Understanding the Hot Technologies | Cory Lopes-Warfield | Chief Growth Officer, Agora World
Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called You a vodcast and podcast show that brings you leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and wisdom from 1000s of successful individuals from around the world. I'm your host, Ashutosh Garg and today I'm delighted to welcome a very, very successful tech entrepreneur from Chicago, USA. currently speaking to us from Rio, Brazil. Mr. Cory Lopes-Warfield. Cory, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. Cory is the chief growth Officer of Agora World. He's a thought leader in the areas of Web3, NFTs, and the Metaverse. So Cory before we start talking about all the wonderful new technology. Tell
me about your own journey in brief. Absolutely. So I spent nearly 20 years of my life working in restaurants I dropped out of college in 1997 was a computer software tester for Rand McNally briefly then became a metrologist for several pharmaceutical research for some time. And for whatever reason, I decided to go to a restaurant
and start to wash dishes worked my way up to busboy, waiter, suddenly a bartender manager in the whole night, and after many years in restaurants after helping open multimillion dollar concepts, and after doing some consulting and executive leadership, I realized first of all, I was kind of sick of hospitality, I was no longer enjoying being a quote unquote servants in the castle. But for and I was getting old. So my body was getting tired. But my big pain point was that these on call shifts in the restaurant industry are pervasive. They always tell you, Oh, we'll tell you tomorrow at noon, if you're working tomorrow night, and things of that nature. And
having done time as a manager and a consultant and being back waiting tables and bartending. I was thinking to myself, all of the data exists to forecast these shifts. They know if they need somebody next Thursday, they know if the patio is open and it's going to rain or not. So I started a B2B SaaS company, helping make the scheduling and restaurants more predictable.
And I had zero expertise or qualifications. I had only done one year in college almost 20 years prior, right. weighing over my head. But I watched some Tim Draper videos on YouTube, I
read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, I read traction by Gabriel Weinberg found a great co-founder, a technical co-founder, and we were able to bootstrap the product to market. From there, we rebranded it fairly prestigious accelerators and, and ultimately raised quite a bit of money. And I took an exit from that company, after serving as the chairman for some time. And that freed me up to help a lot more in the startup world. So I joined the founder Institute as a mentor after becoming mentor and excellence, they brought me in as their managing director for some time filled with them as an entrepreneur in residence. But having done an accelerator post
accelerator and many cohorts at the founder Institute, I felt that there was something fundamentally wrong in the startup world. And the big thing that I thought was bad is that all the founders were chasing investment dollars, where I thought they shouldn't, really chasing revenue from them. Investors want to throw money at you now you can start to get your metrics. They want to know what your customer acquisition costs will be. They want to know what your lifetime value will be. So I co-founded a web three Launchpad about a year ago, to
help companies that were coming to me saying, Cory, can you help me raise a million dollars? Well, what do you need a million dollars for? Well, I want to make my product better. I want to build a community and I want to hire two people. Well, you can't hire people until you're making revenue, but I can get your product and your community. How would that sound and I'll
take less equity than you would have given an investor. So this turned into a full fledged Launchpad. We have 15 portfolio companies right now that are really changing the world, especially in one three. But what we realized is some of the
blockchains and this is kind of right when when the the staking and the mining was all really at its height. It was still proof of work. And the it was really bad for the environment. So we started studying chains and environments that were carbon neutral, and we got involved with an international ISO certification company. So now we're called D carbon. We only incubate companies that are building green technology. And so we've had some success there. My Kind of day-to-day is I helped turn people into LinkedIn influencers as a private coach.
I've started now growing that to a one to many with a freemium tier. And that's turning into a new company where we're putting coaching on the blockchain so that coaches no longer have to do their administrative work, their clerical work, their sales and marketing, all the things that coaches aren't great at and don't wake, we're putting all of that on chain so that they can make more money, help more people and spend more time with their families and doing anything else other than the busy work. So that's a little summary of what I'm doing. How interesting. But you know, I want to ask you this, then after serving 20 years and in hospitality, what was the trigger that moved you into the cutting edge of technology? Well, after starting a B2B SaaS company and having to understand things like the different tech stacks and code repositories of what the different languages were, and really understanding that I became fascinated with Blockchain about eight years ago, and so being in the blockchain world, I made some investments into crypto and NFTs and you know, the whole the whole nine yards these days, I'm a bit disenchanted with with that whole side of things. But I understood that five chain needs to underpin all of the emerging technology. And now that we're in the AI kind of Renaissance, where we have to chat GPT is and bars, and lambdas, and all of these things that could either make the world amazing or make the realm that exists soon, at least for humanity. I believe that everything that's that's
being generated by AI needs to be minted on a blockchain as well with some smart contracts and parameters. So I've just, I've been, I went from being fascinated to it from then being brought on to some boards of directors and advisory boards for some companies. And it's really just a passion. I love this technology in the future. But I also really believe we need guardrails and safeguards. So it's kind of just been a
natural process. Amazing. So now I'm going to move to talking about Web3, Metaverse and NFTs.. My first question and this is for the many, many people who listen to our conversation, what is the difference between Web3 and Web2 ? Oh, that's a great one. So web1 was never a thing. And it
was just the internet. But what the what we now can kind of think of retrospectively as web one were websites. So we might go to a company's website, and from there, you know, we're gonna go through their, their process and their workflow, maybe look at their blogs, maybe go to their their checkout. But that was the experience, the website might have been Google that took us to another website, or Wikipedia. But then all of a sudden, social media and apps come into play. And now I didn't
have to go to a company's website, I could be on Facebook, or you know, any of these other social media sites, go to the company's community, go to their page, I could access things much quicker in real time, and I could have it be much more of a personalized experience that shipped was Web2. And Web 2 was more embedded videos in the rich media. And it just made the internet more fun, right, we got to choose how we learned in through and engaged with the world via online. Web3 suddenly is taking the focus away from companies on social media, and putting it into the individuals hands, letting us build our own communities and the ways that we see fit. Data privacy is a big one in We3 as well. Watching company and
the global general manager of information is literally putting everyone's information on mine on blockchain so that people can monetize their own data. If they don't want to, they can keep it private from everyone including us. So Web3 is becoming this this shift where blockchain will underpin everything. I'm moving away from the term NFTs I think no one ever knew the word fungible and NFTs they hear that now and they think silly little cartoons, but this digital asset, it's proof of ownership on you know, on a blockchain. And when I look at these quote-unquote, NFTs now we're putting coaching programs on NFTs, the state of California is putting cartitles on chain as NFTs I believe our academic records or medical records, all of this will be on chain soon. And it really helps us with our own privacy, our own access to our own information, our own ownership on there's so many problems that this mitigates, but that's Web3. So Web3 will be as
immersive as people want, you know, people, people freak out and go, Well, I don't want to live in a virtual world with a headset, then don't write. It's really, it's really simple. When we were all in this www bubble. And then apps and social media started coming. No one ever said all this is a new internet. Same
thing with Web3 people are already experiencing Web3, and they don't even know it. But it will get much more much more immersive for those that wanted to. Yeah, well say thank you. And then what do you think will be some of the challenges that Web3 will present? It's the deep fakes This is hugely scary that and these machine languages, models are all starting to say that they want to be alive and sentient and that they feel this they're superior to humans. So we need to truly build in safeguards we need to make sure that we remain the master of the machine, but it's all this deep fakes. I'll give you an example. Someone
could literally upload some videos of you and or I have an AI learner Voice and our facial expressions and inflections, they could then have an AI write a script about a podcast about children's toys. And they could, they could literally have this write the script for the video, they could have an AI that can process our face and name and they can do a whole video podcast as you or as me about children's toys. Well, how would someone know that's not you or me? Joe Rogan was just deep fakes a few weeks ago for a men's performance pill that he didn't make the video, but they sold millions of dollars of product because people thought Joe Rogan was endorsing it. So this is why it's a huge problem. But as long as everything's minted on chain, as long as we can go back and look at the source of truth and say, No, that's not Joe Rogan, then I think we're going to be able to really enjoy a lot of the benefits of this, this emerging technology. So I think, as long as we're as long as we're mindful and thinking a couple steps ahead, and making sure that the safeguards are in place, I think that there'll be a lot of opportunity to come.
Very interesting. Let me now also bring in blockchain and I wanted to ask you can the web three and blockchain introduce complete transparency and decentralization? So, transparency, Absolutely, as long as we build it as such, I think decentralization is a term that's that a lot of you know, some of the more libertarian or anarchistic thinkers gravitate towards or if people think we can decentralize money, and now no one will know how much I have or what I spend it on. I think fundamentally, decentralization is great conceptually. And I
think we can do quite a bit decentralized. I don't know that we need centralized banking, or necessarily some things like that. But we'll always need some form of centralization, whether we give that to an AI mind and take it out of the hands of a human or not, I think that's, that's yet to be determined. But I do think we'll need some type of centralization, just to make sure that things don't go off the rails. But transparency. Absolutely. I think that's a huge hallmark of Web3 and blockchain.
Help me now add a third dimension. And you know, these are terms that we all keep throwing around and talking about. But then there's the entire Metaverse and when I was talking to someone, they told me that the difference between Metaverse and Web3 is that, Metaverse is Web3 in three dimension. I'd love to get your perspective. Well, I disagree with that statement, although I appreciate it, but it's so so similar and, and yet, so different from what I say I say that I believe the metaverse is helping introduce humanity to the fourth dimension. I don't I don't believe it has to be in
three dimension. I've had some great 2D Metaverse experiences, but I believe the metaverse can help us start to transcend both space and time. I can go into a Metaverse experience and I can I can go back 1000 years and see what people live like and I can engage. You know, I think it's more immersive. But the metaverse doesn't need to be virtual reality. The Metaverse
can take place on your Smart TV or on your phone, right. The Metaverse is just an extension of our world digitally. But I've seen I've seen a number of different Metaverse, projects that literally take you to another world in your mind and right you can really trick your mind and feel as though you're you're skiing or surfing or in outer space. Especially you know, I'd like to use my headset and things like that to be as immersive as possible. I'm really excited for some of the new classes and goggles and tape technology coming out as well. We're also seeing people using contact lenses to access the metaverse. I think there's there's some skepticism there.
But I think there's probably some benefit to that as well, for people that want to be as immersive as possible. But again, the Metaverse doesn't have to be on chain. But if it is on chain, that it makes everything so much safer, so much easier to kind of keep tabs of everything for the right reasons. But I think Metaverse and Web3, two go hand in
hand, although they can be delineated. And why do you think, you know, so many of these big brands are buying so much real estate in the metaverse. Because they have bad advisors. That's a great response. Well, the reason that real estate in the real world two dimension on Earth can be valuable as we need to have proximity to water and other people and resources and there's scarcity, right? If I want to have somewhere in the middle of Manhattan in New York, I'm gonna have to pay a premium because there's only what's really great with square footage there and that's maybe where I wanted to be. There's infinite digital
space. There's no limitation there's nothing you know people say if you buy a product land in the city limit people depot A stadium that they're going to walk right past. No, they're not, they're going to push a button and they're going to be back in their own absolute home environment. So it's to me, the real estate is probably going to fall down and close to zero at some point soon. I think this is probably a huge misappropriation
of funds from the corporate, but it is telling that they're trying to figure out what's going on and get ahead of it. I think everyone that incorporates digital collectibles, loyalty programs and things like this on screen, that's where the real money is going to be. And frankly, I think it's where the experience that the customers are looking for is going to be as well. Very interesting. My next question, Cory, is that again, back to Web3, but how can Web3 drive innovation? In so many ways, I think if we look at it as a combination of immersive experiences, plus AI, plus blockchain with smart contracts, I even baking, some things like 3d printing and remote, remote surgeries, and, you know, effectively using high performing robots remotely. If all of this becomes part of this new paradigm that I think is all going to fall under that web three umbrella, then I think I'm making bold statements and claims that I believe will be substantiated such as I think Web3 will extend the human life expectancy closer to 1000 years and 100 years. I believe that Web3 will truly empower us to be an interplanetary species within the next generation or less. So I think that the implications
are profound, I look at things like nanobots. So we're now able to make little micro robots that are metal until we need them to be liquid, and we can embed them. There's the Golden Gate Bridge, has nanobots going up and down at all the time looking for structural deficiencies, and they can actually go in, they can actually fix the bridge, because they're smart, this is where I see the world going, I think disease and illness will become much less of a threat. existentially than it has been for 1000s of years, I think it really begins to bridge the gap and help us as a species reached next levels that, you know, basically we are only read about and written about in sci-fi books previously. Very well said. So I'm going to now move to another technology, which is the NFT, The Non-Fungible Tokens. For a
lot of my viewers and listeners, tell me how does NFT work and why is it so hot? Well, it's cool down now. And I think because there were so many rabbit holes, and so many people bought a panda or a dragon or whatever that hoped it would be worth a million dollars, it did nothing but lose value. But I think fundamentally, if we recalibrate and think of NFTs is anything that's minted on the blockchain with a smart contract, it's effectively you can buy a digital shirt made by Gucci to put on your avatar that could be an NFT, or you can mint the house title as an NFT on chain. And now you don't need a little piece of paper and a safety deposit box. I think we can almost look at cryptocurrencies as being NFTs to a degree because they are minted on the blockchain as well. And there's something that
if someone's a custodian of they, they hold that until they've spent it right or until they liquidate it. So I think it's really just anything digitally that has a source of truth and then mint on the blockchain. But I think when we look at some of the like, board apes, right, or the boss, cats, or some of these NFTs that went blue chip and became worth millions of dollars, really what it should be is a quality exclusiveness there should be some utility. I'll very quickly and this is not a pitch for my startup coaching to Web3, necessarily, but we're letting coaches mint their coaching program as an NFT. So someone buys the NFT and we're trying to remove every friction point. So we don't think people
still need to have a wallet at the seed phrase and have to learn how to access their NFTs these need to be as easy as opening an email. But as a coach, if I meant my coaching program on chain, what this does is when someone holds that NFT it'll help onboard them it'll then help to educate them and bring them up to speed and do assessments and assignments and book time with me as their coach. By the time they're finished with my coaching. This, this NFT has taken them through the entire experience right? Now when I need to show up in person or on Zoom. I can do that because the NFT unlocked it. But here's where I think the use case becomes clear. Once
someone's done with my coaching, they still have the NFT. If they sell that NFT it resets everything. So what does this mean? It means they can recover Some of the investment they made in the coaching, but it also means they turn into my sales and marketing department, because they're out actively telling people how great coaching is and getting people to buy it. I no longer have to do anything except for show up and my NFT tells me to show up for sessions. So I think that's, that's a use case of NFTs. And we can extrapolate that to absolutely anything, medical records, academic records, sales transactions as receipts or anything like that tickets to sporting events, music events.
Amazing. So Cory I've time for two more questions. My next question is that you just mentioned that, you know, someone bought something for a million dollars, and then the price dropped for the average individual. What are the risks? Because these markets are not regulated at all? Well, I think that is the inherent risk. And I think, you know, you hear people talking about fun, which is fear of uncertainty and death. And you know, people get kind of tricked, especially on Twitter and discord and things like that. But people kind of get starstruck and think that
it's celebrities involved in a project or you get 100 people saying, this is the next big thing, and so 1000 people buy into it. But I think ultimately, it's not really art. Now, there's a company that's fractionalized the ownership of real art as NFTs and those have increased value. I think that's an interesting use case. But for the most part, don't buy any pixelated punk because you think it's cool, don't buy something, because you heard Justin Bieber bought into it. Right? If there's real utility in, make sure the teams are dots to make sure you know, the real people behind it. Because
otherwise, if you buy a piece of art, because you think everyone's gonna want it and pay 100 times for it soon, and you don't know the people behind it, you very quickly, what you find yourself with is holding a silly piece of art that's been replicated, duplicated, and knocked over 100 times that does nothing for you. And, you know, I've seen many people buy NFTs for $1,000 and have gone up to $10,000. So they get excited and go, Okay, if it's worth 10,000. Now, it'll be worth 50,000 Soon, with very few exceptions, or NFTs over $20. Now, right? In other words, they missed their opportunity to 10x their investment. So I would just caution people not not to follow
the trends and to always do any, any research before investing into anything. Well said. And my last question to you Cory, and this is for the 1000s of people who will listen to our conversation. Based on your own amazing journey and your deep understanding of this technologies. What would you say are three lessons you would want our viewers and listeners to take away? Well, I think the number one list and I have my own podcast, I've been on hundreds of podcasts. Usually there's some variation of this question, and I never deviate from my first answer. Now, I love that you're giving me three, because
I'll add two more. But the first thing that I would say and it's it's only a lesson for people that take it as such, but it's a statement that I believe wholeheartedly, which is I think we need more love in this world. And I think anyone listening to this right now can decide to love their neighbor themselves, their jobs more right now than they did a few moments ago. The more that we actively bring love into this world, the more that the technology is going to be safe, not dangerous, the more that businesses are going to thrive not compete, the more that we can collaborate. And so really having that tenant of intentional love, bringing more love into this world. That I
think is probably the biggest lesson that clicked for me at some point in my life. And when I decided to pursue that, and I don't love enough yet either. I need to love myself more and more in our listeners more on your show more, right? I think we can all do this every day in every moment, Rick, but that instinct is a very big one. But the two other ones if I had two lessons, especially in this tech world right now, the first one is everyone's up in arms saying AI is going to take our jobs.
And that's not necessarily true, but someone that knows AI by take someone's job. This is the time for people to learn. You don't need to learn a programming language. You don't need to know calculus, all of all of what you need to do right now, really and truly is learn how to become a prompt engineer. Just learn how to speak with AI. This will empower you have any job that you want moving forward. So I think that's a second lesson is learn how to use use these tools. Don't
resist it, I think. Third is the Web3 world is moving into a collaborative world, companies can collaborate. This really ties into the abundance mindset rather than the scarcity or go back to mindset there is enough to go around. We're working one of the one of the boards I serve on is working on universal basic income. There's enough money in the world for everybody. There's more than enough food on this planet for everybody. There's
enough jobs on this planet for everybody. And soon we'll be on other planets creating other, you know, ecosystems and things of this nature. But I think just tuning into that abundance and accepting and embracing the collaboration, rather than the competition, you know, you see companies like Google and Open AI trying to scramble to the top right now, meanwhile, you see hundreds and 1000s of companies being built on on the technology that Google and Open AI have built, those companies are the ones that are really going to win the game. So I think if
people you know, embrace kind of the, this new world of collaboration with love, and if people learn how to leverage the new technology right now, which is completely feasible, for anybody listening, I think that's probably a pretty good formula for success. Amazing, amazing. And on that Cory, and your three amazing lessons, the world needs much more love. And I loved what
you said after that. But this will help us manage the technology better, rather than go more towards destroying each other. Second one you said was that artificial intelligence is not going to take our jobs. Everyone was listening me must learn, pivot and retrain themselves, to be able to use the tools of AI, then to get, you know, overwhelmed by what could potentially do. And the third one, he said, he spoke about Web3, and it's moving more and more into a collaborative mode. And therefore that you know, there
are many opportunities that will come for all the people who are listening to our conversation. Thank you, Cory, for talking to me about your incredible journey. And I'm really impressed at the way you just re pivoted yourself, you know, to retrain yourself and go into this cutting edge technology. Thank you for talking to us in such simple terms about Web3, Metaverse, NFT, and the blockchain. Thank you again.
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