Women Leaders in Crypto and Blockchain: Yasmeen Drummond
By Kimberly Hosey
In this new series, we're talking to leading women in the expanding industry of cryptocurrency and blockchain. Today we hear from Yasmeen Drummond: a passionate investor, blockchain advocate and educator, public health expert, and scientist from California who hopes to see both women and the blockchain industry benefit from women gaining the confidence, knowledge, and opportunities to become involved in this burgeoning field. She's been to The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, Florida, and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in just the past few weeks, in addition to working to bring together inspiring and amazing women from around the world to help one another succeed in the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain.
How did you first become involved with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency?
Back in 2012 a friend told me about how he was mining bitcoin and asked if I wanted some bitcoin instead of cash for his portion of the rent. Then I pretty much forgot about crypto for a while until 2014 when I heard about Ethereum. In the beginning of 2017 I finally bought some!
What is your background, and what do you do now in the crypto world?
I’ve always been a social butterfly and a nerd and this combination seems to be super killer in blockchain. I tend to gravitate towards smart, passionate people. We have enjoyable intellectual conversations, usually centered about crypto, and then we find ways to help elevate each other.
I studied global public health and immunology at UC Berkeley, where I focused on surveillance epidemiology. I taught human sexuality and introduction to public health. I worked in government healthcare research for a while, then big pharma. We did anti bioterrorism research, manufactured a rare anti-toxin for infants, and conducted clinical trials. I got into tech in 2014 to assess healthcare solutions by looking at companies using machine learning or computer vision. I decided to become a VR content creator and looked at companies working on pain management and stress reduction through VR. Most of these were still very early and so I pivoted to blockchain because there was major stuff happening there and it was really exciting. I went back to get my MBA, finished in 2017 and founded Halo VC, a syndicate on AngelList that looks at startups including healthcare, blockchain and ICOs, and frontier technology.
Now I invest in quality ICOs and I create partnerships with ICOs to empower women. We do this by trying to secure allocations for women accredited investors through a women-led syndicate I started at the beginning of 2018. We do our own due diligence and are proofs of the community we have built so far of powerful, smart, and resourceful women. So far we have some amazing partnerships! Certain men in the space have been incredibly supportive in terms of cooperating on ways to bring more women into the space.
What do you think are some of the most interesting developments in blockchain, and what do you think are some opportunities for development or things to watch today?
Ethereum has been a major player in the space. Some of the coolest projects have been built upon it and so many ICOs are using an ERC20 token to launch their business ideas. The ability to write and execute smart contracts has been one of the coolest developments I know of—it’s what makes Ethereum so much more interesting than Bitcoin. Decentralized exchanges are also awesome. 0x is a great project that is building that out.
In terms of what to watch for, I think we are all waiting for a great stable coin. That will be a game changer.
The number women in cryptocurrency is still quite small, and it lies at the intersection of finance and technology—two areas in which women are still underrepresented. Is there an opportunity for women to get into this industry in ways that they haven’t in the past in these areas? Is there still work to be done to get more women involved, and if so, what?
I love this question! I recently attended the Bitcoin Miami Conference and the sea of men is quite overwhelming. I keep telling people, next year I want it to be a sea of women! If any woman wants to contact me directly I would be happy to add her to Women in Blockchain and Team Block Society; organizations I have founded to bring women together to network, learn, and most importantly to co-invest. The main way women can get into this industry in ways they haven’t before is by becoming accredited investors and then getting into high quality ICOs early. This whole industry is a boys’ club—but the positive thing is that it’s a boys’ club very open and enthusiastic about smart women joining, so it’s important to network and meet the kind people who are of the abundance mindset. They will help you and be happy about it. Also, learn to practice this yourself. If there are women in your network, try not to see them as competition and instead figure out how your niches are different enough to help each other! There is room for every hardworking woman in the space.
Many of the successful founders in blockchain and crypto that I know started coding in their tweens. It would be great if all teenage girls had access to computers, internet, and a network of supportive people.
Another thing that would help young women to succeed in the space is to educate them on already existing blockchain and crypto platforms they can use to become financially independent. Augur, for example is a blockchain company that is creating a predictions platform. People will be able to log in, create markets, and make bets. Right now it’s in beta and users can go in and test it out with practice tokens. If we can get a bunch of young women learning how to use this system, they can be making real money on it within a couple of years. Learning how to make money online can give young women financial independence so they have more choices in life and can start their own companies if they choose to. At these conferences, I only meet about one female blockchain entrepreneur per every few hundred male blockchain founders.
Is it an equal playing field? Do women have access to the same opportunities and information, and how can they best make their mark in this industry?
I think if women help each other, read a bunch, and stay diligent; we can have the same opportunities as men. But we can’t wait for someone to put it in our lap and we have to be brave and face situations that might be uncomfortable. The best way for women to make our mark in this industry is by capitalizing on our skills. If you’re a badass marketing woman, find a powerful woman CTO (chief technology officer) and work together. We bring ourselves up by bringing ourselves together.
Contact Yasmeen Drummond at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her on LinkedIn.