The Builder's Journey Recap: Astraly's Mattéo Georges

Decent presents The Builder’s Journey podcast, featuring intimate discussions with the builders behind the most exciting and innovative protocols, products, and communities in Web3.

On this episode of the Builder's Journey, we chatted with Mattéo Georges, CEO of Astraly. Astraly is an organization developing on-chain reputation primitives and a reputation-based token distribution platform on StarkNet. Mattéo discusses his journey into Web3 and founding a team, the use cases behind on-chain reputation, and what it's like building on StarkNet for the future.
On this episode of the Builder's Journey, we chatted with Mattéo Georges, CEO of Astraly. Astraly is an organization developing on-chain reputation primitives and a reputation-based token distribution platform on StarkNet. Mattéo discusses his journey into Web3 and founding a team, the use cases behind on-chain reputation, and what it's like building on StarkNet for the future.

On the journey that led to the founding of Astraly…

I think the starting point is that I've always been pretty interested in self-sovereign identity. Even before I knew about blockchains. I've participated in quite a lot of conferences around this topic, because it always amazed me how we can give identity back to people, give back the power to own their data and to own their identity. 

And then I discovered Ethereum. And that's the thing that triggered me because I think blockchains are one way to build self-sovereign identity and enable people to own their data and identity.

I worked on a proof of concept back in 2020 to get some kind of on-chain badges on Solidity. It was some kind of Soulbound token back then. But it had many flaws, especially around privacy, because you don't really want to put your name and identity on-chain. So I just put it away and I just built in DeFi, but then I came back later on StarkNet.

On Astraly’s vision, and how StarkNet specifically enables it…

Right now in Web3, you can see there are a lot of projects building badges and soulbound tokens. This will enable you to have a better identity in Web3. But the main problem with this is that it's pretty fragmented. You may have credentials on Polygon, some others on another chain, and you don't have a way to aggregate all your stuff because you have different chains and different wallets. And so yeah, the goal of Astraly is basically to aggregate all that stuff on StarkNet in a trustless way. We can and then we build applications on top of this. 

On StarkNet there are two major things that enable us to build better systems for identity or reputation: account abstraction, and storage proofs. [These] powerful tools really enabled me to solve the problems I had back when this was a proof of concept. So basically that's how we started Astraly and why we built on StarkNet.

Owning your identity is something we should have for everybody on earth. And so for the long-term vision, we can enable people to own their identity, even though they don't use Web3.

On how to build a team…

The most important thing is to have people that will trust and follow your vision. You really need people that are going to be involved 100% in what are you building.

One other important thing is to have the right people around you. The right advisors, people that have years of experience in the industry, people that have a clear vision. And if you can find them, your life will be easier. 

We started Astraly earlier this year and the market was quite difficult this whole year. I think that the conditions of the market pushed us a little bit to change some things. In the very beginning, we were tackling the identity and reputation stuff more. It was more of an application so we just wanted to focus on token distribution, based on reputation. As we were building we decided to have a more general-purpose protocol so that any project can just plug whatever they want on top of our infrastructure.

On the relationship between the Astraly team and StarkNet developers… 

StarkNet is pretty focused on developers and I think that's the right thing to do. Because they chose to have a new language (Cairo) they had to attract developers. And so they focus a lot on attracting developers to the ecosystem. The community is really developer-focused. There's this kind of early Ethereum vibe, where people are just building stuff, helping each other. 

On being somewhat beholden to StarkNet’s roadmap…

We're in a space where, like, all the validity rollups are trying to do something completely new, which is using validity proofs to carry Ethereum. And that's something nobody had done before so yeah, we're pretty dependent on their roadmap. And their roadmap is not always accurate, since it's a pretty new thing, the network right now is not really fast.

But we're pretty confident in StarkWare. They already developed StarkEx, which is a framework for many exchanges, and they already used Stark proofs to scale Ethereum. They're just trying to make it general purpose. I think that's different from the other ZK-rollups because the team has already delivered with StarkEx. 

On comparing ZK rollups to Optimistic rollups long-term…

As soon as validity rollups and ZK rollups will be available it will be a no-brainer for builders and everybody because the performance will be just way better on validity rollups. It's just the time-to-market of those rollups is very different from Optimistic rollups.

On concerns about malicious soulbound tokens affecting on-chain reputation…

I think that's a largely discussed topic and there are always pros and cons but yeah, that specific case is pretty annoying. Of course, you wouldn't be able to get rid of this.

The good thing is that if an actor or someone with bad intentions keeps sending bad soulbound tokens to people, we can actually see who issued the token. So if someone just sends random negative SBTs to people, you can actually see that these people are not really well-intentioned. 

Of course, there will always be problems. We’re already seeing this. I bet you have tens or hundreds of tokens you don't want in your wallet. That's a trade-off you're making. If you have a good reputation, you can always balance this.

But negative reputation can also be a good thing for a few use cases, especially for under-collateralized loans or uncollateralized loans. Because if you can't enforce negative reputation, someone can just take 10 loans without anything. 

On Astraly’s competition in the space…

We don't have real competitors because we are trying to aggregate everything in one place. And so the more people that are building around on-chain reputation, the happier we are. I guess in the future, we'll see more and more people trying to do the same stuff.

The more competition there is, the more we raise the standards. And the more we see users that are actually going to get interesting products and interesting solutions. And so that's a great thing in the space. And yeah, I think it's, it's easier, thanks to interoperability in the space, so that's a great thing.

On what projects Astraly might collaborate with in the future…

I'm pretty much speaking to every StarkNet project right now. And from our point of view, you could use reputation in pretty much any project. And we are also trying to develop products in that way to enable people to have a better vision about how they could use reputation in their protocol.

You can also think about voting because right now in DAOs, there's mainly one way to vote, which is, the more tokens you have, the more power you will get in the voting. But that's not always fair, and human organizations are not relying on those systems. So you can think about giving more power to people that contribute to your DAO, to people that are involved in the activity, or your DAO. 

On how ZK rollups are a powerful tool for the future of the internet…

I think it's gonna change our lives because it's gonna change how your data is stored, how you control your data, all this stuff. And it's not only related to blockchains. Again, even though the development of this technology has been generated because of blockchains, I think a lot of projects in the traditional web are going to use ZK proofs. Because it's such an amazing tool. It enables so many things.

Check out the full episode of The Builder’s Journey with Mattéo and be sure to follow for new episodes every Tuesday!

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