Web3 is built by the people — the people who spend countless hours educating, investing, building, and putting forth many community efforts to make this emerging technology progress each and every day. Many are Black folks (mostly) working in the background, and a lot of them aren’t given the proper credit for the work that they are doing in the Web3 space. Today (Feb. 17), I want to give a few of those people their flowers for the grind, courage, and consistent dedication that they have put in. My top trailblazers in the Web3 space are as follows.

1. Lizzy Idowu

Have you heard of the NFT marketplace Opensea? That’s because of Lizzy Idowu. She started working at the company a few years ago and took their social media channels from just a few thousand followers to millions. She has elevated the brand through relatable social media content, Twitter Spaces, and aligned partnerships to the point that it has become one of the top NFT marketplaces in Web3. Idowu has used her position at Opensea to provide opportunities for upcoming artists and provide a platform for diverse groups to showcase what they are building in Web3. Not to mention, she is an artist herself who curates digital and physical art pieces that truly represent the culture. When Idowu isn’t propelling artists or working on her own pieces, she is curating travel content that pushes me to add a new city to my travel list each week, in addition to her body positive and inspirational videos that remind all of us to feel sexy in our skin, and the overall boss babe vibes that make her an amazing person to follow.

2. Amen Rahh

Amen Rahh is a school principal who saw a hole in curriculums surrounding financial literacy and understanding cryptocurrency. Because of this, he decided to launch K12 Crypto, a platform where education and crypto meet. The platform allows children from grades K-12 to earn cryptocurrency for taking on tasks like completing a relevant assignment or even watching a class. Once students graduate high school, they are able to access that crypto and use it for their future endeavors. Financial literacy is something that has held the Black community back for centuries — from bad label deals for artists, to not being full owners of our businesses, or just overall bad money management. Rahh is stopping the cycle by exposing our kids to education and earning potential early on.

3. Latasha Alcindor

This next trailblazer is a person who’s picture can be found any time you google the words “music” and “Web3.” I am talking about Latasha Alcindor. Alcindor is a rapper who started out in the traditional music space but broke out when she learned how to utilize Web3 to build and reward her community — so much so that she was able to sell her music video for $50,000. Alcindor doesn’t use her platform just to promote her music; she has helped and educated many artists by onboarding them to Web3. One of the ways she does this is through her position at music NFT marketplace Zora. From educational spaces to introducing newcomers to the app, she is committed to helping the next generation of artists create a lifestyle where they can actually live off their music careers. Alcindor even curated a music festival called Zoratopia to provide a platform for artists to showcase their music and network within the Web3 community.

4. Dr. Hans Boateng

Dr. Hans Boateng is redefining nobility through his NFT project The Royals. The project was created to showcase and empower underrepresented cultures within the Web3 space. With each NFT collection, participants experience different cultural adventures based on a particular African region. For example, last year The Royals launched a collection where ticket-holders were able to travel to an exclusive gala in Ghana. Through the project, Boateng is bridging the gap between the Black diaspora and Africa. This NFT project is giving marginalized communities access to the opportunities Web3 innovation provides while delivering a platform for African artists to get exposure.

5. Nyla Hayes

Breaking the mold for NFT artists is the reason this next trailblazer made the list — I am talking about Nyla Hayes. Hayes is a 14-year-old NFT artist who has made millions of dollars by selling art from her various collections. She is also TIME Magazine‘s first artist-in-residence, which allows her to partner with the publication on various artistic creations. And if that is not enough, Hayes recently signed a deal with CAA for representation in all areas. When she is not working on art, she is using her social platforms to provide positivity throughout the Web3 space. Hayes is a true inspiration for fellow Gen Z artists as far as what it means to go after your dreams and understanding the results that are possible.

6. Don Allen Stevenson

The great thing about Web3 is that it has birthed many new arms within the emerging tech space, and has allowed for content creators to explore and use that tech to educate the masses. One content creator in particular, Don Allen Stevenson, has been using his platform to teach the next generation about Web3, AI, and XR technology. He has even partnered with Meta to curate live demonstrations, workshops, and educational content. Stevenson travels across the country speaking at universities and conferences about how this technology will revolutionize content creation, all while still having time to hop on Instagram and engage with his community on a weekly basis. Education and representation are the keys to onboarding the next generation, and Stevenson is leading the way in that revolution.

7. Mec Zilla

Progressing in the Web3 space isn’t just about curating art, you have to be intentional about breaking glass ceilings, being in the right rooms, and calling out folks when their actions don’t match their words. A true trailblazer isn’t afraid to speak up, and that’s one of the many reasons Mec Zilla is on this list. She stands on diversity and inclusion and brings this energy while she consults with top brands such as Nike, Jordan, Converse, and SpringHill. Even great artists such as Snoop Dogg and Steve Aoki have looked to her for advice as they entered the Web3 space. When she is not working with clients, she is active within the online community and curating Twitter Spaces to educate and have those tough conversations that will move the needle when it comes to diversity. This year, she amped up her efforts by creating a DAO that will allow virtual and in-person opportunities for people to network and work together on amazing projects.

8. Harold Hughes

Our next trailblazer is all about COMMUNITY, so much so that he created a token gated community for Black creatives and investors to network and build. Founder Harold Hughes’ Blackatxyz company started out as a telegram group to provide a space for Black attendees of major business and tech conferences to network and share resources. Then, it grew into an entire community that allows people to build a true connection with like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, and creators. Not to mention, get access to exclusive resources through their various partnerships with companies like Venture Miami. When Hughes isn’t working on this project, he is providing educational content regarding fundraising tips, projects to look out for, and Web3. He is a true dot-connector in the Web3 space and works relentlessly to bring people together, so that they have the proper resources to curate successful projects and businesses.

9. Tina Bonner

Since we are in Black History Month, we have to bring the extra Blackity Black vibes. But this visionary is bringing those vibes year-round with their company Black in Meta. Founder Tina Bonner has created an entire company dedicated to not only educating the Black community about the metaverse but curating representation within it. It can be quite discouraging when there is no one that looks like you within emerging art, so Bonner and her team have been working to change that. She curates educational content and hosts pop-up workshops to show our community the benefits of the metaverse and why people need to be a part of this new wave. She is also spotlighting other innovators through her podcast and providing them a platform to showcase the work they are doing within the emerging tech space.

The last trailblazer I want to shout out is YOU! I see the work you are doing behind the scenes, the countless hours you put in, the opportunities that fell through, and the tough conversations. I want to give every Black person who works within the Web3 space their flowers because without YOU, none of this progress would be possible. I want you to know that you are SEEN and appreciated even if it doesn’t feel like that all the time. The work you are putting in is building an ecosystem that will positively impact generations. I thank you for your heart, diligence, and perseverance.