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John Karony SXSW Panel Discussions Cont'd (March 12th, 2022)

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

Venue: SXSW, Live Grit, Grit Daily House in Austin, Texas

Transcribed by: Pheonix Rising and Arie

Table of Contents:

Panel 1: What is Venture Philanthropy? Panel 2: Fast Launch - How to Create (and Sustain) a Giant Community Panel 3: How to Engage the 'Crypto Curious' Panel 4: Impact's Next Era: Impact Everywhere Panel 5: What does it truly take to create effective DeFi?


Part 4: Impact's Next Era: Impact Everywhere

Credit: Grit Daily News

Timestamp: 4:10:06 – 4:41:58

Jordan French, Executive Editor at Grit Daily: Welcome to SafeMoon Saturday at Grit Daily House. Big round of applause for SafeMoon and the team. John Karony is here and his lieutenants, SafeMoon Army, we’ve seen a lot of that crew. We are nearing 400 at the house so far today, something like 380 was the last time he updated me. I'm sure we’ll crest over 450 to 500, but it's quite a crowd.

And then, for those who are newly initiated, or don't know, my name is Jordan French. I'm the Executive Editor at Grit Daily. You’re at Grit Daily House. It’s one of the media houses that runs during South by Southwest here in Austin, Texas.

That leads me naturally to Casey Craig is here with us. Big round applause for Casey Craig, CoinDesk. She’s going to lead our next panel and moderate our next panel. This mic is hot, so I’m gonna hand it to you to take away, Casey.

Casey Craig, Global Head of Communications at CoinDesk: Hot mic. Hey guys, I'm Casey. I am with CoinDesk. We are one of the leading media companies for all things crypto and blockchain. If you're not familiar with us, definitely check us out. I'm so excited to moderate this panel today, and I'd love to welcome my panelists on stage.

So, let's just do a quick round of introductions.

Lisa Carmen Wang, Founder of “Bad Bitch Empire”: Hey, everyone. I'm Lisa Carmen Wang. I'm a four-time US national champion gymnast turned serial entrepreneur, angel and crypto investor, founder of the Bad Bitch Empire. We help women build unapologetic self-worth and wealth by leveraging the power of Web3.

Daniel P. Calderon, President of Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow: Awesome! How can I follow that? I'm Daniel P. Calderon, President of Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, and we focus on teaching black and brown kids how to solve problems through entrepreneurship.

John Karony, CEO of SafeMoon: I'm John, the CEO of SafeMoon.

Casey: Thanks, guys. So, today's topic is a little vague, which is actually a good thing. So, it's impact everywhere, and I kind of want to start this topic by, us coming out of the pandemic, things are finally starting to normalize. New York finally lifted the mask mandate.

It's just nice being here and being back in person. And I think coming out of the pandemic, a lot of things were flipped on their head. Like, we're still working from home, a lot of things just aren't going to go back to normal that we knew before, and it kind of leaves a lot of room for impact.

So, what do you guys think in what you're doing at the moment is what you want to be the most impactful?

Lisa: Well, one thing for me is, really, it's all about closing the wealth gap for women, getting more women investing. If you look at the stats, only 26% of women invest in the stock market. Only 15% of women invest in crypto.

And while we all know about the funding gap, I think the next big thing that we have to do is teach women through the education, through community, through building those networks and access to actually be able to get access to the right cap tables, to get access to allocation so that we're also getting those deals – and that starts with education.

And so, that's what we're doing with the Bad Bitch Bitcoin Bootcamp. It's a four-week intensive to learn everything from how to open up your wallet securely and safely to doing your own research, building up that confidence – that abundant money mindset – and then committing to a certain amount of money that you plan to invest into the markets.

Casey: I love that, and it really does start with education. We were talking about earlier, a big part of your program is just teaching people also how to learn. So, I'd love for you to tell us a little bit more about that.

Daniel: Absolutely. So, also, we focus on closing wealth gaps. And if you know anything about wealth gaps in America, white families average about $170K a year and black families $17K. So that's a huge wealth gap.

And that's what we focus on at Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, and really giving students the opportunity to learn.

And then, another gap is the education gap, where black students specifically are behind in math and reading, so we start from K to 5 and teach people how to learn. But the education gap and teaching our black students how to learn because if you don't really know how to learn, how are you going to get to the next step and really focus on closing those wealth gaps?

So, we do that through our entrepreneurship program, where we do a summer incubator where we teach students how to build their business from planning to building it, to also pitching it. And so far, it's been so amazing how our students – this is our third year in – and our students have grossed $100K so far from the education that we've been giving them.

So that impact is really, really important. So not only are we focusing on providing this education and a lot of education, nonprofits focus on the kids that they put through programs, and we're focusing on, “What is that wealth gap?” And 100K is a big statement for really making sure that we make sure that we put our money where our mouths are.

Casey: Yeah, and it's kind of interesting, too. I mean, I know you were on a panel before about being “crypto curious,” but how do you educate people about crypto?

Like, how do we educate the younger generation, not on what crypto is as a phenomenon, but how we would use it in our daily life or how you would pursue a career in it? So what do you think about that?

John: Yeah, so you gotta demystify it. First off, I make it mainstream knowledge. Crypto is going to be the future, whether people like it or not. The efficiency that is created from using crypto as a store of value, to information gathering in a very transparent form, it's here to stay.

So, when educating, you actually have to work on the communication style. What you would say to someone from another generation, you would not say to a kid. And then, again, also they’re a lot quicker at picking up on new trends, new innovations.

Prime example is a family friend of mine has a three-year-old, and they were playing Temple Run better than I ever could. And I'm like, “I'm not that old,” but I felt old at that point in time.

So it's being able to communicate, and I think also diving into the education aspect and actually teaching about blockchain and the core fundamentals around blockchain and what it is at a very early age, is going to make that knowledge more mainstream as we progress.

Casey: I agree completely. And like Eli, who's here at CoinDesk, we were talking about this earlier, it's kind of a funny juxtaposition. Some of CoinDesk are the Boomers and the rest are under 25. And anyone under 25 can pick it up so quickly.

So I definitely think it's something that should be integrated into the school systems from a much, much earlier age. But it's so complicated. At CoinDesk, we're seeing that people are understanding crypto through buzzwords, and that's great. But they're associated with stuff they see on Twitter, or they'll be like, “Yeah, NFTs, Bored Ape,” and all that's great, but they don't really fully understand it.

And I think there's a lot of mixed messages out there. And if we could just educate people at a younger age, “This is what crypto is,” and I'm sure that you guys are doing this too, on what it really is. So Bad Bitches, what is it again?

Lisa: Well, we've got the Bad Bitch Bitcoin Bootcamp.

Casey: Well, yeah, tell us about the bootcamp.

Lisa: We start off with educating. Week one is how to speak like a crypto boss. So we go through crypto slang, we go through what exactly is blockchain? What exactly is cryptocurrency? How is that tied together? What does peer-to-peer mean? What does permissionless and trustless actually mean?

And it goes back to the big “why,” which I think getting people to understand the overarching narrative, which is it's about freedom, access, and ownership. Because in Web2, it was really around, there are these larger conglomerates, there’s the centralized authorities who have access to your data, who own your data.

With the brands that you love, you’re a consumer, you're a follower, but you're not an owner. And in Web3, because of blockchain technology, the brands that you love, the movements or the communities that you're part of, you now have the opportunity to own and grow and evolve with them.

And so, as women, we've often sat on the sidelines, or we've been left out of the boys club, and so we don't get to make those decisions. We don't get to be the leaders. We don't get to have equity in certain companies because we just didn't get in there.

But with blockchain, why it's important for women to get involved is because you have the opportunity to own it and to shape the future that we want to live in.

And so, when we explain that technology, in the sense of here's the big “why,” here's why it matters, here's the impact, it kind of activates something inside of them that says, “Oh, this is the motivation that I need to continue, even if I don't really understand or it feels a little intimidating.”

And so, we start with that foundation before we go into, “Let's safely and securely open up your wallets.”

In week two, we actually create frameworks for thinking about how to do your own research on different altcoins. How do you figure out what's hype and what's real? Who do you follow? And so, women can feel confident about making their investment choices and figuring out a strategy for themselves.

Week three, we talk about, “How do you get involved with NFT communities?” We go NFT shopping together and different strategies for whether you're flipping or you want to hold them and how do you evaluate Discord communities?

And then, the fourth week, we double down and say, “Okay. Now that you kind of understand at a high level some of these areas, you've committed to investing. Now, how do you think about diversifying and growing your investments in crypto and beyond?”

And then, that kind of moves them into our next stage, where now we're building up our accredited base of female investors as we start to think about, “How do we present different deals to the group of bad bitches who now are in crypto?”

Casey: I want to go to that bootcamp. Actually, anyone I hire, I want to send to your bootcamp. But also, too, something that we've seen in crypto is that people forget, what is the problem that we're trying to solve? And I think that ties back to impact and being an entrepreneur like, “What is the problem that we're trying to solve and how are we going to solve it?”

So, is that something that you guys present to other students in your program? Like, what is the real-world issue and how are we going to solve it? Or is there a different format that you take?

Daniel: It’s interesting. So when we think about the scope of nonprofits, sometimes the ideology and the process or how that content is distributed is so archaic. And so, what we focus on is like, how do we make a nonprofit feel like Nike? And how do we get Generation Z to really be engaged in everything that we're doing?

So, we are literally using content and focusing on bringing people in the fold. Like, if there was some sort of celebrity, like Kirby, who wrote for John Legend, and she went on tour, she volunteered her time to talk to our students.

So, how do we use my experience? I used to be an executive for Amazon and Target. How do we use those connections to really pull our children? Because there are so many distractions. And in terms of when you think about the intention economy, kids are only focusing on specific things.

So, instead of really berating kids and saying, “Hey, you need to do X, Y, and Z,” how do we build systems, how do we build programming? How do we build entertainment so that we can pull them in?

Because when you think about marketing, there's a specific scientific method when we are able to get people's attention. So how do we use those same systems to really garner attention for good?

Casey: Yeah, and it's so hard to get people's attention in crypto. I mean, I think everyone's attention span is what? Like, 20 seconds, maybe 15. And with crypto, it just is at lightspeed.

I've been in this space since like in the ICO boom, which feels archaic, in 2017. But things move so fast. I mean, already, NFTs are a great example. There always seems to be a new NFT. It's just crazy and it moves so fast. So how do we capture people's attention?

Daniel: It’s interesting. So, we did our first NFT last year, and we were able to partner with a brand called Theophilio. And he was named the CFDA Fashion Fund Emerging Designer of the Year.

So having the audacity to say, “Hey, we need you because you're getting all this attention, and we're pouring into your brand.” And consumerism, right? So, what are you going to do, and holding people accountable, what are you going to do to give back to that community?

So that partnership, building the NFT, really did so many wonders, and we have had so many signups from people who are interested in fashion tech. So now we're figuring out, how do we build our next conference in the metaverse? So just really using all of our resources to make sure that we engage kids in the right way.

And having partners like CoinDesk and everyone, I'm going to email you, and hopefully you respond, figure out how do we engage people and kind of really mine, to use the word, mine information and provide access to this information.

Because this information is there. But like, how do you make sure that you figure out a system and way that it's easy to teach kids how to do this?

Casey: How can it resonate? How can it stick? Asking the audience, what captures your attention in crypto?

Raise your hand if most people are understanding crypto through Twitter. That's kind of just how you're understanding it. A few people. Is it through media? Is it through push notifications? We all hear about crypto, but what is really resonating?

I mean, I'm calling on the audience. Does anyone have an answer that they'd like to share?

Audience Member: CoinDesk.

Casey: Yay, CoinDesk! Love that. But no, seriously, we all know what crypto is, but how did you first learn about it and how did it resonate? What was the medium in which that happened?

Audience Member: I’m Gen-X, so my medium was when it hit from really widespread news. So I follow the Wall Street Journal. I follow the New York Times, the Financial Times, and it all starts to rush in.

So if you look at the most popular articles and things, it's about crypto, the metaverse. And so, that's how I got the information. Once I did that, I started to Google and learn more, but it came from what I would call very popular widespread news.

Casey: It came from the news. I love to hear that. How about you?

Audience Member: The movie “Dope” in 2015. It came out in 2015, and it was a bunch of kids learning to do a bunch of different stuff, and they were using Bitcoin. So that was the first time I ever saw it, and it made me research more.

Casey: Yeah, it starts with education.

Audience Member: Yeah, in 2014, a client wanted to pay me in Bitcoin. And I didn't know anything about it, so I was super skeptical. And he taught me how to open a Coinbase account, and I immediately swapped $1,000 worth of Bitcoin immediately.

Casey: Oh, no. That's painful. It's cool to hear, though. I mean, you guys all learned about crypto through a lot of different ways, like a movie, news – I love to hear the news.

John, you're a founder of a crypto company. How did you hear about crypto?

John: So I found out about it while working, for lack of better terms, a case that involved cryptocurrency from a counterterrorism side. And while it was for some nefarious activities, that's when I learned that blockchain and crypto is the worst place to move money around if you're trying to hide it, because you can't delete the ledger. It's transparent; anybody can see it.

You just have to be educated enough to actually know what you're looking at and then follow the dots. So that's where I discovered it. But that's where I learned about what blockchain technology was, because I had to learn the fundamentals behind it in order to actually be effective at my job.

Casey: Yeah. Quick pulse check: You guys, would you say that before buying a crypto, any kind of coin, or an NFT, you should read about it first? Like read in-depth. I'm not saying read some tweets or you read something on social media, but raise your hand if you are an owner or a holder in crypto, you've read about it in-depth before buying.

Okay, nice. You guys are smart. I feel like that's not always the case. And it's just so important to read and educate. And just how we can infiltrate this in school systems at a much, much younger age.

I mean, I am on the media side of this. I know I'm biased, but I do think that we need to start – it should be something by kindergarten, first grade that you should understand not what blockchain is, because it's so complicated and not everyone can understand what it is, but at least understand the concept and theory.

Daniel: And it's interesting, when we were pitching our curriculum to schools, they were saying, “The kids are too young.” So, when you think about who's running these systems, that's the problem. And you could talk about reading and educating. But really, what's going to get a kid from Brooklyn, that’s where I'm from, to buy into this is seeing me talk about it?

And when we really think about how simple education is, how simple this problem is, and we don't intellectualize it, that's where we could really make that strong difference. So that's what we're doing at Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow.

How do we create media? Like, I had my friend who dances for Alvin Ailey. That one dance has made such a bigger impact than me producing an article on cryptocurrency.

So when we think about, “How do you really reach communities?” it’s to put people on stages. Put people in the media. Put people in positions of power to show that, if I look like this, someone who looks like me can actually have wealth or learn about crypto, or it's not that hard.

“Hey, yo, you into that crypto stuff? Oh, that's dope.” That's what we need, right? That's the conversation. That's where you know you're really making traction. So once we start really understanding that, let's not try to make it so intellectual, I think.

Casey: Yeah, break it down.

Daniel: Exactly.

Casey: I'm so sick of hearing, we were at a panel earlier today, and the panel was great. But I feel like there was a big chunk of the narrative that sounded regurgitated from the other person. It’s like piecing together these buzzwords. It's like, “Let's just really talk about it.”

We don't need to keep talking about this hype. Let's talk about what the use case is. What problems are we solving with this technology? What's actually going on? Let’s just break it down.

But I'm also wanting to ask you so, for your bootcamp, we've been talking about education a lot. And you said that you went through crypto through legal stuff. How do we educate not just the younger generation, but the older generation? So what's the average age of a lot of the people that are in your bootcamp?

Lisa: Well, it's actually across the board. We have a woman who's as young as 18 taking it, and we have a woman who's as old as 72.

Casey: Wow, yeah. That's so cool. How’s the 72-year-old doing?

Lisa: Great. She has so much energy, she has so much energy. She's a serial entrepreneur, and I've never seen someone love and appreciate life so much. She's fearless, and I think she's definitely an inspiration to so many of the women.

Casey: That’s so cool. And then, at SafeMoon, you don't have to disclose this information, but what's the demographic of your users? Is it ranging between a big gap or?

John: It's very wide. A good example is on our moderation team for Discord. We have a college student and then we actually have a retired board-certified physician. So SafeMoon is definitely a very diverse demographic in terms of who our users are.

Casey: Nice. Very cool. Well, do you guys have any questions for us? I know we've been dominating the conversation. Does anyone have any, yep?

Audience Member: I don’t have a question but a statement. Just so you know that progress is happening, my brother’s only 18. They actually have a crypto club in his high school.

Casey: Love that! I mean, I bet the crypto club is actually really cool. I bet it's actually where all the cool kids hang out. I would be part of the crypto club for sure.

Anyone else have any questions, statements, thoughts?

Audience Member: What do each of you want everyone here to walk away with? One message?

Casey: I guess one message for me is really, how do you learn about crypto? What do you actually think about it? Push aside the social media bullsh*t, even the news at times. What do you actually know about it first? And then, what do you really think about it? And what would I want to tell someone else about it?

Like, what would I want to tell my best friends about it? And not just for clout or just because it's trendy, but what do I actually think would be impactful about this space and industry?

Because it's inevitable that it's going to be part of our daily lives, but in what way? At least for me, that's what I think is really important.

Lisa: So, one thing that we reiterate to all the “bad bitches” in our community is that you don't need permission to be powerful. And I think that, so often, our society, often, especially for women, it's like we're waiting for someone to give us permission to just start to launch, to invest, to do things.

And especially in crypto, there are no experts. It's changing so quickly. And so, you also don't need to wait for permission to jump in and ask a question or to jump in and say, “You know what? I want to be a part of this community.” Just start speaking up and really just making your assets work for you because that is what this space is all about. Crypto’s literally permissionless.

And so, I think just always remembering that you don't have to think about insiders and outsiders because crypto is about being inclusive and the technology enables that.

Casey: It's about community. I love that part of it. It's about community. That's one thing that I've always loved about crypto, is sometimes it's a little incestuous. I mean, you see the same people all the time, and I kind of like that about it. It's always like a reunion. Community is huge. It is all about community, and that's great.

Daniel: So, I had a couple of conversations. I was here since this morning. And so many wonderful people that want to make a huge impact and, “How do we impact millions of people?”

But I think you said there's like 400 people that came through here, and if all of the 400 people that came here bring one person along, how much impact that would make. So if we simplify, how do we think about impact and I think we would definitely have more of it, versus trying to have lofty goals and trying to save the world. So how do you save one person?

John: For me, it would be to figure out what ROI, or return on impact, means for you individually, and then go forth and do good things.

Audience Member: So two things: One, my business partner over there is Trisha. I'm gonna embarrass her for a second and probably embarrass me because I'm very not politically correct. But we just went to the Inc Founders Club, and the topic ironically at 11:20 AM was about diversity and inclusion in crypto.

And she looked at me jokingly and she said, “Where’s all the black people?” And at the time, it was just us, right? And then it got us down this deep road about like, “Well, why aren't they here? Is it because we're not inviting them? Is it because the culture at home doesn't? Like you kind of made a funny joke. They're not saying “Yo, dude. What's up, bro? You into that crypto?”

Like, are these conversations that are happening? And we actually talked about starting a charity. We just started talking about that today, like, “How do we get on stages and do things like that?” So I want you guys to connect.

But the second impact for me is I know how important it is for blockchain to dominate the world. Look at what's happening in Ukraine. Look what's happening in Russia. Look at individual property rights being stripped by governments all around the world. I don't care what your political view is. You see what's happening to the truckers in Canada and wherever else where banks are literally just freezing assets.

And then you see pressure, whether your beliefs are on Ukraine or not, but you're seeing Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister literally begging companies, Elon Musk, everyone to shut down economies and limit people's individual rights.

They're literally wanting to kill blockchain access to people so that everyday Russians – not everybody wants to support that war – can't access their stuff. MasterCard, Visa in Ukraine, shutting down payments.

So, for