GRTiQ Podcast: 169 Meina Zhou

Today I’m speaking with Meina Zhou, Co-founder and CEO at Native, an innovative DeFi solution for web3 that combines bridges, assets, and pricing into one offering.

This interview with Meina was a fun experience. She’s not only a brilliant entrepreneur but also has an engaging story to share. During our conversation, Meina delves into her upbringing in Shanghai, her transition to the United States for university, her successful career in consulting, and her entrepreneurial journey culminating in the launch of Native. Throughout our discussion, Meina provides a lot of interesting insights into DeFi, crypto, and business.

The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e.,[episode]). We do not authorized anyone to copy any portion of the podcast content or to use the GRTiQ or GRTiQ Podcast name, image, or likeness, for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books or audiobooks, book summaries or synopses, or on any commercial websites or social media sites that either offers or promotes your products or services, or anyone else’s products or services. The content of GRTiQ Podcasts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice.



We use software and some light editing to transcribe podcast episodes.  Any errors, typos, or other mistakes in the show transcripts are the responsibility of GRTiQ Podcast and not our guest(s). We review and update show notes regularly, and we appreciate suggested edits – email: iQ at GRTiQ dot COM. The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e.,[episode]).

The following podcast is for informational purposes only. The contents of this podcast do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice. Take responsibility for your own decisions, consult with the proper professionals, and do your own research.

Meina Zhou (00:00:18):

This is also the reason why I joined the crypto space. DeFi is always providing a more open and permissionless opportunity for the retail users.

Nick (00:00:58):

Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Meina Zhou, co-founder and CEO at Native, an innovative DeFi solution for web3, that combines bridges, assets and pricing into one offering. This interview with Meina was a lot of fun. She’s a brilliant entrepreneur with a fun story to share. During our conversation, Meina discusses her upbringing in Shanghai, moving to the United States for university, her successful career in consulting, and then her entrepreneurial journey that led to the launch of Native. Throughout our discussion, Meina offers profound insights into DeFi, crypto, and the future of the industry. I started the conversation with Meina by asking her about what it was like growing up in Shanghai.

Meina Zhou (00:01:45):

I think there were several core things that contribute to my childhood. First of all, because both my parents are business people, I always growing up under their influence. They will teach me how to negotiate, how to influence other people, and their education has always focused a lot more on problem-solving skills instead of academic achievements. And especially in a city, a big modern city like Shanghai, you do get a lot more opportunities than a child would compared to a countryside. When you grow up in countryside, the experience will be you hang out with your friend, you go hiking or more close to the natural scenes. But for me, it’s almost like, oh, I always go to dinners with my parents for different business engagements, or I get to do some really interesting extracurricular that are more related to the business side of things.

Nick (00:02:46):

What types of things were you interested in as a kid? Any hobbies or special interests that you had?

Meina Zhou (00:02:51):

So there are two routes of things I would do. One route is what my parents they will try to inspire me to do. So they are always open for me to learn different things like piano, a traditional instrument pipa. They will also take me to classes like calligraphy. Those are very traditional Chinese culture that they want me to get influenced by. But from my side, actually, I always like the other side of the world. I like video games. I like surfing the internet. I still remember back in early ’90s and in China you actually have to call a certain number to get on internet, and you have those different chat rooms.


So I was a little girl who was like six or seven years old, and I get into those random chat rooms and there will be like random dudes. They will ask you, okay, I don’t want to say sexual question, but they will ask you some few questions to adult. And then I would tell my dad, “Oh, okay. They asked me this question, what does that mean?” And then my dad will give me a random answer to that. So I was always trying to explore the human connections or new things on the internet. I do remember there was one month my dad was like, “You need to stop being on the internet, because the phone bill has increased by this amount, by 500% or 600%.”

Nick (00:04:15):

That’s amazing. So what’s the story then from how you go from Shanghai to the United States?

Meina Zhou (00:04:23):

So I went to a high school affiliated to Fudan University, which was I think the top three high school in China. And then the majority of the students, graduates usually go to Fudan University, which is also the top three university in China. But then there are also a large proportion of who will go overseas to study abroad. So I literally want to go abroad when I was in my second year of high school, because there were a lot of exchange programs. I have heard a lot of great feedback from the graduates.


But at that time, I had a mature discussion with my parents. I was like, “I really want to go overseas to spend a year as an exchange student.” But they worry about, “Oh, what if you’re not safe? What if you cannot overcome all those challenges?” They say, “How about you wait a year, think through your decision, and if during the year you tell me, okay, this is really your decision, then we’ll support you to go study abroad for your undergraduate.”


So half a year later, then I made the decision. I said, “Oh yes, I really want to explore the world.” I think I study in China., I stay in China. Yes, I will be going to a very good university studying still the subject I like, but I don’t think I will get the experience, opportunity to the culture perspective to really to broaden my mind in that sense. So then I decided to apply to the universities in the States.

Nick (00:05:57):

And you ended up landing at Agnes Scott’s College in Georgia. So how did you find that college and what was the appeal of going to Atlanta?

Meina Zhou (00:06:07):

It was actually very random. So in China, you have different institutions who can help you to apply for the universities in the United States, and they will give you a recommendation list of the schools, depends on what your interests are, what are the majors that you are interested in learning. The way I discovered Agnes Scott College is actually one of the previous class, a older sister, she attended Agnes Scott and she really gave a thumbs up and recommendation for that. So the advisor actually helped her to apply to Agnes Scott. And then they introduced this women’s college to me.


There’s also some misunderstanding of women’s college from my parents’ perspective, because they think if you go to a women’s college, they will teach you how to become a proper lady, those kind of things. And I don’t want to say it’s the exact opposite, but I think the women’s college, the liberalized study usually is more teaching you how to become an independent woman, which now I think that it’s a good misunderstanding from my perspective. Because I definitely have the strengths and I had the opportunity to explore myself at Agnes Scott College.

Nick (00:07:22):

That’s a funny misunderstanding of the nature of a women’s college, but it did, as you say, work out for you. So let’s talk about that experience of going from China to the United States. Was there a culture shock there? Was that a difficult experience for you to adjust and go to work as a university student In the U.S?

Meina Zhou (00:07:40):

I think culture shock was okay, because that was when I was 18, I was very brave and I was interested in almost everything, and coming to the United States is just a completely whole new experience for me. And because I was also very outgoing at that time, I was trying to chat with everybody around me, participating in as many extracurriculars as possible. But, I guess, the challenge I’ve faced is at the first several years, I really wasn’t used to all food in the United States. So I experienced a period of where I find nothing is good, so I lose a lot of weight. But after a while, I start to enjoy all the southern fried chicken and waffles and biscuits, and I gained 10 pounds within one semester. I think everything went pretty smoothly.


The most special part is definitely it’s not only a women’s college but also a liberal arts college. So I’m definitely learning a lot of interesting things. So my major was mathematics. So I did a lot of deep, deep research in mathematics, in abstract algebra, but I also got to do a lot of interesting classes such as public speaking, such as Broadway shows, filming, marketing. So I think it’s because of the very balanced courses I was taking, so actually it broadened my way of thinking. I used to be very, very logical because I like mathematics, but I do realize that your brain functions better when you have both logical and emotional components infused together.

Nick (00:09:27):

After Agnes Scott College, you end up in New York, you go to New York University and you study a master’s in data science. So let’s talk about that then. How did you go from studying abroad in Atlanta, and then deciding I’m going to go even a step further and get a master’s degree in New York?

Meina Zhou (00:09:47):

Okay. And that’s another random story. Now, I look back, I think my life is all random stories or decisions. Because I graduated from my undergraduate actually within three years. I did double majoring in mathematics and economics, and I was able to graduate in 2.5 years because I was able to finish all the courses. But the college asked you to stay there for three years, so I stayed there for three years. And then I originally wanted to obtain a math PhD. As I told you, I was doing abstract algebra research with my mathematics professor. I was able to identify a small theory I presented across the different mathematics conference across the country. So all the professors, the mathematics department, they have high hopes on me pursuing a lifelong PhD mathematics pure career. But when I told my parents my decision pursuing a PhD, they were like, no.


Again, they have a misunderstanding of PhD, like a female PhD. Because they’re afraid, okay, if you pursue a PhD as a female, it will be harder for you to later get married or those sort of things. It’s a very Asian thoughts. And they say, “If you’re going to pursue the maths PhD, don’t ever come back. Why don’t you pursue a master degree in a bigger city so that you can actually get into more practical fields?” Mainly they’re concerned. And I thought about it, do I want to spend my life, my next three to five years in a lab every day, just very hard core thinking about mathematical problems? Or do I actually want to go back to the modern city where I used to grow up and then find some practical things to do? Then I picked the latter one. I actually applied mainly for financial engineering programs.


I got the interview from MIT for their master finance program. But another story happened is that night I was going to fly out from Atlanta to Boston for the MIT in-person interview. Atlanta snowed. It never snowed, but it was snowing. So my flight was delayed and then I was wrecked. I stayed at the air airport for the full night. And then the next day when I arrived and I took the interview, of course I didn’t do really well. So NYU data science is actually the only data science program I applied for. But then I decided, okay, I will go for the master data science program and it turns out to be a great choice.

Nick (00:12:35):

So at this point in your life then, based on some of the prompts from your parents and the way you’re thinking about your life and your career, you decide to do data science. There’s some practical utility to it. You get a master’s degree in it instead of going full forward on a PhD. Do you have at this point in your life, a vision for what you want to do with your career? Are you going to stay in the United States? Do you plan to go home? How are you thinking through those things?

Meina Zhou (00:12:59):

The current point of life, I know I enjoy building 100%. I enjoy building companies, building products, so I will continue to build the current company. But in terms of academics, actually now I think back, I do want to get a PhD, not necessarily in mathematics. But I think in the future, maybe once I settle down more on the company side when the management or when the company grow to a certain period and when I have more time, then I can actually pursue a PhD, for example, in psychology in some potential areas that I’m really interested in. I do think it’s very valuable to obtain a PhD, not in a sense to get the degree. It’s actually you are surrounded by the world’s most deepest expertise in that specific subject matter, and that you dedicated your life, three to five years of your life to immerse yourself into that area and try to become an expert. I do think it’s very meaningful.

Nick (00:14:00):

What was it like living in New York? Was that another adjustment? New York’s a big city, there’s a lot of action there. Was that difficult?

Meina Zhou (00:14:07):

No, New York was not difficult at all because it’s very, very similar to Shanghai where I grew up. Actually, when I moved to Atlanta, it was an adjustment. Because Atlanta is a big city, but comparing to New York to Shanghai, it’s still fairly, it’s not smaller, but it’s the speed of the city is not that fast. You can still consider it as a rural city. So I got to be very careful in terms of the words or description I use here, but you get my point. But I do get to enjoy the slowness of life a little bit more when I’m in Atlanta, especially when I was learning mathematics, when I was learning Broadway shows, filming.


I go to the same yogurt place every Friday afternoon to enjoy life. You get sunshine weather all year long. I never owned a winter jacket at all, and everybody was friendly. They would talk to you saying hello to you on the street. Well, versus in New York or in Shanghai even people bump you into the street, they wouldn’t say sorry. They would just walk by very quickly. So I’m very used to the New York City type of life, and it was very familiar for me when I come from Atlanta to New York. Because it’s almost like, okay, Meina, you enjoy three years of very relaxed life, now put you back into reality, work really hard on your studies, find something practical to do.

Nick (00:16:37):

Okay. So grow up in Shanghai, China, decide to study abroad, end up at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, and then pursue a master’s degree at NYU in data science. After you complete that master’s degree, what do you decide to do after university? How do you get to work?

Meina Zhou (00:16:54):

So nationally, I applied for a lot of data science intern positions as well as data science positions, and I applied for many bigger companies or small startups. My personality is at that time, I always do everything at the very last minute, but I was very lucky to get into Bitly where I interned, and then they also offered me a full-time position right before I graduated from graduate school. And I think my approach of finding jobs was definitely different from all of my classmates. All of my classmates, they’re very organized and well-prepared for all the interview process. But for most of my job opportunities, it always comes from my connections, my social networks. Meaning for the Bitly one, I applied very last minute, but I showed up to the interview with a poster that I created because it was in person, so I was able to impress them with my personality.


On one day was five interviews and they decided to hire me the same day. Then I become the second hire of data scientists at Bitly. I was able to work out a lot of business problems. Because when I joined, I do realize that they were lacking a lot of analysis in terms of the business management side. So I told them, “Okay, I really want to focus on the business management side of things.” And they said, “Okay, go ahead and explore.” So I will literally have meetings with the salesperson, with the marketing team there, asking them what kind of data is available at Bitly. I’ll also ask the product team, if it’s all the click data, what are the metrics that we tracking and how can we help the business team to do more upsell or true analysis? So I always maintain that business goal in my mind.


And after I worked at Bitly for two years, I decided, oh, I wanted to work on a more diversified set of problems, so I started to apply for more consulting firms. I joined Capco, which is a very specific financial services consulting. I was basically leading the wealth management analytics team. Yeah, I know it sounds weird. After graduating for two years, I started lead teams. But I think it was all very wonderful opportunities, because at that time, data scientists, think about it, it’s very new,. And I am this young determined lady who is very outspoken and who is very opinionated and stubborn in my own way of thinking. So whenever I go into a room, it will be a lot of middle-aged financial guys. And I would say, “No, this is not the right way to do data science. You guys know nothing about data science.” And I started to say A, B, C, D, E. And because it’s new concepts, so it’s almost very hard for them to say, “No, what you’re saying is wrong.”


So that has been the early years of all my career. I was always jumping from different consulting firms. Either I will deploy my whole team, I will pull the different resources from the consulting firm and then work with a client. Or the client, they will have already have a team and they will ask me to help them to manage their team or hire more people, work with their global team. Or they will just say, okay, can you be this one person hire special consultant where you develop all the architecture of this from the ideation to architecture, and we only want the phase one of the architecture. If this is really, really good, then they will decide to hire. So it’s all different engagements, but I was able to work with many different banks, financial institutions, different industry because of those opportunity. And I was also always going around the world to pitch the world how I do data science. I will still be the youngest, probably one of the rare females to present at those conferences, but it’s all a great experience.

Nick (00:21:05):

Why weren’t you intimidated or where did this confidence come from stepping into these roles and being in rooms where you might’ve been the only woman working on these problems? How did you do that?

Meina Zhou (00:21:18):

I think it’s what you call double sword. Because on one side, yes, of course in my mind I’m a little bit intimidated because I’m the minority, but on the other side is because you are the minority so they actually want to hear more of your opinion. This sounds very wrong, but this is how the real world works. And you need to tweak it to work in your own way. As soon as I realized, oh, actually they really need some female presenters to present at those conferences, then I start to apply to more conferences. But of course, there’s a lecture is not because based on you are female, it based on what you do. And I just think if me as a female with technical background can get more exposure, then I would totally leverage that. But on the other side, I do have a lot of things I need to catch up. Because I still remember the first day where I joined the consulting firm. And because of my salary, my title day one was senior consultant or something like that.


But my boss, the partner at that time, he pulled me into the room. He was like, “Meina, your title is senior consultant, not because of your knowledge in consulting, it’s just because of your salary. You may know a lot in data science, but you know nothing about consulting. So now, let me teach you what is consulting 101.” Yeah, he was a really, really great mentor. But see, that’s how my experience has been. And I was really honored. I always have great mentors who will boost my growth. I was lacking managerial skillset. I was lacking the client relationship management skillset, but people were always just supporting me in that sense.

Nick (00:23:06):

So if you look back on this time at Bitly and then of course this time in consulting, what did it teach you about the nature of business and teams?

Meina Zhou (00:23:17):

I think really, all the experience with the startups, with the consulting firms, mainly first is the communication skills. I get to speak at a lot of different conferences. I have to work with many diversified background of people, from the super high level managing directors at super large international banks, to the actual teams who will be on those specific problems and I need to manage them from an outsider perspective. Those are actually taking a lot of time for me to learn how to communicate effectively. Second is naturally I was able to cultivate my skillset of reading people. I can quickly grasp the strengths and the weakness of different team members and put them together.


I think this paves a really, really good foundation for me, hiring my own team or building my own company. And then I think it’s also because of my natural curiosity of different business problems. So I was always able to stick to the very core fundamental. Instead of staying more on the research side of things, I was always thinking, okay, what’s the most effective way or what will be the most effective analysis that I could do right now that’s feasible to improve the business, to have an actual outcome? So those are the three core things I really learned through my consulting phase of career.

Nick (00:24:53):

Amazing. I love that list and I appreciate you sharing that. So let’s then, again, go back in time a little bit here. So tell us when you first became aware of crypto, the industry, web3, everything that was happening, and what were your first impressions?

Meina Zhou (00:25:09):

My story always revolves around people. The first time I know crypto, it was I think at the end of 2021 where I had a dinner. I went to a friend’s dinner where they also invited a bunch of people from the crypto industry. So we were just having random conversation about technology, about crypto. And that was actually the first time I learned the concept of Bitcoin or Ethereum. And all of a sudden I find very amazing. But of course, at that time, it was more because they say, “Oh, this is a good investment opportunity, you should look into that.” So on the very specific night, I bought my first Bitcoin and Ethereum. I also bought Ethereum because I was aping. I believe, oh, this is great technology.


And plus, I think doing the consulting firm times, we do have a small practice where there’s a blockchain expert, but now I look back, I don’t think we know anything about industry. It’s just more like a specific practice they want to have at the firm. But coming back to the story, that’s literally how I learned the industry is I met with industry leaders within crypto. They taught me about the fundamentals. And since then, I start to gather more knowledge about the industry.

Nick (00:26:35):

How would you explain to somebody what drew your interest? From an outsider’s perspective, you’re on a clear career path, you’re having a lot of success. There’s no reason for you to get interested in other things, especially these things like crypto. So how do you explain where that interest came from?

Meina Zhou (00:26:51):

It’s the freedom it’s providing to people. It sounds very cliche, but really deeper in my mind because I work with many financial institutions or big companies, especially those big international banks. Yes, I was doing a lot of innovative data science stuff, but if you really look at their technology, the database or whatever analysis they’re using internally, it’s not that advanced. So the traditional finance industry is always moving in a very slow pace. And I still remember, I always have a weekly meeting with this managing director at a super large international bank. And whatever, I would always propose new ideas to him. I would say, “Okay, this is a new way we should upsell the client, downsell the client. This is the whole roadmap of the analysis I’m going to do.” But then he will say, “Meina, I think those are all great ideas, but it will be very hard to adopt it.” Even though I already proved the testing data, the results. To get all the board approved, and then to get all the, let’s say, wealth managers to use those tools, it takes a long time.


So they’re moving a little bit slower than I was envisioning. So another thing is all the KYC, you need to do with the banks and the consumer experience. It’s very gated, I would say. You have very specific criteria of segmenting those clients within the international banks, and people are just serving those specific clientele based on their wealth level, which yes, makes sense because they only have limited resources. But if you think about, okay, how do we have a more healthier financial market? I do think we need more open permissionless protocols that are going to serve to the general public. And the reality is because crypto or web3 industry is so new, a lot of people, they don’t even realize that they have those choices available. And I was aping because I was like, “Okay, this is very cool. I get to know this whole new industry, the new DeFi industry, and I get to participate.” And naturally, I think, oh, this might be something I want to work on in the long term.

Nick (00:29:09):

So what did you do next? You got interested, as you said, you aped in 2021 at a friend’s dinner, you bought your first Bitcoin, you bought your first Ethereum. How did you get active and start participating in the industry?

Meina Zhou (00:29:22):

I didn’t act upon anything, other than buying or aping until the middle of 2022, when I started my podcast channel. Before that, I was just trying to make more connections, talking to people in the industry, trying to understand the industry a little bit better. And then I thought to myself, what’s my own strengths or what can I do to bootstrap my growth. Based on my experience, you can see I’m always trying to find a fast path, a very fast path to break into some kind of industry. And I came up with this idea, if I am very talkative, if I’m very good at talking to people, understand people, why don’t I start my own podcast channel? First, I get to meet with more successful founders, investors, artists, and second, I get to learn their story. And in the same time, I will be able to brainstorm on my own idea. If I don’t have the idea yet, I don’t want to force it because that’s a core drive for you to build a business. You want to build something that you are passionate. So I started from the podcast.

Nick (00:30:35):

And the podcast is called Crypto Meina podcast. And tell us about that experience then. So you decided to start in, you leveraged your strengths. What did you learn about the industry by virtue of doing that podcast?

Meina Zhou (00:30:50):

I didn’t count how many people I interviewed. I think it was around 15 to 20 people at least, and I did a lot of different forms. Mainly I was focusing on one-on-one in-person interviews with founders. And the majority of founders will either be from DeFi or infrastructure. At that time, trust me, I didn’t want to make that specialization. It just naturally, I interviewed a lot of DeFi infrastructure founders. I also did other forms like weekly news aggregation, or some fun content where I interview people on the street in New York asking them how do they think about web3? So really, I tried to have a very diverse portfolio of the content.


And then what I’ve learned from interviewing those founders is really, I think they are all very smart and dedicated, but also stubborn in their own way. Because So committed in their own vision about their product and as well as how their product going to fit in DeFi or in the overall world. And one side I was really, really amazed by their personality and commitment. On the other side of that, also strengthened my thought of, oh, I really, really want to become one of them. Interviewing them, understanding them is the first step, but I think at that time I know to become them, I really need to build something for myself.

Nick (00:32:21):

Well, we’re talking today because that’s exactly what you did. You went on to found Native. And so before we talk a little bit about what Native is and how it works, again, let’s do some time travel here. Take us back to when the original ideas, the seeds if you will, of what Native eventually became. What were you thinking of at the time and where did this idea come from?

Meina Zhou (00:32:43):

Yeah. So that again, comes back to the podcast. I still remember specifically I did one podcast. It was specifically arguing about, okay, the different pricing models in the crypto space, you have Autobook, you have RFQ, and you have AMX. And then it was around, okay, which pricing model works better for the traders? And the idea for Native actually naturally comes from the need in the crypto market. Because the traders, they always want better pricing mechanism than what AMMs offers. All those automated market makers, users suffer from huge price slippage, because of the natural of AMMs, the pricing relies on X times Y equals K. So whenever there’s a huge change of the token number inside the liquidity pool, naturally the pricing of that specific token will fluctuate a lot and the user suffers from that.


After I had that podcast and after I thought more about, oh, what do we really need? I thought, yes, maybe less build an RFQ system where we will allow protocols to get really, really easy access to liquidity, easy access to accurate pricing for different tokens. And that is really the origin of Native. But of course, over the time, Native’s vision has been broadened. And I actually built several products or I would say enhanced version of the original Native over time based on what I collected from the market or what was the feedback from the market.

Nick (00:34:27):

Amazing. So let’s go through then those three products. What is presently the product offering and vision of what you’re working on at Native?

Meina Zhou (00:34:36):

Sure. So as I said, originally, the first Native product is our slogan at that time is be your own DAX. Because we want to allow any protocols and projects to have their own in-app DAX within five minutes. So we build this SDK where they can just copy and paste the HTML codes into their application directly, and then five minutes later they will have an embedded widget where users can trade. And of course, where liquidity comes from is for all the liquidity that we aggregated on the backend, we aggregated both AMM and PMM resources. AMM stands for automated market makers, such as Uniswap, PancakeSwap. And then PMM stands for professional market makers. So we do integrate it with a lot of leading market makers in the space to get their off-chain pricing, and then we will submit all the transactions on-chain. That was the first phase of the product. But then over the time, we do realize that actually not a lot of projects were trying to build their own decks, even though now I can say this very confidently, but during the first several months it was very hard to sell.


I was trying to tell people, “Oh, look at step in how much revenue they generated from having their own DAX.” But people are always having concerns about regulatory compliance. They will say, oh, what’s the legal implication of having your own decks? But interestingly, I found a lot of solvers, they will call our API directl.y because all those solvers, they want to find the optimal pricing for different token pairs. And then the way they assess a liquidity source on chain is very fair, right? They will just compare all the pricing points from different APIs and we got to use by top three, we start with one solver. It’s actually them reaching out to us and say they will be using us and then they wanted us to have a higher RPS for them, meaning we don’t limit their API costs. So at that time I was like, okay, this is an interesting client use case. I’m going to dig into more.


And then after that, I reached out to the majority of all the solvers in the market, including all the top five solvers on CoreSwap, and the top five solvers on one inch fusion. And until today, all of them have been using us,. All of solvers, they are super sensitive towards the pricing because of their small auto-routing system. So I realized for us to be the middle layer of this, connecting the different order flows that all the solvers or aggregators are sending to us and match it with the liquidity source we have in the middle layer in the long run, it will be a commodity service. Even though, we already established all the business connections. Or having aggregators, having solvers integrating us, yes, it takes a while. And having we integrating with all the market makers, it takes persuasion, it takes partnership. But I think if you give any project enough time, they will be able to build it over the long term.


So how do we build our own mold in this industry? Then I thought about, okay, I think we need to have our own order flow, meaning we need to have our own users who can directly use the liquidity sources we have created. Then 2023, July, we launched our own DAX aggregator called Native X. So now retail users can go to directly to trade on Native X. Since then, we have been accumulating retail users. And I think now daily, every day we have around 50K retail users trade on Native X. Because the users did find the benefits of PMM pricing, where whenever a PMN liquidity source is utilized, they don’t suffer from any slippage. Whatever they are quoted is what the actual token transaction they will get. That’s the second product to get the order flow. But after a while, imagine we are already the liquidity source for all the major solvers and the aggregators in this space, meaning we approximately have 70% to 80% of the access to all the DeFi order flows.


We are still not settling a lot of volume compared to Uniswap. Daily we were settling around 5 million to 15 million. It’s still fairly small. And then I thought by myself or I also look into all those Autoflow we get. So majority of the bigger transaction volumes are actually settled by Uniswap, and this is because the market makers, their pricing capability is limited by their own on-chain inventory. Meaning if they don’t have enough inventory on that specific chain for that specific token, they wouldn’t be able to settle it. Their pricing capability is unlimited because they can price whatever they want. But if they don’t have that specific asset on-chain, when you submit the transaction on-chain and the user will need to exchange the token, token A to token B with the market maker. So they simply just couldn’t do it. And especially when the market is very, very volatile, that means it’s even harder for the market makers to have the inventory for those specific assets.


That’s actually one of the core reasons why AMM is always working, because it wouldn’t stop holding at any time as long as you have both assets inside the liquidity pools. So I thought to myself, how about we build a product that are going to help the market makers to solve the inventory issue, while on the other side we can actually help with the liquidity segmentation problem that we are always facing. That was the beginning of the third product, which is called Agua. And soon we will be uniting it under the same brand under Native. So it’s not final confirmed what I’m going to call it, but it will show us the lending and borrowing protocol. But essentially, Agua is enabling retail liquidity providers to provide liquidity to professional market makers to conduct on-chain credit-based trading. And in that way, the liquidity inside the Agua pool, inside the lending and borrowing of Native, its capital utilization rate is 100% boosted.


Meaning for a traditional learning and borrowing protocol, the maximum capital utilization rate is 100%, but that’s almost impossible because you have the maximum RTV ratio. But for Agua, because of the credit-based trading feature that we are enabling with the market makers, easily the overall capital utilization rate could be at least 200% to 300%. And because of the super high capital utilization rate, then we were able to collect a lot of fees from the market makers. And then because of the actual usage of the liquidity, we are able to contribute all those real yields back to the liquidity providers. So those are the three products that we built so far. It’s composing the unified liquidity layer or the most capital efficient liquidity on all networks that we are building at Native., the original RFQ routing system is a fundamental trading infrastructure. Native X give us the user Autoflow, while the new lending and borrowing protocol Agua it give us the programmable liquidity and it provides liquidity to the professional market makers. And together, you have both the supply and demand for the liquidity within web3.

Nick (00:42:49):

That’s brilliant. And I appreciate you going through each one of those products. And if listeners want to learn more about Native, get to work using the product and see what’s going on, what are the best ways for them to get started?

Meina Zhou (00:43:02):

The best way is of course going to, and then you can get into the docs. We have both a very comprehensive docs for the credit providers, traders, and market makers. So for all those user percentiles, you can go into each section differently. And right now, we are doing a revamping for the website, so soon all the information will be aggregated together. So either go to for all the information or you can follow us on Twitter, Native_FI.

Nick (00:43:36):

Let’s talk about this experience with entrepreneurship then. Again, going back to your personal journey, you spent time at Bitly, then you became a consultant, and now you’re an entrepreneur working in web3. You’ve built something incredibly interesting over at Native. What was it like making that jump and becoming an entrepreneur?

Meina Zhou (00:43:56):

I think the most different thing is you take responsibility. Okay, I’m not saying when you work at a consulting firm, you don’t take responsibility. That’s not what I meant. It’s really meant you are taking larger responsibility every single day as you are growing the company, growing the team. Because before, when you work at consulting firms, it’s because you’re working for other people. And yes, you are following certain business objectives, but it’s never the same thing as you are building from something from the ground up and you are actually the main driver for that specific company. Meaning, I almost have feeling if I don’t move things forward, nobody else will move things forward for me.


This is how you usually feel. Entrepreneurship is really a lonely journey, I would say. When you work for a company, you have your mentors, you have your managers, they’ll hold you accountable. But when you build your own companies, okay, your investors will hold you accountable, but most of the daily lives, your investor would be on your back say, “Oh, you are not doing this, you are not doing that.” But invisibly, you’ll place this pressure onto yourself. You can slack one day, not feeling bad. But after one week, if you are not seeing progress, I definitely feel the pressure to move forward, to change the things. That’s I think how it changed me is the perception of responsibility.

Nick (00:45:34):

What are the two or three characteristics now that you’ve done this journey on your own, that you think every entrepreneur should have? And I ask because I know listeners of the podcast have visions or ambitions of becoming an entrepreneur. What are the skills they need?

Meina Zhou (00:45:48):

What you must have is, of course, you need to be very committed and driven and smart. That’s your entry pass into the door. But after that, in the long run, it’s really endurance. Meaning there will always be ups and downs along the way you are building, and you’ll be always facing the problems. So keep yourself optimistic about the progress and keep finding the most efficient way to solve the problem. Work with the best people in the industry, try to find allies, and then go from there. That’s really the core of this. And I think mental health is really, really important, to be honest.

Nick (00:46:36):

When you think back to the origins of Native and getting started. And as you said, you started with an original vision and then it grew into this three-product solution that seems very comprehensive to what the market needs in terms of supply and demand, but how has DeFi evolved since that time?

Meina Zhou (00:46:54):

I will say the development of the three products was actually very specifically based on the market needs. The first product, when we first launched, we didn’t receive the actual reaction I was expecting. Not a lot of people want to launch their own DAX, so the market give us the feedback.there isn’t enough product market fit there, so we say, okay, we cater a little bit more to the solvers who actually need very competitive pricing. After that, we started the DAX aggregator. I even asked the team, we interview a lot of our retail users, what are they looking for when they want to trade DEAX aggregators. At that time, I remember a lot of people, they were always aping meme coins. And then I will ask them, “What are you looking for when you trade meme coins?” They say, “We are not necessarily looking for competitive pricing, actually, we just want to buy the right meme coin, not a scammy one and buy a lot. Can you offer that?”


And I thought about, oh, where our PMM pricing right now? At that time, we can’t do anything because usually market makers wouldn’t have those inventories. But with the new product, we could, liquid providers can supply that. And then over the time, why did we pay attention to the liquidity segmentation is really because I think during the last year till the beginning of the year, you saw so many new Layer 1s and Layer 2s they are created in this space. And even today, people are talking about, oh, launch your old app chain, you need your old app chain. But whenever I see that, I think it’s great people are innovating in terms of Layer 2s. They’re scaling Ethereum, they they’re providing cheaper gas transaction costs, but your liquidity is actually segmented more when people need to use a new Layer 1 or Layer 2, you need to bridge your assets to that. And how do you fundamentally solve the liquidity utilization or segregation issue? It’s always remaining there.


And I do believe that markets, they will always march to efficiency. And liquidity, it will always flow to the highest yield itself. So with that belief, that’s how we created Agua is we want to solve the market efficiency problem and really trying to identify the opportunities. Whenever an inefficiency happens, the partners who are utilizing the Native’s products, they are able to execute upon those inefficiency very, very quickly. So we want to serve as the fundamental financial platform for those. So it’s really based on all the changing needs in the DeFi space that we created the three products. And I think what’s upcoming more is, okay, maybe I shouldn’t say too much, but we are already planning to expanding or adding additional features to our product. Because right now, for the lending on borrowing, we haven’t touched the cross-chain lending on borrowing part, but that’s definitely our roadmap. And this again is trying to tackle the liquidity segmentation issue. So I would say it’s always coming from the market’s feedback, users’ feedback and then we build it.

Nick (00:50:32):

What makes you optimistic about the future of DeFi?

Meina Zhou (00:50:35):

I would say stick with the fundamentals. This is also the reason why I joined the crypto space. DeFi is always providing a more open and permissionless opportunity for the retail users. Maybe if you are in the United States or in first world countries, you don’t feel like a huge difference. Because usually you can go to a bank easily, you give them your identification card, usually you will get approved for accounts or credit cards. But think about Third World countries, it’s actually very, very hard for them to get access to a fairly decent financial products in that sense. With DeFi being so easy to create a wallet, to get access to lending and borrowing protocols, or even more advanced like financial instruments, educating the users, it is very meaningful for those less developed financial markets in the regional sense. Another thing is we always say you need to have your own capacity of your own funds, right?


I’m not saying any government will do anything, but the thinking of, okay, you deposit your funds into banks, the banks has possibility to be bankrupt, and this happened last year, two years ago. What an end job, but it is happening everywhere. So how can we really trust the banks in the long run? That remains a very, very strong question. And I think the fact that DeFi is giving us our own custody and actually assures. I do think this is optional because, but at least you need to have the choice for the users. And thirdly is transparency. Not everything is written on chain, but at least the core important thing is subtle transaction data now on chain and people cannot change it. So essentially, I think this gives retail users this more assurance about where their funds are, how their funds are being used. I do think people, whoever work in web3 is envisioning for a very utopian financial markets in a sense. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that.


I know we still are facing regulations, but as long as we are striving for the direction that’s benefiting the retail users to getting a better holding and a better control, their own assets, their own choices, then a net positive engagement to the overall society.

Nick (00:53:11):

I want to ask you this question about the nature of web3. If you look at most of the use cases, a lot of the data, a lot of the activity in the industry, it’s mostly DeFi-related. And so this question of is web3 ultimately just a DeFi industry, or was web3 born to kind of serve this DeFi vision? Or is it much bigger than that, and it’s just the case that DeFi is that first product market fit segment of this industry?

Meina Zhou (00:53:39):

To answer this question, first of all, I think it definitely has its bigger vision. Now you see AI, D-Ping, you see SocialFi. And then there are also more gamified projects in a space. The reason why DeFi was widely adopted is because yes, we find the fundamental product market fit. People are using tokens to do a more fairly fundraise for their projects. They want to sell their company shares via tokens, whatever it is. So naturally, it’s an easier way for people to democratize the management of that company, so you have DAO. But I think why people love the web3 industry, we need the fundamental financial instruments to support the economy. But the bigger picture is it’s a culture. We always talk about consensus. What is the consensus is actually the culture, the common belief we have for the financial world. What do we envision to be a fair financial world for the founders, for the retail users, for the investors, the critical providers. It’s essentially, everybody is contributing to this culture forming that makes how unique web3 is.


It’s a very, very new economy. It’s a very new industry, but because we are aiming for the transparency, we are aiming for more fairer share of the participation from different parties. So naturally, you are creating newer forms of products to democratize different things. It’s not only democratizing the financial markets, but also think about NFTs. Traditionally, artists when they work with art galleries, their maximum payout will be 50%. But usually when you launch an NFT, our audience at least they will get 80%. It’s more like a direct revenue for them. And they also have the ownership, the royalty problems, whatever. And for web2, I know this has been talked a lot, but web2 usually people talk about, oh, you get to create your data. But web3 is about the ownership of your data. Think about Instagram. How are people monetizing on Instagram? All those creators, they post the content, but the actual monetization of their influence is not through the assets itself. It’s through, they always need to open a shop or link to some referral things and they get paid.


But in web3, whatever the content you post, you own, you can actually monetize it, you can tokenize it. Of course, not everything need to be tokenized, but the option of doing so every single thing actually creates more possibility. So I’m just more thinking about from the broad perspective, web3 creates this powerful tool and fundamental infrastructure for project founders, investors, artists to be creative in terms of whatever they’re creating, the product, the artwork, and monetize it. And that’s meaningful, and you don’t know what could be created from that.

Nick (00:57:13):

That’s a great answer. Thank you for that. So I only have one final question for you before I ask you the GRTiQ-10. This final question is going back to your personal story a little bit here, but clearly your parents were influential in shaping your career. They cautioned you against studying abroad. Finally, you came to America and you wanted to study a PhD and they cautioned you against this. And now here you are, you’re an entrepreneur working in DeFi, in crypto. So what do your parents make of your story now and what’s happened to their daughter?

Meina Zhou (00:57:49):

Okay. I feel like when my parents listened to this podcast, they will call me. “Why did you say that?” Actually, at the very beginning, again, they were against this. They were like, “You had a very wonderful career in data science, competitive salary, and not very crazy work schedule or traveling schedule even.” Because I was mainly working for financial services. They’re all around New York City. So even as a consultant, you don’t need to travel a lot. And then they say, “I don’t even know what this web3 is. Is it criminal?” But after a while, I try to explain what I’m really doing. And I think they can really see from the way I’m communicating with them or handling different things have matured in a sense over time. So they see the positive changes from me. And after a while they say, okay, we will be fully supportive in terms of this, but we want you to know that you shouldn’t feel fear or anything.


If you want to go fully in that entrepreneurship route, then you should commit 100% into this, don’t back up. And if you need financial security, we’ll always be on your back. So this is actually a very moving transition from my parents’ attitude towards my entrepreneurship journey. And now even, from time to time, every week my parents will text me. They’ll like, “How’s your business going? Do you need to talk?” And then they always try to be more active in terms of giving me advice. I really appreciate the change. I know they caution me a lot, but it’s over the time I do realize that most of their cautions has their own meanings. It’s based on their life experience, based on what they have experienced.


And me as a new generation, I grew up in a different environment. I have my own unique experience, but if I mix all those things together, I might be able to form a fuller picture of that. And it actually helped me to understand people from different generations. I not only need to engage with the same generation as me, but also sometimes when I talk to investors, when I talk to clients, they might be from my parents’ generation. So I can actually relate better. I’m really thankful to my parents, to my family. And it’s because of all of those negotiating, all those arguments, whatever it is, that’s how I have become today.

Nick (01:00:33):

I appreciate you sharing that, and it’s an amazing story, and I really appreciate you coming on the podcast and sharing it with us. I do want to ask you the GRTiQ-10. These are 10 questions I ask each guest of the podcast every week. And I think it just gives people an opportunity to learn more about you personally, but I always hope that listeners can learn something new, try something different, or achieve more in their own life. And so Meina, are you ready for the GRTiQ-10?

Meina Zhou (01:00:57):


Nick (01:01:09):

What book or articles had the most impact on your life?

Meina Zhou (01:01:13):

I would say Analects of Confucius. Because we used to recite the whole book during the high school in the morning. It’s basically what Confucius said to his students. It talks a lot about integrity and sincerity of being a good human being. I know a lot of the things they talk about or the things that are passive, if you would think from an entrepreneur perspective. But I think that really formed the foundation of how I see the social relationship, or at least how I want to establish my connection with different people.

Nick (01:01:51):

And how about this one, is there a movie or a TV show that you recommend everybody should watch?

Meina Zhou (01:01:56):

Yeah. My favorite movie will be Shawshank Redemption. It’s a very old movie. I was really inspired by the main character, Andy. I think he tries a lot to save other people. There’s a saying, “It takes a strong man to save himself, but it takes a great man to save another.” So I think if from my whole life I can contribute to other people’s life, contribute or inspire other people in a certain positive way, that would be great. And that’s what I’m striving for

Nick (01:02:33):

Meina, if you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

Meina Zhou (01:02:40):

Oh, I really like the band Cigarettes After Sex. They have an album called Cry. Okay, this sounds very sad, but it is actually very relaxing, so try it out.

Nick (01:02:53):

What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?

Meina Zhou (01:02:58):

I’ve thought about this. I think the one that I remember the most is be yourself. Especially I think for a young entrepreneur like me, or when, let’s say I’m a female, usually, even though I feel confident about a lot of decisions or the moves I make, but you still face all those different opinions or judgments, or you collect all information around you. But at the end of the day, and even though you are concerned about how other people perceive you, you still need to be yourself. And that’s the strongest that you can become. Because it’s actually who you are that will help people to understand you more. And once you show the true self to the world and they can see your true passion, then you’ll be able to work through any difficulties you have.

Nick (01:03:52):

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think most other people have learned or know quite yet?

Meina Zhou (01:03:58):

I think it’s importance of respect. A lot of times, especially for being an entrepreneur, you have to be aggressive in a lot of ways. You talk to your partners, you try to move things forward. But still, I think you need to respect the team’s decision. You need to respect your partners and even respect the investors. And then beyond that is respect for your family. Respect to your loved ones, whoever is very close to you, it’s very easy for you to get lost in that daily craziness, because you feel very comfortable with someone, then you let your emotions out. But I think to some extent, we should always remember to respect and that will help to build the fundamentals of a lot of things. And that actually helps me to establish not only the boundaries, but also helps with the connections with different parties.

Nick (01:04:59):

And how about this one, what’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?

Meina Zhou (01:05:05):

Mine is not a very serious life hack. It’s more because we are working in web3. So most of my friends or the people I talk to every day is web3. And then sometimes you get tired of talking about web3 after you spend 99% of your time talking about it. So whenever I meet with someone new or let’s say talk to someone new, I try to make the conversation more interesting. I would just make up my occupation. I would say randomly, “I’m a teacher, I’m an actress.” And I don’t think it’s a life hack, but it’s more like something I have been doing recently and it has been pretty interesting to me.

Nick (01:05:47):

I love that. So how about this one, Meina, based on your own life experience and observations, what’s the one habit or characteristic that you think best explains how people find success in life?

Meina Zhou (01:05:59):

I think for my opinion, it wouldn’t be necessarily success. It’s more find happiness or balance with what self is. You need to do expectation management. Because people usually have desires, but also you have what you achieved so far. And if your desire versus what you achieved so far is not matched, then you’re likely to be not happy with what you have. So I think it’s always important for someone to manage the expectations. But not saying, oh, they shouldn’t dream bigger, but it’s just when you strive for something, you should know there’s possibility you can be successful or not successful. And if you manage those very, very well, it actually helps you to iterate over the process. You can always adjust your expectation over the way. And then after you’re finding the inner balance, it actually helps you to sustain the growth in the long run.

Nick (01:07:01):

And then the final three questions, Meina, are complete the sentence type questions. So this first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is…

Meina Zhou (01:07:10):

The people.

Nick (01:07:12):

And how about this one, if you’re on X, formerly Twitter, then you should be following…

Meina Zhou (01:07:17):

Gwort. He is the funniest guy I have ever seen. Very funny, but also very technical. He actually understand all the most recent technology very well, and he has real humor, meaning he is actually able to say those concepts in a very basic but funny way. I want to become Gwort.

Nick (01:07:39):

And the last one, I’m happiest when…

Meina Zhou (01:07:42):

I realize I understand myself a little bit better.

Nick (01:07:55):

Meina, thank you so much for coming on the GRTiQ Podcast and sharing your story, and all the amazing things you’re working on at Native. I’ll put a bunch of links in the show notes for anybody that wants to click and learn more about the team and what you’re building. If listeners want to stay in touch with you, follow the things you’re working on, what’s the best way for them to stay in touch?

Meina Zhou (01:08:14):

Again, go to for our most updated company website. You can also follow us on Twitter, Native_FI, or you can follow my personal Twitter, crypto Meina. I think it’s just Crypto Meina, there’s no underscore or hyphen. And I look forward to talk to each single one of you guys. And my DM is always open.


Please support this project
by becoming a subscriber!



DISCLOSURE: GRTIQ is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any other way connected with The Graph, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.  This material has been prepared for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal, financial, or investment advice. The content for this material is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The Graph token holders should do their own research regarding individual Indexers and the risks, including objectives, charges, and expenses, associated with the purchase of GRT or the delegation of GRT.