AMA Highlights — Paralink Network

By Raymond Reijnders, Analyst.
February 9, 2021–6 min read.

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On Monday 8 February we welcomed Jan Knežević into the Hillrise Capital Telegram Chat for an AMA. Jan is the CEO of Paralink Network.

Paralink Network is building a multi-chain data ingress engine, supporting a fundamental building block for successful blockchain networks.

With this they introduce ‘Paralink Query Language’ as part of their scalable solution to the oracle problem, addressing the inherent limitations of current solutions.

Paralink Network has chosen Polkadot as an infrastructure layer due to the fundamental design principles of the ecosystem, including cross-chain interoperability and scalability.

In this post, we have compiled key questions and answers from the event.

Daniel Dal Bello
Jan, welcome and thank you for joining us today. As a team, we have been really looking forward to this conversation as Paralink Network is a portfolio company for us — we are excited to be supporting you.

The vertical of oracles has been of interest for us in tandem with the Polkadot architecture which we are keen to get into today.

Could you please start with some background on yourself and how you came to be here leading Paralink?

Jan Knežević
Hi everyone! I am Jan Knezevic, and I'm the CEO of Paralink Network. My background is in business and economics — more specifically I worked as an auditor for KPMG, I was an actuary in a life insurance company and later on, I transitioned into consulting blockchain projects with accounting and business development as well as conducting internal audits.

Last year I was part of a team that acted like a data vendor for blockchain data, we collected pricing, on-chain and sentiment data and created qualitative indicators for traders. I was also an active day and swing trader on the stock market trading stocks and stock options and later on transitioned into trading cryptocurrencies.

Paralink network is a cross-chain data ingress engine which we decided to build in Q2 of 2020 after looking at other oracle solutions and seeing that the technology stack they are built on isn’t sufficient for providing a stable and resilient service. That is why we decided to build on Polkadot to achieve higher throughput and add sufficiently expressive ETL systems and an advanced querying language which we felt were lacking in the current solutions.

Raymond Reijnders
Oracles have been around for a long time, yet most people haven’t really heard of any besides Chainlink, Band and maybe Tellor. Then if they have, there’s really little to know actual knowledge above the surface level on what an oracle is and does.

Can you give us a short, high-level rundown of what data ingress for blockchains is and means for a network or solution?

Jan Knežević
First of all, as we know, blockchains are not aware of anything going on in the real world. Which means we cannot natively build prediction markets, insurance, litigation or any other coordination problem that is dependent on social institutions and corporations.

This drastically reduces the use cases of the technology, unless it is paired with a solution such as ours.

Essentially oracles provide either real-world or blockchain data and ingress it into blockchains, empowering the technology to be applied to many more use cases like the ones stated above.

Daniel Dal Bello
With the recent rise of the Polkadot ecosystem, we’ve seen several projects zeroing in on the oracle vertical. Kylin Network, PolkaOracle and OptionRoom come to mind.

How do you personally see the competition within this area of the Polkadot environment?

How does Paralink position itself to be a superior and leading solution provider for data ingress?

Jan Knežević
Paralink aims to be the most generic and widely used oracle solution in the Polkadot ecosystem. This is our mission as we saw other solutions have a very high learning curve which dissuades users. This is the reason why we are going to launch a PQL query builder, which is going to be a drag and drop UI so even non-developers will be able to use it.

We are here early so we have an option to capture a big chunk of Polkadot projects. We also value transparency this is why we have open-sourced our node and launched testnet and provided some documentation [Github] [Wiki] for developers interested in contributing to the project.

Raymond Reijnders
Let’s continue on this topic… one unique component of your project that stands out at first glance is your ‘Paralink Query Language‘ — PQL, which allows for querying all kinds of data sources including blockchains and allows developers to add their own custom data sources and processing rules in a permissionless setting.

You’ve given us an idea of why you went down this path and created PQL. Is the primary and only benefit to developers that familiarity with SQL-type querying?

Jan Knežević
One of the biggest differentiators between Paralink and other projects is the functionality of PQL.

Paralink data requests can be made via PQL definitions, which are JSON based descriptions of ETL (Extract, Transform & Load) jobs. PQL queries are done via SQL like interface which generalizes over common data structures (JSON, XML, SQL), and includes basic post-processing utilities such as math functions and typecasting.

The data collected from multiple sources and aggregated with a function like median or mean, validated using validation conditions and then returned to the caller’s smart contract of choice via the callback.

Daniel Dal Bello
Do you see PQL as being a strong differentiator to reduce barriers to entry for your platform?

Is there any potential this could even create more friction for the Paralink ecosystem by introducing something else for developers to learn?

Jan Knežević
This is one of the benefits which will help with the ease of use we are striving for. Another is that as stated above PQL can be used to query more data types than solutions offered by the competition. We will implement more functionalities when we receive enough requests from the community.

PQL is so simple to use I don’t see it as a barrier to entry to our platform as most other solutions have a very narrow base of users and their complexity and rigidness dissuade many potential users.

Daniel Dal Bello
Projects that develop quickly and meet targets have been able to effectively capture mindshare within the community (e.g Alpha, Injective), creating a powerful positive feedback loop supporting reflexive growth.

What’s interesting is that we see both small and large teams being able to achieve these. In many cases, we see the smaller teams able to produce quicker.

What is your hiring strategy: expand or remain lean?

Jan Knežević
This is a big issue with software development. Most of the times a bigger team does not correspond with faster output. We are very confident in our current team and all of the deadlines we have set for ourselves have been achieved before schedule. We have started hiring developers after fundraising and are slowly building up the team, and getting the required talent for each specific development part.

The advantage of having a small team is information sharing intra-organization is highly efficient this is why the development so far has been very fruitful. We know that as we will grow and hire more team members some frictions will be bound to arise and are enjoying this lean period now:)

So to answer directly stay lean as long as we can.

Daniel Dal Bello
For our last question today, on February 1st, you deployed a live version of the developer testnet.

What’s the latest status on this and how has the uptake been so far?

Jan Knežević
The testnet functionalities are still in the very early stage. This month we will add a lot more so users will be able to explore it in a bit more detail and also provide us with valuable feedback. We are also improving the documentation for it as this is one of the most important parts of onboarding new developers and educating users about it in general.

Hillrise Capital is an independent research, and advisory firm exclusively focused on blockchain startups and crypto-assets.

Paralink is a multi-chain oracle platform for DeFi applications, powered by Polkadot.

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We’re an independent research and advisory firm focused on blockchain startups and crypto-assets.

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