An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Your opinion matters and there is no such thing as stupid questions.
As a part of our series about Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution, had the pleasure of interviewing Li Gong.
Li Gong is a Partner at Youbi Capital and Venture Partner at HashKey Capital. Li has been involved in about 200 deals over the past four years, leading investments including Metalcore, Bling Financial, Defiant and more. She is also an active member of several decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) like theLAO and Own.fund and serves as a fellow at Kernel.
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?
Thanks for the opportunity. I was introduced to the crypto space back in 2015 by my college friend, who was a large Bitcoin miner in China. I tried crypto mining for a while but never got fully involved. Then, 2017 saw the boom in initial coin offerings (ICOs) and I was asked to help this friend source deals and enact due diligence.
After months spent reading whitepapers and talking to each project, I was amazed by this emerging space. The speed of development and the way people worked and collaborated was beyond imagination. Very soon, my partner and I, Chen Li, started our full-time careers in the crypto space in 2018.
I will say the biggest regret is that I did not jump down this rabbit hole soon enough. However, I did have the opportunity to participate in the Ethereum ICO back in 2015, but my mind was closed and I did not want to spend time exploring new technology and taking risks. I will encourage everyone to open their mind and allocate some time and capital to new sectors in their infancy, that is probably when you can earn the best risk/reward ratio.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
For sure! I’d point you toward MeStar and WRLD as the two projects I spend most of my time with.
MeStar is a blockchain game about caring and loving. I heard from one gaming veteran that the profit of certain genres is driven by hate. People will spend to gain advantages over their rivals or even enemies. But a game like MeStar is different — it is driven by love.
The founder, AB, was once a victim of campus bullying in his high school, and in respite, he spent years in Minecraft to cure himself. He even ran one of the largest private servers of Minecraft in Asia. So, he ended up creating this more open and updated web3 version of Minecraft. It offers limitless opportunities for people to build, create and manage their servers as an NFT owner. It is so fun to see the young team create cool items and mods relentlessly. And as a non-gamer and a woman, that is exactly the game I would spend time and enjoy.
As for WRLD, the founders are coming from traditional tech startups and have accumulated years of mapping data to create a digital twin of the real world. I got to know them from a panel I participated in and our connection was able to inspire them to renovate the business model and open their environmental tools to all the developers. I am so excited to see some creative use cases driven by the existing technology under the new ownership economy.
None of us are able to 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?
For me, it has to be DC from HashKey Capital. During the harsh crypto winter between 2019 and 2020, we made just a few deals at Youbi Capital and almost halted our activities completely. DC extended an offer and onboarded me as a part-time team member of HashKey.
HashKey Capital is a well-established brand in Asia with enormous resources in the fintech and traditional finance industry. I was thrilled to be given the trust and opportunity to grow with the team.
I think I never spent the time talking to him about my gratitude, so I would love to use this opportunity to thank him for that trust. I admire him as a true leader, who built the fund from scratch.
What are the 3 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- The people: People in web3 are friendly and open-minded. Most of the founders are very young and talented and their energy and courage inspire me all the time. The people in this space are willing to share, listen and work together.
- The learning opportunities: I have been in this space for more than 4 years. I worked hard to keep up with the development of the industry and never stop learning new things.
- The great potential: I think now is the perfect time to join the space. The long-term trend is pretty clear with the tremendous growth of infrastructure, capital, end-users and developer communities. However, the innovation and iteration of both product and business models do not stop.
What are the 3 things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Short-term driven projects: As an investor, I’m proud that more than 80% of the projects I funded within the last two years have a product or minimum viable product. And we are quite comfortable participating in equity deals and token deals with long lock-up and vesting periods because we believe that good products take time to build and find the right market fit. If a team is talking more about listing than the product, I have no interest to continue the conversation.
- Growth hack: I have seen great founders with the right ideas and execution to build from 0 to 100. However, many of them lack the experience to manage their growth since they are extremely young and some of them have never had a regular job. So, at the later stage, there might be a challenge to manage the ever-growing team. Youth and courage are what everyone admires, but we should let more senior talents join and help the industry grow steadily.
- Regulation uncertainty: Looming regulation and rule changes demand pause for thought. For example, the entire cryptocurrency mining industry in China disappeared almost overnight when the government decided to crackdown. It is pity to see that years of infrastructure investment are wasted and those industry pioneers are moving out of the country.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I am always very grateful that I actually made it so far in this industry and survived the harsh crypto winter. I have the luxury to contribute my time to newcomers in the space and fund some public goods.
A very interesting project we supported is Guardian of Earth. This project’s web2 entity is called QuestaGame, which offers an augmented reality experience to track plants and animals in the real environment. Dr Jane Goodall also spoke highly of the QuestaGame. This is exciting since I have learned the cool story about Dr Goodall and her ape friends since I was a kid. And the entire Youbi team loves animals — with our CEO being a big dinosaur fan — so this deal was a no brainer for us. This project will benefit the study of living species on earth and help NGOs and university programs track the information at a very low cost.
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?
- It’s never too late to start.
- The industry welcomes diversified backgrounds.
- You don’t need to have money to participate.
- The best way to learn in Web3 is to participate.
- Your opinion matters and there is no such thing as stupid questions.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
“Everything is the best arrangement.” So, stay flexible and follow your heart.
I have to admit that I am not the kind of person who is good at planning. I am curious and always positive about everything new in my life. So when one of my college friends visited the U.S. and encouraged me to take a look at the opportunity in the blockchain space, I did.
When you have the first introduction call with me to learn about my fund, there is one word you will always hear: flexible. I have been in this industry for over 4 years and am always humbled and excited to see tons of new trends every year. From layer1s and DeFi to NFTs and beyond. I choose to follow the beat of the market and define my way of collaboration. As an investor, I try my best to stay open and flexible. No matter whether I choose to invest or not, I always try my best to help people connect. After years in this role, I connect the dots of my own network and create new synergy all the time.
Our venture capital fund, Youbi, is unique. We follow our hearts and support new founders in the space. During the journey, I keep adding wonderful people to my pack like Andrew and Alex from Republic, Tom and Delphi Digital, Aaron and Pri at theLAO. The list goes on. They were all pretty new to the space or at the very beginning of what they were building, but their passion, capability and kindness impressed and convinced us to participate in their deals. This is the ethos of staying flexible and following your heart!
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. 🙂
For me, it would be a women founders’ fund. It’s all about giving back. I’d like to see more seasoned veterans find a way to contribute and guide the new builders into the space. And, of course, they will also be rewarded for their time and generosity.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You bet — find me on Twitter.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution With Li Gong Of Youbi Capital was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.