An Interview with Maggie Love, Founder of SheFi
How Maggie is ensuring women can be active participants and leaders in crypto & DeFi
Helping Women Break Into Crypto and DeFi
Hi everyone! Parker here.
We’re kicking off our first interview with Maggie Love, founder and CEO of SheFi, an educational initiative for women breaking into crypto and DeFi. Maggie started SheFi to ensure women can be active participants and leaders in the DeFi space. Maggie is also the Co-Founder and Director of Business Development at W3BCLOUD. She’s also a phenomenal DJ. Basically, I can’t think of a better person to have our first Q&A with for Crypto Tonight. Let’s dive in!
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Parker: Can you tell me a little more about how SheFi got started? What was the inspiration behind the initiative? How did the program come about?
Maggie: SheFi emerged from a bit of a serendipitous moment, and also ties back into a longer "why I got into crypto” story. In 2019, I was in the Consensys office (an Ethereum blockchain company). At the time it was me and the rest of the office, which was probably about 90% men. I started hearing murmurings of people putting crypto into this project called Compound (a lending product) and earning 10%+ interest on their crypto. One of my friends mentioned some of the Consensys people had gotten together, mainly guys, to start an NCAA bracket pool. While all the guys pooled their money, they were also putting it into Compound, earning interest on it so the winner got even more.
I thought, ‘Wow, that's a really cool way to think about playing with these projects’. I was also thinking about how while participation in the NCAA record bracket was open to everyone at Consensys, it’s mainly guys who watch basketball. By participating in March Madness, these guys got experience using Compound in a low-risk way.
I realized I had to find a way to create something similar for women: giving them the opportunity to play with DeFi and put their money to work. I wanted to create a low-risk way of bringing women together to play with their money. I thought, ‘What if I get women into pool money together for non-profits, while simultaneously teaching them about DeFi?’ When it came to me, I knew I had to do it.
I began putting together the mission and vision for SheFi towards the end of 2019 and started socializing it around Eth Dever 2020. I shared [the pilot for SheFi] with the women to gauge their interest in having me teach them DeFi. They were all super excited, so I started doing some pilot programs with women from Consensys. April of 2020, I was just like, I have to put myself out there and let people know I am doing this. It was unnerving for me because although I’ve been in crypto for a while, it was the first time I put something out there that was totally mine. I don't come from “crypto finance”, so I was also taking on the responsibility of educating women on crypto and DeFi without that assumed traditional background.
In April of 2020, I publicly posted the first article on Medium and put my stake in the ground. I also sent an email to some friends and close family announcing the launch of SheFi. It felt like a good time to let people know I was giving women an opportunity to learn about alternative financial choices. I said, ‘I know it’s a crazy time to be launching a crypto initiative amidst the pandemic. There’s so much going on, but it's also a time for us to take note of our financial institutions and the poor way the government handles this. It also presents an opportunity to explore financial alternatives- different institutions”.
I wasn't going to let something that I put out there not come to fruition. It's just not who I am. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. And here we are... It's just been a crazy, wonderful, humbling, exciting ride. And I'm excited that women really want to be a part of it.
Parker: Before Consensys or SheFi, what got you into the blockchain space initially?
Maggie: I heard about blockchain during a strategic meeting at IBM. I’d been out of school long enough to realize that if I had gone into finance and become a spreadsheet monkey, I would be part of this club that always talks about deals and finance. There are women in finance groups that are really wonderful speakers to hear. But people in the banking world make banking and financial opportunities part of all of their conversations, and it’s really hard to get access to a seat at that table, one that creates wealth-building opportunities forever. So I was ready to break down the walls of Wall Street when I joined Consensys. I was totally ready to join the revolution.
SheFi touched back on what got me into blockchain initially: my desire to democratize access to financial information and wealth-building. The inception of SheFi just came from Ethereum getting to a place in 2019 where we were seeing those first DeFi projects, and then me having that conversation with Corbin about the NCAA bracket. It's kind of funny. It speaks to the way you can take inspiration from anywhere if you’re present and paying attention in all of your interactions.
Parker: Yeah, that's awesome. I love how you drew inspiration across different experiences and realizations throughout your life and career.
I'm interested to know a little more about SheFi’s curriculum. How did you start thinking about it? What does it look like in practice? How did you decide which material you were going to teach, and how to present it?
Maggie: DeFi exploded during the first part of the curriculum in the summer of 2020. I couldn't have imagined that exponential growth of like 20 new projects overnight. That changed how the program works now, but it's always been about teaching people “blue chip” (aka foundational) DeFi use cases, concepts, and protocols. More recently that’s expanded into NFTs and DAOs, because they all work together in the wider ecosystem.
SheFi’s main focus is crypto literacy, financial literacy, and use-cases: understanding what these protocols are and how they actually work. Another key tenant is experience and learning how to use DeFi. I wanted SheFi to be a little bit more robust than the explainers on YouTube that only demo how to use a protocol.
To start putting together the course, I needed to understand exactly how everything works. I don't take anything at face value. I’d go in and read 50 articles or more on one protocol. Then, I’d determine what I liked, and pull from it, and curate the educational content. In each course, I teach you everything you need to know to understand how something works, how it functions, and how to use it. And then, of course, all the wonderful crypto vocabulary on top of it. What are interest rates, and how do you calculate that? What does it mean when something is variable versus fixed? If you’re taking out a loan that has no time to pay back, what do you have to look for? What happens in the instance of a black Swan event?
I always try to relate it to, 'Where does this come from in traditional finance?’. I think it's important to contextualize crypto as a great little microcosm of the traditional financial world.
I'm trying to always evolve my teachings. We’re starting with ‘What is a blockchain?’ now, which we didn’t in the past. I realized most of the women coming into SheFi are new, or even if they're in crypto already, they don't necessarily have a deep fundamental technical understanding of blockchain technology.
The first session is called 'Becoming A Blockchain Baddie' (we like fun titles haha). We start with the basics of blockchains and then move into DeFi in session two, giving a broader overview of the course. Then we go into wallets, setting them up with browser, mobile, and hardware crypto wallets. I might have someone come in to do a deep dive on hardware wallets because they’re less user-friendly and more intense, but important. We download wallets, set them up, and practice sending crypto. Next session, we go over the various ways a person can acquire their first cryptocurrencies or tokens. Then, we go over how to link to Layer 2s, Stablecoins, lending and borrowing on Aave, exchanging and liquidity providing on Uniswap, etc. After that, we cover NFTs, including fractionalized art and the intersection of DeFi and NFTs, and finally, we cover DAOs and DeFi dashboards.
Parker: Tell me more about the cohorts that have gone through SheFi and the wider SheFi community.
Maggie: I’ve had about two cohorts go through SheFi, totaling about 60 women. There are definitely “super-users” who show up to each session and are active in the community channels. I think there are about six women that have left their traditional jobs since completing the SheFi program and gotten crypto jobs. They’re in the Discord, they want to host discussions and share more resources, etc. It’s important to me that as we grow the SheFi contributing team that those women come from the SheFi members, who go through the program. For example, someone who’s completed the program could be an educator in a different part of the world where it doesn’t make sense for me to manage that time zone, help with our operations and community, translate my content, etc. I don’t want to bring outside people in necessarily, I want SheFi to be grown by the community for the community.
Parker: It's incredible how much this has developed since you first started. Speaking with you and hearing you talk about SheFi, it’s really clear how much thought and consideration you’ve put into every aspect of the program.
Maggie: I never want women to feel stressed or like they’re asking a “dumb question” when they’re in SheFi. I don't want them to feel like they’re performing. When you’re in SheFi, I want you to feel at ease. I want you to know all these women have your back and that you're in an environment where you can just be yourself and ask questions. That’s a really important aspect of the type of community I’m trying to build. You don’t have to have all the answers. And who knows what SheFi could become… I didn’t even know it would become what it has today! If it’s just been a little over a year and a half of doing it, maybe two years total, what’s it going to look like two years from now?
Want to get involved in SheFi?
Maggie’s cohort just filled up for this October, but the next SheFi cohort will start around February. You can sign up to get on the waiting list and be notified when the next cohort re-opens here! Also, don’t forget to check out Maggie’s DJ’ing here. I’ve seen her sets in person and can’t recommend them enough.
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