Building a More Inclusive Web 3.0 with Venture Capital - Kinjal Shah from BlockchainSep 20, 2021
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HOST: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to The Unstoppable Podcast. I’m your host, Diana Chen. And I’m here today with our guest Kinjal Shah. She is an investor at Blockchain Capital and at the Komorebi Fund, and I’m super excited to talk to her about both of those. Blockchain Capital is a crypto venture fund and Komorebi is the very first investment DAO focused on funding female and non-binary crypto founders. Welcome, Kinjal. Thank you so much for being here.
KINJAL SHAH: Thanks for having me.
HOST: So before we dive into Blockchain Capital and Komorebi, I’d love to know a little bit more about your background and how you got in a crypto in the first place.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, absolutely. So I come from a more traditional financial services background. So back in 2017, I was working at Fidelity. There’s now a pretty big Fidelity mafia, as they like to call it, that has emerged in the blockchain space, but I was doing more traditional consulting there and I got put on a project specifically looking at blockchain use cases. And so that’s when I really fell down the rabbit hole. I really felt like this was going to be the future of financial services, but also a much broader applicability across different Industries. And so I decided to jump into it full time and that’s when I moved out to San Francisco and joined Blockchain Capital.
HOST: Got you. So when you first got exposed to crypto, how did you start learning about it back in the day because still today-I mean today there’s a lot more resources, but back in 2017, 2018, there were much fewer resources.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, absolutely. Much fewer resources and yet I think the feeling of, of being overwhelmed doesn’t, doesn’t really go away, so it was definitely a little overwhelming in the beginning. I was super fortunate in that I learned a lot from the local scene in Boston. Specifically, I worked really closely with Matt Walsh and Nic Carter who are at Castle Island Ventures. And so I did a little bit of learning from them, of course, and read a lot of white papers, you know, started really like with the foundations of the Bitcoin white paper and some of the sort of podcast that were popular back then, Laura shin’s podcast was kind of the OG at the time, and so definitely listened to her a lot. Yeah, I just kind of dive in on a lot of the writing that was done at the time.
HOST: Very cool. Do you have any sort of like go-to sources today that you can point people to, like people who are just getting into the space today?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So I think, getting into the space today, I think there’s-there are so many different entry points. So my go-to resources for folks are; I usually break it into three things. So the first is, I recommend getting to know the technology and understanding the, the tech. So even if you’re-don’t consider yourself to be technical, there’s, there’s a great course at Princeton that’s a MOOC that I took about cryptocurrencies and sort of how they work that I really recommend. And then I also really just recommend people going back to the original sources of white papers; the Ethereum white paper, Bitcoin white paper, and trying to understand kind of from the foundations. And then just kind of getting in and using products. So whether that DFY or NFTs, I think you kind of need to have a little bit of skin in the game, joining a few DAOs, whatever it may be, you know, maybe set aside a little bit of an education fund for yourself, whether that’s $100 or whatever it might look like and try out a lot of products and, and kind of go from there.
HOST: Totally agree with that. I think doing is the fastest way of learning. Once you get your skin in the game and get some skin in the game and actually try out the products or join the ecosystem, I think that’s like when you’ll be doing the fastest learning.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah.
HOST: Cool. So let’s talk about Blockchain Capital. So you joined back in twenty-what was it? No, 2020 is in your - - Fidelity.
HOST: 2018 was Blockchain Capital. So obviously, Blockchain Capital is a crypto Venture fund. Can you tell-tell us a little bit more about specifically what projects you guys invest in and how you guys work with your portfolio projects?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, absolutely. So Blockchain Capital has been around now for eight or nine years. One of the really OG venture funds to be dedicated to the sector, and we really consider ourselves to be generalists in the space. So I’d say the first few funds were, there was a heavy focus on infrastructure and also just more traditional financial services and kind of getting those pieces into places. So some of our earlier investments include companies like Coinbase, Kraken, Opera, BitGo, some of the sort of OG pioneers. And then, I mean, more recent funds, particularly since I’ve joined, a big, you know, a big part of our thesis has been investing in DeFi, investing in the consumer landscape, which is really where I focus, and then again also on the infrastructure side. So a few Investments that we’ve recently made include projects like Upshot, which does NFT appraisals, OpenSea, which is of course the NFT leading exchange. And then on the DeFi side, we were very early involved with projects like Nexus Mutual and Aave. So there’s really, you know, a broad focus. And then in terms of how we work with our portfolio projects, I tend to split it up into two buckets. The first is crypto native and then second is more traditional VCs. So on the crypto native side, it’s really about getting involved at the governance level. I tend to think that VCs are more plain, evolving into this role of like a super community user, and, and really trying to, you know, trying to become a critical member of the community. And so whether that’s putting together governance proposals, or working with-within a particular work stream, I think that’s been a big focus for our team. And then, I would say on the more traditional side, it’s, it’s really about business development, helping out with recruiting to the extent that we can. We have now 120 portfolio companies. So a lot of times there are great connections and relationships to be made across the portfolio, things like that.
HOST: That’s awesome. Okay, so I want to break that down a little bit more. I’m curious, too, to know like how-when and how that shift happened and sort of where you see Blockchain Capital investing in the future as well. So walk me through like you started with more like traditional financial products. And then, as the crypto ecosystem goes-grows, you sort of expand into that. Like where in the process do does Blockchain Capital decide to step in and say, okay, we’re going to pivot towards DeFi now. Did that happen before DeFi summer, after DeFi summer? I’m just trying to understand like how, you know, when you’re thinking through like balancing the risk of getting into a sector too early versus, you know, you don’t want to be also like too late to the party either.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, 100%. I think it really-a lot of what’s happened in the past, you know, 5-6 years. It’s about sequencing to a point where, you know, you kind of need certain infrastructure to be in place in order for sub-sectors to emerge. So with the example with DeFi, we actually made our first investment, I would say in, in like what’s considered traditionally DeFi in 2018 in UMA. So it’s actually a fair, you know, a fair bit earlier than DeFi summer and I think we really saw this vision of; okay, how can we sort of create these financial services on top of Ethereum in a manner that is more accessible and open, and potentially scales in a, in a very different way. And so I think a lot this is like the thesis kind of builds on top of each other where you, you know, you have like the infrastructure phase and then comes like the app frenzy. And then you go back to like infrastructure to be able to service all the apps that were just created, and then we go back to the updates. And I think that’s been happening in, in the Blockchain space really broadly. And so it’s really just about identifying those inflections and, and then doubling down on them.
HOST: Got you. That makes sense. And then you said that your focus within Blockchain Capital is one the consumer landscape. What all does that include in the crypto ecosystem?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So I, I’ve been starting to call it the consumer landscape as a-or consumer, you know, category as a broader bucket. But I, I tend to think of that as anything that’s focused on interfacing with the retail user. So that might be NFTs, it might be some of the open social networks that we are starting to see being built out; DAOs, DAO-related infrastructure and tooling, even to a certain extent DeFi as well. I think DeFi is starting to get parlayed into a couple of buckets of institutional users versus more like consumer-facing applications. So anything that I think interfaces with it or with an everyday user.
HOST: Yeah, and I think as we move forward to like we’ll see more of that being mashed together. Whereas now you’re, you know, you’re saying how like DeFi is getting into-getting intertwined with NFTs and maybe DAOs as well. And I think in the future, once we realize, oh, all of these things can be mashed together and we can create even bigger and cooler things, when we don’t separate out NFTs from DAOs, from DeFi, from all the things and combine it all together. So I think in the future, probably will all be mashed together, even more than we’re seeing it now.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, I completely agree. I think this whole idea of building blocks and composability is just-it’s a very, very early phase. And so we’re going to start to see so much more overlap, moving forward.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. So I’m curious too to know when deciding which projects to invest in. What is that thought process like at Blockchain Capital?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So I think a lot of early-stage investing comes down to a couple of key, a couple of key categories. So I think first like, of course wanting to get to know the team, and better understand who are the founders behind the particular project, I think having an idea of the market and particularly in crypto, I think it’s about timing as well. Like there are a lot of projects that are super interesting today that I think a couple of years ago might have been a little bit early. So thinking through the market opportunity in the, in the near term, but also over like an extended period of time. And then of course like the Tekken and whether or not we feel like the technology is either differentiated or able to sort of retain users in a particularly novel way. I think it’s really about the combination of those three things. So founder, market, and tech, to me, kind of stand out as like the trifecta. And then I think with crypto a lot of investing kind of builds on, on top of one another. So what I mean by that is, you know, if you’re investing in the Ethereum ecosystem, you-a couple of assumptions that somebody might make are your long-term bullish on Ethereum, which you kind of have to get comfortable with the base layer chain and some of the technology. And then you’re-when you’re investing on top of it, it’s like, okay, within this ecosystem, why do we think this particular project is going to stand out or succeed. So I think there’s a little bit of like layering as well that comes into play.
HOST: Yeah. And so when you look at the portfolio projects you’re investing in now, what are some underdogs that people don’t know about? Okay, so like not OpenSea, you know, obviously everybody knows about those. What are some underdog companies that people may not know about that you’re like; people are sleeping on this, like you’ve got to pay attention?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So one category that I am super excited about is gaming, and I know it’s become much more popular in I think the past couple of months. But I think gaming has gotten some, some life more recently and one of our portfolio companies status is doing something really exciting there where they’re basically building out infrastructure for developers to launch in game NFTs. So you know, think about it, if you’re like an indie gamer or indie game developer, and you’re looking at all of the, the blockchain and cryptocurrency, you’re thinking about, okay, how can I potentially integrate this into, into what I’m Building? Status is the go-to platform there. And I think their solution is going to be one that a lot of gaming enterprises or gaming studios are going to start looking at and say, we need this because we’re trying to think through the Tekken and understand what we want to do there. So Status is one that I’m particularly really excited about. And then one more that I would call out is a, is a company called Block Native which-I think block native is somewhat well-known, but what I, what I love about what Block native is doing is they started out as a Mempool explorer, basically building out API-based infrastructure and tooling for better understanding transactions. And it’s such a rich area that so few understand and it’s becoming super integral for any corporation or enterprise that is thinking about adding crypto assets, you know, buy and sell or any sort of, any sort of crypto functionality. It’s really important to have a better understanding on your risk and some of the transactions and what’s happening in the Mempool. And so whether it’s, whether it’s for more like traditional enterprises or for projects that are building within crypto, DeFi, whatever it may be, Block Native, I think, is just providing a sort of need-to-have solution in an area that I think can be a little bit scary, but just really important to understand.
HOST: Yeah. I want to break down something in both of those that you brought up. I think infrastructure has come up many times in this conversation. I think it’s something that is always sort of like the forefront of what people or what builders are thinking about, especially when building in such a new space. When you think about infrastructure, what do you see as being the biggest needs in the space right now? Like what should builders be building out, like people who are focused on infrastructure right now so that we can move the space forward and like continue to grow?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So it’s a great question and there’s honestly a lot of white space. So I guess I would, I would break it into three buckets right now. I would think about the end user and then the type of infrastructure that they might need. So for example, if I were thinking about a community of users and, and sort of more the retail person, I would say that DAO-related infrastructure and tooling is super important right now and it’s becoming more and more common to-you hear a lot about people piece-mealing together their DAO and it’s somewhat frustrating. And so I think there’s some great projects in the tooling space as it relates to DAOs that are going to scale over time. For example, tally is one that we recently invested in that I’m super excited about. It’s building this hub for governance-based decisions and, and a dashboard there, and then over time will hopefully expand from, from there. And then the second category I would say is developers, so thinking through, you know, how do we bring Web 2 developers over to Web 3? Like talent is one of the biggest challenges in the space right now. And so I think there’s some great projects that are thinking about that, whether it’s like, you know, low code solution, or just ways to integrate API solutions, so developers can get started really quickly from day 1. And then the last bucket that I would say is thinking about corporations and enterprises. Now, we’re not only seeing like traditional financial services get involved, but we are seeing a lot of attention from entertainment and e-commerce and some of the more social brands in the space. And so thinking about like they are coming up to speed on the past six, seven years of development, and so how can we potentially make it easier for them.
HOST: Yeah. Okay. I’ve some questions there as well. When you were talking about developers like bridging from Web 2 to Web 3, I just thought about a bubble for Web 3 like the low code company Bubble. Is that like something that is buildable like across bridging from Web 2 to Web 3? I mean, I don’t know, I am not technical, so I don’t really know what’s possible and what’s not.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, and I’m not-I’m not an engineer either. I think like eventually, no code or local tools will be more feasible. I think right now it might need-might be better to focus on how do we get more solidity engineers or how do we get more translatable sort of either like curriculum or boot camps or just ways to port over senior engineers on the Web 2 side into the crypto world. And then from there, potentially go down a low code or no code route. But I think it’s definitely feasible. I just-I think it’s a little bit of a question of like timing. But I think from a technical perspective, I, I have less too. Yeah, I can’t really back that up, per se.
HOST: Yeah. And then I’m also curious about your take on DAOs because I’ve seen you write a lot about it. And I know that’s serve at the forefront of your work. When you think about DAOs, obviously, there’s a lot of reasons why DAOs are attractive to people, but there’s also a lot missing in the DAO space right now. I guess I could maybe start with your high-level take on DAOs, like, what do you think? Are you bullish on DAOs? Do you think people-it’s good that people are jumping into DAOs or do you think people are jumping too hard and too fast into DAOs and they should maybe slow down.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So I’m, I’m definitely a long-term believer in DAOs and I think that there’s so much to come there, but I guess I’ll start high levels, so why I’m interested, and then talk a little bit more about where we are in the cycle. So you know, DAOs to me represent a new framework and a new way to coordinate groups of users, way to coordinate work, labor, whatever it may be in a manner that I think will fundamentally lead to better outcomes when it comes to like wealth distribution and capital. And so what I mean by that is DAOs allow users to turn into owners. And they do that via some sort of either shared ownership, through token or some other mechanism. And so in general, I would say I’m really excited about what the potential of a DAOs-of a DAO will look like, and I think scaling DAOs has a few different flavors. On one hand, scaling might mean the number of users that are participating in a DAO, and then on the other hand, it might be just the amount of capital or the potential sort of-I don’t want to say power, but the potential sort of influence that a DAO might have in a particular ecosystem. And so I think we’re starting to see DAO scale when it comes to capital and influence. But I think when it comes to the number of users, that’s when we run into challenges related to actually operating a DAO and, and kind of the day to day. So I think longer term, I am super excited right now. I would say that I think DAOs are great and I’m, I’m loving that people are joining DAOs, but I think we’re going to come across some challenges as it relates to how many DAOs can you join peaceably? What does it mean to join a DAO? How much of it is speculation versus participation, and just making sure that those boundaries are really clear because I, I really do think that successful DAOs have users that come from day 1 because they have-they really believe in the mission versus them speculating on like the token price. And then, of course, like this question around scaling users is really around like, okay, how do we coordinate everybody? Like sometimes just decentralized decision-making can be slow, governance still has a kind of a long ways to go. So plenty of challenges to be solved, but I am-I’m pretty excited about where the space is headed.
HOST: Yeah. Do you see in the long run DAOs replacing any types of traditional organizations like, for-I mean, one thing that comes top of mind is, I’m sure you have an opinion on this, is DAOs potentially replacing traditional VC firms because we’re seeing all of these grant DAOs, and that they pretty much serve the same purpose except instead of being a generalist VC, they actually are-they’re made up of people who are deep in the weeds in the space and like really understand the space. So what do you-what are your thoughts on that?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. I love that question. I think, I think it comes down to a broader trend of in 10 or 15 years, do we think everyone is going to have a primary job, like a primary day-to-day career, or is everyone really going to be participating in a portfolio of projects. And so what I mean by that, and you see this very commonly in crypto, is that oftentimes, somebody might be splitting their time across a few different projects. It’s kind of the nature of open source, contributions, in general. And I think if we see-if we play that trend out, then I could imagine a world where you might be investing through a DAO, and then you might be building yet another DAO. And so in those instances, I really do think that DAOs have the potential to disrupt venture capital, and then maybe more broadly, sort of disrupt what it means to angel invest. You know, I think angel investing can be-has become very popular and I think that DAOs might serve as a middle ground between angel investing and a fully-fledged venture fund, where you started to invest, invest alongside a group of people and kind of have this like shared portfolio, but you’re not necessarily responsible for finding all the deals yourself and diligence in all the deals yourselves. So in some ways, I think there’s a little bit of a middle ground there. But more broadly, I definitely think that DAOs might end up being the preferred structure for a venture fund. It really, I think, just comes down to how, you know, involved you want DAO members to be. So what I mean by that is in a traditional Venture funds, LPs are basically saying, hey, like General Partners, please take my capital and go invest it into the sector that you are an expert in and that I don’t particularly have the time to allocate capital to. That’s really what the model is built around. Whereas in an investment DAO, we’re saying, hey, we’re all experts and we want to invest together and put the power of this DAO forward in order to invest into a particular category. So it’s much more of an active participant model, versus what the limited partner to general partner relationship is, historically. And so whether that is going to change, I’m not 100% sure. I think there will always be a world where limited partners might not want to be actively playing a role in their investments. But I do think the DAO structure lends itself really well.
HOST: Yeah. And that’s an interesting point you made about, it’s totally foreseeable that in 10 or 15 years, people will just be contributors to different DAOs instead of having a full-time nine-to-five job, like we traditionally have. And that makes me wonder too, like how is that going to shift the education model because like a big sell of going to college nowadays, is so you can get a job, even though we know this is like not true anymore. But that’s, you know, a big reason that people still go to college and in the future, if it’s like you can just, you know, like you don’t need the credentials, like you don’t have to send in your resume to join a DAO. You don’t have to prove that you went to Harvard or something to join a DAO. How do you think that’s going to change the educational model? I know this is going off at a tangent a little bit.
KINJAL SHAH: No. No, I love it. So I think a big part of what education, like higher education to me provides is a lot of socialization that you don’t necessarily get to do in your younger years. Socialization in the, in the sense of like you’re meeting people from all walks of life around the world and you’re living and working with them and in some ways growing up with them. And so I think that element is really what I’m excited about, potentially DAOs replacing. So unless it would comment on the education aspect of it, but what I do think is DAOs reintroduces element of extracurricular as an adult. It’s how I think about it. Like, some DAOs are for work, but some DAOs are also just for social, for fun, like FTBB is like a great example of a place where people just go to like hang out, talk about - - things, and make friends. And I think as adults right now, there are very few places where you can have that type of like online engagement. And so I think as social DAO scale, I could imagine them potentially either replacing or being a really good substitute for, for what that education aspect feels like. Less so unlike the curriculum, I’m like, you know, not sure how that’s going to evolve, but definitely I think like the social angle could be a big bowl in future.
HOST: Yeah, that’s a good point. And then I could see MOOCs stepping up from the curriculum angle and filling in the gaps there.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. There is actually a learning club DAO that was just crowdfunded yesterday that I participated in and then other folks that are on Twitter. But it’s-they’re putting together this really cool curriculum of like crypto and Web 3. And you just don’t put in, I think 0.1 ETH and you get access to all these life discussions, which I think is a really cool experiment of what a learning club might look like.
HOST: Nice. I did not see that, but I have to go check it out. Cool. So cool, I want to go into Komorebi Fund, that is the first crypto-first investment DAO focused on funding female and non-binary crypto founders. So tell me about how this got off the ground. I know you were involved in it along with she256 and Blockchain Girls who shoutout to their-that one guide they have that is like the ultimate newbie crypto guide. But how did you-like how did guys start this? Where did the idea come from? And then how did you start building it up?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So I think-I think she256 and Women in Blockchain are just doing amazing work when it comes to education and awareness and bringing groups-bringing diverse groups together. So I think as a starting point, both of those organizations are really aligned with this mission. And then I kind of started earlier this year hosting open Office Hours. So every month I chat with anywhere from five to ten women who are thinking about starting companies or just wanting to get involved with, with Web 3 and a big, big part of why I did that is because I’ve been investor for the past three years, I have not met as many women as I would like, and I know that they’re out there. I know women are out there and they want to be kind of getting involved in the space. And so I said, okay, why don’t I try to make a concerted effort to, to make this more of a reality? And it’s been super fun and eliminating. And so once that got kicked off, I actually connected with Ian at Syndicate who was telling me about syndicate and what they were launching. And we’re like, this might be a really great way to think about investing in female and non-binary founders and actually being able to push that causes and mission forward. And so we linked up with she256, with Women in Blockchain. And yeah, I think we just really wanted to be able to not just talk about this and educate and bring awareness, but actually start writing checks, which I think is so important, right? At the end of the day we want to be-yeah, we want to be writing checks for, for some of these founders. So that’s how things got off the ground and since then, we’ve-we have now about 35 members who joined the DAO and are really excited about this, this mission.
HOST: That’s awesome. Talk about how it’s evolved over time. How did people join or is it so open for other women listening who want to join? And then what are some projects that you’ve invested in so far?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So we are-the way that it kind of evolved was that we started out with a pilot. And so we said, okay, here is going to be Komorebi-1. And so we went out to just friends and allies and folks who we thought would be a good fit and kind of got in touch with nothing. And then moving forward, we’ll try to continue, I think to, to kind of bring in more folks as we finish deploying out of Komorebi-1, you know, then we’ll launch 2 and 3. And so it’s not open right now, but we’re taking-we’re definitely taking open interest and kind of making note of that. And I think one of the big questions for us overtime is, is how do we scale this DAO, right? Right now, we have 35 members and everybody is voting on investment decisions. And so we’re thinking about what does this look like. At scale overtime and working through some of the operational kinks in, in real time. And then, in terms of some of the investments that we’ve made, our first public investment is Apricot, which is a protocol; a lending protocol built on the Solana ecosystem. The founder, Cecilia, has just an amazing background, more traditional finance investment banking, and she’s just super driven and incredibly motivated to kind of go off to this opportunity and has a lot of, a lot of great experience particularly in this sector. So we’re really excited about what Apricot is doing. And then we’re-we have two other investments that are either in progress or have recently closed that we’re not able to share yet. But yeah, really excited about building out this portfolio. And then I think longer term, we would love for this to be a bigger community for women and non-binary founders to come together. So regardless of whether or not we in fact are able to finance and fund a particular project, we would love for it to be more like a safe space and community for funders to kind of reach out to one another and just meet each other and talk to each other.
HOST: Yeah, 100%. I’m curious too to know how decision-making works within Komorebi as a DAO, because I know every DAO kind of functions a little differently and it seems like it’s more so like, sometimes it can be more so like the, the votes and the decision-making happens on Discord or on Telegram. And then after that’s done, then report over to gnosis and actually, you know, push it through. Is that how it works at Komorebi or... and then is it usually a pretty smooth process or has there been a lot of back and forth with decision-making on whether to invest in a, in a project or not?
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So it’s definitely something that we’re talking about a lot. Right now, decision-making is happening off chain in a, in like a Telegram chat and then we’ll bring it over to gnosis say after we’ve done the social lite voting. And a lot of the sort of decision-making right now happens in a few different layers. So we have what we call a core team members who are a little bit more focused on going a little-going deeper on particular investment opportunities and then resurface and kind of synthesize the opportunity and put forward a proposal to the broader DAO. And then the DAO has an opportunity to discuss that investment, ask more questions, go back and forth and then, and then vote. So the way that we’ve, we’ve tried to run this process is that it’s not super cumbersome on all 35 members, but at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re able to have everybody come up to speed really quickly on an, on an opportunity and then vote accordingly. So that’s the current process that we are running. I think it’ll definitely evolve over time. I think there’s a bunch of models to test out whether it comes down to, you know, having different members of the DAO cover different investment areas or having, having more of a real-time dashboard where we can kind of post like our active pipeline. There’s a whole bunch of things. So I think more to, more to come there, but right now we’re really thinking about; how do we make sure that every decision is really a group process and everybody is able to kind of actively participate.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. And then last question about this is; obviously there aren’t enough crypto-like female founders in the crypto space yet or even just female working on the crypto space. Why do you think this is? And what can we do as females especially or just, you know, everybody else in this space. What can everybody do to help make this a more welcoming space for women and encourage more women to join?
KINJAL SHAH: It’s a great question that I wish I had like the, the answer for. I guess what I would say is I-and I have experienced this myself, which is that all the women in the space are so welcoming and so wonderful to engage with and to meet with, and I feel like I’ve just made amazing friends. And so I think like just that act of having some of these one-on-one conversations and like onboarding your friends or onboarding people that you need, can be so impactful. And just meeting like-just meeting somebody at that, the saying like; hey, you can do this and here’s how to get started. And I can be like a friend or a helpful ear, if you need it. If everybody did that for one woman we would be-the space would be so much bigger, and we would have so many more female founders or female contributor. So I think it really comes down to the fact that like every small effort adds up. And so whether it’s thinking through, education awareness, talking about it more, highlighting like female founders, you know, I think this is a bigger problem in tech. But I think it’s really just calling attention and saying like, hey, we’re here like arms wide open, come and, and join us, I think goes a long way. So I would say that that’s really where I focus my efforts. And then I think this is, maybe this is going to sound a little bit silly, but like wealth begets wealth, right? Like if more women are wealthy, we are going to have more women come into this space and give back to that group of people. And so I want everyone in the space to benefit off of this like overall growth, men and women, both. But I really do think that like if we have more women at the top, then they’re going to turn around and try to bring others up with them. And so I think it’s really just about like continuing that cycle.
HOST: Yeah. I don’t think that’s silly at all. I think that’s so true. I think if-I think if you were able to give a newbie like 0.5 ETH and say like, hey, go learn stuff, go do stuff with this. I think that would be such a helpful jumping-off point for somebody because, you know, I know like people are-it’s hard. I think it requires a certain amount of wealth to like become crypto native in the way that it stands today, until, you know, altitudes are more developed and more solutions are found to solve for this problem. But I think like a lot of people in space have this whole thesis about how crypto is going to just really level the playing field for everybody and make financial services accessible to everybody. But right now, what we’re still seeing is more so like these rich finance pros was getting richer off of DeFi. And so it’s not super inspiring at the moment. And so I totally agree with you, like more women-if more women come into the space and become wealthy in the space and can give back to women in the space and help onboard them into the space, I think that would be hugely helpful. Okay. So I want to jump into some of our Twitter questions. We just have some questions from some followers. The first one is from Matt Lockyer from - -. He says, “Is mainstream consumer crypto adoption, i.e., NFTs DAOs gaming, going to come from existing incumbents and celebrities or startups and community and why?”
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, I love that question. So I guess here’s what I would say. I think we have like two flavors and two examples that exist today that show that both can be successful. So here’s what I would-how I would break that down. The first is NBA Top Shot, right? NBA Top Shot took IP that is very well known to the entire country. With the NBA and said, hey, we’re going to create this very friendly and consumer friendly and familiar experience with NBA collectibles. And that proved to be a mainstream hit, right? And I think it onboarded a lot of people into the world’s NFTs and understanding what their wallet looks like. And it took many folks who probably have never considered looking at crypto before and said wait, this, this, this is super cool. I want to like dive in deeper. So I think that that was really a successful strategy. And then I think like this, on the other hand, you have a lot of organic growth in communities around things like more Pol Apes or FWB or even Loot and all the excitement around Loot. And personally, I’m really excited about bottoms-up branding and bottoms-up NFTs where it feels like the NFTs are really a product of the community, and that the community can drive that roadmap forward. I think that’s going to be the next big sort of producer of like the Disney’s of crypto. I think the Disney’s of crypto are going to come from communities that basically build this road map in front of our eyes. That being said, I don’t think we should be dismissive of some of the larger brands that come into the space and that do it well in their ability to potentially reach a brand new audience that isn’t as crypto native and bring folks in. So I think it will be a combination of both. But I definitely do feel a little squeamish and cautious about all the new brands that are saying like hey, like-not new brands. All the brands that are saying, hey, we want to launch a new NFT projects and just do a drop for a particular artist or a particular-I don’t know, like CNN dropping NFTs. Like, okay, that’s fine. But it doesn’t really feel particularly authentic. So I think it really is about striking that balance.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. I was going to ask about what you thought about Visa buying a crypto Punk or, you know.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. I think it’s so cool. I mean, so I know Kai at Visa has been doing a lot of work when it comes to just educating and informing and leading crypto efforts at Visa. And so to me, the, the punk moment, it felt like a signal to the world. It was like Visa is paying attention. We know what is happening in the crypto space. We are a fan of it. We are thinking about ways that we can get more involved. Like I think it was a-and a lot of people talked about whether it was marketing or not. I think more than anything, it was more like a signal of like hey, we are open for business for the NFT market. And so from that regard, I’m really excited about it. I don’t necessarily think like, you know, enterprises should go out and start loading up on Punks and Pol Apes. Like that’s not to me the message that they were trying to send. Like they were really, I think, thinking of more about what like, does this mean? Just from like an overall industry like the signaling perspective.
HOST: Yeah. Okay cool. I think we have time to squeeze in one more question from Twitter. This one’s from Bullet Biter. This is a more philosophical question. What’s something in crypto that you have to build up the willpower to do?
KINJAL SHAH: Build up the willpower to do? I guess that’s a really, that’s a really good question. I think getting involved in some of these communities is-it takes a lot to go from like a lurker in the Discord channel to active contributor to putting together governance proposals or governance suggestions and interfacing with core team members of a particular protocol. So I think getting involved with a DAO takes quite a bit of time and effort to get momentum and-I’m not sure if I would call it willpower per se, but it’s definitely a lot of intention, is required. I, I would say to do it successfully. I don’t think like DAO participation is something that anyone can passively do. I think it requires like a lot of intention and kind of willpower to build up over time. So I, I would just say that like when you are thinking about getting involved in a DAO or getting involved in crypto more broadly, really make sure that this is a project that aligns with your values, like what you want to see in the space, how you want to build something, and then, and then put your, put your best forward.
HOST: Yeah. I completely agree with that. I think as much as people say, oh, there’s so much for freedom and DAOs, and you get to be an owner, and there are a lot of benefits. I think in a lot of ways, it also is a lot harder to work in a DAO than it is to work in a traditional company where like you have a boss telling you exactly what to do. You know, in a DAO, you don’t have really anybody telling you what to do. It’s up to you to set the intentions and take the initiative to do whatever you think needs to be done. So-
KINJAL SHAH: Exactly.
HOST: -with great power comes great responsibility. Is that what they say or whatever they say.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
HOST: Okay. Well, thank you so much, Kinjal. I know you have to run. I really appreciate you taking the time today. Before you go, just tell people where they can find you if they want to connect with you personally. And then also where-if somebody is starting to build a new Web 3 project from the ground up, and they want to seek out funding from Blockchain Capital or Komorebi, where they can get in touch with both of those organizations.
KINJAL SHAH: Yeah. So I think Twitter is the best place to find me. I’m @_Kinjalbshah, my DMs are open. Feel free to send me a message there. Blockchaincapital.com, we have information about our sort of funding process, and you can reach out to me related to that, as well. And then Komorebi, we are @Komorebifund on Twitter, and you can find more information about how to apply there as well.
HOST: Perfect. Thanks again so much, Kinjal. Thank you, everybody, for tuning in, and we’ll be back again soon with another episode of The Unstoppable Podcast.
KINJAL SHAH: Thank you.