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  • Writer's pictureLaurent Notin

How Entrepreneurs Can Take Advantage of Emerging Innovations and Technologies with Adrienne Ravez

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

This interview is a transcript from Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code, with Adrienne Ravez,web3 entrepreneur. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Ravez, Web3 Entrepreneur

Technology advances rapidly, and entrepreneurs must keep pace because it changes business.

The internet, for example, is evolving and has gone from web1 to web2, and now we are moving towards the future of web3. In the new age of technology, entrepreneurs need to know how they can embrace and tap into the opportunities of web3. The opportunities are endless. Entrepreneurs need to figure out how their business fits this new era.

Adrienne Ravez is a Web3 Entrepreneur, Digital & Innovation Specialist, intercultural Clinical Psychologist, DEI Practitioner & Advocate, and trade advisor for France (CCE). Join my conversation with her, and learn about technology's past, current, and future and how an entrepreneur can be well-informed to maximize opportunities.

How did you end up being an entrepreneur?

Thank you very much for the question. It's a very good question, and my answer is usually that I didn't plan to.

I was working in France. I'm initially an Intercultural Psychologist. Most of my work was really in project management, project development, and especially in the nonprofit sector, working a lot to support some advocacy initiatives. Because of the intercultural aspect of my work, there was a lot of awareness and advocacy work, so basically, I started to be more and more involved in digital technologies because of it; back then, we called it Web 2.0. These tools represented amazing resources for us working in the nonprofit and awareness-advocacy sector to amplify some messages and particular causes, raise funds, and raise awareness on a general basis. So that's how I started to be involved in new technologies.

My partner was a designer and worked with many companies providing multimedia and creative design back then. There appeared to be a synergy between two experts, and we started to provide consulting work to clients. And because it started to scale and grow, it became practical and natural to launch a company catering to our clients and partners' needs.

But none of us thought, okay, let's become entrepreneurs. Let's launch something. It was really like a practical and natural process that came because of the demand and the supply, I would say.

I've heard similar stories before. It's one of the natural ways of becoming an entrepreneur. But it's interesting that you didn't realize you were becoming an entrepreneur. You became one, and then you remained one. So, I guess you are hooked. What has it meant for you to be an entrepreneur?

Absolutely hooked. Yes. And I think that my experience as an entrepreneur is mostly about creating value. When you launch some projects, at some point, it’s essential to be KPI oriented and to create financial value so that you can be sustainable and continue to grow. But when I say creating value, it’s also about being creative and creating solutions and products that would cater to your team, clients, partners, and users.

So, this creativity is the most important aspect of entrepreneurship that I’ve become hooked on because when you talk about creativity, creating value, and generating ideas, it’s limitless. You can apply this to any industry. And what I find that is extremely interesting and fulfilling as an entrepreneur is that you can create synergies and convergence.

You can be a social worker, you can be a psychologist, you can have experience in sociology and anthropology, but on the other hand, embrace entirely the resources that new technologies can bring for your projects and the different products and solutions that you are going to create, and even create a convergence between human and social science, as well as new technologies.

This fulfillment that I found in entrepreneurship, I couldn’t find anywhere else because when I started to become an entrepreneur around 12 years ago, it was not necessarily evident and easy for people to understand that we could link those different perspectives. Whereas now, you will find so many people with a background in sociology or psychology who are very prominent in the new technology sector. So, it became something completely normal. But back then, it wasn't very easy for people to understand this kind of synergies and conversions.

And then you have entrepreneurs like me, who struggle with new technologies. Let’s start with the basics. What’s Web3?

That’s an excellent question because it became part of conversation buzzwords. Should it be marketing-based, entrepreneurship-based, or business-based conversations recently, it’s more straightforward than it seems. We always come up with terminology so that we can categorize some approaches and some tools. So, for example, when we talk about Web1, very simple; it’s what we call “read.” So, you have information on the internet, and you can read that information, and you access this information.

Then we started to talk about the advent of Web2. So Web2 protocols would revolve more around reading and writing. A widespread example of this is social media or blogging.

So, before you went to the internet to find some information, but then with Web2, you could go to the internet and also create information. You started to have a voice as a user. So, for example, you could create a Facebook profile, Twitter profile, a blog, and then you were able, as an internet user also, to be a creator of the information and to write your data.

And then Web3 is a step after that, that we call read, write, own. For example, under the Web2 protocols, you create an account under any social network such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. You can generate and write information, but your data and information, even if they are supposed to belong to you, are not hosted by you, right? Your third party hosts them. That would be Facebook or Google or Twitter, etc.

Some Web3 protocols promote decentralized protocols allowing users to own and store their data. It would enable users to claim a bit more ownership.

So, I think it’s both easy and challenging to define Web3 in the sense that it’s easier than what we are trying to highlight when we come up with a lot of buzzwords because, in the end, it’s only a matter of a new iteration of the internet that is putting the user in a different posture.

But on the other hand, it would also be complex because there will be many examples and use cases. So usually, through our company, when we provide consulting or training on Web3 opportunities, we like to take a step back from the buzzwords and focus on the use cases to give our clients concrete examples of how they can use these opportunities in their sectors.

And if we take it with a step back and think, okay, so from my perspective as an entrepreneur, as a business, depending on my industry and my expertise, how can I take advantage of these opportunities so that these resources, these tools, these technologies serve what I’m doing in a better way?

It is also interesting to consider that sometimes the answer is irrelevant to your business. Not at this stage. Not right here. Not right now. So, once again, I think it’s vital to take a step back from the buzzwords and consider the utility of what is helpful for me as an entrepreneur and a business. Is it useful or not? And if so, to what extent, in which capacity, and to which particular and very concrete use case?

New technologies can be so overwhelming. How can entrepreneurs take advantage of emerging innovations and technologies?

It is very overwhelming, but I would apply the same process as we do for any resource, technology, or tool. Ultimately, it would be more like taking a step back and thinking about the utility.

I will give a complete example. We use emails and cloud storage daily, but do we really consider the technology underlying those solutions? I don't think so. I believe that we are thinking about utility. I'm using the online calendar that I share with my team. I'm using my emails. I am using my cloud storage, but I am not asking myself every five minutes which technology is behind or what kind of resources are dictating the technologies I'm using right now.

It's about adoption. We adopt tools and resources because it's useful for us. So, I would say that we should just apply the same process regarding Web3 opportunities or Web3 technologies. It's about what I need as an entrepreneur and a business. What do I need to scale? What do I need to undertake my daily operations? In terms of management, managing my team, in terms of managing my finance, in terms of managing my suppliers, et cetera.

I feel that we are in a very similar configuration that we had 10 to 12 years ago, with companies and entrepreneurs asking us, do I need to be on Facebook? Do I need to be on Twitter? Do I need to be on LinkedIn? Do I need to use Web2 resources? Do I need to use social media? Do I need to do digital advertising? And for me, right now, when our clients ask us, do I need to develop blockchain-based applications, do I need to embrace the opportunities of the metaverse? The answer is the same, how relevant to your business is it?

Because if it's only to serve a trend to say, oh, we will create NFTs, we will launch an NFT collection and create a space in this or that metaverse, it's excellent, but is this serving the purpose of the business. It's always about relying on a logical framework.

As an entrepreneur and a business, if I can take advantage of emerging innovation and technologies, I need to clarify my goals. What is my objective? What are the activities that I'm going to undertake to serve these objectives? And what are my KPIs? From what moment can I say that I'm succeeding at what I am trying to do and what I'm trying to undertake? And if, at some point, blockchain applications, metaverse resources, and NFT resources can serve the purposes I'm trying to achieve, then yes, that would be interesting to explore, and that would be interesting to be supported by experts from a strategic, technological and monitoring and reporting perspective.

But if the business I'm running currently doesn't need to build a centralized application, doesn't need to consider DeFi at some point, or doesn't need to be present in any metaverse, then I don't think this should be something forced.

What do you think about ChatGPT?

So ChatGPT is not a virtual assistant per se, but it also relies on natural language processing. And therefore, what it does is that it analyzes your request and responds to it, and it also learns from what it's being fed with. It then evolves, and the responses are becoming more and more accurate as more people use it and the more precise and rich it becomes.

ChatGPT is an excellent use case because then we can discuss its concrete actions. So, you send a prompt to ChatGPT, for example: Can you create a social media caption for me? Then it will do it. Can you create a blog article for me? Then it'll do it. Can you translate this for me? It will do it. Can you correct this article for me? And one thing that I love about ChatGPT is, can you code for me?

Some people have been sharing fascinating and creative use cases of ChatGPT's ability to generate code for Google Chrome extensions and perform debugging. When ChatGPT generates a code for you, and then you implement your app or your Google Chrome extension, and let's say for the sake of the conversation that it doesn't work, you can go back to the discussion and say it's not working. And then, you'll go through a debugging process.

Most people I know who have recently adopted ChatGPT say it's my new best friend because it concretely helps a lot for other things, but also, it's a conversational style tool. A little bit like the virtual assistant, but it's another level of interaction.

I've heard a lot of debate between people who say those resources will create job losses because these technologies will replace workers and others who disagree.

It is an interesting debate, but there is no clear answer because if you are a company that uses platforms like Fiverr that rely on freelancers, and you go there because you want to have blog articles drafted in English, ChatGPT can do this to a certain extent. So, these kinds of people may end up having less work. But for me, it's more about not being replaced by artificial intelligence but being replaced by someone who knows how to use artificial intelligence. And these are two different things.

So some tasks will definitely be replaced, but not necessarily some people. The current challenge is if ChatGPT replaces the tasks I was doing as an employee, how can I invest in ChatGPT and use it to provide a better experience, results, or performance?

In my agency, we work extensively in public relations, writing press releases and articles. ChatGPT will never replace our coworkers because you cannot give ChatGPT the author's identity, provide ChatGPT with the journalist's touch, and give ChatGPT the application of the brand guidelines or things that are only a human touch.

It would make the job of my colleagues easier because they can grasp resources on a faster basis. They can also find answers to specific issues they want to write about. But it will never replace the human touch they bring as journalists, for example.

So, I think this debate is interesting. It'll be interesting to see the different use cases in the various industries, how people adopt this solution, and how it can help them.

This discussion shows me that entrepreneurs have to keep on adapting.

Absolutely! I think it applies to technology but not only. Entrepreneurs always have to adapt to the legal framework of the markets we are evolving in; compliance requires a crazy amount of adaptation.

Management is the part that as an entrepreneur requires the most adaptation because people's expectations are evolving; of course, the evolution of technology and the new and emerging technologies that are coming to us need a certain level of adaptation, but as an entrepreneur, you've constantly been adapting to everything that came your way.

As I mentioned, should it be in terms of compliance, administrative-wise, tax-wise, finance-wise, management-wise, or even operations-wise, generally speaking, it's just another layer of the entrepreneurial journey you must adapt to. But if you have the right partners with you and do your research to understand the different possibilities and use cases and how relevant they are to you, then it can be exciting.

What are the two or three things you've learned about yourself since you became an entrepreneur?

Oh, so many things. It's a transforming journey, especially when, as I mentioned, you don't necessarily plan to become an entrepreneur. I came from the profit sector. I'm a psychologist. I graduated in anthropology and sociology. I was an activist in many social aspects of my work. So, business had always been capitalism, not a journey that I was planning to go to; but I have to say that I found in the private sector something sincere and straightforward that I appreciate and that you decide to embrace or not.

The things I've learned about myself and that I would always use as advice to any entrepreneur are that you can do business without being capitalist, you can do business without being a shark, you can do business while keeping your values, who you are and reinventing your journey and making choices that go with your values and your ethics; and this is sometimes the tricky part.

I've managed to undertake and embrace this entrepreneurial journey while never compromising who I am with regards to my initial values and the things I believe in. And this has been exhausting and very challenging because you always face difficult choices when you have to be a sustainable business while juggling profit and the human side of things. So, remaining human-centric, nevertheless, is a real journey in itself.

I've learned much about the importance of humility and taking a step back. Sometimes, as human beings, there are things we believe in, and we want to be right. But as an entrepreneur, you realize it's more important to be humble than right because, in the end, you need to create value. If something is not working, it's your fault as an entrepreneur; it's always your responsibility. If you have anything happening to you in life, you can always find external causes, but when you are an entrepreneur, it's always you in the end. It's because you didn't choose the right partners, you didn't choose the right investors, you didn't recruit the right person, and you didn't choose the right technology.

Putting yourself in question in this constant dynamic is highly self-rewarding because that's how you grow. And also, it's relieving in a sense because, from the moment you accept that you will make mistakes that will allow you to learn more and do better next time, you are not afraid anymore of making mistakes because you know it's part of the journey.

I don't think it is as easy as it can appear because initially, when you are an entrepreneur, you feel that you have responsibilities and always have to be strong. You always have to have the answer for everything. But in the end, I've learned to accept there are things I don't know and completely suck at, which I shouldn't do. You must rely on other people. And you should always acknowledge your mistakes when you're wrong.

I've learned this, and I am happy to remind myself every day that it's not because you launched a company or are a partner in a company that you need to be all mighty and know everything. There are things you don't know or are not good at, which is okay.


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