Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Be proactive in creating the change that you want to see.
Work hard — most success is due to hard work and persistence.
Learn to trust your inside voice, but create a solid team that you can rely on.
I had the pleasure to interview Tammy Camp. Tammy is CEO and co-founder of Stronghold, a financial services company. She earned a spot on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 (The Ledger) list this year and was the first Head of Growth at Stellar, helping the network grow to 4 million users in its first two months. Tammy was previously a partner at accelerator 500 Startups, where she invested in startups and ran a growth and marketing curriculum for Silicon Valley participants.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?
The first time I was exposed to cryptocurrencies was in a course taught by famous cryptographer Ralph Merkle at Singularity University’s GSP11 in Exponential Technologies at NASA Ames.
Then, in 2016, I began to personally invest in cryptocurrencies. I found that there wasn’t really an effective way to consolidate and manage multiple currencies in one place. This was crazy to me, since 200 crypto hedge funds had popped up within the previous year.
We decided to build a place where institutional managers could buy and sell assets, because as more and more asset managers come online, they need a reliable, transparent platform where they can seamlessly manage all stores of value in one place.
One important lesson I’ve learned is that it is essential to be mindful of regulations when working in the technology space. It’s all been a big lesson working with regulatory bodies within financial institutions and educating them on the nuances of the crypto space. Although it takes a lot of time and can be daunting, it’s more than worth the effort. If crypto is going to go mainstream, compliance is a necessity.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
One exciting project we’re working on is Stronghold USD, a one-to-one asset-backed U.S. dollar token that we launched in August. Via our Stronghold payments and trading platform, we’re using Stellar’s blockchain protocol to issue and transact Stronghold USD while providing access to liquidity through our institutional exchange services and custodial relationship with Prime Trust. We’re taking methodical steps to create a truly liquid financial ecosystem that bridges gaps between banking systems and ensures seamless access to all currencies — no matter where you are.
Another project is our platform APIs, a set of endpoints for managing integrations with our global payment and trade ecosystem. These APIs offer retail-level access to an open network where customers can transact with multiple cryptocurrencies, and easily make deposits and withdrawals to convert funds back into fiat currencies. People who access Stronghold’s API can set prices in dollars and accept any crypto token on the Stellar platform. Because the APIs accept any Stellar token that has liquidity to Stronghold USD, transactions are truly asset-agnostic.
We have more exciting projects in the works that we can’t discuss now, but I’m happy to share in the future!
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?
I’m lucky, since I’ve worked with many people over the years who’ve been incredibly supportive. Stephanie Palmieri at Uncork Capital is a great friend who’s reached out to me several times about opportunities that I ran with; she’s how I learned about the partner role at 500 Startups. Dave Samuel at Freestyle Capital is a great resource, as is Frank Mastrangelo, who really understands fintech.
When I was getting back to work after having a baby, I made a short list of people I really wanted to work with. Of course, my husband, Dan Rosen, has always been a supportive partner.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- It’s a more cost-efficient way to send and receive money. The transfer rate per second is better, but more importantly, people don’t have to go through banks or local exchange offices to transfer money. This dramatically reduces costs on fees, especially for international payments.
- There’s more transparency for the movement of assets. You can see exactly where the assets are in transit from point A to point B, and all parties involved have access to a constantly updated digital ledger.
- More central banks and large financial institutions are adopting this technology. The digitization of real-world assets and the use of blockchain is transforming many types of financial transactions — imagine a world where all stores of value are easily accessible in one place, even your rewards points from your favorite stores or airlines, and value can get transferred in real-time with ease (like a debit card). That’s where we’re going.
- This technology brings more liquidity to underserved markets by giving them direct access to their assets. People can send money to each other with minimal fees. It’s incredibly empowering to see how blockchain-based financial service platforms can connect those who live in the long tails to people at Wall Street. Traditionally overlooked markets have access to things they’ve never had access to before.
- Leapfrogging technology to underserved markets. Blockchain can help emerging markets innovate quickly without the help of traditional banks that haven’t yet expanded to underbanked communities, or that have difficulty providing support to such communities.
What are the 5 things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- There’s a lack of retail and institutional education on blockchain technology. Many people are scared of blockchain technology because they don’t understand it, and minimize its potential.
- There’s too much hype for unfinished products, which undermines other amazing projects that people are working on and that deliver real utility.
- The overvaluation of cryptocurrencies also worries me because some people buy into crypto to make a quick buck, and then freak out when the valuation shifts. Overvaluation happens when the current value of a cryptocurrency doesn’t match its overall net-benefit or real-use case.
- Limited media reporting in the blockchain ecosystem can create further hesitation for the general public to jump into the blockchain/crypto sphere. Media focuses on the highs and lows of blockchain, as well as cryptocurrencies (especially with market price fluctuations). The focus should be on steady progress.
- Another thing that worries me is the fraud that has run rampant in the blockchain ecosystem. Many people attempt to get money from inexperienced investors through fake projects. This too can undermine the legitimate projects that people are working on.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
If we reach our goal, Stronghold will lower barriers to financial services and level the economic playing field for consumers globally.
As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?
1) Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Be proactive in creating the change that you want to see.
2) Work hard — most success is due to hard work and persistence.
3) Learn to trust your inside voice, but create a solid team that you can rely on.
Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?
We need to talk about the amazing work women are already doing in the blockchain ecosystem. The more we recognize women’s achievements, the easier it’ll be to empower more women to get involved in the industry.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
I’ve learned that if you have a laser focus, it’s hard to make everyone happy, and if you try to make everyone happy, it’s unlikely that you truly have laser focus.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Diversity is a hot buzzword, but I’m convinced that it’s the key to building great products. Exponential technologies like robotics and blockchain are transforming our world, but we need better ways to distribute these tools so we can make sure we’re creating products that are truly changing lives for the better.
We need to rethink STEM education; everyone doesn’t need to learn how to code, but technical skills shouldn’t be held by a privileged few, either.
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