By Sophia Stephens
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
On June 5, entrepreneurs Ramzey Staples, Brian-Timothy Noble Franada, and Justin Wu produced the first-ever blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in Seattle. The current instability with established cryptocurrency systems including Bitcoin feeds into the growing need for blockchain technology, which serves as a public digital record of any and all transactions made through those systems and currencies.
In an interview with Cryptoslate, Wu shared that the reason why a cryptocurrency conference hadn’t yet happened in the Northwest was because “Seattle is a very engineering-heavy city, so there’s not that many people that have been focusing on community-building, marketing, and growth, and also too, I think everybody has been just focusing on building and most event organizers and other people out there have overlooked Seattle for everything. Seattle is an underdog, underrated city overall.”
Cryptoslate reported that over 600 people attended the Blockchain NW Conference, which had over 60 speakers and panelists from all over the country, including representatives from Amazon and Washington Senator Reuven Carlyle. The day consisted of various panels and opportunities to network and learn from emerging and established leaders in both industries.
“As a Filipino man of color, it feels rewarding to be able to accomplish anything in both the entertainment industry (where I’m from) and now, a technology conference,” said Franada. “It is empowering to know that as a minority, I am able to be part of a production team of other minorities and produce something this large. The best part about it is that this is just the first of many and we look forward to taking all the mistakes and improving on them to keep refining a better product.”
“I wish my dad could be here to experience it with me,” added Franada. “He passed away in 2004 and losing him was one of my main motivators to start my business. Everything I do is to make my parents proud.”
Franada, Wu, and Staples operate independently, but came together to put on the conference — Franada in entertainment and event production, Wu as a blockchain influencer, growth marketer, and founder of multiple startups, and Staples in media management.
“Justin and Ramzey are longtime friends and (Justin) initially reached out to Ramzey regarding this idea,” said Franada. “Ramzey and I have been working together for about 4 to 5 years. He is currently the head of the media department for my company, so he reached out to me and brought me into the group. The three of us individually operate our own businesses, so a lot of time and smart use of technology allowed us to stay on top of tasks and accomplish individual jobs,”
Franada’s identity as a Filipino man of color, and the ability to work alongside Wu and Staples, greatly influenced his approach to the conference and his successes in general. “The journey to get to where I am now were some of the hardest years I’ve ever endured,” said Franada. “There are plenty of times I have been pushed and tested to the max, but I knew that not quitting would be worth the pain. When you grow up a minority, you’re already at a disadvantage … I always think about the sacrifice my grandparents had to make in order to move their family out of the
Philippines, then I think about the sacrifice my parents had to make so that I could grow up in a safe environment and be able to focus on school. When I think about those things, it makes me proud to be a Filipino and it would be a shame to waste the opportunity of being able to live in a place that allows me to follow my dreams without any persecution.”
Sophia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.