Neo founder Da Hongfei recently participated in a Fireside discussion with Tim Draper, an esteemed investor, Bitcoin proponent, and founder of the Draper University for entrepreneurs. The discussion was moderated by NGD’s Lili Zhao.

Draper and Hongfei discussed the power of decentralization and platforms like Bitcoin and Neo to disrupt monopolies, advice for blockchain entrepreneurs, and their estimates for how long it will take for crypto to reach the mainstream.

The Fireside event follows the recent partnership between Neo and Draper University. Several projects in the Neo ecosystem will join a dedicated five-week program where they will receive mentorship, soft skills training, and the opportunity to present their projects in front of invited Venture Capital firms.

Advice for entrepreneurs

During the livestreamed discussion, Draper and Hongfei talked about the current global landscape for startups, the opportunities in Web3, and offered advice for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses in this blockchain space.

For builders of decentralized applications, Hongfei placed a strong emphasis on cybersecurity as a priority, encouraging audits to avoid situations where traditional law enforcement arms will not be able to lend assistance.

On the topic of entrepreneurship, both participants highlighted the fundamental importance of a strong belief by the entrepreneur in their startup concept, as well as the need to understand the potential for blockchain technology as a disruptive force. Hongfei noted:

“To be a Web3 entrepreneur, you have to be more than a traditional conventional entrepreneur, you have to be more than a businessman, you have to be more than a good engineer; you need to be a visionary. You need to think out of the box. You need to believe in the power of decentralization, because it is so different from a conventional business model. Sometimes you even have to be a rebel, a deviant, you need to be really unorthodox.”

Draper added that, as a seed investor, he would never fund a business startup that he could launch himself, stressing the necessity of a strong personal connection to the business and a unique ability to developer its ambitions.

Further, Draper advised startups to place focus on the customer: who they are, and what they stand to get out of the business. This would ensure they are solving a real problem with their product or service that people will pay for, even if it takes a long time and many failures to get the ball rolling.

On mainstream adoption

Despite both being early adopters of Bitcoin and blockchain technology in general, Hongfei and Draper shared the perspective that the industry is still relatively nascent. Hongfei estimated a 5 to 10 year gap before mainstream adoption, a value he quantified as approximating 5% of the global GDP, or a US $5 trillion dollar economic output from the crypto industry.

Though Draper echoed the sentiment, he also noted the potential cascading effect that could be demonstrated as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies gain adoption. As migration from fiat currencies picks up momentum, more retailers will starting accepting digital assets, and the rush to exit from fiat could drive the value of those currencies to nothing. He pointed to the increasing percentage of Bitcoin wallets owned by women as an example that demonstrated this growing possibility:

“Women used to be only one out of every 14 Bitcoin wallets. And now it’s about one out of every six. And women control 80% of retail spending. And when retailers realize with things like OpenNode and Lightning Network, that they can save 2% every time somebody swipes a credit card, that 2% goes straight to their bottom line, they’re gonna all want to accept Bitcoin, maybe Neo and others. And I think that that moment will happen.”

The Fireside with Tim Draper and Da Hongfei can be viewed at the link below: