An Interview with Natasha & Deana, Co-Founders of Boys Club
On the urgency to onboard women into Web3, the meaning of community, co-founder best practices, and more.
Gm everyone, Parker here.
I’ve been sitting on this interview for a while, and it’s one I’m really excited to share. Long-time readers might remember the piece I wrote back in November recapping the myriad of people, panels, and parties I encountered during NFT NYC. Today, two of the lovely faces in that article are making a comeback.
Deana Burke and Natasha Hoskins are the co-founders of Boys Club, a social club and DAO onboarding crypto-curious women and non-binary individuals into Web3. In this interview, we discuss the inspiration behind Boys Club, the urgent need to create women-specific spaces in crypto, co-founder best practices, and more.
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Author note: This interview transcript has been edited for length and clarity. This interview was conducted on December 26th, 2022, and has not been updated since. Some of the information mentioned in this interview may have changed since the time of recording.*
Parker: Hi! We're live. I'll let you guys give a quick intro, and then we can dive in.
Deana: Great. I'm Deana Burke, one of the founders of Boys Club. I come from a marketing background. I worked at agencies. I started my own agency, which was acquired by Indiegogo, where I worked. That's where I met Natasha! I left a year ago to start my own crypto project, which was a wallet designed for young women to onboard them into crypto. So a very mission-driven project to focus on accessibility and adoption amongst people who had been left out of the movement so far. I didn’t find a product-market fit with that, but that’s sort of the way of the world of startups.
Natasha and I worked together on another early-stage project, called All Call, which was also just acquired. I’m now at the Celo foundation, which is Layer 1 protocol doing very cool things with financial inclusion, the global south, and natural capital initiative. I'm working on the marcoms (marketing-comms) team there, where I just started.
Natasha: I'm Natasha. I'm also a co-founder of Boys Club, with Deana. I started at Indiegogo and was in a sort of startup-within-a-startup there. They’d launched a new program for entrepreneurs that was sort of like a post-campaign program, which was really fun- working with a ton of entrepreneurs all day long, helping them figure out how to tell their story and fundraise. Then, I left to start All Call, a travel platform that I worked on that for several years. Halfway through Deana joined as co-founder, which was awesome. All Call just got acquired by a company called Fora. I’m Head of Community there. It's been really fun.
Parker: In your personal relationship and in your work relationship, I can only imagine how working on so many different things together has helped you learn a lot about each other.
Deana: We have a rule between us that’s like, whenever there's a feeling that one of us is having, we have to talk about it. Honestly, I think how we've been able to make it work and be so productive and life-giving for both of us that there's no holds barred. When any feelings come up, there's a check-in meeting that we have to do.
Natasha: Yeah. Deana and I both started alone, founding our own companies alone. Once you’re moving up and starting a business everyone’s always like, ‘What’s your learning? What’s your number one takeaway?’ … I will never do this alone again. To have found like a partnership in Deana and a co-founder where I'm like, ‘Anywhere you go, I will go’... that type of relationship is really special and really important. I don't think [how great it is] is lost on either of us. What you can bring into the world when you have someone that you really love working with and really trust. So anyway, we totally agree. It's great.
Co-founders Natasha (R) & Deana (L)
Parker: Pivoting to Boys Club, I think I stumbled across you guys on Twitter. Maybe you guys can share a little bit about what Boys Club is, how it came about, and what problem you’re trying to solve.
Deana: Boys Club– how we're currently defining it is that it's a social club and community built for people who are crypto curious. We've designed it for women and non-binary individuals, but we're really welcoming anyone who’s curious and who’s maybe feeling like they haven't seen a space yet that’s really built intentionally for them. Really, we're just trying to create a space that will attract new faces to this world that love and find so much opportunity and value in. We want to help other people see that same opportunity and value, especially for people who might feel like other spaces that they're seeing- crypto Twitter or whatever it is- aren’t really coded for them.
One way in which we're going about [creating new spaces] is really through our dinner series. We're doing six this year and [developing] our online community. Those events are really nurturing that community because we know that for so many people, their crypto journey is not just this one-off moment.
How do we have a space that continues to support and develop these women that are joining our events? And then through educational entertainment, and entertainment content around crypto, [we’re] bringing sort of a glossary to this space that feels really current and fresh.
Parker: What you said about creating a new glossary really resonated. I kind of see you guys as increasing accessibility– even just on the content side alone, with the content you're producing. And just the iconic, iconic post using the Kardashian family to explain blockchain. I sent that to all of my fiat friends, and many said, ‘this is the first time I’m actually kind of understanding crypto’.
I’m still breaking into crypto and still continuing to learn about it. It’s a very, very, male-dominated space. For me, it can be a little intimidating in these communities to ask questions. You don't want to be like the only woman in a group asking a “dumb question”.
Natasha: Just to piggyback off that. Deana has been in crypto for a long time and has a literacy around it. She understands the space and has been in for years. She was constantly telling me, ‘You know, you've got to get into this,’ and I was like, ‘It's really cool, it’s just not for me.’ And then essentially, we went on this Vegas trip together. Deana was like, ‘We're sitting by the pool, and we're going to spend three hours [on crypto]… I'm going to tell you all that's going on in this space and give you a chance to really feel it happening in a more meaningful way.’
And we did it. By the end and I was just like, I'm sold. I get it. It's so cool, and I see how all of these things are important.
The main thing that we both felt was, like, there's such an urgency to design spaces that are specifically for women. The systems of power and structure of wealth we've seen with fiat cash will just be carbon-copied onto crypto if we're not intentional about bringing people with a diversity of backgrounds into the space.
Because crypto is developing so quickly every single day, the [online] spaces are so much more valuable than they are for other industries, I think. And as I was looking at them, it was like, ‘...This is not for me. This doesn't feel accessible to me. I don't want to respond to this Twitter thread. I feel ostracized by this and want to design a space that's intentionally different.’ That’s kind of where IRL events came out of. Like, really having a place where it's safe to say, ‘Hey, is this my wallet address?’ Those questions are really hard to ask in spaces where you don't feel known or seen, or where you feel different. So that's sort of how we’ve thought about why this is important and why we need to do this. And I think that has really resonated with the women and people in our community.
Parker: When I attended the Boys Club dinner event, almost every woman I met said, ‘I'm so new to this.’ I think creating a space where those women can connect is really reassuring, in a way. No matter what field or industry, it's difficult to enter a space when you feel like everyone else knows so much more than you.
Deana: Yes, totally. We're really conscious of meeting people where they're at. Also, I think the power of a community for me is not in how many people are in your Discord channel or Telegram group, or newsletter. That's not a community. Community is actually, for the individual people in that group, connecting [with] and helping one another, without there needing to be this sort of broadcast model.
Parker: I want to dive into the Boys Club dinner. I know you guys saw so much demand for it that you weren't expecting. You said you're doing a six-part dinner series this year. What does that look like?
Natasha: Originally, we were like, let's get fifteen or twenty of our friends in New York, maybe we'll have them over on my roof and just talk about crypto. We were very low-key about it. Maybe let's get it up on Twitter, you know, whatever.
And then it completely snowballed. We were like, “Oh shit, this is a thing.” We literally put a Twitter up and were like, ‘We’re having a little dinner, subscribe here’, and sent our invites out.
And they sold out the twenty invites we were planning immediately. Then we did another twenty. And it sold out again. It really spoke to this sense of ‘this is really resonating.’ So many people were coming to us, like, ‘I've been looking for something like this.’ All of that to say, we were really excited to see that there was so much demand.
Natasha: [At the dinner], we had some amazing panelists who were so willing and generous with their time, which also really spoke to this desire that, collectively, people want to see more diversity in this space. The night of the event was amazing- like- I get chills thinking about it. It was so much fun. There was such generosity in the space between everyone. Everyone was rooting for each other.
A majority of the women in the room were completely new, like, ‘I don't even know where to get started, that's why I'm here.’ To see them start there and then leave in that “poolside moment” is exactly what we wanted to create, and it very much happened over the course of the evening.
Boys Club Inaugural Dinner
Deana: One point to really underline was the generosity in the room. That was a very intentional tone that we wanted to set. Our goal for that evening was to help people see the opportunity [and to see] themselves in it. There was no competitive energy happening in that space. It was all just giving. That tone is really important for us to bring to every touchpoint we create for Boys Club.
Natasha: It was really special and magical. Post-event, Deana and I woke up the next morning and it honestly felt like the day after your wedding day.
Our hope was for this to have a halo effect. Fifty women showed up at the event… Are they going to tell their friends about it?
So much of this is, we're learning, we're testing. We're so open to being wrong and figuring out what people need. [When I had] people DM’ing and texting me asking, ‘When's the next event!? My friend wants to fly in,’... I was just like, oh, wow. There is something here that is really clicking and that is really powerful.
Boys Club Inaugural Dinner
Deana: Another insight from the night is that the lightbulb moment for people- the poolside moment for Natasha, and the lightbulb moment for people in the room- really came at different points. For them to really understand what it means to truly own your own money and for it to be fully yours, for you to be totally in control of it without any gatekeepers or middlemen.
How we approached that first event was really just sort of a beta test. We're going to test out different types of content, different events. We don't know yet what's going to land for people.
One thing I do want to mention is our curriculum. We put together this little post-event curriculum, for [when people are asking], ‘Where do I go from here?’ We put together a curriculum that was like, ‘Okay, here's where you go from here. You buy your first crypto, you set up your first MetaMask wallet.’ We did little explainer videos for each task. And it’s really amazing to see people going through it.
Parker: I think it’s super important to give direction to that momentum. Okay, I know we have hard stops coming up. To wrap things up, can you speak a little more about your roadmap and vision?
Deana: We’re ready to put together a shared ownership-collective system for what Boys Club is.
It’s even weird to say that [we’re] co-founders of Boys Club. Like, we are, but it's not about that for us at all. We're moving as fast as we can, figuring out ways to make this so much bigger than us. Not just in size and scope, but in sharing the whole- the value creation. We want to bring our community and our network together to own something, to create value together.
Strategically, that's very much where we're headed. One thing that's really fun about this space is that it moves so quickly and there's so much room for experimentation. So there's totally a place for us to try some stuff out and see what sticks.
Natasha and I are both early-stage startup people, so we always have an eye on product. But we're very, very very conscious that we want to start with our community – and let our community’s needs, wants, and desires dictate whatever product is eventually built.
Parker: It's awesome to see the momentum that this has taken. I'm impressed not only by the work that you guys are doing but the amount of progress that you’ve accomplished in such a short time.
Deana & Natasha: Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s also really cool to see other people get excited about it!
*To briefly assuage any concerns about shilling, I’d like to acknowledge that while I’m now a part of the Boys Club team as a founding member, this interview was planned and recorded prior to that update.
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