Some Diversity Initiatives in Crypto Are ‘Optics’: Atlanta Blockchain Center Founder | Video

That’s it. If you really want to help women founders just do it, put your money where your mouth is, take action. You know, um It’s, it’s, it’s kind of ridiculous to see the uh the amount of noise around providing support to women and, and black founders. Uh But ultimately, you know, the the the follow through usually isn’t there many of the crypto conferences or events? I go to make a point to discuss the need for more diversity in web three and more women in web three. But these conversations are just conversations if there’s no action taken afterwards, we invited Marlon and Shana to the show to talk about one project that is focused on bridging the gap and uplifting minority founders by taking action. For me. This is an important conversation because if we aren’t aware and thoughtful about the decisions that we’re making in the early days, we might build systems that replicate some of the same problems and challenges we’re trying to solve. But just with new technology, Marlon is the man behind the immutable founders incubator, which is spearheaded by Atlanta Blockchain Center and Starter and Shana is one of the founders that’s gone through the program. Marlon tells me that in the web two world, there are several diversity focused initiatives working to achieve equity in industry. But in crypto, it’s just not the same to change this. He says we need to take a lot of action because a lot of the existing initiatives are more about optics than creating real change. Let’s take a listen. Now. I think we need to have more conversations like this one. So let’s just start from the beginning. Marlon. Tell me a little bit about starter. What led you to founding this project? Sure. Well, Jen, I’ve been a developer since 2001. So I’m a little seasoned in the development community. Well, before crypto and I’ve had some successes early on, uh I founded a medical software company 2003 that was acquired in 2008 and then I got Wind of Bitcoin just a little bit after that. And I moved on to um founding another SAS company. Those were their hot things at the time. It was either Sass B to B uh Social Facebook was about four or five years old at the time and uh had some successes there as well. But when Ethereum came out, that’s when I really started looking at opportunities to build in Blockchain. Uh And that led me to building a lot of different products and services in the Blockchain industry and ultimately founding starter labs, which is at the intersection of finance um and, and incubation, fundraising, et cetera. One of the things I realized was just the amount of capital that was going into the venture capital industry uh being dispersed to founders. But minorities, women weren’t the beneficiaries of that. So we redirected our focus to helping elevate diverse founders in web three and utilizing the power of Blockchain technology to help get them funded and get them going. Let’s talk about how this plays out in the real world. Now, Shana, uh I want to talk to you. This is a program that is for minority women when you were out there looking for funding or looking for uh an incubator like this to participate in. What was your experience like? So I was very fortunate to have an incubator for but like a mutable starter labs uh provides, you know, when you go out and start to actually decide you’re gonna build your company. Um And then, you know, actually get it out in public for people to see and then, you know, potentially apply to any of these incubators or accelerators. It can be really daunting. And so knowing that there is an incubator out there made just for you to help you progress uh was uh immensely helpful. And so it was a no brainer for me to not only apply to the immutable incubator but also participate in the community that Marlin’s done such a great job building in Atlanta like there’s, there’s quite a few meet ups so you can, uh, it doesn’t feel like you’re just submitting blind, particularly if you’re already participating in the community that’s available. Marlon. Tell me a little bit more specifically about creating something for companies that are led by minority women. When you went out there. And did your market research, did you find that there were other um incubators, other funders who had this specific target in mind? Did you find that folks understood why this was necessary? Well, Jen, you know, there, there isn’t a lot of it in Web three. As a matter of fact, there is less than, you know, you could count how many there are on, on one hand, um in, in the traditional web two world, there are several uh diversity focused initiatives, but not in crypto. Uh and, and, and the last bull market, you know, through starter labs just to give you some point of reference, you know, we helped uh different founders raise over $45 million and this is all on chain capital for uh formation. So, you know, the question for me was, you know, how do we redirect that capital to the people who need it most? Because quite frankly, in the last cycle, a lot of the founders that we worked with were founders that were all over the world. A lot that I never really met in person, right? So we wanted to get back to be in a mission driven organization and we looked at where we could make the most impact and, and distribute a lot of that capital into where uh there’s a significant gap. So we’re one of the first to do this in the crypto space. Uh We have a physical facility in Atlanta where founders actually sit with us twice a week and we go through all of the uh intricacies of launching a Blockchain based uh business. I want to dive a little bit deeper. You know, I hear a lot of people talk about diversity in this industry. When we go to conferences, there’s a lot of talk about getting more women, getting more people of color into the space, but this is one of other projects that are actually tangibly doing something uh about that. How do you feel? Well, maybe not. How, what needs to change do you think to progress us towards the future, the future that we talk so much about? Well, I think it’s, it’s about, you know, taking action because a lot of, a lot of these initiatives are, you know, I think it, it’s an optics, it’s a um it’s all talk and no action effectively. You know, we just gotta start doing. It’s, it’s always been my approach to, to business, right? When I wanted to start my first company, I just did, it didn’t have the resources, I didn’t have the support system. I went ahead and did it anyway, Jen, you know, so that, that’s it. If you really want to help women founders just do it, put your money where your mouth is, take action, you know. Um It’s, it’s, it’s kind of ridiculous to see the uh the amount of noise around providing support to women and, and black founders. Uh But ultimately, you know, the, the, the follow through usually isn’t there. That’s, that’s my opinion on it. And Marlon, I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here and I really hate that I’m doing this, but it’s something I hear so much in this space is people saying, well, why do I need to focus on a certain group of people? Like I’ll just support the best, the best project. Why is that the wrong way to think about uh diversity and inclusion when you’re, when you’re in such a young industry like this one? Well, we, we love to help everyone, right? But for us, we just look at the data again. I’ve been a software developer for two decades now. I’m very data driven and the facts are the facts. You know, you look at the statistic that I shared before in 2021 for example, with, we had 330 plus billion dollars in venture capital. And you know, I believe 1.2 went to diverse founders and less than 2% went to women. Data is there. So, you know, people can uh can say you know, whatever they like, you know, I, I just look at the data and to me that’s where, you know, we present, we see the opportunity based on the data. Shayna tell us a little bit more about your project and what it’s been like for you since you joined the incubator. Yeah, so shown live is a high velocity influencer marketing platform that matches marketers to hundreds of creators within one influencer campaign. And we do this by innovating on the influencer ad unit. We’ve changed it into a gift. Um And so the gift is like any type of freebie that you would give away. Um And I’m sure you can see how that’s uh heavily inspired by what’s happening within the web three communities with lots of airdrops and giveaways. Uh We’re looking to bring that sort of mentality back into the, the current web two status. And uh we do have plans in our road map to, to uh bring this fully on chain as well. Um in terms of joining the incubator, it was excellent. Like I mentioned, you know, the ability as a woman to go out and say, I’m going to uh create this company. I have this idea, figure out how to build it, figure out how to market um and then go out and try to find investors in communities that actually believe in uh in your, in what you’re building is a huge undertaking. And um it was really important for me to find people like minded people. Um As I was building, actually noticed that I had a personal bias um as a woman on myself, nobody else was telling me this, that I couldn’t do it. Um And that it’s not possible for people like me. Um And again, this wasn’t coming from anywhere except for myself. And so to have an incubator where you go twice a day, you’re meeting up with like minded people who are doing it just like you’re doing it. Um and having leaders like Marlon helping you through the process and you know, the hard days and the good days uh is just extremely invaluable. I mean, you don’t get an experience like that. Most founders don’t get an experience like that, but to have someone really um supporting you and a group of people supporting you through that whole process is um exactly what you need to be successful, Shana. It’s interesting you said there that self doubt, that story that you tell yourself. It’s a story I’ve heard from other female founders in this space and in, in other spaces. Um Where do you think that comes from? Is there more of a systemic issue that needs to be addressed here? Because I don’t think you woke up one day and just told yourself that. Yeah, exactly. Um It, that’s why it’s like you have to go through this process of being a woman founder to really uncover those belief statements that you have about yourself that you’re not consciously bringing to the table when you’re working a 9 to 5 job. I never went to my job saying that I, oh, I don’t think I can do it or can’t be successful at it. It was only came up when I started to build myself. Um, and, you know, I think those belief systems are really deep rooted culturally. It’s not like my parents were ever, hey, you can’t do this. Nobody on the outside world ever says you can’t do this. I think it is a, an issue with who you see representing certain industries and doing things um that sort of just this uh you know, undercover bias that we have. Um And so it is important uh to Marlo’s point to um have people out there actually advocating for people like us in the space that you can do it, we can do it and let’s all do it together, which is again, very web three too. So Marlon, I want to kick it back to you. Why does this matter? Why do conversations like this matter? If we actually um want to build a system that looks a little bit different than systems that were previously built? It matters because we need uh to, to make the world a better place across the board. There are a lot of people who just need access, you know, and a lot of it comes from my personal experience. Again, I kind of hinted towards not having a support system, you know, was I couldn’t find a first check, right? As a, as a young black entrepreneur. So my solution was to build and uh get customers the, the, the way that I funded my initial uh endeavors was through revenue. That was it. So II I know the struggle firsthand and that’s why I’m passionate about just helping other people. I’d like to build people because people are what matters. Um So I think the, the, the, the the access that a lot of us have kind of blinds us to uh the unfortunate um situation that a lot of others have to experience in, in this world. So we just want to make the world a better place and lend our talents in whatever way possible. Shana, reflecting on your experience, I’m gonna give you the last word here. Uh What would you say to other female founders who are building in Web three? What advice would you give them? I would say web three is for you. Uh It is possible even if you think that perhaps I don’t have the technical skills to build myself. Uh The industry has come a long way, not only um creating lots of api friendly products that will hook up to the Blockchain, but also I find that joining communities and meeting people anonymous, anonymously um actually leads to friendships and meeting other builders that you have. Um access to actually ask questions. And you know, some of these people are phd, some of these people are like Marlin who built multiple companies and to get access to people like that essentially for free um is really exciting and has never been um available to us. So I think the only thing that I would say to women is just jump in and you know, start building and just try to figure it out because you do have resources available to you, Marlon Shayna. Thanks so much for joining today’s show. Thank you for having us. Thank you so much.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button