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Anatomy of an NFT Launch – Part 1: LFG 🚀 (Let’s Form a Gallery)

We are a Web3 development service company.

Why did we want to launch an NFT Collection?

The team realized that NFT’s are an integral component to the crypto ecosystem and we needed to demonstrate the depth of our experience.  We embarked on this journey not only to solve the problems that exist in any new business launch but also Included a chance to make a positive environmental impact. Now let’s take you along on this journey.

We are familiar with Ethereum’s standards, but there is so much innovation happening in tokens across different chains. We took this on because it is great developer education; it introduces us to a new blockchain and its SDKs, and we get more experience with Rust smart contracts. We set goals to learn new token standards, new decentralized technologies, and even the practices of Web3 marketing.

Another reason is “the vibes.” We may be in a bear market, but you can’t tell that to a lot of the NFT “degens” and builders out there. There is a more positive feeling, a vibe, within the NFT’s that the crypto traders can’t muster right now. NFT prices fell along with altcoins, but I’m talking about something else. There’s something different in NFTs vs. FTs because there’s an infusion of artistic expression in them (if you hate NFT art, groan here.)

Despite what you think of the average quality of it, there is some art happening, there is even music happening, and those are humanistic activities that are done with a positive attitude. If your job is to sit at a computer all day anyway, NFTs add a little spice to it. NFTs make sense even to my 4-year-old. She thinks, of course it would be a job you can do–making cartoon drawings of zombies and selling them to your friends.

This NFT project and artwork also provides us with a fun mascot side of things for our more serious development service company. It is Web3 after all, we should enjoy the quirky internet culture. Also, if we can do it ourselves, we can help you get your project launched too!

 

What kind of NFT Collection?

Twitter profile pictures (abbr. PFPs) are high value real estate. The icon by your name represents you and your online communities. It’s most common for people to have some pixel art animal there. As an NFT project, you know you’ve built a community if you see a lot of your art in PFPs liking and sharing posts.

I have extensive experience with AI-generated art and language, having written a couple of books about it: Stone Age Code and AI Art – Poetry. For Shardeez (which is what we’re naming our collection), I used an AI art technique that applied pre-defined traits onto pre-drawn images (which I made), to create a sort of style transfer of the traits onto them. It’s a technique I’ve used for a different NFT collection that turned out successfully called NattyRadishes. The original images are called the “Genesis Blocks”. I made them in a voxel editor. They then get separated (sharded) into 13 clans. They are interesting. There is nothing out there quite like them, that is for sure.

What about NFT utility?

Buyers (or “minters”) want to see 3-year roadmaps and financial projections for their JPEGs. They demand “utility” from digital artists. That’s okay, because there is a new category of people called Dev-Artists. They spend some time on artistic creation, and some time on Web3 / blockchain development. It is a smart contract, files of code on blockchain that can do a variety of things. Many NFT projects now separate the artistic side from the development side, where holding the NFT gets you access to things like dashboards, tools, dApps, games, IRL merchandise, or DeFi functions.

We did not make an NFT that promises future financial incentives. That is a common “utility” in many projects, where holders of it can receive airdrops of additional tokens that have monetary value. There are complications with doing this and being considered an unlicensed security in the United States. Instead of financial utility, we decided on a community building utility. One of the most valuable utilities is for your NFT to become a “meme.” For reasons unbeknownst and unpredictable to the creator, it becomes a cultural hit. Memes can’t be planned, it’s more like they’re plucked from existence. But we can plan to start the organic growth of a community, and perhaps a meme will catch on.

How about a community with a common purpose/interest?

Our team had a meeting about the marketing of Shardeez and we hit on an agreement. We agreed that pressures on Earth’s ecosystems and agriculture are too great for them to sustain themselves much longer, and we should try to help and preserve the Earth for future generations. Shardeez already had traits related to nature: there are arctic “aurora borealis” Shardeez, there are ocean creatures, there are some that look like farms and food. Well, to do something good for the planet, and to have a “utility” to our NFTs, we’re giving them an eco-mission.

We have committed to have 20% of our mint value sent to the Shardeez DAO. The NFT is a smart contract, which will specify mint fees to be directed to the DAO, which itself is a smart contract. The DAO consists of members who believe in the eco-mission and who will use that funding to help support organizations doing impactful work. We would like to keep donations on-chain, and there are plenty of ecology organizations in blockchain for the DAO to decide on. 

This plants us in the larger community of #ReFi (regenerative finance), or #Regens (a play on Degens), that uses Web3 and blockchain to create ecological health movements. If you’re already in Web3, or so far haven’t been interested, I highly suggest you check out what ReFi is. Literally, a breath of fresh air in an industry often reproached as competitive, criminal and destructive.

 

Why did we land on the NEAR blockchain?

Scalability is the biggest reason. If Ethereum can’t solve its high price issues during heavy use, then it can’t be the main settlement layer for the future. Every competitor to Ethereum says they have a solution, but we can’t be sure who wins out. NEAR has a narrative that it will be infinitely scalable with its sharding mechanism (Shardeez = sharded blocks). We read their whitepaper and drank the Kool-Aid; we came for the tech, but we’re staying for something else.

Most NFT activity is still on Ethereum. Solana has the next biggest NFT crowd. After those two, there are many other chains vying for NFT supremacy. Solana and Ethereum have hundreds of mints per day. NEAR is still in single digits or none per day. Pick your favorite layer 1 or layer 2, they all are trying to do something original with NFTs because it’s an engaging way to gather users and lock capital. 

NEAR is also a small enough community that we can join without being overwhelmed and forgotten. We can see who the top players are and potentially work with them. Again, it’s also the vibes. Being in Twitter Spaces with NEAR builders has given us confidence that this is going to be a successful train to hop on.

Want to learn more about NEAR blockchain?  Here’s a terrific video by Coin Bureau that goes indepth on comparing Solana and NEAR — definitely worth watching (especially if you’re curious about which blockchain to focus on to launch your project).

 

What is our tech stack?

We landed on a smart contract implementation and minting process that was open-source and well known in the NEAR community called TenK. We’ll explain why we did, and what changes we had to make. That’s for another part of this series, Part 2: LFG 🚀(Let’s Fork their GitHub) – stay tuned!

 

So, how do we make these NFTs a success that people want to own and hold?

We solved the technical tasks. We have our smart contracts customized, we learned more Rust, we have the minting page and asset hosting ready to go. Now it just comes down to executing marketing so others can see the vision along with us and want to participate and partner with. 

We’re planning a “doublemint”. Most will be sold on our mint day on NEAR, but some will be saved for the unique EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) that runs on NEAR called Aurora. This network allows you to use wrapped ETH and Metamask like any other EVM. The Shardeez saved for Aurora are of the “Arctic Defenders” clan; they look like the Aurora Borealis other arctic concepts.

We’re learning Web3 marketing as we go, and we have a lot of experiments and irons in the fire. It boils down to finding those people who believe in your mission, appreciate your art, and are willing to be ambassadors for the project. We’ll explain more about the wild world of NFT marketing, and how we plan to turn it upside-down in Part 3: LFG 🚀(Let’s Find a Gang) – coming once we launch (August 3rd).

Shane Neeley

As head of R&D, Shane’s passion for blockchain development is matched by his avid interests in skateboarding, biking, golf, comedy, time in nature, acting a fool with his daughters, date nights, and grilling steaks.

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