There are hundreds of crypto talking heads to choose from, and endless things to learn. Anyone in the space knows about the content overload, shock, and fatigue from learning a concept like blockchain technology, let alone decentralized finance (DeFi). As interest in DeFi and NFTs skyrockets, I felt it was important to reach out to a woman who has dedicated her time and energy to bringing women into DeFi specifically. I sat down with Maggie Love, founder of SheFi, a Decentralized Finance (DeFi) education initiative for women that also doubles as a vehicle to donate funds to nonprofits that educate women in STEM programs. She is also Co-founder and Director of Business Development at W3BCLOUD, a joint venture between Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) and Consensys.
In this interview, we cover topics about Maggie’s inspiration to start SheFi alongside her day job at W3BCLOUD, why she chose Instagram as her medium of communication (Crypto notoriously lives on Twitter) and about her plans for SheFi’s future.
What’s the story behind SheFi?
It all started on a sunny summer day in 2019, having a chat with Corbin Page in the Consensys NY headquarters. He told me about a group of his Consensys employees coming together to bet on the NCAA basketball tournament championship. Each person puts a bit of money into the pot with the intention of all winning proceeds going to the winner. But this time, they tried something different -- as the tournament went on, their money accrued interest on Compound, an algorithmic, autonomous interest rate protocol.
Around that time, I was already thinking of ways to get more women involved in DeFi and getting a bit more comfortable playing and experimenting with money. I was looking around the ecosystem and not seeing many women building or playing with DeFi. I wanted to be sure the new financial paradigm crypto was creating included women from the beginning -- not after the fact. That conversation with Corbin sparked an idea, “Why not start a women-focused DeFi exploration group? We could donate our earnings to nonprofits that educate women in STEM programs!” When I thought of the name SheFi during one of my morning runs, I knew I had to start it and began building out the vision, mission, goals, and structure in the fall and winter of 2019.
I launched SheFi publicly in the spring of 2020. I piloted the sessions with a group of women in the crypto space but not in DeFi. In the fall of 2020, I started a SheFi cohort through a crypto social club I am part of called Mochi with ~20 women. In parallel, I shared an invitation to join the third SheFi cohort on Twitter and the SheFi website, and ~40 women signed up, ranging from folks that were totally new to crypto to women with intermediate crypto knowledge but not familiar with DeFi.
Now, a year later, SheFi is educating ~60+ women through two cohorts. It’s inspiring to see so many accomplished women join SheFi. Between the two cohorts, SheFi has women from SHE256, RBC, Pantera Capital, IBM, Accenture, DoorDash, Apple, and Google. We also have entrepreneurs, artists, freelancers and therapists in the mix — SheFi really hosts a diverse group of backgrounds and minds. You don’t have a specific background or experience to be part of SheFi. My only requirement is that all women agree to foster a community that is supportive, kind and respectful.
What are SheFi’s goals?
SheFi has a few main goals that support its vision of a financial economy built on Web 3.0 in which women are active participants and leaders, therefore creating a more inclusive, diverse, and sustainable industry.
Empower women to participate in decentralized finance protocols
Educate women on decentralized finance projects and tools
Experiment with different decentralized finance protocols and projects
Create a global community of women who can promote the adoption of DeFi among banked, underbanked, and unbanked women globally
I also hope that through learning about decentralized finance, the women feel more empowered interacting with the traditional financial world. SheFi’s lessons are set up in a conversational, approachable way. No questions are considered bad questions. If we come upon a term that has roots in institutional finance, we go back and DeFine (see what I did there?) that term and place it within the proper context.
Our goal is to help women make sense of crypto as an investment as well as a financial asset, while explaining the many things they can be used for. The opportunities are endless, and that could also be off-putting. Many people experience choice overload once entering the space. Common questions asked include: “Should I put my crypto assets in BlockFi, a platform that provides crypto savings accounts and crypto-backed loans? What about AAVE? Should my assets sit in MetaMask?”
SheFi is clear to reiterate that decentralization is super essential, but this is also your money. Financial risk levels vary from person to person. Make the assets and opportunities work for your financial imperatives.
How are the lessons set up?
The lessons are Zoom-based, where I share presentations with How To’s, Live Demos, and invigorating CTAs. Culturally relevant gifs are sprinkled between financial deep-dives, where I introduce DeFi concepts and the traditional finance concepts behind them. Open office hours are held on Fridays for any cohort attendees to ask questions and receive direct answers.
The main objective is to distill the content in a logical flow and format while being conversational, entertaining, and approachable. (That’s a lot for the crypto space.) Instagram was selected over Twitter as our social media outlet for various reasons; the design, UI, and new audience we want to reach tend to spend more time there. I still tweet from time to time via the SheFi handle, but I put more effort into making content for Instagram.
Can we talk about the elephant in the room?
Gas prices? Yes, we can. During the inaugural cohort, gas fees were much lower. It was feasible to direct my class to head to MetaMask, buy eth, and pop over to Uniswap to find a specific token as well as pool together assets to use in demos. Now that the gas prices are astronomical, it does present significant friction in the user experience. I don’t feel comfortable having women send $20 to a pool that we can use to demo when gas costs more than $20. How could I advise someone new to crypto to pay high fees for a new asset that they’ve never worked with before?
Thankfully, SheFi has received some funding from Don't Buy Meme, a platform that puts together some of the most exciting innovations in DeFi: yield farming and NFTs. Going forward, I intend to use this funding to fund demos and transactions for the cohort until gas prices go back down.
W3BCLOUD just raised $20.5 Million. Amazing work. Can you tell me more about that?
W3BCLOUD was born in 2017/2018; I am a Co-founder from the Consensys side. Now I am at W3bCloud full time. W3bCloud is a joint venture between Consensys and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to build infrastructure for the compute and storage layers of the decentralized web. Our focus areas are blockchain validation, high-performance compute workloads, decentralized finance, and decentralized storage.
At W3BCLOUD, I focus primarily on business development and partnerships. I get to spend my days speaking to exciting teams in Ethereum, DeFi, IPFS, etc., to form partnerships to support and grow these ecosystems.
Which frictions do women run into getting started with DeFi?
Let’s see, gas prices. Information overload. Jargon. A hobbyist with a finance background and a lot of spending money could hop right in and start tinkering around. Everyone else will have to deal with various levels of a steep learning curve. Many of the incredible SheFi attendees balance full-time jobs that they intend to keep, are raising kids and supporting families. They live relatively busy lives.
I ensure that the content is clearly structured and thorough with step-by-step demos, and CTAs. I see myself as a DeFi curator, speaking to a specific audience: I curate for the busy professional woman that has a lot going on but should be benefiting from this space.
There are so many ways to learn and so many communication styles, many different ways to translate the crypto lexicon. There’s still space in the market for other female leaders to join in and gather impassioned learners! For example, Najah Roberts, founder of Crypto Blockchain Plug her educational crypto advocacy, is community-based in Inglewood, California.
Who are your heroes and inspirations?
Too many to list, and I know that I will miss some if I try to list all the women who inspire me. I feel lucky that my direct network of friends is filled with passionate women making waves in their industries.
For starters, I admire all of the women I met while at Consensys. They are all continuing to do impressive and impactful work inside and outside of crypto. Consensys was a magnet for incredible humans and the community and friendships it facilitated is honestly one of my favorite aspects about joining the crypto space. It’s exciting to see Dani Osorio, Mally Anderson, and Yadira Blocker working on the NEAR Protocol, Min Teo leading so many essential investments in the blockchain space, Priyanka Desai being a leader in the Legal, DAO, and NFT space, Simona Pop growing Status and the entire Ethereum ecosystem with her endless energy, etc.
Outside of crypto, I am consistently impressed by my female friends and founders, such as AiAi Garcia, who started Nala Women in the Philippines to provide better period care and facilitate much-needed conversations around women’s health. Honestly, the list of women that inspire me could go on and on, and I wish I could fill this article with names.
Everyone who stayed throughout the bear market of 2019 and continued to work inspires me. It was a trying time for crypto, yet we all continued to build and support each other -- it’s incredible to see how far the whole ecosystem has come. I’m also grateful to the women I interact with daily in this space who I didn’t meet at Consensys, such as the lawyers, engineers, and designers. It seems like every woman that is doing something in crypto is doing something cool. Rebecca Rettig, the general counsel at AAVE, for example. Colleen Sullivan, the Co-Founder and CEO of CMT Digital. She265’s tireless work in increasing diversity and breaking down barriers to entry in the crypto space. Meta Gamma Delta does important work to ensure projects led by women and diverse teams are funded.
Finally, my parents are always my biggest heroes and inspiration. They’ve always encouraged me to follow my dreams and believe in my ability to lead and make a difference in the world.
What are you most proud of from SheFi?
Gosh, probably seeing women take the initiative to interact with DeFi outside of sessions. For example, I show the basics of downloading MetaMask and the cohort practices sending transactions back and forth throughout the week. They then ran off to research, headed to Uniswap, and returned to the next meeting with various different tokens. They are actually playing with DeFi, not just learning about it. I’m also proud of the questions they ask and the level of engagement and curiosity they bring to each session. The final thing I am most proud of is the relationships the women are building with each other.
How do you balance your time running W3BCloud and SheFi?
One easy time-management hack for balancing a bunch of things at one time is to love the work you’re doing. It’s a great time to be in crypto, and W3BCLOUD is progressing at a rapid pace -- (W3BCLOUD recently raised $20.5 Million to roll out a network of data centers dedicated to the blockchain economy). I’ve also learned how to say no more — there are so many awesome initiatives in crypto. Still, I have to focus on my job and my work in SheFi if I want to do them well. As a YES woman, this is a crucial lesson for me.
To date, I have financed SheFi entirely out of pocket alongside the donation from the Don’t Buy Meme project. Therefore, I do all of the lesson content and lead the sessions myself, and I know I cannot scale it alone. It’s getting a bit unsustainable in a good way as the interest in joining is growing more quickly than I expected. This coming year’s big focus is to secure outside funding to cover operational expenses and growing the SheFi team. I do have an incredible support team right now. I have a designer, Alyssa Mae Tumlos, a woman who assists with operations: Porter Geer, and a woman and friend: Jasmine Sabio, who volunteers to help with social media. We exchange skills. I teach her about DeFi, and she gives me DJ lessons as she is my DJ partner. #TheSharingEconomy. When I first started SheFi, Lili Feyerabend designed our logo and brand! I also have a few crypto rock stars that come in and answer questions, like Arianna Fowler and Susie Batt.
What’s next for SheFi?
DeFinitely scaling. To date, ~60 women have interacted with SheFi with many countries globally represented, such as India, Iran, Germany, Portugal, Bolivia, the UK, the US, and more. I plan to build the organization’s infrastructure to scale this year, but scaling thoughtfully is my main goal. I don’t want SheFi to lose any of the community spark that we’ve formed so far.
Reach out to Maggie at SheFi.org
Follow SheFi on Instagram: SheFi_Crypto