Interview for Bloovi : WEB32 brings together a community of technological visionaries

WEB32: “It’s about connecting, experimenting and inspiring”

Bloovi, April 10th, 2023

In June 2022, the WEB32 networking event brought professionals and those interested in web3 together for the first time in the Waagnatie in Antwerp. Due to the great interest and the positive reactions, a second edition of the ‘inspiring deep dive into web3, NFT’s and The Metaverse’, as the organizers describe it, will be held on September 27. “WEB32 is not about which NFTs to buy, how to make money from them or any other financial advice. Bringing the community together, highlighting the innovative possibilities of web3 and looking for potential: that is our goal”, emphasize the three organizers Ann Claes, Gilles Den Haese and Thomas Lambert. A matchmaking event, in other words, which the city of Antwerp supports 100%, and therefore also financially supports it.

Gilles Den Haese, Ann Claes en Thomas Lambert (©Jonathan Ramael)

For those who hear it thunder in Cologne: web3 is a decentralized version of the internet where not the big tech companies, but the user himself is in control. Concepts such as blockchain technology, NFTs and token-based economics are central here. “Web3 and blockchain technology can create added value in the back-end on the one hand, so on the supporting and practical side.”

“On the other hand, web3 creates numerous opportunities on the soft side. It makes it possible to work even more customer-centric. In co-creation, segmented, transparent and with extra experience, in order to build and serve a community.” explains Gilles Den Haese, who has long been fascinated by the wonderful web3 world.

Den Haese is the co-founder of 0x32, the first NFT/web3 community in Belgium that brings together professionals and interested parties to exchange thoughts and experiences and thus learn from each other. In addition, the self-proclaimed cryptonative entrepreneur is active with his company OG studio in various web3 projects, from strategy and education to development and community building.

Den Haeses 0x32 co-founder Thomas Lambert also said he struggled ‘deep into the web3 rabbit hole’. As a co-partner and creative director of OG Studio, he helps companies and other creatives discover the many possibilities of web3 and convert them into impactful projects.

Sharing knowledge about web3 via WEB32

“In 2022 we organized a meetup in Antwerp with 0x32 and we met Ann Claes there”, Den Haese recalls about their meeting with the fashion project manager at Flanders DC and founder of Mutani, which aims to form a bridge between (fashion) designers and digital worlds and games. “We got talking and it quickly became clear that we shared a huge passion for web3. One thing led to another, namely the idea of organizing an event together in Antwerp”, he continues.

“NFTs, the metaverse: it all evolves at lightning speed and for many it remains something very abstract. Nevertheless, interest is increasing and we see many creative initiatives and valuable projects emerging, also locally,” says Claes. A good example is the ‘Signum’ platform recently launched by diamond and tech company HB Antwerp, where blockchain technology brings diamonds to life in the metaverse.

Venly is also fully committed to the blockchain to help companies make an impact with web3. Together with Shopify, they developed a standard webshop template with which the Antwerp digital fashion network can sell Mutani NFTs. And let’s not forget the Tomorrowland NFT collection, with which fans experience ‘the ultimate experience’ with exclusive content and first access to new activities, among other things.

“Because of all these great examples of impactful web3 projects in our own country, we thought: let’s organize an event in Antwerp that makes this all very concrete, recognizable and accessible,” Claes continues. No sooner said than done: based on their shared fascination, knowledge and drive to bring people together, Claes, Den Haese and Lambert joined forces. WEB32 was born.

B2B matchmaking supported by the city of Antwerp

The first edition of WEB32, which took place in June 2022, was created with the support of the city of Antwerp. Every year, the city provides a budget for the financial support of matchmaking events. At these events, entrepreneurs can make the right contacts with companies and organizations that help them to find capital or talent, or to further grow their business.

“Since we focus on a professional target group and want to bring people together and inspire, we fit in perfectly with that picture. The city believed in our idea,” says Claes. “We were ‘just’ three people who came up with an idea to bring together entrepreneurs who want to know more about web3 and to share knowledge and expertise in the matter, not a big company with a real marketing machine. We are therefore very grateful to the city of Antwerp for giving us the opportunity to realize this.

We are therefore very grateful to the city of Antwerp for giving us the opportunity to realize this

In 2022, the event welcomed just under 400 visitors to the Waagnatie in Antwerp. “It was clear that there is a great need for clear information, concrete cases and the exchange of experiences,” says Claes. After last year’s great interest, there will be a second edition of WEB32 on September 27, 2023.

“The last event was in June, which in hindsight may not have been the best time as many young people were taking exams then. This year we are aiming for autumn because we consciously want to involve the young generation as well. After all, we believe in their potential to make a contribution, and we notice that they are open to the new possibilities that web3 offers and that they feel like immersing themselves in it”, says Claes.

Empower visitors

What can visitors expect from WEB32? Just like last year, you can attend an inspiring mix of talks and panel discussions with leading companies, creatives and other visionary thinkers. You get the chance to fully connect with the community and discover what web3 and the metaverse can offer you and your company.

In addition to technology, a lot of attention is paid to creativity. “We also organize ‘meet the expert’ sessions where you have a one-on-one conversation for half an hour with people who are active in the web3 world in various fields. Our focus is on ‘local heroes’, because there are already so many great projects in our own country and we should be proud of them. Networking and making the network work: that’s what we want to achieve with WEB32,” says Claes.

“We all realize the value of the technology, but we especially want to look beyond the hype to concrete use cases. But also what it can mean for entrepreneurs, creatives and companies looking for a solution, or just for inspiration,” says Lambert. “We target both people and companies who are already involved in the whole web3 thing and those who want to get started and need a little extra push and accessible information. In this way we want to empower visitors so that they can get to work and make an impact.

The organizers emphasize that they do not want to push anyone in a certain direction. Both supporters and opponents are welcome on WEB32 to learn, experiment and inspire. “We realize that there are still pain points with the technology, it is certainly not all ready yet.”

“This is how we push each other forward and that ensures that we were able to grow in such a short time. While in the beginning we had to pull the cart everywhere ourselves, people and companies are already coming to us with ideas and proposals to work together for WEB. It is nice to experience how everything is growing organically.”

We hope that we can once again welcome many enthusiastic visitors on September 27!

“What I especially like is that none of our team knew each other before. This entire project really stems from our shared passion. We all do this in addition to our main job, so that proves our drive and mindset to go for it. We do not have a major economic goal, we just want this technology to be used as much as possible because we believe 100% in the impact it can make.”

“WEB32 was the very first web3 event in Flanders, and also the largest in Belgium. That makes us forever unique. This is really from the community and for the community. We hope that we can once again welcome many enthusiastic visitors on September 27!” conclude the organizers.

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WEB32 (©Fille Roelants)