limits. When you feel yourself maxing out – you have to know how to get ahead of it before you get completely overrun. It’s hard to enjoy life if you’re stressed, and finding ways to decompress whether it’s time with family, cooking or gardening, watching a show… we all need to find ways to just chill out. When I reach my [boiling] point – I just tell my wife “I’m zoning” and she leaves me alone. That means I’m just doing whatever I need without interruption so that I can decompress without distractions or any added stress.
Ternio’s Lexicon is expected to launch 3rd party cross-chain communication and user verification in Q3 of 2018. Find out more at ternio.io.