hit counter

Brit Morin and Jaime Schmidt from BFF

Over 59 million US adults have been using cryptocurrencies since 2022. However, women own only 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 racial/ethnic. Brit Morin and Jaime Schmidt believe this is due to the lack of access and understanding surrounding web3, which is why they founded BFF, an open access community aiming to help more women and non-binary people to become to inform, connect and reward in crypto and web3.

The company recently launched several new initiatives to continue its mission of expanding access to education, including a free newsletter authored by journalist Caroline Fairchild and the Belonging and Mattering Council, a diverse group of individuals who will create programs and initiatives to support underfunded communities, including professional development programs, partnerships with BIPOC organizations, and more.

I spoke to Morin and Schmidt shortly after the Belonging and Mattering Council (BMC) was formed last month.

Amy Schuhnthal: Tell me about BFF and how you two teamed up to create this community.

British Morin: I’ve been in the crypto ecosystem for about a decade. I hosted a cryptocurrency summit via Brit + Co in January 2018, which was attended by over 20,000 women. There we started learning basic things like Bitcoin and Ethereum and the blockchain.

It turns out that the number of women investing in crypto has dropped from 15% to 9% recently. So I called Jamie, who I’d only met once before, and said, “Would you like to help me build a truly inclusive community that provides women with the information and education they need access to and of course the opportunity to invest, if you want to?’ This is how BFF was born.

James Schmidt: I had founded Schmidt’s Naturals, the personal care brand that I had scaled before it was acquired by Unilever. So I wanted to help companies that also do bootstrapping. I was pretty active at Clubhouse when people started talking more and more about web3, so my husband and I started our first project called CPG: Crypto Packaged Goods. We have a Genesis collection of about 300 members. That piqued Brit’s interest. When she called me, I was looking forward to having a greater impact on women in this space.

Schuhnthal: 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 more thoughtful investors than men. However, their risk tolerance tends to be much lower. We wanted this community to feel like a simple place where you’re not afraid to ask questions as if you were talking to a friend. Hence the name.

Schuhnthal: You just said that women’s risk tolerance tends to be lower than men’s. Do you really believe that?

Smith: That’s what the data says, but I had trouble with that statement because I’m thinking about my own story of getting in as a bootstrap entrepreneur with no experience and just getting started. It might be less about risk aversion and more about wanting to be thoughtful and educated. Because of this, we needed to create a space where women feel welcome but also receive the education they crave.

Schuhnthal: What are some challenges you both faced as women in crypto?

morin: The typical obstacle is that all of these groups have already formed, mostly with men introducing each other to new deals and opportunities. You knock on the door and ask to be part of this group, but you don’t look or sound like them.

We figured if the men don’t let all the women into their groups, why not start our own? How can we let people know about this new thing coming into the pipeline without feeling ostracized?

We don’t think about the limits of women’s existence in web3. We are thinking about the possibilities that exist for us to build a broader network that allows others to join.

Smith: The challenges we face are typical for every startup and not necessarily a gender issue. There are so many brands in the space. What can we do differently? How do we stand out, how do we grab consumers’ attention and let people know we mean business?

Schuhnthal: You just announced the Belonging and Mattering Council, which is another step in building what seems like equity and inclusivity in web3. can you tell me a little bit about it

Smith: We wanted the council to be a group of people with similar intentions to bring equity and diversity to the space. It’s a fairly new initiative and we’re excited about its potential.

morin: I am very pleased about the founding members of the Council. We have all of the actress, activist and entrepreneur Natasha Rothwell, to transgender leaders, advocates and everyone in between. We try to practice what we preach and make sure we have insight into all types of underserved communities. We need to make sure that we don’t just pay lip service to this, but actually build on 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 is not accessible. We also want some of the BFF community leaders, many of whom are venture capitalists or CEOs, to help and support people from these communities.

Schuhnthal: Sounds like you’re really trying to connect for people who don’t already have that access, which speaks volumes for all the possibilities that exist in web3. However, I would also like to acknowledge the current state of the market and the events of the last few months. Talk to me about the dip. What does this mean for people who are now more skeptical about investing?

Smith: It’s all fun and roses until the market crashes. This is just part of the normal cycle. It’s really important for our community to get through this together and understand that this is the reality.

morin: Remember we’re 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 the early adopter. Slowly, over time, more and more infrastructure is built and regulations are introduced. The latest forecast states that crypto will be a $10 trillion market by 2030. I would say that this prediction is pretty accurate.

It will take almost a decade for crypto and Web3 to become mainstream. The key for brands right now is figuring out how to bring real value to NFT projects. I just saw that Ticketmaster is now issuing tickets as NFTs. Pearson has created NFT textbooks for college students, which makes sense given how college students resell their books. The technology itself has so much value and so many use cases that we’ve barely scratched the surface.

A lot of people can look at the market and think this was just a fad. The people who were only here for the fads will disappear. There will be less competition. This is where real innovation will take place. I think 12 months from now we’re going to see some really radical ideas emerging from this bear market.

Schuhnthal: 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 messaging. We’re building the foundations of Web3 the way we built the Internet in the ’90s. When email was still a new thing, people thought, wow, I could send you a message and you’ll get it right away, and then you can text me one back? That’s crazy.

People are just starting to think about NFTs as a real utility, not just a pretty piece of art or a brand. Now there are member communities, NFT-only reservations at restaurants, and true social clubs.

Crypto and Web3 can also be used to make things that are currently illiquid liquid. It’s really difficult right now to buy and sell real estate or invest in a business for the average person. You can’t just decide that one day you’ll sell your home with a one-click transaction. There is an opportunity to make these transactions much easier. The people who are building now will have a front row seat to taking 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 shine a spotlight on each other and share the riches. And frankly, we need everyone to play and win if we’re actually going to bring more people into the herd. Luckily there is room for everyone to play and win.

Leave a Comment