AMA: Ecosystem Funding Program

Interlock Team
May 15, 2023


The podcast was a rich discussion on the burgeoning Aleph Zero (Azero) ecosystem, focusing on the future of blockchain technology, ecosystem funding, and the innovative projects being developed. Key speakers, including one of Azero's co-founders, Antoni, provided insights into the ecosystem, their personal experiences, and the unique support provided to developers and startups.

Azero Ecosystem Funding Program (EFP)
Magdalena, the lead for the Azero ecosystem, began by providing a comprehensive overview of the Azero Ecosystem Funding Program (EFP). The EFP is a distinct initiative aimed at driving innovation within the blockchain space. It embodies the spirit of nurturing talent and supporting the development of breakthrough ideas. By providing financial backing and other resources like marketing, design, and security audits, the EFP creates a comprehensive support network for developers and startups. Its emphasis on unique projects rather than replicas further underlines its commitment to advancing the industry.

  • Objective: The EFP aims to support talented developers and teams with innovative ideas within the blockchain space.
  • Financial Support: The programme offers financial grants to qualifying projects.
  • Additional Resources: In addition to financial support, EFP provides marketing, design, security audits, and connection resources. This holistic support is designed to foster success among developers and startups.
  • Focus on Innovation: The EFP is keenly interested in innovative projects that break new ground, rather than projects that merely replicate existing solutions from other chains.

The Role of Interlock in the Azero Ecosystem

Andrew from Interlock, a decentralized security project, discussed the importance of feedback and collaboration with the Azero core team. Interlock's focus on decentralized security underscores the critical role that security plays in the blockchain space. As Andrew noted, open lines of communication and a robust feedback loop with the Azero core team can significantly contribute to a project's success. This collaborative approach fosters mutual growth and innovation, enabling the creation of advanced security solutions that contribute to the robustness of the Azero ecosystem.

Andrew, a team member at Interlock, shared their experience of building decentralized security products with the aim of securing DeFi. "We give end users free enterprise-grade security in the form of a browser extension. Users can elect to share anonymized security data with us, and then we license that as a product called Threat Intelligence, which is about a $10 billion year market. Think of it like Brave, but for cybersecurity," Andrew explained.

Andrew highlighted the distinctiveness of Aleph Zero as a funding and accelerator program. He noted that building security products based on blockchain technology is a complex task, further complicated by the fact that Interlock is one of the first movers in this domain. "They've really helped with guiding us through the layers of complexity," Andrew expressed. 

  • Decentralized Security: Interlock is building decentralized security products within the Azero ecosystem.
  • Feedback and Collaboration: Andrew emphasized the significance of a healthy feedback loop and strong collaboration between developers and the core team for project success.

Block54 Capital's Commitment to Azero

Next, Maciej of Block54 Capital shared his insights on what makes a successful project in the blockchain space. Block54 Capital, as a significant investor in the Azero ecosystem, has a keen eye for the elements that contribute to a project's success. Their emphasis on visionary ideas and their persistence to bring these ideas to life is a testament to the spirit of innovation that drives the blockchain space. Their investment in Azero projects across various verticals such as DeFi, gaming, security, and identity signals a broadening of interests and an understanding of the evolving market dynamics.

Speaking about the investment strategies of Block 54 Capital and their interest in the Azero ecosystem, Maciej said, "We are so excited about the start of EFP. We already invest in four projects in the Azero ecosystem - Azero Domains, Interlock, Angel Block, and DRKVRS. These are projects that we are looking for, examples of projects that we are looking for in the Azero ecosystem. As the market matures, we at this point are interested basically in every vertical - DeFi, gaming, security, identity, decentralized science, you name it."

He further emphasized the two key aspects they look for in potential investments - a visionary idea and the dedication to make it happen. "We're looking [at a] team’s background, we're looking for hardworking people, good people. We are looking at what their motivation is,” he said.

  • Vision and Dedication: Visionary ideas and the determination to make them a reality are vital for success in the blockchain space.
  • Investment in Azero: Block 54 capital has shown its belief in Azero's potential through its investment in four projects within the Azero ecosystem.
  • Shifting Market Interests: As the market matures, block 54 capital's interests have expanded to include various verticals like DeFi, gaming, security, identity, and decentralized finance.

Azero Domains: From Hackathon Idea to Scalable Project

Mike of Azero Domains then shared his journey of turning a hackathon idea into a scalable project. Azero Domains serves as an inspiring example of what a team with passion, experience, and the right opportunity can achieve. Mike’s team identified a critical need in the blockchain ecosystem and leveraged the hackathon platform to develop a feasible solution. This strategy not only demonstrated their ability to deliver but also provided a proof-of-concept for scalability, turning their hackathon project into a sustainable venture.

Azero Domains, represented by its co-founders, has been actively immersed in the web3 crypto ecosystem for around a year and a half. Their initial experiences were rooted in Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) projects, leading to explorations in smaller Ethereum initiatives and educational tools on Stablecoins. Intrigued by the emerging layer-one technology of Aleph Zero, Azero Domains decided to participate in the Aleph Zero-sponsored hackathon.

Based in Berlin, the team was well-positioned to join the event, and they felt prepared to tackle a more substantial project. They conceptualized a name service - a vital component for any blockchain ecosystem - that could be developed within the hackathon's limited timeframe. On the eve of the hackathon, they added a Rust developer to their duo to assist in writing the smart contracts, supplementing their existing proficiency in EVM and Solidity.

Their project was a success, leading them to share their accomplishment via a newly launched Twitter page. The community's positive response was soon followed by the announcement of their victory at the hackathon. This marked a turning point for Azero Domains, challenging them to transform their winning hackathon project into a scalable venture.

  • Prior Experience: Mike’s team had previous experience in the Web3 and crypto space and was ready to build something more substantial.
  • Identifying a Need: Recognising the need for a name service in the blockchain ecosystem, they developed a project that was feasible to implement within the hackathon's short timeframe.
  • Scalability: The team's experience at the hackathon provided a proof-of-concept that they could then turn into a scalable solution.

AngelBlock: Decentralized Funding

Alex, representing AngelBlock, introduced his company as a pioneer in the creation of the first protocol layer for decentralized fundraising. This groundbreaking initiative aims to make cryptocurrency fundraising more secure and less susceptible to fraudulent activities by implementing a fully noncustodial system where no party holds the funds, thereby making the process safer for all involved.

Angel Block's approach towards the adoption of blockchain platforms has evolved over the past year and a half, particularly with the advancements of Aleph Zero. While Ethereum, given its large market cap and ability to host smart contracts, was an evident choice initially, Alex expressed that the integration of Aleph Zero has become a top priority for the team. "Integrating Aleph Zero this year is probably our number one priority, apart from launching some startups on Ethereum, which is already ready," he stated.

However, Alex's interest in Aleph Zero extends beyond its technical capabilities; he also admitted to being emotionally invested in observing the growth and development of the Aleph Zero ecosystem. Reflecting on their recent launch of Staking, Alex spoke candidly about the struggles associated with interacting with smart contracts, acknowledging the pain points for users despite their best efforts to make the process as seamless as possible.

In terms of the future of blockchain technology, Alex expressed some skepticism about layer two solutions, despite recognizing their potential. He voiced his belief that the long-term objective of any layer one blockchain, whether it be Aleph Zero or Ethereum, is to reduce gas and transaction fees.

  • Pioneering Decentralized Fundraising: AngelBlock identified an opportunity in the crypto space to make fundraising more secure and less susceptible to scams. 
  • Adaptability and Growth: Initially favoring Ethereum due to its large market cap and ability to host smart contracts, Angel Block's approach evolved with the advancements in the blockchain ecosystem.


The podcast offered a deep dive into the workings of the Azero ecosystem, highlighting the support available to innovative projects through the EFP. It explored the success stories of ventures like Azero Domains and the future potential of the ecosystem. These insights illustrate the vibrant, dynamic nature of the Azero ecosystem and its commitment to fostering innovative projects and startups in the blockchain space.

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