Getting to Know Laura Minquini from AthenaDAO


1. Tell us about yourself. What did you do before AthenaDAO?

I started my career in something completely different: fashion. First in creative, then moved to marketing and brand development. That expertise led me to co-found the first consumer tech company licensing fashion and design brands for Apple accessories in Europe. Once we sold that company, I was looking for the next thing in my life. I wanted to do something that had a positive impact, not just make people buy things because they look cool or give them status. I found it when I volunteered at retirement homes; I was shocked by how we end our days and thought longevity and potential rejuvenation were the solutions for healthier aging. Through my work as an advocate, I became a citizen scientist and met some of the most important scientists in the field, including Dr. Jennifer Garrison, whose work in reproductive longevity led me to realize how underfunded women’s health research is. After I became a contributor for VitaDAO, I realized that what they had done for longevity could be applied to get more funding for women's health research. 

2. When did your DeSci/web3 journey start and how?

Through my work in longevity, I met the team from VitaDAO. I wasn’t particularly interested in NFTs or the casino that web3 felt like during the peak bull years. When I learned more about DeSci, I thought I had found the best calling card for web3. The utilization of technology to create new incentives and to get capital into overlooked areas of research that have a positive societal impact, is something people need to know more about.

3. How did you get to know about and why did you decide to join?

It’s common knowledge that sometimes timing is everything, and in this case, it was. It just so happens that when we officially formed AthenaDAO in August of 2022, the Molecule team was getting ready to launch In many ways, we were lucky that this great opportunity aligned with our start. 

4. Can you tell us about your experience in so far?

Love it! It’s great having the support of a team keen on building an ecosystem, and this t is also the first cohort, so we were a bit like the experimental group.

5. What is the most exciting thing about and what would you say to others who want to join the program?

The most exciting part is that we’re at the start. We’re all learning from each other and there are so many areas in science that could be worked on. It is also great to experiment; there are a lot of processes and ideas that we have developed internally and we are excited that they could become practices in other future DAOs. Speaking of new DAOs, if I wasn’t doing AthenaDAO, I would try to do a DAO focused on metabolic health. 

6. What inspired you to start a BioDAO? How did you come up with the idea?

It was my experience in VitaDAO; I realized that there was a possibility to effect change through this model. My exposure to reproductive longevity from my advocacy also made me realize how underfunded this area is. This led me to think that we could use the BioDAO model to fund more research in women’s health. It was again about timing. After being the MC at DeSci Berlin and having Beata Baranowska encourage the women at the conference to meet, I met more women like Ines Santos Silva who were serious about making this happen. Here we are now! 

7. What are the biggest challenges you faced in building a BioDAO and how did you overcome them?

Finding your ride-or-die team. DAOs are, in a way, transitory by nature. Finding the people who align with the vision and mission and are willing to put in the time is hard. It’s also hard when you don’t have a full treasury yet, as I understand people need to make money. Keeping talented people while you get enough traction to have a treasury is an important task.

8. What advice do you have for individuals and organizations looking to join DeSci and contribute to its mission?

Be open and ready to collaborate. More importantly, because DeSci is a big experiment, there’s no right or wrong way to do things; we’re all trying our best to support science and scientists. If you’re passionate about a cause, just get going. You don’t have to be a researcher, developer, or technical person to contribute. 

9. What does AthenaDAO do and how has AthenaDAO been involved in the development and growth of the biotech and DeSci community at large?

AthenaDAO brings together researchers, advocates, and funders working in women’s health. Our aim is to source, fund, govern, support, and incubate the most impactful research in the space, because it’s been a long time coming.

In terms of biotech and DeSci at large, we have a unique opportunity with AthenaDAO because our focus concerns half of the global population. This is one issue that has the potential to introduce a massive community to DeSci, and the ripple effect could be huge. 

10. Anything else you would like to share?

We have our Genesis NFT membership in May! The concept around it is a conversation starter, and more importantly it will be amazing for those who join our movement to see how we bring advocacy and action to push women’s health forward. Join our Discord to learn more about all our projects and how you can get involved or be part of our community.

About Laura

Laura Minquini is a longevity and reproductive health advocate. She is the founder of MYKIGAI, a discovery and recommendation platform for longevity; contributor to VitaDAO; and core lead of AthenaDAO, the new collective to fund women’s health research.

Her career has spanned three continents and the worlds of media, trend forecasting, and brand strategy in luxury. She co-founded and was the CEO of the first fashion-focused tech accessories company, achieving worldwide distribution and collaborating with companies like Apple and Amazon, amongst others.

She wants to leverage her branding and go-to-market expertise to push scientific discovery forward.

Catch Laura on the latest episode of The DeSci Podcast: