As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who are encouraging and doing incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cynthia de Wolf
Cynthia is the Marketing Lead of Bright Union. She is with a DeFi (Decentralized Finance) insurance marketplace- that allows people to cover their favorite tokens against hacks and protocol failures.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Hi, thanks for having me. Of course, my name is Cynthia de Wolf, Amsterdam-based and marketing lead of Bright Union – a DeFi Insurance Aggregator. I think the answer is curiosity. Innovation has always sparked my interest, and back when I was a freelance marketer, I would tirelessly attend conferences to learn more about emerging technologies. I learned that blockchain excited me the most and I was determined to get into projects in the space. Innovation often comes with resistance, as people don’t like change. I see it as a challenge to accelerate new ideas so we can build a bright future.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I do yearly goal settings; they are super powerful. It helps me to learn new skills, or dive into a new industry, if I wish to contribute to it. Whether it is something uncomfortable like giving training or speaking on stage; learning about new subjects like design thinking or bringing together communities with events, it helps me explore what I want to do in this world.
In 2017 I did a goal setting and a ‘find your why session’ with a friend in Tel Aviv. One of my goals was to get a project in blockchain. I won a free ticket to Wonderfruit, the ‘Asian Burning man’, flew from Tel Aviv to Thailand and during the festival I had a conversation with many inspiring people, one of them was a friend of Steve jobs who shared he was working on a blockchain project. I got so excited and talked so much about the subject, that I got my first project during the festival.
In 2019 I decided to dive deeper into sustainability. One week before the COP25 conference (the UN Climate Change Conference), I was granted access as a complete outsider to volunteer for the person who initially brought Greta Thurnberg to the COP. It has taken me a while to find out what I like, and what values I want to bring to this world, but I discovered this boldly and playfully.
I have many more funny stories like this, but the point here is that you can create your own reality – see what floats your boat with trial and error!
What do you specialize in and why should someone choose you over your competitors in your field?
As a digital marketing consultant my expertise lies in performance advertising. In blockchain specifically, an ad ban exists on social media. Yet, I can hack through that ban and get any campaign live!
In tech, it is pretty easy for a woman to stand out from the male majority. In blockchain, 99% is male and I could tap any person on their shoulder to sell my services.
Right now I’m a marketing lead helping web3 companies with launching and scaling their project. The industry is still in its infancy, and marketers with experience are pretty hard to find. If you are specialized in a skill or field, you are the one who gets to do the cherry-picking, not the other way around 😉
What are the three things that mostly helped your online business succeed?
1 Be bold, don’t be afraid to fail. You can call yourself an expert if you’ve made all the mistakes and found all the ways that didn’t work.
2. Work with the right people. If you can’t identify with the project or the vision of the founder, don’t bother. Passion and determination go a long way.
3. Hold enough space for creativity.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Bringing good into the world brings success. As you help others, others will return the favor. My first job was in the social goods sector. I’ve helped charities like Oxfam, Doctors without borders, the Dutch Cancer fund, and many others with online fundraising. I wanted to use marketing to help people make better decisions, instead of getting them to consume more. Afterward, I remained active in the fundraising and start-up scene.
I once indirectly worked for an oil company and I was not proud of it. If I can’t brag about a project, it won’t bring me any further. Afterward, I pledged to myself to never engage in any projects that were not aligned with my values.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
In web3 we don’t collect the customers’ data. Can you imagine what that’s like as a marketer? Many best practices you’ve acquired cannot be applied in web3. During the launch of our token and platform, I was lucky to be surrounded by many brilliant advisors and team members. I’ve implemented all of their suggestions as I was exposed to totally different channels that were unknown to me. It would have never been successful without them. Recently I started a Telegram group for web3 marketers to connect and exchange ideas, as we all face the same challenges.
What’s your piece of advice for readers who want to achieve wealth and success in life?
You are the average of the 5 closest people around you. Surround yourself with great minds. Stay curious and keep learning. If you fail, try and try again. Basically, all knowledge is free for grabs, nothing is holding you back from achieving success.
What do you think is the key to a truly successful online business?
The key to a successful online business is to build services that solve people’s problems. It requires staying attentive, listening, and truly understanding what a person needs. Web3 is anonymous, people hide behind avatars or NFTs, but there is a real person on the other side. They need to be catered to.
What’s your business model? How does your online business make money?
I’m with Bright Union, a web3 Insurance marketplace. In Decentralized Finance (DeFi) many hacks occur, which drain crypto investors’ funds. In 2021 alone, more than $ 105 billion was exploited. We are an aggregator, our business model is similar to Booking.com, DeFi users come to us to find the best insurance to protect their digital assets (crypto) against hacks and protocol failures.
On the other side, investors can also earn 15%-25% yield for replacing the insurance company. Anyone can become an insurance underwriter, and we take a small streaming fee. We believe that the industry will be as big as in the traditional insurance world.
What’s your piece of advice for people who want to quit their 9-5 job and start a business?
Most people are seeking security and comfort, but if something is itching and you think there is more out there, I recommend them to read the 4 hour workweek by Tim Ferris. It’s extremely cliché, but it did the trick for me. Rich dad, poor dad is also an interesting read if you’d like to change your perspective on money and freedom.
For me personally, traveling helped a lot, as I gained more perspective on how I could design my life differently.
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?
None, I gained immense freedom and motivation. There was no sacrifice. Your life will be more like a rollercoaster, but at least you’ll be the owner of it.
The future of the digital world might be ruled by blockchain and cryptocurrency. Do you think it would be challenging for all age groups to gain knowledge about the same? How can we educate them?
In the future people will engage with blockchain, but they won’t be aware of it. When you surf online and your URL starts with ‘HTTPS’, instead of ‘HTTP’, it means you are using a protocol that makes your website visit more secure. You are not confronted with this protocol, nor do you have to interact with it. The same will happen in web3.
If you are looking to enter the space at this moment, it might be challenging indeed, as doing your own research is required. The industry is scattered, there are many projects and if you go down that rabbit hole, you learn that there are too many opportunities each with their own set of risks. That’s why we’ve built the aggregator, to make it easy to mitigate those risks. At Bright Union, we like to make people aware of the risks in DeFi and give them the tools to protect their financial future.
What do you think could be the future of NFT? How useful can they be for everyone?
Last week, during Devconnect week in Amsterdam, I received an NFT that granted me access to a boat party. This ticket I could screenshot and give it to someone else, but that would not work as it was connected to my wallet. It was the first time I personally experienced an NFT with utility in the offline world.
Last week Elon Musk announced the acquisition of Twitter. On Twitter, you may now change your profile picture to an NFT. It will not just be a Jpeg, it will be connected to your wallet as well. You are already allowed to tip others if you like their tweets. Can you imagine getting paid on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook when you upload a photo? No, because the platform makes money by selling your data. You, as a user, are just the product, as you are continuously exposed to ads. With this tipping system, Twitter will integrate payment solutions that incentivized content creators.
In the future, I think NFTs will have the same function as wearing Nikes or a Rolex. It says something about your identity. The metaverse will take this a step further, for instance with a Tommy Hilfiger or Gucci NFT, you could get early access to a new collection or even access to real-life events like the Fashion Week. I’ve even heard about the move-to-earn sneakers NFT’s that reward you for the miles you run. I see NFTs and the Metaverse as an advanced loyalty system, where customers can opt-in to belong to a certain community.
Do you think NFTs, which are open to virtual reality, could adversely impact our health due to increased screen time?
NFTs will be integrated into the life we already have. On Facebook, Instagram, etc you can create and consume content. On web3 you own that content, that is the big difference. Meta is trying to build a Metaverse as well, they’ve recently communicated they’ll take 50% of the profits on virtual assets… Data is worth something and should be decentralized, it belongs to the user and they should be able to monetize it.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Can’t think of anything now. What I’d say to others.
- I keep hearing people saying they wished they took action during the dot.com bubble. Well right now, we are living at the exact same time with web3, but the majority can’t see it.
- WAGMI – we’re all gonna make it 😉
What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?
- ‘Alone you go faster, together you go further.’
- ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’
- ‘Done is better than perfect’
Lastly, what do you think this world needs the most?
Courage, it’s a playground out there. Go have fun.