Late last year the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a venerable publication revered by those of whose roots are newspapers, leaped into Web 3 with the release of NFTs of its front pages of various historical events in the 118 years it has been publishing. The NFTs, however, were the work of AE Studio.
AE Studio, an organization of more than 100 seasoned developers, engineers, and data scientists who specialize in software development, works with startups and, increasingly, enterprises seeking a way into Web3.
Things move fast in the metaverse, and AE Studio last month announced a partnership with Edge of NFT. The partnership will enable creators with the building blocks of blockchain technology to launch their own cutting-edge Web3 projects and NFTs.
“The, at times, Byzantine world of Web3 can be daunting for entrepreneurs and even more so for large, legacy brands with a lot to lose,” said Jevan Fox, Chief Revenue Officer of AE Studio. “We are uniquely qualified to service enterprise partners, and startups, seeking to go where their future growth is, in the blockchain space, where things like increased utility inherently drive brand affinity, traction, community engagement, revenue, and a range of other metrics that many companies are just now exploring.”
We asked Jevan Fox a few questions about big brands looking for a way into the metaverse, their need for expertise that they, almost by definition, don’t have in-house.
You recently announced a partnership with South China Morning Post, and we here at BT just had an announcement from Forbes about an NFT they are launching. Can you describe the level of interest big brands have in the Metaverse?
Every big brand is interested in the metaverse…but what is the metaverse in its current iteration? Really big brands are interested in web3 solutions, but they don’t know what they don’t know. It’s like the upside-down world for brands, bottom up community building rather than top-down marketing. And while there’s not a true first-mover advantage for brands to implement a web3 strategy, there are advantages for big brands to start being active in the space, and the most forward-thinking brands are doing just that. CMOs that are clever and creative are learning about the space by doing… testing GTM and community strategies, exploring utility associated with NFT drops, teasing out a reasonable DAO.
What is holding back these big brands from expanding into the Metaverse?
Primarily it is technical expertise capabilities in house. Brands face the challenge of finding the right partner – developers with real life blockchain and go-to-market experience. The average employment span of an in-house developer is 8 months, so to build an internal team and manage it is very challenging. Channels like Discord, are places that big brands are typically not already present. They are not in the community like that and are not in those conversations.
Brands should avoid looking like they’re just jumping on the NFT bandwagon. If you haven’t done builds, and then now you’re trusted with the entire brand, it could break. Executives who don’t have a wallet or real world experiences in Metaverse, would accomplish more by hiring those with expertise in Web3 technologies.
What are big brands looking to accomplish in the Metaverse?
- Phase 1:
- technical decision making (what chain? is sustainability important? scalability? low/no gas?)
- determine initial web3 utility
- create roadmap
- Phase 2:
- tokenomics/drop strategies, etc
- build community
- roll out initial implementation, continue to analyze/adapt
- Phase 3:
- deliver on increasingly complex and useful roadmap features
- well established community helping drive company initiatives
- Phase 1:
NFT launches like the ARTIFACTS launch by South China Morning Post and AE Studio. AE provided soup to nuts blockchain services resulting in an initial NFT drop that we managed and built – including interesting pack dynamics that we were able to incorporate and get launched very fast in 10 weeks. The launch was so successful, it sold out in minutes. SCMP researched what they needed, they set a focus on it, found AE, and now they have an entire business that has spun out of this launch that is Web3 and helping preserve history on the blockchain.
Other things like a Baby DAO – a term coined by AE – which is kind of a limited DAO, you’re opening the communication channels and taking guidance from the community. Brands are seeking developer expertise but also can benefit from a strategic perspective too. If brands are not on Discord, they’re not seeing what questions are being asked and how those conversations are forming. For example, product roadmaps.
What are the Web3 opportunities you see startups pursuing?
There are people who have the ability to lease and rent NFTs. One example is Bored Ape Yacht Party. They’re making NFTs that are built to be leased/rented – it’s pretty cool and interesting.
One new thing is having the community be part of the creation of a project like “Fuzzy felons”. They opened auditions to the community to submit voice auditions for a trailer they’re working on. If chosen, those people who submitted their voices get credited and receive royalties.
What are the strategies emerging for marketing and branding with NFTs?
- Discord communities and conversations
- Whitelists. If you can curate a whitelist and incorporate influencers, it’s a huge indicator that more people are going to come to public sale after the NFT mints.
- Roadmaps It’s helpful to have some sort of metrics around projects and have the founders involved. It gives them the ability to look back to check on if they’re doing what they said.
- Community based events, like NFT LA and community meetups.