Building the DeFi and NFT Origin Protocol in the Bear: An Interview with Co-Founder Joshua Fraser – Organon (NYSE: OGN)

Blockchain startups have raised a total of billions of dollars thanks to the bull market, but it’s no secret that those days are at least temporarily on hiatus. For most DeFi protocols and almost all NFT projects, this is the first bear market that these companies need to conquer.

As evidenced by the 2018 cryptocurrency bear market, very few projects survive through the bear. Liquidations multiplied and insolvencies plagued the market. It is often the projects that have their heads down that come out alive.

But for Origin Protocol, this isn’t the first 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 OGN token reached near-unicorn status at a valuation of $750 million.

Benzinga spoke with Joshua Fraser, co-founder of Origin Protocol, to find out how Origin has thrived in the bull market, being one of the only initial coin offerings (ICOs) of 2018 to still innovate with new products.

Joshua will attend Benzinga’s Future of Crypto to discuss innovation in DeFi in New York on December 7.

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

The peak of the crypto bull market in 2017 saw absolute madness. Bitcoin had just hit $19,000 and the industry grew 50x in less than 12 months. Projects were fundraising left and right, with no product and sometimes no team.

As the money flowed fast and furious, the hardest part was finding the best investors and surviving for years to come. Almost no ICO survived in the following years as Bitcoin plunged over 80% and altcoins fared even worse.

With the help of our investors like Pantera, 1kx, Steve Chen and Alexis Ohanian, Origin has positioned itself well in the bull market of 2021 and we have been able to capitalize on the budding NFT industry with new products. -Fraser

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

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

We created Origin Dollar at the start of DeFi to increase the inefficiencies of earning interest with stablecoins. Instead of locking up funds, managing capital between DeFi apps, and calculating the best low-risk returns, users could simply hold OUSD.

OUSD is backed by stablecoins, and OGV stakers choose the optimal return from top-notch DeFi protocols. OUSD automatically increases in holders’ wallets as new OUSD is created with interest earned through Aave, Compound, Curve, Convex and new strategies coming soon.

Furthermore, Origin Story successfully adapted to the NFT market during the last bull market. We are proud to have hosted several record-breaking and industry-first sales, such as the $11.7 million BLAU NFT sale, the Roofstock onChain real estate transaction, and the Paris Hilton NFT collection.

Today, Story hosts white label marketplaces for major collections such as Pudgy Penguins, 0N1 Force, Sappy Seals and dozens more. -Fraser

BZ: How do OUSD and Story complement each other?

Origin’s goal has always been to simplify the use of blockchain applications to reach the people who can benefit most from technology, not only for tech-savvy users, but also for their mothers. OUSD and Story achieve this.

As mentioned earlier, OUSD earns yield directly from users’ wallets. This eliminates the hassle of using DeFi protocols and yield management, 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 the developments in the works that excite you?

In about a week, OpenZepellin will publish an audit on OUSD V2 strategies. Since Origin Dollar only uses the most secure DeFi protocols, the returns are a bit poor under current market conditions. Being able to increase returns while maintaining the same risk profile for OUSD will be huge from both a product and adoption perspective. OpenZepellin audits the Ethereum Foundation, Coinbase, and Aave, so I’m really excited to get that stamp of approval. -Fraser

BZ: Who are you looking forward to hearing from Benzinga’s Future of Crypto?

I am delighted to be part of a panel with representation from Aave since we are long-standing partners with them. OUSD earns interest through Aave, and being able to emphasize this “money-legos” concept will be really cool.

Of course, hearing Yuga Labs co-founder Greg Solano deliver the event’s keynote address will also be thrilling. No other company has created an NFT ecosystem on the same level as Yuga Labs, with collections now ranging from landmark coins like CryptoPunks and Bored Apes to leading metaverse technology with the land Otherside. -Fraser


Ironically, most projects with long-term visions enjoy cryptocurrency bear markets. Crypto bear markets have reduced the noise, leaving those creating innovative projects in the spotlight. While money is made in a bull market, innovation and wealth are built through the bear. Benzinga is proud to welcome these innovators to our Future of Crypto conference in December in New York.

Back To Top