We definitely do not need “Women in Blockchain” panel discussions. Instead we need to have at least one female entrepreneur /investor/ developer/ reporter on every panel discussion. I have already encouraged numerous event organizers to follow these proposed guidelines and please join me promoting a “one female on every panel” vision. As a female CEO I try to be as visible as possible. In fact, both Propy co-founders are female and we regularly participate and speak at various blockchain events. I welcome face-to-face interviews, like the recently interview I did with the BBC. It was a great opportunity for women to see a female — a “real-life example” — talking about the blockchain. Girls and women who are new to the industry need role-models : they need to see that women are already working in blockchain and to have the inner feeling “Yes, I can do that!” or “ I know it’s possible”. And it is possible. It’s good to see new laws coming into effect ensure that the employers and the Boards of Directors are engaged in a fair hiring process, meaning, avoiding any discriminatory practices. I hope the equal pay issue will be tackled next.
I had the pleasure to interview Natalia Karayaneva, the Founder of Propy
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?
Sure, it’s my pleasure. I got introduced to this fascinating technology when I moved to Silicon Valley in 2015. My main expertise is in real estate, where I worked as a real estate developer for over 12 years, but I’m also a software developer. I witnessed how difficult a purchase of a new home can be. The same applies to foreign investors who are willing to invest in overseas properties. Combing my experience with educations, I knew I could solve the “real estate puzzle”, using automation.
My entrepreneurial nature has always been there — I started my first business at 19 (software company), so it felt natural to tackle this issues with a new business venture. Hence, Propy was born. The most important lesson for the blockchain sector: “Never sleep, read and test everyday. What was popular and hyped yesterday has a different light today; what had worked via proof-of-work yesterday today works as a proof-of-stake.” The space is new and evolving, the players haven’t had time and chance to prove themselves which unfortunately has lead to numerous cases of unethical behavior which brings me to the second lesson learn: “Do not trust people even if you’re building a trustless community.” My suggestion is to execute your work first and then post your work details; this this way of thinking has brought best out of our company. When it comes to my career in entrepreneurship, the most important lessons I’ve learned in my almost two-decades-long career are:
- Make your team to believe that there are no impossible things. You should remind this to your team every day even for the smallest tasks if necessary.
- If a goal/task doesn’t move any further, take a deep breath and wait.
- Most of entrepreneurs including myself are extremely hardworking and need to find the energy to push themselves and their teams. I’ve learned and I am still learning to be patient, executing step by step. Patience is one of the most important traits in the crypotspace: a smooth adoption while the infrastructure matures is very essential.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Things are moving pretty fast at Propy. We’re responsible for the first ever blockchain real estate sales in the US and Europe. We’re having more and more listings all over the world every day and match more people to their dream houses and new home. The ultimate goal is to allow users to acquire homes online with just a couple clicks.
Latest interesting projects :
- Pilot programs we launched in Vermont are getting traction and moving to the next stage.
- Tokenization of real estate (STOs)
- Title Mining protocol for underserved communities in developing countries to digitize their land ownership.
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 am mostly grateful to my Mom who had to educate 3 children by herself during the collapse of the Soviet Union and after it when everything was unpredictable and even intimidating. My mom was a self-employed which is not the easiest scenario you can imagine how to go by, especially in a new country that is starting everything from a scratch and is filled with uncertainty and unease. From her I learned not complain, not rely on others and believe in myself.
Another story definitely worth mentioning, is from 3 years ago when I just moved to Silicon Valley.
Very clearly I remember the day when one of the many VC I pitched to told me: ”You won’t be able to build it. There is one of the most popular and well-known real estate entrepreneurs in the US who tried to do the same 10 years ago but he couldn’t. But I will do a favour: I will introduce you to him so he would convince you not to waste your time.” The prominent real estate entrepreneur who I was introduced to was Alain Pinel. I am very grateful for his support at the very early stages of the company when we just had a prototype of the listing platform and ideas on sales automation.
Currently Propy is advised by people like Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, Daniel Kottke who was the first Apple employee, and Bruce Cahan, a Professor of Stanford University. I am very thankful to all of our advisors for their support.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- What excites me the most is the fact that we can expect from decentralization evolving of brand new economies and business models, as well as, experience changing behaviors. Having people control over their data and decisions, keeps me energized and beyond excited.
- Global connectivity, data transparency, and increasing female leadership has helped the moral to prevail dishonorable human behavior and prevent wars. Decentralized governance models and transparency can play a role here.
- Being a part of something that will become mainstream. Although developers have been working on blockchain for years, it’s only just making its way into the mainstream. So I’m excited to see all the new use cases that come out of this.
- I’m happy to see that global transactions can become more transparent because of the blockchain. Anyone who’s ever been the victim of fraud or is otherwise dismayed by the scale of it will welcome the change.
- What a dream it will be to be more efficient! Propy can get something like a simple cash sale through in a day. Who doesn’t want it to be easier and faster to buy a property?
- Social impact in developing countries. $9 trillion dollars are locked in undocumented land or so called “dead capital” mainly in African countries. This could be changed by blockchain and change lives of billions of people overnight as any household would have access to financing.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Worries will change or even disappear over time as people become more familiar with blockchain, how it works, and what it can do. Now the most frequently asked questions include “Is blockchain as secure as the developers say it is?” or “Is blockchain used for criminal activity?” which are just few examples among others. But all of these worries link back a misconception. As blockchain is the foundation technology for bitcoin, people often think it’s used for cryptocurrency transactions only. Yet blockchain can be used for all sorts of things, like buying property, but also cloud computing and delivering consumer goods. And then there are ICOs and scams. These two have given blockchain a bad name. New regulations will come into force but rogue traders with speculative actions have done a lot of damage. To answer your question, I’d say my biggest worries all revolve around building (or rebuilding) trust in new technologies and being able to demonstrate how they work (and how well they work) so there are no misconceptions left.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I have built several real estate communities in Europe. Having happy and growing families residing in the communities I built, gives me the feeling that I have affected people’s lives positively. Initially my team and I would draw a building visualization and put a fake smiling people image on the images to sell the dream. Then after two years the visualization becomes a real product. I hope to see this same scenario with blockchain-powered ideas and thousands of white papers written.
I also hope to see people who don’t have to use banking services and can use almost free money market instruments. I hope to see people who work very hard abroad won’t pay 15% of their earnings to payment providers. I also believe that title registries we are building at Propy will impact lives of many and will help achieve the United Nations Sustainability goals, specifically the Goal 9 on building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. The problem is global: millions of people are losing their homes due to fraud in the US, corruption in emerging countries and lack of registries in many jurisdictions.
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?
If you have the tenacity and knowhow to deliver a new use for blockchain, don’t let self-doubt creep in. Foster self-belief instead, invest in a team who can support your vision, and get yourselves out there to promote it or ask for help, for instance, write me if you need an advice or introduction.
Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?
We definitely do not need “Women in Blockchain” panel discussions. Instead we need to have at least one female entrepreneur /investor/ developer/ reporter on every panel discussion. I have already encouraged numerous event organizers to follow these proposed guidelines and please join me promoting a “one female on every panel” vision.
As a female CEO I try to be as visible as possible. In fact, both Propy co-founders are female and we regularly participate and speak at various blockchain events. I welcome face-to-face interviews, like the recently interview I did with the BBC. It was a great opportunity for women to see a female — a “real-life example” — talking about the blockchain. Girls and women who are new to the industry need role-models : they need to see that women are already working in blockchain and to have the inner feeling “Yes, I can do that!” or “ I know it’s possible”. And it is possible. It’s good to see new laws coming into effect ensure that the employers and the Boards of Directors are engaged in a fair hiring process, meaning, avoiding any discriminatory practices. I hope the equal pay issue will be tackled next.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
A quote from Marwan Alzarouni of the Dubai Blockchain Center springs to mind: “The technology and people should not be judged by what they are today but by what they could become tomorrow.”
The story related is very sad; unfortunately many, many people have experience analog or similar situations as mine. From this story has also evolved the distrust in governments and current financial systems. When I was little, my parents sold their apartment and deposited all the money in a banking account with the condition it can be unlocked when I will reach the age of majority which is 18 in Europe. When the time arrived and I could redeem monies from my account, I received $50.
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?
I’d help and empower underserved communities in developing countries, giving them advice and necessary assistance to prove their land ownership, getting required financing for the recorded land which is a big first step to develop small businesses and revitalize communities and towns. Foreign investors and banks would do extensive capital investing if there is a secure decentralized land registry in place; this could change life of billions of people. Food and roof over one’s head are the essential needs of every human being. The name of the movement could be similar to “one roof = one secured proof record”.