Announcing Ion Protocol’s $2M Pre-Seed Round

Ion Protocol
3 min readJul 13, 2023

We’re thrilled to announce that Ion Protocol has successfully raised an oversubscribed $2M pre-seed funding round. Our mission is to revolutionize decentralized finance (DeFi) through the creation of a lending platform that supports both staked and re-staked assets which has been bolstered by the support from our co-leads, Portal Ventures and SevenX Ventures.

The Investors

Our first funding round brought together an impressive assortment of value-aligned investors, including BanklessVC, HASHCIB, Foresight Ventures, Smrti Labs, Maelstrom Fund, Breed VC, Everstake Pool, Punk Ventures DAO, Builder VC, and Picks and Shovels VC.

We’ve also had a noteworthy array of angel investors, including Aleks Larsen, Marc Weinstein, Anthony Sassano, Ryan Watkins, Daniel Dizion, Catrina Wang, DeFi Dave, David Gogel, Paul Kim, Ryan Selkis, Yuki Yuminaga, Daniel Cheung, Wilson Withiam, Alex W., Jack Sun, Ahboyash, and many more.

Our Vision

Ion Protocol is more than just a lending platform. Our goal is to support the future of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus networks and build the financial rails required to trustlessly underwrite slashable security, the native commodity of PoS networks.

The growing acceptance of PoS as a consensus model has created a new approach to the value of blockchains as trust machines. It has enabled us to commodify and assign value to the role of trusted parties in consensus. Liquid staking has become the pioneer marketplace for this commodification of trust through PoS.

We believe the financialization of this trust is an inevitability.

Our goal is to revolutionize how we approach quantifying credit risk for staked and re-staked assets, taking a validator-native approach to underwriting trust as a commodity.

How Ion Protocol Works

Ion Protocol is a money market. It enables users to deposit any validator-backed assets, such as Liquid Staking Tokens (LSTs), re-staking positions, and more into our collateral vaults. Users can then borrow ETH from their deposits that they can use in the greater DeFi ecosystem.

Unlike traditional lending markets in the DeFi ecosystem, we take a different approach to analyzing risk.

So we ask: In a post-withdrawals world, what does it truly mean to have an staked or re-staked asset that’s creditworthy?

To us, creditworthiness is a function of whether you can redeem into the validator or operator collateral backing the position.

To tackle the complexities of underwriting such assets, we have built a sustainable framework that can be utilized in various PoS consensus environments. This involves analyzing the risk that slashable assets are exposed to from different perspectives, focusing on potential penalties, slashable events, and reward-determining rules surrounding PoS systems.

Building a Sustainable Framework

To execute on our beliefs, we have developed an infrastructure that communicates information directly from the consensus layer to monitor the true value and behavior of the validators backing staked and re-staked assets. Using this information, we model the credit risk underlying validator behaviors, providing a more transparent and accurate method of underwriting these assets.

We believe in the need for trustless architecture in DeFi, and wanted to instill this desire in how we approach our risk underwriting enginge. As such, we are using a Zero-Knowledge Machine Learning (ZKML) powered risk framework to enables assurances surrounding the significant amount of compute require to analyze consensus layer risk, allowing us to generate a verifiable method of analyzing, pricing, and underwriting validator slashing risk without compromising on trust or complexity.

Moving Forward

At Ion Protocol, we are excited to bring the financialization of trust networks into reality. Our belief is that the future of DeFi products lies in building primitives that introduce complexity without compromising on trust.

Join us in our journey to redefine DeFi at ionprotocol.io. Stay tuned for more updates about our presence at ETH CC, where we’ll be speaking with the teams at BlockSwap Network and Jessy’s Hacker House.

If you want to be part of our community or have any questions, join our Discord!

And for those interested in everything ranging from re-staking alignment to ZK-empowered verifiable commitments, we are looking for people to join our team! You can learn more about our open roles on the link provided in our raise announcement thread.

We are thrilled to embark on this journey together and look forward to revolutionizing the staking ecosystem.

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