InterviewsNewsWomen in Technology and Blockchain – Interview with Jonha Richman

Aisha Hillary-Morgan Aisha Hillary-MorganJanuary 25, 2019

Jonha Richman has an incredible story braving the tech, business and blockchain space, serving many a different role helping businesses tell their story. We had the pleasure of chatting with Jonha, where she shared her views on the crypto and blockchain space, and how diversity is so beneficial for this sector.

“We’ll see more and more governments become more clear towards their stance on cryptocurrencies, while Blockchain and its expanding use cases will be embraced not only by the consumers but even governments themselves that are looking to streamline their internal processes.”


 How do you describe yourself

I thrive in helping great companies get the attention they deserve – by helping them identify their unique story and advising them on which narrative to focus on. Essentially, I thrive in connecting storytellers with storymakers – those who make the headlines.

I help projects develop brands and tell their story to the world. Some of my works and projects I’ve worked with have been featured in top-tier global media publications such as The Huffington PostBusiness InsiderSalesforce, among others.


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a lawyer. But earlier on, I’ve been told I have a knack for finding a great story in some of the most boring items and sell them. When I was in high school, I was a working student where I eventually befriended our librarian. In exchange for my efforts in keeping the library orderly, she allowed me to have access to the computers and the Internet. That immediately opened my eyes to the potentials of the Web when almost every website were still one-pagers with funny fonts and animations.


How did you get involved in this space?

In 2012, one of my colleagues at RebelMouse introduced us to Bitcoin. I did a bit of digging when there wasn’t much information written about Bitcoin and its underlying technology – Blockchain. I was convinced that if we were to experience another imminent financial crisis, people who normally don’t have access (or felt like they’ve missed the board on) usual hedges such as gold and silver, are likely to turn to Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies).

I first learned about Blockchain’s most commonly known use case (which is in the form of cryptocurrencies) in 2012 when there’s not much coverage about the topic. With my experience working with hypergrowth tech companies, Blockchain projects started to tap into my marketing and PR expertise. As I learned more about the industry and its various use-cases, I couldn’t help but be immersed and realize there’s so much more to learn. Almost every industry that currently has expensive and redundant processes in place can eventually be disrupted by Blockchain. It’s not going to be an easy route ahead with all the current technical limitations, but it’s feasible. In the same way that early adopters didn’t just immediately give up on the Internet earlier on, current limitations shouldn’t really baffle the whole industry from pursuing all the potential applications of Blockchain in various industries.


Who are some of the Blockchain influencers you look up to? 

Mike Novogratz – for his consistent efforts in bringing in institutional players in the industry

Anthony Pompliano – for busting various myths about Bitcoin and providing objective updates to keep people from speculating, and focus on the crucial numbers

Rachel Wolfson – for her ability to sift through the noise and highlight interesting projects and their underlying stories.


What are your thoughts on the current state of diversity in the technology sector? 

I look forward to the day when we all are recognized based on our own talents and merits – regardless of race or gender.


Tell us about Polybird.

Polybird Exchange is an end to end issuance and exchange platform for tokenized assets. This means that global issuers such as financial institutions, governments, and even companies can raise capital (either through equity or debt) through issuing digital tokens or list tokenized assets (currencies, commodities, commercial real estate) on Polybird. It is comprised of team of professionals from leading investment banks and elite educational institutions. Additionally, it is being mentored by financial leaders from Morgan Stanley and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, UBS, among others. The CEO of Polymath, the largest security token network in the world, is also helping in shaping things up.


The crypto and blockchain space is preoccupied with speculation and obsession over price and value fluctuations. Do you see this passing in the near future?

Every industry will always have speculators, market shapers and shakers. Even tech had its dot-com bubble, so it’s pretty normal for Blockchain to undergo a similar cycle. The market and the whole industry as an interesting way of policing itself as people who get involved tend to become wiser, projects that don’t necessarily deserve the attention and money of their investors get busted, and hopefully the industry will clear of such projects and have more time on focusing on building impactful products and services.


Are you a fan of introducing regulation and do you think that it would help or hinder the sector?

I think that legitimate projects aiming for scalable adoption wouldn’t have problems working hand in hand with regulators (who simply want to protect the public’s safety and interests).


What are your predictions for crypto/blockchain for 2019/2020?

While we’re still a long way from a mature and stable Blockchain environment, I think the fact that more and more unsustainable projects (from the get-go) are starting to wither away means that there will be more room for legitimate and more impactful projects. We’ll see more and more governments become more clear towards their stance on cryptocurrencies, while Blockchain and its expanding use cases will be embraced not only by the consumers but even governments themselves that are looking to streamline their internal processes.


Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have in some ways been getting a bad rap. What are your thoughts on ICOs and what companies should be doing to gain public trust?

report by Ernst & Young suggests that 10% of $3.7 billion ICO funds are either stolen are lost. Either these firms premeditated the move, or they were unable to deliver the technology that their investors expect from them. Either way, it’s crucial that in order for new projects to gain the trust of the public again, projects need to do more than just publicity stunts and focus on building a company and value before trying to raise any more funding.

A new and interesting option for established companies to raise funds (not from the public though), but first through private sale is through security token offering (STOs) where companies raise money or create an investment offer where stock, bonds or real assets (or any asset with value) are tokenized and put on Blockchain. This means that investors will no longer just hold their breath and wait for a project to eventually accumulate value, but whatever money is being raised is tied up an existing asset’s valuation.


Is gender a barrier to success?

Absolutely not. I think every society needs to be race and gender-blind where meritocracy needs to be the sole basis for opportunities – not just one’s status or existing connections.


I know you tweeted a study which says one in eight women now want to get involved with Blockchain, but does that still means seven in eight (the vast majority) are not interested?

I don’t think it’s not that women are not interested. In some countries, some women still don’t necessarily have equal rights as men. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women are not yet allowed to have their own bank accounts. So usually it’s a problem of not necessarily having enough exposure or access to opportunities. It’s interesting to see that compared to other industries, Blockchain seems to be gradually opening up and leveling the playing field for both genders. I still couldn’t wait for the day when everyone’s going to be treated based on meritocracy, not based on gender or race.


What would you say to young women considering a career in Blockchain? 

Identify your key skills and what exactly you bring in to the table. Keep harnessing and developing those skills so you’ll become more confident on your skills and place in the industry. There will always be people who will undermine and try to downplay your value and success. When you have that inner confidence and assurance of what you’re capable of, you will not let these distractions and detractors baffle you from achieving the best that you can be.

There will also come a point when people will try and compare you and your success with contemporaries. Don’t try to compare your first few chapters with someone else’s climax or ending.


Jonha Richman has over a decade of marketing and communications experience working with global innovative companies, helping them scale their global operations. 

She has worked with brands such as Unilever, IKEA, Sony Pictures, OCBC Bank. She has also worked with creative powerhouses such as Leo Burnett, Media Contacts, and VML Qais. 

Jonha has also been invited as a keynote speaker and mentor in Google Business Group, Startup Weekend and various conferences around the globe to speak about finance and business strategies. 


Thanks so much for your time and sharing your insights and inspiring story Jonha!


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Aisha Hillary-Morgan

Aisha Hillary-Morgan

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