BeinCrypto spoke to Erica Stanford, Founder, and CEO of the Crypto Curry Club. She discusses the importance of community for the cryptocurrency space.
The crypto world is exciting but getting involved in it is very daunting. For newbies, trying to figure out where to start can be overwhelming.
However, a significant benefit is that the community loves educating and supporting others in the space. Whether it’s teaching people how to buy bitcoin on exchanges or mint and NFT, there are people who will be keen to help you out.
For Erica Stanford, creating an accessible place for crypto veterans and newbies to come together was vitally important. For her, there was no better way to do this than over a large curry dinner.
Standford has been involved in crypto since the start of 2017.
“A friend told me about it and I was super interested. I had been trying to learn more and sort of geek out a little bit in it. I just wanted to learn more and meet more people so I’d spent a lot of time just reading everything and devouring everything I could.”
However, she stumbled on a bit of a roadblock when trying to network at crypto events and meetups.
“It was still a big sort of bubble. The majority of events were really good, but it was super technical which just wasn’t really my space. Some were literally written by scams, or they were just disorganized and promoting all of these sales pitches,” she says.
After experiencing a completely different kind of networking event over Christmas, Stanford was struck by a better way to bring crypto communities together — over food.
“I just wanted a way to meet other people.”
A meet-up for a real estate networking event at an Indian restaurant gave her the idea. She thought about how this would work perfectly for the crypto community.
“Everyone goes to an Indian restaurant and shares a little food and drink and gets together and it’s all very jolly.”
“It was just so good because everyone sits around the table, sharing a load of food and drink. It was just so easy to get to know people because you’re forced to talk to them. You can’t not talk to them. You’ve got to ask them to pass over the naan bread. It was just really easy and fun. I met some great people, so I thought, that’s exactly what’s needed for the [crypto] space. So that was sort of where the idea of the Crypto Curry Club came from,” she says.
The Crypto Curry Club has grown from its early days. It is now the host of the United Kingdom’s number one tech networking events for blockchain. For Stanford, this success is important as she considers community crucial for crypto.
“I think it’s massive, I think it’s single-handedly the biggest thing. It’s one of those spaces, it’s still quite small, it’s still quite niche, and it’s evolving, super fast. More than any other sector, it seems to be such a relationship-based industry because it’s still small and it’s growing fast.”
“So much happens just from people who met at events and sat together. [They] just happen to end up talking and chatting about what they do and then, a few months later, they’ve got an investment or they’ve got a new customer or they’ve got a partnership. So I think it’s massively important in terms of growing businesses and startups in the companies in the space.”
However, Stanford doesn’t just see this as an opportunity for those entering the space. She also considers it key for those already involved.
“There’s a lot about just meeting the people that are actually driving the products and driving innovation. [They’re] keeping ahead of all the many changes that are happening every day,” she says.
Cryptocurrencies are for anyone
Overall, Stanford appreciates how this crypto community defies the standard norms found elsewhere. For her, the ability for anyone to contribute and build is key.
“It’s not about the people necessarily wearing suits. Some people that are the most successful, that have been in the space the longest, that know the most are the smartest, that are working on the most exciting projects aren’t the oldest,” she says.
“They might be the ones turning up in jeans and a T-shirt with long hair or whatever it is. They might be the 20-year-old guy who’s the founder of this incredible startup that’s doing incredibly well, that doesn’t need to show that off to the world. I think it’s one of the most open industries that I’ve ever seen because it’s not about what university degree you’ve got or what school you went to. It’s just really about what you have done regardless if you’re 20 or if you’re 60 or any of that.”
Crytpocurrencies and their scam reputation
Alongside her work with the Crypto Curry Club, Stanford has also written a book. Called Crypto Wars, the book delves into some of the most notorious cryptocurrency scams to date.
Crypto scams have always been a big news feature and continue to make waves. Stanford completely immersed herself in this world to bring out and explain some of the biggest scandals.
Understanding scams is important for those who want to invest but unsure how to avoid getting caught out. This has put some reputational strain on cryptocurrencies, as many believe they are synonymous with these scam events.
“I’d say [crypto] has been more affected than other industries. I think it’s worth noting that scams aren’t unique to crypto, and since lockdown, especially, the number of scams, the number of hacks, but then also the number of things like cybercrime. The number of scams in every sort of capacity has skyrocketed,” she says.
She explains that this is partly because of better technology used by scammers. In addition, it is also because of the economic stress brought by the pandemic.
As a result, the gains offered by legitimate cryptocurrency trades are played on by scammers to trap people into pyramid schemes or outright steal their money.
“I do think it has harmed crypto because it has lost a lot of faith in it and a lot of people have lost a lot of money. I think especially in the ICO era, from 2016 to 2018. Not that all projects were scams by any definition of the word, but there were a lot of scams and a lot of failed projects,” she says.
“I think that in some ways this has harmed the space for the negative perception, but regulation is coming in, the good projects are now growing. So things like awareness, and education and the more people getting into it and becoming aware of what crypto actually is and the improvement ofinfrastructure and hopefully user experience in the infrastructure will reduce the number of people that are falling for the scams.”
“Read as much as you can”
Stanford has some advice for those wanting to get involved in this exciting yet complicated and ever-expanding world.
“I definitely say read as much as you can. Really get a feel for it, understand what you’re looking at and playing with. Andreas Antonopoulos wrote a book. It’s called The Internet of Money: Volume One. It shows a real sort of overview of Bitcoin and the use cases and the benefits,” she says.
Stanford urges those interested not to be put off by the fear that they may be too late or have missed out.
“It’s a new technology that more and more people are going to have to learn about because more and more companies are going to start using it either accepting crypto or having loyalty points. There’s going to be a lot more use cases for crypto coming out. I think younger people are really seeing the benefits of learning about the space and I think it will be much more a part of our lives in a few years.”
She says that having hands-on experience and playing around with small amounts is a great learning experience. In addition, Stanford also encourages people to start looking for and building their communities.
“If you can get to any local meetup or event, it’s more difficult now because of lockdowns and the coronavirus, but if there is anywhere where you can go to local meetups to speak to people in the space, you’ll meet an incredible community of really smart, and open and friendly and passionate people who will be you know really happy to speak about crypto to a newbie,” she says.
“Just spend the time learning about the space because it’s an incredible space that’s moving really, really, really fast. We have incredible influx of really good talent and the ecosystem is evolving so fast that I’d say just keep an eye on it.”
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