Hi Lawrence, before we start the interview, can you explain exactly what Web3 is and what NFTs are?
It’s not easy to explain it simply and briefly, but I’ll give it a try.
In Web 1.0 or ‘read only Web’, internet protocols allowed anyone to share information on the internet. In most cases you had to set up your own servers. There were no central entities controlling or owning that data. The internet consisted of static websites for users to consult information (read) and where user generated content was almost non-existent. Think of Yahoo in its early days or other news websites.
In Web 2.0, also called the social Web, large platforms such as Facebook and Spotify came into the picture. Those platforms are built on top of these internet protocols and provide users with tools to easily generate and distribute their own content. We call this ‘read and write’. This has brought massive value to the users. But there is a flip side. Because all data is stored and managed centrally, these platforms gained a lot of power leading to control and censorship with huge take rates on the value generated by its users.
In Web3 , we notice a shift towards ownership of our data – digital assets. We call it ‘read, write, and own’. Some call it the web of value. It’s the ambition to go back to the spirit of Web 1.0, but with the functionalities of Web 2.0. We want to return ownership to the creators and to the users. Decentralised technologies like blockchain play an important role here.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are Web3 primitives and can be seen as unique digital certificates encrypted on the blockchain. They can represent anything of value. Think of memberships, artwork or even a piece of real estate. The advantage is that these NFTs are fully owned by the user because they aren’t stored in a platform’s private database.
How do you contribute to this innovation with Onegrid?
We are developing a digital platform where NFT project founders can unite, inform, and involve their members in one dedicated space. The access and usage rights are based on the tokens that sit in a user’s crypto wallet. Creators that want to launch their NFTs can also do this through our platform. For now, we provide manual support but plan to build a simple configurator to do it themselves.
We’re first releasing the community management solution because we noticed there are already many projects seeking for a more seamless and integrated member experience. There is no environment to get a simple overview of your collectables, member status, how the project is evolving, new utilities, discussion, … Later on, we’ll open the platform to creators planning to launch their projects.
In addition, we also receive many questions to create a tailor-made solution. Larger clients want active guidance and custom development. To meet this demand, we founded Onegrid Studio. It’s a collective of web3 builders and future thinkers that dedicate their time to supporting clients end-to-end in launching their blockchain-based projects. One example is the web3 music project of Buscemi. Together with 49Meta we configured the smart contracts and NFTs.
Eventually, we’re planning on bringing the platform and studio closer together. This way you get a huge synergy. While using our platform, clients notice they will need custom solutions to realise their creative vision. Because the whole technology is new and there aren’t that many tools available, we are very happy to be their guide in this tech-jungle.
How advanced are you in developing the platform?
The last eight months consisted mainly of designing different ideas and market testing them, taking into account all technological possibilities. After pivoting and learning for a long time, in July ‘22 we set on our final concept that we are going to develop. Since then, we’ve been working on the product architecture and design. The beta launch is planned for the end of January 2023 in collaboration with a few web3 communities.
What does your business model look like?
In our core we want to be a community-led solution, progressively decentralising power to our active users. We’ll be launching our own grid – OnegridDAO – and each client can claim an on-chain membership NFT when spinning-up their grid. For now, we’re still exploring different financial models. It will be a combination of a tiered subscription adjusted to the usage (e.g. amount of admins, members, extensions). The first step is to get traction and engagement. We are closely collaborating with a first wave of pilot communities to learn and adapt if needed. Once a number of communities are onboarded, we can give them the opportunity, including new creators, to launch tokens on our platform. We plan to charge a small fee on the total sales.
What is your scope? Which customers do you focus on?
We focus mainly on creators/founders who have launched NFT projects with a community focus. We want to give them tools to better manage their members. An example of this is the POP CPG community (‘crypto package goods’). This is a membership of builders interested in developing, creating, launching and building Web3 projects. In this community they bring talent, incubators, investors and much more to the table. In a later phase we’re looking for creators who are interested in launching their first project.
We don’t focus on digital artists. There are plenty of platforms for that. Our focus lies on individuals who want to build a project that involves a community and want to use NFTs as a vehicle. We also don’t focus on large DAOs with a co-governed treasury using their own utility and governance tokens.
Why did you start this project?
I get a lot of energy from innovative new technologies. Thinking about how to reimagine business models and companies has always given me a lot of energy. The use of blockchain and tokens is a game-changer in the long run. I’m convinced of the importance of digital identity and digital ownership. I strongly believe in shifting power to creators. We’ll see a rise of new projects and collectives, bottom-up ignited by a few, but funded and scaled by a decentralised network of users sharing the same purpose. Call it the next generation of internet communities. But this time more emotionally engaged and economically aligned through the tokens they own.
What used to be a case of goodwill, is now a little more robust thanks to tokens and crypto. I find it very inspiring to see how individuals transform from consumers to contributors.
Do you have a technical background yourself?
In the past I was very much involved in digital innovation, which naturally results in a proper understanding of technology. The last year I have completely dedicated myself to understanding all aspects of the blockchain, the tokens, and its application layers.
What does the future hold for Onegrid?
We especially want to launch a number of innovative and valuable NFT communities on our platform. Important is that these projects are user-friendly, so that even people with little knowledge of blockchain can use them. Ideally, we would then open up the platform to all creators so we will see a lot of communities emerge on our platform.
Why do you believe in Web3/NFTs so much?
The idea of ownership, digital identity, and the networks orchestrated around this is something I believe in. Being part of a project that interests you, having a say, and being rewarded isn’t something new. Only this time you capture value through the tokens you own. You might perceive it as a light form of shareholding. This time you have a financial and social stake. Additionally, you can endlessly build experiences on top of these tokens. It works more seamlessly. This is the advantage, but there is a need for a central place to facilitate this and bring everyone together.
What is the most important thing you have learned as a young entrepreneur?
Start building one thing early and test it with a number of users/creators instead of thinking it over yourself. This is something I do … but still too little.
You also really have to involve top people. Other people have a different view on certain things. This really has to be from day 1 and cannot wait until you have a vision or a pitch deck.
How does Amotek/Filip Smet help you? What is the added value? How does it accelerate your growth?
Filip is very well connected with a lot of creators but also with professionals in the industry. It has already helped a lot to get in touch with him and his network and share ideas and the development of the platform. But the Amotek team also has great added value. You will find some real pros who are always willing to think along and roll up their sleeves. In the beginning as a startup, you don’t have many resources. Amotek in turn has a growing number of resources and the team has a lot of energy to think along.
What advice do you give to other starters?
Just do it, start. Find people you think know some stuff or are interested in your ideas. It’s normal that you tend to think it over and look for solutions but throw it in groups and communities. You will certainly learn from it.