Startups Women in Startups

London Startup Talks #3: Women in the Blockchain

Hey! Here another chapter about women in startups and their thoughts about tech and women in tech. From the sharing economy startup Social Belly to BOTs, our journey is involving more tech: we’re talking about Women in Blockchain!

Why talking about Women in Blockchain?

The blockchain technology is evolving and becoming even more attractive and there are more and more startups trying to build a business in the field. Why shouldn’t women be involved? As one of the most important leaders in the sector said, women, step in!

women in blockchain stats

Stats by womenforblockchain.com

The interview with Quynh and Neha, Blockchain London

In this article, we’ll learn everything we can about the Women in Blockchain, including technology and opportunities from two young women working in the field: Quynh Tran-Thanh and Neha Murarka.
I met those amazing girls at one of Techbees’ meetup in London during an amazing night dedicated to Blockchain, of course.
Quynh is a Quant Developer at CryptoCompare, a data analytics firm for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Neha is the co-founder of Smoogs.io a startup which aims to provide affordable content streaming solutions via Bitcoins.

1) When did you understand you wanted to be in tech?

techbees meetup women in blockchain

Quynh Tran-Thanh, Quant developer

Quynh: I realised I wanted to be in tech after my first hackathon experience around 2 years ago with a group of friends. Back then I was completely non-technical, I joined the hackathon as a project manager, but since we had to finish our prototype app in 48 hours, I ended up jumping in as a front end developer, doing basic HTML and CSS coding.

Neha: It was multiple things that finally led me to end up in tech. I first used a computer when I was 6 years old. My father had bought one from the US (I’m from India). I didn’t know what to expect when I first clicked on that button; would there be fireworks on the screen? Would an orchestra start the moment? But none of that happened of course. But what happened seemed so natural and ever since then using and being around a computer was the most natural thing to me.
I was always more inclined towards the sciences and maths through school. My school offered limited computer science courses but I found all of them way more interesting than my other classes. When I reached college I wasn’t sure what to pick. I landed up selecting a degree of Physics, Maths and Statistics; there was no Computer Science as an option at the time. But within a year, I was bored ad even though I liked the Maths field, I wanted to do something more interesting with it. I got an opportunity to go to the USA to study Computer Science and it just felt… natural… again 🙂

2) Did someone help to achieve it? If yes, how big was his/her contribution?

Quynh: There are a lot of people that helped me along the way. Especially my team at my previous job, they just threw a C++ for beginners book at me when I told them I wanted to learn to program and gave me an opportunity to work on software projects (I was working as a quant analyst in banking). After 1 year, I quit that job and joined CryptoCompare as a developer.

Neha: I guess my father buying the computer had a lot to do with it. Because of his interest in the field, I landed up spending more time than my peers on a computer. If he hadn’t bought one all those years ago… I’m not sure I would have been so comfortable with it.

3) Why do you think Blockchain is the next big thing in tech?

neha smoogs women in blockchain

Neha Murarka, co-Founder of Smoogs.io, who won two awards at Digital Catapult’s Blockchain Pitch Off

Quynh: Blockchain is very interesting, as it has the potential to fundamentally change status quo. The main idea is to decentralise organisations, industries and networks. Just think about Google, Facebook and all the services or products we are using on a daily basis: they are mostly owned and controlled by a single company or entity. Blockchain promises a democracy of organisations by creating trust in an untrusted environment. I think the idea itself is already revolutionary, I hope that the technology will gain momentum soon.

Neha: I think it really depends on the area you are looking at. Personally, I think it has given the ability to add transparency in a lot of processes thereby reducing the chances of corruption in the system. Something so simple implies so much – people can be more in control of their money in banks, identity theft is virtually impossible, government ids can be used globally, middlemen are not required.
And when looking at the most successful application of the blockchain -being used as a currency like bitcoin- there are enormous implications for how money is managed across borders, the effects on financial inclusion, being able to go down to smaller denominations, financial services for the unbanked (approx. 2 billion worldwide)… Basically making money into a digital asset can changes lives for a lot of people.

4)What are you looking to achieve at CryptoCompare, Quynh? And how did you come up with the idea for Smoogs, Neha?

Quynh: CryptoCompare is a data analytics firm for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. We provide insight and data on trading of cryptocurrencies. Through this company, I am looking to educate people about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I know bitcoin can sound like a scam at first, but I would like people to understand the underlying technology, the many advantages of it (such as micropayments and financial inclusion in the third world countries). I believe that the more people work on this technology, the safer it becomes.

Neha: My co-founder Duncan had been involved with cryptocurrencies since the early ’90s. And believe it or not, he had actually written a research paper in ’94, that talked about micropayments and the consumption of digital media through that. Finally, when bitcoin came around, there was a cryptocurrency that could fulfil his ‘prophecy’, so to speak, with a practical and real possibility of creating real micropayments.

5) Who’s inspiring you?

Quynh: I don’t have a single role model, but I take the best part of everyone I admire: The loyalty and fairness of my boyfriend, the patience and love of my family.

Neha: this might be very cliche but inspiration is all around. I learn something new from my tech team every day! This is something very important to understand about tech: it’s constantly changing and it’s impossible for one person to be completely up to date with the technology out there today.
So firstly, never be discouraged that you don’t know something but take that as inspiration to learn out of it–make it an advantage–and from that comes being inspired by the tech and people around you.

6) Best advice to give to an 18-years old girl looking to find/build her future path? 

Quynh: Don’t be scared. Make mistakes. Whenever you feel stuck in life, just read, read and read!!
Try different things but only quit if you achieved something. (I give these pieces of advice to everyone regardless of gender or age).

Neha: Honestly, being a developer is just so much fun. You can do so many different things with it… create an algorithm for perfectly fitting jeans, recommendation algorithms for your fashion tastes, identify art pieces with a computer programme, create a nurse robot for a hospital, a video game that helps people recover from heart strokes, create apps for a device that talks to your house to adjust the lights, help farmers get a credit score based on the colour of their crops… make a piece of technology do what you want it. It’s just fun and it can be applied in any field that you enjoy, may it be fashion, art, medicine, governance, media, robotics or anything else!

techbees event women in blockchain

Techbees’ Meetup [yeah, I’m the last one on the left)

Thanks for sharing your amazing experience girls and good luck, I’m sure you’re doing great!

ps: if you want to learn more about Blockchain and Bitcoins you should follow Techbees, the community born to engage everyone around those fields. And much more!

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