Back in 2015, Dev Sharma thought cryptocurrency looked a lot like the Internet did in the ‘90s — new, full of potential, and not particularly well-understood. With a freshly-minted Masters Degree in marketing and IT, he thought he was “uniquely placed to identify the technology revolution that was coming up, as well as to understand the marketing potential behind it.” A friend had introduced him to Bitcoin and he was intrigued enough to take a flier: Why not explore hitching his career to this new industry?
He sent his resume to the few exchanges and wallets that were in business back then. He got a bite from the crypto exchange OKEx (now rebranded as OKX), then a close competitor to Binance. “They were looking for someone to take on their regional marketing arm in the East, particularly the Indian subcontinent,” Dev recalls. For two years, he worked with OKEx in India, building a team, devising marketing strategies, creating a community, and creating partnerships with influencers. “We formed the first community within India for an exchange,” says Dev. “Even Binance didn’t have an Indian community back then.”
Dev’s success attracted attention and he got a call from the CEO of Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange. “He was a big deal in the industry and he reached out to me directly and said, ‘I like what you did for [OKEx] and I want you to do that globally for us,’” Dev recalls. At Paxful, Dev built a global team and ran a holistic marketing campaign that included paid ads, content, branding, affiliate programs, and community building. “I increased their market share from 4% to 52%,” Dev says.
“I saw [Cointelegraph Innovation Circle] as a platform to talk about marketing for myself and my brand, as well as to provide a different perspective to the community.”
As the company grew, Dev began looking for a marketing agency that would complement his internal team. But he came up short. “It was mostly just a bunch of consultants, talking to me like salesmen who had no idea about marketing themselves,” he says. “There was a huge gap in the market.” That was his “aha moment.” Dev had been successful with two big brands. Maybe he could productize his skills and start an agency of his own to serve his industry. So, in 2019, he launched Blockwiz, a full-stack crypto marketing agency.
At first, Dev went solo in order to gauge market acceptance. One thousand emails yielded ten phone calls, but those ten calls resulted in five new clients. Dev kept his prices low, pledged transparency and completely eschewed a “sales” approach. Instead, he looked at every call as an opportunity to offer a “brand audit” to a prospect, offering marketing value regardless of whether or not the conversation would result in a sale. In three months, he hired four employees; two and a half years later, Blockwiz has a staff of 85. The company has worked with approximately 350 clients that mostly focus on NFT and metaverse projects.
Dev attributes his success to his past experience and a good bit of foresight. “I innovated in the space when I was working for other companies,” he says. “I knew what was coming news — when influencers were needed, and when a more holistic approach was needed, and what might be next when that became saturated.” So what does he think is next? “Right now, you’ve got Web3 products advertising using just traditional digital marketing,” he says. “The next phase is how Web3 unlocks marketing 3.0. It makes sense to promote your Web3 product on a Web3 platform.” Blockwiz is already dipping its toes into those waters. Dev says he’s started allocating a small percentage of client marketing dollars to Brave, a Web3 version of Google. “We got three times better ROI consistently,” he says.
Cointelepragh Innovation Circle, says Dev, was attractive to him because “I saw it as a platform to talk about marketing for myself and my brand, as well as to provide a different perspective to the community.” He’s a steady contributor to Expert Forums and the member leader for the Marketing in Web3 online group. “I’ve gotten to know a lot more about what others are building in the ecosystem through the [Cointelegraph Innovation Circle] community,” Dev says.