Our women in crypto series continues, as we chat to Erica Stanford, who dropped everything when a cryptocurrency opportunity came her way…
Erica Stanford is a cryptocurrency investor and ICO consultant who has been involved in the industry since early last year. She is also the co-founder of Cryptocurrency Simplified, and is getting ready to launch her own blockchain-based projects.
Erica first heard about crypto through a friend who, at the start of 2017, said he thought she would be interested in the emerging technology. He knew that she would go down a research rabbit-hole and, once she saw its potential, that’s exactly what happened.
“I think he wanted to understand it, and knew that I’m the world’s biggest geek when I get my head into something,” she told Crypto News Review. “I basically dropped everything, and thought the potential of blockchain and decentralisation were really cool. I looked at some projects and realised it could have real, massive implications in terms of shaking up banks and industry structures.”
A mutual friend with a background in financial trading had already made a large amount of money by investing in crypto, she added, and this was the final push she needed to dip her own toe in. The financial implications of becoming a crypto trader gave her the confidence and the opportunity to quit her job in September 2017, which she had wanted to do for some time.
She said: “I took a huge leap of faith, it wasn’t the safe play giving up her job.”
Understanding the market
Stanford devoted herself to reading everything she could get her hands on and, soon, friends and contacts began getting in touch with her asking how they could get started in the industry. Though the profile of blockchain and cryptocurrencies were rising fast, there wasn’t a lot of information that could be easily understood by someone outside the tech industry.
“It’s a massive problem,” she continued. “The actual technology behind it is quite complicated, and most people don’t understand it. I don’t understand the real technology behind it. The guys who have developed the technology are really, really clever, but aren’t necessarily able to translate that into English. They’re speaking in tech speak, which doesn’t mean anything to anyone else.
“All these applications and use cases are being used now to do amazing things in the energy and supply chain industries, but I’m constantly being asked by intelligent individuals in amazing positions just to explain it to them in simple language. There’s really nothing out there.”
In order to fill the void of easy-to-understand information, Stanford and her business partner started writing how-to guides with simple language screenshots just for friends and contacts. Soon it began to feel more like a business, and a website is currently in the process of being built.
“One of the issues is that people, not necessarily just women, have a different way of looking at things that would really help explain a lot of the use cases to the mainstream, and help speed up adoption.”
Unbiased education and understanding is the key, then, and would help prevent the naive from believing the hype and ultimately losing money to a bad investment.
Stanford said: “There are a lot of incredible people in this space, who can see the potential and are working on their own ambitious projects, but the events are heavily male dominated. Because the industry isn’t regulated, if you want to create a scam and get money out of people without necessarily having to build your own project, it’s one of the easiest industries in which to do so.
“There are people who I see as opportunists, and there are a lot of projects out there that don’t have a lot of value. It’s easy for naive people to be talked into parting with their money.”
Claims and pretend experts
Another huge problem with such an unregulated market, and one that has in many ways inherited the problems of the tech industry as a whole, is that there are so many people making claims that they can’t back up.
“There are a lot of people trying to be experts. Because it’s such a new field, there aren’t really many experts, but there are a lot of people trying to claim to be the experts even if they only heard about crypto two months ago and are just trying now to make money from it.”
Now Stanford is not just investing in other people’s projects, but also creating her own. One of these is Authorated, created alongside the ex-media director of a newspaper group, which looks at a pay-per-article model for online articles.
So far none of Stanford’s own projects are making money, just costing, but she understands that hard work and perseverance will change that in time. For her, a solid company or project is more important than immediate financial rewards.
“Last year you had the run-up and the hype, and a lot of people getting involved before they understood it,” she said. “A lot of people have lost money because they bought into the excitement right at the top.
“People get excited about decentralisation and complete autonomy, but personally I don’t think that’s realistic or even ideal. Maybe I like the ideals, but I just don’t think it’s realistic. For blockchain technology to be implemented, it’s going to be existing companies and infrastructure, and people either creating new companies or adopting the technology into their systems. They’re the ones who’ve got the money and connections to make these things happen, and the power to affect the market.”