Susruth Nadimpalli and Jaskaran Gulati, cryptocurrency pioneers who met while students at ANU, have been listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 for finance and venture capital in Asia. Their company, Ren Labs, recently raised $7.5 million in funding for their latest project at a $75 million valuation.
Gulati and Nadimpalli met in 2017 thanks to a university web forum post seeking out people interested in blockchains. Together they formed the nucleus of an all-student team that worked together during their spare time and launched the company that became Ren Labs.
“Studying at ANU made it pretty easy to find people that were motivated and had a hunger to learn,” Gulati said.
Several ANU students — including Noah I, Yunshi Sun, Ross Pure, Taiyang Zhang, Loong Wang — made significant contributions to the start-up.
The curriculum at the ANU School of Computing was “intense”, Gulati and Nadimpalli recalled. But the team fed off each other’s creativity and interest in blazing new trails.
“It wasn’t easy, but I think to an extent we were blinded by our excitement for the blockchain space and how it had the potential to reshape finance and money as we know it,” Gulati said.
Blockchains are distributed databases that store information in discrete blocks that are strung together. Once a block is filled, it cannot be altered, which supports secure transactions without the need for a third party.
The team conducted some preliminary research and found that the blockchain and cryptocurrency platforms were “still pretty nascent”.
“There was room for some pretty unique applications that weren’t otherwise possible,” Gulati said.
Balancing university life and entrepreneurship required more than a few all-nighters, but the team decided to band together and design their new product as quickly as possible. This allowed them to provide some value in the emerging cryptocurrency economy just when demand was exploding.
Being early to market “certainly helped”, they said, but their products have been popular with users primarily because of an emphasis on research and security.
Forbes reports that their latest project, Catalog, is a cross-chain exchange designed to “simplify users' automatic market maker experience and introduce more user-friendly features like linking a bank account for easy deposits and withdrawals”.
“Looking back on it, we wouldn’t change a single thing,” said Nadimpalli. “Even today we have the same amount of excitement towards the space, and with Catalog, we’re again on the lookout for the next group of passionate people to join us on our journey.”