Women of NEAR: Carolin The Creative Force of Mintbase

Women of NEAR is a new series dedicated to highlighting the work, vision, and experiences of women’s leaders in the NEARverse. By exposing women’s contribution to the ecosystem, it aims at inspiring other women to join NEAR and enrich it with their ideas. The seventh episode of the series is dedicated to Carolin, co-founder of Mintbase, the home of purposeful NFTs. In this interview she will share all about her experience in crypto, from early research to the development of Mintbase, as well as her insights on where the industry is heading.

Carolin’s Journey From the Old World to Blockchain

Carolin hosted her own panel on “The Art of Social Impact” at Liscon 2021.

After graduating from international business, Carolin started off her professional career working for various startups in business and marketing roles. It was 2016, and young Carolin was living in Berlin, the capital of electronic music and home to a bustling nightlife. And it is during this time that, through a friend , Carolin first heard about blockchain:

“I’ve always enjoyed going to festivals and concerts and in Berlin the festival and music scene was really great. My clients were also festival workers and I was working for them as a business developer. Then one day one of my customers told me about this thing called blockchain and that it would one day replace all the middle men. I got super curious and through this interest I got a job at the German parliament as blockchain research assistant.”

Carolin’s curiosity brought her to learn more about blockchain and to immediately recognize its disruptive power for the event industry and beyond:

“I think that one of the biggest flaws of our society nowadays is that we are all siloed and all the different ecosystems, banks and companies all have siloed APIs so we don’t really know what’s happening and everybody is doing some kind of shady stuff. With blockchain we actually have a chance to make it better. I really believe that blockchain can pave the way for a better and fairer, more transparent society.”

Since Carolin discovered blockchain technology she never stopped researching and getting more and more curious. But it wasn’t until 2018, that another encounter would pull her inside a crypto rabbit hole that would change her life.

A Special Encounter and The Founding of Mintbase

Mintbase co-founders Carolin and Nate at NFT NYC 2020.

It was 2018, and Carolin was still working at the German parliament as a blockchain research assistant. She had learned the insides out of blockchain technology but she had never tried to do something concrete with it, at least, until she met Nate, who would later become Carolin’s life and work partner:

“I met Nate in 2018, and he was in Berlin at that time. He told me about NFTs and what he was building and I told him about what I was doing, that is writing speeches and doing research. But then he asked me if I had a wallet or any crypto and I didn’t at the time and that made me realize how there is no point for me researching it if I don’t really use it. Since then I got super curious about NFTs and I joined Mintbase super early, so we built it together with Nate. We are a couple but also co-founders. And last year we moved from Berlin to Lisbon as it is transforming into a crypto hub. Now we are a team of 10 people.”

Carolin and her partner (and co-founder) Nate in Lisbon after raising $1 million for Mintbase.

When Carolin first got involved with Mintbase, the idea of the project was just getting delineated. Back in 2018 Nate was traveling the world and had won the Hackathon at the Devcon 4 in Prague for the very first version of Mintbase. As Carolin explains, it was something very different from what it is today:

“The original idea was, whenever you spend money with your credit card you receive an NFT that gives you coffee or something like that. That was the original idea to connect NFTs to the real world. Back then it was something really simple, it wasn’t easy to create NFTs and Nate built this NFT smart contract factory. So basically, on Mintbase it’s different to other platforms because you have to deploy your own store and once you have it you can mint your NFTs. Other projects only allow you to mint NFTs under their smart contracts.”

Now Mintbase has evolved to something much bigger than that, it has evolved into the house of purposeful NFTs. With her knowledge of blockchain and experience as a business developer in the event sector, Carolin’s contribution to Mintbase’ evolution was paramount:

“When it comes to utility NFTs, we have been very interested since the beginning in building a bridge between the physical and virtual. So in 2019 we experimented on Ethereum with NFT ticketing for the MetaCartel demo day during Berlin blockchain week, and we did ticketing for NFT NYC. We are really interested in seeing how this beautiful asset like NFT ticket can change the way we do events and introduce real ownership.”

The expanding Mintbase team. (source)

Ticketing is a very intuitive application of NFTs. It constitutes a low hanging fruit for Mintbase who, since has joined NEAR was able to experiment with a variety of use cases:

“Now we can actually use the technology on NEAR because it’s just scalable and affordable for everyone. And here in Lisbon we have done some use cases. We have done ticketing for the NEARcon and then we onboarded several restaurants here in the city and helped them to mint NFTs and then we bought the NFTs, like beer or wine NFTs and we gave it out at NEARcon and people who had the ticket could go to the actual bar and redeem their item”.

What Mintbase allows is a new frontier for the new creator economy and a new dawn for NFTs. Its structure enables creators,service providers, and users to become more empowered through ownership and disintermediation bringing forth a fairer way of doing business.

Carolin’s Experience in Crypto and Her Future Outlook

Mintbase took Carolin to Lisbon, Portugal.

Carolin’s passion for her job is palpable, the environment fits perfectly well with her world outlook and her dynamic personality:

“I had a lot of working experiences outside crypto. I worked for the German parliament, I worked in startups, in a microfinance startup and honestly I was always a little bit bored in my job because it was one specific task and you were not flexible to do anything else. But also there was almost no innovation happening in those fields while crypto is completely different. It requires multitasking, you are involved in many different things at the same time, technology changes every day, there are new people getting onboard. It’s really nice to be in a field where you feel the drive of people, the excitement of people and you feel that people really are passionate about this technology and I haven’t seen this anywhere else.”

The crypto space, according to Carolin, is a dynamic youthful space, full of innovation and opportunities for everybody. What makes Carolin excited about the space is that people working on crypto are trying to build a different future, a future where the old economic models are flipped and gates opened:

“I hope that in general it will be a world in which we feel comfortable and we are treated fairly and we can raise the quality of life for many people, remove banks and middle men that are taking the majority of the cut.”

Carolin was personally affected by the predatory models of traditional finance. Like many students, she had to take up a loan in order to go to university and struggled to pay it off once her studies were over due to a high interest rate. These kinds of experiences with blockchain can be prevented by giving people fairer deals and better access to loans:

“ I studied in England and to do that I took a “student loan” from Commerzbank. It was 2008 and it had a 5.5% interest rate. When I actually finished my studies, paying it off was crazy hard. The interest rate was so high that every month I was struggling. So when I think about blockchain and cryptocurrency like with DeFi, you can easily get a loan, P2P with no middle man and it’s really great and it’s empowering to know that there are different options out there, and in the future you can probably take up loans with no interest rates and is not chains, not behind closed doors. So I think we will improve many lives.”

The 100% NFT ticketed conference at Berlin Blockchain Week 2019. Experiences like this led Nate and Carolin to migrate to NEAR Protocol to scale NFTs.

Carolin sees in blockchain an incredible potential to bring about a better future for everybody and sees NEAR Protocol as being very well positioned to be the engine of this transformation:

“I think NEAR is really groundbreaking, it really is innovative. By looking at other blockchain, Ethereum was a perfect, beautiful first trial but NEAR is really going a step forward. How I see the future is that anyone can validate the network on their machines at home. And sharding was just launched by NEAR so it’s really the step toward a more decentralized and distributed system where really anyone can validate the network. On other chains like Solana is not possible because you need a massive data center to validate the network. The sharding that was recently implemented by NEAR it’s very powerful, it’s the core of a decentralized network to be able to also validate the network on my machine, that’s where I see the future heading, the future I want to live in and not the massive data center route”.

Carolin’s vision and story is another valuable account for young women getting started on crypto. Although everyone has their own path in life, being exposed to other’s experiences and thoughts can provide inspiration, comfort, and motivation to persevere in one’s endeavors. For the NEAR community in particular, these kinds of stories help see the people behind the screens and learn more about their human side and story, thus fostering a sense of community.

To read more about NEAR’s amazing women, follow me on Twitter and Medium.

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