Juwan Lee talks about events innovations and the future of blockchain

At Evedo we’re partnering with event organizers all over the globe and we’re lucky to get to know outstanding professionals from the industry. When it comes to blockchain, Juwan Lee, the founder of NexChange and Hong Kong Blockchain Week, has an enormous insight to share. Besides, we were curious to hear, he’s also heavily involved in fintech, venture building, and entertainment companies!

1. Would you please tell us briefly about yourself, NexChange, and the blockchain events you’re organizing?

My name is Juwan Lee and I run a company called NexChange. We’re involved in a number of things — we have a media division, we have an advisory division, and we have a venture building division. So NexChange is essentially a venture builder and a media platform.

In our media division, we coordinate large scale blockchain events. Normally, they are live but because of COVID, we had to make everything virtual. We run events like Singapore Blockchain Week and Hong Kong Blockchain Week. Last year we brought almost 10 000 people to our events.

This year we’re hosting Greater Bay Area (GBA) Blockchain Week. For those who are not familiar with the Greater Bay Area, that is nine Chinese cities plus, basically, Hong Kong and Macao. It’s kind of the largest innovation hub in the world that has been put together within China. What we are doing with the GB Area Blockchain Week is really emphasizing all the developments that are taking place there. For example, the Chinese Central Bank has created its own digital currency called DCEP which has been piloted in the Greater Bay Area.

n addition to our events, we have a media content platform and social assets that make for a full community. NexChange has been around since 2014, involved in blockchain, fintech, AI, entertainment, and smart cities. Also, we are advising companies. The main reason we have this ecosystem is to drive deal flow and build companies, and that is our venture building business.

2. What is your personal opinion about an event like Greater Bay Area (GBA) Blockchain Week being handled entirely virtually? Would you choose to go with virtual and hybrid formats in the future as well?

That’s a good question. I think everything is about the investment of time and costs. If you have a live event, you have to fly somewhere. You’re generally not in the city where you live. So it’s hard to imagine to tell a speaker: “You’re going to spend 15 minutes on the stage as a speaker but you’re going to travel 16 hours going, 16 hours back, and you’re going to spend three days there. Just for 15 minutes.” It’s really hard to imagine convincing anyone to do something like that, right?

So, what we have started to see is that there are easier ways to disseminate information and that COVID has accelerated digitization. But more importantly, there is a balance between how much time and money you spend to do something.

Sometimes you don’t need to travel but there are still some things for which travel is essential.

For live events, there is much more engagement, you get to meet more people but often, what happens is, you go to these events and you don’t listen to the content. You’re networking, you’re not even in the speaking room. Well, with virtual events, there’s less networking, and more listening to the content. It’s different. And also, the participants may only go there for an hour or two, they don’t have to leave their office or their home. The amount of friction in terms of getting to the event is very little. They didn’t have to go on a plane, they didn’t have to rent a hotel room, they didn’t have to get a taxi to go to the convention center. So, these are all things much easier to accomplish.

There are pros and cons but I do look forward to the day we can go back to having live events because the engagement is better and the business models are very hard to work when they’re virtual. We believe that live events are a much better business model.

3. How would you describe the major blockchain trends that we’re experiencing in 2021?

I think what’s happening is this — rise in Bitcoin prices lifts all boats. A lot of people who are looking at Bitcoin moving implies that the industry is improving. What has happened this time, which is different than what has happened in the previous time with both Bitcoin and blockchain markets, is that institutions are actually buying in before retail investors. This is significant. We’re seeing regulations becoming a little bit more clear or at least a lot less unclear. We’re starting to notice large organizations and companies coming to the market further validating the institutionalization of blockchain. And also, cryptocurrency is getting a lot more attention.

It’s no coincidence that 80% of the central banks are working on some form of digital currency they have for themselves. Around the world, we’re seeing a lot more unity around the view that blockchain and cryptocurrency are not something temporary but really have a future. This is important.

The big blockchain trend is a legitimization because institutions are coming in.

4. That’s a valuable observation. At Evedo we’re extremely excited to be your ticketing partner for Greater Bay Area (GBA) Blockchain Week. What do you think about our platform and what is your advice for us?

Well, having run nearly 70 events in 10 different countries attended by over 100 000 people globally, I will say it’s never easy to throw an event. Every event, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve thrown events, has difficulties. We’ve learned a lot. What’s important is that we’re always trying to grow our reach.

Only a few people have actually ever bought a Bitcoin. And we tap into this market. What we want to do is going beyond our own reach. What I see Evedo doing is allowing us to get more exposure outside of our current audience. At the same time, there’s an ease of acquisition which together with building a brand is very important.

If you have a platform that is already germinating all these other events, then you can cross-pollinate and have other people going to other events come to our events. I think, the bigger this gets, the more successful it becomes. It will be wonderful. I’m glad you guys are doing this and I’m glad to be one of your partners.

Reserve your spot at Greater Bay Area (GBA) Blockchain Week here.

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