28th July 2020

We meet Jamiel Sheikh, CEO of Chainhaus

This week I had the chance to catch up with Jamiel, the founder of Chainhaus, a blockchain advisory and applications studio based out of New York City. We talked about the enterprise blockchain space, AI, and running a business in 2020. It was a really interesting discussion, and taught me a lot. I hope that you enjoy it.

Colin Platt (CP): Jamiel, great to meet you, thanks for agreeing to speak with me today.

Jamiel Sheikh (JS): Absolutely, thanks for reaching out.

CP: Can we just kick things off, by telling us a bit about yourself and what you do?

JS: I wear a couple of different hats, one of my central projects is a company that I run called Chainhaus, which we’re currently in the process of renaming to Fidecent. We’re a blockchain services and products company, we’ve been active since late 2016. Our growth strategy has been very conservative, finance-wise, and this company is most of my day job. In addition, I am an adjunct-professor at Columbia Business School, NYU and CUNY. I teach Blockchain, AI, Innovation, and Machine Learning topics at graduate levels. I also run the largest blockchain group in New York City, before March we ran about 30 to 40 events per year. This fall we’re doing an event on CDBC which will be both in person and virtual. I’m also an author, currently writing a book on the Corda Blockchain for the O’Reilly Publishing House, and it should be out in a few months. We predominantly focus on enterprise blockchain and AI. My background is 15-20 years in technology, I’ve worked in banking and finance as well as real estate.

Right now we’re building a couple of different projects in the blockchain space, the flagship product is called Disburso, which is disbursement management, and comes off the back of a project we did last year with the World Bank. We identified some use cases and focussed our product around a large number of disbursements and fighting corruption, to ensure that the people who are supposed to receive disbursements actually do, and ensuring that it makes the intended impact. We also have an MVP of CordaIQ, which is a node manager tool (CordaIQ.com). And Reilize.com, which is RE wholesale trading

CP: Wow, you do quite a bit. It’s impressive. So let’s talk a bit about Chainhaus, and your work with Corda.

JS: We are blockchain agnostic as a company, and Corda is one of our specialities, but we also work with Algorand, Libra, Ethereum and a few other technologies. What we’re seeing is that the Corda platform is kind of emerging as the de facto platform in the enterprise space, next to Hyperledger Fabric. From a strategic point of view, Fabric was more crowded when we got into it, and Corda was a bit more under the radar. We’ve grown very close with R3, we get a lot of help and support from them, and we’re picking up more projects now after a lull in the first quarter. Over the next 4 or 5 years we expect the Corda space to continue to grow.

CP: Let’s dive into that a bit more. What kind of clients do you work with? And if you can talk about what you’re seeing in business growth?

JS: It’s a mixed picture, we started with education and that has shifted this year. We do a lot of education, we have the number one blockchain class in New York City. I don’t like virtual education, and favor in person teaching. We were very active last year, but this year that’s gone away, along with the revenue from that. But what has picked up is development services, we have some large system integrators and financial services firms as clients. We had projects with the World Bank, and hope to have further work there. We have a mix of projects, but focus on financial services predominantly. A lot of the clients come to us via word of mouth, we have no advertising budget, and I don’t do much outbound marketing, we focus on education and learning and get dealflow off the back of that. Since the Covid crisis, our focus on products has also increased now that we have more time.

CP: Can you talk to us more about the products that you’re working on?

JS: FloLedger, which is being rebranded as Disburso, is our core product. We also have a product called CordaIQ, which is a node management tool that requires no installation, right now if you want to manage a Corda node from a dashboard or a console you need to install things, we are taking a no install approach. It should be out in three months. We’re also working on non Blockchain projects, one related to real estate wholesaling, which is a US centric market that allows people to enter into a special agreement to buy out a property under conditions that allow you to sell a contract, this removes the need to be licensed as a real estate agent. This is an active market, but doesn’t have a central place to search for inventory, like Zilla. We’re building a marketplace called Reilize to help this market. We’re also building a real time chat app as an experiment. These aren’t blockchain, but AI focussed, which is the other speciality of our company. Ultimately I see Blockchain and AI working together in the future, when we have more AI and more blockchain data.

CP: Blockchain and AI is something I’ve heard a lot of talk about, but don’t really fully grasp. I’d be interested in hearing more about your vision.

JS: There are a large number of use cases, in particular around tokenization, once we start to see more mainstream tokenization. Right now a lot of these platforms aren’t gaining traction. The investment world using token offerings to raise capital is still tiny when you compare it with the larger market, if we start to see more of this though you’ll see more opportunities for AI and AI agents around things like trading. High-frequency trading could use AI to analyze blockchain data, or focus on the massive warehouses of high quality data used in blockchains for something like supply chains. When you compare these regular databases, blockchains have much higher quality data and this can make for better AI results. We’ll start to see this data used to identify fraudulent actors using these types of data, we’re preparing for that now but are still a few years away from that arguably. Ultimately we see AI as helping to further blockchain technology, as it is highly value additive.

CP: Last question I have, outside of what you’re doing. What are some of the things you find exciting?

JS: I learned a long time ago to not try to predict the future because a lot of the most innovative things have come out of nowhere. Where I see the most value currently is around tokenization, as I think this is where blockchains can shine, for raising capital, shares in a company, and brand new digital assets that are currently not even thought of. Tokens allow an entirely digital asset experience, this is something that I’ve been most excited about for over a year now.

CP: Jamiel, thank you very much for chatting with me today. Really enjoyed hearing about it and wish you all the best.

JS: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.

As always, nothing here should be construed as financial advice, recommendation or endorsement of any project or cryptocurrency.

If you have missed any of our other interviews read them here.