Milana Valmont always knew she would become an entrepreneur – but she never thought it would be a crypto entrepreneur.
Her background is in corporate finance. She graduated from Fordham University in New York with a degree in Economics and Psychology and rose quickly in her banking career becoming a private equity analyst in the same city. However, crypto intrigued her. A friend, who worked in cyber security, started to tell her about Bitcoin and Ethereum and the technology fascinated her. She joined several Slack and Telegram groups and started to go down the rabbit hole.
“The crypto closed communities are somewhat fratty and most people are very cautious about trust and privacy. It was a trying period, where my identity and my intentions were questioned. After a few months, I guess the trial period passed and I became part of the group – ‘one of us’ as they called it.”
Things quickly escalated with Valmont becoming a community volunteer for Binance in the summer of 2017. She helped them set up their social media channels and a Russian speaking Telegram group. By late 2017, she had joined Adcoin.com and then Knoks which led her to leave the world of corporate finance.
Going from the thick of TradFi to crypto while not originally on her road map, it did not surprise her.
“I’m the kind of person who likes to take risks. And I was really excited to be part of the blockchain industry because I saw that I could have more professional autonomy, take part in a growing, inspiring space and be able to build important applications that would benefit people.”
Of course, back in 2017 her mum wasn’t too happy with her daughter moving full time to crypto and leaving New York behind but Valmont was excited by the opportunity and knew if there is a will there’s a way.
Remote working is normal in crypto and so Valmont decided to go to Rome, but her friends not in this sector were surprised and asked if she knew of anyone there. Valmont shrugs. “No,” she says, “I just wanted to live there and I could, so I went.”
Things moved fast for Valmont. She moved into crypto and after being an employee for several blockchain projects, she started to think on what she wants to do next. Her project KIRA was born when Milana met her fellow Slack member, KIRA’s co-Founder and CTO and internchain pioneer Mateusz Grzelak during Devcon 4 conference.
KIRA is a layer 1 network that allows staking and trading of any digital tokens – including cryptocurrencies, NFTs and even digitised real world assets. Users trustlessly stake their coins to the validators they trust and in exchange receive so-called “staking derivatives”, those derivatives represent their locked coins 1:1 but opposed to staked assets – they remain fully transferable, allowing their holder to both maintain the liquidity but also benefit from earning of block & fee rewards from the network operation.
KIRA serves as a financial hub connecting decentralised Web3 applications, allowing developers to deploy and secure their own dApps. KIRA’s core technology is in its native consensus – called Multi Bonded Proof of Stake (MBPoS) which not only offers scaling of the network security through virtually uncapped value of assets that can be used to vouch for the honesty of the network operators, but also empowers said validators to choose which dApps they wish to run. Rather than forcing everyone to execute potentially malicious or otherwise legally questionable code KIRA protects both users and the validators.
“Multi Bonded Proof of Stake (MBPoS) enables scaling of security through uncapped value at stake and uncapped number of validators that can participate in the consensus.”
Valmont credits her co-founder and CTO, Mateusz Grzelak, with the idea behind the native consensus.
“There are so many NFTs and other digital assets that are not being used, plus also the whole market of real world assets is waiting to be digitised. So rather than just sitting on assets, people utilise them by staking and earning rewards through KIRA.”
In short – users trustlessly deposit their assets to KIRA and stake them to validators they deem trustworthy. For this service delegators receive block and fee rewards. The staked assets remain transferable in the form of 1:1 staking derivatives. Staking derivatives can then be used to trade, DeFi farm and even stake on leverage to maximise potential revenues. In the process of utilising staking derivatives users pay fees which are then used to attract even more delegators closing the positive feedback loop of the KIRA economy.
The more value vouching for the honesty of a larger set of independent (non-sybil) validators, the more trust users can have in said network as the likelihood of forks and malicious collusion of the network operators decreases. In vanilla Proof of Stake protocols there is no way to scale the security, just like it takes place in Proof of Work where security of the chain is scalable and can be quantitatively measured by its hashrate.
“It might be secure to entrust a vanilla Proof of Stake network with $1m deposit if there is also $1m at stake to match it, but how secure would the users feel in case where they want to collectively transfer $10m to the chain that is only backed by a small fraction of that amount?”
KIRA MBPoS consensus is not limited to just one staking token, but allows to increase the security of the network with an uncapped value that can be staked and quantitatively measured – exactly the same as in case of PoW hashrate. And the assets can be more than just a speculative cryptocurrency but extend to NFTs or even real-world assets. This offers a meaningful alternative to accessing decentralised and often hard to evaluate (from the security perspective) chains to not only retail investors and companies but potentially even nation-states adopting cryptocurrencies – which so far was only possible with PoW & Bitcoin.
Right now, the KIRA is still in beta, actually an extended beta testing phase. Valmont reckons it is the largest non-sybil testnet based on Tendermint with more than 300 active validators and over 600 participants.
“The next stage is to complete the testnet and launch the incentivised games for the participating validators. The games will allow us to reward all our early supporters and elect the most reliable network operators who will secure the chain and in the process benefit from the Universal Basic Income guaranteed by the network.
The other news is that KIRA is launching an NFT minting event where participants can win KIRA NFTs which they can stake and farm KEX token, as well as other way around – the ERC20 KEX token can be used to issue & stake NFTs.
“We want to give rewards to people who are part of the community but who were maybe not active in the testing itself. We wanted everyone to feel included.”
After the games and audits, the mainnet launch is anticipated to take place in Q3 much to the delight of the 6000 people in Telegram and 16000 on twitter.
Finally, I ask if her mother is happier with choice and Valmont smiles.
“Let’s just say she is happy now since she has seen me grow my own company and become CEO of that company. I explained to her what KIRA is and how our governance works – it’s like a country that is responsible for protecting its citizens and providing the necessary infrastructure for them to survive.
“But instead of having authoritarian rule, the people rule the country, and it does not matter how rich they are, since KIRA doesn’t believe in plutocracy, the people decide the governance and the monetary policies. Replace the country with a network and replace people with validator notes and you have KIRA.”
The rest is just a business offering borderless access to a market where anyone can use their assets without risk of a single centralised party failing to deliver or collapsing.
“You can choose to diversify your investment strategy and use KIRA to earn rewards. And in a world of low interest rates and inflation in traditional banking this is a smart hedge,” concludes Valmont.