Can you tell us about your role at Ava Labs and what kind of companies you work with?
I am the VP of Marketing at Ava Labs and joined the team in early May. Ava Labs makes it simple to launch financial applications using blockchain technology; our flagship product is Avalanche, an open-source platform for launching decentralized finance applications and enterprise blockchain deployments in one interoperable, highly scalable ecosystem.
With blockchain technology at our core, most of the companies we collaborate with fall within the blockchain industry: decentralized finance, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and stablecoins, to name a few. Outside of blockchain, we’re also seeing a consistent growth in demand for the technology. Enterprises, institutions, and sovereign states have also connected with us to learn more about Ava Labs and our solutions.
Ava Labs recently launched a venture arm, Avalanche-X. What are you looking to accomplish with Avalanche-X?
Avalanche-X is our accelerator for developers building decentralized finance applications. Accepted applicants have access to our community, resources, and grants. As a company building a layer 1 (network) solution for the decentralized web, we’re only as strong as the participants on the network. Growing our developer ecosystem is priority number one.
Avalanche-X features grants that span three major categories: financial applications, tooling, and community. With financial applications and tooling, accepted applicants can receive financial support to build products and services on Avalanche.
Currently, we have grants open for building decentralized exchanges to a simple social tipping bot for Avalanche Tokens. On the community side, we’re crowdsourcing community-growth efforts from all across the globe. If there aren’t any specific opportunities available, general grants are more than welcome.
What do you see for the future of decentralized finance in the next year?
Decentralized finance (DeFi) is rapidly growing, especially as blockchain and cryptocurrencies begin to rise in popularity again. At this stage, DeFi applications are still ironing out all of the kinks in regards to usability and security; streamlining usability will further democratize access to DeFi, and improving security will promote confidence in people interested in using DeFi.
Blockchains with DeFi applications are also having scalability issues, which breeds a multitude of other problems: high network fees, high latency, and vulnerability to network attacks.
Within the next 5 years, there will be a new generation of networks that continue to facilitate and grow the DeFi movement. We, at Ava Labs, think that Avalanche will be one of them.
Has covid-19 or recent events impacted your business?
Prior to covid-19, most of the blockchain industry (including Ava Labs) was already well accustomed to a remote-friendly work style. Although Ava Labs has a physical office in Brooklyn, we also have team members from all across the globe, with locations including Russia, China, Turkey, and Mexico.
What were you doing before Ava Labs?
Prior to Ava Labs, I was the Head of Marketing at a blockchain organization in Brooklyn called Fluidity. There, I was responsible for launching Fluidity and its products brands, developing and executing product go-to-market and growth strategies, and developing the marketing team.
Prior to Fluidity, I was a digital marketing consultant at Ogilvy splitting my time with Fortune 500 brands as well as focusing on building a marketing capability for blockchain startups. It’s clear that blockchain technology is a passion of mine, and I’ve done my best to ensure that I have a professional role in it.
What advice do you have for someone looking to break into the cryptocurrency space?
My best advice would be to dive head-first into blockchain and apply it to your pre-existing strengths. Understand blockchain technology and its surrounding ecosystem better than anyone else. This is what I did when I decided to take the plunge into the blockchain industry. For me, my strengths fall within the intersection of blockchain and marketing.
What’s the biggest mistake or assumption you see people make when thinking about investing in crypto?
The biggest mistake I see when people invest in crypto is failing to do any research. There is an astonishing number of instances I’ve seen where people blindly throw money at crypto without even batting an eye. Sure, there may be some lucky bets here and there, but it’s not a sustainable strategy.
How do you handle risk and competition?
My brain has always processed information by constructing systems. In any situation that requires thinking (even socializing), I will quickly analyze the situation and create my own system internally. Then, I will make sure to fully understand the participants in that system as well as the possible routes to take. I then simulate the countless number of scenarios that go in every possible direction. This process is how I also assess risk and competition. It seems a bit exhausting at times when I explain it to others, but really, it happens pretty autonomously at this point in my life.
What’s your team culture like?
The culture at Ava Labs is to work smart, not hard. This doesn’t mean that people aren’t heads-down with their own tasks, but it means that we try to get problems solved as efficiently as possible. We have an extremely talented team, and we’re aware that in order to succeed, we’ll need to punch way above our weights.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I am a professional photographer specializing in street, portrait, and event photography; for events, I shoot underground music concerts all across NYC and will often travel for events as well. In line with my passion for music, I’ve also been producing music for the past 8+ years focusing primarily on techno and house music.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you were just starting out, what would it be?
Always be confident.
Imposter syndrome is definitely real, and sometimes, it just takes a walk and talking to yourself to muster up the courage to get the job done.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The best piece of advice I’ve received was in college while I was running a music blog I founded back in 2010. Through this endeavor, I met a prominent individual in the music industry who always sought out to help me, even when he didn’t have to. And with this gesture, he taught me that kindness goes a long way, and you never know how it will help you out in the future (thanks Mitch!).