Around the Block With Jefferson – Interview With Simon Grunfeld at Simba Chain

Around the Block With Jefferson – Interview With Simon Grunfeld at Simba Chain

Around the Block With Jefferson Podcast

Podcast Transcript:

Jefferson Nunn 0:02  

Live from crypto. News global headquarters. This is around the block with Jefferson and I’m here today with special guest Simon Grunfeld with SIMBA Chain. How’re you doing? Man?

Simon Grunfeld 0:16  

Doing great Jefferson, how you doing?

Jefferson Nunn 0:18  

Fantastic. Fantastic. So, Simba chain, of course, the first thing I think of is Lion King. So, tell me more.

Simon Grunfeld 0:26  

Well, no relationship but Simba really, it’s fun. You know, it really stands for Simple blockchain application. The intent behind Simba was really to create this new medium that allows for organizations and enterprises to adopt web3 technology in a more seamless manner. Enterprises that don’t have experience of blockchain, developing smart contracts, all of the above, they can just come to Simba. And we provide them with a very user interface, very user-friendly interface to allow them to simply point click and mint, Blockchain centric smart contracts for whatever, whatever kind of organization they belong to. So, to give you a little bit more context, we’ve got contracts currently with the government, Department of Defense, a number of different aeronautical organizations, we’ve got academia, a lot of institutions that are trying to provide all kinds of different access to blockchain, but don’t really know how to do it. What they would prefer is rely on subject matter experts to give them those insights. So, we’ve made it very, very easy for them to actually accomplish their mission. Aside from that we’ve got some really interesting things cooking this year, from the launch of a number of NFT marketplaces that we’ve put together, both with customers and basically standalone. We also have some ideas around issuing a new wallet, token issuance, it’s really going to be a fantastic year for all things similar.

Jefferson Nunn 1:58  

Yeah, this looks really, really interesting. And of course, I got a variety of questions that that goes with it. So, if I understand it is basically like an API that sits on top of all the different blockchain. So, you don’t have to worry about trying to build a specific interface to every single blockchain. Is that right?

Simon Grunfeld 2:18  

That’s exactly correct. So, we have built this blockchain agnostic platform but blockchain agnostic, I mean, that if the client is looking to mint on ether will support that if they want to mint on polygon with that, if they want to mint on a number of different protocols at the same time, our platform supports all of that. So yeah, to your point, basically, providing them not just a user interface, but also our our platform will produce the API that allows the client to then interface with the smart contracts that they created. So, you get an example for talking with a collectibles marketplace. And they’re looking for the option to be able to mint NF T’s that represent the physical items in their catalogue or in their warehouse. But they don’t know anything about that side of the business. They don’t understand how to actually launch merch, they don’t understand anything around NF T’s no problem, Simba chain comes in, gives them an API, their developers do the back-end integration, and they’re off to the races. Of course, depending on which change they want to go with, they might have to stake certain amount of coins that’s already more than commercial items. But from a technical standpoint, at a high level, you’re absolutely right. We give them a API, and then they go to town.

Jefferson Nunn 3:36  

Yeah, this looks pretty incredible. For a developer, like you say that may not be trained up on how blockchain works, but they can just simply import this in Visual Studio compatible or NPM compatible type of API, and then just they have an interface that they’re familiar with, right.

Simon Grunfeld 3:57  

That’s the idea. You know, the intent was to try to make this as simple as possible. For those integrations, we only did all the heavy lifting, when it came to how to build this minting age, and how to do the integration with different chains, different protocols. So, let’s do really heavy lifting. And that’s where our subject matter expertise really begins. Then you were a co hyas. Yeah. So, but then you look at the clients is okay, well, what is their expertise? Well, they know collectibles, they know, pop culture, they know, you know, communities and building that and that’s where their strengths are. Okay, great. So, from a technical perspective, you’ve got some web developers on your team. Absolutely. Okay. What do they understand? They understand web API. And that’s where we kind of meet in the middle, we bring our minting capabilities, that entire engine as a whole. We ask them, okay, grab this API, connect it with your current application. And it’s done. It’s that simple. And that’s from an API perspective. We do have just a studio as well for those that are looking to point and click and create a Smart Client based on user flows that they have in their mind, but they don’t know how to how to translate that into actual code. So that’s where that’s where our graph will actually come into play, they’ll be able to, and you can do that right now and go to Simba chain comm actually sign up for a really short intro into our enterprise platform will give you, of course limited access to it. But you’ll understand very, very quickly the benefits, and ultimately all the features that come with our platform. It’s enormous. It’s very, very powerful stuff.

Jefferson Nunn 5:33  

Yeah, that’s incredible, actually, for what you built here. And it actually looks like extremely affordable for developers practically free and then once you need it, you did it like 100 bucks a month. But that leads to kind of the next question, what if one of these blockchains does an upgrade? Like Ethereum has there I know, they changed the name but the pupae now upgrade? Or stellar got their upgrade? Are you going to be able to keep everything up to date?

Simon Grunfeld 6:03  

You know, that’s part of our business model. So not only do we provide these, the API’s that we provide, but we also have to support the various chains, the various protocols that our customers command on. So, if today we’re supporting things like seven or eight right now, they’re publicly facing. Anytime there’s an API update, anytime there might be even a hard fork, we have to support that stuff. But our mandate is to make sure that our customers don’t have to worry about that side of the fence. Everything is blockchain, native and agnostic. They, you know, we are our position is don’t worry about it. We got this covered up, you focus on the platform, the community that you’re building your underlying service offering, our expertise really comes down to enabling these kinds of companies, you know, empowering them really to offer solutions within the NFT, the metaverse, everything, everything that is web three, that is what we’re trying to bring to the table. So yeah, obviously, we have to stay up to date with, with any kind of updates that are coming down the pipeline.

Last thing we want to do is sort of missed an opportunity to allow customer to do certain things, because you know, hey, there was an update that we kind of missed. So, you know, we have a very, very strong blockchain team, a lot of delivery managers, a lot of engineers, both here in the US and overseas. We are a US company. But you know, we have expanded into Europe as well. The biggest NFT marketplace, we’re about to launch next few months for Bruges soccer club or football club. I’m an American, right, so we say we say soccer, or Irish Football Club. Yeah. Um, but yes. So, it’s, it’s our intent is to alleviate all of that anxiety that comes with any of these enterprises looking to migrate from web two to web three.

Jefferson Nunn 7:48  

So there you go. Quite right. I mean, there’s, as you’ve seen, and you have, in your use cases, a lot of incredible advantages that this system offers over traditional methods. You know, it really is, in some ways to look at it a better database system even. But along those same lines, you know, I know that there are other blockchain technology that are out there that are becoming a little bit popular. I mean, Hadera, for example, it’s becoming a little bit more popular with some of the things that they’re working on, for example, the carbon sequestration, they’re the company that decided to use that there for that. And then, of course, somebody might have even if T company decided to use Tron. So, what about all these other blockchains? That are kind of out there? You find him to expand to those five points as well?

Simon Grunfeld 8:40  

Well, yeah, so we try to listen to the customer. First and foremost, if the customer comes to us and says, you know, we want to launch something on there. Well, even though we support an error right now, if they come to us and say there’s, you know, there’s this new chain that we were evaluating, and for one reason or another, this is the one that we need, you know, we’ll take a look at it and scope it out. And we’ll see if it’s something that we can fit in fairly easily or not. And whether or not that aligns with the timeline that the client is looking for. Our position is to try to be as blockchain agnostic as possible, we don’t really try to take sides. Some are good for one thing; some are good for others. With regards, you know what, I’ll give you an example.

So one of the biggest concerns that are that you find the marketplace today is you know, which solution is greener than the other, which one is going to burn less than another one has a least small, you know, a smaller carbon footprint than others. Well, now we can make recommendations and hopefully, the customers follow the recommendations. But ultimately, we are kind of again, we’re trying to be as neutral as possible from that perspective, and to just try to make sure that we have really the right offering that meets the technical requirements and of course, the fundamental mental requirements with what they’re trying to do and how they want to try to engage their user base but yeah, we’ve it’s kind of a weird situation. We have our own data, I have my opinions, everybody else has their opinions, but only through these conversations, we really know what’s the best fit for the customer?

Jefferson Nunn 10:09  

Good deal. Tell me a little bit more about. I guess it’s your founder, Ian Taylor. I think I actually talked to him some time ago. But tell me more about how he ended up starting Simba as well. Yeah!

Simon Grunfeld 10:27  

That’s a good question. I mean, I know and I met him talk a lot. And I, you know, for, for context, I’ve only been with the company for just a little over a month. So, I don’t have I’m not totally the guy to talk to Ian and Joe, the co-founders, really great smart guys, is a PhD in physics. So that within itself should just tell you you’re dealing with at this point, right? So, you know, what better what better kind of candidate to have as a CTO over an organization that, you know, from one minute can talk to you about blockchain and integrating with supply chain management and, you know, without missing a step can start going into quantum analytics and physics. It’s, it’s fantastic. I would say that look, you the I think the biggest challenge these days is because information is just growing so fast, and so rapidly, it’s really, really hard to know everything.

But if you have the right base, if you have the right fundamental understanding of the ways technology works, and ultimately, I guess how the universe is connected, then I think it puts you in a much better position to adjust and learn and grow, and therefore lead an organization like ours, which again, is all based on this, this brand new, and I say brand, even though it’s been around for about 1012 13 years now. But it really, in retrospect, if you take a step back, how quickly the internet grew, how, how much change, we saw the first decade of the internet, and I’m talking about web one, right now I’m talking about with us, right? We’re very much in that kind of situation. So having people that can expand their minds and look at situations very differently than, you know, I can, for example, is extremely valuable. So yeah, we, you know, what can I say we love the guy.

Jefferson Nunn 12:21  

Yeah, this is incredible. One thing that I was thinking about, though most recently is and it’s more goes towards the security side of the house, you know, but there was a person that just posted on Reddit, most recently, that he was almost scammed out of all of his Ethereum by a very sophisticated scammer, you know, that knew how much he had on a hot wallet. And the way it would work. It’s like this smart contract would literally have full access to his wallet if he approved the transaction. So how do you handle security in this type of evolving space? Because it’s still evolving? You know, we don’t know what we don’t know yet. Right. So how do you handle that?

Simon Grunfeld 13:08  

Well, I would say this, that when it comes to security, the best, the best defense is really knowledge and understanding and education. People just have to understand when they might be at risk. And although a lot of subject matter experts will say well, Blockchain is secure blockchain secure, the blockchain is secure. But what’s not secure is me the individual, I can be manipulated, I can be socially engineered, and that has some that has been going on for decades, there are ways to manipulate people to get information out of them, or to make them do something that they might think that they’re doing, for one reason, but ultimately, they’re doing it for a completely different reason.

You know, I can talk about how we secure environments and hardware servers, you set up certain processes and procedures and maintain certain HIPAA or Sarbanes Oxley compliance and all that, that’s all fine and dandy from an organization’s aspect. But at the end of the day, it’s the individuals that are the most I would say that those are the softest spots. And that’s what hackers try to really get. It’s way easier to try to convince somebody to do something that they don’t know is for ILL purposes than it is to try to, you know, break a hole into Fort Knox. Right? It’s easier to try to convince them to walk out with a gold than it is for you to bring a kid and put a hole in the wall. So, I Right yeah. Well, so you know, I think what we do is we try to take a stance where we try to cover the basics with people, we try to make sure that they understand, look, always know who you’re speaking to always verify things. And when in doubt, there is no doubt pull somebody into that conversation. If you’re speaking to somebody and you have a little bit of a doubt what’s happening. Bring somebody else into it. Okay, get a second opinion. Always. So, it’s a much bigger discussion topic, unfortunately, that would have cost

Jefferson Nunn 15:03  

at first. But I think it’s good that, you know, you have professionals on your team that can, you know, support the security side of things and make sure that you know, an organization does something it is going to be secure. So that’s definitely going to be a plus side of working with y’all. So, so along the same lines getting started. How did you get your start with blockchain and Bitcoin and all that?

Simon Grunfeld 15:32  

Well, it’s kind of interesting. So, I started my career in it about 20 years ago. And after a couple of years, I kind of fell into capital markets, really by accident. But when I fell into it, I fell into a pretty strong, so I formed a partnership with a bunch of guys, we launched a foreign exchange trading platform, we launched also platforms of service, catering to automated traders, high frequency traders. I was at one point a series three, which is a commodity trading advisor registered with the National Futures Association. So, I was also introducing broker associated person at some point. So, I’ve kind of you know, I was able to, to learn the ways of compliance pretty quickly. And then I would say around 2010 2011, somebody walks into my office and starts asking about this new digital stuff called Bitcoin. So that was really the first time I really heard about it. Um, we unfortunately had to fold the FX stuff because of the Dodd Frank bill that came out in 2010. But a few years later, I started really seeing how Bitcoin was getting a lot of traction. I said, okay, well, this is something there’s something here we have to do something here. I connected with some of my old associates, we decided to then launch a platform. And this platform was going to cater to those looking to get into blockchain, Bitcoin, specifically, vendors that were either in money remittance businesses, or they were marketers, and they already had massive books of business that they were catering all kinds of services to, they had no idea how to get into Bitcoin.

So, we must platform, we white label 10 exchanges globally, we did a lot of work for other customers around wallet development, back-office support KYC, AML, all that stuff. And yeah, that’s how things kind of started that company was acquired by family office. Then I moved to another role here in New York, where I’m based out of where I was the SVP of ops, I stayed with that organization for about a year and a half. COVID kind of put an end to a lot of the plans that I was hoping to, to initiate. So, a lot of the things I was trying to accomplish didn’t really happen. And then around, let’s say, January, no, sorry. This was early December, is when I heard of Simba started looking at what they were doing. And it looked like a great organization. The founders still being part of it. They completed a series a fantastic CEO fantastic leadership. And it just, it looked like an amazing opportunity to that I just didn’t want to miss out. So yeah, in a nutshell. That’s how I got here.

Jefferson Nunn 18:07  

Hmm, amazing. Yeah, I know. Lately, a lot of people have been getting into blockchain and Bitcoin and everything. So, what would you say to the newcomers that are just finding out about Bitcoin now? And they’re going oh, it’s already at 50,000 It must be too late.

Simon Grunfeld 18:26  

Well, I would say this that people who want to get involved from the you’re referring to those that are trying to get involved from the like, speculators side are those that are trying to get involved from a you know from a platform application or technical side

Jefferson Nunn 18:46  

Oh, just anybody from that wants to be a developer of Bitcoin and blockchain okay. Just approaching and you know, I It looks like a scam, but now they’re changing their mind. If not a scam. I can do something with this. Talk. Tell them more.

Simon Grunfeld 19:04  

Yeah, sure. So, I get this question a lot by actual people, if I’m standing in line at the pharmacy, or if I’m going to pick up whatever it is, you know, people lately. I’m a kind of guy that walks around with a hat and a hoodie so they always see my hoodies and I always have something on my hoodie that says, you know, I’d heard of T’s or Simba chain or whatever it is. And usually, usually the first question is what is blockchain because they’ll see blockchain. So instead of me going into this wholesaling dance, I go, well, have you heard of Bitcoin? Usually, people have heard of Bitcoin. So okay, well, if you have heard of Bitcoin blockchain is what makes Bitcoin possible. That’s kind of like how I start the conversation, then usually, the questions are, okay, I know about Bitcoin and all this stuff, what coins do you recommend I buy? And I say, Look, I’m not here to guide you with any kind of financial information or advisory whatsoever.

But what I would say is this, if there’s something that interests you, if there’s a game that interests you, or if there’s a metal every platform that interests you, find out what’s making it work, find out, dig into it. Okay, just like you would, you know, forget about the core, forget about all this virtual stuff. You know, if there was, there was a coffee that you really liked, you know, and you want to get more involved with it, you’d find out more you do your due diligence, you’d vet them out, then you find out who the people behind and you see how you could get involved. Same thing here. Okay, if there’s something that you really like, that tickles your fancy that you’re like, wow, this is really fantastic. I will learn more about these games, or this Metaverse or this NFT platform or this marketplace, or whatever it is no, start doing your research and look into it. Maybe it’s something you want to invest in, either put up some capital, buy some tokens, maybe it’s something you want to build on. Maybe you’re like, wow, this is fantastic. I think that I could build bring my idea to this platform and make that a reality. Right? How cool is that? These days, anybody can take a look at the x amount of protocols that are out there and say, Man, I have this really cool idea. But I need somewhere to put it, I need something that’s going to allow me to take this idea and put it into a 3d environment.

But now I’ve got this pick of the litter when it comes to these chains. Wow, imagine being in that situation? You ask any developer from 30 years ago? Not 20 years ago? Hey, if we could do that for it, like how would this be life changing for you? And clearly it is there are so many different applications that are being produced on a on a daily basis. All of them have the potential of disrupting a respective industry. And it’s all because of the blockchain. So I would just come back to the center and say, find something that you like, if you have an idea, or if there’s something you like, just start looking into it, start researching it, start, you know, attending those conferences, if possible. If not, you’ve got Reddit, you’ve got discord, you’ve got so much information available at your fingertips. It’s just a matter of your own commitment. And whether or not you’re you personally, are really anxious and have the desire to make that happen. That’s it.

Jefferson Nunn 22:08  

Awesome. So yeah, this has been a very informative interview, and I’ve greatly enjoyed it. I think there’s a lot that’s out there for the future. And I guess with that, what do you think is next for all of this? For a Bitcoin blockchain? Everything but what do you think about it next?

Simon Grunfeld 22:29  

Well, I’m, I’m gonna be a VIP speaker at NFT NYC conference is June here in New York City. And I was there this past November. And what I gotta tell you something, I’ve never had that much fun in a conference ever. I’ve been to so many conferences in the US overseas, I’ve presented on stage numerous times, the NFT NYC conference is hands down the most fun I’ve ever had. Simply being the people, it’s the people that attend. It’s the creators, it’s, it’s the both the technical and fundamental information that flows over there. Everybody there is really trying to root for everybody else, we all want to see the market expand and grow. Okay, tell me, tell me another or show me another example of another market that behaves that way. I haven’t, I’ve never seen that before. So, by attending these conferences, you’re going to have exposure to all the different marketplaces that are out there. All the different vendors have security services, vendors have legal and compliance services, vendors have just infrastructure. So, it’s just it goes on and on and on. And you can see immediately, which directions are going and you think, you know, something, you get there and you realize, man, I only know half of what I thought. And now it getting exposed to all these people all over the world, with all of their ideas and what they’re bringing to the table, then all of a sudden, like, man, imagine what’s going to happen a year from now, that was exactly the same kind of notion I had leaving conferences in November.

So, I am truly excited to get a chance to meet a lot of these people. Again, vendors, protocol providers, etc, etc., etc. Just to really understand where people’s heads are and what they’re thinking about. Because ultimately, this is all just subject to our own capabilities. From our imaginative aspect. If we’re able to think about something, and knowing what we know, with web three, most likely we’ll be able to enact it, we’re taking the same stance five sigma has a lot of things on its roadmap that don’t exist right now, anywhere.

But we know that these are these these facets, these small little items that we’re planning on rolling out are going to have massive, disruptive effects on a few different marketplaces. Again, where would that exist outside of web three? I have no any. But yes, so that should be a great conference this year. One more thing I’m kind of looking forward to. There are new regs that are going to be coming down from the executive branch regs around crypto specifically. So, we are very interested to see where that’s heading. Because even though we are not a custodian by any means, we do cater to custodians. So, knowing how they might have to change their KYC AML approaches, knowing how they might have to adhere to new regulatory requirements here in the US under either FINRA, our sec, that’s going to that’s going to cause some of us to kind of like rethink a few things and readjust a few things. But at the same time, it’ll also make a lot of things a lot more clear. If you want to open up shop as a crypto company. Here’s how you do it. Up until now, it really has not been very defined. In fact, it has been defined it all from the Federal standpoint, it’s only been state by state specific. So yeah, I would say that that’s something I’m also very eager to see what happens here as far as the regulatory is concerned.

Jefferson Nunn 25:59  

Yeah, this is the I think the exciting time in the industry. I really think we still like micro sailor says the early days. Yeah, he really is. Because it reminds me a lot of the early days of the internet, you know, and Java would launch or when something else or launch, and it was really the beginning of the next generation of everything. So, if somebody wants to find out more about Simba, where do they go?

Simon Grunfeld 26:28  

They can just go to Silver Chain comm we have a ton of videos on YouTube on our YouTube channel, showing off everything that we’ve done from our enterprise platform to marketplaces, to some of the customers that have come to us and we’ve expanded on both here in the US and overseas. A lot of collaterally a lot of information, you know, it’ll definitely get someone’s gears moving, you know, so you ask them to change calm. And if any questions, you know, we have a chat on the website. You can hit that up, start speaking to a specialist and yeah, we’ll try to see if we can help any way we can. We can.

Jefferson Nunn 27:01  

Very cool. Thank you, Simon. This has been great, and we’ll see you next time.

Simon Grunfeld 27:06  

Thanks, Jefferson. I appreciate it.


Jefferson Nunn

Since 1999, Jefferson Nunn has been a consultant to high net worth individuals. Always an innovator, his ideas have generated millions for his clients including Ronco and GoWireless. He has been involved in the CryptoCurrency industry since mining his first Bitcoin in 2010. Since then, he has met with many of the early pioneers in the CryptoCurrency space including the founders of Ethereum and the founders of Crypto Capital in Panama, and more.