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We only see changes after finishing a journey, and sometimes it even takes years to realize that change. That is exactly what happened when humanity dealt with the development of the Internet, also known as Web 2.0 (or Web 2). And history always has a way of repeating itself, as we are now also getting to know and considering investing in Web 3.0 (or Web 3).
Valerie Van Vu — former financial consultant at Deloitte U.S. for Galaxy Digital — has built herself a solid foundation in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain very early on. And there’s no denying that she is “obsessed” with Web 3.
Amidst political pressures and “crypto winters,” Valerie believes that Web 3 is not a “bubble”. So what is the basis for her confidence?
When being a venture capitalist is no longer “venturous”
Deciding to return to Vietnam to join Venturra Discovery, Valerie focused on investing in companies with business models built on the Web 2 platform. Suddenly, in 2021, NFT became the talk of the digital world. Thanks to being an active member on Clubhouse, an audio-based social media app, Valerie was exposed more and had the opportunity to discuss NFT projects with likeminded folks. Realizing that she was far behind on industry updates, Valerie decided to start learning from the very beginning about blockchain.
Listening to a podcast on five ethical values of Web 3, Valerie realized that all crypto investment funds will become the new normal, while non-crypto investment funds will struggle to become crypto funds. One example is the Internet: Today’s venture capitalists all invest in the Internet — which was something hard to believe in the past, when the Internet was not yet universal.
Valerie realized that Web 3 is the new future of the Internet, a transformation that must be grasped so as not to fall behind.
What has changed from Web 1 to Web 3?
Looking at Vietnam’s startup market and digital economy market, Web 1 was the start of the Internet (1900-2010). Web 1 in Vietnam started much later, from 1997. During this period, users got used to using platforms — like Craigslist or Yahoo — to find out and read information, without much diverse content or engagement. Therefore, the interests were mainly in the hands of the publishers or suppliers/distributors.
Web 2 happened between 2010 to 2020. The difference here lies in the technological innovation for smartphones: the apps. More and more technology corporations like Apple, Meta or Amazon were born from the forerunner of a startup in the Web 1 phase. Power was transferred into the hands of these technology corporations, and users were still not empowered due to manipulation from intermediary parties.
Even though we’re now heading towards Web 3, Venturra still sees many gaps in Web 2 that need to be filled, especially in the e-commerce industry in Vietnam.
With Web 3, users and creators not only can read and produce content, but also can own those intellectual property with virtual currency and NFT. According to Valerie, 1% of content contributors generate 50 to 90% of revenue for tech corporations. With the Web 3 wave, new companies — like Rally or Try Roll — have gradually empowered content creators to put their products on the platforms and actively create tokens for their business. From there, the power of the intermediaries is transferred into the hands of the creators.
This kind of “power-flattening” is the very purpose of the decentralization of Web 3.
The promise of Web 3
To Valerie, calling blockchain and virtual currency Web 3 is not a bold move, given their ability to rebalance the power of the digital economy. In addition, most corporations have entered the planning stage to adapt to the use of blockchain and virtual currency.
Technology corporations have also transformed to apply NFT in improving their products, business strategies and brand images. And in Vietnam, this phase of adaptation is also happening at a steady pace.
Currently, the public and the majority of investors still focus on GameFi or DeFi when it comes to Web 3. Those who work with Web 3 will be more interested in technology infrastructure. Especially for the arts and entertainment sector, where application of technology is a must-have specialty, Web 3 will change the entire landscape of these industries.
Famous singers, players and artists in the world have started to create their own virtual currency and NFT. More importantly, they have implemented SocialFi projects — like creating user communities and empowering them. In Vietnam, this trend has also appeared and is gradually becoming more popular, in parallel with GameFi and DeFi trends.
On the other hand, a trend which has not been paid attention to both in the world and in Vietnam is LearnFi — a combination of education and Web 3. Online courses on Udemy and Coursera do not yet optimize the learners’ experience and motivate them. With the power of blockchain, Web 3 promises to bring an element of encouragement into the online self-study experience, which could be providing NFT or virtual currency for learners instead of a certificate.
In addition, blockchain technology also creates on-the-spot skill or ability tests. This solution helps recruiters to verify the candidate’s ability more accurately and easily.
Starting a business on Web 3 platforms: What to prepare?
In order to build a business on Web 3, Valerie says entrepreneurs shouldn’t be looking for instant results. As a matter of fact, Web 3 is a global technological shift and we are all just one step out of the adaptation stage, so constantly exploring and learning with an open mind will be what those entrepreneurs and investors need.
More importantly, a startup should always ask what value its platform or its token will bring to the community. At the same time, they also need to focus on the stories and content of the creators who collaborate with the company.
Valerie also emphasizes the importance of carefully evaluating the experiences of the first 100 users to know what’s going right or what gaps need to be quickly addressed. Because besides changing the digital economy, Web 3 will always aim to empower the user community. This is something Valerie always reminds herself and shares with the startups in her investment portfolio.
The story was produced in partnership with the Initiative for Startup Ecosystem in Vietnam.
This story program “Initiative for Startup Ecosystem in Vietnam until 2025” (also known as National Program 844) was approved by the Prime Minister on May 18, 2016, and assigned to the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam in charge of implementation. The program aims to create a favorable environment to promote and support the formation and development of fast-growing businesses based on the exploitation of intellectual property, technology, and new business models.
Translated by Thao Van