Much of Agoric’s business development team is based on the East Coast of the U.S. Natali Rodriguez provides admin support from Brooklyn. Raised in White Plains, north of New York City, Natali earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hartford in marketing, with a minor in finance. She came to Agoric after jobs in marketing and account management. After college graduation, she realized marketing wasn’t her calling. “I’m first generation American,” says Natali, whose family hails originally from Colombia. “I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t really have that guidance. I realized this isn’t what I like. I don’t thrive in this environment. I don’t feel happy.” As she explains her trajectory, it was through a mix of professional and personal experience that she chanced upon Web3. A Latinx Telegram about Web3 group provided networking opportunities. “I knew that I wanted to work in Web3,” Natali says, ”but I didn’t understand in what capacity.” Research and further networking led her to learn about Agoric and its growing team: “When I found out about this opportunity, I thought this is the best way to learn: from the inside.” 

How did you learn about Agoric?

I first learned about Agoric after following and engaging with several groups on Telegram and Discord, and when Agoric began to come up in chats, I wanted to learn more. The owner of the Telegram group called Blockchain Latinx reached out to me and introduced me to Agoric’s director of partner programs. 

What was it like getting situated at Agoric?

It has definitely been quite the learning curve, because it’s such a technical organization, but I love the challenge. The team is extremely supportive in helping me learn and grow.

What makes it such a learning curve?

Agoric is a team of experts who are really deep into what they do. It’s very much an engineering-oriented company, starting right with our CEO, Dean. But we’re also more than engineering. Everyone, regardless of their individual responsibilities, is very informative, so that we all play a role in making Agoric a success. It’s been a great transition for me. 

Did you have previous professional experience in blockchain?

The previous company I worked for started consulting a few companies in blockchain and NFTs, one being an events company that throws huge crypto events throughout the U.S. That was my main prior professional blockchain experience. Our CEO started taking a liking to Web3, blockchain, and crypto, and so we started targeting companies in that realm and seeing what we  could contribute to what they’re doing. I’m currently taking Moralis Academy classes in Blockchain for Business.

And that work all took place during the pandemic, right?

Yes. Right before the pandemic, I was working in a marketing role. It had nothing to do with what I’m doing now. I loved working with that team, but as the pandemic hit, I came to realize that marketing wasn’t what I was put on the planet to do. Once I left, I started to want to invest into crypto, and that just opened the door to so much more, because I started following forums, and Reddit, and Discords, and Twitter, and YouTube, just falling into that rabbit hole. That has led me to where I am now. I still feel very new. It’s only been about a year since I started exploring crypto, but I really love where this has taken me. The pandemic gave me an opportunity to realign with my values and set new goals for myself. 

Being new to Agoric, how do you describe what we do to a friend from high school who knows nothing about crypto?

I would explain that Agoric is a software development company. We develop tools in JavaScript, which is the most widely used scripting language to date. Agoric aims to be the go-to solution for developers working in decentralized finance, or DeFi — think crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. That’s the world we work in. The reason Agoric is different is because while there are millions of developers in the world, only a few thousand, tops, are up to speed on languages that blockchain devs use.  Bringing JavaScript developers into web3 is a big deal because they can use their knowledge in JS to build and deploy on the blockchain. When I tell my friends Agoric’s founders are some of key members in the ongoing development of the JavaScript language, they get it. 

How are you coming up to speed on blockchain and Agoric’s role in DeFi?

I read. I immerse myself in what we do. There’s lots of great content out there, including interviews and panel discussions with Agoric Chief Scientist Mark Miller, our CEO Dean Tribble, and our Director of Product Management Rowland Graus — as well as published content about the Cosmos ecosystem and its many contributors. I’m throwing myself into that, and becoming as technically well-versed as possible. I’ve created a glossary that each day gets larger. It is filled with technical terms and things that I hear a lot circling around in our conversations and in Slack.

Was there a moment when crypto clicked for you, when it just sort of made sense?

What has really helped has been my own experience in investing. First that was learning to operate the different centralized and decentralized exchanges, and then from there researching different wallets — warm and cold — and using them, and understanding the importance of security and planning ahead. Those things started to make it click for me, that crypto is more than just hype. I think it’s going to mean a lot to us as a society when we finally understand the importance of having control over our information, privacy, and essentially our money. When the entire GameStop meme stock situation happened, and Robinhood stopped people from being able to buy in or take out, that was a huge red flag to me. That really solidified everything that crypto and blockchain are working toward: a decentralized world.

What are some concepts that have intrigued you in particular as you’ve come up to speed at Agoric?

Before starting work at Agoric, I didn’t know much about Cosmos. The most hyped-about protocols and coins are Ethereum and Bitcoin. They are different from what Cosmos is doing with IBC, like the fact that everyone can create their own chain and not necessarily work off of the same one. There’s the ability to share assets and share programming. I think Agoric is going to pave the way, and it’s going to make Cosmos an even bigger powerhouse.

The team you work with, Partner Programs, is headed up by Vanessa Pestritto. What’s it like working with Vanessa? And what are some of your responsibilities?

Vanessa is brilliant and I feel very lucky working under her. She has already taught me so much and I am truly inspired by her work ethic. I believe representation is very important. I have faith that in time, I too can contribute great things to this space.

You had prior experience working with companies in the U.S. and Latin America. How have those skills transferred over to Agoric?

The essential ones are communication, transparency, and knowledge of the product. I once worked for a Fortune 500 commodities trading company, one of the largest in the world, and I was in the aluminum department. I was the only Spanish speaker on my team in our New York office, so the regions that I mainly handled were Latin America and some of Canada. As a fluent Spanish speaker, I was able to easily communicate with our clients and team members abroad. We had big offices in Brazil and in Mexico. Being personable, being on top of your work — no one wants delayed responses and half-answered questions. That’s important at any job: Knowing your audience, knowing your client, and understanding the issues that they’re having and how you can make their job or life easier.