Leaning Into Uncertainty—Interview With Galia Benartzi from Bancor

2019-04-29 08:05:00 · 7665 views · 5 min read

Today, we welcome second guest of Women in Dapp April series — Galia Benartzi, co-founder of Bancor. Galia has been an entrepreneur for over a decade—and has been building a community for about that time.

The Aha moments from the interview:

  • The challenging, fulfilling and satisfying

  • The awareness of women in the blockchain space

  • What has changed since 2016 and what needs to be changed now


Please introduce yourself.

I’m Galia Benartzi (@galiabenartzi), I’m one of the co-founders of Bancor. Bancor is a  protocol for decentralized and synchronized convertibility for the digital asset on smart contract blockchains. In more simple language, Bancor allows you to do is convert any token for any other token in the network directly onchain without needing to match buyers and sellers without needing to use exchanges.


Me personally, I grew up in Silicon Valley, California, now I spend my time between Tel Aviv, where we do a lot of engineering and Zug, Switzerland, where the Bancor Foundation is based.


(How I got into the space?)  

Before Bancor, the team behind the Bancor and myself were working on a community currency platform, which allowed any community to issue their own token. Before we put those tokens on the blockchain, it was just a centralized point system essentially for communities and marketplace where the community can buy and sell goods using the community currency.


I came to blockchain specifically from software and consumer applications that I’ve always been in since college. We came from a consumer internet background, team members and I were previously working in gaming, online video, etc. It was mind-blowing to us when we discovered bitcoin. As the first user-generated currency, bitcoin and the blockchain technology made us very excited about this coming world of cryptocurrencies, and we are thrilled to find out that blockchain can actually solve real problems, such as lack of liquidity, that we were experiencing when building community currency.

What’s the biggest challenge and what’re you enjoying the most at work?      

Entrepreneurship, software, innovation are always full of uncertainty. With blockchain, we have more layers of uncertainties to juggle, from security, regulation to the uncertainty in the media, and how the media covers the space. And not to mention the market, prices, manipulations, financial portfolio management, the list goes on.


To build something for consumers in the blockchain space, you need to become so proficient and act quickly.


With most of the challenges, there are also plenty of opportunities. One of the things that I enjoy the most that come out of challenge is how much collaboration is really needed between people in order to be effective to the space. I had never collaborated so deeply with lawyers, finance professionals, cybersecurity professionals, philosophers, as well as social scientists, marketers, and journalists. And the level of collaboration is kind of a beautiful thing because it is what the blockchain space really tending to about. Because at the end of the day, this technology is about optimizing the collaboration of people at scale. That’s why it is kind of a beautiful process of building anything in this space. It’s very challenging, of course, but also very fulfilling and satisfying.


What has changed between 2016, the year you started out and now? And what needs to be changed in the industry?

We started building Bancor Ethereum in 2016, now we are two years old since it’s been live. So many things have changed, and many things are still in progress. Regulation has changed, more products have been built. On the other hand, over the past 2+ years, the media still reports in a very shallow way, in a pretty shallow way of headlines and scoops, sensationalism about the space. It makes everyone works much harder to cut through that noise, really bring people the true insights about what’s going on, the good, the bad, and the ugly, in a way that is high-integrity and well-grounded in research. There were still a bit stuck. We also need to make much progress in regulation so that things are clear across the broad. So even progress in one jurisdiction or another isn’t of enough of the solution, we need everyone on board with how engaging in the conversation of how they wanna do things, so operators know how to design their products and given the global nature of their technology. Unlike a bank operates in a certain country, the bank knows the jurisdiction of customers, and movement of payments, the blockchain doesn’t differentiate between wallet and address necessarily which is there. So certainly we need kind of a 360 framework for people to operate the product safely and effectively.


On the topic of women in this space, I think many groups and organizations are really trying to connect with women. Although we still have much fewer women than men, just to be expected, I think what’s different now is that a certain level of awareness, is noticed. Awareness is important to have this representation of both men and women in this space, in all the related spaces, like regulation, legal, investment, to the space, founders, and creatives, stakeholders, I think it’s now to consider to be important to have this blend perspective that all of these people.


What is one piece of practical advice you would give to someone (a female) starting out?

Lean in. Go down, go deep, educate yourself and become an expert. Everyone can approach education in a different way, some people learn really well online, some people learn through reading, some people consume videos, some people need that meetup group to ask questions. So the advice is to find a format that works for you to get the information. There’s a lot of different ideas in this space, a lot of perspectives on this emerging technology… the more well-equipped you are, the more opportunity you can grasp to hold space for yourself in a conversation as you enter this industry. It’s very easy for veterans to dismiss new entrances in this space for both men and women. Having a basic knowledge of being able to demonstrate in real curiosity, real initiative, in terms of learning different moving pieces of the space, is really helpful to support your own forward progress within a team or company.


The space is very dynamic and constantly changing. So my advice is to lean in to the space, devote your specific time, talent, passion, interest, find a place where you can speak up and ask questions.

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