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Child’s play: Gajesh Naik, 13, manages a fortune in DeFi

Cointelegraph | Elias Ahonen | Jul 2, 2021

Gajesh Naik defi - Child’s play: Gajesh Naik, 13, manages a fortune in DeFiAt 13, it is hard to believe that anyone can understand the potential — and responsibility and danger — of holding private keys while living life as a normal seventh-grader in India.

What makes the case of Gajesh Naik, the 13-year-old decentralized finance (DeFi) wunderkind from Goa, so unique is that while he can design a DeFi protocol able to accept $1 million of investors’ money, he is too young to sign a legal contract or be held liable for any loss. Would you trust your money to an unproven teenage developer with just half a year’s programming experience on solidity?

From student to teacher

Naik got into coding in early 2016 — at the age of seven — starting with Drag and Drop when he attended a two-week coding bootcamp in his native Goa on the west coast of India. In early 2017, he dove into Scratch, a programming language designed for kids, more deeply before spending the second half of the year learning C and C++. The big year was 2018 when he “learned Java, HTML, CSS and JavaScript,” started a YouTube channel to teach coding to others, and began attending coding meet-ups in his area.

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Naik’s first video from 2018, How to make a Simple Telegram Chatbot using Dialogflow, is well done by any measure. It is followed by a list, including Great Unsung Heroes of Science set to musical accompaniment and also a short clip called Coffee and Code October 2018, which shows a clearly excited, smiling 10-year-old boy, Naik, at a coding meetup. He is there with about 20 others — all far older and lacking that certain undeniable spark of excitement and wonder, as the presenter explains something about server loads.

His scope increased to lessons in things like creating 3D geometry in Python and scraping Wikipedia, and even one called How to Analyse and Visualize COVID-19 Data using Python. Perhaps what stands out most, however, is Naik’s lesson on How to find compound interest using python, which he released on Sept. 3, 2020 — the same month he “joined a webinar on the basics of Bitcoin and blockchain.”

“I started digging deep into blockchain — Bitcoin and Ethereum — then I got to know about Solidity, and then I learned it in two or three months.”

To understand the weight of this statement, one must consider the value of Solidity. According to one industry job board, “the average base salary for a Solidity developer in Asia is $125,000 per year, with a low base salary of $100,000 and a high base salary of $150,000.” An analysis of Payscale shows that the average software developer in India earns $6,700 annually, meaning that at 13, Naik has already equipped himself with a skill-set worth 10–20 times the salary of a seasoned developer, or 50–70 times the country’s per-capita gross domestic product ($2,100).

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Naturally, Naik continued sharing his learning on YouTube, introducing Bitcoin to his viewers in a 12-minute October video incorporating illustrative images of piggy banks, gold bars and circuit boards. From there, he pivoted the channel’s content to focus on blockchain — adding explainer videos about Yearn.finance, Chainlink, Tether and others in November and December.

Things took a turn a few weeks later, in February 2021, when Naik expanded from mere introductory videos to instructionals on How to deploy Smart Contract on Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and How to Write and Deploy BEP-20 Token on Binance Smart Chain. That’s when, at the beginning of a video about creating an ERC-20 token, Naik made an announcement to his 10,500 subscribers:

“I’ve started freelancing! If you would like to create a DApp, smart contract, token or code an NFT, just email me.”

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