Meet The Women Of The Blockchain: Joana Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of Meethappy
“I try to use my success and resources to assist individuals who are also on their entrepreneurial or tech journey, especially women and people of color who are significantly underrepresented in these industries. I engage in supporting them by empowering them through encouragement, navigating potential pitfalls, and constructive feedback on a one-on-one basis; as well as speaking at events, and sharing online resources.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Joana Gutierrez: Founder and CEO of Meethappy
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I left hedge fund management and ventured into the tech world in 2017 after being recruited by a VC firm to run an AI focused software company. I have also served as an adviser for an open source protocol that improves the efficiency of AI training; which was the first decentralized network on the blockchain for AI and machine learning. I continued on my own tech journey after leaving, inspired from bootstrapping an AI development team from the ground up. This is when I decided to create the Meethappy ecosystem.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
While advances in technology have provided incredible tools that allow us to digitally connect with other people, I recognized the resulting decrease in real life interactions. Through the Meethappy ecosystem, my goal is to utilize advances in artificial intelligence, virtual currencies, decentralized blockchain networks, and digital media to overcome that consequence. The Meethappy ecosystem consists of an AI assisted accommodation mobile application, partnered with TIPSc, a gratitude based cryptocurrency, and “The Real Meet,” a digital series of interviews with celebrities and influencers conducted over a meal. These platforms work together to encourage authentic human interactions through technology, and provide the most accommodating experiences.
Currently, I am focusing my energy on two main projects within the Meethappy ecosystem.
The first is TIPSc, TIPSc is a gratitude based cryptocurrency. TIPSc allows you to acknowledge individuals who go above and beyond to assist, accommodate, or provide you with a spectacular product. In addition, the value of your TIPSc increases every time you perform a transaction. You will be rewarded every time you show gratitude. TIPSc cryptocurrency is ground breaking in that not only will you be able to send and receive compensation for your hard work, but you will be able to send and receive commentary on what you are being compensated for. This is revolutionary in that it can provide positive metrics on individual performance. Eventually, TIPSc will provide verified public recommendations on which individuals or institutions provide the best service and/ or product. TIPSc’ s name stems from a play on the acronym/word TIPS as in gratuity, or recommendation. Find the BEST OF THE BEST, and say “THANK YOU” with TIPSc.
The second project we currently have in-the-works is a digital series titled The Real Meet, which will showcase various influential individuals’ personal narratives, ambitions, and accomplishments. The show is still in the production stage, so I can’t disclose too many details. Basically, its concept is that we bring enterprising celebrities, influencers, and investors together over a meal to discuss their business ventures, charities, and objectives with one another, in the hopes of inspiring collaboration. At the same time, each episode will highlight the venue at which it is filmed, showcasing some of the most unparalleled culinary hotspots in Manhattan. Not only will the series be captivating to those who love the guests we bring on, but it will also draw interest from entrepreneurial, investor, aspirational, and foodie demographics alike. We will be thanking all of our guests with TIPSc, reinforcing the idea that the TIPSc virtual currency, and the up and coming Meethappy app actually helps to unite the digital world with the tangible one, ultimately seamlessly connecting by encouraging positive, IRL interactions.
The show itself is about celebrating the strength of in-person conversation, and the connections, personal and business, that talking over an exquisite meal can foster. It’s about the importance of harkening back to our roots. Humans have always used meals as times to communicate and create bonds and celebrate progress within their communities. Why should this digital era be any different? This is our ultimate goal with the Meethappy ecosystem, which is why we are incorporating this digital series as a key element in our path toward our vision.
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?
I am extremely grateful for my parents, who have supported me emotionally, and in the past, financially, through all of my various endeavors. Whether it be a career transition, or a new venture, they are always there no matter what. They have made so many sacrifices so that I could have the best opportunities. I only hope that I can show them the same great amount generosity that they are so deserving of in return.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Despite the reputation blockchain and cryptocurrency have for rampant criminal activity, in fact they allow for an elimination of issues that exist within the traditional business ecosystem. I am most excited about blockchain and crypto because of such safeguarding features they inherently possess. Blockchain allows for three powerful abilities:
1. Transparent public decentralized records
2. Public verification of authenticity
3. Lack of necessity for a central hub for regulatory activity
These three powerful features allow for limitless possibilities for lower costs, added security, and less fraudulent activity in several industries such as:
- Banking: it can be said that the blockchain and crypto can do for banking that the internet did to film, television, and music media. You will no longer have to deal with unnecessary fees and rates
- Electoral Process: votes cannot be compromised
- Personal Identity and Health: data can be securely stored and uncompromised regardless of what platform you send your information to due to encrypted information
- Supply Chain: verify the origin of products (ie. determine if they are truly from fair trade organizations)
- Ecommerce: You can purchase items directly from manufacturers. You will no longer have to worry about added fees for second, third, etc. party brokers
- Charity: Charitable giving can be more transparent and immediate
- Internet of Things: devices can interact directly with each other versus needed a central location to coordinate communication
- Government use: To date, countries such as Ecuador, China, Senegal, Singapore, Tunisia, and Venezuela have issued their own cryptocurrencies, with Estonia, Japan, Palestine, Russia and Sweden looking to launch their own national cryptocurrencies in the future.
-Cloud Computing: lower hacking and data loss for companies because client information can be stored in a decentralized manner
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
There are several hundreds of altcoins (other forms of cryptocurrency) in existence that may be overwhelming for consumers narrow down which ones to use. This may also lead to various unused altcoins die out, and cause companies to fail.
I am also concerned about the amount of energy particular cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin consume in order to mine or verify. While I am a huge proponent of the fact that cryptocurrencies are the future of the world’s financial state, I worry that through these advancements may come unintended consequences regarding our natural resources.
Hopefully, with the progression of such amazing technologies will also come the progression of solutions regarding energy consumption or alternative energy resources.
I am worried about all of the bad apples who may continue to breakdown the hard work of legitimate businesses and heavily vested investors. All of the negative press surrounding using crypto and the SEC crackdown has made people much more cautious. Because of this, regulators are cracking down to the point that some of the best features of blockchain are becoming more limited. This is making a decentralized environment a more centralized and regulated one.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I try to use my success and resources to assist individuals who are also on their entrepreneurial or tech journey, especially women and people of color who are significantly underrepresented in these industries. I engage in supporting them by empowering them through encouragement, navigating potential pitfalls, and constructive feedback on a one-on-one basis; as well as speaking at events, and sharing online resources.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
1) Soft skills are vital.
I feel that there are a number of proficiencies that fall under soft skills. In a time where AI may replace a myriad of jobs, it is important to focus on learning EQ skills. Emotional quotient (EQ) or emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. I also consider creativity a soft skill. Grey area, negotiation, originality, and forming connections are things that really drive relationships, and progress. It will be extremely difficult and nearly impossible to replicate these with artificial intelligence.
2) If you think you’re working hard, try even harder.
People grow up with different definitions of what hard work is. Constantly work on challenging yourself. You can only attain things you’ve never had by doing things that you’ve never done.
3) Preparation is key.
Be knowledgeable of the environment, the people, and the purpose when interacting with another party. Whether it be for a potential collaboration, deal, partnership, etc., not only should you know information that you will be presenting, but also the people, their backstories, and experience. Think of ways in which your interaction with them can be relevant and meaningful. Take into consideration their perspective.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)
One of the top people on my list is Howard Schultz. He has been an inspiration to me, not only because of his success, but because of the obstacles he has overcome and as his undying persistence to continuously improve. Not only did he grow up in the Brooklyn projects and conquer all the challenges that come along with that, he was able to grow Starbucks into the behemoth of a company that it is today, amassing over 20,000 locations all over the world and transforming international coffee culture.
As crazy as it sounds, I went from being a partner at a hedge fund to working at Starbucks as a barista for 3 months. I did so strategically, in order to validate the Meethappy app concept and ecosystem before actually founding my company. Based on my experience at, and knowledge of, Starbucks, as well as other similar companies, I believe the Meethappy app would contribute positively to their logistics regarding in-house seating. Through the seamless minimum-order/table reserve system, it would not only allow patrons to avoid the chaos of table hunting, but could also potentially help eliminate any more unfortunate controversial circumstances like the most recent one in Philadelphia.
Howard Schultz’s work and achievements are incredible. He is relentless in his vision to provide an inviting environment for employees and patrons alike. An opportunity to speak with him and learn from him would be extraordinary.