Transcription Episode 80

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Living on Blockchain. Today we are speaking to Rachel from HaloFi. Rachel has been working, you know, in the Web3 space for a little while now and earlier she was working in, you know, Web2 as DevRel and even before that she was working as a secondary school teacher.

So she’s had quite a journey and it’s always very exciting to meet fellow founders and talk to them, ideate with them about the platforms they are building that have real use cases. This is a very interesting conversation, deep diving into various aspects of HaloFi and the new product, you know, that they have just recently launched that has seen lots of users save a lot of money in crypto. So a very exciting conversation indeed.

I can’t wait for you guys to hear this. Let’s deep dive right in. Hi Rachel, thank you so much for making the time to speak to me today.

How are you doing? I’m great, thank you for inviting me on, Tarusha. It’s a real honor to be on here today. Super busy, as I imagine you are, but very good and lots of exciting things in the pipeline.

Excellent and we would like to know all about that. So for our listeners, can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into Web3? Yeah, of course. So my background was actually in development and then later in developer relations.

So if you’re not familiar with developer relations, it’s sort of the marketing side of marketing developer products to developers. So I worked for a number of, a couple of Web3 crypto projects, also some Web2, more traditional tech companies, Twilio. And yeah, prior to that I was a JavaScript developer working a lot with React and some Node.

And then actually in another lifetime before that, I actually used to be a secondary school teacher. So I’ve had quite a few different roles, experiences, but somehow they all tie together in the end. I think there’s definitely lots of skills you pick up along the way, but yeah, quite a wealth of different experience really.

That sounds very diverse and very, obviously, like you said, it’s all kind of tied up in the end, but how did you, you know, take the leap from say, you know, a secondary school teacher, then to DevRel and then now into Web3? Yeah, that’s an interesting question. So I did come via development. So I was a teacher, but I was actually teaching my undergrad degrees in geography.

So I was teaching that, but the school I was teaching at, they also got me to teach graphic design and I really enjoyed the kind of creative design aspect of that. So it sort of occurred to me that maybe programming would be a good way that I could kind of get the creative aspect of building stuff and maybe, you know, get some more hard skills along the same process. So I left teaching and then I did a bootcamp back in 2015.

And from that, I did a few years working as a developer, but I think it also got into, I also got into developer relations, partly because of my background in teaching, because a lot of what you do in DevRel is communication, creating tutorials, you’re dealing with people a lot. So it was actually quite a nice fit between my previous experience and the technical knowledge that I had acquired. Yeah, absolutely.

I think that seems very, you know, logical because as a DevRel, you’re not just, because in order to market it to Dev, any kind of product, you need to understand it well and you need to be able to explain it well. And you can only do that, you know, when you come from a background wherein patience is key, perhaps, you know, so that you can put your point across firmly, but in a way that would make it clear, especially with the one product, right? No, definitely. And I think, you know, for me, having that technical background, even now when I’m, I do sometimes write code, but it’s rare, it’d be more of a prototype or something quickly.

But having this kind of background really does help with the understanding of like how you stitch things together, thinking about architecture, thinking about APIs, SDKs. So for me, getting that bootcamp and getting those, you know, years of working as a developer was actually really, really foundational in helping me kind of grow in tech, essentially. Right.

Absolutely. I completely agree, I think. So, you know, when you started working in DevRel, was that in a Web2 company or was that in a Web3 company? It’s actually in a Web3 company, but I got into DevRel when I was kind of unofficially, when I was working a Web2 company, because I started to host meetups and talk at events.

So sort of kind of transitionary, but the first kind of paid job was in a Web2 company, in a Web3 company. Wow. OK.

And would you, can you mind telling us like about that company and how was your experience there? Yeah. So I worked for a company called Lisk. They are a blockchain project.

They are building the kind of JavaScript client blockchain based out of Berlin. So I learned a bunch of stuff around their delegated proof of stake. So I learned a lot about the kind of community governance aspect.

Definitely when you’re DevRel, you’re very community facing. So that was like really fascinating to see. And yeah, it was just like a good, good way for me to start working in the space of crypto and Web3.

But I’d already been involved in my kind of spare time for about almost a year before that. So this is, I got in in 2017. I think it’s quite common that kind of bullruns pull people in.

And then I started working full time in 2018. Wow. OK.

And, you know, I’m very, usually I’m very curious about people who kind of work initially in Web3 and then Web2, and I’m sorry, then move to Web3. And yours is a journey pretty much like that. So how did you make that leap? I think for me, it was quite a nice transition because the Web2 company I was working for when I started to host meetups and using their space to do that was an identity company.

So even though they are Web2, they worked a lot with like crypto exchanges, providing like identity KYC solutions. And there was quite a lot of people within that company who were quite interested in crypto. So I think they were also working on a decentralized identity research project as well.

So there was actually kind of a bit of an overlap in the kind of Web2 space and the Web3 space that kind of got me in. But I would say it’s, yeah, it’s quite a, it’s quite different in the sense that obviously when you work in Web3, you have this kind of two way engagement with the community that you really just don’t have. The kind of relationship with your users is very different when you’re in Web2 versus Web3.

Yeah, that is absolutely true. So can you tell us perhaps how was this a bit of a cultural shock to you? Like, you know, the way the communication changes in Web2 versus Web3 with the community or with your, you know, potential users? Yeah, I think, I mean, I think it was, for me, it wasn’t a huge culture shift because I had also, by this point, I’d been in the Web3 community. So I’d been in, you know, Discord and Rocket Chat and Reddit, etc.

But I think obviously it kind of scales up when you’re doing it full time. Especially, I think, for me, when you go through the kind of market cycle from 2017 into 2018, it’s like a very different sentiment in the community. So I think that’s definitely something that you, you know, you get exposed to, like, no matter what you’re kind of doing in the space.

So I think that was, you know, a different experience. But I think, yeah, I think it’s like, you know, the community, it does bring a lot of opportunities. It’s great for, like, having that dialogue, getting user feedback, kind of co-creating and building.

But of course, like, you know, it does require some, you know, kind of thought about how you approach things. And, you know, how does it, you know, there’s always like a kind of relationship that you’re building with the community and the community members. Absolutely.

I think that is the most imperative thing that you do. You’re constantly sort of building an engagement and relationship with these potential users who are actually your community members at the moment. And that is what kind of sets Web3 apart from Web2.

So just so that, you know, if you understand if I’m getting it right, you were initially working for a company that were also dabbling in Web3, and that is how you got introduced to Web3? Or were you already dabbling with the tech before, you know, coming in contact with your team who were creating the ID product, among other things? Yeah, so it’s almost like the Web2 company I was working for, I think at that point, I still think to this day, they don’t have any production Web3 products or code. But because they deal with identity, a lot of their, you know, clients and business dev work would be with exchanges, crypto exchanges. So there was like a kind of relationship with the industry.

But actually during that time, I did also start to, you know, work with Remix, start deploying like Solidity ERC-20 contracts, and just starting to learn some of the basics around, like, kind of EVM development. And there was a few developers from that company who also kind of going on that journey at the same time. I think also like, you know, obviously, when it is a kind of a buzzy time in crypto, people kind of get in and get excited about it.

Yeah, absolutely. I think that is when it’s most noisy. And that is what kind of draws the crowds, mostly.

And not always the good kind. But yeah, you know, a lot of builders get encouraged as well. But a lot of speculators get encouraged at that time as well.

So now, Yeah, I was definitely during that time, I bought a bit of crypto at the beginning of that year. Obviously, it’s nice to see it go up in price. But typically, I was naive and didn’t sell it.

So I did become, I think there’s that meme about I’m in it for the tech, right? And then I was like, No, no, no. I’m learning solidity. I’m in it for the tech.

It doesn’t matter. So I was that. A lot of us are.

I think we all become that meme at some point or the other. You stay for as long as you know, the long term builders stay in crypto. I think all of us are a meme at some point then.

That same meme. Yeah. So now coming to what you’re doing currently, can you tell us a little about HaloFi and what you’re building? Because the premise itself is very, very exciting.

And I’ll tell you why once you tell me how you got around to building it and what the platform does. Yeah. So at HaloFi, we’re all about making it easy for people to save with crypto, get the benefits of DeFi and yield unstable tokens, but doing it in a really accessible and mobile friendly way.

It’s our vision, really, to build crypto that almost not building for degens, building for like non-degens, building for more regular people. So we have a product that we launched back in November. It’s called HaloFi Save.

We’ve been around actually for almost three years. So we have another product called HaloFi Challenges. But I think it’s most interesting for me today to talk about our new product, which is HaloFi Save.

And this is a mobile friendly interface into DeFi. So you can go there, you can easily top up. We work with various different fiat on ramping partners and then get access to earning like APY earning yield on a dollar peg stable tokens.

We also make it easy for people to kind of set goals and save towards the goals. So it’s almost a little bit like sort of the fintech like challenger bank interface into saving unstable tokens. So really that is our mission to help make this more accessible.

I think if you go to, you know, you can go to a lot of DeFi interfaces if you already have like metamask set up and you’re familiar with them and you’ve done your research on things like impermanent loss and you understand the risk. But for like 90% of the population, they don’t have time to do that. And it’s like too many overheads.

So we want to smooth that out, make it easier for people to get going and hopefully, you know, just make the benefits more readily available to a much wider audience of people. Right. So I think that is very, very important, right? Because we need to cater for people other than legions as well, because that’s otherwise going to be a very, very small user base, like you mentioned.

And making DeFi accessible, I think, is key for, you know, reaching anywhere close to mass adoption that we keep talking about. No, definitely, definitely. And I think for, you know, for most people, like even setting up a wallet can be tricky and very daunting.

Yeah, very daunting. So it’s really exciting to see there’s a lot of innovation coming, things like account abstraction, making it easier for people to get going. We work with a number of different wallet partners who’ve done a great job with the UX.

And, you know, it’s getting there. It’s definitely improving every day. But, you know, as those of us who work in industry, we know how hard it is to make a seamless, you know, user experience using this technology.

So it’s definitely a sort of ongoing process. But I see, you know, I see it getting better each month, really, you know? Yeah, absolutely. I think there is a lot of work that is happening on that.

And a lot of builders are trying to solve that problem of accessibility and making it more easier, making sure that the user interface is actually usable. And it’s not intimidating for any user, because ultimately, I think we are all building for the future where in users using decentralized applications don’t even have to really care about what is happening in the background. And they’re using it pretty much akin to web2 applications.

And not necessarily do everyone understand how, you know, the web2 applications work and how does the internet work, but everybody’s on it anyway. No, I definitely agree with that. And I think it’s sort of there’s a little bit of a little bit of an art of like simplifying it enough to give that experience, but still at the same time.

So what we try to do is we have like sort of advanced tabs and areas that we could put more of the maybe more of the complex stuff like links to smart contract addresses, etc. Because we also feel like we don’t want to hide that completely away from all users, right? Because if you are curious enough, and some users do want to really dig into the details of this, and as they should, you know, do your own research, I definitely agree with that ethos of making that available to the wider user group. But then it’s not for all users, you know, some users want to get going, try something out, maybe they’re going to put a small amount in, see how they go first.

But still having the underlying technology transparent and open for people to dig into if they really want to get into the weeds of that. I think it’s kind of the mixing of these two things like together, like this kind of gets us into something that’s but also sticks to the original values that we’re trying to build for. Absolutely.

I think that is very, very important. So when when I say that, okay, we want to work for the future, we want to build where the user is not only are perhaps aware of the intricacies of web three, I’m just trying to, you know, put forward that it should be easy, like my parents, perhaps, or my grandparents, right? They are online, they’re using say, applications like WhatsApp, but they perhaps are not the most tech savvy, and at least and nevertheless, they’re on so I would like to see a future like that for decentralized applications, obviously, still upholding the ethos of open source technology and decentralized technology that that goes without saying 100%. So you know, talking a little more about the platform, Halo 5, can you perhaps tell us, like the user flow, if somebody wants to sign up right now on the platform, what are the kind of features that they can utilize? And how does it, you know, work in general, if somebody is coming on the platform to sign? Yeah, so with Halo 5 Save, you can go to, and you can connect your wallet, we support pretty much most of the wallets and have wallet connect.

We also quite excitingly, we’ve just the beginning of this year, we’ve launched a partnership with mini pay operas wallet, which they and speaking about usability, they’ve done a fantastic job of building out a very user friendly wallet that is all centered around stable tokens. So you can pay gas and stable tokens, you can send it to people’s numbers, and it’s sort of baked in into the opera browser in like a number of locations. So it’s really, really amazing work that they’ve done.

And we are one of the kind of first created apps or dApps on there for saving so you can if you are a mini pay user, and they’ve launched this across I think the key regions are like Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. If you’re a user there, you can come via mini pay and then dive into Halo 5 Save. But however you reach our app, you’re going to get the same experience where you can either start depositing, and we have just an easy way for you to track and you can actually see your interest go up in real time.

We are getting underneath we are getting yield from a protocol called Mula, which is the lending and borrowing protocol on Celo. So you will can deposit your Celo dollars, CUSD into there. We also allow users to set a goal.

So maybe you’re saving for a house or a holiday, a phone, etc. Then you can put in the amount that you want to save and it will show you your progress along towards that goal. And we also have like a kind of email reminder system.

So just giving you that nudge to make those deposits, you know, monthly. So that’s what we have at the moment with Halo 5 Save. It’s the kind of first iteration of the product that we’ve launched.

We will have more features coming in the future. And then we also have another product, which is called Halo 5 Challenges, which is our original product. And that’s still around saving, but it’s actually around like gamified saving.

So we have essentially smart contracts that ask you to make a weekly or monthly deposit. And as long as you hit deposits in that challenge, we call it. So maybe you need to make four weekly deposits into that.

As long as you make the deposits, again, we’re using similar sorts of yield sources. So Mola, we also work with Ave on Polygon and Base as well and Curve. And then as long as you hit the goals, if you get the interest, if you missed a deposit, so maybe you only did two out of four, then you would, you’d still get back your principal if you wait to the end, but the yield that your deposits generated will go to the people who did complete their saving goals.

So these are kind of the two products we have at the moment. One is more focused on gamification and incentivization, and one is just more focused on really easily being able to like hop on and start depositing and making those savings. So it’s kind of different focus, but the same mission to kind of, you know, basically empower people to use crypto to kind of grow their personal wealth.

That is cool. That is so cool. It’s wonderful.

I think that, you know, these real use cases are executed perfectly. And, you know, more part to you guys, you guys have the app for being a part of like the 50 most used apps, I think, or like various aggregated tools as well as, you know, you have your users save over, I think, $4 million, right? Dollars. And this is something that we’ve picked up here on our website.

It’s impressive. But, you know, can you tell us a little bit about the response from the users? And if you could share like a success story or a feedback that really stood out for you while building Halo 5. Yeah. So I’m trying to think of something specific.

We have the $4 million that’s been saved, that’s gone through our Halo 5 challenges, saving smart contracts. So we track that. We have some users that are very, with that, they’re very regular.

And actually, it’s quite interesting when we look into the stats, I think around like 85 to 90% of people are hitting their goals, which to me feels quite high compared to sort of, at least when, you know, when you casually set your own goals yourself, like more than often, I actually do forget to deposit for them. So we are seeing like people being very, you know, very diligent with it. We also had a bunch of like, you know, I think one of the fun things about being a Web3 product is, you know, you get community means, you get community artwork.

We used to create a lot of NFT giveaways, and we had some really amazing submissions, 3D artwork made by our community. So that was amazing to see. And then recently, with our, so with our new product, Halo 5 Save, we got a bunch of really good feedback.

We actually went out to Lagos in Nigeria, where we’ve been launching the product. We ran some user testing. Obviously, you get a bunch of actionable improvements, which is what you want.

But the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. And we even had some community member who traveled a 10 hour round trip to come and do some user testing for us, which is very incredible to see. So yeah, it’s been, it’s been a really positive response from the community.

Right. This is, this is wonderful. You know, you’ve seen such a, but you know, honestly, I’m not surprised.

I think any kind of a good use case, and being executed well, it would see stickiness from the users and the users will keep coming back to it. Now let’s talk a little about the challenges. You know, are there any specific challenges that you face in building and growing, specifically the community and the product? And how have you been able to overcome them? Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, when you’re building any new product, there’s like a whole host of different, you know, challenges that you that you face.

One is like, of course, like building something that people actually want and need. So that is kind of, you know, just looking at do you have product market fit? Is your application usable? So as I mentioned, we’ve done a bunch of like user testing, and our kind of community moderator, I think is doing them every week, a session as well. We also, we’re quite, we’re quite on our analytics.

So we’re constantly looking at like user flows through the app. We can even see some of the how users are using our applications. So we’re constantly looking at that and trying to figure out does our application, you know, is it solving a real need? And then are we doing in a way that’s usable and makes sense to the users? And so that’s definitely a challenge.

And it’s just, you know, ongoing work that you have to do. And I think, of course, like growth and getting awareness for your product is always, always again, like a challenge to any new product and business have, we’ve been very lucky in our partnerships. So most recently, our partnership with Opera Mini Pay has brought us a whole host of different users.

And then even with Halo 5 challenges, we found that sort of doing partnerships and cross marketing was actually very effective. We did a bunch of partnerships with like Avogadro, and you know, like Sello, Polygon, a whole cometh, a whole host of different everything from NFT projects to, you know, blockchain protocols to a whole range of different stuff. And I think one of the nice things about the space is you do have these like highly engaged community members who really want to try out new products.

And we’ll also recommend you to, we’ve been recommended to connect with other projects via community members, so they can actually be acting as advocates for you, which is quite incredible. But, you know, so that’s definitely something that, you know, has been, you know, it’s a challenge for the community. Yeah.

I’m trying to think, you know, obviously, like there’s typical problems, like, you know, just hiring the best talent, you know, making sure that, you know, you’ve got like, you know, always when you’re building a new product, you’re always like juggling a lot of things, like growing a team, fundraising, building the product. So there’s always a whole history. There’s always something.

Yeah, there’s a fire every day. Absolutely. And I think definitely as a founder, you sort of being able to make quick decisions and get the data you need, and also like getting enough data to make a decision is also another thing and kind of being able to make those decisions quickly, I think is something that you learn to do.

Yeah, I think that is absolutely true. It’s like, I think one of the better things that a founder can do is have clarity and be able to make quick decisions, because there is, it’s a dynamic space. And when you’re especially starting off and you know, your project or your product is still, I think it’s an ever dynamic sort of a process.

I think the product, you know, you’re always iterating, adding something. So your ability to be clear and to take quick action, I think that that really takes you very far. Definitely, definitely.

I think startups are all about speed, right? Yeah. Bigger companies, they have resource, right? But yeah. Yeah, no, I completely agree.

So tell me one more thing, like, you know, as a founder, I’m curious, how did you get your initial traction? Like, if you had to give some advice to somebody who’s working and to build a product in DeFi, what was the inflection point for you in reaching that traction? Initially, you know, you cannot really gamify a community when… How do you start from zero? Yeah, yeah. How do you start from zero? And you know, when it’s basically, I don’t want to hear about the financial incentive aspects, because if there are any in your campaigns, because that is some tried and tested stuff. But did you do something out of the box to, you know, really get the community going and get that initial traction? Yeah.

So there’s a couple of things we did that worked well for us, because there’s, I definitely know what you mean, there’s that sort of awkward phase when you don’t have anyone in your Discord or like, you know, and you can’t really create content when there’s no audience, right? Exactly. Yeah. How do you even know what they want, right? Because there’s nobody there.

So yeah, creating content, and you know, it’s like a, you know, trial and error sort of a phase, you know, you’re making it, but you don’t know what would work. Yeah. And you’re kind of in a room talking to yourself.

Though we did, when we right when we very started, we did a Gitcoin grant, which was actually quite a nice way. And I would recommend, it’s a good way to kind of track, you know, test interest in your product concept. So we got a bunch of kind of we actually got a bunch of donors from that, and then community members.

And then also, we had quite a fun little kind of mini viral or viral kind of campaign that was based off a quiz, which we did right at the beginning of I think it was like March 2021. And I think it really did capture the imagination of people on Twitter. And we went from like 500 to over 3000 members in our Discord from that quiz alone, which takes I think, these kind of sort of viral campaigns, creating content, creating these kind of quizzes, like you never quite know what’s going to work until you put it out there.

And it can take a bunch of time, I think we spent about a week creating this, like quiz content, because making it funny and something that people want to engage with is, you know, you’ve got to be a bit thoughtful about it. But I think and then it also depends on where you are in the market cycle. So something that works at, you know, the beginning of a bull run is not necessarily going to work when you’re deep in the bear.

It’s kind of, you know, timing, I think is important. And like kind of, but I think all of this stuff, it kind of the more stuff you try, the more likely you are to get a good outcome, because you don’t know until you try if it’s going to work. And it could be the, maybe a quiz does work, maybe it’s a partnership, maybe it’s this.

So the more stuff you try, the likelihood of you getting something successful. And I would say also, the other thing is like partnerships are very good as well. I guess, like, you know, we’re doing this collaboration on this podcast.

I think one of the nice things about the Web3 space is overall, people are very collaborative and sort of a case of kind of growing the pie together, you know? So I think it’s a lot less, there’s much, there’s many more opportunities for collaboration, and maybe you might get in kind of traditional tech. But I think that’s definitely something to lean into if you’re new in the space. Yeah, I think so too.

I think just reaching out and perhaps collaborating, finding common grounds where you can add value to other platforms and other founders, that can be extremely helpful. Because again, this space is very small. And usually people, more often than not, everybody is like very helpful.

And they want to sort of, as you said, grow the pie together. And that becomes like the very foundation on which you can sort of, becomes a stepping stone for you to perhaps grow your community or just kickstart things. So that’s a wonderful answer.

Now, let’s look a little, you know, I would like to actually ask this as well. Like, how do you perhaps study trends? And how do you decide which features are going to go onto your, you know, on the platform? Do you keep like an open communication with the community on that particular facet as well? Or is it more of an internal discussion that you have and decide, okay, this is what you’re going to be pushing out next. And this is how you’re staying ahead of the curve in the space? Yeah, so it’s a good question.

So we do, you know, of course, as a team, we’re talking about this a lot. We’re also, you know, speaking to, you know, our advisors, investors, etc. But we do, we will like question the community members and stuff.

Sometimes we’ll like put out a quick like, I’m quite fond of doing a little kind of quick emoji vote on Discord. And then even having conversations with community members. We do a bunch of user testing, which I think is really useful for seeing how people are using your application and what is the stumbling block.

Also, like when we’ve been at in person events, we can kind of see that. So one of the couple of things that we prioritized end of last year was fear on ramping. And then we also have and we do have this a little bit of we haven’t announced it yet.

But we do have account abstraction coming soon. So you’ll be able to like, into Halo Fire using your Gmail account, which will be amazing. That is so cool.

Yeah, no, it’s gonna be great. I’m really excited for it. Because one of the things that we noticed when we were at the booth, and this is a safari in Kenya is that, you know, people are coming up and they see the value proposition of saving in dollars and getting yield on it.

It’s very clear. And they’re excited by it. But you know, they don’t have a wallet, or they don’t have any crypto.

So these kind of and these are the stuff that you you know, it’s an issue. But when you’re there in person, it just reminds you, you know, so you’re like, it’s actually a really big problem, I need to prioritize this over like, whatever cool new feature I want to put this, you know, maybe more interesting to me as a, you know, heavy DeFi user. So I think always speaking to the community.

I think there’s something that people say when you’re speaking to users, it’s sort of listen for the pain points, but not necessarily solutions, which I think can be a good way to approach it. Because, you know, it’s also that balance of you have deep context of the product as a builder. And people, you’re going to get a lot of suggestions about what to build, but kind of understanding why somebody wants that.

And what is the pain point, I think is potentially more useful than, you know, getting a million more feature suggestions. And one thing I have to push back on quite a lot, and we get this all the time, and community members will probably hate me for this, but dark mode. You know, it’s like, I know, it’s nice.

And like, we will we will put it there. Like when we just have like, it can be the highest priority. Yeah.

But like, yeah, so kind of weighing up these kind of competing demands all the time, right? Yeah. No, I think, you know, more than the aesthetics of it, obviously, the aesthetics matter. And, you know, the user experience definitely is paramount.

But it’s very important for as a founder to be able to take that call, you know, how are you going to be prioritizing these features, and what, making sure that you’re using the resources at your disposal most efficiently. And I think that that can be a little bit of a line to toe. But, you know, I think good, good founders that are able to create sustainable brands and that are scaling successfully, they’re able to do that very well.

Definitely. So tell us a little about your team. And, you know, are you guys, is it like a remote system that you have? Or do you guys have offices? Tell us a little about that.

No, we are remote. So we do have a few people in the same country. I actually don’t think we have anyone in the same city.

But I’m based out of London. My co founder Francis, he’s based out of New York, we have team members, you know, very distributed, we have Brazil, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya. Wow, nice, very distributed.

I think that is just how things are after COVID. And also in Rep3 in general. And I think it’s wonderful, because you know, your geography does no longer seem like a problem, especially, you know, when you are looking to hire good talent.

No, definitely. And yeah, being able to have that kind of global pool of talent to hire from. Yeah, it’s really exciting.

Yeah, especially for us, because we are building for we’re building for a global audience. But also we have at the moment, we do have a focus on like Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. So having team members out there, who have knowledge of the market and the problem space that I think is really invaluable.

And I think with crypto at the moment, especially when we talk about sort of consumer use cases and real use cases, I think, almost like we’re going to see a lot of that innovation come from outside of like Europe and America, because people are, you know, there are real problems with, you know, payment infrastructure, being getting access to finance, etc. And people are really finding creative solutions to that. And there’s a lot of innovation going on, you know, just outside of places that maybe, you know, typically have more funding and, you know, more established tech communities.

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think this would have been my next question, I would have, because, you know, you’re building for the world, and you’re building in the DeFi space, compliance can at times, and, you know, just making sure that you’re on the right side of the law, because with different jurisdictions comes like different kinds of compliance that you might have to adhere to follow, if at all the case, is that is that in any way a challenge for you guys? And is that how you are perhaps deciding on which countries to roll out your services in first? Or focus on which countries? Yeah, so it’s actually for us, it’s not really been, I mean, obviously, we, you know, we look at the legal situation and stay on the right side of the law. But for us, it’s more of like, where can we add value to our users? And where can we see a really solid use case for for our product? Because we don’t want to, you know, we don’t want to build for just degens, or, you know, people who there’s a lot of products out there.

And there’s nothing wrong with them, because I think a lot of these products have brought a huge amount of innovation to the space also. But you know, the main user group are people who maybe got into crypto early and have a very high network, etc. And, you know, for these users, like throwing around like 10k is like not a big deal, right? Or they can spend all day like yield farming, etc.

And, you know, trading NFTs, etc, whatever, whatever is the kind of zeitgeisty thing to do. But we wanted to, because we want to really kind of help onboard people to crypto who aren’t in the space, and then also use crypto to solve real problems and really help people kind of build their wealth of crypto. For us, it’s like finding that finding the right way to use crypto that is actually going to be adding value, not just not just a game is kind of really important to us.

And I think this is kind of why we have a focus on this region of the world at the moment, because, you know, we really do see that it is actually, you can use crypto to build a, you know, more transparent, you know, a more integrated financial system and actually help people get exposure to financial tools that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. Right, I think that that is that is absolutely key there. So now, you know, talking a little about the future, what are the kind of bigger milestones that you’re looking forward for with Halo 5? Like I read, you did mention account abstraction as something that, you know, is coming up.

And I’m so glad that you shared it about this now, then everybody must be really excited about it. But is there any other bigger milestone that you know, you’re looking at, which really excites you? Yeah, so this is a good question. I mean, of course, beginning of the year, we’ve been doing a bunch of roadmap planning, and everything.

There are some things that I really can’t mention, that are in the roadmap. But you know, account abstraction is very much coming But we’re close to finalizing that. And we will also be one of our priorities is to get a wider range of like yield sources so that users have more variety in what yield and return that they can get on their on their crypto.

Also looking at ways that we can maybe bring a little bit of gamification into Halo 5 save and, and kind of make it rewarding to users in that way. We are constantly doing user testing. So we’ve got improvements to our UI coming almost weekly, definitely monthly.

So that’s an ongoing thing. Um, but yeah, we do have some quite exciting things in the pipeline, but I can’t mention them just yet, unfortunately. All right.

Okay, so we will be waiting for your next update with a bit of breath, because what you’re building is very exciting. And as I said, this is something that I feel most excited about, because I think it’s so important that use cases we created around real problems that people have. And the real users were perhaps able to utilize that platform for their own age for their, you know, to solve their own problem without any financial incentive, external financial incentive, perhaps.

So more power to you really, Rachel, this is wonderful. Awesome. Well, thank you.

Thank you. That’s great to hear. It’s very, very kind of you.

So, you know, I would love to know a little more from you. And now we’re zooming out a little bit about just the market in general. What is your take on how, where the markets stand right now? And what do you think is going to be one of the driving factors or a few driving factors? I think everybody says that the Bitcoin is going to be a driving factor for the next full run.

But apart from, you know, that, what do you think it could take for the market to pull out of where it is right now? It’s doing relatively better, but nevertheless. Yeah. So, of course, you know, this is the billion dollar question, right? And I think, yeah, the Bitcoin halving is a big one.

Of course, we’ve also, you know, seen a Bitcoin ETF. Whether more ETFs come onto the marketplace, I think that will be definitely a big thing for driving growth in, I guess, in Europe and America. I’m really interested in seeing the evolution of the real world asset space.

So, you know, bonds and shares, et cetera, coming onto on-chain. I think something that we’re looking at is how can we get our users more exposure to yield from real world assets? Because I think that is very compelling to users who kind of want to see what the yield is backed up from. So that’s super exciting.

What will be driving it? Like I couldn’t quite say, but I think, you know, obviously we do have big institutions coming on and, you know, we do, we are seeing things getting increasingly tokenized. So I think maybe we’re actually going to go a little bit. I mean, I know the end of the last bull run, it became very NFT driven.

I’m not sure. I’m not sure if that will be quite the narrative of the next one. And maybe it’s going to be more around the kind of financialization of bringing real world assets on-chain and then also bringing on-chain assets into the real world via ETFs, et cetera.

Yeah, I think that is one, you know, real world asset organization has just gained like a little traction. Now I think more people are talking about it. Obviously it’s been around for a while, but more and more people are taking interest in it.

And especially with the ETF coming in, perhaps, you know, how these two can intersect. It would be interesting to see, and I think it would have bigger ramifications as well. Definitely, definitely.

But like, you know, it’s always a difficult question, right? It always, the market cycle does always surprise you a little bit as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You should never try to time it.

I did not see NFTs coming as big as they did, so. Yeah, same here, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, same here.

I’ve actually stopped, like, I think when I started off, I used to try to time the market, but that was stupid of me. But now I don’t do that. And, you know, completely agree on the NFTs, but I did not see that as well.

Like I used to really think not very fondly of NFTs when they had initially covered around with the cryptocurrencies and, you know, just the digital arts aspect of it. But as we move forward, and obviously even that became very big, but I couldn’t understand for a long time as to why, you know, it’s gaining the kind of traction it was. But now, you know, with NFTs, we’re seeing so many use cases.

It’s absolutely wonderful to see that kind of evolution that has happened. No, definitely. And I think, I guess with NFTs, and I’m less in the NFT space, but like seeing this kind of merger of like, internet culture and NFTs is, is, is really creative to see like what comes out of that.

And that’s quite fascinating. I also think it’s going to be an interesting time for like DAOs and, and more kind of established that process becoming more mature. And I think we’ve, you know, we’ve seen this evolution of like delegates, etc.

And I think that will be an interesting one to see as well. So yeah, like it’s going to be definitely will be an interesting time. And I feel, I don’t know, touch wood, hopefully, things slowly getting better, you know? Yeah, absolutely.

You and me both, we are both hoping for that. So yes, to perhaps that and, you know, with that, I would like to perhaps come to the last few questions, because we’re running out of time. We’re already over time, actually.

But I would just love to know, as somebody who’s been in the space for a while, and you know, you’ve also done the teaching bit, what are the kind of resources that you would recommend to builders and, you know, who are just starting off perhaps in web3? This is a good question. And I think it’s always changing a lot. I definitely would say… Very dynamic.

Very dynamic. Anyone who’s getting into web3, especially if you’re coming from a web2 background. And even my knowledge on this is going to be a little bit out of date, because I haven’t been learning Solidity for quite a while now.

But like, you definitely… I definitely found like, for example, when you step into the space, things like documentation are not going to be as comprehensive and as battle tested as you would get with web2 products. But I think what I would say to counterbalance that is, the upside that you have is that there is an amazing community and amazing developer communities. So there’s a number of different discords that I was in.

I’m using them less now, but certainly when we’re building the early prototypes of Halo 5 and Good Ghosting, that I could jump in there and be like, oh, like, I don’t know why it’s doing this. And somebody would actually answer my question and give me help and support on that. And I think definitely if you are working with, and if you’re building on whatever blockchain, Celo, or if you’re building with whichever protocol, SDK, they all have discords and channels and be prepared to go into those and ask.

And if something’s not working in the tutorial or the documentation, ask about it, because it’s probably like, stuff moves fast, and it’s probably out of date. So that would be my number one, like, approach to learning in this space is be hungry and ask a lot. I’m just trying to think.

Yeah, I think for me, there was a number of channels that I use, but actually, my mind is a little bit foggy this morning. I need another cup of coffee. But things like going to a hackathon, I think is a great way to get indoctrinated into the space.

And I meet a lot of people. And even that’s how we, the actual original idea of Halo 5 came from an ETH Global hackathon back in 2020. So many exciting things can come out of hackathons, even company formation.

Absolutely. I think that is very, very true. Hackathons can be great places to really start off, kick off or just build your idea initially.

And even, you know, if you’re foggy, happens to the best of us, by the way, that is absolutely okay. I think it gives some really good recommendations. So again, I’m very, very grateful that you could do this call and record this podcast with me.

Before we wrap this up, I would like to merge the last two questions. This is something, you know, you’ve kind of already covered in this conversation. And this is something I ask everybody who comes on the show, and especially people who have come from Web2, what would be your two suggestions for people to start living on blockchain? And, you know, any parting words before we wrap this up? Yeah.

So I would just say, try things out. I think it’s always good to get a little bit of a test wallet, put a small amount of Ethereum or whichever, I mean, maybe experimenting on Ethereum is pretty expensive these days with gas. So pick a low gas blockchain.

Try out apps, dApps. And if you’re going to, a lot of the time you can even find like boilerplate for what you need to deploy. So, you know, OpenZeppelin have a bunch of ERC20 contracts, basically any kind of standard contract they have there, which you can deploy, deploy it to a testnet as well.

And then you can mess around with parameters and learn, and there’s no risk of losing any real value. So that would be my first one. And yeah, just chat to people, go to events, follow on Twitter.

I know Twitter can be a bit chaotic, but I think it’s still probably the best place to keep up to date with industry trends and news. Yeah. So really that’s my advice.

Yeah. I think that’s really great advice. And before we wrap this up, Rachel, any parting thoughts? No, just that I’m very excited that we’re actually kind of entering a new era for crypto and a new stage where we’re, you know, focusing on building value for users.

It’s also exciting that I think we had a stage where there was a lot of focus on infrastructure and that has been good because we’ve seen more infrastructure come out. But of course, it’s building a consumer product. So I’m glad to see that now building for consumers starting to have a little bit of airtime again and actually trying to find those products that do have product market fit and give their users real value.

Yeah, I think, you know, building crypto has or Web3 has basically different areas. I think, you know, initially everybody was working on different things and then people were working very heavily on infrastructure. And then there was the NFT boom and a slight delay with perhaps, you know, how everybody wanted to use machine language and a little bit of AI here and there.

And now I think we seem to be a little right on track with the utility products and consumer facing products, which will actually really help in building the ecosystem further. Definitely, definitely. I’m very excited about this.

Yeah, likewise. Thank you so much once again, Rachel, for taking the time to speak to me. I’m very, very grateful.

This has been a wonderful conversation. And thank you so much for having me. It’s likewise been a great conversation on my end.

So excited about it.

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