Women in Web3 Changemakers: Erica Kang
“The space needs more women,” says Erica Kang, the CEO and founder of KryptoSeoul, a community building team focused on highlighting projects that are actively building in the space, connecting audiences in Asia and beyond.
“I think many people find it intimidating coming into this space, but I think women can add value.”
Kang is one of the 10 finalists of the 2023 Women in Web3 Changemakers List, an annual competition designed to champion women pushing boundaries in the space. Kang, along with nine other outstanding candidates, are showing the industry the change women are bringing about during the advent of the Open Web.
Kang was chosen because of her tireless work in the Web3 community. On top of creating one of the most vibrant meetups in Asia under KryptoSeoul, she’s also one of the main organisers of BUIDL Asia, as well as numerous hackathons and meetups, and has been a pivotal player in helping bring together some of the brightest technical talent under one roof. But getting to this point has been anything but easy.
Watch an extended NEAR Foundation video interview with Erica Kang below.
Stepping off the ladder
Kang graduated from Stanford with a major in international relations and policy, giving her the foundations for being able to bring people from diverse backgrounds closer together. After graduating, she joined Korea Telecom, one of the largest telco companies in Asia, working in the strategy division, but found it stifling.
“It’s a very conservative culture,” says Kang. “The hierarchy is dramatic. Juniors don’t have an opportunity to strive for creating new things or innovations, even though they have amazing ideas. It’s hard to bring it up.”
But a chance encounter with a friend took Kang on a different path. “A friend recommended a very unique seminar, back in 2017. It’s very rare in Seoul, Korea to kind of have that kind of a seminar, especially on crypto.”
The opportunity to jump into an emerging new field of technology, and away from the hierarchy of corporate South Korea was too tempting.
“Since then, I’ve been in the rabbit hole ever since.” Kang brought her experience in bringing people together in a role she describes as closer to a digital “diplomat” and started organising meet ups in and around South Korea from 2017 onwards.
Kang was well placed. South Korea has become one of the leaders in Web3 technology. The South Korean government has invested US$21 million into local services looking to utilize the metaverse, and has established a US$30 million metaverse fund to help startups expand.
Earlier this year, South Korea’s parliament approved the country’s first standalone crypto asset legislation, which integrates 19 crypto-related bills and authorises the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to oversee crypto asset operators and custodians.
But it hasn’t always been easy working in Web3.
“I’ve been working in the space since 2017, and I did feel a lack of female culture here. It was devastating at times. And it was frustrating too. I really had to eliminate my femininity and had to prove I could really go up there and do my thing,” says Kang.
But the hard work, says Kang has paid off. “I think people get it now. I’ve just been building, and make a difference.” Kang is now considered one of the key pillars of the South Korean, and broader east Asian crypto community.
She has also become a sounding board for many young female entrepreneurs thinking about jumping into the Web3 space. But Kang suggests they tread with caution.
“I think it’s really important for newbies to do your own research. Learn a lot and indulge yourself but when it comes to engaging in certain projects, and certain people investing in those people, you really have to be careful.”
Kang stresses there are reputational challenges working on some projects, but the opportunity to innovate and come up with new solutions to old problems is unique in the Web3 space.
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