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Currently, only about 1 in 4 employees in the tech industry identifies as a woman. So what does it take to create a successful career as a woman in tech? In this interview series called Women in Tech, we spoke to successful leaders in the tech industry to share stories and insights about what they did to lead flourishing careers. We also discuss the steps needed to create a great tech product. As part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lacey Kaelani.

Lacey Kaelani is a 2x startup founder in the HR tech space. She is currently building Metaintro, the professional resume wallet for web3. The multi-chain custodial wallet holds proof-of-employment, proof-of-skill, and proof-of-education, replacing the PDF resume. Adjacent to the project, Metaintro is also the largest Discord community dedicated to web3 jobs. Around 4,000 jobs are posted in the community a month—more than Indeed and LinkedIn combined. Metaintro is backed by NEAR Blockchain, Aave, and web3 investors having just raised $5.6M. It's the largest seed round led by a female founder in the web3 HR tech space.

Having built Metaintro, Lacey has helped thousands of people make the professional career transition into web3.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before diving in, our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’m a startup founder that’s passively been in the crypto space for years. When my co-founder (Brad Larson) and I were in the sale process of our last startup – we looked at each other and said “what’s next?” So – we went to the drawing board and thought a lot about what we’re experts in and what the future of that industry could be. After months of noodling, white-boarding, and customer discovery, we landed on building Metaintro. We now have 9 employees across 5 countries and have helped thousands of people find their next job opportunity within web3.

Lacey Kaelani and Metaintro co-founder Brad Larson.

It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of my most memorable experiences was presenting a pitch for Metaintro to a group of venture capitalists in a Clubhouse room. Despite my preparation, I stumbled during the presentation and became flustered. In an effort to regroup and compose myself, I briefly left the room. Upon returning, I jokingly mentioned that the room had "kicked me out." This humorous incident served as a reminder of the importance of thorough preparation for meetings, especially ones as high-stakes as pitching to VCs.

What do you feel has been your ‘career-defining’ moment? We’d love to hear the lead-up, what happened, and the impact it had on your life.

I’ve had two “career-defining” moments over the past few months that I think are worth noting. First – closing out our seed round to build Metaintro at $5.6M. This was the largest raise in the web3 space for an HR product by a female founder. Secondly, being named Forbes 30 under 30 for Consumer Tech. That was pretty cool.

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Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Although we experienced early success with Metaintro, there were certainly challenging times during the initial stages of building the business. One of the hardest moments was when I found myself overwhelmed with tasks that were not sustainable as the company grew. It was at this point that I had to make the difficult decision to either bring on new talent to take on these responsibilities or invest in automation to streamline processes. Yes – we do things that don’t scale. However, it’s important to recognize the turning point in which those things that don’t scale need to be handed off or addressed with technology. 

Let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address? How does your company help people? 

Metaintro is the professional resume wallet for web3. The multi-chain custodial wallet holds proof-of-employment, proof-of-education, and proof-of-skills, replacing the antiquated PDF resume. Job seekers can access their wallet through a browser extension, which can then be used to interact with web3 job applications. We recently raised $5.6M to build out our product.

Metaintro was founded on the belief that the hiring process can be reduced down to days, not months. We believe that decentralization can eliminate the pain point of a lengthy time to hire and the costs associated with it, therefore allowing teams to build and scale more efficiently. 

In our journey to achieve this vision, we are:

  • Redefining the way individuals share their professional identity.
  • Reducing the time to hire by designing beautiful and simple wallets that hold verifiable credentials such as proof-of-employment, proof-of-skill, and proof-of-education. We are leveraging the technology of web3 to eliminate the PDF resume.

Adjacent to our product, Metaintro runs the largest Discord community dedicated to web3 jobs. We've helped thousands of web3 job seekers discover, interview, and land their dream job. 

If someone wants to lead a great company and create great products, what is the most important quality (for example, “determination” or “eye for detail”) that person should have, and what habits or behaviors would you suggest for honing that particular quality?

As my mom would probably say, these are people without a glass ceiling. To lead a great company and create standout products, I believe the most important quality for an entrepreneur to possess is the ability to both dream big and execute effectively. These individuals possess a strong vision for their products and the determination to bring them to fruition, but they also have the practicality and realism to understand what it takes to make their ideas a reality. They are constantly learning, seeking out new challenges, and surrounding themselves with talented and knowledgeable people. In order to hone this quality, I would recommend developing habits such as setting clear goals, seeking out opportunities for growth and learning, and actively seeking out diverse perspectives and expertise. 

Next, let’s talk about teams. What’s a team management strategy or framework that you’ve found to be exceptionally useful for the product development process?

One team management strategy that I have found to be particularly effective during the product development process is the use of short sprints to achieve larger goals. For example, at the beginning of the year, my team at Metaintro sat down and set ambitious yet achievable goals for the first quarter of 2023. Instead of tackling these goals all at once, we broke them down into smaller, more manageable sprints. This approach allowed us to make steady progress towards our larger objectives and provided a sense of accomplishment and motivation for the team. Additionally, breaking down goals into shorter sprints can help mitigate the potential for intimidation or overwhelm that can arise when faced with a large, overarching goal.

When you think of the strongest team you’ve ever worked with, why do you think the team worked so well together, and can you recall an anecdote that illustrates the dynamic?

The strongest team I have ever worked with has been the Metaintro team. We’ve been able to thrive due to a combination of open communication, trust, and clear goal setting. We fostered an environment where team members feel comfortable voicing their ideas and concerns, and are  able to rely on each other to follow through on commitments. This level of trust allowed us to move quickly and efficiently towards our goals. 

If you had only one software tool in your arsenal, what would it be, why, and what other tools (software or tangible items) do you consider to be mission-critical?

At Metaintro, we rely heavily on two key tools to support our operations: Superhuman and Discord. Discord serves as the hub of our community, providing a platform for users to connect, find value, and grow together. It is also an essential part of building a brand within the web3 ecosystem. In addition, I am a fervent advocate for Superhuman. As a busy CEO, I receive a large volume of emails daily and Superhuman has revolutionized my email management by enabling me to process them at an accelerated pace. In fact, I cannot imagine returning to a traditional email system after experiencing the productivity benefits of this product.

Let’s talk about downtime. What’s your go-to practice or ritual for preventing burnout?

As an entrepreneur, I am deeply committed to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In addition to my professional pursuits, I actively pursue a variety of hobbies and interests, including cycling, language learning, and travel. At Metaintro, I prioritize the well-being of my team and encourage them to prioritize work-life balance in order to prevent burnout and promote high levels of productivity.

Based on your experience, what are your “5 Steps Needed to Create Great Tech Products”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each. 

  1. Know your customers: This means understanding their needs, pain points, and preferences. In order to build a great product, you have to *first* talk to your customers. 
  2. Double down on the customers that can't live without your product: The most loyal and passionate users are going to be your greatest advocates and the ones that will most likely be more than eager to pay for your product. 
  3. Iterate and move quickly: Launch fast with minimal features. The greatest tech products do one thing really well.
  4. Build a brand: Especially in web3, your brand identity is crucial. a strong brand can help drive customer loyalty. When customers identify with and feel a connection to a brand, they are more likely to continue using the product and recommend it to others.
  5. Lean towards authenticity: Customers appreciate honesty and transparency, so it's important to be authentic in your messaging and marketing. This means avoiding overpromising or making false claims, and being genuine in your interactions with customers. Branding in the web3 market gives us the unique opportunity to promote a new level of transparency within our products.

Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

I’ll be satisfied with the status quo regarding women in tech when the conversation stops becoming headline news.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?

If there was one entrepreneur that I’d love to sit down and have lunch with would most likely be Brian Chesky. I’ve admired his entrepreneurial journey from afar and have taken quite a few notes out of his blitz-scaling playbook. His ability to pivot, adapt to market changes, and scale, are inspirational. Maybe we could have cereal together! 

Talk about a balanced breakfast! Thank you so much for talking with us, Lacey—your achievements are truly humbling.

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By Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark is the Editor of The Product Manager. Following six years of experience in the tech industry, she pivoted into the content space where she's had the pleasure of working with some of the most brilliant voices in the product world. Driven by insatiable curiosity and a love of bringing people together, her mission is to foster a fun, vibrant, and inspiring community of product people.