INSIGHTS / NFTS

”I believe the NFT industry will profit enormously from women entering it in higher numbers”

VANJA WIKSTRÖM
On what it takes to make this booming industry equal
April 13, 2022

Both Wikström and her partner are very interested in new technology since it generates new possibilities — and who is not interested in new possibilities?

— In 2016 we got involved in a Bitcoin mining project in India but left both the project and the crypto world after encountering problems locally. We then focused on building our other businesses for a couple of years, but in 2020 we returned to the crypto space — and immediately got very interested in the relatively new phenomenon NFTs, she explains.

She’s a serial entrepreneur and recently co-founded the NFT project World of Alidia (WoA).

— It combines all the things I personally love — art, concept, community, technology, charity, and empowering women — while drawing from all the business experiences I’ve made in the last 25 years. WoA NFTs are tickets to our network of — mostly female — change-makers, with a lifetime membership in our WoA Hub which will have its own physical space in Stockholm, as well as a digital one.

It’s clearly a buzzword. What is your opinion on the current state of the NFT industry?

— As proof of ownership that uses blockchain technology, NFTs at the moment are mostly used to prove ownership of digital art. In the future, though, my belief is that anything and everything — music, real estate, clothes, land, organisations, businesses, and so forth — will have an NFT linked to it to prove ownership, both IRL and in the digital world and Metaverses, says Wikström. She continues:

— Today I’d say the NFT space is a bit chaotic, to be honest. It’s still very early, so people know there’s a lot of value to be made and to be had, but exactly where that value lies is not always easily located, which makes for a very speculative market at the moment. My personal belief is that thought-through Utility NFTs — NFTs with value beyond the proof of ownership, for example, benefits including exclusive memberships, digital and in-person events, giveaways, and more — will survive, while we will see less and less projects based on hype.

— We’re a bit where the IT/Internet gold rush was 20 years ago. Where some people made enormous amounts of money with projects mostly based on hype. Fast forward a couple of years, the hype dies and the solid projects survive.

Vanja Wikström.

Why is the industry so male-dominated? Have you analyzed it?

— To me, the obvious analysis is that the digital world is not immune to the discriminating structures that have saturated our IRL way of living since the beginning of human life. We’ve based our digital universe on our existing one, so of course, we’re going to bring the same issues there. Which makes for a self-playing piano. In general, men will feel more comfortable than women in spaces created by men, which makes for more men in the space, which makes for…well, you get the idea. Web3 right now is new brand tech with an old school problem. Too many (white) men.

— World of Alidia wants to play a part in balancing this. A funny — or depressing, depending on how you look at it — example is how the security bots in our Discord (an online community that almost every NFT-project uses, Ed’s note) kept punishing our, 99% female, members, constantly putting them on Time Out and silencing them. The reason? Using too many emojis. That says something about WoA bringing a whole new group of people into this space, and how it obviously wasn’t created for them or by their likes. I don’t need to mention we were pretty quick with adjusting our security bots, right? 

And what needs to be done in order to change it? And how will you work to do your part?

— Women need to be invited to the crypto party. And not only that — once they’re invited, they need to feel welcomed and safe. They need to feel at home. And to create that space is the higher goal for us. We want to lower the thresholds and bring women into Web3 by offering a safe space where no questions are stupid questions. A place where we learn together, Wikström explains, continuing,

— Our Discord community embodies all that, and I’d say it’s the perfect place for women to learn about crypto, NFTs, and anything Web3. In the Discord we have dedicated chat channels for crypto newbies and crypto vets. But we also have channels where the members can talk about parenting, wellness, spirituality, and pop culture, just to name a few. It’s a very different Discord compared to the rest of the NFT universe where most are solely focused on NFTs, crypto, and Web3, and that’s also our goal. We’re thinking outside the box to create a new kind of Web3 space to attract a new kind of Web3 crowd.

— So far it’s a great success. In just a few weeks our Discord has attracted over 1,000 members — as mentioned, 99% female — who day and night are talking about everything from favourite TV shows to NFT investments. Almost all of the members hardly even heard about Web3 a month ago — now they’re setting up crypto wallets, buying currency, investing in NFTs, sharing knowledge while having fun and making friends at the same time. We will continue to build Web3-knowledge in women in our WoA Hub, hosting workshops, and lectures on the subject side by side with yoga classes and concerts. Just like in the Discord we’re not going to exclude anything; we will fill our universe with whatever our community is interested in.

And why is it so important to make the industry more equal?

— There’s a lot to gain, both for women but also for the industry. I believe the NFT industry will profit enormously from women entering it in higher numbers. The way I see it, Web3 in general and NFTs, in particular, is actually the perfect place for women to create great businesses and make excellent investments. It ties together hard values like analysis and digits with softer ones like concept, art, and community. Women excel in communication and community building, two traits that are extremely important to have success in the NFT space, especially if we’re talking utility NFTs. My prediction is that women will generate a lot of great projects to invest in, as well as become excellent investors themselves.

”NFTs will be big for everyone, it’s going to be a natural part of our world and our lives”

Fast-forward five years, will NFTs be as big for women as for men? Is that realistic? And what needs to be done to achieve this equality?

— I believe that NFTs will be big for everyone, it’s going to be a natural part of our world and our lives. I often compare NFTs to explaining Internet to people before Internet as we know it existed. The blockchain technology will revolutionize so many industries, and the NFTs we read about in the media today are just the snowflake on the tip of the blockchain iceberg, says Wikström. She continues:

— To acheive equality in this new space and the new digital worlds that are emerging, we need education, education, and education. We have an amazing opportunity here to create so many positive changes in the world, to democratize, and equalize — to make up for some of the polarization and damage Web2 has caused. But to create an inclusive space — not only for women, but for everyone — people have to have knowledge. With our company, we will do everything possible to help educate, and there are other projects, mainly in the US, with the same goal. I’d like to see projects like this in all parts of the world.

— In the WoA Discord we have a channel dedicated to the future of Web3, where our members can share ideas on how to make the most of the possibilities with this new technology. How we can create the most inclusive and democratic universe yet.

NFT by World of Alidia.

For World of Alidia, what’s next?

— Our first collection is minting in May on the Ethereum blockchain. It will be 10,000 unique, hand drawn pieces of beautiful digital art that will double as tickets to our network and the WoA Hub-membership. The Hub is scheduled to open in September, a place we will fill with inspiring content for our community. It will also host a NFT Gallery and later on, we have art drops, fashion brand collabs, and the making of a children’s movie, Wikström concludes.

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