Onboarding women to Web3.0.

Maggie Love is the founder of SheFi, a decentralized finance company and broader crypto educational initiative and community aimed at onboarding more women into the new financial economy enabled Web 3.0 and blockchain technology. Its goal is to empower more women into financial freedom.

"SheFi is about the foundational concepts. Getting you set up with your wallet, using DeFi protocols, knowing how to mint an NFT..."

Maggie LoveFounder and CEO, SheFi

Transcription

[00:00:00] Katie: Welcome to Building While Flying, a Sasha Group podcast where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies. 

[00:00:12] Joe: Welcome to the Building While Flying podcast. My guest today is Maggie Love, founder of SheFi, a decentralized finance company and broader crypto educational initiative and community aimed at onboarding more women into the new financial economy enabled Web 3.0 or blockchain technology.

Maggie, welcome to the pod. 

[00:00:33] Maggie: Thanks so much for having me. Happy to be here. 

[00:00:35] Joe: I gotta start off by admitting I love the name. My daughter’s name is Margaret, actually we call her Ruth, but her first name is Margaret and we named her after our beloved cat that we had named Maggie for 20 years. So incredible.

Maggie holds a special place of mine. I’m happy to be interviewing a Maggie on the podcast. But you have a pretty exhaustive background in the field of tech. It looks like you’ve worked at, from places like Medline to IBM and Consensus. So what took you from places that are established in tech, like those to wanting to found a company like SheFi.

[00:01:11] Maggie: Yes, that’s a great question. So in 2016, I was doing product strategy at IBM for IBM Watson and financial services. And through that role I was brought into a corporate strategy meeting and everyone was talking about what technologies they should invest in, in financial services at ibm, and we’re sitting in this big.

Room and as her place, New York, and there was a guy on the phone, on speaker, and he kept being like blockchain. And everyone in the room was like, oh, can you mute that guy? He never stops talking about blockchain. And instead of thinking that in my head I was like, Wow, somebody’s really passionate about a technology at I B M.

Like I have to go find out what that is. And, you know, I read that passion and it sparked a curiosity in me. So I went from work that day to the Barnes and Noble in Union Square in New York City, typed blockchain in their search computer. Found a book called The Blockchain Revolution, a physical book, and I read it in about 48 hours.

And after reading that book, which was really focused on the use cases such as cross-border remittances being able to establish identities, supply chain. Transformed the creator economy. I was like I have to be working in this industry. And so I spent the rest of 2016 and into 2017 hiding in cubicles in between calls, interviewing with crypto companies, and that’s how I landed at Consensus in 2017.

So, mm-hmm. , , I had been working in the crypto space. For a couple years and in 2019 I noticed everyone talking about building, playing with this new set of use cases called decentralized finance. And everyone was saying, we’re building the future of finance. It’s gonna be so inclusive and it be so different than current finance.

But unfortunately, if you looked at everybody building, playing, and using defi. They happen to look like all the same people that were already benefiting from traditional finance. So, Happened to be, and there are statistics from that time in 2019 and 2020, most of the people using and building defi were men between the ages of 25 and 45.

So in 2019, I saw these new use cases. Coming up, and I’m very passionate myself about women’s financial literacy and empowerment, and I knew that Web 3 and blockchain would have a huge role in onboarding and including people traditionally left out of the system. So I decided that. I was gonna do something about the fact that women and people traditionally left out of the system weren’t a part of it yet.

And that’s really what inspired me to found SheFi. I was at home here in Chicago on a run in October, 2019 and meditating on the words crypto defi women, like wondering how I could get them involved and excited and make time for it. And the name SheFi came to me while listening to music and on a run.

So I felt like that was definitely. A moment of inspiration, I couldn’t let go. And that’s really how I got into crypto. And then looking around, seeing how I could potentially involve more women and non-binary folks in this space. 

[00:04:11] Joe: Yes, it’s almost like it’s, coming at it from two different angles.

Cause obviously there’s financial literacy and trying to look after women in other groups when it comes to matters of financial literacy, maybe there’s people left behind. But we also know that empirical data shows that specifically girls and young women are slow to adopt stem learning when they’re younger, a lot slower than their male counterparts.

Not because they’re not as smart, but just because they self-select into other things, or maybe they feel intimidated by it. I was doing a project for a stem company that actually makes educational material and they had a lot of research on that matter. So do you feel like that makes. Extra hard to help take the shroud of mystery off of this field because it’s a financial thing and it’s a tech thing, and it’s not something that has been historically linked with women in people of color, in minorities.

[00:05:01] Maggie: yes. So likely you were exposed to blockchain and web three and crypto in those early days around when I was getting into it, 2016, 2017, because you were working in tech or finance, or you were aware of those things because Bitcoin, is a new technology, but also a new currency, a new financial tool.

And so I would definitely agree with that. And we have an extra layer of complexity in the web three space. Not only. is it hard if you don’t have some financial literacy to know those concepts. But then we’re building entirely new financial services and tools with their whole own set of definitions and terminologies and acronyms.

And so I really wanted to make sure that there was a place where people could come learn what those terms are, what the concepts are, really demystify all of. Jargon that you see and approach even learning about traditional finance by how it’s used in decentralized finance. So helping people with both that financial literacy through this microcosm of finance we have in crypto, and then extrapolate some of those bigger concepts that have been leveraged from traditional finance and also educate on those as well.

[00:06:10] Joe: Great. And so I’ve seen your courses referred to as a bootcamp of sorts where you take women from 0 crypto confident in a certain amount of time And as far as I know, you’ve had this company in existence for three or so years now, and you’ve had several cohorts graduate from it.

Can you give us a little bit of a sense of what goes on in these boot camps and how you’re able to get people from just, maybe crypto curious to crypto confidence so quick. . 

[00:06:37] Maggie: Yes. It’s always going to be a commitment even beyond the bootcamp or cohort experience and that commitment to yourself to learn.

And we provide so much of that education. And what went into my thinking when developing this bootcamp was you can learn all the terms and the concepts and what a wallet is and what a bridge is, and what a centralized exchange is. You can read and read, but things don’t really click in your head in the Web 3 space until you do the activity, until you send your first transaction and you hold your breath for 15 seconds while you wait for it to settle.

Until you, bridge your tokens to a different network until you mint your first nft. Those are very formative moments in your experience. And so what she I does is I wanted to stitch together both the educational component and the experimentation component because I do not believe you can be a bystander in Web3.

So how SheFi works is you have a class where I do a deep dive on a concept. So our stablecoin S S course, which is just virtual token that is pegged one to one to another asset like the US dollar. Uh, It’s . Called what’s die Got to do with it themed after, you know what’s love got ,to do with it, and you’ll learn everything about stable coins, the different types of stable coins, why we need stable coins, where you can get them.

And then the next class session is a q and a. So then people will submit all their questions after class, they’ll regroup with me, I’ll answer all the questions. And then also we have demos where you can, learn how to get your first stablecoin or send your first stablecoin and go through the different types.

And we do that for every single week. So week one, becoming a blockchain baddie is getting set up with that initial account on a centralized exchange. Week two is feeling foxy about meta mask, the wallets. You’ll set up your wallet. Trading tokens is decentralized exchanges, so you’ll learn all about that and set up and do your first swap on an exchange.

There’s a couple challenges with education. Just learning is not enough. But just going on YouTube and watching some person click a bunch of buttons and tell you how you’re gonna make a bunch of money is also an incorrect and challenging way to learn. And so I really wanted people to know when they’re hitting swap on unis. Swap at a centralized exchange, what are they swapping against?

Where are those tokens coming from? So I give you an under the hood. look With the first session or the educational part, answer your questions, and then you get a demo session and then you’re incentivized to do it yourself. So we take, a very HandsOn and experimental approach to learning. I out demos all day. But you’ll never understand what’s happening under the, and we’re just not far enough along in crypto to abstract everything away. People wanna know, especially with all. Challenges happening with centralized players and whatnot in the news. People wanna know what they’re putting their money into, where is that interest rate coming from?

How can I see where it exists on a blockchain? So I really wanna make sure you get that as a part of your educational experience and then try it yourself and then, see other ways to do it as well. And so that’s really, course of the bootcamp each week has a topic three dedicated sessions to it.

And so it’s definitely a time commitment, but it’s better than opening all those tabs on that one concept you’ve wanted to learn. And then closing down those 20 tabs at the end of the week. 

[00:09:56] Joe: Yeah, for sure. You guys are in the web three space so you know, I would assume you have other kind of accoutrement to go along with the courses themselves.

Like what are you doing to keep people up to date on an ongoing basis? Do you have a discord server? Do you use community or telegram to keep people up to date and let them have a chance to ask questions? How do you keep the loop open and making a feedback loop?

[00:10:18] Maggie: Yes, that’s a great question. We have a lot of tools. So to close out the course part, we have a course site on Notion, and you have a course card and you have your presentations, your recordings. I also give step by step how to guides your demos, extra reading materials and a podcast from someone who’s an expert in the industry.

So you can just go into that Notion. Page and click on your course card for the world’s most interesting platform, which is about a lending platform called Ave. You click on that, you find your presentations, your recordings. We also have quizzes as well. So your quiz for that week and all your extra materials.

So in terms of just getting people seeing content to continue to solidify concepts in their head, that’s where they can go. Beyond that our third pillar, so we have education experimentation. The third pillar is community. And so we have virtual events. So we just had a Twitter space with a web three social platform called Lens, where we talked about what’s the difference between Twitter and web three, social, what’s the social graph with their head of business development and ecosystem, Christina. We have one guest speaker a month about, it’s usually an incredible female in this space to talk about their trajectory and their product. And so we have virtual events. We have in-person events. We just did one at Art Basel where we gave bucket hats that were also an NFC chip in them so they can mint a 3d.

SheFi Nft bucket hat. We get women to hackathons like E Global, which is an Ethereum based hackathon. We’re doing a big event in March, 2023 at East Denver, which is a crypto conference. And then I’m in New York City. So we’ve done events with Union Square Ventures, Bain Capital, and we have a few more exciting ones coming up.

So we have virtual events, we have in-person events, we have Discord, we have Telegram, we have email, and we also. Ways for women to get connected to each other. So we’re building out like a peer-to-peer knowledge and mentoring network called SheFi Guiding Life. And we just offer a lot of ways for people to leverage SheFi to support their web three potential and aspirations.

So outside of the course, you get all of this acc crema. I love that term. That’s a good way to describe it. To stay connected, to stay engaged. 

[00:12:29] Joe: And you said something earlier when you know women are going through the course and they’re getting ready to, hit swap and then they take a deep breath or you coach them in to take any deep breath.

Do you think that this stuff is really that stressful? And if so have you thought about partnerships with companies that focus on breath, calm or head space? Is there stress mitigation necessities in this field that you think would help women along their journey?

[00:12:53] Maggie: Yes. I really love this question because I think that Web three specifically brings us to the front, but we could all use these types of sessions no matter what type of workplace, workforce and industry we’re in. We exist in very interesting times where we’re not only dealing with work stress, but macro stress and it’s just fed to us all the time.

And , we have partnered Moments of Space. So they gave SheFi members six months free. That app specifically is trying to become a decentralized, autonomous organization, which is a web three native organization that is owned by a community of shareholders versus the traditional.

VC route and they launched an NFT as well. So we partner with apps like this and we also are starting a program in the new year called, wellness Wednesdays because we have a thousand members in the SheFi community. And a lot of them come from practices or backgrounds where that’s important and we wanna facilitate those experiences as well as a place to talk about how you’re feeling.

Whether we like to admit it or not risking money and playing with money has different feelings for everybody and a lot of times there’s a lot of stress around that. And then you are existing in this ecosystem that’s in the news a lot and there’s bad actors and you’re really. Coming to terms with what trust is in this space and how to know the good from the bad. And people do get scammed from N F T links. So we really wanna provide space for people to talk about that. Share, learn and breathe, like you said. You’ve hit it on the nose there.

It’s a very important part. And I think web through brings it to the forefront in a lot of ways that. Industries haven’t. 

[00:14:33] Joe: Gotcha. And like I know you you’re on a mission to make web three more inclusive from an equity perspective beyond just women though. Like I know you hinted at doing some things specifically for minority groups like LGBTQ plus.

Are there other ways that you’re looking to make web three more inclusive than really focusing in on women? Is it really the broader spectrum of people in all groups that you’re interested in, or is there a specific ways that you’re focusing in on equity moving forward?

[00:14:58] Maggie: Yes. That’s a great question. So in order to build a strong culture, a strong community, to get that foundation set for SheFi, I really wanted to focus first on women, they were such a group obviously lacking from engaging in crypto. And so like you mentioned, SheFi is two, three years old. And within that group we do uh, LGBTQ IA plus other historically excluded groups if they fit in kind of that women and non-binary category.

And we are gonna do partnerships with other groups too that focus different groups that maybe we, and SheFi, at this moment don’t fully capture in order to widen that net over time. We will continue to expand who can participate in SheFi, how they can participate. We’re probably always going to keep our discord and our telegram closed to our members.

you know, It’s a safe space. They say it’s not a headache when they open Discord, there’s no one trying to scam them. And so there’s like very specific reasons that we’d want some of our community channels to be for the small group. And over time potentially expand who that is, but have many other ways that we partner with people and broaden the network of education and learning for other groups.

And so we’re working on some interesting partnerships of people who are like, I don’t wanna reinvent the wheel. I would like to bring education to my group, this type of organization, whoever, and broaden it over time. Unlike a lot of discords that are open, let everybody in who’s just interested in this for the sanity and mental health and sustainable growth of the culture and community.

I’ve decided to take for right now a wait and see approach to how that’s all working. But yes we’ll partner with a lot of different groups in order to do that and we’ll see how we grow and who we include over time. If organizations want to hire SheFi, so that can be a corporate organization.

I’ve taught classes at Opera Browser, United Talent Agency, Google Oxford’s Business School. The courses are also up for hire. But the content is universal. I’m teaching you what a smart contract is. I’m teaching you what tokens are. I’m teaching you what a market maker is and what a taker is. So organizations who want to onboard their companies or their teams, and that way everybody gets to take SheFi

so that’s also an avenue and for people if they want content for a broader spectrum of people than we provide in our boot camp experience. 

[00:17:23] Joe: Cool. Last line of questioning, and this is gonna be a doozy cause just looking at me and lining up your company history. You launched in November, 2019 and here we are December of 2022.

A lot’s happened in that timeframe, right? We went through a global pandemic and we’ve recently gone through what some people are calling a meltdown of the crypto markets. Obviously our podcast is called Building Off Flying. , and I’m sure you’ve done a fair bit of piloting through some of these turbulent times, whether it’s on the personal side of things and your relationship to, work in general with the pandemic or whether it’s, the extreme rollercoaster ride of Bitcoin going up to $65,000 or Ethereum being close.

Then, falling cliffs, zero, lots of projects, losing tons of value overnight. So I guess my ultimate question here is what’s that like launching a business into that kinda rollercoaster ride? And then to piggyback onto that, do you almost feel refreshed and relieved that it it’s almost like a time to reset a little bit and get the underpinnings of decentralized.

[00:18:30] Maggie: Yeah, that’s a great question. I launched it publicly in April of 2020. So while I was sitting from my friend’s apartment and we were wondering if we were ever going to leave it again uh, announced that was happening and I had my first cohort in October.

2020 and, rode the wave up until the excitement around NFTs and defi and decentralized autonomous organizations and Justin Bieber buying Board Apes and Paris Hilton and Evil Longoria, down to sbf exploding the market, and Tara Luna and all the crashes. lots of questions in there.

So I’ve been close to it since 2017, really working in it. And I had my first big crash in 2018 when the ico initial coin offering. Happened and I had just joined this new industry. I was really excited about the potential of blockchain technology, really from a use case perspective, working on exciting things and had that sort of pulled out from under me for the first time in 2018.

And what I will say is I had a couple projects I was working on, and some of them, fell to the wayside. And from that open space, I was looking around in 2019 and the idea of SheFi came to me because I had space and time to dedicate to something like this. So great things can happen when there is more time, more space to build.

You don’t feel like you have to watch the news every second to make sure you’re grabbing an N F T or flipping one or. I don’t really engage in those activities, but, writing the hype as they say. So that’s one thing I like to remind people. And in that time as well, you meet a lot of incredible people.

Like I met all of the founders, the big defi founders. Everyone would like to know today because we were going to conferences in 2018 and 19 when no one was there. So these times are really important and great for resetting, like you said, clearing out and building. What it is in building a business in those times is uh, SheFi is really about the foundational concepts.

Getting you set up with your wallet, getting used to using some defi protocols. Knowing how to mint an NFT and how to protect your wallet and how to vote in a DOW and how to think big picture about how these technologies are transforming the music industry, the whole entire creative industry. I built that specifically so it could stand the test of hype cycles.

So we have 14 classes covering a variety of use cases, and you’ll never hear me say, buy this, sell this, invest in this. I teach protocols I know, and that are built on blockchains. So they will not be challenges with what we saw. I advocate for self custody, so really managing your own crypto, and that allows me to ride this wave up or down.

I’m helping people really make sure they can navigate this space and understand it. So if they ready for the next hype cycle or know how to, breathe easy in the bear market, they can do that. So that’s something more big picture, how it’s impacted. The general sentiment. I will say the FTX drama has been very tough for somebody like me and many of my builders who have stayed through last bear markets and truly believe in this technology to watch somebody on such a high profile way do a lot of damage to a lot of good that’s being built and needing to repair that.

And, advocate the first time I went to DC and had dinner with Senators Lummis and Gilland. Tried to advocate on behalf of the good stuff and how it can really empower women and the historically excluded to own their finances. So that’s something new that has to be added to all of our work is this advocacy role, I think that we weren’t necessarily thinking we had to do.

So I think that’s been tough, but overall I think. and the landscape, the whole macro space is not looking so incredible either. So I think a lot of people are like, okay, this is a time to learn about what’s coming and what’s new, because what’s happening right now and the way that things are running also isn’t working either.

And I think that’s how crypto really stays, afloat through all this time, is that the technology itself is allowing for us to build truly new ways of operat. Creating value in distributing that and coordinating in ways that’s not been possible before. And it’s much easier for anybody to get together with a group of people and bootstrap.

And so I think that’s what is the thing that keeps exciting entrepreneurs more so than launch an NFT and luckily be one of the projects that gets elite buyers and has, star powered value and get rich quick. And so I think that’s, what really allows people to stay.

But I will say it’s been unfortunate to see the recent events, but. The crash of SB is exactly why I’m building blockchain technology and organizations to educate people on how to build on it as well. So 

[00:23:10] Joe: That’s awesome. That’s all I’ve got for you today.

If people wanted to become more familiar with SheFi, is there a website they can go to? Is there a, like a Twitter account you wanna promote? How would you like people to get ahold of? 

[00:23:22] Maggie: Yes. A really awesome thing is applications for our season eight. Our eighth cohort are now live, and that will start in February, 2023.

So it’s sponsored by Polygon, which if you’re familiar with blockchain, that’s a very major player who. Partnership with Starbucks. So we’re really excited to have them be our partner to provide scholarships for those who cannot afford class at this time. So you can find that at www.SheFi.Org. You follow us on Twitter’s, Instagram is SheFi dot crypto, and what we do on Instagram, Twitter is really continued to break down education for the masses.

So anybody can follow our Instagram and Twitter and they can understand what is a wallet, what is a layer two, what is an nft? What are these different projects? Who’s building, who’s hiring. That way we really brought in our scope of who we reach. And hope that some of your listeners join us for our eighth cohort and our community of a thousand members in 50 plus countries.

We’d love to have you a part. 

[00:24:27] Joe: All right, BWF audience members, she’s pretty easy to find. If you search Maggie, love, if you search for She, I, you’ll come across pretty much all that they have to offer. And I do encourage all of you to go out and try to become part of that cohort come February.

Maggie, it was excellent having you. Thank 

[00:24:43] Maggie: you. Thank you so much. Wonderful to be here.

Thanks for joining us for Building While Flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson, Mickey Cloud, Maribel Lara, and Joe Quattrone will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Helping women learn about the new wave of financial literacy.

Maggie Love is the founder of SheFi, a decentralized finance company and broader crypto educational initiative and community aimed at onboarding more women into the new financial economy enabled Web 3.0 and blockchain technology. Its goal is to empower more women into financial freedom.

In her conversation with Joe Quattrone, Maggie shares how she got inspired to help women learn about the new wave of financial literacy. Throughout the episode, she explains why she thinks this is important, what goes on in their boot camps, and how she’s built her company in the midst of so much adversity in the world.

In-flight topics:

  • Her background and inspiration 
  • Helping people left behind catch up on financial literacy
  • How her boot camps take women from zero to crypto confident
  • Stitching together the educational and experimental components
  • Building in the midst of adversity
  • …and more!
Connect with SheFi:

SheFi Website: https://www.shefi.org/

SheFi on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shefi.crypto/

SheFi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/She__Fi

SheFi on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/shefi/

Maggie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/love.maggie_/

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