Q&A with top women in crypto: Jenna Pilgrim, CEO of Rite Network
To celebrate International Women’s Day today, 8 March 2022, we are kicking off an interview series with prominent female leaders in the crypto space. For our first installment, we spoke to Jenna Pilgrim, co-founder and CEO of Rite Network, a decentralized standard for liquid licensing, execution, dispute management and arbitration of digital content.
From paying 23 Bitcoin for a pair of Louboutins to revealing top tips for young women looking to get into the crypto space, Jenna shared some fascinating thoughts and insights with the Yield App team. Read on for her story.
How did you get into digital assets?
I was in the third year of my finance degree and I wanted to buy a pair of Louboutins from Paris. I had a friend who lived in Paris and had agreed to buy them for me, but I didn’t want to pay $100 in wire transfer fees. So I decided to use Bitcoin. I met someone on eBay and I handed them $1,200 in an envelope, and they sent me 26 Bitcoin in exchange. By the time I sent the money to my friend, the price of Bitcoin had risen, so I ended up paying 23 Bitcoin for a pair of shoes. And no, I don’t wish I had held onto that Bitcoin.
During that same finance degree, the Chancellor of my university happened to be Don Tapscott, who wrote “Blockchain revolution”, which is one of the first bestselling books on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. He was finishing the final research and writing of the book when I was graduating from school, and I knew I wanted to work for him. He was the first person I heard speaking intelligently about cryptocurrencies. I asked him for a job and he hired me.
Could you please tell us the story behind Rite Network?
Before founding Rite, I spent a year and a half building an NFT application, only to realize it was an infrastructure layer problem, not an application layer problem. Around four months ago we established a new corporation, working on intellectual property licensing for NFTs. We are establishing a cryptographic link between intellectual property rights and the actual NFT itself. Our customers are NFT marketplaces, for whom we serve as a utility, and we also act as a liaison between large brands and NFT marketplaces.
What development are you most excited about in the digital asset space going forward?
I’m most excited to see NFTs growing up. It’s great to see all the tools coming out for people who are buying and selling NFTs to make the space more safe and more legitimate. NFTs will be able to bring digital assets into the mainstream. We’ve never been able to have digitally unique things before, and that’s exactly what NFTs are.
How do you see the synergies between Web 3.0, the metaverse and NFTs playing out?
NFTs as they are right now are interesting from an art perspective. Art is usually the first to use new technologies effectively, we have seen this time and again. It’s a good signaling aspect for what is going to come down the pipeline next. But NFTs get really interesting when you start being able to use them as collateral, lend them, solidify real estate in the metaverse, or use them as metaverse wearables.
For example, you could use our licensing software if you are a sneakerhead, and you own 10 pairs of Air Force 1s in the metaverse. Your avatar can only wear one pair at a time, so while you are wearing one pair, the other nine can be up for licensing. Anyone who can’t afford a pair of Air Force 1s but wants to wear them to an event in the metaverse can borrow them. This model rewards those who do the work to create a more robust and interesting digital asset ecosystem for everyone.
What kind of opportunities does this create for investors?
Investors’ lust for the metaverse is currently insatiable, but they don’t know yet what the metaverse holds for them. They just know it’s positive. From a real estate perspective, for example, I have invested in two metaverse Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). We have to try hard to make assets in the metaverse more accessible to people who are not just early adopters. The metaverse is not very big right now. It’s growing like wildfire, but we are just at the beginning.
What is it like being a successful woman in the crypto industry?
I like being a woman in crypto. I don’t have to differentiate myself from every Matt, Chris and David who are creating a crypto company. It makes me memorable. I’m an outgoing person anyway, but it’s a differentiating factor to me. In a crowded world, anything that makes you different is good.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in the crypto industry, what would it be?
Be ten times braver than you should be. Go be audacious, and be brave.
What can we do as an industry to attract more women into key roles?
We need to do a better job at making business roles more accessible to women. It’s really important to understand that crypto companies are still companies. If this industry is going to mature as we want it to, then we need to grow up and act like adult companies. Adult companies act responsibly and have many different kinds of leaders. The biggest thing we need to focus on is not just hiring more women, but hiring more women in roles where they actually control a generating part of the business.