Women in Web3: A Conversation With Aditi Chopra

Devika Khandelwal, Oct 22, 2022

The Start: How did you get introduced to crypto?

Devika: Extremely excited to have you here, and super curious to know how you got started in crypto!

Aditi: I don’t have a glamorous story, you know, of me discovering something about getting some information and you know alpha and some hidden treasures which was on the cloud or which was on the internet bitcoin. I got into the space pretty recently, and my reason was very tactical, being a community builder myself and what i started seeing you know, second half of last year was a lot of Web3 projects were approaching us to look at community.

You know, this space is actually so community driven that community was at the core of what these projects were trying to build even before product. You know the kind of innovation that you can do, the kind of autonomy that you get and you know the spectrum of strategy that you can look at, the pay scale all of these things are tremendously different and on the positive side of things so that made me look at Web3 as a space from the community perspective.

After that, there was just so much to learn many new things to discover you know so to satiate my curious mind which was anyway in that zone, when i was looking to build things. In that process, I started discovering the elements which comprise the Web3 ecosystem: DAOs, DeFi, NFTs, gaming. As a natural progression as a natural arm I took an extended body part to what my body of work is, it all started making immediate sense.

We’d always tried to give people more agency in the decision making and engagement of the community. DAOs just gave it a more a much more formal structure. So that was my start into Web3, and learning led to more learning as I continued to dive deeper into the ecosystem. I'd still consider myself a noob; DAO structuring being something i’ve been stuck with for weeks now.

Why is it important to involve women in Web3?

Devika: Why is it important to involve women in Web3? Why has there been such a focus in bringing women onboard?

Aditi: It seems like an opportune moment. Lots of things went wrong with Web2. Given that the space is true and close-knit and likely to grow greatly, it just makes sense. There’s no reason for any gender to be excluded within the space. In an ideal situation we wouldn’t need to deliberately handhold women, but that is the way it is right now given the cascade that has stemmed from the previous iterations of tech. It’s a great time to remediate the gender disparity created in the previous iteration of technology and the internet.

Inspiration behind starting Superwomen DAO

Devika: An interesting statistic from last year is that Opensea did more in volume than Visa did last year. This was despite Opensea only having 400,000 wallets, however only 10% of those wallets were women. So clearly, we are in very early days. As it is, Web3 accommodates a lot more. Women already take on so many different hats, and so what you are building really helps women leverage this space. I’d love for you to dive deeper inot what your passion was behind starting Superwomen DAO.

Aditi: It’s been quite unexpected and unplanned, but goes to say that's what serendipity does for you! Superwoman DAO was started in May 2022. My idea was that I don’t have proper compartmentalization, so my personal life and work life tended to mingle. This is when I realized that while I do have friends, I don’t have any girlfriends in the space. Out of curiosity I thought I should organize something at my place. I was surprised to see over a hundred women that registered within the first week!

This led me to realize that women definitely wanted something like this. Till now, i’m trying to understand why women want and need that separate space for themselves. Once the community started growing (we have over 1700 women with us now). What I realized was the relatability of how women can empathize with each other and not have any judgement. Superwoman DAO can help provide role models and inspire women to show up to events, as ultimately, its on women to simply show up for events. Mentors and lived experiences go a long way in doing this for women. More women being at the events simply helps women be enthusiastic about attending.

For me personally, figuring out operational specificities has been a bit challenging, with regards to voting and governance structures in particular. Currently, we raise funds through contributors and sponsors that want to support our mission of helping create a larger female presence in the tech ecososystem in general, and are experimenting with the direction our venture can take whilst maintaining a coherent brand identity.

What has been your biggest learning in building your community?

Devika: Community is a primary pillar of Web3. What is one of the things you’ve learnt after building the community at Superwoman DAO?

Aditi: When I was getting onboarded myself (setting up my Metamask, buying my first NFT), I realized that not everyone is going to care how everything works on the back end; ease within the user journey will create sticky users.

Giving first community

Devika: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone trying to build a community within Web3?

Aditi: First of all, I don’t look myself as a mod, I just enjoy being a part of the community organically.

Secondly, people conflate building an audience with building a community. If just the few members from the team talk on the general chat, people will become reticent to talk themselves. If everyone is excited about talking, then everyone else is more keen to communicate as well. Superwomen is a giver first community. A significant percentage of your community must engage frequently enough, otherwise others themselves will also not contribute and likely remain lurkers.

Challenges you faced in building out a DAO

Devika: What are some of the challenges you faced in building a DAO early on?

Aditi: Firstly, Initially I thought that for a DAO, i’d need to have a token and figure out tokenomics etc, but I wasn’t too sold on the idea. However, I didn’t want to create an exclusive community, but rather an umbrella community that might have its own sub communities or subDAOs. So I made it a point to tell our members that we’re a community first, and will become a DAO down the road. So, explaining our mindset was problematic with individuals who are more ‘OG’ in the space and/or are already a part of DAOs.

Secondly, how do we distinguish between members and contributors without a token? The differentiation is only important because while people do want to contribute in good faith, they should still be rewarded accordingly for their efforts. So, we had to first scout contributors. Also, how do we know their skills? Given the nature of the space, asking for Linkedin or Twitter profiles was not always tenable.

The third challenge was the governance side of things. What specifics should we decide for voting and proposals? Given the lack of a conventional business model, how will we accrue funds to our treasury? This was especially problematic for us, as we did not have a token.

Fourthly, role management: for example, a new contributor might contribute more but have evangelized less than a more ‘OG’ member who helped grow the community more in its early stages. Lastly, everyone has different motivations to join a community or DAO: for example, some want to learn about Web3, some want to find other collaborators, and some want to learn from other women. So maintaining directional coherence can be challenging.

Our product team answers: On-chain Reputation Management

Yashwardhan: There’s 3 interesting means of reputation management that we can discuss: 1:Capital-based reputation: Whoever holds the most tokens wins. 2: Social reputation: An example of this is Coordinape; your reputation is communally determined by your peers. 3: Activity-based reputation: Reputation points or badges for your activities within the Web3 ecosystem building an on-chain resume or profile that you can use across DAOs.

Aditi: Most of my learning with regards to members and responsibilities is from other DAO members, exposing me to different kinds of models. Now, with my consulting firm, I am the centralized point of contact. In a decentralized firm on the other hand, we can vote using proposals if someone offers us work. In this case, contributions would decide contributors, and we’d be able to ascertain contributions because we have all worked with one another.

So at Superwoman, we’re trying a couple of experiments. Firstly, we’re starting an investment program, in which women in the ecosystem can give grants to women led projects. Secondly, we’re identifying experts, who can contribute to whatever requests the DAO receives for work in their particular realm of expertise.

Regarding reputation, we’re understanding how FWB (Friends With Benefits). Now, their model is based on tokens. If you have their token, you can enter the DAO. However, this only grants entrance and not the right to stay. For that, you have to keep contributing. You’d politely be asked to leave. This is an example of a well-functioning DAO I’ve seen that is not an investment DAO.

Importance of ownership

Devika: A lot of people don’t entirely get why ownership is important, what are your thoughts on why it is?

Aditi: I’m still on the fence when it comes to ownership with regards to owning say, a Bored Ape for the IP rights. However, what does make sense to me is if ownership comes with tangible benefits or incentives. For example, for artists, owning their own work is literally their livelihood, not vanity bragging rights. If the only ‘utility’ of each NFT is for an exclusive community, then are they really exclusive anymore?

With regards to art or content creation, however, there is significant utility. What people don’t realize with say, Instagram is that while Instagram is indeed giving theme the reach to grow their personal brand, they are providing Instagram with some valuable content for which they are receiving nothing in return.

Provenance is valuable; Prada’s introduction for blockchain based verification testifies to this. Even here in India, Nykaa’s introduction of authenticity certificates has gained significant traction despite the customers not actually double checking the certificates themselves. Nevertheless, the primary benefits are ones that I think will play themselves out in the future, at the moment, my perspective is grey with regards to the benefits we currently see.

How Superwomen manages tasks internally

Devika: I’m very curious to know at Superwoman DAO, how are you managing your day to day operations with regards to onboarding, contribution to framing proposals to treasury.

Aditi: I have to tell you, it’s a concoction, a soup. Personally, as of now, it’s been me individually executing a lot of the relevant work because of how early it is. With regards to task management, we largely rely upon weekly calls and catchups. For proposals, we use communal sentiment using things like polls and sentiment checks but of course, those are more speculative than concrete.

The result of what people think would not necessarily be the actual proposal itself. In my opinion once you have more clarity on the direction of the DAO (investing, building, etc), it is more tenable to go forward with a more formal proposal process. At the moment, I think synthesizing the community’s perspectives in a more informal manner is the way to go.

What's your why for being in crypto?

Devika: Another question I want to ask you is your why for being in crypto. Why not AI or something else?

Aditi: Firstly, because I don’t understand them! It’s like going to school all over again, which I definitely don’t want to do! In crypto, it felt like everyone is a noob when I joined. So, the feeling that I could catch up to others in the space by simply learning was really attractive.

Secondly, crypto is not only about technology. In fields like AI, the technical facets will always be front and center. On the other hand, within say an NFT project, design would be most important. Within community building, it’d be storytelling. Within DeFi, the economic concepts. So, it felt more inclusive for me, and I felt I could make more of an impact.

Advice for people who want to get into Web3/crypto

Devika: Do you have any advice for people wanting to understand DAOs better so they can leverage it? Or even just people who have a vision or community that they want to build?

Aditi: Firstly, if you’re starting to learn about DAOs right now, you’re in a great place. While it might feel like there’s a lot of people in the space right now, from the outside looking in, there’s not. So there are advantages to having the requisite operational knowledge early. You’ll have a significant early learner, not just mover, advantage.

Secondly, how do you learn about DAOs? Well, it’s a mix. It’s not just joining DAOs and their servers. Simply joining dozens of servers isn’t going to give you a lot of value on its own merit. You need to be more deliberate in your approach: how and how much you’ll contribute to different DAOs.

Thirdly: use reports. There’s some really great reports that help you keep your finger on the pulse, for example those by Techcrunch and a16z. This is also why being a part of the right communities is important. The people in these communities are an invaluable resource: any time I have a question, I ask on these communities and quickly have an answer. So keeping a tab on the space would be a good mix of having a decent social network in the space, keeping tabs on social media, and thirdly reading up on the more academic developments in the space: reports, whitepapers, and thought pieces by respected thinkers and leaders in the space. I think it’s just a great time to be in the space: if you have the time and inclination, contribute in any shape or form to any DAO.

Devika: I love that so much. To be a part of DAOs, set aside 5-10 minutes everyday to learn, and not just joining random Discord servers!! Thank you so much and for all of the lessons you’ve given us!