"How to be a great BD in Web3? Be a generalist first!"
**Disclaimer) The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and do not represent the official statement of DeSpread.
Hi, I’m ZZoha, PR Lead at DeSpread. DeSpread is a company of “Degens” who are immersed in the Web3 industry. Each of our coworkers has a unique personality, but we share the same DNA: a genuine love of Web3. We work in a free-spirited atmosphere, but we’re all professionals in our respective fields.
Last time, we interviewed Hyung Jun(Leo) Yu, Head of Development for our fourth Coffee Chat with D’s Friends, and this time, coming up is Jeff Kim, Partnership BD. He will share his know-hows about what is needed to be a Web3 BD. Let’s take a look at how DeSpread’s Partnership BD works!
ZZo: Let me introduce yourself!
"My name is Jeff Kim, and I'm a Partnership BD at DeSpread."
ZZo: I understand you were previously studying semiconductors, what made you switch to Web3?
"When I was doing my graduate studies in electrical engineering, I thought, 'the semiconductor field is promising, but it's not interesting'. I realized that in any industry, once it starts to stagnate, each advancement doesn't have much impact. Even if I write a good paper on semiconductors, I didn't think it will mean anything in the industry. Even if I did something, it wasn't a field where I could see the results clearly, so I decided I wanted to work in a new industry."
ZZo: Why did you choose DeSpread?
"I had been interacting with the people at DeSpread since 2019, looking over their shoulders and learning about Web3. They gave me basic information to catch up on like Bitcoin and Ethereum whitepapers, and that was a motivation for me to enter the Web3 industry. Also, the unique 'Degen atmosphere' in DeSpread attracted me, so I joined here in early 2021."
ZZo: What is your current role at DeSpread?
"I'm currently working as a Partnership BD. I started out as a PM, and I was managing about 15-20 projects during that year. I learned how to do Web 3 marketing, and as a project manager, interacted a lot with representatives at the project headquarters, so the transition to BD was a natural fit. Some of the projects I've been working on since two and a half years ago have become long-term partners and friends."
ZZo: What is your role as a partnership BD?
"Put simply, BD is the job of finding the intersection between your company's projects and other projects in the industry.
However, it seems that the nature of the BD at DeSpread is different from other project BDs. For example, if you're a BD for a project with a mainnet, you're probably looking for a web2 company to integrate their mainnet, or another blockchain or project to partner with.
I'm also looking for collaborations, but I have to think about which teams there are collaboration points with within DeSpread, and how potential partners can collaborate with players in the Korean market, and what the outcome will be. As a BD, it's not only about finding potential partners, but also about future strategies."
ZZo: What qualities do you need to be a BD specialized in Web3?
"To be a Web3 BD, you need to be more of a generalist than a specialist. If you only like DeFi and don't look into the NFT sector, you won't be able to talk to NFTs you're asked to partner with. The broader you are, the more options you have.
Language proficiency is paramount. BD is not limited to just chatting or emailing; Face-to-face interaction is much more valuable. Language skills and the ability to stay up-to-date of the industry's latest issues are crucial."
ZZo: Are there any differences between Web2 BD and Web3 BD roles?
"Web2 BD focuses on a strong sales orientation as it often involves products ready for immediate sales. In contrast, Web3 BD's core focus is not sales. For instance, a project BD doesn't actively market its own tokens. Web3 BD serves as an advocate for the project's philosophy and values. Therefore, it primarily emphasizes the expansion of use cases for the project rather than the product itself.”
ZZo: I'm curious about the criteria DeSpread uses to select projects for partnership.
"DeSpread doesn't function like a simple marketing agency; we provide customized consulting services for the Korean market tailored to each client. Therefore, project selection should be done with great care. We must assess whether the project will garner attention in Korea and be prepared to handle any fallout in the community in case of issues arising. To avoid such risks, we need to be even more rigorous in our selection.
We evaluate market fit, global recognition, how well they manage their global community, their willingness to share development progress, and their commitment to community initiatives. We also assess whether the project is necessary in the Korean market.
Above all, it's essential to have someone within our team who genuinely believes in the project or a dedicated project manager. Handing over the project to just anyone would make us nothing more than a marketing agency."
ZZo: What motivates overseas projects to collaborate with DeSpread?
"The primary distinction is that DeSpread creates a model where clients and us align our visions for mutual growth. It's not a one-way street where we simply share project information with the Korean community; we engage directly with the Korean retail market, creating detailed educational materials for the project. In essence, we offer any growth strategy to assist the project.
All DeSpread team members have their own expertise, and the company already has a diverse portfolio of marketing successes. Notably, projects like Solana, the Sandbox, and Stacks often introduce projects they are closely affiliated with.
Our extensive track record and experience in the blockchain space have given us depth in various areas. Most importantly, the fact that we have survived to this point means a lot."
ZZo: As someone deeply involved in BD with overseas projects, which sector do you believe holds the most potential?
"Currently, it seems like Optimistic Rollups are the dominant force in Ethereum Layer 2. Zero-Knowledge (ZK) Rollups are still in their early stages. Looking at participation in various side events, Optimistic-based projects seem to be thriving. Furthermore, traditionally strong Layer 1 projects from before continue to show resilience.
In recent times, the Layer sector has gained prominence. While NFTs and DeFi were prevalent until 2021, the focus has shifted back to the fundamentals. Rather than DApp deployment, the underlying network has taken the center stage. In fact, at conferences, it's challenging to find DApp-related projects. It feels like a Layer War have restarted again."
ZZo: I understand you've recently visited countries with relaxed regulatory stances on virtual assets, such as Japan and Singapore. Have you noticed a shift in market sentiment compared to the past?
"The atmosphere in Japan has changed the most. Events like WebX, which were typically market-driven, now seem to be government-led. I felt that WebX was heavily influenced by government direction.However, Singapore had a different vibe. Unlike the previous year when projects actively attended conferences like Token2049, this year, many projects opted not to attend."
ZZo: Besides the United States, which country do you think will take the lead in shaping the virtual asset market's paradigm?
"I think Europe might take the lead. Many projects in Europe are diligently working on development. They often give off the impression of being technically proficient. While there's talk of Asia becoming the crypto hub, that's more on the retail side. Strictly speaking, Asia leans more towards being fast followers than pioneers. In the future, it's likely that competitive projects developed in Europe will move to Asia for consumption or improvement."
ZZo: With recent virtual asset price stagnation, have you found it more challenging to secure partnerships?
"It has indeed become more challenging. Nevertheless, even during a bear market, there's a lot of work to be done. Typically, Web3 companies hire more during bullish markets and struggle to maintain during bear markets.
In contrast, we increased our headcount 2.5 times during the bear within our capacity. There are projects like us that are expanding even during downturns. Projects that build during bear markets, trying new things, are the true pioneers. They are the ones that won't be shaken by token price fluctuations and will ultimately shine in a bull market.
While partnership requests may decrease in a bear market, they serve as opportunities for communication with projects that diligently work through these periods."
ZZo: If you had one piece of advice for business development and partnership professionals in the Web3 industry, what would it be?
"When entering into partnerships, it's essential that the intentions are clear. While any news of partnerships is better than none, many agreements are superficial and lack meaningful collaboration. We want to see partner companies creating value beyond the partnership, not just ‘partnerships for the sake of partnerships’. There should be a clear direction and concrete goals.
As a BD, don't approach other projects solely from a business perspective. It's okay to treat them like friends. The Web3 industry is open, and this approach can yield excellent results."
ZZo: Finally, do you have any personal goals or aspirations you'd like to achieve with DeSpread?
"Firstly, I'd like to make a lot of money. Secondly, I hope that DeSpread and all my colleagues at DeSpread will prosper. I want each colleague to earn as much as they desire and to grow in their respective areas of responsibility.
Additionally, I have great respect for the company itself. We have survived well up until now, and I believe we will continue to thrive as an organization. I hope for collective success at both the organizational and individual levels."
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