Mai Akiyoshi - CEO & Co-Founder, Curious Addys' Trading Club

Ep 81: Building a cute, educational & interactive NFT platform for Web3 beginners | Mai Akiyoshi (CEO & Co-Founder, Curious Addys’ Trading Club)

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Welcome to Episode 81!

Welcome to the 5th episode of STIMY’s mini NFT sub-series! 

Our guest for STIMY Episode 81 is Mai Akiyoshi.

Mai is the CEO and co-founder of Curious Addys, a Web3 startup building the best educational platform and community for newcomers to Web3. She is building, a platform where anyone can ask questions on Web3 and get guaranteed answers from experts. Previously, Mai was a senior software engineer at Gusto and VP of marketing at Logbar, a Japanese startup where she co-created the world’s first handheld offline translation device, ili.


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    Who is Mai Akiyoshi?

    Mai Akiyoshi grew up in Japan, with its uniquely restrictive culture and a desire to move to the US. She was deeply influenced by her entrepreneurial grandparents and had an unconventional start to her current Silicon Valley software engineer career: by first applying to be in sales!

    • 2:32 Growing up in Japan
    • 4:35 Being diagnosed with ADHD
    • 5:55 Being influenced by her grandparents, who founded their own company after World War II
    • 7:02 Wanting to go to the US
    • 8:27 Applying for a sales position & becoming a software engineer
    They didn't know how to talk to women because I'm the only woman. So they don't look at me and they start sweating when when they talked to me. So I was like, wow, I'm actually alien in this room.
    Mai Akiyoshi - CEO & Co-Founder, Curious Addys' Trading Club
    Mai Akiyoshi
    Co-Founder & CEO, Curious Addys' Trading Club

    Becoming a Software Engineer

    The path to being a software engineer has been very bumpy for Mai. From struggling with the training to entering a department as the only female, where she felt like an actual alien!

    Eventually, she moved to a startup which began her journey into Web 3.

    • 10:02 Japan’s shaming culture
    • 11:29 Feeling like she’d landed on an alien planet 
    • 12:24 Moving to a new startup, Logbar
    • 14:18 Moving to the US
    • 15:03 How Nuseir of Nas Academy introduced her to Ben Yu & is the “mother” of Curious Addys
    • 16:56 Studying at App Academy 
    • 19:19 Becoming the senior software engineer at Gusto
    Mai Akiyoshi - CEO & Co-Founder, Curious Addys' Trading Club

    Curious Addys’ Trading Club 

    To learn how Mai first got into Web3, the genesis of Curious Addys’ Trading Club including why Nuseir of Nasdaily is seen as its “mother”, you’ll have to listen to the episode!

    • 21:55 How Mai first entered the Web3 space
    • 22:51 Why Ethereum is so interesting
    • 23:37 Meeting Zeneca & helping him with his smart contract 
    • 24:47 Starting a Tamagochi education platform?
    • 26:54 Why NFTs are here to stay
    • 28:23 NFTs are the best way to bootstrap a community
    • 29:32 The vision behind Curious Addys’ Trading Club: Education, Cute, NFTs
    • 32:07 Why an octopus for a mascot?
    • 33:56 The early days of building Curious Addys
    • 36:01 Finding her founding team members
    • 37:24 Maintaining the right values as the community grows
    • 39:28 100% refund policy
    • 40:15 Why release only 5,000 in the initial launch
    • 40:51 How they promoted Curious Addys’ Trading Club
    • 42:02 Building partnerships 
    • 42:59 The type of products under Curious Addys’ Trading Club
    • 44:39 What is Ember?
    • 47:03 NFT portfolio tracker 
    • 50:12 Reading smart contracts
    • 52:35 Mai’s favourite NFT 
    • 53:53 What Mai believes in that most people don’t in the crypto space
    • 54:15 Biggest mistake Mai has done in the Web3 space
    • 55:03 How to spot NFT/crypto scams
    Mai Akiyoshi - CEO & Co-Founder, Curious Addys' Trading Club

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:

    • Debbie Soon: Former VP, Consumer Products at ONE Championship & co-founder of HUG: Web3 accelerator (that Curious Addys’ is part of), discovery platform and more
    • Lily Wu: Co-Founder of WOW Pixies – the first venture DAO focused on women-led NFT projects. Previously founded two 7-figure businesses in the shoe/sneaker and edtech industry.
    • Nicole Yap: Co-Founder, 8sian NFT – the first NFT collection focused on Asian women (including the creation of a Chinatown in the metaverse, Fashion Week & high profile collaborations!)
    • Red Hong Yi: Artist who paints without a paintbrush. She has worked with Jackie Chan, Google, Facebook & Nespresso, was featured at the World Economic Forum & more recently on TIME Magazine’s 26 April special issue on climate change. Recently completed Malaysia’s most successful NFT collection, Memebank
    • MoonHMZ aka Mumu the Stan: Co-Founder of MalaysiaNFT. Mumu is a young Muslim mother/artist who first got into the NFT space because of her Stan account & sold her first NFT to Mike Shinoda (lead singer of Linkin Park)

    If you enjoyed this episode with Mai, you can: 

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    If you’d like to support STIMY as a patron, you can visit STIMY’s patron page here

    STIMY Ep 81: Mai Akiyoshi (Co-Founder & CEO, Curious Addys' Trading Club)


    Mai Akiyoshi: They talk about code, which I had no idea what they're talking about. Like JavaScript, functions, functional programming. They talk about Rhonda or whatever the word is. It sounded all like, you know, different languages.

    So it was very overwhelmed. Like right after I joined, I jumped into this room. I saw this like huge anime poster and all male. And those people are the ones that I have never talked before, because I didn't go to a science major. So I was very overwhelmed and also I'm only female.

    And they didn't know how to talk to women because I'm the only woman. Right. so they don't look at me and they start sweating when when they talked to me. So I was like, wow, I'm actually alien in this room.

    Ling Yah: Hey everyone. To those celebrating on 3rd of May, Selamat Hari Raya. Hope you're all celebrating with lots of great food, family and friends.

    And to everyone here. Welcome to episode 81 of the So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah and today's guest is Mai Akiyoshi. Mai is a Silicon valley engineer from Japan and the co-founder of Curious Addys - an NFT project that seeks to bring people into the web three world through education that is easy to understand interactive and cute as well as shining spotlight on ADHD.

    What's incredible about my journey is that she's had an unconventional route to Silicon valley. She first applied to be in a sales position in Japan, but the company then decided arbitrarily to train her to be a software engineer. She ended up working in the most technically demanding department where she was treated like an alien because she was the only woman.

    And ended up in a startup because she applied for a position she wasn't qualified for. Mai shares her struggle with ADHD, becoming the top engineer in her company, and also the inspiration and journey towards building Curious Addys - how they build their community, determined the products to launch, which include a quora for a Web3 and an interactive trading platform, her favorite NFT, and what to expect moving forward.

    And if you've enjoyed the episodes of this podcast and would like to support in some way, this podcast happens to have a Patreon Page at every little bit does help in the growth of this podcast.

    And want to learn more about Mai's journey?

    Let's go.

    Mai Akiyoshi: I grew up in Japan. I actually grew up in like very, very small town.

    I didn't know anything. I didn't speak any English and the first time I went abroad, it was actually when I was like 20 years old. I was shocked. I'm just completely useless because Japan is like, it's not really connected to anywhere.

    Right? So like, if you speak Japanese and if you like live in this country, you don't have any problem. But once you go outside, you're really weird because the Japanese people are like weird, like different.

    Ling Yah: I wouldn't say weird, but it's very different.

    I couldn't speak Japanese and there were a lot of things I didn't understand, but because I understand Chinese, there are certain words I can pick up. But it's just a mannerism. I found myself bowing down every time for everything. And that's just not something you do right?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Exactly. So it's like, overly polite.

    So for example, like when I was in Sweden I asked like something like Spanish people and like, Hey, can I sit and they're like, what if I say no, right? Like why even asking? And it was like, oh, okay. So it's not common cool. growing up in Japan, like such a closed place is very interesting. And after going abroad, I really started realizing how close it is and how unflexible it is.

    For example, after I went to Sweden, I hated job hunting so much because in Japan, everyone has to wear the same thing. Everyone has to go through the same process. There's no, other path. So that really felt so bizarre to me and I really didn't want to do it, but there are not so many ways that you can do it differently because once you're different, you're a little bit like outside of the society.

    And I didn't have cars to be like so different.

    it's to the restricted place to be.

    Ling Yah: Didn't you always feel when you grew up in Japan you didn't quite fit into society?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Not until like I graduated from high school. was born in Kyushu, which is like the small island. At the time, like, have never seen different world, so I didn't feel like I want it to be different. But then once I go outside of Japan, I was like, oh, there's a different kind of world and I want to be in that world.

    So I think I started being a little more different after like starting to be in abroad.

    Ling Yah: And when were you aware that you had ADHD? When did you realize that, oh, I should go and get diagnosed?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah, it's a good question. It's actually six months ago .

    and I had never thought that I had ADHD. There's one time that I was talking to the friend and this friend start talking about his experience, like, oh, I always forget something and always like a hard time, paying attention to something.

    And I was like, oh, wait a minute. Is that not normal? I thought this is normal. And then I started like, thinking okay, maybe like my life hasn't been normal. And then like, I went to clinic and started talking about my life story and the clinic said, okay, yeah, that sounds like ADHD.

    After I heard that, it felt so good because it explained so much like, why I'm so different. Why I always resist to like, you know, all authorities. Uh, When I was kid, I always like, tried to be against rules. And I didn't like school. I didn't like teachers.

    I can do certain things very well, but I really can't do like, certain things well. Everything just like connected . And I was like, wow, that was ADHD. And after I learned that everything that makes sense.

    That was great discovery. After that, I really felt like, wow, I'm not failure.

    Oh, it's ADHD that like certain things just hard.

    So that made me feel a lot more confident in myself as like this is okay, this is actually ADHD, not me.

    Ling Yah: I want to go back on to how you and Ben have embraced ADHD. But before that, you know, growing up in Japan, I also read that your grandparents started a company after World War 2.

    So what was that and did that influence the way that you thought and we're growing up?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah, a hundred percent. So they start a company that makes a baby clothing. My grandpa always had this dream of like, I want to sell my product in Tokyo and in department store in Tokyo. So he had this dream and then he works extremely hard and then he made it happen.

    And he has like this amazing philosophy that company exists for people, the employees. So you have to make them happy. if you make them happy, they will make a good product. And that product will make the customers happy. So that's how you contribute to the society.

    Whenever she gets drunk, she just keeps like talking to me that story over and over again. And that really influenced me a lot like, okay, I want to be entrepreneur and I want to have a dream and I want to achieve something like he did. So he really, really strongly influenced me.

    Ling Yah: You said you always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but didn't you also since high school, I think also want to go to the U S so how did the U S come in together?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Oh yeah, I don't know why, but I always wanted go to the United States, like since high school. I think but At the time, I was in the Kendall club, which is really restrict club and the teacher in Kendo club was like, Oh, like it's meaningless to go to United States.

    You already got admission to like one of the best schools in Japan. Why do you have to go to America? Like You should just stay Japan. And At the time, teacher was everything. like That teacher is just like, so big authority that I, I was never be able to like, be against.

    So I just couldn't say no. And I just didn't like going to a Japanese university but I really wanted to go to United States for like such a long time.

    Ling Yah: Sometimes you just know where you want to go, right? There didn't have to be a particular reason. You said that you wanted to be an entrepreneur, but you ended up doing management science at Kea'au university. So how did that happen?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. So management science was, it's also coming from my family. My dad strongly believed that I can't do science, which I don't think is true, but he thought that my family can't do maths or science.

    So I just naturally went to business side of it. There are different choices, like finance, management, marketing . And the only thing that I'm interested in is management. So it just naturally chose management.

    Ling Yah: And so you graduated 2012, you ended up working at this enterprise package solution company code works applications. you wrote a very extensive medium article about this, that you'd joined to be on the sales team and then you ended up being a software engineer, which is completely different.

    So how did that happen?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah,.

    That was like so weird because at that time I was already like, I want to work in the States. I have no interest in Japanese company. I got that job, but then I didn't even like, look at the job because I have no plan going there.

    But I got internship. I did an internship in San Francisco and that company wanted to hire me, but the salary was too low to live in SF. I thought, okay, maybe I can go back to Japan and work for like three months and then get some way to back to United States.

    So I didn't know anything about the company at all. And I joined and it's like really, really strange training happened.

    There were like 300 new graduates for this company and everyone was pushed into the same room with no internet. And then they give you assignment, during like the paper and Java on that paper.

    And like, you have to figure out how to make this program work and you can't Google anything. And that's like how this started. And I was so confused and because I am ADHD of course I make mistakes. and then I can't type like, write. Everyone was like really good at like, code to, do like computer and like that they get her white.

    Right. But I was so confused and I don't pay attention to details. There's one character mistake, that I didn't catch for like days. And that's why, like, I got the worst in the cohort.

    Ling Yah: That's a big deal in Japan, right? Because your successes, they over measure you in terms of where you are in the batch. That's really important in Japan.

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. And the Japan list has this like shaming culture.

    They show that like, which rank you are. in this room of like 300 people, everyone knows that I'm like worst student, right.

    They shame you on that and idea like, okay, you are a kind of failure. You just can't do the work. So that really, really affected me for such a long time And like that my confidence really was, attacked at the time.

    So there's several assignments and third assignments was a little more visual and because I'm more visual, I was able to like catch up to the mid of the class.

    So I was able to graduate. When I first learning visually, I really enjoyed. it was wow, programming. So interesting. You can make these things that you can make calculator. And like this works. And I was fascinated by the idea of like being programmer. So at the time it was like, okay. There is a chance to be sales, but I chose to go to a research and development department, which is the hardest, because if you're going to do a program, I like you might also pick on the coolest program. Right. So I wanted to go, to the coolest department. And I applied for that. Somehow I got chosen, even though the other members are like CS degree, computer science, PhD students.

    But I got, accepted because I was the only female. And they were like, oh, she came from like nowhere. And like, Her score is actually really low, but it's interesting whether we just like try. So I got in software engineering.

    Ling Yah: You said that when you joined and this is called the advanced technology engineering that you felt as though they were talking in the language you didn't know, and you landed in an alien planet. Why was that?

    Mai Akiyoshi: It's because they are professional of like computer science.

    They talk about code, which I had no idea what they're talking about. Like JavaScript, functions, functional programming. They talk about Rhonda or whatever the word is. It sounded all like, you know, different languages.

    So it was very overwhelmed. Like right after I joined, I jumped into this room. I saw this like huge anime poster and all male. And those people are the ones that I have never talked before, because I didn't go to a science major. So I was very overwhelmed and also I'm only female.

    And they didn't know how to talk to women because I'm the only woman. Right. so they don't look at me and they start sweating when when they talked to me. So I was like, wow, I'm actually alien in this room.

    Ling Yah: That's so interesting to hear about how you felt as though they were treating you like an alien. So how did you end up deciding that it was time for you to leave Works Application and to go to Logbar?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Again, like my dream of going to United States never disappeared.

    Right. The only reason why I to stayed in Works Application is because I didn't prove myself. I didn't feel right to quit when I am not doing well at work. So until I did like fairly good job at work, I didn't want to like quit, but it's I really wanted to go to United States.

    I sought for a way to go to United States through this company, but then finally realize that, okay, I don't have a CS degree and my job is engineer, which makes it extremely hard to get a visa.

    That's what my boss said. He's like, oh, I can try maybe like a year later, but it's a little hard because you don't have CS degree. So then I just kind of gave up on going to United States in that company.

    I started looking for other jobs that could get me to United States.

    And Logbar is very interesting because I didn't even try to apply. And there's a kind of LinkedIn in Japan called Wardley. You can press the button and say, you're interested.

    I accidentally pressed the button of interested to the job of hardware engineer. And then I was like, oh no, no, no, no. I want to like reset, but then there's no reset button.

    Let's just pretend that nothing happened. I also sent them message. I'm sorry. I'm not hardware engineer. I'm not going to apply. But then the CTO reached out to me, said, Hey, like, it seems like you can speak English you were like no measurement business major.

    Would you be interested in like going to United States and doing some like marketing business development in the States? I was like, sure. Like, of course. I went to interview and they immediately hire me. At the time they're looking for someone can go to United States and like do some like business development.

    So it went super well. So then like I decided to leave the company.

    Ling Yah: You actually had never been to the States before and you end up choosing SF because it was the closest to Japan. So what was it like first arriving in the States and trying to figure your way around?

    Mai Akiyoshi: by that time I was in SF for three months, so I knew it was what it was. So that's why I was like, okay, I know I USF. That's why I moved there.

    I didn't feel lonely much, even though I was only one, I was so excited to be in the States and I was really excited to sell this product because I really, really loved working at Logbar.

    The only thing that I had was like just excitement and just be able to be in the states and being able to work for the company in the states. So I felt like it was perfect and it was really exciting. It was very exciting moment.

    Ling Yah: So Nuseir of Nasdaily is the reason that you met Ben, now your partner, and also he's kind of like the mother of Curious Addys, right?

    Mai Akiyoshi: So what is the story behind that?

    After this interview, I really want to know like how you do that, because we want to do that for other people.

    I met Nuseir because Nuseir had meet up in Japan and my colleague went to that meet up. I actually started even earlier. My colleague was the friend of Nuseir and she connected him saying like, Hey, can you, can you make a video of our product, which starts this translation device?

    And he was like, oh, that's interesting. Can you send me like three samples to like Israel? So we send that to him as well. And he got lost we stopped the conversation from there, but then after that Nuseir came to Japan. And my colleague still didn't give up.

    And then she went to that meetup and she was like, oh, do you remember the girl who sent you three devices? And he was like, oh, Hey, I'm so sorry. Like I lost it.

    She told him about the device and he was like, oh, that's interesting. I'm not going to make the promotional video for your product, but I'm interested in talking to your founder.

    And then he made the video about our founder and that went super viral. It was like 10 million views or something. It was like really, really big deal.

    Two years later, we decided to hire Nuseir, like pay Nuseir to come back and then make a video about our product and founder again.

    Nuseir somehow thought that Ben should come and make the video together because Ben's the most interesting person and our CEO, founder is also an interesting person, so they made something happen. Yay. So like

    Nuseir is always last minute, we didn't know that Ben is coming until like last minute.

    And I Ben didn't know that like, he's gonna make, you're making the video. So we met, we really confused. And like, we didn't talk because I tried to entertain him, but then he doesn't know anything. So he was very unfriendly. So That's how we met.

    Ling Yah: Well, at least that translates into something a lot better despite being unfriendly at the start.

    So I read that Ben was the one who also encouraged you to go and give software engineering another shot. And that's how you end up going App academy. So what that like?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. At that time, I didn't know what to do. The company was failing at the time and I actually did a vegan sushi start-up for like six months and I was really passionate about it.

    Like I made sushi, I made own recipe and I did the catering to like, plant-based food conference. It was fun, but then it wasn't working well either. So I was trying to figure out what's what's next and took data science course, but that also didn't feel right.

    I still remember on the way coming back from Berkeley to SF, we were talking about like what to do next.

    I was like, I'm pretty lost. I don't know what to do. He was like you can maybe try doing programming, I was like, no, I'm, I'm really not good at programming. I'm not doing it.

    But then he was like, I know that you don't have confidence. If you try again and if it actually works, you are going to gain your confidence.

    Right. You're not going to lose anything. So why don't you just try and you have time. Right.

    So I decided to give a shot and it's really thanks to him.

    Ling Yah: And was it a lot easier for you? Why was that? Why was it so different from the first experience?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I give all the credit to App Academy to be honest, because they there's fantastic job of making the curriculum so well. The experience before also helped, you know, I know very basic level, like variables and loops and so on. And so it was like easy to move.

    Yeah, really the biggest difference is like, it's a step by step and it really follows the theory of mastery learning that you have to master things to go to the next step. Otherwise, if you're lost in the previous step, you are not gonna understand the next step.

    And also the best thing that happened to me is I didn't go to app academy in cohort, so I could take as much time as possible for me to like move forward.

    And I think if I would have gone to cohort, in person at the academy course, I definitely would've have failed because I probably wouldn't spend enough time. And I also feel so bad about myself, comparing myself with others.

    But because I was doing by myself online, it felt a lot more like doable and I could spend as much time as possible and going step by step really, really helped me to understand deeply about web development.

    That was the biggest difference.

    Ling Yah: And after that you ended up and still are the senior software engineer at Gusto. So what was it like working now full-time as a software engineer, when you felt like you had no confidence from your previous job.

    Mai Akiyoshi: it was so scary.

    Since the beginning, I'm like people are going to find out that I'm actually fake.

    I was just constantly afraid that people are going to find out so it has been really, really scary experience, like since day one. And that's why I worked so much to impress them. So like, I really tried to look for the ticket before someone has signs and like, really like look for information.

    And by the time that they assigned ticket, I'm already done with it so I can impress them.

    At the beginning it was a very hard, but good thing about Gusto is they are extremely kind and supportive. They gave me enough time and really, really good onboarding buddy Sam, who is like fantastic human being. I was able to like ask him questions and I was able to take time to actually on board.

    Over time like me doing a little work beforehand, plus the help from company, I started feeling a little better about this imposter syndrome.

    Ling Yah: You were also turning your slack status off by five, right?

    And it all worked out because you're ranked the top 5% of the engineers in that company.

    So suffice to say you have confidence back now in your role as software engineer.

    Mai Akiyoshi: I actually still don't because after I got promoted, I got shingles . If you had chickenpox, like when you were a child, it will come back when you're old or stressed.

    Shingles happen when you're like 60 years old or 70 years old. But it happened to me because my immune system got so weak because I was so stressed that like, I'm not qualified to be this L four, like senior engineer. Again, like imposter syndrome came back.

    The reason why I got promoted was because I was able to write code, but mostly because of my leadership skills.

    My interpersonal skill, immersive skill was like a lot higher than others, but other skills are like, definitely like lower than other people. Right.

    Code engineering, engineering perspective I don't think I'm like that qualified.

    Being able to become self engineer and also being able to like become L 4 engineer has significantly helped my confidence. Yeah.

    Ling Yah: Thank you so much for being so open about this because most people would just say, yeah, I am so confident right now.

    And I have no regrets doing this. And it's just an upward trajectory from that on. So it is so nice to hear the reality that it's not a magic pill and everything just becomes better. So that suffices to say that is sort of like your web two phase of your life, then there's also the web three phase.

    It all started in 2018 when Ben was the one who got you into this whole web three space. So how did it happen?

    Mai Akiyoshi: So he loves deals and he found this interesting deal that I, I forgot what that is. And he was like, oh, like, why don't you just put like a little bit like money in and you'll get the like thousand dollars Bitcoin.

    I didn't know much about crypto so I was very like skeptical. I love cash, I'm fine.

    But he kind of like get me to into it. After that I was like, okay, maybe I can just put $10,000. It doesn't hurt. So I put $10,000 in Bitcoin and I completely forgot about it for like, I dunno, I don't know, a year.

    By the time I saw it, I was like, oh, it's, it's actually going. So I started being a little more interested in, and then once I started learning about it, and then once I started learning about Ethereum, I was like, oh, this is actually really interesting. Once I joined Gusto, I have more disposable income.

    So I started investing like 80% of my income to crypto every month.

    Ling Yah: Why do you think that Ethereum was so interesting?

    Mai Akiyoshi: So after I started understanding Ethereum, I started reading about this, the official website.

    This Ethereum ecosystem really allows you to do like so many different things. it has NFT section, has dao section. It has a stable coin D5 section and being able to do those things and enabling developers to create an app in the century award seems very interesting to me. That's quite different from Bitcoin.

    So that got me very interested in Ethereum, a lot more than Bitcoin because I'm a developer. I understand how important it is to have good developer ecosystem. And they did have that. So that, that was something that got me really interested in.

    Ling Yah: And it wasn't early in those days where you also met Zeneca of Zen academy and you helped him with his smart contract for his $5 million NFT project? Firstly, how do you first connect with him and ended up helping him?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. So it was like totally serendipitous.

    Zeneca was opening up the applications for like just two days. Ben was browsing Twitter and he was like, oh, this is Zeneca 33.

    And we knew about Zeneca from Substack because we read about his art block article. He has like very, very deep insights on NFT and he was doing that.

    So Ben applied and then we decided to have call with Zeneca and then Zeneca really liked our mission. So we started working together and then he was just casually talking about, oh, I'm also thinking of doing NFT drop.

    He was taking quotes from other development company and the quote was like 15% to 25%. that's ridiculous. You really shouldn't do that. And so I can do front end banking, the smart contracts.

    So we decided that we'd just like offer him that. He's paying those money to like those people, We just copied that quote anyway. So we might as well just like do it for you. And that's how it happened.

    Ling Yah: How did both you and Ben decide that you wanted to start your own education program, which I believe was supposed to be a Tamagotchi?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. Ben always wanted to do something in crypto and I wanted to do something impactful, which is education.

    And so we wanted to do something around crypto education. My other passion is cute things and I love cute things. I love stuffed animals Uh, and I love drawing. I love drawing penguins. We constantly talked about making cute things because I grew up in manga culture. I don't remember anything that I learned in school. All I remember is manga that I read about Chinese history cause I, I love Chinese history.

    I remember everything Because I read manga and I remember character face. I always had this strong belief that something that's visual and like, memorable and cute are going to help education.

    So I wanted to put the cute component to education. Then like we started to think about the stomach. What's the idea that if you learn in the moment you started growing and we had this idea, but another time we weren't really sure.

    We started working on that, but I was still really busy at Gusto and it wasn't really moving forward. But once we saw this Pudgy Penguin news and NFT is something like that's coming we started like really learning about NFTs. First I was like, this Pudgy Penguin thing is like really scammy.

    Why they sold this penguin for like 1 million dollars? But once I started reading about NFT cannons, which is like learning resources by Andreessen Horowitz, it really started having really big conviction to NFTs that wow, everything, the world is going to be NFTs. all social media, like good credentials and like a diploma, like real estate.

    Everything could be NFTs and all the economy could go around NFTs. Since then, we started being really interested in NFTs.

    After seeing project penguin, I was like, wow, if I can make an NFT project by making cute things, I want to do it. So we started like rethinking along NFTs.

    So that's how we started NFT project, with education concept.

    Ling Yah: For those who haven't read what A16Z wrote, what was it at a high level that got you excited and convinced the NFTs is going to be everywhere? What were they saying?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I think the biggest thing that I remember was in NFT feed that you have is going to be your social media there are different information that like, kind of convinced me at the time.

    But the biggest thing that I remember was this feed. Right now it just shows a PFP project, but it's going to be your life. It's going to show your life, university diploma or your trophy, or the band that you like, or the picture you take with your friends.

    So it really is going to show, your life. And there hasn't been a way that people can show off their lives. For example like if you have diploma, certificate, those are all always hidden. Right.

    And for example, I invested in a coal company, for example. So like in a doctor's show diploma, right?

    People want to show off those things, but there hasn't been a way that they can show off publicly online, but they are able to do so by using like this NFT. And that really made me feel like, wow, If that's true, then all the thing that we want to show, all of the things that we are going to have in life are going to be converted into NFTs so that really got me interested in the concept.

    But there are many more things like creator economies. How to connect with fans and souls. There are different aspects, but I think that social media aspect was the one showing me that, wow, this is going to change the world.

    Ling Yah: You've said before you thought NFTs was the best way to bootstrap a community? Why didn't you say that?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I started noticing really the sense of community, right? That's also coming from Andresseen Horwitz NFT, Canon, but it's the best way for artists to connect with like fan base, right?

    So artists can make a community of people who really believe in you and they can create NFTs and fans can buy an NFTs in support.

    So that community aspect can be applied to different things. And that can be applied to like different missions. Artist mission is going to deliver beautiful art or beautiful music, but our mission is going to give educational platform to like all the people who want to get into space.

    And those people who align that mission are going to create, buy NFTs. This community can collectively solve this problem and like work on this course.

    Because they're holding NFTs and they are in the community, so they are more incentivize to push this mission towards the board together was founders. That's why, like, I think NFT really is the best community bootstrapping tool.

    And it has proven that this has been the best community building tool.

    Ling Yah: So we've talked about the community aspect. We've talked about the fact that both of you were passionate about starting some kind of education program that was cute and also educational.

    How did that all coalesce into starting curious Addys trading club? What's the vision behind it?

    Mai Akiyoshi: The vision was : education, cute, NFT.

    From the beginning, we were like, okay, it's going to be educational NFT project and we are going to target the people who don't know about crypto.

    That part since the beginning was so clear to us. He loves crypto, I love education. I love cute things. So combining them together has been like really core.

    Curious Addys concept it's funny story. We live in Las Vegas, but then we wanted to really focus on the project.

    Because we have that many friends in Las Vegas, we wanted to stay away and then we wanted to be alone. And we wanted to start, you know, project by ourselves.

    So we decided to relocate to Denver. And on the way this like long drive, we started like really brainstorming.

    We want to start education NFT.

    So what's the concept, what's the name? What's the character?

    That was a time that I actually learned that I was at ADHD and that was really transformational time.

    I really started like understanding my life. why I'm this way. So it felt really, really strong. And all we talked about at the time was ADHD. So we were like, okay, we should use this like concept of ADHD because like we really care about it.

    And then I was like, oh, why don't we do Addy, like from ADHD? And I'm like, oh, that sounds cute. I think curious came from like just, you know, curiosity.

    I don't remember which word came first, but on the driveway, we just like decided that, okay, curious Addy.

    And then we also had the idea of a training club during that drive like what would be the most helpful?

    What really help people to learn about crypto. I have this stuffed animal called Karachee. Karachee is a like really stuffed frog that he always try to steal money from Ben.

    I always play around with this, frog. And at the time, like Karachee was like trying to do like, you know, scam them, but like, Hey man, like give me like a hundred thousand dollars so that I can invest in like some fund. And I got, I can make money rules and it's like, hard to say that.

    And then I was like, oh, carrots, you like, you should actually like, prove that you can actually do a good job in training.

    And I was like, Hmm, like, how did I do that? And Ben was like, I don't have money. And was like, okay. There is like, simulation trading. So why don't you like play with that and then show your skills.

    So we talked, had that conversation like a day before, and I was like, that's actually a good idea. And I'm like, why don't we just like do that? So then, like that trading club actually came from the idea.

    Ling Yah: And what about the octopus, who's your mascot? How did the octopus feature into this?

    Mai Akiyoshi: We got the cyclopedia and think about what will be the best animals. That was after Curious Addys. We didn't know we were going to go with octopus. We just knew the Curious Addy's name.

    And then we just like, go over and like, oh, like power is too. Or like, water's cute. we just go over and then the, just like found octopus page, it was like, wow, like curious addy's, like, I mean, octopus, this is it. So like, it was just really easy plus like octopus and is Ben's favorite animal.

    So it was easy to decide that like, okay, Curious Addys, octopus is the most curious animal, so this is great. So that was how we chose but then we still wasn't sure if we should go with octopus because octopus is not cute and I was like, I don't know how to make this thing cute.

    Ben told me, we love watching anime. And we remembered one character from hunter, hunter Ikalgo. And he's octopus and he's extremely cute. So I was like, oh, why don't we make it just like Ikalgo? And it's going to be like really cute.

    Okay, we can make octopus cute. All set. Let's go with octopus.

    Ling Yah: I was listening to one of the episodes you did for your interview with an octopus expert and I learned interesting things like it's intestines wrapped around its brain.

    And also there're so many different types of octopuses. I thought it was funny that quite a lot of people were saying that after I learned about octopuses and after joining curious Addy, they stopped eating octopuses, even though they liked it.

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. Yeah. I can't eat takoyaki anymore.

    I don't miss it. So I'm happy not eating.

    Ling Yah: What is the elevator pitch for curious Addys?

    Mai Akiyoshi: It's a one stop place for anyone, who wants to learn about web three. And we are going to teach everything about what three, so that you feel more comfortable coming into the space by building a product in community that you can learn from.

    Ling Yah: And what were the early days like of building Curious Addys?

    How long was it from deciding you wanted to do Curious Addys to actually launching it?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I quit September 22nd. So that was the start date.

    And we launched November 10th. It's around like 1.5 months. It was very, very fast. We found artists online, and we started working. it's still like a nostalgic that we found Anna. And we started thinking about concept, shaping octopus and different ideas.

    We put the pictures forward to understand, and I made all the expressions and Anna put the expressions. It was really, really fun experience.

    I don't have skill to make an art, but I say can you make the eyes a little bit closer so that it looks a little more European shoot. There are so many discussions around how to make it cute and how to make it more approachable because In order to make crypto more accessible, I really wanted this character to be so approachable and welcoming and cute. So that was our part.

    And the community part is also really fun. It started from like, there is zero and people started coming in from like our Facebook post, Ben's NFT one-on-ones and then we started like having a little bit more people.

    Then we started getting to know Zeneca and Zeneca brought so many people. We wanted to actually make a manga of how we go to the community because I really felt like it was one piece, ies that like, you start like getting more people on your ship.

    Brad cannot commit demise. Your comment virtualizer come in. Our Lou came in and like, other like evangelist, I think Lily also was speaking, right. Lily came in.

    All these amazing people came onboard on our ship and started making this curious Addys. So it's this community of like, you know, we keep meeting like such amazing people, all that gone to this that we met.

    I just like, I just don't know how they came, they still are in a community and they're so like wonderful people. So like just keep meeting, like those people that keep coming in and like helping our community has been so, so meaningful experience,

    Ling Yah: I love your story of how these different people are coming in. All the evangelists, people you helped like Zeneca, he then comes in and helps you again. How were you finding the right people to build your team? Because that's the most important thing, right? Like Anna for instance, she was in the crypto space for quite a while.

    She does amazing art. And you have a 19 year old engineer who's been coding since she was nine years old. How were you finding these people?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I think we got really lucky. I contacted like 10 people and Anna was one of the person who responded. Immediately after we started chatting, you know that like this person is like good person.

    Like we were coming from like very, good intention. So Ana just gave me that vibe of like, she really doesn't care about making profit, making money, those things he's just like sincerity, love art.

    After like talking to her, a couple of times, it was so clear that she is so passionate. I think passion for the project really matters a lot.

    For example, Brad and Momo. Like, I really, really appreciate them because they are the reason why good people started coming in. They are just so passionate and they worked so hard to build this community. I don't know how they come, but they love the mission and they come.

    So I think as long as you have a good mission and you're like very sincere and it's clear, then the people are going to come and start helping us.

    Ling Yah: So you have all these values, this mission, how do you think about maintaining that as your community grows? Because you have so many people now, tens of thousands.

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah, it got a little harder when we had some rush, like coming people coming in for like, I don't know, a lot per se all this and like other influencers, but it's definitely harder.

    The core contributors have same values and mission and stay long. For example, like the people who still are in the community are the ones believing that mission. And only those people stay.

    Now we are not growing so much because we are not put so much focus on NFT. and We are more focused on project product. Our goal is make this more available for the community so that community can like start getting benefits from it.

    When we grew to 3000, felt that like, the, vibe is becoming a little bit different, but still the people who actually care about the project and the people from talk a lot are the ones who actually understand value. And like, those people are the ones who make the atmosphere like really good.

    At the end, even though community grows, the only people who actually stay and they'll be active are the ones who are genuine and sincere.

    Ling Yah: So if I'm listening to this and I'm joining Curious Addys discord channel for the first time, what can I expect? How do I get back in? Because the discord channel is overwhelming.

    There's so many sub channels, hundreds of messages if you don't check it for an hour, how do I start?

    Mai Akiyoshi: First of all, I, I hate general channel. I don't keep up with it. It's just too overwhelming.

    So just find the example, like a lot of women love woman in crypto channel, and they feel so safe and they feel so welcome to the community because if you say, Hey, like I'm, I'm new to crypto I'm here and I'm here to learn so many, like female community members are like, welcome to the community and welcome to crypto war.

    Like ask me anything and they share the experience and they're shared knowledges. So go like find the channel. Or I find that like, you know, sub of people who you buy with and then like, just hang out with them. I think that's the best way to start. Find the channel that you vibe with and start talking to them.

    Ling Yah: Before we talk about the products and you have very many interesting ones, I wanted to talk about, again, the launch itself. During the launch in the smart contract itself, one interesting feature is that you have this 100% refund policy, which was just four lines of code. And I wonder how that thought of offering a 100% refund came about and did anyone actually refund?

    Mai Akiyoshi: They did. Yeah. The idea came because we want to make it more accessible. The way we can do is like we did good sell, but like sitting it's hard. So the easiest way for people to buy, is refund.

    And if he actually have refund functionality in our smart contract all they have to do is come to our site and like easy refund and that's the easiest way.

    Ben did the every research and it was just extremely easy so I was like, why don't we just do it?

    Ling Yah: Why did you choose to release 5,000 initially? And what's the plan after that?

    Mai Akiyoshi: We were thinking of doing like 10,000, but at the time the price of the ease and the gas fee was too high. So the NFT market was kind of really, really bad.

    So we decided to go with 5,000 and release later 5,000. That is to be determined by community. Our smart contract can have 10,000, so 5,000 left. So we still like figuring out when we should do that and how we do that.

    And if we do that, we really want to do in a way that we give back to the community because we really appreciate for the community.

    Ling Yah: How were you promoting curious Addys? Because you ended up selling out your 5,000. apart from Ben and everyone else bringing a community together were there other things that you were doing?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Actually biggest thing was Zeneca because he, just brought a lot of people. He, We were the first project that he decided to like talk about in his discord. So when he talked about Discord, there's this huge rush to our community. That helped a lot. But what we did that was most helpful was Twitter thread.

    We talked about four things: why we do what we fund policy and why we're doing refund policy and why we are doing education and why education moderate in this space. Why do we care about diversity and inclusion in this space? What kind of community we want to create.

    We want to treat the community members as family. So those Values really resonated the people who have the same value. This didn't like bring like so many people, it was shared like so many times it was shared hundred times, but still this was meaningful because the people who came through this to the threads are the right people who actually understand and stay and like be aligned with our mission.

    The most helpful thing for the launch to have right members.

    Ling Yah: I want to talk about partnerships and how you built certain partnerships like for instance, NAS academy, they have classes that are very clearly linked to you. How did all these things come about?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. NAS academy It was after we launched. So, because we were posting about NFTs, Nuseir reached out to us saying like, oh, I'm actually interested in like doing some courses in NFTs and you guys should be the first one.

    We flew to LA met Nuseir. We didn't know what Nuseir was doing at the time. We vaguely knew about NAS academy, but we didn't know about like what exactly they're doing. But then like we really bonded over that learning has to be in the community and help each other to learn. And that is the best way to learn. What we are doing in QSR, they are doing NASA academy. The way we do are completely the same.

    So we were like, wow, that's really amazing platforms. Why don't we just partner? They're professional for videos. Why don't we make course together and that happened.

    Ling Yah: And so let's talk about the products that you have under curious Addys.

    So you have many of them, what are they?

    Mai Akiyoshi: The reason why we have so many of them because we had a little bit directions. The main thing two things that we wanted to build first was interactive tutorial that walk you through minting process, mainly focused on NFTs.

    And two is a trading platform, which actually was the main thing that we were going to build. People really like, especially the interact tutorial.

    We have the amazing engineer called Jake. And he just built that in like two weeks and did such an amazing job. But I actually don't feel like using it. I felt like the concept could have been a little bit wrong maybe because I already I'm in the space.

    Maybe, maybe not, but I feel a little bit kind of neutral about the experience and while we are working on that because we had Three engineers and we, the two of us are engineers. We have five engineers. So at the time each engineer was working on very different product to Lou was working on portfolio checker.

    And Jake was working on this trading platform and I was working on an interactive tutorial and new hire. The one person who is really good Orlando, who is really good at discord. And at the time we wanted to bring more people back to Discord. So we were like, why don't we create this, Discord Q&A bot? Anyone can ask questions and people can answer.

    And then we saw like huge success. A lot of people are asking questions. That was the time that our NAS academy core started. So they come in and they start asking all the questions.

    We were like, wow, this is working. All engineers are working on different things so we just decided to focus on one product and started building ember.Help. And we launched the product initially actually.

    Ling Yah: So what is Ember?

    Cause Ember, You are going to make it the Quora for web three, right? So what does it look like? What can people expect?

    Mai Akiyoshi: As you mentioned, it's Quora for web three. So anyone who has questions about web three can ask questions and you are guaranteed to get answers from experts.

    So there are three things that we really want to differentiate from other platforms. We were thinking why people don't want to ask questions online, right? If you go to like a freelancer and if you ask questions, you have bad experience and like, what is a bad experience?

    One, usually you don't get answers. And two, you don't know when you're going to get answers. Three, you don't know who are answering the question. Are they trustworthy enough to like, trust the answers.

    So we want to solve those three problems. We want to make sure that we will guarantee answered by programming in a way that if you don't get the answers, it will ping the experts again, so that you will get answer.

    And two, you are guaranteed answer within like X hours . And we set this metric to make the length as short as possible. So right now it's about 24 hours, but we always show how many hours it will take on average so that people have expectation that, Hey, okay. If I wait for 24 hours, how all of these get done?

    And three, answer by trusted experts. So this part, we have experts in the community. It could be Ben, it could be different committee members. It could be me. So those people are going to come in and answer questions. So you are guaranteed to have trusted answers.

    So ember.Help really helps people to get good , guaranteed answers within a certain amount of time by experts. That's the biggest selling point.

    Ling Yah: Are you going to game-ify this process and make it like a play to earn things. So if I ask or if I answer, I get certain points and I can exchange for tokens or something else.

    Is that the plan?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Exactly. Exactly. So we have already had pointing system from the QA bot, so we are transferring the points to our main product. But as you mentioned, the people who help others should be rewarded, right? So the people who answer questions, once their answers get up for that, then they can start earning the points.

    And eventually we are going to drop some tokens and NFTs. That's going to be up in the air still because we have to spend a little time thinking about it, but that's going to be the next plan.

    Ling Yah: And you mentioned briefly the NFT portfolio tracker. What is that?

    Mai Akiyoshi: It's basically the portfolio tracker that you can track all your NFTs gain and loss.

    So if you connect your wallet, it will read all the information about your NFTs you have, and it will display in this project for them for World of Women, you have, like this percentage of gain and this loss. But you can see the gains and loss. And also you can see your floor price and the purchase price and all the necessary information.

    We want to create because we want to give value to the community. What kind of value we can give. And our strength really is engineering.

    So we decided to build a tool. And one of the most popular tools was portfolio checker. So this 19 years old uh, low blood, she is a director of engineering. She built this portfolio tracker by herself and we're listed.

    Ling Yah: And you also have this game for people to learn how to mint and as a buy and sell their own NFT for the first time for open seat.

    I was actually playing with it and it is so so good. So what's the idea behind it cause you also have lessons coming up as well. They haven't been released yet.

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. That's the interactive tutorial. If you go to curious dot XYZ, you can see the platform. The best way to learn really is to actually do it.

    A lot of people try to read and it's hard, right. Until you actually like set up Metamask, you don't understand. So we wanted to create a safe, safe space where anyone can come in and learn about the process. You don't even have to have crypto.

    We thought of teaching them to buy crypto, but then we will exclude a lot of people, right? Kids, or people who don't have funds, those people can't play and can't learn, which is excluding all of their population. We want it to make as inclusive and accessible as possible.

    During the process, you can set up your wallet and we are going to airdrop a little bit amount of money which is the native currency for polygon, which is our keeper. And at the end of two tutorials, you can mint your first NFT, which is a really cute turtle. So that's the process that we offer.

    And ideally we are going to create more and more experienced. Now we have minty NFTs set in mining NFTs. Eventually we want to get started with discord. How to create Dao is how do I join daos and like different topics and different experience to learn about different topics.

    Ling Yah: I was very impressed and I couldn't believe it when I looked at my wallet and I did see MATIC in there. Oh wow, they actually gave me MATIC to go through this process. That's really exciting. With all these products that you have on all these things that you're continuing to build up, is there anything more we can expect from curious buddies?

    Mai Akiyoshi: At the moment, I think the main thing that you get from Curious Addys is, you get to access to all the product and NAS academy course that we talked about.

    If you own curious Addys you're going to get those three courses for free: how to make NFTs, intro to crypto and how to stay at star. with web 3 development. So those are things that are coming.

    And there are a lot of people who want to start NFT project, but the dev is really expensive and not our people have experienced for that.

    So we want to start something that helps development for those empty project.

    Ling Yah: As you said your strength is in development so do you have any advice just in terms of what to look out for in a smart contract, because that's the most important thing. You need to know exactly what you are getting and the terms are always different for every smart contract.

    Mai Akiyoshi: I really want to encourage everyone to read smart contract because it's just 200 lines of code.

    Ling Yah: When I was reading it, I was thinking, oh, this is like reading a legal contract, cause I'm a lawyer and you have the standard terms.

    So for us it's terms but for you it's function. And then you have little notes on developers as well with smiley faces and you can find it if you read a smart contract.

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. That's exactly because the smart contract it's a contract. I think legal document is a lot harder to read than smart contract.

    But yeah, like exactly that like legally document is something that you can read. If you tried to reread, you can read and you have to like look up a little bit like legal terms. But like once you understand the terms you can understand and it's smart contract, the same thing you can at least read. And the good thing about this uh, smart contract is legal documents.

    you see some examples, but you actually don't see the real life example. It's kind of hidden.

    Ling Yah: You don't know how it will actually happen if you bring it to court until it goes to court.

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah. Yeah. But smart contract is completely open. So if you want to learn how like Bored Ape Yacht club, writes smart contract, you can go ahead and read that Crypto Coven, Meta Angels, like curious Addys. All the smart contracts are available.

    So if you start reading different contracts, you can actually understand what are the functionalities that you need. And a little of the smart contract. I love the like scams are happening. When if you look at the smart contract they do like, for example, the mint.

    If you look at the mint. They do completely different thing, right? Like, fund transfer and stuff. If you know how the mint functionality should look, which usually is, are like exactly the same. It's just like calling the mint. And there are some like, checking parts, but like most of the time, like you have to call safe mint or mint, but other paths, smart contracts just don't have that.

    So just understanding that really fine smart contract, will get you like understand what the correct smart contract is and like, get to kind of prepare for identifying with bad contracts. So that's what I would recommend.

    Ling Yah: What is your favorite NFT in your wallet right now apart from curious Addy.

    Mai Akiyoshi: Definitely World of Women.

    Ling Yah: Did you get the galaxy one or the original?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Original one. I went to NFT Basel and I met Yam because Randy interviewed Yam and me on the same show. I got to meet Yam and she was just such a amazing person.

    After I met her, I was like, I really, really want to support this project. And I asked her like, Hey, can you like, Which World of Women I should get? And she was like, oh, buy one that resonate you.

    Don't go for rarity. I like you to like, buy something that actually resonate you because she's an artist and she wants people to actually enjoy the art.

    So I went into an open seat and found the one that looks exactly like me. like, these earrings and black hair and like little distracted, led CIG.

    And I was like, well, this is it and after I bought that. This is actually the highest amount I paid for NFT. And I just felt so good that wow, I'm in the movement of World of Women, and I'm the member of this amazing community.

    That was the time that I feel like I finally get why people spend a little more on NFTs, to be honest. This sense of community, sense of belongings that this is it.

    I just want to follow the hold forever, because it just has such a like special space in my mind.

    Ling Yah: And what do you believe in that most people don't in the crypto space?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I was going to say the quality of people.

    Cause I was surprised at like how, when I was not full time, I wasn't really interacting with people in the space when after, after I joined the space, I was like, wow. The quality of people are like, people are just so kind and helpful and like really giving.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think has been the biggest mistake that you have done in the web three world that people can learn from yeah?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Biggest mistake is not doing research. There was one experience I wanted to have some NFTs to display my virtual museum. I went to like really cheap blockchain marketplace and started buying things and then there's like DJ Zed. He had this beautiful art.

    I was convinced that while it may be Zed, it doesn't cost much. I started like buying a lot.

    After that I realized that like, it was copied from the actual NFT that said made in different platforms. I thought that this platform is they're a little like rising artists that maybe is just trying out, then they just like having fallen.

    I spent five minutes looking up . So yeah, always researching before take action.

    Ling Yah: Do you have any tips on how to spot this kind of scams? Because so many of them are out. There's like crypto chicks as well.

    So when I was speaking to Lily, their dao actually invest in some crypto chicks and then it came out that it was actually a copy from the original artists.

    So it's everywhere. How do you make sure that you've got the right one and you're actually supporting the artists?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Yeah, that's actually really, really hard because those information are like completely hidden.

    The information is a little hard to identify. I think one way is I look at the artists. For example, Meta Angels artists Serona has already did the NFT collection before. So she's already credible for that. So that's one way.

    You can look up what the artist is is with artists is, and then you can look up the, creativity of artists that's maybe one of them. Identifying scam is basically spend a little time in discord.

    If you have a little bit of a red flag of the community, just don't go for it. I always say, invest only the community that you completely sure is good.

    It could be a founder background. It could be the community vibe. It could be like the quality of artists. I would look at all the different aspects. And if there's anything that you feel like is wrong, I wouldn't invest .

    Ling Yah: And what is something that a competitor is doing that you admire and why?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I was just looking at the build space.

    It's not quite competitor cause they're like targeting developers and they did such an amazing job educating people. I reached out to pounder of field space Parsa, and asked him to do Twitter space. And he was like, oh, I actually don't do Twitter space because I'm focusing on my product.

    And at that time I was like, okay, sure that's one way of doing it. Now that I see their little space doing amazing job, they roll to 50,000 users already within a year and they only have three like team members. It's so impressive.

    He chose what's important for him and went for it and it really worked for them.

    Ling Yah: I have a question from Xiao Hui who actually follows this podcast and she wanted to ask what are the potential changes that you're anticipating to yourself and the NFT space when the migrations to ETH 2.0 happens?

    Mai Akiyoshi: The biggest challenge is going to be proof of work, proof of stake. Every time I talk about it, people bring up environmental effect.

    Right now this is really damaging environment, but proof of stake is going to come. Don't worry.

    But now I can already say that proof of stake is actually here. So that narrative change really is going to convince all people. There are so many people, especially artists who are like very hesitant to come into the space because of the environment effect.

    Another change is just because of the sale pressure is going to go away the Eth price will go up. I'm still not sure how this is going to affect NFT price. Sometimes it's hard to predict.

    Because the, NFT price will look much higher in Fiat, right. If they use price goes up, so some people might be a then to buy more. So I don't know about like how that impacts NFT, but it's certainly going to be impacted somehow. And I'm curious to see how it changes.

    Most of my assets are Ethereum I'm just hoping that the price will go up a lot.

    Ling Yah: Do you feel, because even right now, there are so many high drop projects and it just feels as though it's a land grab now and obviously with Eth two, probably even more going to come is it possible for people to see you succeed with a high drop? And if so, what would allow them to stand out from everyone else who's trying to basically shill their projects?

    Mai Akiyoshi: It's hard to say, but it's getting a lot harder for sure.

    Everyone's like launching right? And if that trend get accelerated with Eth 2.0, I really think it's going to be extremely difficult to stand out. Especially it's already like wild west and hyped. People who are able to make, 2 million dollars with two month of work is definitely hyped, right.

    So this trend it's definitely going to die and it's going to be hard to like raise fund from NFT project.

    It's just like startup, right? Now it's really hard to succeed a startup, but maybe it was not hard when not many startup are there.

    So in order to succeed, you have to be very, very exceptional. And we were lucky that we started early so the competitor wasn't there much. But you really have to be mission-driven and differentiated art, innovation in def and makings, spur of community.

    Ling Yah: Well, thank you so much, Mai for your time. I normally love to end all of my interviews with the same questions. So the first one is this: do you feel like you have found your why?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I thinks I found my, why?

    I feel like I want to know why I'm here and like why I want to accomplish and what kind of impact that I want to leave, but I'm not sure, like that's what the earth wants, but at least I believe that I should believe in the word is clear to me.


    Ling Yah: And what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

    Mai Akiyoshi: The legacy that they behind is anyone can succeed with hard work and dream. I really like to tell my story of failures because I really want to tell people that I came from nowhere. I'm not like smart, I'm just normal Japanese girl who grew up in like countryside.

    Right. And if I can be Silicon Valley engineer, you can do it. If I can start with three project, you can do it. What I want to be remembered for, it's like just normal person who worked really hard and I had the dream and the dream is coming true.

    I still am not nearly as successful as I want to be. So I want to be able to say this in the future the higher I go, the more people will believe that. Okay, I can go here.

    And that's why I want to keep going up so that, that will encourage more women, more immigrants, ADHD people that they can do it.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I think their resilience. I usually think about diversity being like woman, being immigrants, being ADHD, being not technical.

    The more you overcome those adversities, you become strong. But in order to do so, you have to be extremely resilient. And the entrepreneur that I respect the most is Jack ma because no one expected that he did something amazing.

    Right. He failed so many times, but he was so resilient. He never gave up. He believed that he can do it and he did it. It's not smart it's not intelligence. You really believe in yourself, and keep challenging yourself.

    Ling Yah: And where can people go to find out more about what you are doing? What curious Addys is doing?

    Mai Akiyoshi: Two things I want to kind of promote one is So if you are interested in NFT project, go to Curious Addys. Curious is a curiosity, curious. And Addys is A D D Y

    Well, what we want to, tell people about is Ember help : E M B E And if you have any questions about web three, go to EMBER. Help, and we will answer any questions you have. So those two are the way that you can find us.

    if you to find me mai_on_chain, mai underscore on underscore chain, and that's how you find me.

    Ling Yah: And I'll put all those links in the show notes, so people can find it easily.

    Is there anything else you'd like to share that we haven't covered so far?

    Mai Akiyoshi: I just want to say you are amazing host and I really, really enjoyed talking with you. And I think it's extremely impressive that you did such an in-depth research.

    I really hope this podcast will grow, because this is such amazing podcast to be.

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 81. The show notes and transcript can be found at and if you're looking to support this podcast in any way, there is a Patreon page that you can access at Every little bit would help this podcast to grow.

    And stick around for next Sunday, because we will be meeting our first web three lawyer.

    Where we will be talking about, all things well, law, NFTs, and DAOs. So don't forget to subscribe and see you next Sunday.

    External Links

    Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:

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