With March being Women’s History Month, I’ve decided to work on a series of stories about female investors and founders in DeFi, Web 3.0 and NFT spaces. My first guest is Beryl Li, co-founder of Yield Guild Games, a 2,500 participant pool where a “play-to-earn” model rewards gamers for playing games. Deploying a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) structure, its investors and players serve as the actual owners.
Li was kind enough to talk with me about ET life journey, the evolution of the NFT space and what it might mean for the future of gaming.
Let’s start by having you share with us a little about your life journey and how you originally got involved in NFT
“I was first introduced to Bitcoin in 2013 and eventually became Entrepreneur in Residence atcoins.ph in 2014 (acquired by goJek in 2019). It was there where I became curious about the underlying technology behind Bitcoin as an infrastructure to move funds via blockchain technology. This led me to launch an asset tokenization platform (acquired by SMKG in 2019) shortly after earning my postgraduate degree in Finance at the University of Cambridge.”
So where did this lead you professionally?
My experiences include consulting for financial institutions and governments in subjects ranging from property tokenization and backtesting FX trading algorithms at Blackrock London to authoring a startup roadmap in the Philippines for the Department of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
What have you been involved with of late?
Due to Covid and remote work, I’ve had the privilege of being able to tinker around DeFi platforms, on and off ramps in the Philippines, and NFTs. This led me to co-foundYield Guild Games with a spectacular team.
As one of the early pioneers of plat-to-earnings NFTs, tell us more about Yield Guid Games:
“We’re a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) that invests in NFTs used in virtual worlds and blockchain-based games while optimizing our assets for yield in the metaverse. Our activities include leasing NFTs to players so they can earn yields by playing games and buying and developing virtual land. Recently, wepurchased $100K worth of virtual land plots in Axie Infinity and The Sandbox. We’re already earning rewards and will be sharing the profits with our guild members.”
Was there a defining moment for you with the launch of Yield Guild Games?
There were actually a couple. First there was the Coindesk article that rippled waves in the crypto community. The testimonials of the players were really strong. Play-to-earn is legitimate as it can get. Players are able to provide food on the table, milk for their kids. That story got my full attention.
Secondly, I had been philosophizing about financial democratization for quite some time now. While I’ve been involved in fintech projects for quite some time, this was a unique opportunity for me to truly ‘bank the unbanked’ and engineer alternative ‘non-financial’ products. An example of this was our ability to extend loans in the form of NFTs, allowing users through our model to earn money at an essential time during the pandemic lockdowns. This furthered my thinking around other alternative ‘non-financial’ products which our team will be announcing very soon.
I also was inspired by having enjoyed yield farm hopping with both my co-founders,Gabby Dizon andOwl of Moistness. Both happen to have the perfect complimentary skills to build YGG. We were also surrounded by great people who had other complimentary skills and resources to make YGG happen long term. So it just made sense to officially launch YGG in September of 2020.”
Are you currently seeing any other trends around the future of NFT?
“With the shift from physical world activities into the metaverse taking place, I believe we’ll be seeing more identity NFTs like avatars. This includes tickets to enter metaverse events in the form of NFT badges. Apart from art, and music in digital form, we’ll also see the authenticating of physical world assets as NFTs. This means that Prada authenticity cards, Rolex certificates, land titles, healthcare vaccination certificates, partnership contracts between parties, programme diplomas and index funds backed by physical assets will all become digital forms of NFTs.”
As you look back at your success, what sort of impact do you believe that women can bring into this industry?
“Definitely diversity. If a woman were working with a group of male dominated engineers in DeFi, I’m sure they’d be the first to critique the poor user experience. More women taking part would encourage more women to participate. Therefore, I think we’d see an improved product and more users in DeFi.”
What sort of recommendations do you have for women who want to join this industry? And what sort of first steps should they take to gain knowledge and practice?
I found DeFi, NFTs and the endless possibilities around it fascinating. So I was curious enough to commit the time and resources to learn. In my opinion, the best way to do this in general is by availing yourself to numerous tutorials on YouTube and really play around various platforms with real skin in the game. In my own experience, this forced me to figure things out myself when I was stuck. I made mistakes (big ones) but luckily there’s a Discord channel with well-intentioned anonymous people who were willing to help me along the way.
So from there, how have you kept up with emerging developments in the space?
Because the industry evolves quickly, listening to podcasts like Bankless and The Defiant helps. I also started using Twitter to follow people in the space (I literally just started using it during the covid lockdown). Most of all, make friends with people who are deeply rooted in the space. They’re my main source of information. I am more likely to try something new if I have someone brave enough to experiment with me.”