Blockchain and Venture Capital Leaders, Da Hongfei and Tim Draper, Kick-off Neo x DraperU Collaboration: Panel Discussion Recap

6 min readJul 25, 2022


On July 18th, 2022, two legendary industry leaders, Da Hongfei and Tim Draper, joined a panel discussion moderated by Lili Zhao, Director of Ecosystem Growth, to kick off the upcoming collaboration between Neo and Draper University. Through this initiative, selected entrepreneurs from Neo ecosystem projects will participate in a five-week, intensive virtual program customized for Neo. Highlights from the question and answer-based discussion include the following.

1. For project teams participating in the Neo and Draper program, what advice would you give to help them succeed? What are the common reasons startups fail, and what can be done to prevent it?

Tim said he looks for businesses that cannot be easily started. He recommended that entrepreneurs start businesses that are meaningful to them. This way, they can draw on their enthusiasm to lead them through the difficult times that their businesses may face. Tim advised following his son’s saying: “Be the cockroach. The cockroach never dies.” To succeed during the current market situation, Tim suggested finding an industry where the incumbents are part of a monopoly that provides bad service at a high cost.

Da urged entrepreneurs to pay attention to cybersecurity. He cautioned that the impact of cyberthreats will be more severe for the crypto industry than for traditional industries: When crypto projects get hacked, police will not investigate. Additionally, Da said that finding an audit company with a good reputation is crucial before launching a product into the market. Finally, he advised entrepreneurs to take a measured approach to their smart contracts and products, always testing the products in the open market before an official launch.

2. Some talented eco-projects will participate in Draper University’s program. Da, what’s the driver behind Neo offering this learning opportunity to those projects? And Tim, what’s different about Neo’s program versus the other programs that Draper University offers?

Da started by introducing the newest version of Neo, Neo N3, which launched nearly a year ago, has functioned stably since, and is ready to introduce itself to the market. He demonstrated some of the new features of N3, including its native oracle service that opens access to off-chain data, and its decentralized storage network Neo FS. Da described N3 as a new smart contract platform that’s completely different from Ethereum and is now attracting more developers, such as those associated with these Neo ecosystem projects, to build on the Neo blockchain.

Tim said that all of the programs at Draper University are for making heroes in different industries, just as this program is intended to do for the blockchain industry. He said that entrepreneurs not only must know how to pitch to their investors, but also must be resilient and love their customers. He said that Draper University will bring the spirit of entrepreneurship to everyone who participates in the Draper University programs.

3. Are there success factors that are unique to Web3 entrepreneurship compared to Web2?

Da first outlined the differences between Web1, Web2, and Web3. He described Web3 as a revolutionized protocol that uses tokens as the governance stake instead of relying on business laws of a certain jurisdiction, and he said that Web3 entrepreneurs must wear more hats than simply being businessmen or engineers. He asserted that for Web3 entrepreneurs, it’s important to think out of the box and believe in the power of decentralization–and even be a “rebel” or a “deviant” at times in order to create something innovative.

Tim discussed the difference between centralization and decentralization. He observed that cryptocurrency is more than just an asset: It also gives people rights to governance in a more democratic and healthy way.

4. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in the current bear market?

Da emphasized that in this bear market, it is necessary to strengthen faith in the crypto industry and in decentralization. He said that only well-funded projects will survive the winter of the crypto industry: He advised focusing on developing projects or businesses during this time and trying to get funds quickly instead of waiting for a higher valuation.

Tim added that it’s crucial to be emotionally attached to customers during this time: He said that the best entrepreneurs have all shown their real love for customers and have had a vision of making the world a better place.

5. When will the mass adoption of cryptocurrency happen? What does mass adoption look like to you?

Da cited Tim’s prediction that Bitcoin will reach $250,000 in late 2022 or early 2023. Looking at the worldwide economic landscape, Da said that the US, EU, and China are the three main economic bodies, each representing 16% of global GDP in a purchasing power standard. He said that if cryptocurrency goes mainstream, it will represent at least 5% of the global GDP. He described the significant upside of the prospective economic output of the crypto industry as around 5 trillion, where today it is only around 1 trillion. Da predicted that crypto will go mainstream in 5–10 more years.

Tim added that women will be a force in driving cryptocurrency adoption. He said that where women used to represent just 1 out of every 14 Bitcoin wallets, now that number has grown to 1 of every 6 wallets, and women control 80% of retail spending. He asserted that when retailers start to realize that they can save 2% of every transaction and customers realize they can buy all things in Bitcoin, people will no longer hold onto fiat currencies.

At the end of this panel discussion, Da and Tim answered questions from the Youtube live audience members and wrapped up the session.

About Da Hongfei

The founder of Neo and a core leader within China’s blockchain industry, Da Hongfei is a serial entrepreneur who has provided invaluable advisory expertise on blockchain technology to many banks, stockbrokers, and bill exchanges. In 2011, he began to explore blockchain technology applications, becoming a well-known columnist in mainstream blockchain media such as 8BTC and serving as one of the sector’s earliest advocates. In 2014, he went on to found Neo. Neo is a community-based blockchain project that uses blockchain technology and digital identity to digitize assets and uses smart contracts to automatically manage digital assets to work toward the goal of building a smart economy. In 2016, Da also founded the Onchain brand. Onchain is a company dedicated to exploring and developing blockchain’s underlying technology. He also became involved in helping to develop blockchain standards within China and contributing to the international ISO-TC307 blockchain standard. Through his years of experience and forward-looking vision, Da has become a leader within the blockchain sector who leads application trends while also serving as a role model within the industry.

About Tim Draper

Tim Draper is a top global venture capitalist, having founded Draper Associates, DFJ and the Draper Venture Network, a global network of venture capital funds. He is a leading spokesperson for Bitcoin, Blockchain, ICOs and cryptocurrencies. He is a supporter and global thought leader for entrepreneurs everywhere and is a leading spokesperson for Bitcoin, Blockchain, ICOs and cryptocurrencies, having won the Bitcoin US Marshall’s auction in 2014, invested in over 50 crypto companies, and led investments in Coinbase, Ledger, Tezos, and Bancor, among others. Tim is regularly featured on all major networks as a proponent of entrepreneurship, innovative governance, free markets and Bitcoin, and has received various awards and honors including the World Entrepreneurship Forum’s “Entrepreneur of the World,” and is listed as one of the top 100 most powerful people in finance by Worth Magazine, the top 20 most influential people in Crypto by CryptoWeekly, #1 most networked VC by AlwaysOn, #7 on the Forbes Midas List, and #48 most influential Harvard Alum. Global Guru listed Tim as one of the top 30 Startup Gurus in the world.