WazirX founder Nischal Shetty on involving a community to grow business and emerging trends in crypto exchange space

In the latest episode of the Prime Ventures Podcast, Nischal Shetty, Co-founder and CEO of WazirX, talks about the market’s current enthusiasm around cryptocurrency and the early days of building WazirX. He also spoke about the growth hacks of building a crypto exchange business, and more.
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Nischal Shetty, Co-founder and CEO of WazirX, points to the decentralisation aspect of the cryptocurrency world and reiterats that it is community-driven. And that has been his secret of building WazirX and launching yet another crypto-exchange in the Indian market where at least eight-odd players were already present doing the same thing.

Nischal initially released WazirX tokens and handed out 500 of them to every new user who signed up. Before that, he built an impressive follower base on Twitter by frequently talking about crypto investing. When WazirX’s time finally came in 2018, a large community already existed around the brand and it saw 40,000-50,000 signups in a matter of just three months.

In the latest episode of Prime Ventures Podcast, Nischal Shetty, Co-founder and CEO of WazirX, India’s largest Crypto exchange platform, spoke to Amit Somani of Prime Venture Partners about the early days of building WazirX, where cryptocurrency investing is headed from here on, the growth hacks of building a crypto exchange business, and more.

Building a community around your brand

Nischal says, “The most important thing is to find the gaps in the market that you can fill in.”

He says, the biggest gap he found while building WazirX was that the investors rarely trusted the existing crypto exchanges, given the market was unregulated. So, with WazirX, Nischal tried to bring in regulations to win over investors.

“Second was that you put yourself out there in front of people,” adds Nischal. He explains that when he started researching for WazirX back in 2017, nobody knew the founders of the existing exchanges. People found exchanges randomly or had to rely on a friend to refer something. Nischal remedied that path by building his personal brand on Twitter for a year and naturally WazirX saw massive traction.

“Also, I saw that the highest rating for any mobile app of an exchange in India when we were building was 3.6 or 3.7. So, we knew the gap was in the mobile apps.”

Nischal decided to focus on investor experience on WazirX to keep holding on to the community that he had already built around the brand.

Innovate or listen to the customers

WazirX not only started with a massive number of users already on board, but it is also currently the largest crypto exchange in India that sees a monthly trading volume of over $5 billion.

Nischal says, “The best way for us has been to listen to what people want. Every feature that we’ve built has been a result of people asking us. Every time people asked for something, we built it. It is that simple.” He agrees that innovation has not led WazirX to its current fame. Listening to the people has worked for the company.

Additionally, Nischal also emphasises on the importance of timing their features right. He takes the example where WazirX users are asking for the margin trading feature on the platform but Nischal feels the Indian market is not liquid enough to facilitate margin trading in the crypto space. He repeatedly advised that “timing is the key” when launching revolutionary features in a fast-growing ecosystem.

How do competitors help?

Nischal believes that competition has benefitted WazirX. He admits he is now shameless and “if a competitor has [a feature] and it works, I am going to build it.”

According to Nischal, founders have to keep their wishes and egos aside and think about what users want. Plus, while competing, entrepreneurs can learn from others’ mistakes. It is a lot harder to innovate than to compete and WazirX has grown because of its competition.

Emerging trends in the crypto exchange space

On the B2B side, Nischal says, there are a variety of segments that entrepreneurs have still not touched. White label crypto exchange and custody are two such areas.

“In B2C, now that we have about 15-20 million people [investing] in India, the Indian market is priming up for decentralisation,” says Nischal.

Moving forward, entrepreneurs can work in the hybrid of de-fi and ce-fi space, slowly moving towards de-fi completely.

To know more, listen to the podcast here.

Time stamps:

02:00 - Why crypto is growing?

12:30 - Building WazirX: Finding gaps and building a community

20:15 - Interoperability in the crypto world

27:30 - Maximising optionality vs staying focussed

34:45 - Emergence of DeFi protocols and decentralised apps

31:30 - How to stay updated in the Web3 world?

Edited by Megha Reddy

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