Building Web3 in Asia, meet the founder of Webtrois Timothée Semelin

Introduction to Timothée Semelin:

I am a French entrepreneur who started my career in Asia about 20 years ago now. I started to learn Chinese very early on in France as a teenager and it brought me to China in 2004. 

I worked in Beijing for ten years and spent the last 8 years in Hong Kong before relocating to Bali recently. 

I have always worked in the media and marketing sector and most recently was heading up digital for Rosewood Hotel group globally, also an Ex LinkedIn, Ex JCDecaux.

I never dared to become an entrepreneur in my career but Web3 changed all of that and for the first time in my life I really have a vision and a passion for something; it’s a very exciting time.

How did you get started in Web3?

Everything changed in the summer of 2021. As a drone photographer hobbyist, I spent a lot of time during the pandemic creating videos and drone photography for fun really but few of my followers and friends asked me if they could buy my shot.

Time was tight and I really did not have the time to handle print or things like that I saw on Instagram some of my fellow drone hobbyists starting to sell their shots as NFTs, and this is where it all started.

I landed back in HK in August 2021 and after 2 weeks of quarantine in a small hotel room, I finally set up a waller, bought my first NFT on Opensea: a crypto poll, and a few days later I was trading NFTs, reading everything I could get my hands on, started to sell some of my photos as NFTs for charity as well as Hong Kong was going through a tough time.

Right away I felt something different about the space, I told myself I would invest a few ETH to buy, and trade in order to self-learn and get my own Web3 MBA. Plus at the same time, I was also going through design thinking certification and my study group also picked Web3 to work on. 

Everything collided very fast.

Before you know, I was a very active member in HK NFT communities and events. I became a co-founder of the HK NFT Association, I took lead at launching one of the first NFT projects in Hong Kong for the Tokyo Olympics Gold medal Cheung Ka Long, I took pro bono jobs in some NFT PFP projects, did branding for Crazymeta project, started to educate my friends, and at some point, I just knew I needed to be dedicated 100% to Web3.

What is the vision for Webtrois agency?

The vision has matured over the last few months and will evolve with the times I am sure. 

While I just wanted to jump in at the beginning head down and focus on helping Web2 Fortune 500 brands enter the space and build a team quickly it was not necessarily what the market needed. The summer bear market actually was a good thing for me because brand interest decreased a bit and it was an opportunity to dive deeper into all aspects of Web3.

It was only until September, it hit me and the vision became clearer, my key focus should be Asia which is why I recently renamed Webtrois into Webtrois, Asia Web3.

I want to really focus on helping Asia-based Web2 and Web3 companies boost their businesses through Strategy, Creative and branding work and help them find the right partners globally as well. 

I also realized having worked for 20 years in Billion dollar plus companies and helping them scale their business in Asia and globally is also what the industry and Web3 startups need right now so I also try to help startups through advisory

I am very fortunate to also wear the hat of Darewise Head of partnerships, one of Animoca Brands’ subsidiaries which also allows me to keep learning and be surrounded by some of the most innovative Web3 people in the space. Animoca Brands is headquartered in Hong Kong and also has many Asia-led projects that are very innovative and it definitely helps my understanding of this region to be part of their adventure.

There is no shortage of opportunities in the space but I think this focus on Asia will set Webtrois apart from other agencies out there, now I really need to jump ahead and start to grow the team I want.

Where do you think the Asia Web3 ecosystem will be in 2025?

I remember being asked a decade ago what will Asia digital look like in 2015 and actually my answer won’t be very different from then.

History tends to repeat itself in Asia and the answer is simple: Asia will be a patchwork of highly differentiated markets, platforms, and customer experiences.

Japan, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia, all will have very different regulatory frameworks, language barriers are high, and resources level and talent are also very unevenly distributed.

But this is what makes it very interesting, right? 

Asia is huge on gaming, has massive brands, and has some of the most fascinating cultures, artists and content producers in the world and Web3 is going to power many of those by 2025. I could spend hours talking about each market specifically but this is really where we want to help because even the Eldorado today is in the US, EU, and Dubai mostly, Asia is growing at an amazing pace already even if you don’t see it on the news every day.

Some of the most successful Web3 projects like CloneX or Azuki for example really leveraged Asian heritage and culture and there is more to come for sure.

Many Web3 projects around the world actually already have Asian holders or investors, we need more Asia-born projects to lead the charge and also capture these funds.

What makes you the most excited about Web3?

Like many marketers out there, I think we have become so numb to data, paid digital advertising, e-commerce… It works of course but we are seeing a shift where customers are bored of everything, and professionals are not passionate anymore about running paid ads, CRM, and over-engineered solutions, we have to put back the human and creativity in our strategies.

Web3 is not just a new shiny toy. It really answers what many brand leaders have been asking for years: community, engagement, and customer centricity.

Digital wallets are the future whether we want them or not. China is lightyears ahead already and we see Web3 maybe being the answer for the West to catch up on what a digital society can be. Now I think it’s up to all of us to really be thoughtful and caring so we build this next version of the Internet to be better, fairer, and more helpful to all those in need as well. 

Being in a place to shape things for the future of the Web in Asia and the world is what motivates me every morning.

What kind of project are you helping enter the metaverse and Web3?

Right now, my work with Darewise and Life Beyond is really one of my key focus, we have an amazing opportunity there to create a very rich ecosystem around a AAA game powered fully by Web3 and co-create amazing activation for brands around the world. We are about to announce our first partnerships so stay tuned for that.

On the Asia focus right now, I have been working with an amazing team at CrazyMeta, a very innovative brand building both physical and digital wearables and there are big things coming up there. I am also a member of The Collective, a Web3 founders network focusing on scaling some Asia-based projects and helping to organize NFT Bali as well in May 2023, which should really be a great event where we want to help match startups, web3 communities, and investors. 

And still, on the founding team of the HK NFT Association and the Web3 Marketing association, two NGOs really focusing on education and onboarding more people to the industry. This volunteering is also one of the most rewarding things I am doing in the space right now.

Other than that, I know it sounds lame but I have actually been signing so many NDAs in the last 1 month, it’s almost becoming ridiculous and I can’t talk much about which brands I am helping haha. What I can say is that Luxury shopping malls, High-end luxury home decor, and some Web3 startups keep me very busy.

I am also about to launch Tim Web3, a casual fun free education channel on Youtube to give back to the community of marketers to learn and deep dive into some of the Web3 brand projects around the world.

I think the best I can do to onboard Asia to Web3 is to educate the marketers and brand leaders of today who will launch the Web3 projects of tomorrow.

I know it sounds like a lot but It’s not when you just live and breathe Web3 all day long. It’s not easy every day but it’s too interesting to work with all these amazing people on all these projects. 

Make sure to connect or Follow on LinkedIn Timothee Semelin to learn more about Webtrois, Asia Web3, and the future of Web3 in the Asia region.

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