More 59 million American adults use cryptocurrency from 2022. However, women own half as much as men. As ownership is broken down by race and ethnicity, this ownership gap widens even further, with 24% Latinx, 8% Black, and 6% Asian and other races/ethnicities. Brit Morin and Jaime Schmidt believe this is due to the lack of access and understanding around the web3, which is why they founded BFFsan open-access community that aims to help more women and non-binary people become educated, connected, and rewarded in crypto and web3.
The company recently launched several new initiatives to further its mission of expanding access to education, including a newsletter written by journalist Caroline Fairchild and the Council of membership and importancea diverse group of people who will create programs and initiatives to support disadvantaged communities, including professional development programs, partnerships with BIPOC organizations, and more.
I spoke to Morin and Schmidt right after the Belonging and Mattering Council (BMC) launched last month.
Amy Shoenthal: Talk to me about BFFs and how you came together to create this community.
Brit Morin: I’ve been in the crypto ecosystem for about a decade. I hosted a cryptocurrency summit in January 2018 through British + Co, and more than 20,000 women participated. This is where we started learning basic things like bitcoin and ethereum and blockchain.
It turns out that the number of women investing in crypto has been dropping recently, from 15% to 9%. So I called Jamie, who I’d only met once before, and said, “I want to help me create a truly inclusive community that gives women the information and education they need. need, and of course, the possibility of investing if they wish to?’ This is how BFF was born.
Jaime Schmidt: I had bootstrapped Schmidt’s natural products, the brand of personal care products that I adapted for acquisition by Unilever. So I wanted to help companies that were also doing bootstrapping. I had been quite active on Clubhouse when people started talking more and more about web3, so my husband and I started our first project called CPG: Cryptographic Packaged Goods. We have a Genesis Collection with about 300 members. That’s what caught Brit’s attention. When she called me, I was excited to have a bigger impact on women in this space.
Shoenthal: Where does the name BFF come from?
Morin: We wanted to create a community of women and non-binary people who can come together to invest in financially risky industries. Women are actually smarter investors only men. But their risk tolerance tends to be much lower. We wanted this community to feel like an easy place to visit, where you’re not afraid to ask questions, like you’re talking to a friend. This is where the name comes from.
Shoenthal: You just said that women’s tolerance for risk tends to be lower than men’s. Do you really believe that?
Schmidt: That’s what the data says, but I struggled with that statement because I think of my own story as an inexperienced starter entrepreneur getting started. It may be less about risk aversion and more about wanting to be thoughtful and educated. That’s why we had to create a space where women could feel welcome but also receive the education they wanted.
Shoenthal: What challenges have you both faced as women in crypto?
Morin: The typical hurdle is that all of these groups are already formed, mostly with men letting themselves into new business and opportunities. You’re kind of knocking on the door asking to be part of this group, but you don’t look like them or look like them.
We thought if the men weren’t going to let all the women into their groups, why not make our own? How can we let people know about this new thing that’s coming and not feel ostracized?
We don’t think about the limits of being women in web3. We reflect on the opportunities available to us to build a wider network that allows others to join us.
Schmidt: The challenges we face are typical for any startup and not necessarily a gender issue. There are so many marks in space. What can we do different? How do we stand out, how do we capture consumers’ attention and let them know we mean business?
Shoenthal: You have just announced the Board of belonging and importance, which is another step in building what appears to be fairness and inclusiveness in web3. Can you tell me a bit about it?
Schmidt: We wanted the board to be a group of people who had the same intentions of bringing equity and diversity to the space. This is a relatively new initiative and we are excited about its potential.
Morin: I’m really excited about the founding board members. We have everyone from actress to activist to entrepreneur Natasha Rothwell, transgender leaders, lawyers, and everyone in between. We try to practice what we preach and make sure we have visibility in all kinds of underserved communities. We need to make sure we don’t just pay lip service to it, but actually build actions around it.
We want to show up at big events, multicultural festivals, and other places where we can create educational trails for people who still think Web3 isn’t accessible. We also want some of the leaders in the BFF community, many of whom are venture capitalists or CEOs, to help mentor and support people in those communities.
Shoenthal: It sounds like you’re really trying to make connections for people who don’t have that access yet, which speaks to all the possibilities that exist in web3. However, I also want to acknowledge the current state of the market and what has happened over the past few months. Tell me about the dip. What does this mean for people who are now more skeptical about investing?
Schmidt: It’s all fun and rosy until the market crashes. It’s part of the normal cycle. For our community to go through this together and understand that this is the reality is really important.
Morin: Remember, we are so early. Only a single-digit percentage of the world knows what crypto and web3 are. Once you get used to being an early adopter, you learn that things are volatile, which is really the nature of being an early adopter. Slowly, over time, more and more infrastructure will be built and regulations will be instilled. The latest projection is that crypto will be a $10 trillion market by 2030. I would say the projection is quite accurate.
It will take almost a decade for crypto and web3 to be mainstream. The key for brands right now is figuring out how to attach real utility to NFT projects. I just saw that Ticketmaster is now issuing tickets as NFT. Pearson has created NFT textbooks for students, which makes sense when you think about how students sell their books. There’s so much value in the technology itself and in so many use cases that we’ve barely scratched the surface.
A lot of people may look at the market and think it was just a fad. People who were only there for fashions will go away. There will be less competition. This is where the real innovation is going to happen. I think 12 months from now we’re going to see some really radical ideas emerge from this bear market.
Shoenthal: What do you think the future of crypto and web3 looks like?
Schmidt: I think infrastructure will continue to be very important. Think about how consumers make purchases, share purchases, and have wallet-to-wallet messages. We’re building the foundations of Web3 like we built the Internet in the 90s. When email was new, people said, oh, I could send you a message and you’d receive it instantly, then you can send me one again ? It’s crazy.
People are just starting to see NFTs as a real utility, not just a pretty piece of art or a brand. There are now member communities, NFT-only restaurant reservations, and actual social clubs.
Crypto and Web3 can also be used to liquidate things that are currently illiquid. It’s really hard right now to buy and sell real estate or for the average person to invest in a business. You cannot decide to sell your house one day with a one-click transaction. It is possible to make these transactions much simpler. People building right now are going to have a front row seat to take advantage of all that white space as new innovations come out.
Morin: We’re so early, but it’s not a zero-sum game. I really want us to be able to spotlight each other and share the wealth. And, frankly, we need everyone to play and win if we really want to bring more people into the fold. Fortunately, there is room for everyone to play and win.