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Female Founders: Crass Kitty of Keyhole Club On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

I’ll be honest — not everyone is, but that’s a GOOD thing. A good founder finds the other players that are fundamental for a good project or product. A good founder finds the strengths they are missing and uses their own strengths to pull everyone together.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Crass Kitty.

Crass Kitty (she/her) is the CEO and co-founder of Keyhole Club, an innovative NFT platform dedicated to empowering adult content creators and the fans who love them. Bridging the gap between adult content and NFT tech, Keyhole Club provides an elevated, upscale solution that directly serves the needs of sex workers in a secure, sophisticated and reliable way. Crass uses NFT tech for a greater purpose.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My experience encompasses all sides of the sex and tech industries. I started in the adult industry as a cam girl, which eventually led me to the world of streaming and helped me realize my love for content creation and tech. From there, I began my career in the tech space, where I developed back-end operations for FetLife and NEAR, and ran product for Degenerate Ape Academy, a blue-chip NFT project on Solana.

In making my jump from working in tech to starting my own business in the NFT space, I first and foremost wanted to make personal reparations for some of the moderation systems I implemented at FetLife that impacted sex workers and provide adult content creators with a safe, sophisticated and innovative platform to earn a living. Not only that, but I also wanted to provide the NFT industry with a project led by women, which can be hard to find in this industry. Because I used to be a sex worker and know how exploitative some of these platforms can be, I wanted to use this knowledge, combined with my experience in crypto and NFTs, for the greater good. Crypto is for everyone, and that includes sex workers.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I think it’s been a combination of the same feeling — coming into spaces where people are discussing crypto and NFTs and then dropping the fact that I’m a woman, working on porn NFTs. The reactions are always so varied, and it’s always interesting to gauge a room based on the reactions. I’ve learned in my career that I will be sexualized no matter my profession, so I’ve decided to take the reins on my own sexuality and be upfront about what I do.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oof. So, the funniest mistake I made when starting was the fact that we (Keyhole Club) got shadow banned on Twitter — the weekend of our launch. That means people couldn’t look up our name — they had to go to the profile directly to find us. In hindsight, the reason we got shadow banned is that we were retweeting sex workers, being the bullish people we are, and Twitter didn’t like that. We’ve learned that we basically have to tone down the types of content we post and retweet because internet censorship is still very prevalent, which is something we definitely want to help change.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

You know, I firmly believe that a rising tide lifts all ships. So, I took a chance and hired my sister to be my assistant — she had no tech or crypto experience, but she had drive, and that’s the kind of person I needed on my side. When I say that this company couldn’t function without her, I mean it. She handles everything from scheduling to managing the books and is overall just incredible. I’m so grateful to her for taking a chance and diving into crypto with me and maintaining the business in an incredibly organized and professional way.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think it all comes down to a confidence and funding factor. For the confidence — when women grow up, we’re typically not told to dream of being a CEO. When I was growing up, I was called bossy instead of confident. I want that narrative to change, from the very beginnings of childhood. I think a lot of women get this fear — if they become a CEO, they’re in uncharted territory — and they start to feel this imposter syndrome, like, am I too bossy? Am I too opinionated? Or at least I do.

For the funding — I am incredibly proud of myself to have achieved financial independence, and I’ve so far been able to avoid having to go to V.C.s by self-funding my business. Most women I know do not have this luxury, and V.C.s can be incredibly intimidating — some are downright skeptical of women founders. I think there’s a lot of work to be done there. I wish I could tell every woman in the world who wants to start a company to do it and just present yourself as the amazing, strong, driven and confident person you want to be — one day, you’ll realize…you are her.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I think it comes down to just lifting each other up — giving each other the strength, confidence and empowerment that we all inherently seek. Ask questions and absolutely, poke holes, but ultimately, support the things you believe in. Support the people you believe in.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

When I became a founder, I vowed to create a workplace that was inclusive, transparent and healthy. I vowed to create a mission that empowered sex workers, but also my employees.

If you’re currently stuck at a job where the culture isn’t working for you and you have an idea on a product or service to provide, being a founder means you get the opportunity to create your own culture — you get to create the kind of place you’d like to work at.

I cannot stress how empowering and healing this has been for me, and I hope it is for other founders, too.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

You don’t have all the answers. If you do, you’re doing it wrong.

When I worked for a startup once, I remember being terrified that the founder wouldn’t want to listen to my ideas — that they would already have it all figured out.

Instead, they listened and acknowledged they didn’t have the answers, but they wanted to learn.

I think it’s important to be that kind of founder– the kind that takes feedback, iterates on it, and learns from the people you’ve chosen to join you on your journey.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I’ll be honest — not everyone is, but that’s a GOOD thing. A good founder finds the other players that are fundamental for a good project or product. A good founder finds the strengths they are missing and uses their own strengths to pull everyone together.

For example, I’m very motivational and empathetic. I use these traits to inspire my team to do their best work. I’m not great with numbers, and I can’t code worth a damn, but I can use my innate curiosity and relentless resourcefulness to solve the problems that block my team.

That’s what makes a good founder — the ability to recognize your own weaknesses and pull together the people who can compensate and fix the problems.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Delegate as much as you can. There’s so much you cannot delegate as founder and your team will genuinely want to help. Offload the work that you can’t do and stop feeling bad about it — you’re a team, and that means many positions have to be filled. You cannot do it all.
  2. Take the chance on the person with the drive, not the credentials. I could have hired so many people on my team that had better credentials or more experience, but by choosing people with innate drive, I’ve managed to pull together a kickass team that are hungry for success, are passionate about the mission and are willing to learn whatever it takes to succeed. Take the chance on the person that is scrappy and ready to show you what they can do. You’ll often be surprised.
  3. Don’t be afraid to shill. But maybe don’t call it that. You should, however, be proud of what you are building and use every chance you can to share with people the thing you are doing. Your passion will shine through more than the product and that will inspire people to look deeper.
  4. Vulnerability begets vulnerability. This is something I’ve really learned as a founder. By sharing the struggles, the pain points and the reality of running the project with my team, I get to hear about their struggles, pain and reality — and I get to help them solve that.
  5. Good management isn’t about assigning work — it’s about unblocking them on anything you can. My biggest challenge and mistake has been this, and I’m still learning this. In one-on-ones with your employees, take the time to understand where they are blocked. This could be anything from work life, conflicts or personal issues. Give them the chance to problem solve with you and unlock their potential.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I share as much of my knowledge about crypto and NFTs with as many people as I can — for free. Every week, I have at least one Zoom lesson where I help people set up the fundamentals of crypto. The knowledge is hard to understand, and too many people are being left behind, so I focus on marginalized groups and help them, because right now, not enough people are doing so.

If we are going to make it, (WAGMI) then that means we, and that means everyone. I will not leave people behind.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could inspire everyone to understand that sex work is real work; that sex workers have real jobs and deserve the same respect as a CEO. If there was a way to change a mindset through a movement…. that would be amazing.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Amouranth — that’s her screen name. She’s a popular adult creator and accomplished businesswoman, and I think she’s a genius. I would so love to just share a mimosa and talk, human to human.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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