“I believe in the spirit of paying things forward, and that if everyone shares their knowledge and experience with others, the entire ecosystem grows as a result. I found it particularly rewarding when speaking to new Australians who have come to this country seeking better opportunities like my parents did, as I feel my unique experiences can help them to reach their goals.”
I had the pleasure to interview GRACE WONG, Co-founder of Liven
Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?
I’m a young female lawyer, turned fintech startup entrepreneur as co-founder of Liven, a reward based lifestyle mobile payment wallet. I am now on a mission to bring incredible blockchain technology by tokenizing the existing Liven’s digital cash into LVN Coin. We want to consumerise cryptocurrency and bring it to the lives of everyday people, without them needing to understand the complicated stuff behind the tech. Liven has raised $11M in funding and created a viral payment network that is used by over 250,000 users and thousands of merchants. I also recently won B&T’s 30 under 30 award.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
The most exciting project that I am working on at the moment is the Livenpay ICO. Cryptocurrency has long suffered from heavy volatility, difficulty of use and lack of mainstream adoption. Liven is tackling these issues by bringing crypto into restaurants around the world to create a global food economy on the blockchain. Everytime consumers pay with our app they will earn our cryptocurrency, LVN, which they can spend the next time they dine. LVN has intrinsic value in the form of actual purchasing power within our network of restaurants. Check out www.livenpay.io for more information about this project Livenpay already ranks in top 5 in the AppStore Australia! We want to make dining out not only more exciting and frequent by rewarding them with cryptocurrency that appreciate in value as the ecosystem grows.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Absolutely, for me that person is my mother. All through my life my mother has sacrificed so much so that my brother and I could pursue our goals. She always taught me as a child that I should “dream big, so that even if your dream is broken, the pieces will still be large”. This is something that has inspired me everyday. I feel that I owe it to her to be the best that I can be, and to achieve my goals, to make up for the dreams she had that she sacrificed to raise us.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Its an exciting new, niche technology: because blockchain is so new, there is still so much unexplored potential for innovation. In the same way that the internet continues to change our lives everyday, I see massive scope for blockchain to penetrate every part of our world.
Middleman out: It can take the power away from centralized bodies and put it into the hands of everyday people. The use of blockchain enables us to completely eliminate the need for “trusted” third parties. In addition to removing the risk of manipulation by such third parties, blockchain can also be used to cut through red tape and increase efficiency across a range of areas.
It has a tremendous potential to disrupt sharing economy: As a startup founder I’m always in awe of the speed with which a small team with a great idea can disrupt even the giants of industry. Blockchain has the ability to cut out the “middlemen” across many different industries, connecting people, peer to peer across the world.
Digital ID and Bank: Blockchain will help the people of this world who are most in need. There are 2 billion people out there who do not have a bank account. Millions of people around the world are “unbanked”, causing serious cash flow problems that can cripple entire regions. Blockchains ability to transfer value anywhere in the world — in an instant — and will really be able to help these people, especially as internet access is rapidly spreading.
Truth: We’ve been Googling to our hearts’ content for a number of years now, but there has never really been an easy way to actually verify that the information we find is accurate or true. Blockchain can offer a solution to this problem, giving us a tool to verify the accuracy of information, something that is becoming more and more important in the age of “post-truth”.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Scams and dishonest people damaging the reputation of the industry and burning early adopters, which slows down the progress of this fantastic technology. The success of ICOs has led to many scammers trying to take advantage of people, these money grabs erode trust in ICOs and make it harder for the genuine projects to get the funding they need to grow.
Uncertainty around regulation. Technology moves so fast, but what happens when governments and regulators aren’t able to keep up? One of my concerns is that innovation will be stifled as a result of regulatory uncertainty as entrepreneurs and developers are forced to play the guessing game while waiting for governments to figure out exactly what they will do with this “blockchain stuff”.
Criminals using of the anonymous nature of some blockchains to fund crime and ultimately cause the suffering of others. Criminals saw the potential of cryptocurrencies very early on, with sites such as the Silk Road trading in Bitcoin years before the average person on the street had heard of it. It worries me to think that these innovative technologies might represent an opportunity for criminals to cause harm, though I also feel that the blame should be placed squarely on the offenders, and not the tech itself.
Blockchain is still very much within the realm of IT types who lack business experience. While the focus continues to be on faster transaction times and increased efficiency, many blockchain developers are missing the point — nobody is using their creations. In order for blockchain to go mainstream, the focus needs to shift to the user experience, to create products that are simple to use for everyday people, with the blockchain foundation hidden behind an intuitive user interface.
Volatility is another concern, as many great projects are actually destabilized by punters who purchase tokens for purely speculative reasons, with no intention of actually making use of the underlying product. When speculative behaviour leads to wild swings in the the price of a crypto-asset, then consumer confidence in its value is eroded.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
In recent months I have been invited to share my story through various public speaking engagements, and each time I have had the opportunity to chat with various members of the audience at the conclusion of the events. During these times I have met some incredible people, and have both inspired and been inspired by them. I have found it extremely rewarding to engage with people who are at the beginning of their journeys, and to share my experience with them.
I am a connector, I help people connect as I have lots of good people in my network and I get so happy when they meet and get good outcomes.
I believe in the spirit of paying things forward, and that if everyone shares their knowledge and experience with others, the entire ecosystem grows as a result. I found it particularly rewarding when speaking to new Australians who have come to this country seeking better opportunities like my parents did, as I feel my unique experiences can help them to reach their goals.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
Be curious & tenacious: nobody is going to just give you what you want in this world. You need to be strong enough to reach out and grasp it, and then, hold on! I never take ‘no’ for an answer. I don’t enjoy hearing the ‘no’s’ but being curious and tenacious will get you be where you want to go because the world is full of nice people who are attracted to your passion and intelligence. So many restaurants owners said ‘no’ to me at the beginning of my Liven journey because I had very little amount of customers, but their no’s were only temporary. Now that we have hundreds of thousands of users, they say ‘yes!’
Don’t let others tell you what is or isn’t possible. If you listen to the naysayers you will stay on their level. You need to have a very clear vision of where you are going and what you are working towards, don’t be self limiting by taking on the negative energy of others. As an immigrant and non-native English speaker, I was often made to feel like I was not capable of reaching the top in the business world, but what I have discovered since I started this enterprise is that most people are more interested in what I am saying, not how I am saying it. Nobody cares if I have an accent or make mistakes in my emails, because they care about my ideas more.
Always be networking. Despite all the hours we spend alone working hard, the truth is that nobody ever achieved anything great on their own. There is always a network of people behind them that helped them to reach their goal. Even the smallest actions can have huge impact, a friend giving you a brief introduction to a potential client might not take a lot of effort on their part, but it can start a chain reaction that can lead to explosive opportunity for your business. Always be seeking out people who have more experience or knowledge than you do who can help you on your journey, and of course, pay it forward by helping out others when you can too. Your network is one of your most valuable assets.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
Richard Branson!Richard built his massive empire from the ground up, and has managed to triumph despite repeated adversity. I really admire his enduring vision and the way he takes ideas I feel like we share similar passions and I would love to discuss our current projects together but also to hear about the personal legacy that he is continually building and what it means to him. I have a strong passion for philanthropy which has been incorporated into our product by allowing our users to share their rewards with charities.
He is also the CEO of Authority Magazine's Thought Leader Incubator, which guides leaders to become prolific content creators. Yitzi is also the author of five books.
In 2017, he created the popular, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” series that highlights the empowering lessons learned from the experiences of high-profile entrepreneurs and public figures.
This series has inspired a mini-movement among writers, with scores of writers worldwide profiling inspiring people to share their positive, empowering, and actionable stories.
A trained Rabbi, Yitzi is also a dynamic educator, teacher and orator. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and children.
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