A Traditional VC's Take On The Crypto 'Sea Change'

Ola Kulynych is a Founding BFF. The Founding BFFs are comprised of more than 100 female and non-binary leaders across crypto, tech, design, business, and more. Just like our community, some are new to crypto, and others are full-on experts.

Who: Collaborative Fund Principal Ola Kulynych

Web2 Ola: Kulynych began her career in traditional finance, by joining the Credit Suisse analyst program in 2014.

Web3 Ola: As a principal at Collab Fund, Kulynych focuses on sustainability investing, looking for innovative solutions across materials, the future of food and decarbonization. She is bullish on blockchain as a sustainability play when it comes to tracing manufacturing origins and monitoring supply chain integrity. She also invests in digital asset classes to diversify her portfolio.

Her TLDR: We're on the precipice of this next big change. It's very easy to just look at a headline and see why [blockchain] is bad for the environment. But as we move towards different protocols and the way different things are being done, I think there's interesting ways to make climate and sustainability claims.

Edited excerpts:

What made you think twice about the narrative that crypto is bad for the environment? What made you have an open mind?

Talking to [colleagues] made me more and more excited about the space. It reframed my thinking and got me and more interested in learning about crypto. Instead of just reading headlines of the latest new projects, Bored Ape Yacht Club — all that stuff, right? — I really started to think of Web3 as the next opportunity. I always wish I was around or actively investing around during the doc com era when the internet started. We're on the precipice of this next big change today, and everyone is wondering what is going to be the next big change after cell phones? What is this next iteration of what's going to happen in technology and the world? I truly believe that Web3 is going to be that.

I think there's interesting ways to make climate and sustainability claims. For example, LVMH started something on the blockchain for legitimizing and traceability. Each item is going to have a unique identifier so that the buyer can actually see where it came from. By using this versus a traditional method, they can actually account for how they are better than the incumbent solution because of this. So, Web3 is a space that is going to help enable different parts of climate and sustainability. Of course, there's a long way to go in certain areas, but it just becomes another tool. It's not a vertical, it's a horizontal — going from, let's say, and accounting software is very different than investing in a next-gen material that's growing leather for mushroom. So those are both climate companies, but they're two very different types of climate companies. And it's the same with crypto and Web3. There's just so many different types of companies, and it's about how we use them in different settings.

What makes the apparel industry ripe for disruption?

The apparel industry has one of the oldest, most complicated supply chains, with so many different players and things exchanging hands. Is there a way to monitor this? Maybe that actually makes sense as a software solution. Maybe there's other things or new supply chains that can be built with crypto or with Blockchain in mind where it helps enable different things. So it's all about using this tool to bring something forward — not using it for hype.

As for NFTs, digital fashion is a really, really exciting area. There's something to be said about the sustainability piece. Fashion in a digital world is actually more sustainable than wearing certain things, especially if it's like you're looking to flex. There's a way of doing that without actually physically owning something that going into the landfill.

What was your crypto onboarding experience like?

I'm pretty mild. I use MetaMask and Coinbase. I onboarded with BFF and TikTok. There was this one person doing amazing TikTok videos of no-nonsense explainers about what crypto is, and I just thought it was really good content. I was sending around to my friends who are a little bit more crypto-skeptical.

The first project I bought was Women Rise.

I was also looking at different venture firms that were either dedicated to crypto or getting more crypto exposure — even FinTech-oriented ones that are doing more and more in crypto. I'm speaking with those that have been in the venture space and now are really bullish, and those that are respecting crypto. As a traditional investor, looking at this space and seeing that sea change of people I respect and the way that they're going about it, I'm like, this just ticks the boxes for me. It makes sense for there to be an allocation.

Do I recommend anyone to do put 100% of their assets to crypto? Absolutely not, but I would suggest anyone put 100% of their assets in absolutely anything? No.

What makes crypto and Web3 attractive to traditional VCs?

Along with my sustainability investing funds, I'm an investor in various crypto venture funds. I believe in this space, but I don't live and breathe it every day. However, others do, so I trust others to make bets in this space that I believe in on my behalf. Investing through venture funds is important because it helps legitimize the space. Although it's not an asset class or a theme, I do think it helps legitimize the area and help separate all the media hype from the reality. Because it can at first seem like there isn't a way to easily invest in crypto, it's like the wild wild west in the opinion of a traditional investor. A venture fund can like look and feel like something more traditional. A venture fund operates in a similar way that they do with venture companies versus crypto companies. It's kind of a way of dipping a toe in. This can help legitimize and teach people, give them a little bit more exposure in this space in a way that they are comfortable with versus them going and holding those assets themselves.

Personally think it's important to know investors that live and breathe this space, who aren't just tourists. I say that because obviously, so many funds are now crypto-specific and speculative, and it's really important to see who those investors are. You want an investor that talks the same language as the Web3-native founders. They can also kind of sift through all the hype that's going on.

Megan DeMatteo is BFF’s Guest Editor.

This article and all the information in it does not constitute financial advice. If you don’t want to invest money or time in Web3, you don’t have to. As always: Do your own research.

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