Boardroom talked to People of Crypto co-founder Simone Berry about the Web3-focused diversity lab’s mission, new partnerships, its flagship NFT collection, and more.
The ambitious Web3 entrepreneur recently launched POC alongside Akbar Hamid. The Web3-focused diversity lab is on a mission to elevate “Black and Brown women, people of color, differently-abled and LGBTQIA+ communities” in the Web3 space, per its website. POC plans to accomplish this through various initiatives, including its creation of a play-to-earn game powered by The Sandbox and dropping an NFT collection.
With growing POC, Berry is most focused on brand awareness and educating people about the organization’s mission. POC wants to onboard, educate, and increase the participation of marginalized groups in Web3, especially those who are risk-averse.
“Understanding this space is so important, and I think that there is so much hype associated with it,” Berry said about the ever-expanding Web3 landscape. “In order for it to grow past this bubble phase we’re currently in, which is why it popped, we need more people. Our goal is to onboard Web2 into Web3.”
This year’s Pride Month may have concluded already, but POC’s story is just getting started. The People of Crypto Collection includes 8,430 non-binary NFT avatars that are actively being minted right now through July 31. Each avatar in the collection is “hand-crafted and uniquely generated” to represent diverse people and cultures, an official news release states. Avatars feature different abilities such as prosthetic limbs, various cultural identities, and more. Holders can also customize their avatar’s preferred pronouns, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
POC launched a partnership with NYX Professional Makeup to drop the collection and highlight that makeup has no gender. The global makeup brand created eight exclusively digital cosmetic looks for POC avatar holders to use in the metaverse. The colors in the cosmetic looks are representative of the progress Pride flag.
“We really wanted it to be more about who you are and being your authentic self,” Berry said. “I have trouble with the avatar skin tones [in Web3], so we created 32 different skin tones. For us, it was really just about trying to create that representation through our game.”
POC’s mint happened via The Sandbox, but some avatars are now availble for purchase on OpenSea. Avatars can be used in The Sandbox environments.
The POC avatar mint went live on The Sandbox during probably one of the most volatile weeks the crypto market has seen this year, which was when Bitcoin’s price dropped tremendously last month. Declining crypto prices don’t affect POC’s mint or business plan, but Berry said it does affect the organization’s DAO, which gets 50% of everything POC raises. The Web3 diversity company is self-funded for now, Berry shared, and she’s confident the project will continue to thrive.
The Valley of Belonging
POC’s game titled the “Valley of Belonging” is powered by The Sandbox and welcomed people for the first #MetaPride last month. POC’s Pride celebration came as a part of The Sandbox’s Belonging Week. This initial launch of the game was just a teaser, with a more extensive version coming later this month as part of The Sandbox’s Alpha Season 3, a multi-week, play-to-earn event where players can explore various games and interact with NFTs more.
POC worked with game developer Hermit Crab Studio to create the Valley of Belonging. The metaverse gaming hub lets players explore the gaming ground, indulge in cultural experiences, do trivia-type puzzles, hit a virtual dance floor, and more.
The statement “Say Gay” across the game’s dance floor is one of Berry’s favorite design aspects, and she said Web3 has power to do something like this that Web2 simply never did.
“This wouldn’t be possible in Web2,” Berry said. “The avatars, the game, and Pride were just our first initiatives. As we move forward, we’re going to have more and more IP that just focuses on our stories.”
POC worked with game developer Hermit Crab Studio to create the Valley of Belonging. Berry said POC’s game space will continue to evolve past Pride and incorporate more social activities such as months that celebrate Latinx, Native Americans, and Black History.
“All of these major cultural moments will activate within the game so that, [at] any time, someone can come in and see that they are represented,” said Berry. “That is really important to us. We want to create a safe space where people can feel seen.”
Berry said everything POC creates will align with its overall or underlining missions, which are onboarding and educating or representing diverse stories by diverse teams.
“We’re really tired of diversity being translated through a white lens where you’re seeing stories and projects that are really rooted in diversity, but everyone on the team is white, ” Berry said.
POC’s team is small, but mighty with about ten tea members pushing the vision forward. Berry said her company’s diverse team is what she yearns to see more of in Web3, which is why her and Hamid brought POC to frutiiton in roughly 100 days.
“For us, creativity has always been a valued asset within diverse communities,” Berry told Boardroom. “The ability to monetize our creativity has been really limited to standard business models and financial systems. NFT and blockchain technologies provide creators with honestly, a life-changing monetization tool. It’s a way to actually build generational wealth.
In tandem with that, Berry said she recognizes that the blockchain industry is highly unstable, but it still “represents unparalleled opportunity” and allow marginalized communities to disrupt the barriers of gatekeepers. Moving forward Berry and Hamid will continue to educate and onboard marginalized people and brands looking to really show what diversity and inclusion can bring to Web3.