The 13 year old DeFi developer
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Being the growth Vice President of the fast advancing Indian crypto firm Polygon, Arjun Kalsy is accustomed to working in and out with coders all over the globe. Polygon, previously called Matic Network, is a protocol and a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks.

About a month ago, Kalsy received a text on LinkedIn from a person named “Gajesh Naik.” What made Kalsy suspicious was the fact that Naik claimed to be a 13 year old crypto developer seeking counsel on a fresh project. A 13 year old crypto developer? Working on a project?

Out of all the coders that Kalsy had worked with, he had never come across a 13 year old such as Naik.

“I was 100% sure this guy was a scammer. Like, no way. Really? 13 years old? He’s probably some big hairy dude.”

-Arjun Kalsy to Decrypt

At first, Kalsy didn’t take the pains to respond. It happened after a few more neglected texts that he gave into a Telegram chat, which eventually led to a direct Zoom video call.

“Then, I saw,” he said. “Man, it’s actually a 13-year-old kid.”

As a matter of fact, Gajesh Naik is really a 13 year old. At such a young age, he’s also the principal designer of PolyGaj, which is the one stop NFT and DeFi platform constructed on the Polygon blockchain.

Currently, PolyGaj manages over $1 million in cryptocurrency. In the previous month, that figure was more or less $7 million subsequent to the billionaire investor Mark Cuban investing in Polygon.

Take into consideration the aspect that Gajesh is well-versed with what the DeFi protocol really is.

DeFi is a collective term given to financial services that have no central authority or someone in charge. Using decentralised money, like certain cryptocurrencies, that can be programmed for automated activities, we can build exchanges, lending services, insurance companies and other organizations that do not have any owner and are not controlled by anyone.

When you turn over your money to such a protocol as DeFi, you’re channeling it straight into a sequence of smart contracts—inherently code that tells by what means are your funds invested; PolyGaj is the nucleus for these types of investment techniques, which asks users to pay up crypto for a risky shot at attractive returns.

But code has to take place from somewhere, right?

“I had the basic math skills, like addition, subtraction,” Naik said over the phone from Goa, India from his family’s home. “That’s all which was required. Then afterwards I started learning all the programming languages.”

When Gajesh had started speaking about the languages he had become competent in (Java, C, C++, JavaScript, and Solidity—the language that is distinctively used to write the smart contracts based on Ethereum), an image began to form. Naik had began learning coding five years back at a committed boot camp, making use of a drag-and-drop lesson program called Scratch. He was merely 8 years old at that time.

Over the last two months, as Covid-19’s second wave spread like a wildfire, Naik has been staying at home with his family members. Naik’s father, Siddhivinayak, has completed his degree in computer science, but is employed as an officer of civil services as of now. All praise to his support and words of kindness, together with his newly found fancy for cryptocurrency, that Naik has been capable of giving time to PolyGaj.

“I think the investment in the form of resources that we put in—especially time—is paying off now in the attention that he gets,”

– Siddhivinayak to Decrypt.

Over and above, Gajesh has even recorded descriptive crypto related videos for his channel on YouTube, and accepted to do public discussions with influencers from India. Balaji Srinivasan, a well known crypto investor even acknowledged him on Twitter.


Crypto investor Balaji Srinivasan giving a shoutout to Gajesh on Twitter

Ever since that text on LinkedIn, Kalsy and Naik have been in contact. Kalsy said that since then, a number of investors have begun to reach out. “So sometimes he asks me, ‘Hey man I have to talk to this guy, what do I say?’”, said Kalsy. His suggestions and advice have mostly to do with moral codes and calculating strategies, and less with system architecture.

In regard to how exactly a 13 year old was able to pull off coding of an ecosystem worth millions of dollars all unassisted by his own is concerned, Kalsy described that Naik is likely more of a far-sighted creative and less of a coding genius, since PolyGaj, in his words, is “essentially a clone of Goose Finance”. It is a DeFi project constructed on a blockchain known as the Binance Smart Chain. Both of the websites look nearly identical, leaving a little amount of small changes. Kalsy additionally said that the algorithms behind PolyGaj originate from a contract called “MasterChef,” which forms a part of another known DeFi protocol: SushiSwap.

“When you talk about coders, there are two broad types. One is your mathematician coder, who’s into algorithms and data structures. And then the second is something like Gajesh, who’s more on the execution/business side. If he sees a good project, he can design something like that, but he probably won’t come up with an algorithm for the Traveling Salesman Problem or something like that.”

-Arjun Kalsy

It’s a difference that works out for someone operating sans the advantage of a college education.

“I’ve seen many of these dapps,” Naik said, referring to the decentralised applications that provide access to the world of crypto investing. Naik further added that they are amazing and “have much more potential.”


Indian businessman Rohan Khaunte giving his best wishes to Gajesh

According to Kalsy’s point of view, Gajesh is the type of person who can build the next WhatsApp or Facebook.

However, unlike Kalsy, not everyone has provided the same level of encouragement and support. DeFi educator and consultant Chris Blec, has found faults with the code that’s behind PolyGaj’s $GAJ token for permitting a sole administrator to exercise control on the whole network. The address presently appointed as the contract’s “owner” also holds over 350,000 $GAJ, or approximately $150,000 at current prices.

Blec drew attention in a message to Decrypt, that Gajesh is too young to comprehend the risks that come with DeFi.

“There’s nothing that anyone else can do to prevent someone—even a 13 yr old—from deploying a smart contract that could eventually reach millions of billions in TVL. The protection of any 13 year old should come from his own family.”

-Chris Blec

TVL, or “total value locked,” relates to the amount of money handled by a specific DeFi protocol.

From Kalsy’s way of thinking, it’s not exactly that Naik is himself handling investors’ crypto; if you invest your money in PolyGaj, you’re in the clutches of a system that is built by a 13-year-old, rather than the impulse of an actual 13-year-old—a small difference, but an essential one.

“It’s not the stuff you’d attribute to a 13-year-old kid, but he’s doing a good job. And he’s delivered on everything he said. I know for a fact he’s genuine. He’s not one of those guys who drag and run with the money or something like that.”

-Arjun Kalsy

Naik has almost 19,100 followers on Twitter, and his name is out in the open; hence, if he wanted to misuse his manager privileges to run off with the money, Kalsy rationalised, his reputation would be totally sabotaged.

“I can only hope that over a period of time with sustained efforts, I can earn the love and respect of this awesome community,”

-Naik wrote in a blog post.

When Decrypt spoke to Naik the previous month, he was on vacation by his school. He aims to commit “four to five hours” to schoolwork when things restart, but will carry on working on PolyGaj with all the time he gets.

Before hanging up, he was asked how he would react to the question of whether or not someone as young as him should be managing this kind of money.

He delayed for a moment before deciding on an answer.

He responded, “Age is just a number.”

My personal thoughts: We should be supporting Gajesh, for what he has achieved at the age of 13. He is a school kid, and has already launched his own DEFI project. I can’t imagine what he would be doing by the time he reaches 19. He is for sure, one of the brightest kid out there. If you see anything wrong with the code or you think needs improvement, instead of lashing at him on Twitter, please try to reach out to him personally and may be guide him. Be a mentor. This kid is just extra-ordinary and we at are impressed.