Transcription Episode 14

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Live and Learn Blockchain. Today we are speaking to Evelina Lavrova. She is a marketing and PR ninja.

She is currently working for Waves World as the CMO there and she helps out, you know, she’s helped them design their mining pool and a crypto marketplace which is very very exciting. They are also helping out upcoming artists in issuing their own NFTs. Previously she’s worked as a U.S. ambassador for Impulse for Women.

She’s been a part of a lot of, you know, such causes which support female founders. She’s also the founder and CEO of Decrypto PR. So this was a very very exciting conversation and it was very invaluable because of the insights that she had regarding marketing and PR as well.

So I think this one would be a good one for startups and entrepreneurs in this space. Let’s deep dive right in. My name is Evelina Lavrova.

I am a CMO of Waves World. I work with blockchain DeFi startups and help them with marketing fabric relations. So actually I help to grow the business and before that company, I used to work with many startups.

So the biggest one is Get. It’s a mobile application for the taxi and PayMe. It’s a mobile aquarium for small medium business and the last one was Waves Platform.

It’s a blockchain ecosystem that’s working on decentralized applications, decentralized exchange, wallet and custom blockchain solutions for government enterprise. So this is my story. Wow, that’s quite, like, you have very extensive experience.

So could you, you know, perhaps, how did you get into this space? Could you give me a little bit of background there? Yeah, it’s an interesting story, by the way. So I used to work at the moment in a fintech startup, PayMe. So they kind of copied an adapted business model of Square on the Russian market.

And I first heard about blockchain from the founder of this company and I asked him to explain to me about it, so how it works, etc. And then I realized, oh, I’m really interested. And in a few months later, I saw the post of Sasha Ivanov, he’s actually founder of Waves, about what he was looking for, a communication person for his team.

And I texted him and I think we met just a couple of times and I joined the team. And then, so actually, I was enough lucky to join this industry before it became hype and mainstream in 2017. So I joined it a few months earlier.

It was kind of quite, I would say it’s kind of maybe not so small, but anyway, it was a much smaller community of developers or mostly, I guess, developers and maybe traders. And I started to discover it and I found, wow, it’s really interesting, it’s kind of the next big thing. Wow, okay.

So apart from Waves, you’re also the founder of Decrypto.PR, right? So could you tell me a little about what kind of services you offer? Well, I decided to, so actually, before I launched my own company, I always used to work in-house of startups, and I realized, okay, I’m kind of interested to try another, and work on the other side of, so I launched my agency and consult, so consult blockchains, blockchain startups. So I focused on marketing, public relations and events. So I provide kind of services for companies, depends on needs.

That’s it. Yeah, it’s an interesting experience. And I used to work with CoinDesk, and I helped them with consensus conference in 2019.

And actually, I helped to organize investment meeting in Davos during the World Economic Forum, also 2019. So it’s kind of pretty interesting experience. But I realized maybe, for me, it’s more productive when you kind of focus on one company or one product, and you can do around it, many different things.

So it’s, yeah, focus is the best option. Yeah. Cool.

Okay. So could you tell me, perhaps, according to you, because you’re in this space, what is perhaps the new cool way to for startups to, you know, kind of grab the eyeball, because there are so many, you know, blooming startups in this space. How does one really catch, you know, the user’s eye or the or any kind of stakeholders eye? Yeah, so actually, it was a big problem.

I would say in 2017, when everybody came in this industry, it just was a golden rush. And it was a lot of startups, just, I would say 90-95% of them was scum. I mean, they’re just interested to raise money, but sometimes after they raise it money, and actually a lot of money, you can read what founder disappeared with money and founder bought expensive house or car, but no product.

Right. Yeah. Yeah.

So I’m kind of realized you need to choose very carefully. And, you know, companies have to really focus it on build a good product. They will never do such things.

And to kind of estimate the market, is it real enough big niche for such product, etc. So typically, I see the serious problem, even now a lot of companies, what they try to build something, change it. But when you started to discover more deeply, you understand, you know, it’s kind of not enough big niche.

So they come to survive, even the rise in money. They spend it, and they did pivot many times. And, you know, so it’s kind of hard.

Yeah. But companies, what they focus it on a real serious product, and they found the big niche. So they feel very good.

So that is true. That is true. I think, you know, that is something that’s become kind of a fad right now, that people have an idea, and they are not able to execute it that well, as you said, there is no product, or perhaps they haven’t really explored what kind of, you know, need does the real user have, and if they are really solving a problem.

So I think, obviously, if you know, if a startup is kind of solving a real problem and helping out users in some way, then you know, then I think that that startup has a long way to go. So I think, you know, we are completely on the same page there. And it’s just very good advice for, you know, these startups that are coming into this space, you know, talking of startups and projects, is there any particular project that you know, you have your eye on these days, that you’re rooting for? No, I’m kind of support now with World.

It’s actually built on Wave’s ecosystem. They are working on the crypto marketplace. So actually, you can buy any stuff with cryptocurrency logos or memos and pay by crypto.

And actually, they also help digital artists. So they can, we can help them to issue NFT tokens and sell digital art, artworks in the marketplace. So you know, maybe most famous OpenSea and another one is Microspace.

Okay, wow. Okay. So could you tell me a little about this? Actually, NFTs and you know, selling kind of digital art has become really hot these days.

So could you tell me how could perhaps a buying artist utilize these services from Waves? Yeah, so we can help them to issue tokens because you know, they can create artwork, but then they need to tokenize it and we help them to issue NFT tokens. And then you can publish your artworks in the art marketplace. So people can participate in this sales.

And you know, let’s say you have, you buy, I don’t know, some tokens of digital art. Yeah. So you became an owner.

Unfortunately, for now, it’s hard to tokenize real, let’s say historical masterpieces. Yeah, wouldn’t that be lovely? Yes. So I guess a lot of people would buy it.

But for digital art, it works very well. I mean, because it’s kind of new wave, you know, right. So yeah.

Hey, so, you know, so this is actually really nice that you’re helping out artists who might not have the absolute correct technical background to issue their own NFTs. So, you know, so is this platform open like anybody can go on Waves right now and perhaps issue NFTs against their digital art? No, we work now manually with them. So we find the digital artists and start to work with them and explain how it works, et cetera.

So some of them do it themselves. Some of them join us. And, you know, it depends.

Okay. All right. Okay.

Okay. So this is really wonderful. So, you know, apart from NFTs, DeFi has been making a lot of noise, you know, and people are talking a lot about DeFi nowadays.

What is your take on DeFi? Actually, yeah, it’s like a second wave. It’s interesting what’s happening now. And, you know, especially in current situation, when it’s Bitcoin growth like crazy.

So it attracts even more attention to it. I would say it’s an interesting story. And I would maybe in one hand, I’m very excited about it.

In another hand, maybe I share an opinion of one of the first investors in Bitcoin. His name is Jeffrey Wernick. He’s also invested in Airbnb and Uber.

And he told what, you know, how DeFi can be separately if it’s under the government rules. So how we really decentralize it. And it’s kind of interesting opinion, you know, and I guess the government really want to control it.

But at the same time, we can’t stop this process. And not so long time ago, I joined one workshop about DeFi. And actually, I was surprisingly found what actually a few middle-aged women also joined.

And it was interesting how different generations can try to learn this new tools. And, you know, they were really surprised at how it’s easy. And, you know.

So we’ll see what happens. And I think it’s a really good opportunity for many people. Yeah, it’s a space to work for.

Definitely. Yeah. So pay attention to it.

So yeah, obviously, to make sense. Yeah. Even, you know, even though people are a little skeptical about it.

But, you know, I think as you mentioned, that it’s a space to watch out for. And definitely a lot of opportunities are brewing in this space. You know, now that kind of brings me to the next question about opportunities.

I can see that in the past that you’ve worked with organizations that have fostered women leadership and women entrepreneurship. So the gender ratio is really skewed, I think, in almost every sector. But it’s more pronounced, perhaps, in the blockchain space.

What is your take on that? Well, actually, I can share my experience when I joined the Waves. I was a, I was 10 employees, and I was a lone girl between developers. So all of them were men.

And it was quite interesting. And by the way, for myself, I found it’s very, very unique experience. And developers are the best colleagues, actually.

Oh, yeah, that’s true. Yeah. Yeah, they’re very smart.

So and you can, I mean, between them, you can grow quickly and you understand technical stuff. And not all of them. But if you, if you have even just one or two colleagues, what can explain technical stuff, but very easily.

So like for business people. So it’s like, like a brilliant. Yeah, okay about them.

Yeah, so it’s people actually, who can help me in my job, that just started to explain about blockchain, how it works, and a lot of technical stuff. And you know, when I need to connect and share information with journalists, and journalists, typically, they kind of absolutely different background. And such people can explain it easily.

And you know, everybody can understand, let’s say, if you’re watching some lectures, so I need some public speaking of Vitalik Buterin, yes, how he explained very technical stuff. Right, that’s true. That’s absolutely true.

I think that is very, very important for proper information. See, I think, you know, for people to be able to get interested, they need to understand it first. Right.

And only when they are interested, and they understand it, can they really jump on the bandwagon. Otherwise, it is just something very esoteric and something that people think is probably for the experts. So you know, you have a very fair point there that it’s important that information is kind of put in a way that is accessible to everybody making, you know, the entire idea about blockchain crypto decentralization is inclusiveness of the system, right? And information plays a huge role there.

Yeah, so I’m kind of agree with you. But at the same time, you know, I’m sure in a few years, you will use blockchain, but even you don’t know what you use it. It’s the kind of next step.

And maybe even you don’t need to understand deeply how it works, you just use it. And you know, it’s kind of another side. So yeah, how to solve the problem.

So that is very true. That’s a little like, you know, how the internet works right now, or perhaps electricity works, people don’t necessarily need to understand the nitty gritties, but they are on it. But you know, so I think that’s a very, very, you know, good point.

You know, that kind of brings me to the other bit of it that information dissemination is important, but also is the user interface aspect that kind of makes design very, very important. I think, you know, especially for a technology with, you know, which is in its infancy, design plays a very pivotal role. What do you think? Yeah, so actually, it’s transformed together with technologists.

And yeah, so it should be easier. And you know, and next generation is here. So it’s just use it one button to press it, picture or the text, or the delivery, etc.

So it’s became maximum simplified. Yeah, so I’m kind of, yes, it should be very user oriented. Right? Yeah, absolutely.

So, you know, now, kind of moving on to policy in general. So you know, you are originally from Russia. What is the Russian government’s take on crypto and blockchain? Like, is there a good framework in place? So actually, yeah, so Russia became like technical, one of the technical capital.

And even after I move it in the US, I see a lot of companies prefer to hire developers in Russia or have like, a back office in Russia or Ukraine or Belarus. So and if you remember 2017, when it was hype around ICO and Russia was in the first place, actually, I guess it’s because a lot of developers and it was like Wild West. But the key was the West.

Yeah, that’s true. Not so long time ago, Russian government and president decided to law about cryptocurrency. And you come to buy, you come to buy and pay for any good or services by cryptocurrency.

Yeah, but I mean, a lot of companies, they prefer, let’s say, if you build the product, typically, they’re oriented on global markets. They’re not focused on special Russian market or US market. And they prefer incorporated, like more, most friendliest jurisdictions like Estonia or Switzerland.

And so it’s kind of opened the doors to became global company and, you know, but office physical office. But now I guess a lot of companies almost all of them work remotely. But anyway, before the pandemic, physical office was in Russia.

Yeah, that’s true. Actually, Russia has been at the forefront of all this innovation, I think, because of the very strong developer community, as you mentioned, actually, we also have a few developers and they’re full time members of our team who are from Russia. So I understand.

Yeah, I think they’re there, you know, the community there is absolutely wonderful. And they’re very technically sound people. So, you know, you can actually rely on them.

So yeah, I completely agree there. So, you know, now, like talking about women thought leaders, like, quite like yourself, who would be like a few thought leaders you think our listeners should key into, and listen to or follow to, you know, get more insights about blockchain and crypto? I would say what I typically work with journalists, and you know, I would say it’s very interesting. Personally, obviously, I recommend to follow her, is Laura Sheen.

Previously, used to work. So she wrote for Forbes. Then she launched her own podcasts.

Right. And another person I would, I would name Elizabeth Stark. She’s the founder of Lightning Network.

And obviously, one of the brightest women in blockchain. Right? Yeah. But also, I’m kind of, you mentioned, I’m from Russia.

So I would, I would name also Vitalik Buterin, one of the pioneer and like, genius of this industry. And another one is Sergey Nazarov, is the founder of Chainlink, also a very talented entrepreneur. And a lot of other people.

Yeah. But this is just a few of them. Yeah, I think Sergey, Vitalik, I think all of them are like doing a wonderful job, considering the kind of products that, you know, they have created.

Chainlink is wonderful. And, you know, I’m actually in touch with their team as well. So yeah, I think these are really good names that you have taken forward.

So speaking of, you know, Ethereum and Vitalik Buterin, because you’ve mentioned him, there is a lot of, you know, people are not happy with the kind of rising gas fees on the Ethereum network, right? Yeah. So do you have like, you know, any, any kind of thoughts about this and how this can become scalable? Because initially, the argument used to be that, okay, you know, Bitcoin is there, but Ethereum is like programmable money. And that is absolutely true.

But with these, you know, kind of the gas fees kind of hitting the ceiling, what is your take on this? Well, it’s an interesting question. I’m sure it’s somehow we need to, maybe Vitalik will make a decision to change somehow, because, you know, it’s high demand now. And especially in the current situation, yes, people more pay attention to cryptocurrency, because Bitcoin started to grow.

And even I recently I saw the tweet of one famous actress. She, she asked, do I need to buy some Bitcoin? It was interesting, yeah, how more and more people even famous people pay attention to it. And I don’t know why, but majority of people voted in her tweet voted no.

So they advised not to buy it. But I personally voted for yes. Yeah, I think, yeah.

It’s important. It’s, it’s for the now, like, people have like different opinion about this. But I think, you know, we, what we are essentially doing is paving the way for the future.

So I think it’s not just, you know, kind of a good move to get into this space. But I think it’s imperative to get into the space with the kind of, you know, the kind of socioeconomic scenario in which we are in right now. Yeah, so, and actually, many times I was asked about mass adoption and what I think about it.

And so I guess you also have the same question. It’s really interesting, but I think it’s not really like, it’s not will be like one magic day when this became mass adoption. No, it will be niche.

And the key question is how big this niche will be. So I guess it will be cash. It’s keep like, debit or credit cards and some QR code payments or mobile phone payments, and also cryptocurrency payments.

But the key thing, how big this niche will be, maybe it will grow and other payments methods will be decrease it, etc. So the key thing, yeah, in how many situations we can use it. Yeah, it kind of comes down to that, you know, itself that how, how is, you know, how crypto payments and how is blockchain solving a problem for the user? How can the user kind of interact with it directly and integrate it with their daily life? Right? Yeah, absolutely.

Yeah. Yeah, that’s when the mass adoption will come. I agree.

Okay, so this kind of brings me to my penultimate question. If you know, would you, would you have any book recommendations or any kind of content creator recommendation that people should look into who you know, who people who are just perhaps trying to get into the blockchain crypto space, or especially, you know, women who are trying to get into this space, because they feel a little intimidated. Because of the skewed gender ratio, is there any recommendation that you have? Oh, no, obviously, maybe it’s not surprise, I recommend to read the white paper of Bitcoin.

Yeah. But just a few pages. But anyway, it’s like a Bible.

Right? Yeah. But if you’re talking about book, I would say masterpiece of Bitcoin, obviously book what you need to read. And I was excited to read the book, Bitcoin billionaires.

Right? Yeah, that’s a good one. It was a fun read. Did you? Yeah, it’s a fun read.

Wow, it’s interesting. Yeah. So I was actually joining one of meetup when it was, I mean, last year, in Jiminy office, and the author of this book was presented this in the office.

So I grabbed it. And it was interesting, because I joined it only in 2016. So it’s like, like, previous serious industry.

And I, I found it kind of interesting. Yeah. Yeah, it is.

It is. It’s a wonderful read. And you know, that’s a very good recommendation.

Start with the Bitcoin paper, the white paper, and then move on to the other books. Now, there are, I think, a lot of books that are being written in this space. I last read, you know, the book by Camilla Russo.

And I think she’s done a wonderful job as well. It’s called the infinite machine. And it’s a wonderful read about, you know, just, it kind of deals with the, it primarily deals with and its history.

And kind of, it was, it was fairly interesting. But yeah, Bitcoin is, it’s a fun read. I had so much fun just reading it.

So yeah, those are good recommendations. Okay. So that kind of brings me to my last question.

This is something that I ask everybody who comes on the podcast. So Evelina, how would you recommend people who are looking on the, you know, from the outside and peering into the blockchain space? How can they start living on blockchain? How can they take their first steps? Just start to discover, just started to research and read articles and maybe listen to podcasts and watch any interviews, videos about it. And obviously try to, to make any transactions to try to, I don’t know, make any payments or I sell etc.

So do it. I mean, practice. This is, I think the key thing and this is how you realize how it works, obviously.

Like kind of doing it by, you know, learning by doing it. And I think that’s the best way, right? So you know, this kind of, this is something that I forgot to ask you, what is perhaps the most interesting thing that you brought, you know, you bought via crypto? Oh, actually, yeah, it’s an interesting thing. I shared it when I last time joined London Fintech Week.

So I bought the airline tickets and paid by Bitcoin. Seriously, yeah. So that moment I used to live in Russia and actually I needed to fly to in London.

And I found out what one European airlines started to accept Bitcoin. And I realized, okay, I want to try it. And actually I paid it.

I bought my airline tickets. So London Fintech Week and paid by Bitcoin. Yeah.

Wow. This is fab. Such a nice story.

Good. Yeah. This is good.

And, you know, this is the way that we perhaps conclude this episode. I am really grateful that you took out the time to speak to me, Evelina. Any last thoughts? Oh, thank you so much for invitation.

And I was really enjoying to speak with you. And I just want to invite more women in this space. So just don’t be afraid and make first steps.

And, you know, you will be obviously enjoy it. Yeah. Yeah.

You’ve got this. I think, you know, women need to be a little more confident in their ability, I think, because it’s not, you know, it’s not that difficult. You don’t always necessarily have to be a coder to get into the space.

And I think that is that is like a wrong notion that a lot of people carry that, you know, you need to develop and you need to code to get into this space, which is absolutely wrong. Yeah, I agree. So just join it.

And actually, my personal story is also excited about the moment. We don’t have such a community like women in tech or women in blockchain in Russia. So I mean, nobody cares if you want to join, join it.

But I found that in Europe and us, a lot of such communities and women share opportunities, they really want to help. And you know, it’s like different attitude. They, yeah, they, they kind of share idea what together they are stronger, they can go farther.

So let’s not compete with each other. Let’s be together. And I think this is a very useful and very important thing what Russian women need to learn from the West society.

I think that goes for everybody everywhere. I think we, you know, women everywhere that, you know, we kind of grow together, we are stronger together, we bring a different kind of leadership to the table. And that is something that we need to sort of own.

Yeah, yeah, I agree. Great. It’s been a lovely conversation, Evelina.

Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Yeah.

Bye bye. Bye.

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