Tavonia Evans from Guapcoin, Creating A Cryptocurrency for the Black CommunityMay 07, 2021
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Host: Hey, everybody, welcome back to the unstoppable podcast. I am your host, Diana Chen. And I am here today with our guest, Tavonia Evans. She is the founder of Guapcoin; cryptocurrency that was created initially to amplify the economic voice of the Black community and I am super-excited to have her here today. She is a boss, she’s not only a founder of Guapcoin and has made a huge impact in the crypto-community, but she is also a mom to eight kids and has done so much. So I am really excited to talk to her about—all about Guapcoin and also about how she juggles life doing all these things. So welcome, Tavonia, I am so happy to have you here.
Tavonia Evans: Hi, Thank you.
Host: Yes, thanks for being here. So I guess, my first question is—take me back to your crypto journey. What got you interested in crypto in the first place and how did you start learning about it back—all the way back to whenever that was?
Tavonia Evans: To be honest, way back in the beginning—one of my other geek friends, he is my geek and partner-in-crime. He hit me up and he was like, hey, you need to really look at this. You really need to—and he was talking about bitcoin. He was like you really need to—this was probably like back in 2010 maybe or whatever. He was like this is so you, this is so up your all. Hey, I guess people, see things, before you see things, right? And I was like, I don’t know, I was doing so much at the time. I had my own development company and I was doing very well and I was like yeah, yeah, yeah, I don’t know if I want to another thing. But then flash forward to about 2015, 2016, I was working on my startup "Safe2Meet." And I was at the point of my startup where I was trying to get money and that was something that that I never really did before, it was like I always felt like I had the money to invest in whatever I was doing, but we hit a ceiling, it was like, now it is time to start going to people trying to get some money for this project and that’s when I found we don’t get money, black women, out of everybody we get less money than everybody else. I was like, you have got to be kidding. So that’s when again crypto again caught my eye and I was like okay, so here they are putting all this tech projects and they are using crypto—they are leveraging crypto to raise money for the tech project and I was like that’s ingenious. Let me look a little bit deeper into this. So I looked deeper into this and I was like, wait, holdup a minute, these are currencies. I was like we need that, we need that in my community, because in our community we been really pushing to support black-owned businesses, et cetera because, black-owned businesses have less access to funding even when they managed to open, they may not manage to stay open; it is hard for them to compete with other businesses and especially bigger larger corporations like the Wal-Mart nearby and you're selling X, Y, Z. So the buy-black or save-black businesses to me was missing—there was a missing link and that would be the money and the currency. So I was like, oh yeah, we need the cryptocurrency for this. And that’s kind of how Guapcoin was created out of that idea to me that crypto is the missing link to this movement.
Host: Got it. And so I guess back in 2010 when you first heard about this that was like early, early days and we hardly had any resources out there to learn about bitcoin or crypto in general. So how did you go about learning more, just like figuring out what crypto is, what was some of your best resources that you turned to?
Tavonia Evans: Well, for one as a technologist and is deep in technology as I am, it never takes us more than twenty-four hours to figure something out as a developer, like literally, we are 24 hours cap. If you can’t figure it out 24 hours you might as well just give it a rap, but the best sources I found was of course my little underground friends, they knew everything there was to know about how this works, how to create this, what it was about and I just hit up some people that I knew and connected me to other people and they literally worked with me on building this, and they weren’t going to build it for me. They were like no, like this is what you do, go ahead get a stab at it, that was like—and we know we’ll help you along and I thought it was like the coolest thing, because I got to kind of bump my head a lot of times and still have help to get me out of certain situations. So that’s how I learn, I mean that’s how we all learn in tech, get into this little rooms, these little channels—chat channels of where I wrote back in the day was RSC channels now it is Discord. Wherever we get into these channels—we get dirty, that’s how we do it.
Host: That’s awesome. Yeah. That’s how we tell even non-technical people today to learn more about crypto and blockchain, just try it out, like, go and get yourself a wallet go buy some crypto—play around with the apps, go buy yourself a crypto kitty, do whatever it is that you need to do to learn more about it.
Tavonia Evans: Like I say, in tech, break something, it's okay.
Host: For sure. Yeah.
Tavonia Evans: You learn how to fix it. You got it.
Host: Exactly. So for people listening who are new to the space and maybe aren’t totally confident that they even know what crypto is still. How would you explain crypto to a total beginner in a way that gets them excited about it?
Tavonia Evans: Well, I always start with the base and this is certain cryptos, crypto is money. Now it is money, it is fast approaching been the type of money that we know of. Since the dawn of the debit card we have been using digital currencies, basically, we have not been using cash as much and as of the COVID, and last year we started using cash even more. So we are quite familiar with using virtual money, that we think is real, we are very, very, very used to that. And it is funny because someone said recently, but not recently about a year ago. Someone I know is very, very, very smart tells me, wow, I thought cryptocurrency was like monopoly money, like, it wasn’t real. I was like, oh wow, you know, so there’s the big difference, so it is real, it builds value and we’ve been having situations like this all throughout the gaming years. I remember when my brother started playing Second Life and he was using the Linden dollar and the linden dollar started trading on market—basically real money, it had a value, people’s properties. So they have been doing this—real value, real property in the digital world thing for quite some time, it is not a new concept. So I'd like to tell them at first, it is money, because that breaks down a lot of barriers to, you know, you likely are not talking to a technology person and a lot of us we start explaining blockchain, like, that’s what happened in the beginning of this—everybody started getting blockchain lessons and stuff that and I am like, hey, we are talking about bitcoin, peer-to-peer money, you know, grandma, grandpa, everybody is going to have to use this. They don’t necessarily have to know what blockchain is to that degree, but if they want to know they can go on and learn more about the technology, but I think that, that’s not something you need the average person with when you are coming to them with crypto.
Host: Yeah. 100%. It’s funny because when crypto just came out, like you said people would compare that to monopoly money and then now you’ve got people saying fiat money, is funny money. So it is sort of just like completely flipped overtime, but yeah, like you said that you don’t have to now the inner workings of how blockchain technology works to do this. I forget who—I think it might have Isaiah Jackson in his book, Bitcoin and Black America, that—where he wrote that, like, it’s like learning to drive a car, you don’t need to understand how transmission works and how to build a car in order to drive a car. You just need to know how to drive it—put gas in it, use your windshield wipers, like, basic things like that, the same as crypto.
Tavonia Evans: Yeah. I think that’s why we scared a lot of people during the first rush.
Host: Yeah. So, speaking of that, I mean, I think there’s definitely the fear of the unknown, but what are some of the roadblocks you see that are preventing people, like, people—I’m talking about the mainstream, the masses from adopting crypto?
Tavonia Evans: I don’t think that there’s enough people teaching it on a practical way, number one. There’s not enough marketing. Marketing is that thing that’s missing, the general marketing where you take something then maybe foreign to people and then you break it down to even an eight-year-old can understand, that’s what is done in marketing, right? But marketing has budget, somebody has to pay for marketing. So if you are talking about something as a decentralized crypto that’s driven by community, they don’t put out a lot of marketing dollars to things. They are just now starting to do that they’re just now seeing how important it is and that’s how you reach the masses. You have got to dump it down to something that is understandable and consumable and compare it and put it out there in real-life-used cases as well for the real people who've not heard the—majority of the people to understand. So I think that in use case, people don’t understand used case, because again a lot of the technology has been kind of wound-up in it, what problem are we trying to solve? We're trying to solve money problems. That’s what I am trying to tell people all the time—that’s what we are trying to solve, but what problem are you trying to solve and it is based and simple as making it easy for people to be able to transact with one another without the interference of some middleman dictating what—dictating and manipulating the transaction between the people and also removing borders and blocks between people, making it simple for me to able to transact with someone in another country and we have this disunified, you know, kind of trustless system in order to do so.
Host: Yeah. 100%. So let’s talk more about the money aspect of it. So, you mentioned earlier, you saw these problems with trying to raise money for your startup and then with people trying to get loans, they are not been able to do that and all these barriers, a lot of that is rooted in just, you know, the systemic racism that we have in our country. So that obviously was a big inspiration for why you created Guapcoin. Tell me more about what went into the decision to create Guapcoin, like, why not just promote bitcoin or be a big proponent for other cryptos that are already existed. What was it that made you see the need in creating a brand-new cryptocurrency?
Tavonia Evans: Well, the thing is systemic racism is not something—it is something that follows people, to different institutions and even things that you create and we have this thing called AI which is again driven by the same product of systemic racism. So in other for that not to happen, you have to get the participation of the people that you are trying—that you are breaking down barriers. They have to be a part of this creation process. They have to be able to co-create. We did not co-create bitcoin, so you have—first of all you have a huge amount of distrust in our community on things that people are bringing to us, and then when you look and see who is bringing it to us and the face is still looking like the faces of the old system, that is a problem. We have to be able to find something we can see ourselves in the creation process, so that we can build that trust from the ground up and to also to be a good keyword is ground up, to build something organically within the community and that’s something we are doing with Guapcoin. We are literally taking the seed that we planted in the community and growing it organically and as organic as possible and that’s still some of the original principles of decentralized cryptocurrency and bitcoin, we are really, really following that path. So, I think that we gave black and brown people an opportunity to participate from the ground level to grow this seed, to see themselves in it so that they can gain trust and build value in something.
Host: A 100%. That makes perfect sense. What was the process actually like to create your own cryptocurrency? Like, I think that’s something that’s so way above everybody’s heads, people are trying to like learn what even is crypto, how do I use it? Should I hold it? Should I sell it, like, what do I do with it. Here you are creating your own cryptocurrencies and what was that process like?
Tavonia Evans: Well, to me it had a lot of different elements namely psychological elements. It had a lot of psychological elements, because, see a lot of people - - say your own crypto like you did—it’s not my crypto—it’s our crypto. So that’s one thing that you have to approach it from a different perspective. If you are approaching this from company perspective or similar perspective it is going to be very hard and you are going to find, because, you can’t do this alone. If you are trying to do what I'm doing with Guapcoin, you are not going to be able to do this, as this one person is going to take the community to be a part of it, to build that type of trust that’s necessary for it to grow as a community. So it’s not, it’s not an easy thing. Another part of it is—I would say very buggy, I have had a couple of iterations of this started out, with this, started out on Ethereum, moved to my own blockchain, which is the first blockchain that I created and yes, we did have a major snag, a major bug which happens to blockchains during that time and then we roll it out again. At that point, it is good that it is really not as big, so then you can make adjustments and the community can be accepting of it, but now we are to a point where we actually have a foundation, a foundation is taken over, the people are taking over, community is taking over. They are voting, they are talking about things they would like to do. So this whole idea of decentralization is now growing and taking root as it is supposed to be. And as it’s supposed to be I’m supposed to be able to like, oh, I am now just a part of a community and a community servant. So it is doing what it is supposed to be doing, it’s a process. I know when I originally did it, I was like this is—it’s not going to take long to do this and then it’s like one year and two years and three years—another thing is that we didn’t have any capital. So a lot of these projects, they come in with, like, instant capital. So that’s instant liquidity, right. So they pretty much dictate the price, the value, where the coin is going, where it is going to be accepted. They can have all of these things going for them. We had to work the whole entire roll of getting to the point where we can get into ecosystem and we can be accepted, and we can be legitimized and ironically that mirrors the path of bitcoin. Bitcoin took a road to legitimation, wasn’t legitimized at first. You had to work a road—you had to—it took quite a few twists and turns and in and out of the tech community, into the criminal community, then into the tech community, now into the institution - -, and the funds and stuff like that. So it had a long winding road to make as well. Other Upcoins didn't necessarily had to take that route, because Upcoins came in with capital. A lot of Upcoins project came in with capital. So as an Upcoin we came in with no capital and we that long winding road. We are taking that long winding road just like Bitcoin.
Host: Yeah. 100%. So a common theme that you touched on there is the concept of community, you said this is Guapcoin isn’t something that you made; this is our coin as a community. And so talk a little bit more about the concept of like culture-based or community-based cryptocurrency, because I know that’s something—that’s a term that you associate with Guapcoin pretty heavily on, how is that different from, like say, Bitcoin or Ethereum, because there’s communities that surround Bitcoin and Ethereum. There are people out there that are especially bullish on Bitcoin or Ethereum or light coin or a different crypto token. So, tell us a little bit more about what the community-based or culture-based cryptocurrency is?
Tavonia Evans: I think that, coming from the Black-and-Brown communities you tend to be very culture-based. Everything is based on our culture and indigenous communities’ stuff like that—based on your culture, culture is your base. So you know, it is hard to deviate from that when you are building it. Now, culture can be inclusive because you can look at something like hip-hop which I love, which is a culture-based music form and you can see different types of people involved in it—all different cultures and races and stuff, love it all over the world, and they have no problem adapting it, they're loving. So beginning as a quote-on-quote culture-based thing, to me is not a barrier. It is something that is very inclusive because we have case studies to show again how it becomes inclusive, but also how it lifts those people up that feel left out and feel like their voices are not been heard. So here in Guapcoin, financially, we are creating a financial voice that’s going to be powerful and be heard.
Host: Tavonia, that’s awesome and do you see—are there other coins out there that are similar to Guapcoin whether it is in the Black community or in indigenous community or different communities, and do you see more of these culture-based coins coming up in the future?
Tavonia Evans: Well, I have come across some projects that are based around affinities, stuff like that, groups. And I think that, that is going to be something of the future. I do believe that culture-based cryptocurrencies and currencies are going to be a thing of the future, because it needs to be because many cultures feel marginalized and many different groups feel marginalized as in left out, so they are going to use this to represent their financial voice, whether it is women, whether it is LGBT, whether—whoever. They are going to use their money to represent their strength and their voice and this is going to give them the tool to be able to do so.
Host: Yeah. Do you—I guess I see all of this tying into together a lot with like social tokens which I think about a lot in - -. I was wondering if you have any plans in the future you could see Guapcoin may be turning into a DAO. We have seen it with some other coins, was that something you have in the plans, for the future?
Tavonia Evans: Well, we actually are working on another project side-by-side a D5 project, going to give birth to another governance token as well. So I do see us expanding and we are looking to build bridges and expanding to other ecosystem. So I do see us eventually going that route. We are just taking the community through the baby steps of getting there. Because there are a lot of doubt out there now and people still don’t understand what we mean. So they have to take the step of—and then also it is an empowerment thing. So we have to get our power back and feel empowered before we are willing to let it go, and just be like, okay, now we can trust that there’s going to be some governance that’s going to be fair. We have to take them through the process of getting there.
Host: Yeah, for sure. So I want to talk a little bit about who is using Guapcoin, right now. Obviously, this for the black community is it basically just—I guess, is it just for the Black community alone or is it just allies, is it for anybody that wants in on it?
Tavonia Evans: Yeah. I mean, like I said about hip-hop, it’s a way where we can express ourselves, and this is how we can express ourselves financially and express our voices financially. And hopefully allies would get onboard, and I know they will because they already are—we do have allies in Guap, and we get excited, - - it is really exciting, welcome to the community, so definitely this is going to be something that’s global, that’s actually already global. So as you know, you can’t stop a decentralized cryptocurrency from—it’s like that thing everywhere—it’s like popping up everywhere and that’s the cool thing about it, like, you get so excited about it when you see—if you see a pop-up in the - - community you are going to get excited, you are like, wow, this is great. So we can’t wait to see where it goes. We just know that it feels good to be a part of the creative process, it feels good to be a part of the ground floor of such a major endeavor that’s impacting the world of finance and impacting the globe itself.
Host: Yeah, one thing that you’ve been able to do really well that other cryptocurrencies haven’t had to do as much is because you are community focused—other cryptos they attract all the tech people or the nerds, people that are already into this, but you sort of had to appeal to a more mainstream community. So how were you able to I guess market Guapcoin and explain to this community like why it is that they need Guapcoin?
Tavonia Evans: Well, I think, once they heard about it, they already knew why we needed it. They just didn’t understand how it is going to be implemented or the pathway of doing so. They knew automatically anybody we talk to they know what it is about, like, oh yeah, absolutely, but it took an incredible amount of investing in ourself, in our own energy, you know, because I personally make contact with as many people as I can and I still do. If I had to help you and work you through myself and I, do it, and that’s the principle that I passed on to other people who have gotten involved and you have to understand we have grandmas and grandpas, and stuff like that. And we have to make this accessible to them and in some kind of way we have to solve all of those accessibility issues and one of the things they love about it is the humanity—the human part of it, bringing humanity into it. I mean we know nowadays there’s no customer service anything, and because this is supposed to be, you are the bank, you give up all of the privileges of all of these other things, but I don’t think that’s going to work for a lot of people. I think, what’s going to work for a lot of people is that you hold their hand to some degree, and then let them go and give them freedom, but you are going to have to walk them through some places, and that’s something that we all in this community have committed to.
Host: Yeah. That’s awesome and do you also work directly with businesses in the community to convince them to offer Guapcoin as a form of payment?
Tavonia Evans: Yes, I do and many others. We actually have whole teams of people who do that and there are people every day that don’t want to accept Guapcoin and they are adding Guapcoin payments which we’re listed with to accept payment on their stores, there are brick and mortar orders to us. One of our first brick and mortar stores is a restaurant on Markers Venue, so that began accepting Guapcoin and then other people in other places and now we are about to deploy ATMs, but it is not just a we-thing it’s like community members are going to get ATMs and deploy ATMs to certain places. So it can make it even easier for people to get into Guap-ecosystem. Whatever we got to do to make this easy that’s what we are doing, that’s what we are trying to do. We have got to make this very, very simple—a lot of people are not fond of exchanges, they are not fond of those places and I get emails every day, like, please could you please help me ‘cause I really want to get into this, but I can’t use these exchanges, I don’t like these exchanges—I don’t understand this, stuff like that and that's where you go.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And so, I know—I think I saw you tweet recently that you purchased something off Amazon with Guapcoin, what are some other places where you can use Guapcoin as a form of payment?
Tavonia Evans: Yes, it did. There’s a platform that accepts coins payment that would allow you to make purchases on Amazon, Wal-Mart, like, et cetera. We are currently working on our own solution similar that would make the process as shopping online much more in the community. Currently it is—we are getting closer to being just a mainstream and being able to use our coins where ever we want to. We are not 100 percent there, but we are getting there. Once we are able to open up and maybe get into some more established ecosystems, like, we just recently are working on our application to Coinbase, places like that where people are there and they use it to make it easier for them to get into it. So that’s what we work on everyday right now.
Host: That’s awesome. Tell me about some of the regulatory hurdles that you have to jump through, first from creating Guapcoin to having the ATMs out there, to like, getting places like Amazon, Wal-Mart, to accept Guapcoin as a form of payment. All these things, like, how much of a headache has a regulatory side been?
Tavonia Evans: Believe it or not. The regulatory side has not been a headache at all. The financial side is a headache, because this is a—an industry that’s built on money, and nothing is free. So whether it is listing on a major exchange or whatever the case maybe, like I said a lot of these projects came in with millions of dollars of liquidity and we didn’t. So getting in these ecosystems has been our major hurdle so, - - if you hear us our application on Coinbase is out there, - - so, getting into this ecosystem has been our hurdle because traditionally it takes a lot of money. We are always getting invited by differen—in the beginning people say, why are you not on exchange—on this exchange, this is what we are always getting invited on exchanges, but then we get hit with the bill. What the bill is going to be like, that just kills it right there, so don’t think that you—people just automatically enter this is an economy, this a money-based economy, whatever kind of money.
Host: Yeah, that’s good behind the scenes information because I don’t think people really think about that, like you said people just think, oh yeah, why isn’t this coin on Coinbase, why isn’t this coin on there. It’s a lot more complicated than just getting on to these exchanges.
Tavonia Evans: Yeah, Yeah
Host: So one thing you mentioned earlier—sorry, one thing you mentioned earlier is creating your own blockchain—the Guap-chain. So when you first created Guapcoin, it was on Ethereum blockchain and then I think it was back in early 2019 that you decided to build your own chain called the Guap-chain. So why did you decide to build Guap-chain instead of just staying on Ethereum?
Tavonia Evans: Well, I wanted us to be able to have more, like I said of a creative input to process to it, and I also wanted to build governance into it and at a time governance really was having your own blockchain. So we have - - , we have Governors, we have people that feel important, they play important roles. And we wanted to at least even have early adopters been able to have governance roles and stuffs like that, so that they can feel important and feel like they are a part of this, so we made that decision to do that to have our own—and also to build more trust in the community because that’s something that again a part of the creative process here we are ground level—we have a blockchain and people are impressed by that and they are like okay, now I feel a little bit more comfortable with that. Additionally, I kind of foresaw riding on another blockchain like Ethereum, although you do have the opportunity to take advantage of now this incredible D5 system, which we are doing now as well, but now they are dealing with things like fees and et cetera, stuff like that. So if you are operating on it then you are subject to having to pay certain fees and stuff like that, so that’s—that maybe a barrier to actually trying to do day-to-day transactions as commerce, as a commercial, going to stores and making purchases and stuff like that. So it was a good thing that we did that and, we are more able to do what we are intending on doing.
Host: Yeah, then you also mentioned that obviously with launching something that’s as big as your blockchain, you are going to run into some bugs and some hurdles, and you guys’ experience some of that. Can you talk a little bit more about what the bugs were that you ran into and then maybe give people advice for if they want to create their own blockchain, like what to do differently or how to avoid making the same mistakes that you made?
Tavonia Evans: Well, nowadays it is easier because now they have so many platforms that are like trying to create the internet of Guap-Chains, so they are encouraging you to have part of their platform, so it is way more easier. You have way more options and alternatives, you just have to establish what it is you are trying to accomplish and to look into some of the projects out there and see if they can fit that bill, but, back then we were talking about real blockchains that get stock on block numbers, blockchains that you’re mining, you know, because at first we have proof of work that you may have mining and more people have to mine and there is a mining difficulty gets involved. You want to make sure that people are supporting that, so you have that and our first blockchain, we did get stuck. And it is funny because when I was consulting with somebody about it they were telling me how their blockchain got stuck at a certain block, and I was like I hope that doesn’t happen to us, then it did happen, but we were able to move past that pretty quickly and pivot and fix problems on the fly and I was concerned about that because earlier on—because we didn’t have a big community that really knew a lot about this and really want to invest their time and energy, I had to pay a development team constantly, to keep everything going, as I am working through to make sure that this is still working—to monitor our wallets, to give us new wallets or we had to come up with things that normally community members might come up and do. We had to come up with these things and produce and develop these things and put them out for the community—these tools and stuff. And it wasn’t as pretty as I like them to be, because I come from development and also come from a marketing and design background and everything I used to do back in the day used to be beautiful, I was known for that, but this was like we had no time for beauty or no time for money. We needed functionality, so I had to get rid of the perfectionism in my mind and I had to focus more on the technology—the backend technology and what we were doing and so I had to break through a lot of personal barriers too.
Host: Yeah. So speaking of building things too, another thing that you guys have built or are building—I'm actually not sure what stage you are in with this—your social media platform NU. Tell me more about that?
Tavonia Evans: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. So back in the days I built a social media platform the same time Facebook built it’s back in 2004, and I wound-up getting about 30,000 members of—and I quitted in about maybe two or three-years life happened and I just kind of walked away. I didn’t see the foresight of maybe this could be the next Facebook because there was no Facebook at the time, well, running alongside where I was. So one of my friends tell me last year—was like the beginning of last year, they were like, wow, if you'd just stuck with it, do you realize you could have been the next Mark Zuckerberg, I was like we need one. So I decided to launch NU, and I was also very concerned about all of the manipulation and then the AI, algorithms that were feeding information and advertisers and marketers getting your data and stuffs like that. I was concerned about all of those things. I also foresaw that after like a lot of people are going to leave social media because of that—they are going to leave places like Facebook, and they were going to need the place to—where they can just connect to—with people and not feel like they are going to give up their soul just to connect with people and not be under surveillance—constant surveillance and stuff like that. So that's why I created NU, and I definitely hope to take it to the next level, you know once I can build a revenue to do so, but so far, you know, I have it going and I have a backend system with it and all my APIs and staying committed to just making it a place for people to be able to go and share content and talk to other people.
Host: So is it—I haven’t been on the platform, so paint a picture of the platform for us. Is it sort of like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or a combination of all of them?
Tavonia Evans: It is more like Facebook, but I wanted to keep that energy so that people would like—us to using it, so I wanted to keep that. So it is kind of like Facebook and we are going to be adding voice chat, like some of the popular platforms as well. So we are working on that been the next thing and then of course fully integrating Guapcoin into the platform.
Host: That’s awesome. Do you see yourself moving into the decentralized web in the future?
Tavonia Evans: Oh. Absolutely. Definitely. I have already been on it, I've already been doing my research, been looking at a lot of the platforms that are taking off in that area. So yes, that’s the next thing, definitely.
Host: And then, I am curious to hear your views too on where you see the future of social media since it is something you have been working on since the very early days, 2004. Maybe looking 10 years down the line, do you see web to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter existing alongside decentralized platforms or do you see us moving 100% to decentralized social platforms?
Tavonia Evans: Ultimately, we are going to move a 100% to decentralized and definitely that’s just the—I mean Facebook is already on it, you know, Facebook of course is trying to—will still trying to launch their stable coin, et cetera. So they are already maybe deep into the technology. They are probably already way far ahead of most people, but yes, I do think decentralization is the way and they know it and we will be going that way. I envision—of course I am also VR fan, so I spend a lot of time in VR, but I envision a lot more ways to access social media, but also, mainly more personal maintaining a data—keeping a data locally and deciding each and every little bit of exchange that you are going to do, whether it is your smartphone, whether it is your headset or whatever. What you are going to give up and, how much you are willing to sell it for, because I know a lot of people are going to be selling their content on an individual basis as well.
Host: Got it. Yeah. So people definitely look out for New—do you have a timeline for what’s going to, you know, come out—it is already life people can go and download it right now.
Tavonia Evans: NU is already - - you can go to NU.social, it’s already life.
Host: Okay, cool. And then, tell us what people can expect from NU and from Guapcoin in 2021. If you have any big launches or announcement or changes that you would like to share?
Tavonia Evans: Like I said. The next thing that we are focusing on is voice and then the next thing is VR. We always had in our roadmap to do an immersive environment for NU. So that’s going to be the next thing.
Host: Got it. And then, lastly about Guapcoin, just for people listening who are part of the Black community what can they do to get started being part of this—getting a cryptocurrency—getting Guapcoin, being part of the community and then for allies or people outside the community. What are somethings they can do to help out?
Tavonia Evans: Well, the first thing you can do is—join the community. So, you go to Guapcoin.org, you click on the telegram. Join the telegram, that’s very, very instrumental especially for newbies, because there’s people there who can help you. You want to be able of course very diligent about who’s helping you, but there are people that are in active discussion, have suggestion for accessing it, up-to-date news all of that stuff, because we are a community first, and then you can start getting your journey and getting Guapcoin because you can even get Guapcoin by sometimes joining the telegram, there are giveaways there. We are giving out Guapcoin or someone else is giving out Guapcoin. The community is been so great, like, there’s been individuals that have their own audiences, they give out Guapcoin. So definitely coming to the community first. The next thing of course, is getting Guapcoin go into probate [phonetic] exchange and hopefully we'll would be on other exchanges by the summer as well. We are also launching Guapswap which is going to be a place that would help people get Guapcoins easy as well from other individuals. So we are just trying to connect other individuals to swap their Guap and help other people to be able to get Guapcoin. So and we will also be deploying ATMs by the summer, so hopefully in New York City, you will be able to just go to certain ATMs and get Guapcoin as well.
Host: That’s awesome. All right. We do have a few personal questions just because beyond all the Guapcoin you are a very impressive human being, having—you have gone through all of this with eight kids and your background and, you know, in Computer Science and then also a marketing and design. So I guess—my first question is just—you are an Engineer, Data Scientist, you are a founder. You have been in the tech space for such a long time. I think it’s been over 25 years or maybe even more than that. So yeah, what has your experience been like, been a Black woman in the tech space? I am sure there’s been a lot of road blocks and ups-and-downs, but how—what I guess has kept you in this space—helped you persist through it and helped you to succeed, ultimately?
Tavonia Evans: Well, what’s helped me persist was my love for it and knowledge. There was a place where I felt my knowledge was valued, I felt like I could really do something of value here. I could contribute to major projects of value. So that was exciting to me. I guess to my dismay is I didn’t realize how invisible I was, until I decided to step it up a little bit. I didn’t realize the invisibility, and I was there’s a fair amount of invisibility. And especially in many of us in the tech world people currently work from home, and we choose environment where we can be close to our family, and then we may not have to deal with the drama of being a person of color in the workplace. Also that has kept us kind of in a bubble, like a satisfied bubble—I am satisfied with my check. I am satisfied with my job. I don’t want to go anywhere else, but as soon as you start. You start to wanting more—taking this solution to do things that are helping your community that’s when it changes for you and that’s when you realize that there’s a bubble, I can exist in this bubble, fine, but if I want to move there’s a ceiling. If I want to move beyond this ceiling and there’s going to be problem—that’s when I am going to run into who I am in this whole entire scheme.
Host: Yeah. So, having persisted through that and come out on top, what would you say to somebody else in your position? What would you say to a young black girl who, you know, is—wants to go into some sort of STEM-type field and wants to end up where you are, who’s interested in stuff but maybe hesitant to get into such male and white-dominated-space, what would you say to a girl like that?
Tavonia Evans: Don’t give up, because you are certainly going to want to. Don’t give up, you might find yourself really passionate and fighting for something that you think is going to change the world, but you might start out alone, but if you don’t give up other people would join you on that process. So don’t give up-, stay in tune with the community. There’s a lot of techies, there's a lot of us out there, and we are very open and we like to kind of help each other in that degree. So stay connected, get involved, get in meet-ups, get on projects even if you think you don’t know how to or you don’t know the tech or whatever, get involved in a project because you would learn, and that would help build a camaraderie for you. It is a very small community—I find that I know everybody in the tech world now, so it’s a great thing. It is almost like the new Hollywood. It’s not that many, but we all know one another. So get involved, definitely, connect with people because it is—you might think you are fine now—when you first start you get that first paycheck, you think you are good, but if, you know, later on down the line you are going to find that you are going to need more.
Host: Yeah. For sure. I mean, I haven’t been in the crypto-space for nearly as long as you are not very long at all, but I have found that the crypto-space is very—it’s small, but the people in it are welcoming. I have already met so many people, made so many friends from being in the community. So the resources are definitely there if you are willing to reach out and ask for help. And then last thing is, so you have eight kids, which to me I mean, I don’t have any kids or I can’t say—to me it seems like that alone is like two-fulltime jobs. So how do you balance having eight kids and then doing everything else and then doing everything else that you do?
Tavonia Evans: Well, I balance it because I work for my kids. They want me to do this. They want me to carve the way. They know they deserve the best, so they know that I have got to do this to make that happen. Every day I have a seventeen-year-old who is a developer himself. He has a gaming company and he always needs some expensive technology, you know, and he needs it he doesn’t—he just comes right up to me, like, I need a new processor, I need some more memory, so he knows that there’s a process for me to make this happen. I work for them, this why I do what I do for them, and they understand that, you know, and they are very involved—always keep your kids involved in some form or fashion. Keep having conversations about—with them about what you are doing, get their opinions. I get their opinions all the time, if they don’t know what I am talking about. If they seem to know what I am talking about they're playing it off. They taught me a lot about crypto, they already knew crypto, they have been using—they use crypto and STM. My oldest, no my oldest son—my third oldest son—my oldest son was quite familiar with bitcoin and everything else. Keep your ear to the streets with your kids and you would be good, you know, you have got to stay relevant with them.
Host: Yeah, I know that’s really great advice for women who are mothers in the crypto-space, and trying to compete. It’s almost like your kids are your secret source to competing and getting ahead, because they know more than you know. And you are not the first person I talked to who has kids, and said that kids know more about crypto than any of their friends their age, and I have asked people like, so is it easier to explain to your nine-year-old what an NFT is than to like any of your friends and they are like, yeah, 100%.
Tavonia Evans: Yeah. Yeah. This is their world.
Host: It really is. It is their world and we are just living in it. So for this last segment. I call this, explain your tweet. This is where I go through your twitter and I pull out some interesting or encrypted or funny tweets and give you a chance to explain more about, and then you have got to do 280 characters on twitter.
Tavonia Evans: Okay.
Host: So the first one is from March 30th, you tweeted, "It’s not an NFT bubble, you are witnessing the collapse of the dollar-bubble." Tell people what you mean.
Tavonia Evans: So what we are seeing is these extraordinary sales of artwork and we are just blown, like, oh my g-d, with sixty million for this million, for that million, but at the same time I believe we are witnessing the devaluation of the dollar. People don’t understand as the value of the dollar goes down, the value of crypto is going up. You are going to need more dollars to make a value in the crypto. So I think the more and more we see these extraordinary values in crypto and in NFTs that’s a signal that the dollar is fast, fast losing its value.
Host: A 100%, yeah. I love that. That’s a really good way of thinking about it. So this next tweet is from March 19th—and this actually something that I meant to ask you about earlier but you tweeted, "I am always amazed to see Guapcoins most vicious opposition come from black folks in the crypto world as if they are totally ignorant to the humble beginnings of Bitcoin." So this is surprising to me, because you basically created this cryptocurrency for the community, for that specific community and then it is people from that community that are giving you the biggest backlash, which I wouldn’t have expected. Do you know like why that is? Have you talked to some of those people?
Tavonia Evans: Well, I know from experience in been in tech and working with others coming to tech that I think we are a little bit way more harder on ourselves and we tend to be perfectionist, because we come along and we see something that’s a perfect beautiful funded product, but we are not there, we are not really focused on when it was not a beautiful product. I often like to bring the first apple and I would show the picture of the first apple and I would be like you probably would have thought that this was the ugliest thing and you hated it, you probably wouldn’t even gone near it, but that’s what a lot of people bring when they first come into tech. We are just a very proud people, and we want things to be just right, but often times in tech it’s going to be dirty, it’s going to be ugly, it’s going to be broken, it’s going to be buggy. We are not going to be perfect. So within my community I have gotten a lot of whys, why couldn’t it be this or why—so out of the grass is greener kind-of-stuff, like, they have this and they have that and comparing, and I am like we are in the beginning of this, you weren’t there in the beginning of the Bitcoin when you had to download a wallet—a hardware wallet to your computer and take all day to sync to the blockchain, you were not there that time. So you don’t know that some of these same problems existed then. So you have to be gentle about it, but again we have people that—and a lot of them have come around. I would say that now. I am not dealing with the same that I have dealt with before, but initially it was very, very hard, because it was like, why would you want to do such a thing, and even still some people were still like why can’t we just use Bitcoin. And people would be very aggressive about it. I have been in tears sometimes, I understand we come from a culture and we still dealing with some of the traumas in this country that we deal with, and those traumas are deeper and a lot of the traumas are not as visible as the whole entire world would see. They are deeper within our community that we are working on by building ourselves and empowering ourselves and building value. So I understand it and I get blasted sometimes in different trolls, stuff like that, but I understand it. After a while, I just got to love them and keep moving.
Host: Yeah, 100%. If you are on social media at all you see the other trolls out there, and you see the comments and if you are going to pour yourself into limelight and anyway create a product anything—you almost have to be expecting some of that coming your way, it would be a miracle if you didn’t get that. All right, and I got one more tweet I want to call out, this is from February 10th of this year. You tweeted, "I think a virtual family crypto-camp is a dope idea. I would like to do one." Tell me, more about that?
Tavonia Evans: Yeah. Yeah. I mean. I am all about these, you know, camps and teaching and stuff like that and all that. I wish I have more time to focus on individual—those things on an individual level that’s where my passion is. My passion is in working with groups, working with children, teaching them. I have done some STEM-events stuff like that, I've worked with the kids and show them how to do a wallet and stuff like that. That’s my passion, I would love to do it and I put things out there sometimes because I am hoping that people would organize and invite me to do it, because that’s what I don’t have a lot of time to do. I don’t have a lot of time to organize things, but I tell people you organize it and my calendar is free I am there I'll show up, and do what I need to do to support it, because that’s the stuff that I love—the actual people-type things. Even the virtual, I mean, we can do some virtual camps, we can take advantage of all of the wonderful virtual tools out there now to get together and even work with the kids it could be awesome.
Host: That’s awesome. I don’t have a huge twitter following, but I would blast something out there maybe that would get some traction, but I think it is such an important world too, I mean you are shaping the future of our world, you know, by helping these kids learn about the future. So I think it is super important work and love that you love doing that. Thanks so much Tavonia for being here, I really enjoyed our conversation, learnt so much about you, and I think what you are doing is awesome and I hope you keep it up and I hope to see more and more people joining the community. Maybe we would see other cryptocurrencies come up too that are culture-based and community-based. I am looking forward to that very much, before you go just tell people where they can find you if they want to connect with you personally, and chat with you more and then once again to remind people where they can go and download—and learn more about Guapcoin and then buy some Guap as well?
Tavonia Evans: Well, you can find me on across the line on Twitter, cryptodeeva—on Instagram, cryptodeeva, that’s two EE, Deeva. Guapcoin, you can find us on all social media platforms. You find us on Telegram, Guapcoin.org is the official website. The foundation is The Guapcoin foundation as well. You can find on the foundation and talk to some other cool foundation members like myself. You can find Guapcoin on - - hopefully other places very soon, but joining the community—the telegram is very, very important. You can find me all over it. People come to my inbox all the time, if I catch and I would answer. You can also find me as Aquarius maximus on Instagram—which I do a lot of my crypto there too and other stuff that I do. So a lot of people find me through Aquarius maximus. You can also find me on clubhouse, I may pop-up and do a session. I try to do pop-up sessions Saturday mornings 9 a.m.ish, 10 a.m.ish. Where I can teach everything I now just downloads of my brain in crypto and help people navigate the space.
Host: That’s amazing. Free knowledge for everybody. Thank you so much Tavonia I'll include all of that on short notes so it’s easy for people to click-through. Thanks so much for taking the time to be here, I know you are super busy. Thank you, listeners for tuning in and we would be back again soon with another episode of The Unstoppable Podcast.