Business Transformation

Uplift at NEARCON 2022 – Taking Web3 To the Next Level

Irina Berezina

Last Month’s NEARCON 2022 in Lisbon was an exciting and inspiring four days full of events. The NEAR Foundation and its world-wide community are making Web3 a reality and their CEO, Marieke Flament, is driving their success. Recognised on the Women in FinTech Powerlist for 2019, Marieke focuses on how technology can change lives for the better, in particular advocating for diversity and inclusion. 

If you missed NEARCON, catch up here with this conversation about their latest improvements, learn about their upcoming plans, and find out how businesses can get into Web3 now with NEAR.

Irina Berezina: How would you describe NEAR in 3 words?

MF: Create Without Limits

Irina Berezina: And the theme of this event is Building Beyond Hype. Can you elaborate more on this?

MF: Absolutely. We’re in a bear market – it’s fair to say the market has crashed. During the bull phase there was a lot of hype, leading to high levels of FOMO and people going in all directions to get involved in the space. What we wanted to convey and what you see here at NEARCON is that we are building beyond the hype and building things that last and creating value.

Irina Berezina: And what are the most recent updates in the NEAR  ecosystem? 

MF: We have so many stories to share! We recently launched an earn campaign for Coinbase users to learn about NEAR and unveiled the Javascript SDK – opening doors to millions of developers who can now create on NEAR with Java- the world’s most popular coding language. At NEARCON, we announced the next generation of sharding, which is spectacular, because more shards are added without changing the user experience. We backed a $100 million entertainment fund because we believe there’s going to be a lot of gaming and entertainment about to happen. And let’s not forget our celebration of global female talent with the publishing of our Women and Web3 Changemakers list.  A lot of super exciting stuff is happening. I could go on and on! 

Irina Berezina: What is your vision for getting Web3 to mass adoption?

MF: To get Web3 to mass adoption, first and foremost, it needs to be usable so  we don’t have to think about “what is layer 1” and “what is a protocol” – it just needs to work. Second, we must show real world case studies of web3 usability at a mass scale. This could be something as  simple as getting users to walk to get tokens through a mobile app – thus beginning their journey into blockchain and crypto -without them even realizing it. Things must be simple and must have real world value. We also need Web2 companies to come on this journey with us and to get them to transition their business models to Web3.

Irina Berezina: How important is becoming carbon neutral for Web3 adoption?

MF: The world and society are at a turning point and if we don’t think about sustainability then it’s not even worth embarking on our journey. I think the great thing about the NEAR protocol is that we’re carbon neutral and we take it to heart, enabling us to attract projects that help with how to do carbon credit, and how to do itin a way that’s sustainable. So for mass adoption it’s fundamental from the start to think about sustainability.

Irina Berezina: How can Web3 projects work effectively with Web2 projects as partners?

MF: The reality is quite different for whether it’s Web2 or Web3. For example, a Web2 company will do things very top-down. So when a Web2 company interacts with the Web3 world, it’s very decentralized with lots of different parts that are open source that you need to coordinate. Coming from that world, getting into this world, requires a mind-set shift. And then there’s another big point – tokenomics. In Web2, you might have a business model that works a certain way, but that doesn’t mean it will work in Web3. You need to reinvent the way you think. Where’s my revenue coming from? How do I trade in something that’s sustainable?. 

Irina Berezina: What is your best advice for a Web2 company going on to Web3?

MF: First, educate yourself. So many Web2 companies are still thinking Web3 is all about Bitcoin, crypto and blockchain. It’s way beyond that. Coming should start looking at what’s threatening their business model. Chances are every vertical is achieving something. Second – evaluate the use cases within the company’s business structure. Start thinking about  an MVP [minimum viable product]. Start hiring talent that can actually do that. Be open and prepared for  transformation because it’s going to happen. Look at where the market is moving. Web3 will usher in a similar transition to the one we saw when companies shifted from non-digital to digital offerings. Retailers kept with the times and opened online shops.  We’re going to see another transformation into Web3: from digital into the metaverse.

Irina Berezina: Yes, so true. Let’s change the subject. What are your thoughts on the Ethereum merge?

MF: It’s going to put proof-of-stake on the map for everyone everywhere in the world, which is great because sustainability needs to be the core of the conversation. Too much of the crypto space was thought to be not good for the environment, so this great news for the environment and the sector. 

Look at the roadmap of what Ethereum must do to be where NEAR is, there’s still a long way to go. NEAR is already fully sharded, and announced its next wave of sharding. Getting to that point for Ethereum is going to take years. We’re looking forward to seeing that happen, putting proof-of-stake on the map for the world.

Irina Berezina: Would you consider mentoring projects or an individual who wants to grow and learn more about crypto?

MF: I do. When I hear questions at NEARCON, I answer and I’m passionate about helping women in particular. So if you ask me to dedicate more attention to a project, it would probably be a project by women.

Irina Berezina: Last question, tell me why people join the NEAR community? What is the most exciting thing about it?

MF: Ok, a story: Last year at NEARCON, I hadn’t yet joined NEAR and I came to Lisbon in cognito, to look around and understand what was going on. I was taken aback by this beautiful community – it’s super diverse, super inclusive. Whereever you go, people are sharing their experiences, not judging, and explaining openly, not making you feel stupid. Crypto can be intimidating! 

An event like NEARCON is the best way to get a representation of what NEAR is. There are 176 countries represented; 38% women, and all around, it’s super friendly. People making new friends and connections – that’s what NEAR is about.

Irina Berezina: Yes, it’s so easy-going and approachable. Thank you for your time today.

MF: Thank you for the great questions!

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Written by Irina Berezina.
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Irina Berezina
Irina Berezina, Growth Lead at Uplift DAO with NEAR Foundation CEO, Marieke Flament. Irina is based in Lisbon, the “Crypto Capital” of Europe, holds an Master of Arts in business and international relations, and has extensive connections within the crypto industry.


Irina Berezina is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn.