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Connecting Solana and Ethereum with Dust Labs
A convo with the Dust Labs team on how we bridged the gap between Solana and the EVM for DeGods Season III.
Following the announcement of our partnership with Dust Labs to build the ‘Get Dust’ button for the Season III DeGods update, we joined them to discuss why we’re excited about uniting users across Solana, Ethereum, & beyond with seamless cross-chain payment infrastructure.
Read on for the transcript of our conversation, which you can listen to here.
Speakers: Charlie Durbin (CEO, Decent), Will Collier (COO, Decent), Will Kantaros (CTO, Decent), Frank/Rohun Vora (Founder, DeGods/y00ts), Bobby Thakkar (Product, Dust Labs), Kevin Henrikson (CEO, Dust Labs)
Frank: Let's talk about Decent today. We'd love for you guys to introduce what you guys do and who this product is relevant for. Because I think it's pretty exciting, and we'd love for you guys to talk about it.
Charlie: Decent enables one click transactions using any token across chains. So with our flagship product, The Box, NFT collectors… many of you could, for example, seamlessly purchase an NFT on Ethereum using ETH on Optimism or Arbitrum. What gets us excited about The Box, and what we're really building for is we originally had an NFT protocol, we deployed it to a number of the layer 2s and some of the app chains with the belief that there'll be increased, interesting use cases there. We really saw that there were quite a few interesting motivations for people shifting to those networks. But as that user activity fragmented, they became this really big problem of “okay, how do I actually use my tokens across these new networks?”
So the ability to seamlessly transact across these chains became like this primary pain point that we really saw as the primary inhibitor to crypto’s future adoption — L2’s without cross-chain transactions could be fated for zombie blockspace. So, you know, we're really trying to make it as easy as possible for folks to get onchain by making it as easy as possible for them to transact across all the networks where there's a bunch of interesting apps.
Frank: Give us some examples of people that will use The Box? And tell us more about The Box? Because there's a lot of builders here in the audience right now that are making… whether it’s merch, whether it's, you know, they're obviously making NFTs as well. Tell us more.
Charlie: Yeah, 100%. So from the developer perspective, we really see The Box plugging in, in one of three ways:
The first is the point of sale. So you know, let's say you're standing up a new NFT project… you want to have a maximally large addressable market for your collector base. So you wanna be able to tap into the liquidity of all these new networks, regardless of where you're deploying your NFTs, and you know, you might want to use The Box at the point of sale, so that folks can just check out using tokens wherever they keep them to participate in your project.
The second is, you can use the swaps like Dust Labs did as part of the DeGods Season III release as a swap modal. So you know, let's say that you are coming from Solana — a perfect example, in this case — but you wanted to get DUST on Ethereum and participate in this awesome new release. You can implement The Box's backend logic, this sort of like unified liquidity layer, as a swap modal to make it easy for folks to go from a token on one network to a token on the next one.
Then the third is as a fiat onramp. So this is something that will be coming out later this fall, something for developers to potentially look forward to is like the, you know, third place to consider The Box. But yeah, so really, it's super easy to install if you're a new developer. So the applications I described there either come in the shape of a React component that you can just import into your client, or, you know, instead of easily accessible folks that will tap in our APIs directly.
Frank: Awesome. Yeah, I know that for people in the community right now, if you guys are doing merch stores, if you guys are accepting crypto payments, it's just super smooth. I like it, and we obviously have a multi-chain audience at this point… so it seemed like a no brainer, once we found out about you guys, to go deeper in this relationship. So, excited there. Here's an interesting question: I guess, when you think about what's coming up, and people being more multi-chain, how do you think about everyone always talks about onboarding people into crypto? What's your game plan towards doing that and what's your unique approach to it?
Charlie: Yeah, great question. I'm definitely excited to learn from you on this front as well, being, you know, one of the premier consumer facing brands in the space. But I think for us is we honestly see crypto and checking out with Metamask as really the easiest way to purchase something online. Like if you think about the primary pain points when it comes to transacting, it's all about like, ‘how do I get tokens into my wallet to begin with?’ Or like ‘how do I bridge and swap to this new network,’ and these, like, really intricate and tedious tasks that are these monumental inhibitors to crypto transactions really entering the mainstream. But the simple act of having tokens in the right place, and then clicking buy in your wallet — that's actually pretty easy. That's a pretty great user experience.
We think that we can boil all those complexities down and abstract them away, such that for users, it's gonna be easier than ever to get onchain. It's going to be easy to fill your wallet; you're not gonna have to worry about bridging or swapping, or figuring out you know, how to move your tokens out at the point of sale. It's just going to be a simple one-click buy…. even easier than entering in your credit card information. And most importantly for most mainstream audiences, is there's not going to be credit card processing fees, there’s not going to be ACH fees, there's not going to be jurisdictional constraints around where these tokens are, where your money can be used, and where merchants can settle. So that's like, I think what we really get excited about when it comes to, you know, how Decent intersects crypto payments and this slightly broader vision of plugging into these bigger consumer apps and bringing mainstream audiences onchain.
Frank: Okay, just to switch things up. I want to dive deeper there. I just thought about this, I have to ask, I'm sure it's everyone on everyone's mind: why Decent? What was the thought process around the name? It's pretty mimetic. I like it. I'm just curious what that conversation was like when you guys landed on the name?
Will C: Yeah, so we actually started initially building in the NFT space really focused on artists, creators, and in a really early case, musicians. And the name Decent is a play on, you know, being the “decent” place [for artists] or the company that's decent to artists; bringing decency to this industry that, in a lot of ways had some pretty indecent actors, as well as a sort of pun or play on the word decentralized. And so that's where it came from initially. And what we like to say today is even though the people that we're building for… our audience has changed, at this point, bringing decency to this this payment stack, making it as easy, as smooth, as caring of a process as possible, is continuing to bring this decency with everything we do.
Kevin: That's pretty dope.
Frank: That was a banger.
Kevin: I was thinking the Decent because the name of the new space had this kind of decent pump to it. So I was like, ‘oh, that's a great way to bring it in.’ And just keep it in Frank's res model: just like one word, that's all we need. But then as you think about it, it actually works for something in crypto on a bunch of different levels. And you actually answered it with not what I expecting.
Frank: That was crazy. I was not expecting that at the end there. Okay, getting back to it, though. I'm curious, you know, what are the unique value props with Decent compared to other people that are tackling this kind of same concept or model?
Charlie: For us, we really designed around the point of sale, the user experience in the application. So I think one cool thing that we spent a lot of time is like how can we get these cross-chain transactions to confirm for users in really like five seconds or less. So we are pretty proud that for all of our EVM routes, the longest time a user would ever have to wait is like 20 seconds, most of them are going to settle in like three to five. When we compare to like normal bridge times, that’s typically three to five minutes — like on Polygon — and some of these networks with slower block times it can be up to 20 minutes, or on Solana you're really leisurely looking at like three to seven… I think we're down to under one. So we really focused a lot there. We think that, you know, by speeding up these cross-chain transactions, it does actually start to change how you can build with them at the application level. And that was something that we really, really focused on particularly as part of our work with you all were good consumer experiences, like just kind of table stakes at this point.
Kevin: How do you guys actually make it that… I mean, because a lot of these, like, bridging sort of risk solutions have been out for a while… what is like the, without sharing, I guess, the secret sauce? Or maybe you can. What is it that you guys do differently that sort of creates this sort of speed that, like I said, a lot of websites just don't have yet? Because that was, to us, the biggest thing. And we've been looking for a way to just quickly, honestly, get DUST from Solana because we knew it was gonna be a key part of the downgrade.
Will K: Yeah, happy to tackle that. I would say, probably, there's sort of a handful of things that allow us to actually bring down these times. First and foremost, I would say that a lot of aggregators, a lot of companies that are building in the bridge space exclusively optimize for cost. And I think one thing that we do maybe slightly differently is, while we are certainly optimizing for costs, as well, and try to always consistently use the cheapest bridges, we are sort of picking between two options where option one might be maybe 2%, more cost, but 80% faster, we will almost always go with that option. We loosely believe it's actually a better user experience and definitely do sort of kind of play a game where we're both making the experiences easy and understandable for the user as possible, while also trying to be the cheapest. And then I think in particular, for you guys, and probably like some of the “secret sauce” that came in here has to do with the relay network that we built for the Solana to EVM path where I guess if you were to actually go out and do this bridge and do this process on your own, you'd have to go to some bridge, go and actually bridge your tokens from DUST to Ethereum, and then click an ‘accept’ button, take those tokens from the bridge back to your wallet, and then, from there, actually go out, and execute or do whatever you want on mainnet. What we've been able to build out in Decent is a process that actually does all of that on the back end for you so that way you don't have to. That speeds are actually just like wildly faster as well as the byproduct is what we were really quite excited about and actually really had a ton of fun building it for you guys.
Frank: All right, another one here is: obviously you’ve got a room full of NFT MFers in here. What's your guys’ take on the NF T space? What do you think is interesting? What are you looking forward to? You know, across the board, I guess.
Charlie: I thought Onchain Summer was really fun. I think it was like an interesting way where you saw NFTs being — we were talking about accessibility for mainstream — just this really easy way to get people excited about some cool art or access to a Blackbird loyalty program, or something like that, and bring folks onchain. I think we’re going to continue to see more of that. I think the other thing that I started to get excited about — outside of the blue chips like DeGods and y00ts, obviously — is how NFTs can be used to facilitate property rights within games. I think that what Treasure now is doing, and some of the NFT projects that are born out of that ecosystem and then traded within these richer context of like the game itself are pretty interesting as well. That was like honestly a lot of the reason why we originally started looking at L2s maybe a year ago, so I think that that sort of level of interest is still there for me.
Frank: Love that. I was gonna ask but maybe it's not the best place but what NFTs do you guys have? What you guys into it?
Will C: My favorite NFT I guess other than obviously DeGods is my Crypto Dick Butt that has been sort of, I guess, my treasure so far. But I'm not sure what the other guys would say.
Charlie: Be honest, shout out the music NFTs too. I mean, that's what originally got us into the space. So any NFT produced by our fourth cofounder, Xander Carlson. He goes by the artist Forester. He’s got to be up there for us. And then having Harrison First, probably my favorite artist in the space and the garden against the world is my favorite PFP NFT.
Frank: Bro’s got the deep cuts. You love to see it. Okay, here's an interesting one. I saw it on your bio, Charlie, Decent YC winter 2022. I was in a Winter 2020 batch for another startup. I talked to the community a lot about Paul Graham and how much of an inspiration he's just been for me personally in my life. I'm curious, how was the YC batch for you guys? And what was their kind of take on crypto and what you guys are building here?
Charlie: Yeah, I love that. I think YC was an awesome experience for us. It definitely gave us a lot of… let's say best practices around product development and company building. We're actually quite close with the five to seven other companies that were in our group. We meet every other month to sort of rehash how everyone's experience building in crypto has been. So I think from both the resources that YC affords you at a company level to peers and the relationships we were able to make at almost a personal level, it's definitely been a really important part of of our journey. I think the mentors as well; we had Dalton [Caldwell] and Harj [Taggar] if those names ring any bells for anyone.
Charlie: I felt the same way. I was so nervous going into our first office hours but he's given us some really great advice. And he has a special tone as well.
Frank: He’s gotten so good at it. No he's such a legend, dude.
Will C: It’s kind of funny, I think, in general, YC definitely gives a lot of incredible advice, but a lot of it does feel like when you take it initially, it does feel like it might be pretty generalized. So there were a couple of times when we were like, ‘oh, I don't know if this is exactly for us. Maybe we're going to try something else.’ I think I can probably speak for Charlie and Will here too that I'd say 100% of the time, if we went against what they directed us, we ended up realizing like two or three months later, like ‘oh, shit, we should have just listened to Dalton's advice.’ It's truly a really valuable experience that we got and the partners know what they're talking about. They know what they're doing and it’s really inspiring.
Frank: Really impressive. I feel a similar way. I mean, for us, we had a weird business, like a delivery service that was empowered by scooters, and it was on college campuses. So for us, it was interesting where some of the advice they gave us was definitely kind of wild. But I think what they're really, really good at is just the fundraising process and optimizing for the end of that for demo day, essentially. So I'm a big fan, just to the content they put out in that library; you guys obviously know about Bookface, and I might be alienating some of the audience here, but so much of our goal here with DeGods and y00ts is to recreate an experience like that but for communities. Yeah, it's been super inspiring.
What were the other companies in your batch, and what do you think about YC’s take on crypto broadly. For people that don't know, Y Combinator is like, it's pretty clouted, pretty cool accelerator in Silicon Valley and they're known for a lot of really big companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Coinbase and a bunch of other ones I believe. What do you think their take is today and crypto and your experience with that?
Will C: What was really interesting for us in terms of being a crypto company in YC was… you said we were in the winter 22 batch, we were in YC sort of at this height of a bull market. And so we probably had more crypto companies in our batch than maybe were in some of the previous ones. So there actually were some some cool moments where they did pull us aside and actually asked for certain advice or to ask us how they could maybe tailor to companies that were building in this [crypto] space as opposed to others. That was an interesting thing to see. And then, with regards to other companies in our batch, or our section in particular, we started with something like 15 different crypto companies. And I want to say at this point, like, where they've ended up is it's kind of funny, I'd say maybe three or four have have actually become AI companies.
Kevin: How many AI companies started and how many ended AI?
Will C: I don’t know if any really started there but they did, for sure, end up there.
Frank: Don’t dox [laughs] but no, that makes perfect sense. Yeah, I will say, that demo… for people that don't know, I think this is cool. I know, obviously, we want to talk about Decent, but I think a lot of people are curious about this side of the company building process. YC, for you guys, it was like a 10 week thing, right? I think for us, it was 10. You basically come in and the goal is that by the end of the 10 weeks, you're gonna pitch at this thing called Demo Day where all the biggest investors in Silicon Valley come out. YC has a really good brand in the valley, and so a lot of the really big companies get fundraising right after Demo Day. That's what it's optimized around. Because it's 10 weeks, you see a lot of companies pivot, shift and change their approach throughout the process. The people that start out… I think Brex famously started out as like a VR company and then became the biggest company corporate card company, so went from VR gaming to corporate card that is now a fucking massive company. So super interesting environment. But coming back to even talking to consumers, I guess, what do you think is the reason that people are going to want to sign up and use Decent and put it on their website, for the people that are building stuff and selling things in the space right now?
Charlie: Yeah, I love that, and maybe bring it back to another YC company we look at a lot from some of the original classes is Stripe. I think the reason Stripe worked is because when a developer tried it for the very first time, they added eight lines of code and all of a sudden, it solved all their payment problems. That's definitely what we're trying to do with this and and aspire to do. We hope that for all the developers out here, when you try Decent, we want you to be able to plug it in, have very, very few questions — all of which are answered in our docs — and then you have it work on the first try and have that kind of magical experience that, you kind of get from some packages.
For consumers, if you're someone who's entering the space, we don't really want you to ever have to know what Decent does at all… we just want you to be able to interact with these applications. For those that have been here a bit longer, I think that the problem space that we are really building for is probably something that resonates with some of the issues here you're feeling today, and would love to chat.
Frank: Awesome. So I think we're going to start wrapping this up right now. Do you guys have any parting thoughts? How is the Points Parlor experience been? And while they're saying this, guys, I just need all the DeGods and y00ts… go give them the dopamine rush of getting the follows hit all the people on the stage. Come on. We gotta give it to them. While they're doing that and spamming you guys, just curious, how has this experience been with Points Parlor and meeting a lot of people in the community?
Charlie: Yeah, it's been honestly awesome. I think that one of the first times we met Bobby and Malcolm, we just heard of the strength of the DeGods community, and from an outsider, it's always hard to know exactly what that means. Every NFT project is going to claim to have that same field, but I will say having worked with you all, having also worked with a number of NFT projects in the past, the strength… the amount that you all support each other, even on just random posts about the DeGods on Twitter is really impressive. And to be able to experience that firsthand has been a treat and lived up to our expectations for sure.
Frank: Yeah, we always talk about it. It's like imagine if you bought a Louie bag and when you walk out of the store, there's like 5,000 people just like fucking cheering you on and going crazy… my guess is you might want to buy another Louis bag, and it might be a pretty good growth mechanism there. What's cool about the community is we can be super transparent with them and that's fine, like everyone knows that this is a sponsorship. At the same time, we only are working with people we actually like and products that we actually think are good. So it makes it a win-win across the board, and that's what's been dope about this. I mean, you guys helped make a big part of this downgrade and Season III process possible, so I think that's pretty cool. I pinned this at the top guys, if you have any questions for the people here at Decent, let us know. Bobby, any thoughts?
Bobby: I mean, I am a big fan of what Decent is working on and I think for me, I still see we can improve it and add it to so many more places across our ecosystem. I mean, we worked on the Get Dust button… I think there's still a lot work to do to make the Get Dust button better, and we're going to continuously improve it make it faster, make it easier to convert. But yeah, always looking for feedback on that stuff and always looking for ways to improve that and more places to add it.
Frank: That was pretty good. That was clean. Bobby, I liked the crop on the PFP, it actually goes pretty hard. Okay, so I got one question in so far. All right, actually, yeah, one question. We got: will this work on a website to accept crypto for IRL products?
Will K: Yes. I mean, we’ll say yes then qualify with a second [answer]. Yes, under the assumption that like you can pay for that product with crypto. But then yeah, there's no there's no reason why the product being an IRL or not would it make any difference.
Frank: Okay, perfect. Love the answer, just “yes.” But okay, cool. I think from here, guys, I just want to put my closing thoughts, and then you guys go forward too and then we'll wrap it up. Guys, it's been a pretty awesome experience working with Decent. Getting the ‘Get Dust’ button, they moved really quickly to help us get it in time for the actual downgrade process because we knew a lot of people were going to end up bridging or trying to spend their SOL DUST on ETH and so that's been really incredible. It was cool to see people win some iPhones and MacBooks this week, sponsored by Decent as well. So just overall, man, you guys are a killer team. I didn't know that we were fucking fellow YC founders. So that's also cool from this space. But just really, really thank you guys in the audience. If you haven't, just go blow these kids up, man, come on, hit the Decent account hit Will, hit… I was in a call with them, and they did refer to each other as “the Wills” which is because there's two Will’s on the team and I just noticed that and I didn't say anything, but I'm saying it now. And Charlie as well. So yeah, just show them some love. You guys have anything to wrap with and then we'll call it call it a day.
Charlie: Yeah, I mean, nothing more from me. I can let the Wills take it home, but I think that this was an awesome time and appreciate you guys have us on and just excited to work on this first implementation. And to second Bobby's message on being excited for the work to come.
Will K: Yeah, really appreciate it and just wanted to sort of echo all of Charlie's excitements and excitement for me, as well as the other Will as well. If you're a developer in the space or have anything really that you're looking to do in the crypto community to implement The Box, my DMS are open, Decent’s DMs are open. Absolutely feel free to ask us any questions about implementation or any features that you might want to see as well. I think we ideally want to be the default place for crypto transactions to happen on and we need your help to sort of do that. So yeah, always good to chat. Always good to talk and really appreciate getting the chance to speak with you today.
Frank: LFG Decent. Thank you guys so much, what a week it’s been. It's been seriously awesome and looking forward to the future, what you guys are building and us working together, so thanks guys for stopping by. To the community, really appreciate it every single time. Let's show up even more awesome. Alright guys, peace.