Flying High with Hesham Aly – Pilot, Entrepreneur, and Web3 Builder

I recently had the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with Hesham Aly, the Co-Founder of Elys Network, delving into his background, leadership style, and the entrepreneurial influences that have shaped his journey. My curiosity was piqued about how these elements have informed his strategy for launching an innovative Web3 project. For those who haven’t heard of Elys Network yet, it’s only a matter of time before it captures your attention.

This interaction was particularly significant for me, as Hesham and I share a unique bond through our service in the Air Force—he as a pilot of the C-17 Globemaster and I as a door gunner on the formidable HH-60G Pavehawk. This shared experience added a profound depth to our discussion.

Elys Network Overview

Elys Network is the Cosmos Hub’s NextGen decentralized perpetual trading and all-in-one DeFi app chain, the first of its kind to partner with the Atom Economic Zone. Trade like a CEX, with all the benefits of DeFi. Elys Network is built for a seamless user experience to bridge the gap between Web2 and Web3.

Elys Network’s platform features spot trading, perpetual trading, simple staking of USDC, and leveraged Liquidity Providing. This product suite creates a liquidity flywheel to attract volume and revenues, paid out to liquidity providers and stakers. Featuring a custom-built oracle pricing solution, Elys offers unique dynamic weighted pools and an arbitrage-free pricing model that aggregates liquidity from various platforms and offers the best slippage in the marketplace.

Designed for the ultimate user experience, Elys Network’s Web App continues to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback. The incentivized public testnet launched recently, with over 350,000 users signed up to experience the Elys Network difference in just over one month!


Hesham, with your unique perspective coming from an extensive background in aviation and as an entrepreneur, could you share the top three things you want potential users and investors to know about Elys Network?

Planning and Preparation: “A successful flight begins well before the aircraft ever leaves the gate. Building a flight plan involves assessing all of the factors that could affect the performance or safety of that flight. Similarly, launching Elys Network began with meticulous planning, assessment of the market landscape, and designing a robust architecture to account for the long list of challenges we would or could face. Similar to the aviation world, it’s not always possible to plan for every threat, but as we know, it’s critical that we maintain the mindset that unexpected threats or challenges will arise. This mindset enables the flexibility to adjust course and overcome major hurdles to truly thrive. Building a strong community network is one of the ways that we grow stronger together in producing the very best in everything that goes into Elys Network. We are grateful to have over 100,000 community members on Twitter and nearly 45,000 Discord members to help shape our future.”

Credibility: “At Elys Network, we believe credibility is a prerequisite for mass adoption in the digital asset industry. We took to heart the importance of earning our reputation as credible actors in the industry, guided by integrity and transparency as core values. From the very beginning, we assembled a uniquely qualified team with strong entrepreneurial, financial, and engineering experience. We kept the team deliberately small to remain capital-efficient and accountable for our performance in delivering a world-class product. We have since been able to showcase that product and have received tremendous support from our community, investors, and strategic partners in accelerating our development as we approach main net launch in the coming quarter.”

Revenue Generation is a must: “First-generation Web3 projects endured a daunting task of embarking on an entirely new frontier to building novel products. In the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) space in particular, the challenges faced by these early pioneers included regulatory restrictions, fundraising, technical skill, and much more. We witnessed those attempts as DeFi users and applauded those early efforts. What stood out to us the most was that the majority of projects being built never really had a path to revenue generation while trying to counter the damage of excessive token inflation. We build Elys Network to generate revenue first and foremost, with the understanding that tokenomics need to be carefully designed to properly reflect market conditions. The Elys all-in-one DeFi suite provides a multitude of revenue streams to support a truly sustainable ecosystem, which in turn brings value to the Elys token. In fact, we designed the Elys web app so that a user can interact with our products without ever owning Elys, as interactions with our web app drive revenue generation without the use of our token; swapping, USDC staking, leverage LP, Perpetuals, bridging and more. Even gas fees can be paid in other tokens like $Atom and USDC. This allows us to focus on a truly enhanced user experience rather than trying to reverse engineer token utility. This is what we believe next-generation DeFi will look like.”

From a remarkable journey from the United States Air Force Academy to piloting for a major airline and the Air Force, and now venturing into the crypto world with Elys Network, can you share how your experiences in aviation and the military have shaped your approach to leadership and innovation in the cryptocurrency sector?

“I am extremely fortunate for the experiences I have gone through in the Air Force and airline industry, as well as the resulting outstanding mentorship and relationships that continue to this day. I think the biggest leadership takeaways that have truly helped me at Elys Network include genuinely considering other people’s perspectives, and always striving to grow through cooperation and collaboration. It is essential to value everyone’s input, ideas, and concerns. We believe that the success of our web app and the incredible user growth (350,000 users in just over 1 month) is due to our belief that the customer is always right, and user feedback is paramount to the founders’ opinion.

On the organizational level, now that our team has grown to 15 members and will likely grow even larger as we build out our future roadmap plans, it’s imperative that we always provide our team members the ability to freely provide input, give feedback, and voice concerns at any level. We empower our team members to be true leaders at Elys Network, and we believe that will serve us well in our mission of full decentralization.

Cooperation and collaboration are major elements of our growth strategy as strong partnerships in this fledgling industry help create mutual support structures and eventually a sustainable economic flywheel. Sometimes it seems counterintuitive to want to partner with someone who is building a similar product or service, but we watched early-stage projects in the last bull run try to build with a winner-take-all mentality, only to find themselves on an island lacking interoperability and strategic partnerships.

Elys Network is proud to be a major partner of the Cosmos Hub, and the first all-in-one DeFi chain to join Interchain Security 2.0, known as Partial Set Security. We have also partnered with several other projects in the Web3 space with the belief that collaboration will be instrumental in driving mass adoption and seamless integration across multiple chains, both inside and outside of the Cosmos ecosystem.”

In both aviation and cryptocurrency, managing risk and uncertainty is crucial. How do you leverage your expertise as a pilot, especially in high-pressure situations, to navigate the volatile landscape of the crypto market?

“Managing risk in aviation comes from a comprehensive portfolio of education, experience, training, and planning. These same components work for navigating the crypto market, particularly when times get tough. As we saw in the last bull market, it is very easy for a project to become complacent, loosen its financial discipline or treasury management, or make costly mistakes that risk its ability to endure a downturn. When the bear market came shortly after that record-setting run, many teams were caught unprepared, whether it be due to lack of experience, education, training, or planning. As Elys Network founders, we build to capture the growth of a bull market, and plan/model for extensive bear markets. We are fortunate to have decades of traditional finance and entrepreneurial experience, with strong capital discipline. We extensively plan and test everything we aim to build, and stress test and audit repeatedly.

Finally, we know when we don’t have the answers, and we never try to navigate unchartered waters alone or try to force a decision we cannot reverse. For those scenarios, we always expand our network to consult with industry experts and constantly assess our processes to establish best practices. We know that nobody is perfect and things do not always go as planned, but being prepared and building a robust product to sustain a down market is a long-term evolution that requires constant re-evaluation as technology and market conditions evolve. Complacency is the biggest risk there that we constantly guard against.”

As the co-founder of Elys Network, what inspired you to enter the crypto space, and how does your vision for Elys Network reflect your personal and professional experiences?

“To be perfectly honest, I never intended to or thought I would become a blockchain founder. Ethereum served as my inspiration to enter the crypto space when I found a much more compelling thesis for digital assets – revenue production from decentralized products and services, an alternative to the centralized app store offerings we are intimately familiar with from Apple, Google, and Microsoft. After learning about Ethereum, I learned about Cosmos (ATOM) and immediately saw the beauty of the design, particularly with IBC (Interblockchain Connectivity) that linked native chains together seamlessly. This made perfect sense to me that scaling issues could be solved and teams could customize functionality at the protocol level, while other teams could still choose to build at the application level.

To this day, I believe Cosmos has built the very best infrastructure for developers to build just about anything on, and customization with interoperability serve as the key advantages. With this vision in mind, I entered the Cosmos ecosystem by joining a partner to run OtterSync, which runs validators on multiple chains there.

The decision to team up with fellow Elys Network co-founders Prashant, Mitchell, and Casey, came after witnessing several failures in the DeFi space, with the most notable being the Terra crash. As DeFi users, we shared in the same frustrations and concerns as millions of other users, who wanted to see an emphasis on sustainability, user experience, improved product offerings, and more. We networked with many groups and collected feedback from thousands of members, and our first attempts at improving DeFi included asking existing projects to incorporate this feedback.

Unfortunately, as the bear market took hold, it was very difficult for those chains to act on that feedback, and we realized that if we wanted to usher in the next era of DeFi, we would likely need to assemble a team to build it from scratch. In late 2022, the mission statement and vision of Elys Network was born, we began a small fundraising effort and meticulously designed the blueprints for the web app that is being tested by 350,000 users today. It has been an amazing and humbling experience, particularly given the fact that we had to raise money during a very arduous bear market. We are eternally grateful for those who took that chance on us.”

Maintaining a career as a professional pilot and an entrepreneur is no small feat. Can you discuss the challenges and opportunities you encountered when founding Elys Network while juggling careers as a C-17 pilot for the Air Force and airline captain?

“Serving as the Growth Lead / Business Development at Elys Network certainly requires full-time hours and then some (none of the founders have ever received any pay from Elys Network). Balancing this requirement while flying full-time for my airline and performing my Air Force Reserve duties is both challenging and rewarding but could never be possible without the incredible support I get from my wife, Emily. I am passionate about all three of these jobs, and the extra time working when I otherwise could have been spending time with family is really made possible by the efforts my family is making for me. I sincerely hope I can return this favor in kind as we hire on a Business Development Lead and I approach military retirement and transition to a community role after launch that will help decentralize the project. This will help me achieve a more sustainable work-life balance and make up for lost quality time with the family.”

The fields of aviation and cryptocurrency require a forward-thinking mindset and continuous innovation. How do you apply the principles of innovation and technology from your aviation career to the development and growth of Elys Network?

“Technology drove the greatest leap in innovation in human history. It’s astonishing that the time advance from the Wright Brothers’ first flight to the first human on the moon was only 66 years! As a pilot, I have always admired those who came before us to leverage technology to make aviation safer, sustainable, and more reliable. I believe the same will occur as an incredibly talented population of developers, entrepreneurs, and early adopters come together to continually refine this new asset class to create innovative products and services that will advance humanity and form sustainable economic activity on decentralized networks.

In the aviation world, this took several decades and endured significant skepticism along the way. Similarly, I believe the growth of the crypto industry will take decades and will endure skepticism, some of which is warranted as we work diligently to self-regulate and guard against bad actors (they’re not just in crypto – they exist in every industry of course). It is important to remind ourselves that is that there is no “ribbon-cutting ceremony” when Web3 goes mainstream – it will occur over a long period of time and the growth will not be immediately obvious. By being early in this space, we all get to help shape the industry and create that future. It will be worth the wait for sure.”

Looking ahead, what are your ambitions for Elys Network? How do you envision the future of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology evolving, and what part will Elys Network play in this landscape?

“We maintain a simple, elegant mission for Elys Network: to create a self-sustaining, open-sourced, decentralized suite of applications and tools that allow anyone to access financial services. We built a premium web app to provide the best possible user interface and user experience in DeFi, with all-in-one functionality. We made it easy for users to sign in and move funds into their wallets because we know those are major pain points in the space. We will continue to work with our community to enhance our features and incorporate the latest technological advancements. Elys Network is positioned for a multi-year buildout, forming meaningful relationships and partnerships to usher in mass Web3 adoption. I’m grateful for the support and feedback we continue to receive from our enthusiastic community, and I look forward to a successful mainnet launch!”

Final Thoughts

Reflecting on Hesham’s insights, it’s clear that Elys Network embodies the resilience, innovation, and forward-thinking necessary in the rapidly evolving worlds of DeFi and blockchain. His unique perspective, drawn from a rich background in aviation and entrepreneurship, underscores the importance of leveraging technology to create safer, more efficient, and accessible financial services. Hesham’s dedication to balancing demanding careers while nurturing the growth of Elys Network, alongside the support of his family and team, is truly inspiring. The future of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is bright, marked by continual innovation and community-driven enhancements. It’s exciting to envision the role Elys Network will play in this new era, shaping an inclusive and decentralized future.


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