When two best friends have the same passion for the same idea, great things happen — like launching a successful business — for example. Having a co-founder makes managing a company a little bit easier. And if the co-founder happens to be your best friend, even better. Since trust and reliability are already there, both people can lead the company from two seats and grow faster.
Best friends since their teenage years, Jens Willemen and Mathias Beke launched Kairon Labs 4 years ago, driven by their shared vision (and fascination) about crypto, Web 3, and blockchain technology. Jens is in charge of the business side of Kairon Labs. As a CEO, he manages the team and communicates with the clients. On the other hand, Mathias is a CTO whose main focus is technology and algorithm development, but he’s also responsible for trading.
How it all started
Everyone in the industry has different reasons for jumping into crypto. Self-custody and transparency that blockchain technology offers are two main reasons for the founders of Kairon Labs. “I like that crypto offers the self-custody of your assets. For example, you can send money anywhere without anyone controlling or taking their share,” starts Jens. Mathias has a similar point of view: “The best thing is the custody of your own funds. You have much more flexibility and transparency with decentralized systems. In traditional banking systems, you’re trusting the banks with your money. In crypto, you keep your assets on the ledger or cold wallets, meaning you control your own money”.
Mathias worked as an Enterprise Architect for a prominent Belgian bank and was already busy with innovation. “Within the banking world, I worked within the ecosystem plays of banking and the technical integrations towards the banking and insurance companies. Around 2016, I started looking into crypto because Jens was telling me about it and was always very enthusiastic. Finally, in 2017, I gave in, left my job, and launched a business with Jens as a co-founder and CTO,” he explains.
At that time, Jens was in a sales role for insurance and financial advisory company, and he tested the crypto waters first. Once he had a clear vision of what type of business he wanted, he came up with a proposal to Mathias and got him on board. “I noticed a need for market making because there were only a few big market makers players. We started pretty early. Back then, there weren’t many authorized options in the market making space. So that’s where we saw a big opportunity. It was the right time, and we jumped into it. We decided to do correct, legit, and sustainable business from the start”, shares Jens.
Building a profitable business with a right mindset
With no external investment except their own € 5 000 budget, they decided to build an operationally profitable business from the beginning. They worked in a very personalized way with their first clients, an approach that soon became their trademark. Even today, they are selective when choosing who they work with. “Our mindset was very agile, meaning we never built anything unless it was necessary. That helped us grow steadily. After withstanding the rough 2018 bear market, we hired our first employees at the end of 2020s,” says Mathias. When you work in an industry that literally doesn’t sleep, responsive customer support and maintaining happy clients can become very challenging. “At the beginning, it was very stressful. We barely slept, and if we did, we would wake up throughout the night to check the alerts or any urgent messages. So, when we decided to expand the team, we opted to hire a developer and a trader in the APAC area who could help us cover all time zones,” admits Jens.
Today, traders, BDs, developers, and administrators make a colorful bunch of 21 full-time Kairon Labs employees. For recruiting, Jens and Mathias applied the same rule as when choosing their clients: be very selective and do the research. “It’s all about the attitude and the right mindset. We do a lot of interviews, and candidates always have to prepare specific use cases,” says Mathias.
Managing a global and remote team isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely rewarding. “It can be challenging to manage people from different countries and cultures. Traders, for example, can be very emotional, but if managed correctly, they can be invaluable team players. That’s why it’s important to build a strong company culture and keep the team motivated. In the end, the team spirit matters,” explains Mathias.
Growing beyond milestones
What started as a friendship over video games today is a partnership based on the same moral principles, work ethics, and relentless passion. “We don’t switch off. If you love something, it’s not your job anymore — it becomes a pursuit,” they both confirm in unison.
But with growth comes more responsibilities and challenges. For Mathias, the continuous improvement of technology is mandatory. “All the integrations, decentralized exchanges, centralized exchanges, websites, APIs, the team management, the data management, it’s like navigating a spaceship. Managing such an enormous ecosystem from a technical side of our business is challenging. However, the growth we made in the last year is tremendous. From the operational side, we also evolved and improved. Processes are much more streamlined and efficient, ” he explains.
“From the business side, our biggest achievement is establishing a strong network and climbing the ladder in terms of clientele. Today we’re working on some of the most hyped launches in the industry and the biggest exchanges in the world, like Seedify (SFUND), Step App (FITFI), Elastos (ELA), Harvest Finance (FARM), etc.
It’s a great feeling when token projects and exchanges choose us as their preferred market maker,” Jens adds.
When asked what success means for them, they are pretty straightforward: the growth of the company and a happy team. “Success is being good at what we do and seeing the growth of our team and company. I enjoy the fact that we’re very good at what we do. I’m enthusiastic and motivated when I see our progress,” says Mathias.
“We’re in an exciting, cutting-edge business with a purpose. Success is also that we’re a self-sustaining company, not relying on any external financial support or investments,” says Jens.
Kairon Labs might be a young company, but it’s already making waves in the industry. The strongest points that attract clients are honesty, communication, and transparency. “From the beginning, we’ve been clear and true in our communication and actions. For some clients, it’s a hard pill to swallow because we don’t promise what we can’t achieve or if we think the project won’t achieve sustainable and lasting success. We believe in solid, authentic ideas, and we select clients and projects based on how serious they are and what their motivation is,” shares Mathias.
Into the bright future of crypto
According to the Coinbase study, the global cryptocurrency market will triple by 2030, hitting an estimated nearly $5 billion. Once only understood by a niche group of crypto enthusiasts, today became a rising trend that makes investors, businesses, and brands feel a whole lot of FOMO.
Predicting the future of crypto is hard, especially when we think of critical aspects, like regulations and protocols. Crypto players want more regulation, but nobody knows who should handle such a complex matter. Governments? NGOs? “If non-experts start meddling, the impact on the core purpose of crypto and blockchain could be devastating. An anti-establishment philosophy is deeply rooted in the DNA of the crypto revolution, so building trust and structure has to come from inside the industry. DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) could hold the answer. They aren’t governed by one person or entity. The rules and governance of each DAO are coded in smart contracts on the blockchain and cannot be changed unless voted upon by the DAO’s members,” explains Jens.
Both Mathias and Jens see a bright future for blockchain and crypto. “Crypto will grow because more and more people will see the benefits of self-custody of their money and other assets. Everyone should have financial freedom and the ability to control their money how they want. As DeFi continues to evolve, there will be more applications for end-users. Transparency and self-custody are crucial drivers for growth. I also hope scammers will be blocked out thanks to regulations,” reveals Mathias.
“I believe people will be using these products without actually really realizing that it’s crypto or blockchain, it will be something that is being used, without too much thinking about it, a common thing none will consider unusual. The goal is to give people the options to use crypto in all ways possible. The power should be in the hands of the users and not the corporations,” concludes Jens.
Want to know more about Kairon Labs? We specialize in market making, liquidity provisioning, crypto sports marketing, and go-to-market advisory services for token issuers. Reach out to our team to get a tailored solution for your project!