In Delhi, settlements on the eastern banks of the Yamuna River are known, often disdainfully, as ‘Jamna-Paar’ (Yamuna-paar).
The wealthy have generally settled along its western shores, while “Jaamna Paar” was often perceived as a ghetto and its people looked down on. Sandeep Nailwal—co-founder of the multi-billion dollar firm Web3—has long called Jamna-Paar home.
“I was born in a poor peasant family in Ramnagar, Nainital, and we migrated to Delhi. Living in this ghetto-like environment, it was customary for members of poor families like ours to do menial jobs. In fact, my grandfather worked as a home helper,” says Sandeep.
In her neighborhood, it was quite common for children to not finish school and to drop out when they reached the tenth grade. Some of the men were also victims of alcoholism and gambling.
The impetus to succeed came when Sandeep saw his own father fall victim to these vices. Having also witnessed incidents of domestic violence in his own home, he was determined to continue studying beyond the tenth grade.
“I always said that I will be a great man. He didn’t want to play small and he hated losing, but he had no idea how to succeed. They all made fun of me, ”he says. This undoubtedly laid the foundation for Sandeep’s personal success and his success with Polygon.
“The determination to win, build a better life and become a great man came from a place of pain and suffering. I had several examples in my own family and community of the type of man I did not want to be. Many people in the community also stopped treating me with dignity when they found out about my father’s problems,” explains Sandeep.
Led by Sandeep and his co-founders, Polygon has grown into an industry-leading global platform for more than 40,000 decentralized applications. Your native token MATIC it has a market capitalization of over $7 billion, at the time of this writing.
Take the step to entrepreneurship
Sandeep looked up mark zuckerberg and his success with Facebook to inspire your own journey as an internet entrepreneur. Today, he juggles many roles as an active guide, mentor, and angel investor, and has touched the lives of several Web3 founders and builders.
At one point in Sandeep’s life, entrepreneurship was not on the cards. He had failed to crack IIT and had the option to join the merchant marine business and earn a good income. Having relied on bank loans to complete his computer engineering and MBA courses, he began working to pay for them and also to buy a house.
“It was a cliché that I thought I needed to buy a house, because it was customary for a man to own a house in order to get married. My now wife told me that it was okay to forget about owning a home and she said that she was okay if we lived in a rented house. She urged me to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams,” she says.
Unable to shake the entrepreneurial itch, he quit his job, took two weeks off, and started Scope Weaver, a blockchain services startup, in early 2016.
Meanwhile, a Housing.com data scientist, Jaynti “JD” Kanani, who would soon become its co-founder, had identified a weakness in the Ethereal block chain.
The inflection point
The creators of Ethereum never imagined that it would achieve wide-scale adoption to the extent that it did.0 As a result, they had not programmed any large-scale capacity to handle several hundred thousand transactions per second.
It was when the NFT project CryptoKitties With the network overloaded and congested, JD realized he needed to build an Ethereum scaling solution.
“At the time, there was a mania for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Blockchain projects would post their whitepapers online, raise money without a product to show for it, and then fizzle out,” recalls Sandeep.
When JD met Sandeep, there was a synergy and they decided to work together on this project. Together with another co-founder (anurag arjun) Matic Network was launched in 2017.
With a registered address in Mumbai and working out of a house in Indiranagar, Bangalore, the trio set out on their journey. While JD worked on the programming and engineering side, Sandeep and Anurag took care of the rest.
Matic had an easy option to ride the wave and raise $15-20 million, but the co-founders nixed the idea. Taking the easy way out and building something temporary went against Sandeep’s philosophy of becoming a great man.
“Matic was solving a long-term problem, so we had to choose slower forms of growth. For me, it was about making sure we had unlimited possibilities. If we raised a lot of money from outside investors in the early years, it may have limited our potential and our own vision,” he says.
At that time, Matic did not have its product ready, so it chose to raise only a limited amount of funds: $5 million of Binance – in an initial exchange offering in which the founders sold a portion of the MATIC tokens they held.
“I had a responsibility to make sure Matic kept running. He used to cringe when he made the difficult decision not to raise more funds,” recalls Sandeep.
Challenges as an Indian founder
So, the worst blow. While progress on the Matic product was going fairly well, the 2018 bear market meant that funds dried up quickly. At the same time, Sandeep discovered that startups in Silicon Valley could raise funds.
“People who studied at Stanford and other major universities were still able to raise funds. There was a perception that Indians couldn’t build software infrastructure companies. Industry people referred to Indian founders like us as ‘Pajeets’, a derogatory and ethnic slur,” explains Sandeep.
Matic reached out to investors, but with no luck. Sandeep recalls that some investors were disrespectful to the Indian startup and had already decided not to invest in Matic even before it launched.
The light at the end of the tunnel came Mihailo Bjelic, an engineer from Serbia who believed in Matic’s vision and joined as a co-founder. Finally, burning the midnight oil and keeping his head to the ground helped turn luck in his favor.
In 2021, the co-founders decided to take a broader approach to solving Matic’s problem statement. Instead of just building a PoS chain, they would use the same idea to build a scalable blockchain internet around Ethereum.
The same year, they caught the eye of US-based tech billionaire. cuban mark and collected an undisclosed amount from him.
In this regard, Matic finally changed its name to Polygon, and hasn’t looked back since.
The year 2021 was marked by a number of milestones: it launched its SDK, which allows developers to deploy Ethereum-compatible chains at high speed using built-in EVM and a set of pluggable modules.
also raised $450 million in its first major round of venture capital funding, led by Sequoia Capital India with a market capitalization of $14.4 billion.
Polygon’s current impact
As of mid-2021, Polygon had around 400 decentralized apps running on its platform. Today has more than 40,000.
It has also partnered with companies such as Meta (Instagram), Starbucks, Reddit, Flipkart and others to introduce Web3 products to the masses.
Being at the helm of this industry leading project, it’s safe to say that Sandeep is a “great man”. But he still doesn’t feel like one.
“Even at the top, I feel like we are small. She keeps driving me. I still have the zero-day attitude, just like the team. We have to get to the top and become one of the top three projects, along with Bitcoin and Ethereum,” he says.
“I don’t feel success at all. I dont look back. And now, we have all the expectations of the Indian community. It’s a liability. There’s no way we can fail from here.
Lasting impact of childhood.
Although Sandeep has come a long way since Jamna-Paar, his upbringing continues to impact him, sometimes in negative ways. For him, success has come at a cost.
“Until recently, I was taking medication for stress-related issues. Only after the medication would I feel myself. When happiness receptors aren’t used much, every day becomes an existential threat,” he says.
“Now, little by little I am finding ways to feel happiness. My baby boy was recently born and he has been a tremendous source of joy. I am also interested in exploring meditation. My inner journey has come from a place of suffering, and all the negativity has given way to learning.”
Having faced these challenges himself, he has become vocal about mental health and stress related issues, and has also been giving back to various communities.
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandeep began Crypto relief – a community-run fund that has raised more than $475 million to help Indians in need of health care services. It has disbursed more than $58 million in grants so far and has published a transparency audit/report in the same.
He has supported various economically backward communities. He sees himself (and his family) in these people, he says.
“We have been donating some money to help people in those areas. If someone does not have enough funds to organize a wedding, we help them. My parents even go as main guests. Things have changed a lot for them,” Sandeep says proudly.
For now, Sandeep is still thinking about the future. His mission is to make Polygon one of the three main projects. Although, he points out that his mother says that he should take it easy and enjoy life first.