Adrianna writes about how founders are using NFTs to bring IRL experiences to communities.
Our 'Thirdwork Writers Spotlight' is a guest post series that allows us to feature content by talented writers, builders and contributors from across web3. If you're interested in contributing, email us at email@example.com or shoot us a DM.
Adrianna is a a freelance writer, strategist, & co-founder of OctoView, a Web3-native marketing firm. She specializes in tech, Web3, & crypto, but has also helped a wide variety of brands upgrade their content and marketing.
Blockchain technology has impacted commerce, fashion, consumer goods, and countless other industries. Brands of all sizes have new opportunities to leverage NFTs to blend IRL products and experiences with digital goods.
NFTs have enjoyed their fair share of time in the spotlight. Multi-million dollar sales have made headlines overnight. Yet, this isn't enough. We need to look at the space through a critical lens as well. Some claim this hype won’t last— that NFTs are running on speculation and inflated prices. With falling prices-- and fears of a bear market, it’s hard to hide this concern. Was this level of growth ever sustainable?
There’s no sense denying the role of hype and FOMO (fear of missing out) contributing to the explosive growth of NFTs in recent months. But, exploring the potential utility of digital goods adds much-needed context to this equation.
There is an even greater opportunity for value-providing NFTs to emerge in this new era of utility.
While the term “utility” gets thrown around a lot in the space, it’s important to define what this actually means. Nowadays, NFTs are more than static jpegs living on the blockchain. Now, digital assets can act as tickets to unlock exclusive items and experiences. You can enjoy the art and community, and additional perks like access to events, clubs, real-world items, and token-gated discounts.
Existing NFT collections can continue to reward their community of holders with more perks. Some Web3 companies even allow for holders to actively participate in decision making. This is especially true when looking at token holders in a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). Depending on the structure behind the company or DAO, holders of NFTs and other digital assets can often choose to take a more passive or active role.
I spoke with Christine Lu, co-founder of the Cross Border Lab, and an investor, shareholder and advisor to a number of early stage funds, startups and cross border focused companies. When asked about the intersection between Web3 and IRL experiences, Christine had a lot to share. “This is where my partners and I see the real opportunity in the next phase.” Christine is quite active within the Web3 space, founding a unique community called IP3. “IP3 consists of creators, strategic partners and investors who are bringing Web3 into the entertainment sector and immersive experiences for the mainstream.” This community already has a wide array of founding members making huge moves in the space.
Bored & Hungry, the world’s first NFT-themed restaurant was once a 90-day popup in LA. After attracting over 1,500 customers for the opening of this Bored Ape Yacht Club-inspired restaurant, Food Fighters Universe (FFU) decided to make this a permanent location.
Now, Bored & Hungry is expanding to open a 2nd restaurant in Seoul.
Jay Ha is the co-founder of Hungry DAO and a partner in IP3 alongside Christine Lu. After learning about Bored & Hungry opening in LA, Jay connected with the founders, working with them to open his own location in Seoul, South Korea. The 2nd Bored & Hungry restaurant is set to open in the fall of 2022.
Jay is also the exclusive distributor of the “Apewater” water brand. As Christine Lu remarks, “This is the start of a number of examples where Web3 brands powered by a strong community can quickly extend themselves into new markets when investors and entrepreneurs with experience and connections in other sectors get into the space early.”
While speculation, hype, and headline, attention-grabbing stats of multi-million dollar sales might have fueled this movement, we need the help of builders with a vision to help NFTs reach their full potential.
Unsure if it’s the right time to build right now? “Builders are bullish during this “bear” market,” says Christine Lu. The community behind IP3 is more excited than ever for the future of Web3 and IRL experiences. “How we’ve experienced Web3 in the last year is allowing ourselves to fall into the “degen” rabbit hole with the lens of seeing creators and artists as IP builders and founders of the next IP ecosystems in food, film, music, merchandise and beyond.” Leveraging IP is a necessary next-step for easier real-world adoption of NFTs and other digital assets.
Another industry impacted by this shift is fashion. I spoke with Stephanie Srikandi, a sustainable fashion entrepreneur with nearly 15 years of experience in the fashion industry. Stephanie is behind TIALS Studio, which was created to support garment workers and the ethical fashion movement. She has founded several successful brands in and out of the Web3 space.
TIALS.World is a Web3 fashion collective born out of TIALS Studio. “TIALS.World is not just a sustainable fashion brand with an NFT collection but a sustainable fashion hub in Web3. Those that are in fashion or wanting to be part of sustainable fashion can learn, network, get discovered, and get their fashion ideas launched.” Stephanie uniquely combines her passion and experience in the fashion industry with Web3 technology to revolutionize the space.
Carbon emissions are drastically reduced as digital products create much less waste than physical products. “With Web3 we saw an opportunity to scale sustainability,” says Stephanie. “In TIALS.World you are the designer, the investor, the wearer and the change maker whereas in Web2 you are simply the consumer. In Web3 you are building with your community.”
NFTs are serving as membership passes to exclusive clubs, societies, and communities. They’re unlocking unique experiences while becoming further ingrained in our culture.
NFTs don’t need to be strictly monkey jpegs and simple doodles selling for millions of dollars. They can serve as inspiration for NFT-themed restaurants (using IP) like in the case of Bored & Hungry. Or, maybe they’ll help usher in a new era of sustainability in the fashion industry.
Nowadays, brands have to redefine utility. Is it about the art, the community, the IRL perks, or something else entirely? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. A good first step is for brands to listen to their community. What type of people are they? What sort of perks do they like? Do people want access to private fitness clubs? Or do they want to attend more holders-only events? Do they want more NFT-themed restaurants, or the ability to redeem signed prints of their NFTs? This space is constantly changing, along with the wants and needs of consumers. If Web3 brands and founders want to remain relevant, they can’t use the old playbook.
Web3 companies need new ways to grow a lasting brand, and not one that fades as fast as it is hyped up. There’s fierce competition in the industry, and Web3 founders need to get creative when it comes to providing value— both IRL and online.
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