ETHBarcelona is one of the city’s hottest emerging Web3 events—and one that really is bringing something different to the table. With the second edition just passed (July 5-9), we chatted with co-organizer Tom to find out how this unique, community-focused event brings together blockchain pros, artists, environmentalists, and more to create a positive impact.
Tell us all about ETHBarcelona:
ETHBarcelona is a community-created event that does something different: We focus our effort and creativity on bringing good to the community using technology. It’s not like the rest of the blockchain and crypto conferences because we concentrate more on the ReFi ecosystem—regenerative solutions. For example, we are very focused on the giving economy.
The projects and the people who come to ETHBarcelona are of course, working in blockchain (I’m working in tech) but we also have a lot of artists, creatives, environmentalists, educators, and people who are working within society. So we put together all these people and the result is amazing.
For example, last year was the first time we did ETHBarcelona, and we are very proud of it because a lot of projects, friendships, and alliances were born as a result. And nowadays, these alliances and friendships are still very strong, and some of them were also very important in the organization of this year’s ETHBarcelona. So, we feel proud because we are doing our event for the community, with the community.
We are very sure there are a lot of people with our mindset and that share our goal. So yes, the convention is, of course, focused on developing technologies, but from a very human perspective.
I also want to mention the tracks of the conference because that is what defines it. This year, the tracks were culture and art; Web3 social, DAOs, DeFi, Metaverse and gaming, public goods impact and education, infrastructure and scalability, and privacy.
We also give each year a theme. Last year was Solarpunk, and this year’s was Solar and Lunarpunk. So we brought another perspective of punk, another way to see technology and change the future—to protect our privacy, to protect nature, and to improve society. Because I think that we all dream of a better future. All the organizers and the people working on ETHBarcelona have seen that with technology and good intention, we can make this happen.
Who organizes ETHBarcelona?
Along with me—Tom—there are three organizers: Manu Alzuru, Andrew Kline, and Sanchit Banati. Also, and this is important: Nobody from the team is earning any money from this. We work for the community.
How did the event go this year?
Well, people’s opinion is that the event was great, that there was a great quality in the talks. The hackathon was a complete success. Many hackers hacked for the first time on Web3, and many of them told me they now see how using blockchain can bring positive changes, and how they can’t wait for next time.
The size of the event was smaller compared to last year due to the market conditions, but the vibe was higher. Comments about the venue were super positive. Everyone loved this venue more than last year’s because it was more alternative and less corporate.
The closing party was held in a castle with a selection of top DJs who played for free just to be part of the community. The team is very grateful for the community and the amazing volunteer team. And I am very satisfied—it was worth all the effort of the previous month.
It’s true that these types of events are normally very corporate, so only certain types of contributions can be made. So what you’re doing in that way is important too.
Yes, for us, this is very important. Diversity is very, very important in all ways. With the professionals who attend the conference, we don’t just want business development people—we need lawyers, we need philosophers, we need artists, we need doctors.
Also, this year, we organized the official hackathon. And it’s beautiful because it was co-organized with one of the communities that was born from ETHBarcelona last year—Cryptonikas is a Latin American woman-led DAO, which is bringing in more women and nonbinary people into the Web3 environment.
We also led the student side and gave away hundreds of free tickets to students and professors. Because inclusion is not just about gender or profession, it’s about including everybody. It’s usually difficult for students to pay for $500 conference tickets, and they are the future.
Have you spent many years working in Web3 or with NFTs? How did you find yourself in this ecosystem?
Well, I love that question. Because I love my story. I’m an artist myself and a photographer. And something like four years ago, I discovered what an NFT was. I was researching digital art and suddenly an NFT appeared. So I spent like a month trying to understand what it was (although I was already using Bitcoin and Ethereum at that point).
I was in a transition in my life, where I knew I wanted to do something related to art. And during that transition, I discovered that my purpose in life was to help both humanity and the world. Then a friend of mine who worked in crypto for longer than me, who I hadn’t talked to in 10 years, sent me a DM on Instagram, where I was already posting my art. He told me; I love your art, and I want to invite you to be at the Genesis drop at the little crypto gallery that I have.
And I dropped my first drop; I launched my first NFT. I went to university to be a mechanical engineer, but after that, I changed my LinkedIn completely. I removed my formal suit picture and started typing art, culture, blockchain, digital art, and NFTs. I knew that’s where I wanted to work.
Two months later, DoinGud called me and said they needed a community builder in Madrid. And that opened all the doors because I started doing meetups in Barcelona and Madrid, meeting a lot of people, traveling to conferences, and working on other projects related to NFTs and good causes. Then suddenly, I’m organizing ETHBarcelona number two.
What challenges have you faced with ETHBarcelona?
The main challenge for organizations like ETHBarcelona is getting sponsors from crypto companies because many are in a very difficult economic or financial position. So this means that it’s more difficult to get funds to make an event like this.
And it’s very hard to find companies who want to be showcased at these kinds of events because you’re not saying you’re inviting 100 investors or VCs—we are inviting people who are building projects, even during the bear market. So we are very thankful for the sponsors we had this year and, of course, those from last year too.
Also, I believe that in five years we are going to have at least one bull market!
Where would you like to see ETHBarcelona in 5 or 10 years?
It would be amazing to have this going for five more years. And if the result of last year was so big in terms of community building, imagine it in five years.
There are going to be a lot more projects born thanks to ETHBarcelona, and they’re going to want to participate, and they’re going to bring more people. I really want to do ETHBarcelona next year, and I hope that if we do it for five years in a row, it’s going to be huge.
So do you think in 5 years that Web3 will come to mass adoption?
I also think we have to educate more people about how Web3 works and what you can do. Because these people are going to be the builders of this great stuff, so if we keep doing this, it expands exponentially.
This is my personal opinion. I think that for massive Web3 adoption, we don’t have to talk about Web3 or NFTs or blockchain. Because when you listen to music, you don’t say that you’re listening to an MP3, and when you watch videos, you don’t say you’re watching an MP4 or a .wav. You say I’m going to watch a movie. So I think that the same has to happen with Web3.
What about you? What would you like to achieve?
I see myself developing my art skills, my art knowledge, and my art relationships. I see myself growing as an artist in the coming years. I see myself helping more creators and artists bring their art to Web3 so they can sustain their creativity with money and also show their work to a new audience, one who is going to be happy to pay for creativity and art. I see myself building a stronger community around culture and art around Web3. And I see myself living on the beach, working in technology, and traveling a lot.
➡ Follow ETHBarcelona for news on the next edition
➡ Check out Tom’s art on Instagram @tomketal