We sat down with Lior Lamesh, CEO and co-founder of GK8, who shared his journey of creating a top cybersecurity and blockchain startup and provided some insights for fellow entrepreneurs.
First, tell us a bit about your background
When I was a kid, my dream was to become a professional soccer player. I was very serious about soccer and even played professionally until I was 18. I was first exposed to the wonderful world of cryptography during my university studies. This became my new dream, as I took the passion I had for soccer and implemented it into what I do today, founding and leading GK8.
I met my co-founder and partner, Shahar Shamai while serving in an elite team where we protected Israel’s strategic state assets, answering directly to the Israeli prime minister’s office. The rest, as they say, is history.
Why did you decide to create GK8?
My passion for cryptography and blockchain, coupled with my knowledge of cyber security, helped me realize that digital assets opened up new revenue streams for financial institutions, but also introduced new threat vectors. Banks and other financial institutions invest billions of dollars in an attempt to keep their assets safe and secure. But protecting digital assets requires a completely new mindset.
GK8 started with a great deal of curiosity and the idea of trying to accomplish something that has never been done. In under 4 days, and with no special equipment, my co-founder and I were able to hack into one of the most popular crypto wallets on the market. Financial institutions needed a solution that was enterprise-grade and provided supreme security but also the flexibility to manage their digital assets.
We then created the world’s first true air-gapped vault that is able to create, sign, and send secure blockchain transactions with no internet connectivity, hence eliminating all potential cyber-attack vectors.
Tell us more about GK8. What’s your company’s mission?
In parallel with the growing adoption of cryptocurrencies, we also see a massive rise in the targeting of crypto and blockchain assets by cyber criminals. It is clear that the security challenges of this new digital technology have not been addressed as they should. It is also evident that the industry lacks the expertise, regulation, support and framework with which to deal with these challenges. That is where GK8 comes in.
GK8’s mission is to protect the future of finance by being the best solution for financial institutions, both crypto-native and traditional institutions. GK8 enables them to protect and manage blockchain-based digital assets and generate new revenue streams. We provide them with the ability to offer an end-to-end solution for digital assets-based services.
Our patented solutions have been adopted by an impressive list of clientele, who leverage our solutions to manage billions in AUM. We’ve secured 7 patents, expanded our operations globally, and steered our company to an impressive acquisition, all in under 4 years.
How does your company innovate?
Since the dawn of time, innovation is the name of the game in technology products. Very similar to an arms race, one party innovates, then the rest run to keep up and vice versa. If in the past patents and unique capabilities gave one company a preference over its competitors for a long period of time. In today’s day and age, the competitive advantage is more short-term. That means we need to consistently be on the ball, innovating, adapting and providing the best solution in the market.
We hold 7 US registered patents – we constantly innovate according to the most recent market demands. We incorporate the world’s first TRUE air-gapped Cold Vault that enables our clients to create, sign, and send secure blockchain transactions without internet connectivity as well as a highly scalable, patented MPC Vault for automated transactions. Our multi-tier solution, enables financial institutions to mitigate threats by diversifying their storage solutions. More importantly, our solutions work in conjunction, for optimal risk balancing according to different use cases.
What are the challenges that GK8 is facing?
I think the market, in general, is facing some challenges. After a great bull run in 2021, the cryptocurrency market is facing some volatile times. This has prompted increased oversight and intervention by regulators worldwide. This volatility has had a major impact on institutional players, especially those who were in a state of indecision about entering the market.
At the end of the day – cryptocurrency is here to stay. Those who have gone through the crypto cycle before know that a bear market opens a window of opportunity for institutions to further their crypto adoption, research the possible solutions and build the infrastructure to take advantage of the next market boom.
Moreover, recent market events emphasize that institutions need to control their own destiny when it comes to managing risks while offering digital asset services. Today more than ever, institutions need to have control of the complete technology stack and hold the private keys by themselves. Also in terms of the institution’s dependence on the existence of 3rd parties services. Hence, at GK8 we have developed a dedicated deployment self-custody infrastructure per client, so our clients can decide for themselves what works best for them in a manner of on-prem vs. cloud deployment at the geographical location of their choice.
How do you see GK8’s future?
We are experiencing an impressive growth trajectory, and our sales and pipeline have expanded phenomenally. I believe this trend will continue as we are always investing in our product, adding advanced strategic feature sets according to the evolving market demands, and offering new capabilities. I am proud to say that we are already a market leader in our offering, whether through the most diverse coins supported, access to the highest insurance in the market, or the only TRUE cold vault in the market. And our numbers speak for themselves. We are consistently recruiting, adding to our growing resources in the US, Europe, Israel and soon in APAC.
Finally, which advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs?
I think the best advice I can give aspiring entrepreneurs is to:
- Believe in your goals, vision and solution. The more you believe from the bottom of your heart, the more your team/clients/investors will follow you.
- ‘Can do’ approach – As a leader, it is important to motivate your team and yourself, getting everyone working towards the same goals with the same passion that you have. Even when these goals seem difficult or unachievable, you have to believe you ‘Can Do’ everything and break the glass ceiling.
- Build a strong team – Choose your team members wisely. Find team members who have more experience than you, and are not afraid to express their opinions. You will be spending many hours together, so might as well surround yourself with a team that you can trust to help you steer the ship in the right direction.