In this episode of the ASCEND podcast, we talk to Hu Liang, CEO and Founder of Omniex, which crypto giant Gemini acquired. Omniex was a trading technology platform that provides order, execution, and portfolio management system solutions for institutional crypto trading. The acquisition enabled Gemini to launch Gemini Prime, a crypto prime brokerage offering. Before founding Omniex, Hu was SVP of the Emerging Technologies Center at State Street.


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Key Takeaways: 

When to Leap: When considering when to break off and pursue being a founder, it is vital to ensure that one’s present experience, the state of the market/external environment, and ambitions for the future are aligned at the right moment to give a company the greatest chance for success.

Differentiation: In newer industries, it is critical to differentiate from competitors and the general hype of the market. For that reason, credibility becomes increasingly essential as a means of differentiation. 

Creating Value: When reflecting on what he was most proud of in building Omniex, Hu cites building something highly useful for other companies and people as the greatest indicator of success. Many founders can get caught up in superficial indicators of success like press releases, but ultimately, creating something of value is what Hu is most proud of.

Confidence from Within:  One way to stave off self-doubt can come from building a team you can trust, but more importantly, building confidence from the inside out by implementing more positive self-talk.

Building a team through trial and error: When creating a team, it can be challenging to find the right balance between seeking out familiar team members and new team members. On the one hand, fixed mindsets can make it challenging to work with people you already know, while on the other hand, unfamiliarity can pose challenges when working with new people. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building a team, so it's essential to be flexible and responsive to individual needs and circumstances.


Mistakes are unavoidable: Regarding founding a company, some challenges cannot be avoided; dwelling on mistakes can prevent you from moving forward.

Institutional legitimacy: When discussing the industry, Hu describes how many crypto companies cut corners in bypassing regulatory bodies, landing them in hot water. Knowing when you can go fast and break things and when you need to abide by your moral compass is crucial. 

Seeking problems to solve: In the entrepreneurial space, it is good practice to consider big-picture questions. For Hu, this means going after problems within the broader market to identify use cases (for AI or blockchain, for instance).

Make hard decisions: Waiting to see how the market changes is a luxury that well-resourced, well-established firms have; in the early stages, you must be willing to make sacrifices and changes quickly.


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