At the end of July, the long-awaited hard fork of Cardano called Shelley took place and the staking of ADA coins on the mainnet was launched. For our interview, we invited the ambassador from the Cardano Foundation, Lukáš Bárta. Lukáš is also the founders of the ambassador group Cardanians, who have done a huge amount of work in the Cardano ecosystem to date and operate 2 staking pools CRDNS and CRDN1.
Let me start with some intro questions about yourself. When you first heard about cryptocurrencies and blockchain, did you believe in the idea at a first sight, or did you have any doubts? And when was your first touch with crypto?
The first time when I heard about crypto or Bitcoin was from my classmates at university sometime in 2010/2011, but I didn't pay much attention to it at that moment. The second time was when I went to Prague with a friend at the beginning of 2017 around Bitcoin ATM and I was told to buy some BTC that I could pay for coffee with it. I was horrified when I saw the price of Bitcoin around $ 1,000 and I let it go. Half a year later, I was interested in an article on the web about Ethereum and its sharp rise in prices. I started studying crypto more and more, I felt a huge potential in it and I decided to invest my first money. I bought the first BTC in July 2017 somewhere at a 2-3-thousand-dollar level.
How went your crypto-journey from Bitcoin to Cardano? Being an ambassador of a project from the TOP 10 and at the same time a co-owner and operator of the Cardanians pool is not just like that, there is a lot of effort behind it, and especially some internal decision on what to do. When in fact the decision matured in you?
Most of the time I saw Bitcoin as the king, the store of value, but I wasn't tempted to just buy and HODL, so I went through the classic journey of a newbie when I discovered a much more interesting and colorful (and wilder) world of altcoins through Bitcoin. Classically, instead of multiplying BTC, I lost a lot, both on various pump&dump coins or within the ICO’s. My colleague Jaromír Tesař then brought me to Cardano, because he was engaged in fundamental analyzes of various altcoins and he was able to recognize undervalued projects with huge potential. I remember a conversation with him like it was yesterday when he said to me: "Buy Cardano, it is currently very cheap and I think that if this project succeeds, it can change the world".
I did my research on the project and I was also interested in it, so I bought my first ADA for $ 0,04 and 3 months later the price reached $ 1.2 for 1 coin! Of course, I thanked Jaromír, but as usual, I blamed myself for not buying more and also for selling some part too soon! I thought I missed the train!
Subsequently, we know what has been going on since the beginning of 2018, and in addition to the bleeding portfolio, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to increase my position in Cardano. At that time, I narrowed my portfolio a lot and from about 25 different coins I reduced it to 4 and I said to myself that I will no longer speculate or trade, but I will be a classic HODLer.
In the spring of 2018, I offered Jaromír cooperation, and together we advised people in the crypto sphere on what to buy, what to focus on. But after all the work, we felt more and more that we had Cardano in our head in particular, we used it as such a benchmark for a lot of other projects and it took up more and more content. That's when we decided Cardano deserved more, its own FB group. We invited the first few dozen people to the group and gradually started educating them, informing and building the Czecho-Slovak community about Cardano. Our activity was appreciated by various people in their articles or even in some YouTube videos by our Czech TOP YouTuber called Kicom! At that time, we had no idea about the ambassador program at all, but as we dived deeper and deeper into the project, we felt that we were losing awareness of other projects and that it was better to focus on one, but properly. So, we started writing articles about Cardano, and it was still a long way to go to the Cardanians at this stage, and I'll get to that later.
What do you say to the fact that your Facebook group Cardano (ADA) CZ / SK gained nearly 2,000 members in two years and is one of the largest in the Czech-Slovak community?
We started the FB group on October 16, 2018, and from the very beginning we focused on quality rather than quantity. That it was a good decision can be seen from the response within the group. For example, one of the leading authors of crypto-related articles in Czech space, Adam Kracík, wrote an article about us as a community and a fb group, from which other communities should take an example. This made us very happy and encouraged us to continue working.
Check out the article: The Czech Cardano community was praised by an independent crypto-journalist
Which one of you came up with the name “Cardanians” for your ambassador group and were there other names in the game?
Let's talk about the beginning first. We were very active and then at the beginning of 2019, we noticed information that it will be possible to set up your node and become a pool operator, and this idea dug deep in my head. We didn't know anything about it, there was only a form that examined people's interest and we had to fill in what our experience, HW, etc. and that someone would let us know.
No one has spoken since, but we continued to work hard. Since Jaromír is a programmer, at first we thought we could do everything ourselves, but we still lived in a very naive idea of how such a node would work completely alone without intervention and then we poured ourselves pure wine, we said that the day has only 24 hours, we can't cut ourselves into pieces, and if we still want to focus on the community, we need someone else to help us with that. At that moment, it occurred to me to ask the programmer and friend Josef Táborský, with whom I collaborated on another project and we already knew what we could expect from each other, whether he would like to join us. And because he liked the idea and had extensive experience with websites, web applications, network management, servers, etc., we agreed on further cooperation. It was a significant reinforcement of our group and on the rebound, I am glad that we get together!
When I knew we had a good team, it wanted to move up another level and it wanted a name. It was a classic brainstorming, there were various suggestions, some of them in Czech, some in English. But then I were a little inspired by project Nexo, which was my favorite project as well, and when I received their newsletter, they wrote: "Dear Nexonians."
At that time I realized, that even patriotism is a great thing, but if we want to succeed worldwide, we must have an English name and we must begin to be seen within the entire ecosystem, not just within the Czech and Slovak community. Thus was born the name Cardanians. Once we realized that the domain was free, in March 2019 the project was born. Simple web presentation, animated video about the upcoming pool from the workshop of freelancers from the Fiverr.com website, but with zero promotion. Here we go worldwide!
At that time, I realized, that even patriotism is a great thing, but if we want to succeed worldwide, we must have an English name and we must begin to be seen within the entire ecosystem, not just within the Czech and Slovak community. Thus, was born the name Cardanians. Once we realized that the domain was free, in March 2019 the project was born. Simple web presentation, animated video about the upcoming pool from the workshop of freelancers from the Fiverr.com website, but with zero promotion. Here we go worldwide!
As I mentioned before, it was important for the development of projects to start publishing articles in English, and I also decided that I wanted us to become a classic company or better, a start-up. So, I started probing around and wondering if we could find an investor. But it’s not easy to look for an investor when you really have nothing but enthusiasm, an idea, and a vision. At this stage investing in those start-ups is very risky. However, I was lucky, we get in touch with Lukáš Danč, who was active in international trade, owned several companies, had experience in investing in them, and also stands behind his own investment fund in Liechtenstein CE Capital Partners Fund. It didn't take long for us to become friends and then he brought in two more investors – Radomír Čech, who owns the marketing agency Fast Forward / Young & Rubicam based in Brno and Dubai and together with Reflex Capital has invested in the well-known company Spaceti. And then Igor Fučík, who is mainly a crisis manager, who for many years advised large multinational corporations in America. Thanks to this composition, we have everything we need from know-how, contacts, but also financial background. In January 2020, we officially established a legal company that will cover all our activities regarding the Cardanians. So far, it seems that we are riding a wave of success.
As for the most important milestones, in September 2019 we were noticed by one of the ambassadors and the founder of TCCP (The Cardano Community Podcast) and he nominated us for ambassadors. Then we were picked as ambassadors and this only intensified our work and added a touch to our activity. In December 2019, we started our staking pool CRDNS on the Cardano testnet, and at this time there were no tools to track, compare, and monitor all the pools, we created one and passed it to the community in the website ADApools.org, which gained large popularity (at the beginning of the summer we even received a grant for it from CF) and within about 7 months we got to about 70 million ADA, which people delegated to our staking pool!
We also managed to get the ambassador membership for our colleague Josef for his contribution and useful tools for the community, so today we are the only project that brings together three Cardano ambassadors at the same time! During the testnet we gained a lot of experiences, IOHK and CF invited us to a workshop in London, where we had the opportunity to meet a lot of developers and management in person and it was mutually enriching, they selected us to a small test group of people called F&F (Family and Friends), where the main mission was to prepare for the mainnet, test nodes, etc. - again a perfect experience, but it was very challenging at the same time!
We recently had an interview with Peter Gaži, who is involved in the development of Cardano directly for the IOHK. He said that the direction taken by Cardano, through the publication of scientific papers and subsequent opposition, as is usual in the academic community, is the only right way in the long run to ensure maximum security. Do you agree with this approach that Cardano has chosen to take?
Definitely yes, and that was one of the reasons why we liked Cardano so much, the mathematical evidence, the team of experts, the verification, and the transparency. At the same time, we were fascinated by Charles Hoskinson's leadership, I consider him one of the great visionaries of today and I would not be afraid to stand him next to people like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs! By the way, Peter Gaži is a respected person within the IOHK and I really liked the interview with him.
I would follow up on the previous question with what bitcoin expert Andreas M. Antonopoulos told me on the given topic in the previous interview. He pointed out that a formal verification process and a scientific approach can slow down development and there isn’t always necessarily a need to stick to it. If we look at the overall development of Cardano and its notorious postponement of dates, the project got a lot of haters. Wasn't the scientific approach detrimental at this time? Because most DeFi projects are already running in the Ethereum ecosystem, and other chains such as Algorand, Tezos or EOS are also long after the launch of their mainnets and are running at full throttle.
It's about the point of view, yes, Cardano was very late and got a lot of haters, but on the other hand, it finally delivered what it promised, we see it in the top 7 (or in the TOP3, I would argue about whether they're at all include the so-called bank coin XRP, then Tether or forked coins such as BCH and BSV). It's true that DeFi is a big hit this year, but that doesn't mean we won't see these extensions and projects on Cardano, let's wait for smart contracts, dApps, the range that Cardano offers is really huge and I'll remind you of Charles's vision. To get to the Cardano network of a billion people, focusing on third world countries where they don’t have the opportunity to open a bank account, etc. Cardano can one day completely change the banking system as we know it today and haters will always be here in the space. But we must also look at the fact that, despite their displeasure, Cardano goes on, has a great community and is already one of the most decentralized projects, because just a few days after the launch of the mainnet we already have 700 staking pools, which is unbelievable! So no, I don't think it would matter, and it's okay for the others to go on full throttle, this isn't a sprint, but a marathon race and Cardano is a marathoner. And I will recommend this nicely crafted YouTube video on how Cardano can win a DeFi race.
As Cardano ambassadors, you met last year in London with other ambassadors from around the world and representatives of teams working on the development of Cardano. How did you feel about that? Did you meet Charles Hoskinson in person?
Unfortunately, Charles was not there, he was going to London a week later for a meeting with PwC, but after the first and second day, there was a conference call where he was interested in what we were dealing with, what we came up with, what suggestions we had, etc. We had a great feeling from the meeting, a lot of meaningless names suddenly had faces for us at that moment, we could feel their energy and enthusiasm. I was amazed at how smart people work the project – I will mention here Duncan Coutts (Haskel expert and Director of engineering), he had the answer to almost every question! His colleagues told us that really if they sometimes don't know what to do on the team, they will contact him.
The meeting with other ambassadors from other countries was also enriching, and in addition to the formal part, we went to an informal dinner twice and we had the opportunity to learn a lot. Like the off-the-record information, that there are negotiated funds that want to pump billions of dollars into Cardano as soon as they see that it is a functional product and the mainnet runs without any problems. At the time, the total capitalization was $ 1.2 billion, so it wasn't hard to figure out what would happen to the price if the deadline is met according to the roadmap. I also liked the fact that the main developer of Jormungandr (the whole testnet worked on it) told me that Charles can unleash real competition and rivalry between the teams in the company and, following the example of Steve Jobs, assigns two teams the same task and those who end up better and they are faster, they release their product, while the work of the other team is discarded. With this approach, he can squeeze the maximum out of people.
How do you take notice of the strong Czech-Slovak footprint in Cardano?
I perceive it very positively, names like Peter Gaži, or Tomáš Vrána working for IOHK and it is definitely worth mentioning Marek Mahut, a Slovak living in the Czech Republic, who was with us in London and is one of the very experienced pool operators who for example had the first the established pool within the ITN testnet and F&F and his pool got the first transaction after the start of the mainnet. Otherwise, I think that in general Czech footprint is significant in the crypto sphere due to people such as Slush or projects such as Trezor HW or General Bytes ATMs.
Shelley's hardfork was recently launched and staking pools activity began. How do you feel about this important milestone in Cardano's history?
It is very important indeed, because when the deadline did not meet, it would be water for the mill to all the haters. It was delivered, it works, but a minor beauty flaw is the maintenance of the main stock exchanges, where people have their coins blocked or the state of the Yoroi wallet from Emurgo, which can’t yet be used for delegation and staking yet, which is a shame, because the Yoroi wallet is very popular for ADA users.
Cardanians are one of many staking pools, but what does it mean to run such a pool and what motivated you to establish and operate it?
We wanted to be an integral part of the Cardano project, we believe in it, we have invested in it and we are one of the long-term planners. If we can support the decentralization of the project by running the pool, and still earn some extra coins thanks to that, there is nothing to hesitate about.
We are one of many, but within the mainnet and in the last few days we have had a great start, when with almost 100 million delegated ADAs we are currently in 8th place in the world and whoever is watching us closely, also knows that still we also run pools to a German partner, when we established a joint venture and together we already have slightly over 200 million ADAs, which is numbers means that people with a capital worth over twenty-eight million dollars trust us, and we are only at the beginning and I personally estimate that the total number of staked coins will go up 3 times and we also want to grow (currently only 6.34 billion ADA is staked and you will see yourself when the exchanges will support withdrawals again and Yoroi start and so on).
If anyone would like to delegate ADA coins to you, what is the name of your pool and what fees have you set?
You can find our pools under the CRDNS and CRDN1 ticks and I will explain why:
CRDNS - 2% fee
CRDN1 - 5% fee
The difference is only in the % fee for the pool because the amount of pledge (read as your own skin in the pool operator's game or how much the given project operator believes and has invested) is set for both pools at 500k ADA and it is not a factor that would play a significant role in the final. If this changes in the future and by increasing it we help to maximize the yield for delegates, we are ready for it and we will do it. The fixed fee is also identical and set to a possible minimum of 340 ADA per epoch.
We had a 5% fee in the testnet and now we asked our delegates about their opinion. Many of them were fine with 5%, but some wanted 2-3%, so we wanted to meet both groups and people can simply choose to delegate a pool with a fee according to their preferences. Some want to support us more and others will be most interested in maximizing their revenue. Now we can satisfy both groups.
Let’s do some math to make it clear to you. If the total rewards are 10,000 ADA, we will consider an annual appreciation of somewhere around 5%, and the pool has a fee of 5%, so it is 5% of 5%, so in the final, the delegate will receive 4,75%. And in the other case where is a 2 % fee of the pool, it will be 4,9%. In the final, it will be a little less due to the minimum fixed fee for the epoch, but it dissolves among all delegates, and in the end, for individuals, it will be negligible. The difference is 0,15% and everyone treats this value differently. For some it is meaningless, for others it is too much and of course it all depends on how many coins they hold. By the way, the rewards are then distributed by the network itself, automatically and without the intervention of the pool operator. In addition, it is possible that as soon as we get our first pool CRDNS to the saturation limit filled, we will reduce the fee for the second one.
Where do you publish your work?
We publish articles on the cardanians.io website. We are also the authors of the ADApools.org – tools about Cardano Staking, ADAex.org - Cardano Explorer and Cardanojournal.com. I recommend following our Twitter as well, where we already have over 5,600 followers and we have been ranked several times as one of the biggest influencers in the Cardano community.
I'm sorry that Yoroi wallet isn't ready for delegation yet and we can't bring any further instructions (Sebastien from Emurgo has announced that this will happen by the end of this week).
Let me ask you a final question, which a large part of the readers will certainly be waiting for. What market cap do you think the ADA can achieve in, say, 2-3 years, when the Goguen phase, which I think is key to using the Cardano network, should be completed (note: smart contracts will be implemented in the Goguen phase). Today, the market capitalization is worth about 3,7 billion USD. I know it's a bit of divination from a crystal ball, but people always like to speculate a bit in the crypto-space as you already know.
I try to avoid any kind of price speculations, but if you really want me to answer, I see the price of ADA within 2-3 years in lower units of dollars. However, if we see a bull run earlier, we know what it can do crazy things with the price in a very short period of time. In the longer term, we estimate $ 6-20 for the price of ADA, which of course works with the assumption that the total capitalization of the crypto market will be different than today.
Such a good example, today there are about 100 million people in the crypto worldwide. It’s expected to bring up to 200 million newcomers in the next cycle, and if only 10% of them invested $ 1,000 in Cardano, it would pump up to $ 20 billion in capitalization and it is not unrealistic at all.
You can read about this in our article Let's talk about the realistic market capitalization of Cardano.
In addition, I expect to see Cardano soon on Coinbase, which on the one hand will make Cardano available to a relatively large mass of people and it can move with the price up at the same time. There is talk of listing on Coinbase for a couple of years, but I think they've been waiting for the mainnet launch and if everything will go as it should.
I will remind you of the valuable crypto lesson for everyone, invest only as much as you are willing to lose, and also that we do not provide any investment advice, we always recommend doing your own research!
And most importantly, pay attention to your own security, your seeds. It’s not advisable to hold a larger amount on crypto exchanges (not your keys, not your crypto!). Crypto exchanges will compete in services such as, let you have your crypto with us and we will delegate or set up a pool for you, etc. It will certainly be convenient, but it will definitely not be one of the most advantageous and safest options (e.g. Coinbase talks about stake as a service with a fee of 25% ...).
Thanks for the interview and good luck with your staking pools and your ambassador's work.
Thank you as well, and I will look forward to another interview. We will always have a lot to say about Cardano!