An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Building bridges: Focus on building relationships with each other and with the existing community. The existing community is male-dominated, but many people realize that a rising tide lifts all ships — everyone needs to help and support each other for Web3 to reach the impact depths we all want it to and for mass adoption.
As a part of our series about Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chelsea Cain Maclin.
Chelsea Cain Maclin is the Co-Founder & CMO of R Labs. Chelsea is the former Vice President of Marketing for Bumble where she led brand, marketing, and partnerships teams, scaling the business to 100M downloads and a $12B IPO. In 2019, Chelsea was named as one of Business Insider’s 20 CMOs to Watch. An active angel investor, Chelsea focuses on womxn and BIPOC founders, within sustainable CPG, mental health, and safety sectors.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?
I have always been interested in the intersection of people, technology, and impact. I’ve also always been creative and entrepreneurial (I grew up painting outside and trying to sell marbles to my that I made out of mud). I went to college on a leadership scholarship, where I studied art history, studio art, creative advertising, and Spanish. Since then, my career has always followed the same interests — cutting-edge technology, people, impact, and creativity, ripe for start-ups and scale-ups.
My first foray into the start-up world was with a wonderful company called LTK, which was very early in the creator economy. We helped creators and small business owners (mainly women and under-represented founders), to build, scale and monetize their brands. Over the years, the business has grown to be worth +$2B. LTK laid the foundation for the intersection of my interests brought to life through my work.
The next most pivotal role I enjoyed was with Bumble, where I joined as the 7th employee working out of a tiny apartment in Austin, TX. Again, we were building for an under-represented market of women who were massively underserved within the online dating space. It was very rewarding to be a part of growing the brand to reach our goal of gender equity and safe online communities for women, men, and non-binary folks to connect, find love, and friendships. Over the years, I helped the team scale to 100mm global downloads and through a +$12B IPO.
I would advise others to look inward first and define what is most important to them for fulfillment and happiness, then to seek that in their work. Every 6–12 months, I reflect on the previous chapter and check against my North stars. How am I serving people through technology, creating meaningful impact, and harnessing creativity? Then, I assess where I’m headed. Setting North stars around the areas of your professional life and work that are critical to your own goals and happiness, and then ensuring your career path is aligned towards those is what creates meaningful impact in business.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
I am LOVING working with the team and our growing community at R Labs, who are deeply committed to having a positive impact on the planet and the people who live within it. We are launching our first NFT soon, R Planet. R Planet is our first inaugural NFT collection brought by R Labs and rooted in a deep belief that profit and purpose should go together. We asked ourselves — “What if your token could do more? What if you could use your tokens to support your favorite cause, and make money doing it? What if your Patagonia-collab token funded climate projects, gave you a limited edition jacket, supported a climate initiative, and made you money?” This is what we are building.
The NFTs and other products we’re launching will help fund real-world impact projects that provide under-served communities with access to mental health support, sustainable energy, education, and other services.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Geeta Sankappanavar, the founder of R Labs, and I connected almost two years ago. At the time, I was transitioning in my career and seeking the next opportunity that would intersect with my personal North stars. We clicked right away, and she soon became a mentor and coach for me during a time of change. She’s a leader I respect and admire deeply who encourages me and everyone around her to be better — from a leadership, team, and human perspective.
Her guidance is invaluable during times of key decision-making, both in the workplace and in my personal life. I’m grateful for her vision, mentorship, and leadership.
What are the 3 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Innovation: We can create value in new and different ways. Web3 is about value creation, not value extraction — which allows us to rethink systems that don’t currently serve and build new & better products and tools.
- Accessibility: The value created through blockchain and crypto is accessible to many more people than in traditional industries. For example, impact assets historically have only been accessible to wealthy individuals, groups, or institutions.
- Community: We can create a community around shared values, vision, and mission and are not bound by geography. Blockchain changes the way people interact with each other, with brands, entertainment, and financial institutions. This is a deeper, more intentional level of interaction and community building, where transparency and accountability are paramount.
I believe we will continue to see mass adoption of blockchain and crypto grow over the next five years as these three pillars continue to evolve.
What are the 3 things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Utility & purpose: Right now, many products lack real-world utility and purpose — the WHY. We in Web3 need to provide a sense of belonging, a trusted brand, and an environment that people can connect to. The internet made everyone a publisher — I saw this at LTK — crypto is going to make everybody an investor and allow them to be part of something greater. We’re building this at R Labs!
- Safety: There is a lot more work to be done to ensure safety protocols for those interacting in Web3 and the prevention of bad actors. Volatility is a concern, but products are coming out with higher utility that is more reliable and less volatile.
- Usability: There is a high barrier to entry right now for mainstream mass consumers. The fact is that it is still extremely challenging for most people to set up a wallet, make a purchase, and interact with that purchase is an issue. When we make the user experience seamless and convenient for the consumer, we will see mass adoption.
The crypto space needs to get easier, safer, less volatile, and more purposeful for more people to be interested in being a part of it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
My favorite thing I’ve done in the last few years is starting to angel invest and mentor, specifically underrepresented founders and creators. I’ve been fortunate to be able to write (small) checks with no strings attached and build relationships with these founders who are struggling with a lot of the challenges I’ve experienced in the past working with startups. The small group of founders and creators I mentor teach me so much, too!
As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 5 things that you would advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?
- Building bridges: Focus on building relationships with each other and with the existing community. The existing community is male-dominated, but many people realize that a rising tide lifts all ships — everyone needs to help and support each other for Web3 to reach the impact depths we all want it to and for mass adoption.
- Don’t work with Assholes: I feel very lucky to be able to work with people with shared values from varied backgrounds who truly care about each other and what we’re building.
- Resources: Find educational and entertaining resources to learn from. There are so many but find a few that you like and find yourself going back to. Zen Academy and BFF are two of my favorite projects and resources.
- Be mindful of your mental health, and that of others: Take breaks! Start-ups and the Web3 space are super-fast-paced environments. It’s important to have a life outside of work to be rested, rejuvenated, and our best selves. It can be an overwhelming space because of the speed, so prioritizing one’s mental health is critical.
- Find a mentor outside of your circle: Seek out a mentor. It could be a peer mentor, who is outside of your day-to-day team, but also in crypto. We have many advisors at R Labs and they have all been incredibly helpful to me when I feel stuck and are great at taking me outside of my “bubble.”
Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?
I think there are some incredible projects that are already building bridges, like BFF, Crypto Chicks, and World of Women, where there are active communities, educational tools, and many resources. They are creating resources and safe spaces for women, and I applaud them for what they’ve built. For more women to enter the space, we will need a combination of access to communities, like BFF, that are built with women in mind, access to education and resources, and access to broader projects or initiatives that are not necessarily gendered. We need to continue to build initiatives for women, support existing projects, and build partnerships with leaders in the space who are focused on welcoming women and other genders to the space. Some of the things I mentioned earlier are things women are concerned about (safety, volatility) and we need to solve some of these before we see more women join the space.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
“You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion.” I heard this from Nicole Quinn, an incredible woman, and Partner at Lightspeed, but it originates from a Greek philosopher.
When it comes to creating a new business or product you need to be vocal, brave, and visionary, but at the same time, there’s so much that we can all learn. There’s a lot of thoughtfulness that needs to be put into these communities due to the risks in the space, but also because of all the opportunity that comes with connecting technologies and people from varying backgrounds. We should be really listening to the community, the folks developing new tech, and leaders in the space so we can better build, better serve, and make more helpful and profitable businesses.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We are building exactly what I would want: pairing social impact projects, with creating a meaningful community through technology. This is it! You can check out our website to learn more at www.rplanetnft.xyz
How can our readers further follow your work online?
R Labs will launch a new purpose-led NFT project arriving to Web3 later this summer oriented around the intersectional impact in five core pillars including mental wellness, inclusivity, sustainability, education, and overall entertainment. Let’s make our tokens matter more. For real-time updates on the launch of the Summer NFT project, people can follow @RPlanetNFT on Twitter and join our Discord.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution With Chelsea Cain Maclin Of R Labs was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.