100 best CEOs disrupting tech! #14 Fraser Edwards from Cheqd

Interviews 27 August 2021

We talked about sales development with Fraser Edwards, CEO of Cheqd. Through Cheqd, businesses can build authentic data ecosystems through SSI.

How would you describe your company in an elevator pitch?
Cheqd is building the payment rails for authentic data. We want to make it as easy as possible to create authentic data ecosystems through customizable commercial models and governance structures, all built upon a public permissionless network with a dedicated token for payment. We’re starting off with a focus on self-sovereign identity (SSI), using commercial and governance frameworks to make it easy to stand up new ecosystems and return privacy and data control to individuals. Our team is massively passionate about the privacy movement as well as creating new business models and market places around authentic data. Authentic data is where the source of that data can be proved. This is in contrast to most existing data economy solutions where the data has no lineage. For example, being able to prove passport data came from a legitimate passport issuer rather than simply reading the contents.

What are you the best at?
Across the team, this would have to be learning. Regardless of subject, our team has been incredible at picking up new concepts and approaches. We’re building something brand new, with a huge amount not having been done before, which means there is a tremendous amount to learn. As we get into a more stable state, that learning will move to understanding our users and community and how best to serve them across the company.

It is made easier by the deep expertise everyone brings in their specific area, whether that is knowledge of the identity market, specific verticals or their role. Everyone brings deep strengths which they share with the rest of the team. It’s all about complimenting each other’s skill sets, eliminating any gaps and making sure that we’re well rounded and optimised for success as a team. As a personal example, I have very little marketing experience so count myself extremely lucky being able to lean on Eduardo Hotta and Elina Yumasheva. Our team’s ability to support each other means we can collectively bring our strengths to bear on the product and network, fulfilling the needs of our users and community.

How did you find your first customers?
We’re currently pre-launch so we’re in the process of finding our first partners. We broadly have two groups: 1- Node operators: partners who will maintain nodes on the network to keep it performant and resilient. 2- Enterprise clients: ultimately the organisations who will be building use-cases atop the network. Across both of these groups, we’ve mainly been connected via either personal relationships or our wider network, e.g. investors, existing partners. A number of us have been active in this space for years so have a lot of existing connections which we’re able to tap into, both to shape the direction of the product but also to bring organisations onto the network.

What are your customers saying about your product?
Since we’re pre-launch, mostly: “we want it and we want it now” which is a great reaction to see since it confirms our product-market fit, now we just need to execute!
We’re seeing a similar reaction from the token community who are extremely passionate about the project and the token to come. SSI is all about individuals and so it’s wonderful to see a growing community who are learning about and advocating for the technology.

What are your proud achievements so far?
From a product perspective, our proudest achievement is launching our test network within 4 months of starting the company. Find more about it here. The crypto space can be a bit like the wild west and it was hugely important to us to prove we’re not vapourware and that we’re moving at pace.
Outside of the product, my proudest accomplishment has been the team we have assembled at Cheqd, which is very little to do with me and much more to do with Ankur, our CTO, and the incredible quality of our first team members, Javed and Eduardo in helping attract more people like themselves.


What is the next big thing in your industry?
We’re cross-industry but the main milestone for the space is the “killer app” which will bring authentic data and SSI to the masses. Every time someone (individual or company) sees a demonstration of the experience, they are blown away. The key thing now is giving that experience to as many people as possible and making it commercially successful.

The parallel we’re drawing is with the “Know your customer” revolution which occurred in FinTech where Neobanks moved from checking physical documents like passports and utility bills in person to scanning them using mobile phones and “selfie-scans”. As soon as this interaction was experienced by their customers, they expected this experience from every company they interacted with which kickstarted adoption.


What are your plans for the next 6-12 months?
Our entire focus is on launching main-net in the next few months so we can begin working with organisations to implement use cases on the network and help them massively expand their ecosystems to help bring SSI to the world.

Once main-net is live, our focus will shift onto helping those organisations expand their network and building new utility into the network to help adoption. Examples of this will be more payment models and configurable governance to enable any ecosystem to create its own commercial model and governance structure without having to start from scratch. We want to make it as easy as possible to adopt self-sovereign identity to give people back control of their data and ultimately their privacy.

https://blog.cheqd.io/cheqds-testnet-is-public-and-we-ve-open-sourced-our-code-4e73e11f1958

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