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Shaping the future: Smobler’s journey as a global metaverse architect

In the ever-evolving landscape of the metaverse, Smobler, a Singapore-based company founded by Dr. Loretta Chen and Ruel Sarmiento, emerges as a visionary turnkey metaverse architect. With representative offices in Japan, the USA, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, Africa, and Brazil, the company has positioned itself as a global force, specializing in blockchain-based gaming, event production, outreach, and education. Endorsed by The Sandbox and backed by The Sandbox and Brinc, Smobler is at the forefront of shaping the future of virtual environments.

Dr. Loretta Chen, co-founder and CEO of Smobler, possesses a passion for storytelling. A creator, builder, and entrepreneur in the metaverse through her Web3 startup, which she established alongside Ruel Sarmiento in September 2021, she later joined Brinc's The Sandbox Metaverse Accelerator Program in Fall 2022. Blending her academic and entertainment interests, she charts a new course for the digital age.

Championing meaningful brands and non-profits, Smobler stands as a leading metaverse architect and design company, leveraging Web3 technology to construct platforms for social good. Their 2023 initiatives include the forthcoming ChopraVerse launch in The Sandbox, a collaboration with Beacon Media, co-founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Manoj Narender Madnani, aimed at shaping societal narratives and promoting Smobler’s Metaverse For Good ethos.

In mid-September, preceding TOKEN2049 and the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix 2023, Smobler introduced NOVA, a phygital experience blending large-scale, real-life crypto and Web3 events with an online community spanning the globe. This launch also marked a partnership between Smobler, The Sandbox, and Tuschay Studios, introducing the Unstoppable Experience, an interactive educational adventure featuring an exclusive UD Avatar collection and a dynamic marketplace. Concurrently, Smobler unveiled its collaboration with Singapore’s MusicForGood non-profit initiative, aiming to unite youths through music within The Sandbox metaverse.

Over the past three and a half years, Smobler has evolved from a startup founded by two co-founders into a global enterprise with 50 employees worldwide. Dr. Chen now reflects on the pivotal milestones that shaped Smobler in its early stages and continue to drive the startup's growth today.

The company's origin story began amidst the challenges posed by COVID-19, with Dr. Loretta Chen already situated in Hawaii following a distinguished career in media and creative industries. At 45, she redirected her focus towards education, serving as a professor at the state university. Within this role, she spearheaded initiatives aimed at fostering leadership and economic empowerment, particularly for women in disadvantaged communities, alongside efforts to support Native Hawaiians and the incarcerated population. Concurrently, she pursued a passion for animal welfare, rescuing and raising a substantial number of cats.

With the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Chen found herself delivering a keynote address at the Hawaii Convention Center in March 2020, emphasizing the necessity of digitalizing education and virtual engagement. As lockdowns commenced, two significant challenges emerged: the marginalization of creatives and the financial struggles faced by the eventual co-founder, Ruel, whose employment termination left him with minimal resources due to responsibilities associated with his autistic son. Moreover, the necessity for businesses to adapt digitally became increasingly apparent to avoid obsolescence.

Reflecting deeply on the ramifications of COVID-19 on creators and their families, Dr. Chen recognized the potential to alleviate economic hardships through digital opportunities. She was particularly drawn to the concept of fostering digital ownership within the open metaverse, viewing it as a means to empower individuals and promote economic freedom and digital democracy. For her, Web3 represented a transformative paradigm shift, offering the ability to assert ownership and control over virtual assets and data.

“Coupled with a sense of altruism, naiveté, and bravado in wanting to support a friend, his family, and the community around me, we founded Smobler based on our core values and a belief in seven ideals: inclusion, diversity, equity, access, leadership, love, and sustainability. From the onset, we focused on our core strengths as a duo as we did not have abundant resources. For me, I was great at the human communications part: creating, connecting, and communicating ideas and started with B2B brand-building and storytelling; while Ruel took on the architectural design and gameplay.” - quoting Dr. Chen.

As the metaverse gains prominence globally, Smobler emerges as a key player facilitating the transition for businesses. With robust backing from The Sandbox and Brinc, Smobler's commitment to diversity, knowledge bridging, and agile client engagement solidifies its position as a turnkey metaverse architect, contributing significantly to the ongoing global metaverse revolution.

With a global perspective that values local nuances and sensitivity, Smobler has made significant strides in understanding and embracing Brazilian culture, particularly through its participation in the ScaleUp inBrazil program. Recognizing the importance of immersion, Smobler has strategically positioned three staff members on the ground in Brazil. These individuals play a pivotal role in providing invaluable insights into the nuances of the local culture, contributing to a more informed and culturally sensitive approach.

Loretta unequivocally asserts that the metaverse offers unparalleled opportunities for women and encourages everyone to explore its potential. She expresses excitement about the prospects for women in this realm, emphasizing the ability to co-create and shape the future, particularly considering the pervasive influence of patriarchal values in our current world. Recognizing the need to address gender imbalance, Loretta advocates for a multifaceted approach, including funding, support, mentorship, representation, and the creation of safe spaces. She underscores the importance of women uplifting one another.

In a landscape dominated by visionaries and innovators, Loretta highlights the supportive atmosphere and cites examples such as Sandy Carter, the former VP of Amazon Web Services now leading Unstoppable Domains, who is actively working to increase female representation in tech. Loretta pledges her company resources to promote inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, sustainability, education, and leadership, to cultivate the next generation of talent and welcome more women into the field.

Beyond establishing a physical presence, Smobler actively facilitates visits from other company staff, fostering ongoing learning and collaboration. These internal visits not only strengthen the internal dynamics of the company but also encourage deeper engagement with the Brazilian community.

By strategically stationing staff on the ground, facilitating internal visits, and actively participating in cultural and diplomatic activities, Smobler exemplifies its commitment to aligning its business vision with the dynamic Brazilian landscape. The company recognizes that genuine interest and cultural understanding are not just ethical considerations but fundamental prerequisites for successful business endeavors. In essence, Smobler approach to the Brazilian metaverse landscape intertwines technological innovation with cultural sensitivity, forging a path that respects and embraces the unique characteristics of this diverse nation.

 Dr. Loretta Chen 


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