Alexandra Overgaag is a trader and writer in her free time and is passionate about creating new Web3 synergies and generating new ideas by taking a multi-disciplinary perspective. With her Startup, Thrilld Labs, Alexandra went through the BFG Superstars incubation program, offered by the Blockchain Founders Group (BFG). In 2021, Alexandra participated in the third cohort of the DLT Talents program and upon completion joined the first cohort of our NFT Talents program in 2022. Now, Alexandra supports our various Web3 Talents programs as a mentor.
Alexandra sat down with Web3 Talents Community Manager Marcel Grimm to discuss her career, how she got started in Web3, why she joined the DLT Talents program and the advice she has for people looking to start their career in the Web3 industry.
Marcel Grimm: So your career in Web3 started after completing your second master’s degree in Politics & Digital Technologies in Italy. Being Dutch, how did you end up in Italy, and how did you eventually onboard the blockchain sector?
Alexandra Overgaag: I moved to Italy from the Netherlands in 2015 to pursue a double Master’s degree in International Relations and European Studies at the University of Florence. I had previously completed my Honoursbachelor’s degree in law from the University of Amsterdam.
After obtaining that Master’s in Italy, I wanted to join academia. I was specifically interested in the intersection of artificial intelligence with legal and political institutions. I applied for a Ph.D., but I was not accepted despite graduating summa cum laude. Over time, I realized that academia might not be my “cup of tea.” I wanted more action, a career with more freedom.
I had been trading crypto since the 2017 bull run, and over time I became increasingly curious about blockchain and crypto’s potential to spur societal and individual progress. This led me to apply for an executive Master taught in Italian at a private university in Rome. I was fortunate enough to be granted a full scholarship. I uncovered more about technologies such as blockchain and how they will change the world.
Marcel Grimm: So you mentioned your first contact with DLT blockchain technology was in 2017 when you started trading. Why did you decide to apply for DLT Talents, and why would you recommend it to others?
Alexandra Overgaag: Well, I became fascinated by the world of cryptocurrencies, intrigued by crypto as a better alternative to the current monetary system. I was particularly fascinated by how blockchain, crypto assets, and Web3 as a socio-political construct can reduce inequality, spur inclusion, and even enhance human rights.
I applied for DLT Talents in 2021 because I wanted to join the industry, but I admitted I needed to learn more about the sector. So, I was absolutely thrilled when I got accepted into the program. When I saw the confirmation email, I jumped up and down.
Looking back, applying for DLT Talents opened up many opportunities for me. Joining DLT Talents allowed me to work with people building the future and gave me experiences I could never have imagined. So, not applying for DLT Talents would have been a real opportunity cost.
I recommend others apply for DLT Talents because you never know what opportunities life will bring. Blockchain is an exponential technology that will bring tremendous growth, and by joining the sector today, you are at the forefront of this massive paradigm shift. Why miss out on all the fun?
Marcel Grimm: Previously, you worked at a Web3 company and you recently started your company, Thrilld Labs. What role did DLT Talents play in this journey?
Alexandra Overgaag: People sometimes ask me how I onboarded the industry without knowing anyone or even ever leaving my desk seat. Since I did not know anybody in real-life who was into Web3, I thought, “how will people know I want to join the sector? Here in the Tuscan hills, nobody will ever find me if I don’t get things going myself”. So, as the DLT Talents program rightly stipulates, I made it a point to let people know of being open for work.
Soon enough, I was approached by Radom Network – a fantastic decentralized payments infrastructure company – for a role on the business side. While working with Radom’s C-suite, I discovered that speaking about Web3 or working in Web3 alongside the builders and innovative technologists are two different things.
I learned a lot about start-ups, how true founders work, and how we do business with one another in Web3. Over time I fell in love with the wonderful and innovative people working in our sector. “Gradually then suddenly,” to speak with Hemingway.
Working at Radom, I also noticed inefficiencies and opportunity costs in how business is done in Web3. During the summer of 2022, things came together in my private and professional life, and I decided to become an entrepreneur. I was lucky enough to be onboarded by an excellent incubator operated by the Blockchain Founders Group.
The idea for Thrilld Labs popped up while in the shower (yep, for real!), and before I knew it, I had myself founding a start-up. I spoke at a conference, started writing for the Cointelegraph, did more online speaking gigs, continued being a mentor in various Talents programs, and the journey continues!
With Thrilld Labs, I am building a platform that lets Web3 projects chat with each other and with investors in a tailored manner. It will be a free solution for the Web3 sector that spurs both true capitalism and inclusion. How? By enabling people worldwide to chat all things funding, partnerships, and B2B synergies. I want to connect the right people to beautiful Web3 projects and help the industry at its very base, just like DLT Talents does in its very own way.
DLT Talents opened my eyes to the magnificence of Web3 and the importance of breaking down access barriers. Those values are reflected in my company today.
Marcel Grimm: Speaking of growing up, which advice would you give your younger self looking back at everything you’ve achieved?
Alexandra Overgaag: Well, that’s a great question. I didn’t come from a wealthy background and always had to work while studying, especially when I moved abroad to Italy alone. I worked crazy long nights as a bartender and later also as an entrepreneur in that sector. Looking back, my experience taught me that hard work and determination are crucial to success.
I advise others to take risks and challenge themselves, even if it implies the potential of failing. Have confidence in your abilities. I never imagined that I could move to a new country, learn a new language, onboard a sector without knowing anybody, and even build my own company. However, I am doing it, and so can others. I’m 100% sure about that. All it takes is determination, enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn (and fail!).
Some people asked me where all my energy comes from.
Well, it was my stepdad who encouraged me to tap into my potential, saying I could do much more than I thought. Losing him last year was incredibly difficult, but it made me stronger and more determined to make the most of life. Churchill said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” This quote resonates. Besides my stepdad, also my father lost his battle with cancer when I was twenty years old. My father’s and stepdad’s courage to continue
fighting and their final courage to ultimately give in provides me the energy to jump out of bed every day. Life’s too short to doubt everything!
Why do I share this personal story?
I want to be a voice of encouragement for those who doubt their powers and may have a hard time for whatever reason. As I said, all it takes is belief in yourself and a willingness to try new things and keep going. And remember, even if your journey doesn’t work out immediately, it’s not the end of the world. There’s opportunity everywhere.