Tina, who goes by her first name only for privacy reasons, first dabbled in Web3 at the beginning of the pandemic. What really drew her attention to it was the hype and conversations that were happening in chat rooms, Twitter DMs and Clubhouse rooms, which reminded her of the internet culture that she had grown up with.
“Unlike in Web2 where everything is transactional and focused around presenting deliverables, or meeting OKRs and KPIs, the nature of Web3 is more focused around innovation and exploring ideas,” Tina told The Org. “It’s so much cooler and reminds me so much of the 90s and 2000s internet culture.”
She began freelancing and doing contract work for smaller protocols in the space, which eventually led her to Zapper, a wallet that allows its customers to track and visualize DeFi assets and liabilities in a simple dashboard.
There she began developing an interest in how she could explore DeFi primitives, a decentralized option market protocol on Ethereum Blockchain, and connect that with governance and NFTs.
“I noticed that as a designer there are a lot of people in the NFT space, but trying to find a design in the DeFi space is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. That drew me into it because it was a much more complex place to move towards and there wasn’t a lot of innovation done on the design front yet,” Tina said.
The daily life of a designer at a DeFi startup
Tina currently leads a design team at Element Finance, an open-source protocol for fixed and variable yield markets. To put it simply, customers of Element Fi can place their crypto assets into one of their vaults (a trusted source where you store digital currencies online), and hold them until the maturity date at a locked interest rate before taking them out.
“It’s a really easy way for beginners and people that are risk-averse to enter the market,” Tina said. “When I was starting out in the space I would check my trades and be stressed all the time, so I was really brought into the protocol because it’s a space that is super beginner-friendly.”
On the day-to-day, she leads daily design standups and organizes meetings with the front-end team to discuss projects and sprints. She also works closely with the company’s Head of Marketing to design comms and other assets.
“When you’re at a startup, you really just have to wear many hats,” Tina said. “So my biggest piece of advice for women or people that are creatives who are interested in the field is – really think like an entrepreneur, think outside of the box. If you have a vision or want to do something, make a roadmap of what you want to accomplish.”
Building for women in Web3
For Tina, building for women in Web3 is extremely important.
“I noticed that there is an incredible amount of women in Web2 in building positions, but there’s close to zero in our space, or in Web3 in general, but by getting more women into the space, they can really define a lot of the road map because they architect the whole protocol,” Tina said.
For women interested in the space, Tina recommends looking into mentorship programs such as she256, a community started by a group of Berkeley students that aims to diversify blockchain space, and joining women-led community groups – such as web3baddies, where she is an active member.
She hopes that with more women joining the space, there will be more open-source resources available on DeFi.
“I’m grateful because I have a lot of people around me working in facets of finance who were empowering me with resources and following up with mentorship and education but not every woman that tries to get into the space is going to have access to those same resources,” she said. “So hopefully when more women move into the space, we will have more open source education – but we still have a long long way to go.”