Just Ask: An Interview with Jon Poole, the New Head of Community at Waves
With the evolution of Waves being at full speed, its community is destined to play a pivotal role in this process. For this reason, we are particularly excited about Jon Poole joining our team as the head of community and bringing an entire tsunami of new ideas, new mindsets, and new ways of interacting with the ecosystem users.
To dispense a bit of our excitement among all of you, we made an interview with Jon that will give you an idea of what you’re in for. The Waves community is about to transform into a massive family open to everyone sharing our love for Web 3 values. Read on to learn how Jon is going to help us with that.
Tell us about your background. What is your path to community management and the appeal of this job for you?
I actually started out getting into blockchain, as many of us do, as an investor. I was lured by this wild west of finance, this new opportunity. At the time, I was going through some personal changes where I was looking to move industry. I wanted to use my new skills in technology, and I wanted to get to the point where I could be a Digital Nomad. I was seeing individuals out there, who set themselves free and live this new decentralized life.
So I started looking and investing in blockchain. I co-invested with a VC because a family member of mine was a GP there. And what we recognized as a VC, was that we could take our skills and increase our allocation if we actually offered services to these projects that made sense for them in a decentralized business model. I decided, and this is kind of where the coincidence came, that I need to protect our investment because they didn’t really have any of the things that we recognized were very popular in blockchain at the moment.
Joining the team at Oasis really checked off a lot of boxes for me at the time. I fell in love with their mission statement and I really enjoyed what they allowed me to do, which was to found and grow a community from scratch.
There I discovered I really loved community building. I started out just moderating the community while I built the framework, going to conferences, meeting individuals, manning the booth, answering questions, and just really putting myself out there on the front line of getting to know the type of people that were interested in the technology that we were affiliated with.
I had the understanding that the community itself is the lifeblood of decentralized business, and that’s where the real value is. So, delving deeper into my community career, moderating, getting into community management, and becoming a community lead, I actually got into BD as it naturally integrates with the community. The reason is that as decentralized business platforms move forward, the frontline individuals that work for a project, network state, whatever it is, they’re the people that receive the most feedback in real-time.
It became very paramount for me to become a part of BD. I understood the value of receiving feedback from the community in all different areas, and business development is one of those areas. As I grew into the community side and became the head of community at Oasis, It really became apparent to me that I really liked community as a career and community building in general. I’m very passionate about it, it’s something that comes very naturally and something that I feel is rewarding.
In light of your new role as the Waves Ecosystem’s head of community, how do you think it’s different from Oasis?
I was with Oasis for four years, but at the time of my founding the community had no product, no ecosystem built out. So I was able to build a community around the future and the promise of the platform. But when I look at Waves, I see that this ecosystem has a lot of products. It already has a game, it has its bridge, and it has a lot of micro-communities that haven’t been harnessed into one global community.
As I see it now, Waves could really use an ambassador program. This is something that we did very well at Oasis. I built that program to be up to around 550 members over the course of two years and it was actually a talent resource pool for Oasis to be able to hire and recruit from within: BD, marketing, developer relations, and an NFT group.
When I chose to leave the project and come over to Waves, it was really exciting for the marketing team because this is something that they felt the ecosystem was missing, an ambassador program to globally access what community truly is in the future of decentralized business platforms.
What do you see as strengths of the Waves community?
One of the biggest strengths of the Waves community that I see is that they like to build within and support from within and get closer to the team. This is something Waves Ducks is a perfect example of. They really have taken this community aspect of what they are, what they enjoy, and they’re growing it together.
Another strength is a thriving and tested ecosystem. Even though there were some incidents recently like the USDN depeg and the Vires withdrawal throttle, which we will address and be transparent about with the community. But that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the attention that was received by individuals within the ecosystem and the industry, who had the ability to do that type of manipulation. And that’s saying something because there are hundreds of DeFi ecosystems out there that have not gotten the benefit of even having whales and investors pouring that much TVL into their DeFi ecosystems.
One of the strengths that I’m really excited about is the community’s passion. I’ve already met numerous passionate members within the community who I’ve been just chatting with for hours about the fun that they have playing Waves Ducks, what they did at the NFT.NYC conference, how they want to get involved with the ecosystem, why they want to get involved with Waves over other ecosystems. The simplicity, the low fees, all these compliments that these members choose to give. They’re not paid, They’re not incentivized, yet. These guys just do it because they love Waves.
Do you think there are some universal characteristics shared by the communities of various projects on Waves?
Absolutely. Obviously, everybody’s here because they love the Waves ecosystem and either they want to make money or they want to participate in an engaging way where they feel like there’s an exchange of value.
The first is the entrepreneurs. You see these in every project and I think it’s something that’s very commonly lost when you’re dealing with community management, that most people are either trying to free their lives through work, part-time or full-time. Whatever they’re doing with their business minds, they come with the mentality of achieving, they’re driven, motivated individuals that are willing to take risks in a new industry.
Then you have those who choose to spend their free time participating and engaging in your social media platforms, who don’t benefit financially from doing that. We can combine these two groups together with an incentivized ambassador program, where they’ll be able to access all the different projects from one hub. We are going to gamify working through the ecosystem.
Harnessing this core group of supporters, the different ecosystem departments, like business development, marketing, developer relations, and product will be empowered by those people willing to give in order to receive. So you get a transparent, fair win-win solution, which lends towards the DAO governance model as well.
Another common denominator is simply the mindset of people that are willing to take a risk in the blockchain industry and have chosen Waves as the ecosystem that they want to be a part of.
So those are the three things that the communities on Waves have in common, and we’re going to harness and wrap them into a unified global program. Not to mention the integration with launchpad, with our accelerator that’s upcoming as well. When you’re talking about startups in your ecosystem, having a community that’s already primed and ready to supercharge a project that’s coming out is such a superpower as well.
Which GEOs would you like to bring into the Waves community?
So far I’ve met over a dozen community managers that are stationed around the world. We already have representatives for the Latin American community, we’ve got someone ready in Africa, we have community managers who speak Arab, Spanish, Thai, Indonesian, Brazilian Portuguese, Vietnamese, Turkish, Syrian, and Japanese and we’re looking to grow and expand around the world!
The translation division that’ll open up for the ambassador program will be a lot more about outreach, a lot more about philanthropy. Very much like missionaries spreading themselves around the world and translating languages. This is something that we’re going to do in our ecosystem to help people understand blockchain and especially with Wave School coming up.
The Spanish community is really important because there are 20 countries that officially speak Spanish, so that’s a really good GEO that we can dig into. Then there’s Africa. Nigeria is absolutely amazing and there’re so many entrepreneurs that are trying to change their lives there. Brazil and the Portuguese-speaking community is another great one that I’d like to bring in.
I’m half Chinese, so I love outreach in China. Previously with Oasis, we had partnerships with the BSN network and with Conflux, the two state-sponsored chains in China. In working with them I’ve gotten to know that China’s doing things really different when it comes to blockchain. But their idea of expansion and making blockchain available to developers is there and there’s a thriving blockchain community as well. And I really appreciate the hard-working entrepreneurs in that region that I’ve had success with in the past.
And of course, North America, since I’m Canadian. It is a huge playground for me. So there are obviously a lot of links to America and with Waves labs now being in Miami, this is one of our focuses. I’m excited about growing North America and helping us have a more global reputation and to attract more community members from around the world.
What do you think is the future of blockchain-based communities and how can they shape businesses?
I think with blockchain, what we’re going to see is the evolution of social technology. We’re going to see network states really take form and community management is a new industry that will be powered by decentralized business models. It’s very different from marketing. Web2 and traditional enterprise businesses have built an industry around marketing. They are telling us what we want to do and what we want to like and buy. This is based on analytics, and statistics and the internet itself is built around systems that were never designed for how we’re using them today.
They’re not secure. They’re being manipulated in ways that make us feel like we’re having choices, and we’re living free lives, but we’re not. People need to be aware of the way it’s being used, the way that we forfeit it, and the way that we’re being manipulated into what we perceive and like.
Instead of telling us what we want to do, the community has the ability to tell the businesses making the product, business development and marketing how we’ll respond. As a business, you can actually look at what your outcome is, and what you want your outcome to be. And for the first time in history you can just ask thousands of people on your network in real-time “What does this do for you?” And you can incentivize it so people don’t feel like it’s not fair that they’re giving this information to you.
This is a whole new industry based on inclusion that’s evolving because of where we’re taking decentralized businesses. Blockchain itself helped evolve social media because it gave the average person the ability to get involved in ways that they could never get involved in before. Communities are bound to push social technologies and network states to a level that I honestly don’t believe traditional marketing people even understand.
I think there are a lot of opportunities there, and we’re going to see a lot of change with the emphasis on the community industry as we push network states and social technology. At Waves we’re going to do it in a way where we offer it to our ecosystem and then potentially transcend our network and offer it outside our network expanding our ecosystem.
What kind of activities do you want to introduce to the Waves community?
One of my specialties is obviously the engagement, AMAs. Those are always fun and when we have the accelerator, I’m sure we’ll do hackathons and fun things like that. I love pitch nights and community engagement activities where people are excited about what’s upcoming in the Waves ecosystem.
Monthly town halls for the ambassadors are another one. So they get to know what’s going on and work with the community team. We’ll do quarterly community town halls. That’s obviously what we should do to just have transparency and let people know what’s upcoming.
Something that’s really worth being excited about is the ambassador program. I want the community to understand that this time around what will really be different is the framework. When I talk about the ambassador program, this is an event and activity in itself. This is something that people can spend their free time on and earn while contributing to the Ecosystem.
We’re also going to incorporate new tools like reward portals to automate the reward system. It will encompass the onboarding process, getting traction in different regions and having competitions around referral competitions, internal leaderboards with promotional tiers for the ambassador program — it’s an entire system.
So I’m really excited about what the ambassador program is going to bring. I’m clearly passionate about it. It’s something that I spend most of my time on.
What do you think is the main driving force that motivates the Waves community and would you like to change something about it?
What I really see right now, and it’s quite refreshing, is a mindset of the belief that this ecosystem will provide solutions for them in a fair way. They truly believe in what Sasha has provided within this ecosystem year after year. Having a strong leader is really something that I commend. The one who’s willing to voice his opinion and not be afraid of public criticism and not afraid of committing to what he says he’s going to do and then following it up. Rather than using political smoke and mirrors, we have leadership within the Waves community that actually puts themselves out there in terms of failure not being an option.
Right now within the larger community, our members have to choose which micro-community to spend their time in. Is it Neutrino? Is it Vires? Is it Waves Ducks? There’s no real one-stop shop for the community to feel like a part of a family. If you look at it like a family, I want to have those monthly family get-togethers or weekly dinners or whatever it is that keeps a family close. I think that’s a mindset that I really want to push forward in Waves, to create a professional community that attracts mass adoption through other businesses, and through other individuals wanting to participate because it really is an environment that they want to be a part of.