Bastion startup aims to make Web3 easy for businesses
Former Andreessen-Horowitz executives Nassim Eddequiouaq and Riyaz Faizullabhoy founded Web3 startup Bastion with the express goal of overcoming long-standing barriers faced by businesses entering the industry.
Previously reported at Blockworks, the company successfully completed a recent funding round and plans to offer crypto custody, wallet management and digital asset trading, primarily to corporations.
Speaking to Blockworks on the Lightspeed podcast (Spotify/Apple), Faizullabhoy says the startup aims to address core issues that stand in the way of wider Web3 adoption. The first daunting challenge encountered by clients is the onboarding process, which “feels clunky and often unsafe,” he says. “It’s hard to get onto Web3.”
Even after onboarding, Faizullabhoy says, Web3 experiences are “known for having too much friction — whether it’s clicking a bunch of approvals or whatever it is for the user experience.” Gas fees add to the friction, he says, making it difficult for businesses to understand and forecast their spending needs.
Importantly, Faizullabhoy adds, businesses that are getting into the space are often “flying blind.”
“They don’t understand what’s actually happening on their platform. They’re missing the data. They’re missing the analytics.”
Faizullabhoy says that even Web2 companies are encountering the same potential dearth of data, with third-party cookies anticipated to be leaving major operating systems and browsers in 2024.
“These customer insights are just so valuable to building the best products,” he says. “Businesses either don’t have them — or they’re going to lose them.”
Not everything has to be on-chain
The co-founder explains that Bastion aims to first make the Web3 onboarding experience as easy as possible. The company strives to then follow up with “the best user journey,” providing ways for clients to understand what’s happening on the platform.
To ensure a smooth onboarding experience, Bastion built a custodial wallet infrastructure that Faizullabhoy says “works seamlessly with any of our customers’ authentication methods.” The best onboarding experience, he says, is “no onboarding at all.”
“It should just be that you log into whatever experience you have,” he says, “And there happens to be a Bastion wallet behind the scenes.”
To address difficulties with friction and scalability, Bastion developed a “smart transaction routing system,” Faizullabhoy says. “Essentially, the system routes anywhere from 70 to 90 percent plus of all interactions to be off-chain.”
“Not everything has to be on-chain,” Faizullabhoy asserts. “There’s a place and a time for things to be on-chain, where there are amazing benefits.”
Faizullabhoy adds that certain activities will remain off-chain “where it makes sense,” in order to save time and gas costs, while allowing the blockchain settlement layer to do the necessary work in the background.
To provide businesses with an ongoing flow of pertinent information, Bastion has developed a “data analytics and insights platform,” Faizullabhoy says. “There’s invaluable data, both on-chain and off-chain, about how assets are used or interacted with,” he says. “Giving that data back to our customers will help them build the best experiences and the best products in Web3.”
Andreessen Horowitz general partner Arianna Simpson sees Bastion as a potential solution to the as of yet unsolved problems of market fragmentation and accessibility. “There’s certainly a very strong need for better user experiences touching anything online. Tokens, NFTs. It’s just not easy.”
Deciding to work with co-founders Eddequiouaq and Faizullabhoy was an easy choice, Simpson says. “I wish it were always this easy. We had the chance to work with Nass and Riyaz super, super closely because they were literally on our team.”
Simpson says that the combination of a large fragmented market and unsolved problems with a team that demonstrates deep domain expertise, competency, and motivation made investment in Bastion “a pretty obvious yes from me.”
Simpson feels that the backgrounds of Eddequiouaq and Faizullabhoy “are exactly what’s needed to really be able to tackle this problem.”
“It brings together a number of very difficult subject areas,” she says. “Having to start from scratch would be nearly impossible.”