Web3, a technology akin to AI in its transformative potential, promises to reshape the way we interact with the digital world. But amidst the buzz surrounding cryptocurrencies and NFTs, the true essence of Web3 often remains obscured behind a veil of complexity and misconceptions. By talking to web3 founders, the aim of this series is to break down the barriers surrounding the technology, by shining a light on its capacity to address real-world challenges and the consequential entrepreneurial opportunities. We hope to bridge the gap between the pioneers of the crypto universe and the wider world.

To kickstart our exploration, we spoke with Cohort’s founder Séraphie de Tracy, a company launched by 3founders in 2022 that facilitates the creation of NFT-powered customer engagement strategies for consumer-focused companies. Below, we talk to her about the true potential of NFTs beyond mere digital collectibles, how they can profoundly impact brand-consumer relationships, and her entrepreneurial journey toward accomplishing this goal.

Hi Séraphie, thanks for joining us. Let's start by exploring the place of Web3 in today's world. Do you think Web3 is a misunderstood technology?

Séraphie de Tracy: Absolutely! Web3 suffers from poor branding, distorting its real value proposition. This is a common challenge for emerging technologies until a compelling use case is developed. To illustrate, consider AI; it existed for a long time, but it only gained widespread recognition when applications like ChatGPT brought its everyday utility to people's fingertips.

With Web3, the focus on cryptocurrencies or digital art (NFTs) can alienate people, obscuring the core essence of the technology. At its heart, Web3 revolves around blockchain technology, empowering a more trustworthy, fair, and decentralized internet. By reducing the reliance on intermediaries, it puts power back into the hands of users.

Among the technology’s many use cases, Web3 holds the key to elevating online experiences with brands, which is Cohort’s expertise. But to fully unlock the technology’s potential, more companies need to develop Web3-powered solutions that address real-world challenges. As these innovations materialize, the usefulness of Web3 will become clearer.

Let's talk about how you’re contributing to that feat. Tell us about how you recognized the potential of Web3 technology in enhancing the online relationship between brands and consumers?

Séraphie de Tracy: I used to work for a blockchain company, where I witnessed the emergence of NFTs. I was intrigued by their interoperability, allowing companies to gain insights into customers' preferences, affiliations, and interests (with explicit permission). This sparked my initial thoughts about how NFTs could add value to the brand-client relationship, unlocking opportunities for rewards, incentives, and brand collaborations. Traditionally, bridging the communication gap between brands has been challenging, but NFTs and wallets have this feature built-in.

But it wasn’t long before we realized that the potential of Web3 and NFTs extended far beyond that.

Which leads us to Cohort. What problem does your solution address?

Séraphie de Tracy: We recognized a significant challenge in how brands retain clients after a purchase – the process is often transactional and confined within the brand's ecosystem, limited to sending newsletters. This approach lacks the necessary engagement to foster lasting customer loyalty.

Meanwhile, NFTs - in the context of Cohort, I actually find ‘digital assets’ a more suitable term - possess the inherent ability to create immersive, cross-platform, and personalized experiences for consumers, elevating retention and engagement. However, technical barriers hinder many web2 companies from entering this space.

With this in mind, we set out to develop a platform that enables our clients and their customers to fully embrace digital assets without the need for complex technical knowledge. Our solution is designed to be user-friendly and accessible – no coding, wallets, or cryptocurrencies required. By providing these tools and features, we empower brands to harness the potential of digital assets to elevate long-term customer engagement.

What are the specific use cases?

Séraphie de Tracy: We have a few key marketing objectives our clients usually want to accomplish with Cohort:

  • To boost customer retention and purchase frequency with new and engaging experiences such as personalized rewards,
  • Create a sense of belonging and fuel what we call ‘brand love’, the best growth engine in the world,
  • Scale collabs with like-minded brands and organizations to attract new prospects.

Do you have an example?

Séraphie de Tracy: One of our most recent customers in the telecommunications industry launched a new kind of loyalty program with Cohort. The objective: get their customers to spend more time with the brand and become ambassadors. How? Cohort provides an augmented customer account embedded within the operator’s app where the end customer can collect digital assets, play games, enter competitions, and access personalized rewards and benefits from a range of external partners. All of these experiences are unlocked with unique digital assets (NFTs), and made possible thanks to the interoperability between platforms, created by the blockchain. The response has been great so far, turning a leading brand into a destination.

Outside of this use case, what has the response to Cohort been like so far?

Séraphie de Tracy: We've partnered with 20 clients, including Etam, Socque, Atelier Shelter, and other consumer-focused brands in diverse industries like retail, fashion, telecoms, and banking. We’ll be announcing some new partners soon…

Another positive indicator is that once brands onboard with us, they tend to stay for the long term. They see the value, and I think that’s thanks to the quality of our product. We had a 12-month-long period of discovery while we were at 3founders, which allowed us to nail our offer. There hasn’t been a single feature that we’ve launched to date that we’ve regretted.

It sounds like success after success! Was it always smooth sailing?

Séraphie de Tracy: Our path wasn’t without its hurdles. It took work to refine our value proposition, especially when reaching out to clients in the web2 universe. We had to navigate through various iterations before crystallizing our offer and showcasing how Cohort addresses their unique needs.

Today, there’s still work to be done in order to make sure that loyalty and retention are top of mind for marketers. They are often strong in customer acquisition but may face challenges when devising innovative loyalty programs. To address this, we are actively collaborating with marketing experts to design winning loyalty initiatives that seamlessly integrate with our technology, which will help us rewrite the traditional marketing playbook and make Cohort’s offer even stronger.

What does the future look like for Cohort?

Séraphie de Tracy: We aim to position Cohort as an indispensable pillar within the marketing mix. Our goal is to have businesses say, "For my e-commerce, I'll use Shopify; my payment provider will be Stripe, and for customer engagement, it’ll be Cohort." We envision Cohort becoming a household name in the realm of customer engagement, synonymous with driving authentic brand-consumer relationships. It should be an integral part of companies’ engagement strategies, alongside paid ads, etc.

I can’t help but be impressed by everything you’ve achieved, especially considering the underrepresentation of women in the web3 space. Could you share your experience navigating this?

Séraphie de Tracy: The web3 industry, like many tech-related fields, has been traditionally perceived as masculine. This perception is often ingrained in societal conditioning from a young age, where technology is commonly associated with boys.

At Cohort, we are fortunate to be situated at the intersection of marketing and web3. This means that we have a lot of female clients, and therefore have a unique position to bridge the gap between web3 and women.

But there is still much work to be done. Increasing the participation of women in web3 is essential for the sake of representation and to ensure that diverse perspectives and insights shape the future of technology. After all, women make up half of the customer base for most products, underscoring the importance of their active involvement in their creation.

Final question: what advice would you give to someone thinking about creating a company in the web3 space?

Séraphie de Tracy: Be resilient. Building a company in the web3 space can be complex and requires a long-term commitment. It's crucial to stay persistent and adapt to challenges as they arise.

Secondly, you must have a clear and defined pain point that your company aims to address. Starting a web3 company merely because it seems cool isn’t enough. Understanding how web3 technology can genuinely solve a problem is the key. Let the problem you aim to solve be your guiding star.

Moreover, you don't have to be a die-hard web3 fanatic to succeed! Having a passion for technology and grasping a few key concepts is enough. You don't need to be a blockchain guru. In fact, approaching web3 with a fresh perspective might even allow you to bring it to the mainstream in innovative ways, which is precisely what the industry needs.

Thanks, Séraphie! To find out more about her and Cohort, visit:

Séraphie’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/séraphiedetracy/

Cohort’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cohortxyz/

Cohort’s website: https://getcohort.com/