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Brainchild of university friends, Brine Fi secures $16.5M, launches top-ranking decentralised exchange

Brine Fi Founders
Picture credits: Brine Fi

Innovating the decentralised finance space, Dubai-based Brine Fi has just closed $16.5 million series A funding. The round was led by an American hedge fund that specialises in cryptocurrencies, Pantera Capital (which backed Few and Far and Pinata) with participation from Elevation Capital, Starkware Ltd, Spartan Group, Goodwater Capital, Upsparks Ventures, Protofund Ventures, and angel investors. With this, the company’s valuation reaches $100 million. 

On achieving this milestone, Shaaran Lakshminarayanan, co-founder and CEO at Brine Fi, joined TFN to discuss the crypto trading platform and decentralised exchange. 

Diverse origin of Brine Fi

In 2021, Brine Fi was founded by university friends Bhavesh Praveen, Ritumbhara Bhatnagar, and Shaaran Lakshminarayanan with a clear mission: to provide traders and institutions with the best possible DEX experience. Their team also includes former executives from CoinBase, PayPal, Venmo, Flipkart, Harvard, and MIT.

Initially, the trio, along with another partner, also launched a startup called Krypto. Within just one year, Krypto attracted over a million users and processed nearly $400 million in transactions, propelling it to become India’s largest crypto payments app (as claimed by the company). However, the journey was not without its challenges. “We faced regulatory hurdles and observed the FTX turmoil, creating obstacles for traders, CEXs, and HFT institutions. Moving to a DEX wasn’t viable due to speed, reliability, fees, and MEV concerns. Motivated by these challenges, we launched Brine—an ultra-fast, cost-effective, fully decentralised exchange. Our aim: Make Brine the top on-chain institutional trading platform, ” tells Lakshminarayanan.

Privacy-powered trading

Brine Fi utilises zkP (Zero Knowledge Proofs) technology, powered by StarkWare, to ensure privacy for trading positions, facilitating seamless high-volume order execution. Users enjoy fee-free trading, with charges as low as 0.05%. Additionally, they can earn up to 50% of referral trading fees as rebates on Brine Fi and can participate in the monthly Trading Leaderboard for USDC rewards.

Despite its recent launch, Brine Fi’s orderbook platform boasts monthly volumes approaching £300 million, establishing it as the world’s leading Decentralised Exchange (DEX).

Lakshminarayanan elaborates, “DEX allows on-chain trading, ensuring users execute orders directly on the blockchain while retaining full asset custody. Although DEXs provide the safest option, many traders have turned to CEXs to counter higher trading fees on DEXs, price slippage, transaction fees (£5-£25 per transaction), liquidity issues, the absence of an order book, transaction delays, and a lack of order privacy, leading to front-running attacks. All these factors can impact profit margins and heighten trade uncertainty. With Brine, we’ve devised a solution that offers the best of both worlds, granting access to the advantages of DEX and CEX within a single platform.”

On the investment, Paul Veradittakit, Managing Partner at Pantera Capital commented: “Brine tackles some of the most important challenges holding back institutional and mainstream user adoption in DeFi. There’s an urgent demand for a self-custodial execution layer that is faster, more reliable, user-friendly, and cost-effective.”

Further, Vaas Bhaskar, Principal at Elevation Capital added: “We have seen Shaaran and team since Day One at Brine. The team brings together a unique blend of understanding both, complex technologies and evolving user needs. We are are excited to continue to invest in Brine, in their mission of abstracting complexities of blockchain technology and making it more accessible to end users and institutions.” 

Founder’s journey began at 6

Shaaran’s coding journey began at just six years old, providing a strong foundation for his product development skills honed through early participation in hackathons, datathons, and CTFs. His passion for distributed and performance computing led to the creation of matching engines now used globally for exchange infrastructure development. During his university years, Shaaran envisioned a solution that transformed cryptocurrencies into both stores of value and payment methods. Serendipity struck when he met Bhavesh and Ritumbhara during a college hackathon, igniting their shared vision and leading to the founding of Krypto with another colleague. 

Krypto attracted over a million users in one whirlwind year and processed nearly $400 million in transactions, solidifying its status as India’s premier crypto payments app. 

“Our journey faced tough challenges. New rules and issues at FTX affected traders and other institutions. Switching to a DEX was hard because it was slower, less reliable, and more expensive. So, we started Brine, an exchange that’s fast, cheap, and decentralised. We want Brine to be the best platform for trading, making it safe and efficient,” concludes Lakshminarayanan.

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