Origin Protocol Building DeFi & NFTs In The Bear: Interview With Co-Founder Joshua Fraser

Zinger Key Points
  • Joshua Fraser tells Benzinga about his experience through crypto market cycles.
  • Fraser explains how Origin Protocol has adapted and innovated with new product offerings.
Origin Protocol Building DeFi & NFTs In The Bear: Interview With Co-Founder Joshua Fraser

Blockchain startups raised an aggregate of billions of dollars through the bull market, but it’s no secret those days are at least temporarily halted. For most DeFi protocols and almost every NFT project, this is the 1st bear market these companies must conquer. 

As evidenced by the 2018 cryptocurrency bear market, very few projects survive through the bear. Liquidations were rife and insolvencies plagued the market. It’s often the projects with their heads down building that make it out alive.

But for Origin Protocol, this isn’t the 1st bear market the startup has faced. Origin Protocol raised in 2018 and faced several years in a bear market. In 2021, the fruits of their labor paid off, and the protocol’s token OGN reached nearly unicorn status at a valuation of $750 million.

Benzinga sat down with Joshua Fraser, co-founder of Origin Protocol, to dig into how Origin thrived through the bull market, being one of the only 2018 initial coin offerings (ICOs) still innovating with new products. 

Joshua will be attending Benzinga’s Future of Crypto to discuss innovation in DeFi in New York City on December 7th.

BZ: What was it like raising money during the ICO days? 

The peak of the 2017 crypto bull market saw absolute mania. Bitcoin had just reached $19,000, and the industry grew by 50x in less than 12 months. Projects were raising money left and right, without a product and sometimes without a team.

While the money was flowing fast and furious, the hard part was securing best-in-class investors and surviving in the years to come. Almost no ICOs survived in the following years, as Bitcoin plunged over 80% and altcoins performed even worse. 

With the help of our investors among the likes of Pantera, 1kx, Steve Chen, and Alexis Ohanian, Origin was positioned well into the 2021 bull market, and we were able to capitalize on the nascent NFT industry with new products. - Fraser

BZ: How has Origin protocol adapted to new innovations in crypto?

Origin Protocol has two flagship products: Origin Dollar and Origin Story. 

We created Origin Dollar in the early days of DeFi to elevate the inefficiencies of earning interest with stablecoins. Instead of locking up funds, managing capital between DeFi apps, and calculating the best low-risk yields, users could simply hold OUSD. 

OUSD is backed by stablecoins, and OGV stakers choose the optimal yield from blue-chip DeFi protocols. OUSD automatically increases in holders’ wallets as new OUSD is minted with the interest earned through Aave, Compound, Curve, Convex, and new upcoming strategies.

Separately, Origin Story successfully adapted to the NFT market over the last bull market. We’re proud to have hosted multiple record-breaking sales and industry firsts, such as the $11.7 million BLAU NFT sale, the Roofstock onChain real estate transaction, and Paris Hilton’s NFT collection. 

Today, Story hosts branded, white label marketplaces for leading collections like Pudgy Penguins, 0N1 Force, Sappy Seals, and dozens of others. - Fraser

BZ: How do OUSD and Story complement each other? 

Origin’s goal has always been to simplify the use of blockchain apps to reach the people who can benefit the most from the technology––not just benefitting tech-savvy users but their mothers too. Both OUSD and Story achieve this.

As previously mentioned, OUSD earns yield directly from users’ wallets. This eliminates the hassle of using DeFi protocols and managing yield, which most users don’t want to deal with. 

OUSD acts as a high-yield savings account for DeFi, making it simple to use and easy to understand. - Fraser

BZ: What are some developments in the works you’re excited about? 

Within about a week, OpenZepellin will publish an audit on OUSD V2 strategies. Since Origin Dollar only uses the safest DeFi protocols, yields are a bit lackluster at current market conditions. Being able to boost yields while keeping the same risk profile for OUSD will be huge both from a product perspective and adoption. OpenZepellin audits the Ethereum Foundation, Coinbase, and Aave, so I’m really excited to get this stamp of approval. - Fraser

BZ: Who are you excited to hear from at Benzinga’s Future of Crypto? 

I’m excited to be on a panel with representation from Aave since we’ve been long-time partners with them. OUSD earns interest through Aave, and being able to emphasize this concept of “money-legos” will be really cool.

Of course, hearing co-founder of Yuga Labs Greg Solano keynote the event will also be exciting. No other company has created an NFT ecosystem at the same level as Yuga Labs, with collections now ranging from historical pieces like CryptoPunks and Bored Apes to leading metaverse tech with the Otherside land. - Fraser 


Ironically, most projects with long-term visions appreciate cryptocurrency bear markets. Bear markets in crypto cut out the noise, letting those creating innovative projects take the spotlight. While money is made in a bull market, innovation and wealth is built through the bear. Benzinga is proud to host these innovators at our Future of Crypto conference this December in NYC.

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