From Doctor to Dev to Founder of Trader Joe
Fish's crypto journey
From sucked into Pandaswap to building Traderjoe
Founder of @traderjoe_xyz
▶️ crypto journey
▶️ How to run a dex, thoughts on tokenomics
▶️ His advicer to all the builders out there!
Hi I’m fish, co-founder of Trader Joe. I’m in my mid 30s.
Started off as a doctor, but decided to quit about 7 years ago to pursue a career in programming.
2️⃣ How did you fall into the crypto rabbit hole & end up founding trading joe?
Around the same time I started to self-learn programming,
I stumbled upon bitcoin. Immediately was hooked.
Bought my first BTC for $2700 in early 2017 just before the ICO bubble. Made a ton of unrealised gains during the ICO boom only to round trip it all a year later, lol.
After that I decided that I’d be better off as a builder than a trader.
So I dedicated the next 3 years of my life on learning. I went back to school to get a master’s degree in computer science, worked for a few months at Google after graduating and got bored so started dabbling around Avalanche.
After working for a few projects, I realised this dapp stuff was not rocket science so ended up forking Uniswap with a Murloc and Trader Joe was born.
3️⃣ What are your thoughts on the current DEX market? In such a highly competitive market, what is the key in staying relevant, having your edge?
It’s very competitive. To beat Uniswap, it’s not enough to be incrementally better, you need to be 10x better.
So it’s important for any new DEX to have completely unique features in order to stay competitive.
We believe Trader Joe is the only DEX out there that is completely different to Uniswap V3 in terms of approach and design.
However, those unique features need to translate into tangible benefits, which are we actively working on showcasing.
4️⃣ What is the future of the DEX market?
At the moment, the long block times and transaction costs limit any DEX to replicate a CEX-like experience.
This is a big reason why we're not seeing sophisticated traders run complex strategies in DeFi like they would in CeFi.
It’s very possible that the future of DEXes and DeFi will move to another L1 or an L2 that can provide that.
I also think that the DEXes of the future will look more like CLOBs than AMMs – yes they are less retail-friendly,
but if DeFi is to get large-scale institutional adoption, it needs infrastructure that suits their needs better and I believe CLOBs provide that more than AMMs
There’s many pros and cons between CLOBs and AMMs & I believe the future of DEXes will probably be a hybrid of both.
5️⃣ It is not easy to pivoting in different chains & tokenomics but traderjoe’s was one of the best successful protocols that did it.
What do you think contributed towards it?
Do you mind sharing the thinking and process of it?
Deploying onto new chains is hard.
There’s many factors that can play into your decision making before deciding on a new chain, but the one that I feel is most important is brand and culture.
For example, late 2022, we recognised that there was a little ecosystem of “degen DeFi” projects cropping up in Arbitrum. Our brand is very much catered to “DeFi degens”, so from that standpoint it made complete sense for us to deploy there.
About pivoting on tokenomics -
oh man, this is a hard question to answer. Our biggest learnings here is:
▶️Don’t chase tokenomic trends
▶️Take tokenomic feedback from your community with a grain of salt - your bag holders are not the best source for this
▶️ Keep things as simple as possible
6️⃣ I would assume trading volume/fees is a key metric of a DEX, love to hear your thoughts on how to drive a DEX into these goals?
( if not volume/fee what other “goals” is ur target & ur thought on how to archive it? )
We use fees as our north star metric internally, but externally people only care about volume.
Driving volume is a mixture of concerted efforts from different disciplines:
to decide pool fees, and incentive rewards
they make sure we’re integrated by all sources of traffic like aggregators and also find partnerships that can help augment volume
it’s important to increase brand awareness so that you become top of mind when people want to trade
7️⃣ Do you mind sharing your most REKT experience?
In the early days of Avalanche, I aped 6 figs into a new DEX Pandaswap
They got $20M TVL on first day of launch and price was going crazy, but then someone noticed there was a smart contract bug and price started dumping.
I volunteered to help them fix the bug (and subsequently my bag). They agreed and just like that I was suddenly part of the team.
After a few days working with them, I realised that all six of them called themselves devs but only one of them was a dev and he was still a student
Their level of dev knowledge was so bad that it astonished me they even managed to fork Uniswap and customised the frontend.
Anyways, after a week there, I succumbed to the fact that I’d never get my money back, so I called it quits.
The silver lining to this story is that it gave me the confidence to start Trader Joe because I most people in this space have no clue what they’re doing and starting your own project wasn’t as hard as it seemed.
8️⃣ Any advice for the crypto builders out there?
Builders in crypto are different to builders in other industries because of the
close relationship community members have with builders and
you’re at the whims of the market.
So I can’t stress how important it is to be resilient in the face of all this.
There will be times where you hate crypto, you hate your users – this is normal.
Just make sure to find time away from crypto and don’t go on Twitter to vent.
9️⃣ What do you think is required to make it in crypto
As a builder, it’d say it’s super important to be gritty as I mentioned before.
But in general, I would say:
▶️Trying new things all the time, no matter how dumb or esoteric it is. Lots of opportunities are missed because people judge too quick and brush things away or they’re just too lazy to try.
▶️Taking everything said on crypto twitter with a grain of salt. In other words, don’t buy into the narrative circus of CT.