Is your barber an NFT artist?
Terrible joke there, so I fully understand if you unsub from here.
Still with me? Ok cool. There’s no point in drawing this out to 700+ words, but yesterday I found out my barber is an NFT artist. His collection, Botzy, has 90 Twitter followers in just over a week. Jesse has bootstrapped this collection. As an artist, and an aspiring cryptopreneur, he sees NFTs as a means of learning and growing a side business, while using familiar tools like Procreate to hone his craft.
He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s currently finding product-market-fit. And he doesn’t mind putting in the hard work: “I’ll probably manually create and upload 1000+ of these to OpenSea. It doesn’t bother me, I just love jamming out and making these things,” he told me yesterday.
To support him, I went to purchase #001, a cute little blue dude with neck tats. Then the pain started.
Jesse wanted to make it easy for customers to purchase, so he uploaded the collection using another blockchain, Polygon, which is an alternative to Ethereum. The benefit to Polygon (using MATIC coin) is that there are no transaction fees. For an entry-level artist, it seems intuitive for Jesse to want to remove objections to prospective collectors. With Polygon, you can buy on Opensea with a credit card, or convert existing ETH you may have in a wallet to MATIC.
And therein lies the problem. For existing collectors, these represent the very hurdles Jesse intended to avoid for newbies. I will incur a fee to convert my ETH to Polygon. So I attempted to check out with credit card, using Moon Pay.
Unfortunately, “KYC” laws (know your customer) requires real-identity check, meaning I had to upload a picture of my driver license, front and back, and take a selfie. After this process, which required transferring to my phone to complete the transaction, I was greeted with an error message.
So I incurred gas fees to convert to Polygon instead, and yet another roadblock. It takes up to 45 minutes for the conversion to take place:
This is painful, it causes friction, and disrupts the flow of the purchase for the customer. These are the hurdles that crypto currently faces, despite the idea that it’s becoming more “mainstream” — for me, a seasoned NFT collector (since December 2020, at least), it still has pitfalls.
So what’s the point? Good on you for asking. We’re so very early here. We have a long way to go. But there are four signs to me that this exchange with my barber hints at:
- Artists and creatives see crypto as a path to entrepreneurship
- Platforms like Opensea have a path to being not only the Amazon marketplace of Web3, but also the Shopify of Web3, providing the audience and distribution, while also easing the transition for a new creator.
- This is so hard. So very hard. It reminds me of the Web learning curve circa 1999, without the “NFT in 24 Hours Books” that Sam’s publishing used to put out.
- The general public are much more aware of NFTs and crypto than we realize.
The pace of change is so fast, too, that by the time you read this many of these problems are likely solved. There are no best practices yet, if there will ever be any, at all.
Speaking of No Best Practices, our friend and frequent collaborator, Alex Greifeld of the No Best Practices newsletter joined us on the podcast this week, and also put out a manifesto called “Dork Mode: An Antidote to the Sea of Sameness” over on our Insiders newsletter. It is certainly worth your time.
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As our ops director Erin, would sing, “All I want for Christmaaaaas—is for the ice cream machine to work.”
Audience-First / Red Season. Another pop star partnering with a drive thru for Christmas is Taylor Swift. Starbucks announced that as of Wednesday, Swifties would be able to order “Taylor’s Latte”—a Grande Caramel Nonfat Latte—as part of their red cup season and to celebrate Swift’s release of "Red (Taylor's Version)."
Retro Modern / Electric Slide. Hyundai’s newest luxury car goes vintage. The Korean car company is putting a vintage spin on the electric car: reviving the 1980’s Grandeur Heritage Restomod but with an electric twist.