Agility and curiosity are widely regarded as critical attributes in the realm of Web3 marketing. A special guest, Ipshita Kumar, VP of Brand Innovation at Hype, walks us through her transition from co-founding Lemonade to leading brand innovation at Web3 Creative Agency and how she's spearheading a revolution in the field. We unveil how the latest tech can be integrated into your marketing strategies, all while simplifying the complex jargon of Web3 for everyone. Ipshita also shares valuable insights on the art of staying current in a rapidly evolving sector, her secret sauce being a mix of thought leaders, newsletters, and communities.
In the second half of our discussion, we delve into unchartered territory - gender dynamics in Web3 adoption. Navigating these dynamics can indeed be challenging, but Ipshita's experiences as a woman in the crypto space provide much-needed perspective. We also highlight how Hype strongly advocates for gender equality in leadership positions. As for the evolution of marketing roles in the Web3 space, we foresee the emergence of positions like metaverse leads and chief metaverse officers. Wrapping up the conversation, we probe into the potential of NFTs for businesses and discuss how Web3 technology can spearhead exciting opportunities for brands. Strap in for an enlightening conversation.
This episode was recorded through a StreamYard call on July 13, 2023. Read the blog article here: https://webdrie.net/steering-through-the-web3-landscape-curiosity-agility-and-gender-dynamics-with-ipshita-kumar/
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I feel that one of the key takeaways I've had just kind of like jumping through different industries and then countries that I've worked at is being agile, and that also that your educational background only takes you somewhere, but it's always your curiosity that will help you take you much farther.Joeri:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast, season 3, episode 11. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm excited to be joined by Ipshita Kumar. Hi, Ipshita, how are you doing?Ipshita:
Hi Joeri, I'm doing very well, thanks. How about yourself?Joeri:
I'm good. You know it's nice weather in Belgium. I know that you are in Lisbon at this moment, so I guess it's quite hot over there.Ipshita:
Almost waiting when the sun is going to cross, as we're going to record this podcast. You're going to see, like the change of shadows, it will be interesting.Joeri:
Yeah, yeah, but you know it gives it so much energy for me anyway when I have the sun. But for our listeners, Ipshita, if they don't know you yet, let me give them a little bit of an introduction. So, guys, Ipshita is a VP of Brand Innovation at Web3 Creative Agency Hype. Ipshita is streamlining the adoption of Web3 and the Metaverse by making the technology more accessible to brands and consumers. Drawing from her experience as a South Asian entrepreneur, she strikes the perfect balance between EQ and IQ to help brands triumph in Web3 with powerful community-led activations and go- to- market strategies. Next to her work at Hype, Ipshita is a co-founder of Lemonade, a multi-chain platform helping creators build Web3 communities online and in real life. In every time, yip Sita is working with all bright women and Ripple to make Web3 more accessible to women from all backgrounds. Well, that's already an exciting introduction, but, Ipshita, maybe you can share a bit more about your journey from co-founding Lemonade to your current role as a VP of Brand Innovation at Hype. What were some of the takeaways that you can share with us?Ipshita:
Well, one of the key takeaways I've had just kind of like jumping through different industries and then countries that I've worked at is being agile and that also that your educational background only takes you somewhere, but it's always your curiosity that will help you take you much farther. So for someone to come from a non-technical background in hospitality to now-today work in Web3, something much more technical that a lot of people still today also struggle to understand, the infrastructure has only been because, again, you're curious, you just want to learn every single day and you're agile, so you move as the industry moves, you move as the market moves and you stay curious.Joeri:
Yeah, I think that's really important the mindset, of course, being curious and also putting effort in it and having the right sources, because space is evolving so fast. What do you do? Are you listening to podcasts, or are you attending conferences, or listening to webinars? Or how do you keep up to date?Ipshita:
For me. I'm a reader and I understand that different people learn differently, right? So there are people who consume podcasts or like audio material better. For me, it's always been written material, and I went on this massive sub-stack medium street like three years ago and I decided to just follow a bunch of really awesome thought leaders in the Web3 space and the creator economy, because you know Lemonade while I was building it, it has everything to do with creator economy. So following folks like Legion or Andrew Chen, the guru when it comes to performance marketing and today he's leading, I think, game Fund 1 with A16Z so just being able to tap into their, I would say, classes and courses that were available, as well as subscribing to their newsletters, has always helped me stay ahead of the news of the curve, and I follow that practice till late. It's the best source for me to get the news from.Joeri:
Yeah, so you know, for me, what helps Ipshita is inviting people on my podcast to learn from. That's already helped me a lot to really dive into the space and to talk to people. But also listening to podcasts and talking to people and being communities and, as you say, every day- consuming content from a few thought leaders in the space. Now you are considered an authority in Web3, so I can ask you the question what are some of the most critical aspects of technology that marketers should understand or should incorporate in their strategies?Ipshita:
That's a very interesting question and it's a question that I've constantly asked myself over the last year, year and a half, while working with brands, just to kind of think about okay, what should they be knowing? What do they need to know? And for now, because the answer can change maybe in six months as we learn and we adopt a different technology I think for now, the way I see it is do you want to learn the code behind making TikTok Reels or do you just want to use the features to make the most engaging wheels? Okay so, and the reason I bring this up is today, web3, I feel, is filled with a lot of jargon and it just makes a space so inaccessible for anyone. Let's us Web3 Marketeer. What we forget is, in the end, we are marketing to people, to humans. We haven't changed much. It's just that what we want, where we spend time, where we consume most information, these are things that have changed, which again dictates how you reach these audiences, which then dictates how you market them. So I would say that for any marketer is to just kind of get their feet into the water, and that's by just signing up for different wallets, going and getting a bunch of NFTs. Now, two years ago, there wasn't much scope to get free NFTs or to experiment within the blockchain space by doing transactions for free. But today, if you see, like what MasterCard is doing or what Slurpee with 7-Eleven did just last week, you have a lot of opportunity to experiment in this space quote, unquote, for free, create a wallet, you can claim an NFT, and that already gives you an idea of what this space is about. And I would love to draw a parallel to this to maybe when a new social app is launched. Think about the time when Clubhouse was just launched. Everybody wanted to test it out and then Brand started getting into it, thinking, okay, this is an audio-only app, how do I leverage this app for distribution? Threads released last week and you see so many people signing up. So the curiosity part. Going back to it, if you're curious, you're downloading the app, you're testing it out and then you're thinking, okay, maybe to leverage my business, I want to use threads instead of I don't know Twitter. And the same thing goes for Web3. Get into the game, do things that you can without again putting too much money into it, and that's probably the best way to say.Joeri:
Yeah, that's always the same advice I give to people too when they ask me. The question is just to try to get an NFT, or try to get it for free, or just invest a couple of euros or dollars and see, get experience with it. But, of course, at Hype, you are a key player in the world of NFTs. Nfts were hype. Now they're a bit less of a hype. Now it's more utility. I think that counts. Businesses are looking at NFTs. Sometimes they ask me the question should we be doing that? Why should we be doing that? Can you perhaps give some advice on the lessons that you learned in the process? Or maybe what advice would you give to businesses looking to go into NFTs?Ipshita:
For sure. When I joined Hype that's like I said, 2021 ended. So projects like Board A, biot Club, and Crypto Ponds were just the talk of the town. So when everyone thought of NFTs, these were the projects that immediately kind of popped up. And back then hype was again already like the market leader when it came to crypto projects and they had already worked with Chili's Ledger, so some of the big names but there was no playbook to successfully launch your NFT project back then. And I guarantee you that even today there is no perfect playbook because the market has changed so much. The way the community and the consumers of behaving have changed, and if someone claims that they have the perfect playbook, they're lying Because it does not exist still. So I guess the biggest takeaway so far has been to play to your strengths as a business. Who are you in an offline setting? Who are you already for your online community and how do you take that essence and translate it to an on-chain community? That is all you need to do. How do you take that who you are and build it on-chain? And there is a term that I discovered, probably last year. It's called MVC. That is your minimum viable community. What is your minimum viable community? What do they want? And I promise you if you just listen to them and you just ask for their feedback, you most definitely can't go wrong. Where you do go wrong as a business is you enter the NFT space thinking I want to want a Blue Chip NFT project, I want to have X million followers on socials or I want to have a discord. That is basically vanity metrics. So when you have vanity metrics as the only goal, it's kind of hard to sustain a community in the long run. And that's why you see a lot of projects boom and then they fail. And then they boom and they fail. Or they have to constantly do fundraising to sustain that ecosystem or to constantly please a community because the initial incentive for them to join your community was not out of an innate desire to align themselves with your brand or with your project. It was because they were going to flip. So it's about, I would say focusing on your community. What is your minimum viable community, I would say, and just play to your strengths? Who are you in the offline space and how can you take that and translate it to an on-chain community?Joeri:
Yeah, makes total sense. Something else community is really important, of course. As you mentioned the term minimum viable community. I like that concept Also. Something that is working is partnerships. You know, having the right partnerships, building the right partnerships. I know for you collaboration is also really important in your business. Maybe can you talk a bit about that or maybe give an example of your collaborations in Web3?Ipshita:
Absolutely. So maybe, if we can just go back to Web2, right, Collaboration was hard and I'm not talking about a collaborative post that comes up on your timeline and then you could jointly get a lot of likes. But in general, collaboration was hard because there was no way to also distribute royalties or payment structures and again, today smart contracts enable you to do that. So, even if two brands or two communities are collaborating, there is a very transparent way to build device smart contracts that allow you to decide who gets what percentage of the split of the profits or the royalties, which is why collaboration is so like. It's pretty much key in Web3. I know this is an old example and it's kind of outdated today, but it'll still always be. One of my favorites is when CryptoPunks partnered with Tiffany. I don't know if you remember that time. That was sometime last year. Basically what you did is it enabled well- empowered CryptoPunk holders to get their CryptoPunks as a locket, like as a pendant, with Tiffany's hardware Now just seemed so natural because back then was a bull market. So Tiffany could have easily gone through the route of authentication on the blockchain, kind of like what Aura Blockchain is doing with Louis Vuitton right, or Prada. Or they could have gone down the route of launching their own NFT collection. But they were like no, we are already a high-luxury jewelry brand. Instead of going ahead and launching our own collection, we will just tap into a high-end blue- chip NFT project and extend our services to this community. That, for me, was mind-blowing because it just showed how, instead of just going behind the whole hype of, oh I'm going to launch something of my own, I'm going to raise X amount, they just extended the product offering for a custom pendant, and that was great, great sweep, I feel.Joeri:
Yeah, it's a great story, a great example, even if sometimes the best examples are some that everyone knows and not like the newest that has just happened. Another question I had is about the challenges that you have encountered in pushing Web3 adoption and innovation in traditional sectors like for instance, the beverage industry or other industries. Yeah, can you talk a bit about that?Ipshita:
Absolutely, especially because hospitality has been all about beverages. So Alkabev or even not Alkabev in general. I don't know if you remember, but back in the days, like this is like your Web2 era, where a lot of marketers in the beverage industry said but how are you going to buy a drink without tasting it from an online store? Or think about perfumes how are you going to buy a perfume online without smelling it? And today some of the highest sales come from direct- to- consumer stores. So we've seen that transition right and I am pretty sure that the challenges were the same back then. That is, how do you get stakeholder buy-ins? And this year we worked on two beverage companies for their strategy. One of them is an Alkabev company and the other one is a not. Alkabev is more in the energy drinks sector and we noticed that a lot of them, even if on the brand manager side of things, they understand and they're curious, they want to push boundaries, the upper management, so the other stakeholders, like the CMOs, they don't quite always get it and that's okay. That's what we find because probably the news that you're reading and all the collapse and all the uncertainty, or even the amount of investment that has been required until now to venture into Web3 has been huge. So you're essentially asking, like a beverage brand, to all of a sudden introduce X amount of money in their marketing P&L for things that they don't even have an understanding of or they have no guarantee on the ROI. And I'll tell you why. No matter who you are as a beverage company, the only thing that matters at the end of the year is how many additional bottles of beer or wine,e or energy drinks I sell. Right, you're busy. From the end. You can do whatever you want, but every action always leads to. How many more beers did I sell this year in my region? So if you're seeing other brands do these activations but you can't attribute it to a specific ROI, then it's hard, so you're not gonna get the stakeholder buy-in. So this is, I would say, a common challenge that we have seen. The second challenge that we've noticed is when you're using platforms. In Web2, like Meta, and Tiktok, you didn't never paid for any tech to like. You never paid to build any tech, right? Probably the last time you paid for the website that you built. But to create a profile you don't need to pay Meta. You only need to pay them when you advertise, but in Web3, building your own minting site and your smart contracts or doing something in the Metaverse, requires investment which brands are not used to. So I'd say like these are two challenges that are just industry agnostic. And then with a beverage or let's say Alkabev, in general, we noticed that because you're dealing with wallet IDs and a lot of anonymous profiles, how do you make sure they're all 21 plus and how do you market your alcohol to them? So I'd say these are some of the challenges that we've noticed and we've kind of helped brands understand how to navigate it. A great solution for that is just to create a zero percent Alkabev version, so it's your percent beer version, and you can digitize that and you can start positioning the product in the right places, fricking the top of mind. So yeah, I'd say those would be like my top three challenges that I've faced.Joeri:
Yeah, and often to solve those challenges, I see brands going back to Web2 technologies to combine and with Web3 to make sure to find somewhere a middle-day if you want to solve them because they want to know who are their customers, who are buying stuff, who is behind the wallet address, and so on. So, yeah, it's also an interesting discussion, that one. Something else I wanted to talk to you about is because I mentioned it in the introduction so that in your free time you work on Albright women. So tell us a bit about the gender dynamics that you have seen in the crypto space and whether has it evolved over time. Yeah, give me some thoughts about that.Ipshita:
Joeri. I spend a lot of time a week in meetings, like virtual meetings, Joeri. They're existing clients or for a new business with different projects. You'd be surprised. 99% of the time I'm the only woman, let alone a person of color, in those calls. I would be on this Zoom call with like 10 screens and like just the whole thing. So it makes me sad because I would love to see more faces of women and also more people of color just being able to get access to leadership positions in Web3 and then who are also making those moves. But one thing I want is how amazing it's been to work at Hype and why I say this is positions like head of developer relations, VP of marketing, chief financial officer, VP of Metaverse, head of events. These are positions that are all owned by women at Hype. So to come to work in a culture where you see equality in senior leadership but also positions like developer relations that you would not necessarily think of a woman is owned by this amazing woman that we have. Her name is Olia. It's just really awesome. So, yes, I do feel like there's a bit of imbalance because I do attend a lot of meetings where I never almost never see women, but at the same time, I also work in an agency where 160 people strong today, where there are some of the most awesome women to work with, so it's an interesting balance to have.Joeri:
You know, on my podcast, if you would look at all the episodes, there have been a lot of women on it, like you know, like Sandy Carter who is VP at Unstoppable, like Carol Carpenter who is like the CMO at Unity, like Crypto Megan, and so on. So there are a lot of women in the space that I'm seeing. But, I also like you know to see that that the podcast I have people from lots of places. You know lots of stories, so that it's really diversified, and so for me on my show, it's like you know if you would be there you would look at all the guests, so you. So I like to have a balance, but I know in real life it's not always like that. So it's interesting that it is evolving, maybe. So one of, maybe one of the last questions of this podcast episode is, of course, what I always like to ask about the future. You know things evolve so fast, but what are you excited about? You know about Web3, NFTs, or maybe the Metaverse that is coming our way, and if you have some advice to give to businesses to prepare, feel free also to give that yours.Ipshita:
Did you hear my question? Ipshita.Ipshita:
Okay, but I think I heard it's about mostly what am I excited about in terms of the future. What I'm excited about is seeing more and more companies starting to think about a position like a web three lead or a metaverse lead in their wider marketing teams and changing the behavior from, what is my content calendar on TikTok or Instagram, look like? To what is my content calendar on Instagram, Tiktok and Sandbox, and Decentraland, or in my own virtual world, look like? And having roles that fulfill these needs would be an interesting one because right now, it's very unheard of and only very few brands are actually hiring a Web3 lead. That's taking ownership, but I'd love to see this become more and more common, kind of the similar transition we saw in social media. Maybe, like 10 years ago, social media manager was not a position most companies had, but today they have a social media specialist, social media manager, content manager, and ads manager. It's amazing, it's evolved right and I'm very excited to see how fast we get to there when it comes to all things Web3, and I think it'll be pretty fun to see that.Joeri:
Yeah, you know the term CMO like in my podcast. Cmo now is Chief Marketing Officer, but it could be like Chief Metaverse Officer In the future. You will see how all of that will evolve. Yeah, and I read I think it was yesterday that also the European Union they are already thinking of Web4 and virtual worlds and so on. So you see that still, actually, it's good that people talk about this, because when I talk to people around me about the metaverse and virtual worlds, they still look a bit like what are you doing, or is it really even a thing? Still, because there is AI and so on. So by seeing other, I would say, evolutions researchers, other people doing stuff with that, people bidding stuff, it's really exciting to see what the future brings. So, Ipshita, we are at the end of our episode. If people would like to know more about you, if they would like to follow you, where would you like to send them?Ipshita:
They can reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm Ipshita Kumar or easiest is Ipshita at typepartners. That's where you can reach out to me as well. And I know, Joeri, this might not be a very traditional way for you to host your podcast, but I have a question for you. I'm curious to know what made you start the Web3 CMO podcast and how did you get into Web3?Joeri:
That's nice. We still have a few minutes so I can talk about that. So people that are following me, know it already a bit, but I have a background in business analytics. I also had an investment club for many years. Then I was into marketing B2B marketing and then it was like OK, I was one of the first to be in business analytics. I was in social media marketing when that was a thing, and now it's like OK, the newest technology, the newest thing is Web3, and it all made sense for me. So I'm not so long in the space but I can understand more quickly than maybe the average person because of my background. And so, yeah, I like talking to people like you, talking to see what is possible, and I like to help businesses to take advantage of Web3, and I do this with my mastermind, which is for Web2 entrepreneurs that want to go into Web3, and, yeah, also, if there are Web3 companies that need help, I would also like to help them. So that's actually my background from different, I would say, experiences that come together and an opportunity presents itself and I was like, ok, I have a lot of energy to go in that direction, and so I decided to for my podcast, which was in the beginning named CMO Stories. I had guests talking about more, I would say, traditional marketing subjects like email marketing, book marketing, and Facebook marketing, and then I said I think it was one year ago now I start to invite only Web3 guests, and by doing that you build a network and you get to know people and get to meet people and yeah, so now I can also, for my side, help other people to come into your space. So that's a bit, in a few words, my story. It's interesting that I get questions.Ipshita:
Right, but it's also kind of interesting that it's all a full circle where we're going back to being agile and being curious, and that's what you've been, and hence the podcast.Joeri:
Right, yeah, being curious and what people are asking questions, getting answers from different people from different backgrounds. Then it starts to make sense, because the first time you hear Web3, it's like what is this? You're curious like you say. And then you hear it again and again and then you start to see how can you? You know what are applications of Web3, and then you see the advantages and then you get questions from other people and, yeah, it's an adventure, as you say, it's like being curious and being open and having the mindset to grow and, yeah, it's something that I like. Also, as I see you, you're passionate about this, me too, and this, of course, helps you to make progress. So, Ipshita, there will be show notes linked to the podcast, there will be a blog article, there will be later even an info graphic, and so on, so people will find your contact data over there. It was a pleasure to have you. Thanks again.Ipshita:
leasure is mine. Thank you so much.Joeri:
So thanks everyone for listening again to this amazing episode with an amazing guest. If you like the episode and I'm sure you like it but if you think that there are people around you that can learn from this episode, that are curious just like we are, send them a link to the episode. If you have some feedback for me, feel free to share it. If you are not yet subscribed to the show, I think it's a good moment to do that. Also, if you like it, I would love to get a review from you, because it really helps to get more listeners for my show and, of course, I would like to see you back for the next episode. Take care, bye. Wet3 can take your best to new heights and you're ready to harness its power, but feeling lost and overwhelmed. Therefore, join my W3X WET3 Mastermind. Send me a personal message for more info. You can find me everywhere on social media. There's only one person with my name, Joeri Billast. Talk soon.