Web3 CMO Stories

Demystifying Blockchain Technology with Kelsey McGuire: The Shardeum Journey, AI Tools, and Authentic Community Engagement Strategies | S3 E20

October 20, 2023 Joeri Billast & Kelsey McGuire Season 3
Demystifying Blockchain Technology with Kelsey McGuire: The Shardeum Journey, AI Tools, and Authentic Community Engagement Strategies | S3 E20
Web3 CMO Stories
Chapters
2:35
Could you share some details about your background and how you came to be a part of Shardeum?
3:54
Could you provide some information about Shardeum and clarify your primary mission for our listeners?
5:20
Did you indeed raise $5.4 million in a strategic round for Shardeum, and could you elaborate on your strategy for doubling down on global community growth?
6:40
With several layer one solutions available, how does Shardeum distinguish itself from the competition?
8:01
Could you expand on your perspective on decentralization and how Shardeum is fostering it?
9:04
Could you share the growth marketing strategies you've employed to build and sustain a Web3 community of 450K members?
11:10
Have you considered the potential benefits of utilizing AI in your community growth strategies, or have you already employed AI in any specific ways for this purpose?
14:45
Is the distribution of community engagement within Shardeum roughly in line with the rule of 90% passive members, 9% occasional engagers, and 1% highly active participants that you mentioned?
16:37
You've had roles as a CMO at Crypto Investment Firm CoinFund and in Marketing Leadership at ConsenSys. Could you share some of the challenges you faced and best practices you learned during these experiences?
19:11
What, in your view, does the Web3 ecosystem need to do to bring in the next billion users, and are there areas where we might be focusing on the wrong things?
21:14
What's currently the most exciting aspect of your role at Shardeum, the project itself, or the Web3 space in general that has you enthusiastic?
More Info
Web3 CMO Stories
Demystifying Blockchain Technology with Kelsey McGuire: The Shardeum Journey, AI Tools, and Authentic Community Engagement Strategies | S3 E20
Oct 20, 2023 Season 3
Joeri Billast & Kelsey McGuire

Ready for a deep dive into the rapidly evolving realm of blockchain technology? We're thrilled to bring you insights from Kelsey McGuire, the Chief Growth Officer at Shardeum, the EVM-based layer one blockchain that's making waves in the industry. Kelsey recounts her remarkable journey from Consensys, to CELO, and now to Shardeum; a journey that's as fascinating as it is inspiring. We chat about Shardeum's recent strategic round where they raised an impressive $5.4 million, and their commitment to fostering community growth worldwide. Find out how Shardeum is setting itself apart from other layer ones in the space.

Switching gears, we explore the role of AI tools in fostering authentic community engagement. How do we balance the speed and efficiency of AI with the warmth and connectivity of the human element? This conundrum is at the heart of our discussion. Kelsey draws from her extensive experience as a CMO to share valuable best practices and strategies. Learn how to avoid vanity metrics and why one-on-one nurturing is crucial for converting casual listeners into active community members. We also delve into strategies to create an environment conducive to meaningful engagement. This is an episode packed with knowledge for anyone interested in blockchain technology or community building.

This episode was recorded through a StreamYard call on August 31, 2023. Read the blog article here:  https://webdrie.net/demystifying-blockchain-technology-with-kelsey-mcguire-the-shardeum-journey-ai-tools-and-authentic-community-engagement-strategies/



Ready to upgrade your Web3 marketing strategy? Don’t miss Consensus 2024  on May 29-31 in Austin, Texas. It is the largest and longest-running event on crypto, blockchain and Web3. Use code CMOSTORIES to get 15% off your pass at www.consensus2024.coindesk.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ready for a deep dive into the rapidly evolving realm of blockchain technology? We're thrilled to bring you insights from Kelsey McGuire, the Chief Growth Officer at Shardeum, the EVM-based layer one blockchain that's making waves in the industry. Kelsey recounts her remarkable journey from Consensys, to CELO, and now to Shardeum; a journey that's as fascinating as it is inspiring. We chat about Shardeum's recent strategic round where they raised an impressive $5.4 million, and their commitment to fostering community growth worldwide. Find out how Shardeum is setting itself apart from other layer ones in the space.

Switching gears, we explore the role of AI tools in fostering authentic community engagement. How do we balance the speed and efficiency of AI with the warmth and connectivity of the human element? This conundrum is at the heart of our discussion. Kelsey draws from her extensive experience as a CMO to share valuable best practices and strategies. Learn how to avoid vanity metrics and why one-on-one nurturing is crucial for converting casual listeners into active community members. We also delve into strategies to create an environment conducive to meaningful engagement. This is an episode packed with knowledge for anyone interested in blockchain technology or community building.

This episode was recorded through a StreamYard call on August 31, 2023. Read the blog article here:  https://webdrie.net/demystifying-blockchain-technology-with-kelsey-mcguire-the-shardeum-journey-ai-tools-and-authentic-community-engagement-strategies/



Ready to upgrade your Web3 marketing strategy? Don’t miss Consensus 2024  on May 29-31 in Austin, Texas. It is the largest and longest-running event on crypto, blockchain and Web3. Use code CMOSTORIES to get 15% off your pass at www.consensus2024.coindesk.com

Kelsey:

And we're working on solving the blockchain trilemma, which is again you'll hear me repeat security, scalability, and decentralization a whole lot because that's a massive focus for us.

Joeri:

Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast, season 3, episode 20. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm so excited to be joined by Kelsey McGuire. Kelsey, how are you?

Kelsey:

Joeri, thank you so much for having me on. I'm doing great here. How are you today?

Joeri:

Yeah, I'm doing well too. You know it's already 5 pm and we are recording this in Belgium, on your side it's a bit early, I would say.

Kelsey:

Yeah, we're just getting started over here.

Joeri:

And also I appreciate the fact that you pronounced my name really in the right way. That's not always so easy, you know, for people that have English as their native language.

Kelsey:

Oh, thank you, I am trying over here. I wrote it out phonetically, but I'm sure there might still be some mishaps.

Joeri:

It's really good. But, guys, if you're now listening and you're wondering who is Kelsey, let me give you some information. Kelsey McGuire is the Chief Growth Officer at Shardeum. Previously, Kelsey served as a CMO at the crypto investment firm CoinFund, and she also formally managed partner marketing at cLabs I hope I pronounced that right and worked in marketing leadership roles at Consensus. So welcome Kelsey. Yeah, as to start. Actually, can you tell us a bit more about your background and your journey to Shardeum?

Kelsey:

Absolutely so. Like you mentioned, I kind of kicked off my Web3 career at Consensus, the massive Ethereum-focused firm At the time. There is an office in Brooklyn in New York City, not far from where I was based, and it was a really great start and introduction to the whole space. I kind of gave myself a crash course. Right before that and leading up to that, I was across a lot of different industries but always focused on marketing, brand strategy, and all of those good things, so a lot of the skills were transferable.

Kelsey:

After Consensus, as you mentioned, I spent some time with cLabs, which was an L1 at the time, really focused on building global communities, and I saw a lot of what worked and maybe what I would want to change down the line. So it was a really interesting experience there before sort of exploring the investment side. And I have to say, being a CMO of an investment firm is very, very different in how it feels and kind of the day-to-day from being a CMO or a CGO of an L1 or a Web3 project. So I was really excited to sort of get back into things and feel like I was more on the tech side again, which led me over to Chardium and the awesome team here.

Joeri:

Amazing. You mentioned already a few times L1, so layer one, so maybe explained for the listeners. Tell a bit more about Shardeum and what is actually your main mission.

Kelsey:

Yeah, absolutely so layer ones. I kind of think of it for folks that are a little less familiar as the foundation that you can sort of build everything else on in Web3. So Shardeum is a highly scalable, EVM-based layer one. We use dynamic state charting to enable low gas fees while maintaining true decentralization security. So that's kind of a mouthful, but what it means is we're really focused on being fast, accessible for people, really engaging and truly decentralized. So we're not interested in sacrificing on that decentralization side of things, like some folks in projects are, and kind of from our mission perspective, we're incredibly community focused and are working on solving the blockchain trilemma, which is again you'll hear me repeat security, scalability and decentralization a whole lot, because that's a massive focus for us and really kind of bringing that decentralization to everyone in a scalable and secure way, and from both a technical perspective and a human perspective. When it comes to decentralization, we're not just focused on one or two geographies or cities in the US. That's a really kind of a global perspective for us.

Joeri:

I will come back to the aspect of decentralization and security. And actually, when people ask me what is Web 3, those are also words that I will use to define it. But with Shardem, I read that you recently raised $5.4 million. Is that right and it was for a strategic round? And also you are doubling down, as you already mentioned, on community growth on a global scale. So I'm curious to hear what is your approach to fostering that growth.

Kelsey:

Yeah, thank you. We are so excited about that strategic round and we're really happy to share that news not that long ago. So we're full steam ahead working towards mainnet launch coming later this year. We'll also be continuing to focus on community, like you mentioned, just around the world, which takes, of course, a lot of time and effort and intention and really kind of focus on expanding different geographies. Like I'm based generally, I'm on the West Coast right now, which is fantastic, but I'm generally based in wonderful New York City. So we're really focused on building out our communities here in the United States, getting over to Europe a little bit more, and, of course, maintaining and focusing on our incredible communities in India and then other parts of Asia. So it's been a really exciting time for us and it was wonderful to join, sort of get my bearings a little bit, and then jump into this announcement cycle and start working on all these big campaigns.

Joeri:

Yeah, you mentioned, I said, layer one, not everyone. Maybe you will know it, but you explained it really well. But I know there are different layer ones in the space. Now I don't know how many, but I think there are already a few. So how does Shardeum differentiate itself?

Kelsey:

Yeah, I feel like we hear that a lot.

Kelsey:

There are quite a few layer ones, you're completely right, and a lot of folks kind of are wondering OK, why another layer one? What makes us different? Like you said, we found that many blockchains today that promote high scalability are making big sacrifices when it comes to the level of decentralization, which isn't something we were comfortable with. So over here, we believe that there's a huge opportunity to build a solution that aligns scalability so that awesome ability to kind of scale and grow with decentralization at that kind of layer one level. So the faster the blockchain becomes, the more decentralized it is, which makes this kind of unique, and it's really exciting because it also makes it a little more accessible due to the nature of how it's built, because with the sharding mechanism that we have, it increased scalability while increasing the Validator node accessibility like a lower barrier to entry there. So it all kind of comes together in that way and it's something that we hadn't seen with other L1s and that our founders were excited to focus in on.

Joeri:

Yeah, so I understand that decentralization is extremely important for you guys, so maybe can you explain a bit more what your view of decentralization is and how you're fostering that?

Kelsey:

Absolutely so. Not only is there that technical side of decentralization that we touched on a little bit with dynamic state sharding, which again means that less computational power is needed for validator nodes, which makes it possible for anyone to run a node, which increases decentralization as more nodes are added. I know that's a lot of the word decentralization.

Kelsey:

But I think that there's a really important human element to decentralization as well that we're focused on with our community efforts, where we're really kind of building these global communities and fostering that and really kind of investing those resources in educating and listening and understanding the needs of different communities. So there's actual geographic decentralization as well, not just on the technical side.

Joeri:

Also, the community is really important in Web3. You mentioned it already a few times. I think it's one of the words that has been used most during my podcast that people talk about community and you had really successful experience building a healthy, growing Web3 community of I think it's 450K, maybe it's even more at this moment Discord users and I know Gary V, he also is on Discord, but he has less so can you share a bit what growth marketing strategies that you have used to accomplish this?

Kelsey:

Thank you, yeah, and definitely from your role too. You know that I feel like all of Web3 marketing and growth is completely also community strategy and focused there. Like you cannot separate the two parts and have a successful program. So we're really really proud of that massive Discord community and really it's our amazing team. We have a phenomenal team over here. It's been just I'm so proud to work with them and these amazing talented folks.

Kelsey:

So really there is present as possible, like day to day, communicating as much and as clearly as possible, really focused on the needs of the community and meeting people where they are. And meeting people where they are can be specific educational materials tailored to certain needs. It can be making sure that you're answering those bigger, broader questions that need to be addressed. And it can also be physically traveling and being there, Like some of my colleagues right now are traveling through 20 different states in India and are visiting over 50 educational institutions over the course of 90 days. So they are there on the ground connecting with the community. Their goal here is to bring a lot of education around Web3 to young people in India. So it's just kind of that day-to-day commitment that I see from the team and that we're focused on across the organization.

Joeri:

Yeah, so there is really a team every day. You know working, being present in the community, because these days you know there are tools like AI tools and bots and so on. So I understand one of the reasons for your growth is really you know to have real humans. You know being present in the community and taking action.

Kelsey:

Yeah, absolutely, oh, sorry no no problem.

Joeri:

I just was wondering if you think that AI also can benefit or did you use AI too in certain ways of this community growth?

Kelsey:

Yeah, I was actually going to ask you something similar.

Kelsey:

If you use any tools that you like interacting with, I've seen some different tools that people can use where it's an easy way for people to ask questions and get answers that are preloaded.

Kelsey:

I know that there are definite limitations to that. Like you don't want to take out that human element and the level of connectivity from this community piece that we're really focused on. But, say, if you have an FAQ but then you're using an AI tool or bot of some sort to make it easier for people to get their questions answered quickly that are already there, I think that that can be used, but you have to be very careful not to go too far, I think, with those types of tools and solutions, because then you're just really removing yourself from those interactions completely. You're missing that level of connectivity, and I've interacted with different AI bots and left pretty frustrated and that's certainly not how we're trying to come. You know, make people feel that are interacting with us and the community, but have you seen many of those tools or interacted with many that you felt good about or Well, Kelsey, no, for me, like you know, the community is by being present and, you know, being, you know it should be about authentic communication.

Joeri:

You know, if someone asks a question, really really showing up and really being there and really putting effort in it to make it grow in a meaningful way.

Joeri:

So not like just the numbers, but OK, you, how well you have the numbers, but also have like a community where people want to be there and you know that is really growing, not just vanity metrics. And I also asked the question because just before, you know, we started a podcast. I was approached only by someone and said, oh, now we have like our AI solution for Discord and Telegram community management and you can win, like, if you, for instance, 90% time gain. That was it. Like, you know, if you take one hour now it will be less than six minutes or something like that. But I said, yeah, but that's just. You know, it seems efficient, but I'm not sure that the results will be like that. I can imagine that it can help, you know, to start a conversation or to follow up, but yeah, like you know, you need to be smart on how you use those tools, that they are really something that adds value and not, like you know, pushes your community members back. That's actually all I see.

Kelsey:

Yeah, I completely agree. I mean there's no just. I feel like there are always folks out there looking for this easy solution like, oh, I pressed this button, and suddenly community. But like you said earlier, like we're, we aren't focused on those vanity metrics either. So if you want that authentic growth, if you want people thinking about who you know they are and how that kind of fits into your brand like you know how they connect to Shardeum, and if you want them to really become those like evangelists, like folks that are so enthusiastic, it takes that like really focused one-on-one, like small scale initially, like nurturing of the community, you know, and and I think that sometimes folks do get swept away with the metrics, like, okay, it's X number just, and that's it, we're done. We look great, you know, but it is really. I like to look at, okay, how many folks are consistently engaging, how many folks might be sort of telling others and bringing new people to the community? How do we make sure they feel appreciated, you know?

Joeri:

Exactly One of the you know, I would say rules I read somewhere is that if you have 100 people in the community, 90% of them will just be there and be quiet. You know they will not do anything. Then you have like nine people out of the 100 that, yeah, it will sometimes be present and then be engaging, and then you have 1% who is really active in the community. Is that something that you are seeing with the Shardeum community? Those figures?

Kelsey:

I would say, not potentially those exact numbers, but roughly, I feel like those ratios of folks that are super engaged to kind of engage, to maybe just sort of checking in to see what's going on. I know I'm a lurker in some communities too, where I'm just kind of like peeking around and not necessarily engaging yet. So I think it's really interesting to see too, like, what specific ways of communicating can potentially bring some of the folks that are just looking and listening in to be a little bit more engaged, because I do think that there's a certain percentage that will never post or engage, and that's okay too. Like people use these communities for different things, but it's just really figuring out, too, how to convert the percentage of folks that are just sort of listening in to more engaged community members, because that might be what they want, but they just need a little bit more sort of direction on the path there.

Joeri:

Right. But sometimes you also have people, as you say, Kelsey, that just want to be there and just get a lot of value out of the community, but they just don't, you know, don't shop, they don't raise their hand, like. People also are following me on LinkedIn and they are mostly I'm not engaging with the post, but then I notice that they've seen a lot of the stuff that I've been posting, but they're just like. You know, a lot of people are like that, just for me, like I like to engage, I like to put out content, but you know, and then that's no problem if you have the right people and they get value out of that.

Kelsey:

Exactly. They're just taking it all in.

Joeri:

Now also, I mentioned in the beginning, you've also previously worked as a CMO at Crypto Investment Firm Coin Fund and also in Marketing Leadership at ConsenSys. So maybe also from these adventures I would call them you and maybe there were some challenges that you needed to solve, some best practices. I also like to, yeah, ask a bit about your experience from that period in your life, your job.

Kelsey:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that some of the best practices that we really focus on are that kind of like meeting people, where they are clear communication. I think overall in Web 3, we need to continue to focus on building narratives, educating to build trust, all of those important things. I always saw, I feel, like brands and a number of ones that I've worked with in Web 3, and just overall, it's really easy to just focus in on what you're doing and become very insular, so every single message is just about you, your brand oh, we did this, we did that when really you're not putting it into context around the value that it provides to your audience. So that's a big miss.

Kelsey:

And then you're also not sometimes leveraging strategic partnerships in the way that you should, because those are the amazing people that will come along with you on this type of journey. And both of those like focusing on really making sure that you're putting things in the right context that's very value- oriented towards your audience. And focusing on those strategic partnerships is so, so important and there are unique challenges. I feel like that comes with building out a program centered on that, based on where you are and also based on sometimes what's happening with the specific project or company, like the types of conversations that you can have as a registered investment advisor, which the Coin Fund, the crypto-focused investment firm, was, is very different from the conversations you can have as an L1 or a small DeFi project, and making sure that you're tailoring everything for those appropriate audience segments and just consistently adding value is key. No one wants to hear you just shouting about who you are and what you're doing 24-7. You really have to make sure that you're connecting with people and show that you understand them.

Joeri:

Right, exactly, and that's also what I want to do with my podcast bringing on value, creating, doing some networking, creating partnerships, and so on, because that's really, really helpful. Those partnerships, people. You cannot underestimate that, and every time I speak to guests like you, I feel okay, there are so many things that are possible if you find the right partnerships. Now a challenge in Web 3, you talked about education, and still a long way to go, but what does the greater Web 3 ecosystem need to onboard, let's say, the next billion users? From your perspective, are we focusing on the wrong stuff, or wrong components, or what is your view?

Kelsey:

You know I think we're starting to move in the right direction and I've seen this. You know it's a conversation we've been having out for years. I think I started at ConsenSys in 2018, so I've seen so many ups and downs and how these narratives have shifted. What I think it is really focusing on the user experience.

Kelsey:

I think that At the beginning, especially, was easy to take for granted that this was something new and exciting and, of course, like Maybe people just want to come and engage in people will not be like inconvenience for the most part in any way, even if it's something interesting that they want to engage with. So I would say, continuing to focus on the user experience, which I think inherently build trust. Like if you engage with something and it feels unfamiliar and clunky and is difficult, trust is automatically eroded. But if you're creating something that feels Seamless and, to a degree, familiar least on that kind of experience level and people trust more, more users will engage. You know, I think also just focusing on those educational efforts that are global in different languages, making sure that we're not staying Especially me based in the us, like we don't want to be.

Kelsey:

Web3 should not be just like a us centric thing, not that it is right now, but I feel like it's easy for projects to also fall into that. They're just focused on their own echo chambers and their own geographies and it's so important to continue to push yourself to reach out and get out of that to really build something that's worthwhile, I think.

Joeri:

Yeah, actually I did say it in my podcast. That's why I'm in a small country in Belgium. So you know, I wanted to connect with people from all over the world. So that was exciting for me, exciting for me also. They've always been these exciting guests, but I use the word exciting a lot. But now my question for you is what are the most excited about? You know, is it for your, is it for your role at Shardeum? Is it something about the project? Is it something about Web3? What is the thing that is most exciting for you these days?

Kelsey:

Thank you really. It is Shardeum. I'm so excited we're heading towards main net. So this is a massive time, you know, really big time, to be a part of something like this, and I'm really excited to continue to work with the team because I think that your day- to- day the biggest impact are the people that you collaborate with and work with, and we have A really special team that I really just enjoy collaborating with. We're coming up with creative ideas. I'm so excited to test out some of these concepts and campaigns and brand elements and then really kind of take us to main net and beyond. So it's just I feel like it's one of those moments when you're at a project and you can just feel the momentum Building and building and building, and it's just really energizing on a day- to- day basis to be able to sort of Experience that and then look ahead at what could be next for us wow, Kelsey, is really, really lovely to talk to you and to hear you know all the plans, that you have a team and what is going on.

Joeri:

But I guess that people that are listening and they want to follow your adventures and show them adventures. Where would you like to send them?

Kelsey:

Absolutely, so definitely. Please check out Twitter. It's @shardeum and I think you can see it spelled out there so that should be helpful. As S H A R D E U M. Our website is shardeum. org. Through the website, you can sign up for a newsletter, which is one of my favorite ways to sort of keep in touch. We don't bombard people with emails, so I definitely recommend that. And then, if you'd like to reach out to me, Kelsey McGuire on Linkedin is the best way to do that.

Joeri:

Amazing. I will, directly, when you finish recording, connect with you to Kelsey and, for you know, for the links, for the links to twitter and to the website and so on, and to linkedin, there are always show notes. There is always an article linked to this podcast episode. My regular list is noted. You just go to my website and you will find it. That will also be a new for graphic in a few weeks or months that will also be added. I'm always enriching the articles as we go, so thank you so much, Kelsey. It was really a pleasure to have you on my show.

Kelsey:

Thank you so much. This is really wonderful meeting you and speaking with you.

Joeri:

And guys. Thanks so much for listening to us, and if you think that Kelsey's story can really be interesting, and inspiring for people around you, be sure to share this episode with them. Can be colleagues, can be other entrepreneurs, quarter people in the three space, or people that just want to learn about three, be sure to share this episode with them. If you're not yet following the show, this is a really great moment to hit the subscribe button and, of course, I would like to see you back for the next podcast episode. Take care, bye. Web3 can take your biz to new heights and you're ready to harness its power, but feeling lost and overwhelmed. Therefore, join my W3X Web3 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.

Could you share some details about your background and how you came to be a part of Shardeum?
Could you provide some information about Shardeum and clarify your primary mission for our listeners?
Did you indeed raise $5.4 million in a strategic round for Shardeum, and could you elaborate on your strategy for doubling down on global community growth?
With several layer one solutions available, how does Shardeum distinguish itself from the competition?
Could you expand on your perspective on decentralization and how Shardeum is fostering it?
Could you share the growth marketing strategies you've employed to build and sustain a Web3 community of 450K members?
Have you considered the potential benefits of utilizing AI in your community growth strategies, or have you already employed AI in any specific ways for this purpose?
Is the distribution of community engagement within Shardeum roughly in line with the rule of 90% passive members, 9% occasional engagers, and 1% highly active participants that you mentioned?
You've had roles as a CMO at Crypto Investment Firm CoinFund and in Marketing Leadership at ConsenSys. Could you share some of the challenges you faced and best practices you learned during these experiences?
What, in your view, does the Web3 ecosystem need to do to bring in the next billion users, and are there areas where we might be focusing on the wrong things?
What's currently the most exciting aspect of your role at Shardeum, the project itself, or the Web3 space in general that has you enthusiastic?