How to raise money by selling NFT's of paperclips and bananas
In the last decade of tech blogging there's everything else that has been written, and then there is what Chris Dixon has written. I can't think of another person who has such a great hit rate both in prescience and memorability. Yesterday he wrote "NFTs and a Thousand True Fans", which was a great overview of why they are exciting and why so many people are ready to usher them in as web3.
NFT's as VC (or Building Value for your Provenance)
Chris hits on a lot of key ideas but one of the biggest is of Creators as owners and customers as owners. The product we've been building, Cardshop, lets anyone open packs of cards right from their phone - which we believe is the key to everything. We're just kicking off a seed round, which has been my task to "create" and this concept has been buzzing around my head like crazy.
If creators are owners and customers can be owners as well, then fundraising could just be a series of blog posts around a series of card/NFT sales - an ongoing road show for your Initial and Subsequent Card Offerings. Yesterday, NBA Top Shot announced that it was going to pre-sell it's Series 2 Base set. I believe it was 200k packs or "shares" at $9/share which amounts to $2m raised. Unlike Gamestop who at the time of their mania, should have sold a billion dollar cartridge, they were able to raise some money for their company, their artists, and their investors/customers. They were able to bring more people onto their format, more true believers. The fact that it's even called "Series 2" is amazing given what we call VC rounds.
What's interesting about this model is that with NFT's and card sales your earliest believer are your customers and ride the value you create up the long tail with you. Basically, in this world you build value for your provenance. If you think about NFT's as art, and creators as artists, then you IPO in your early days the rest of what you do is a roadshow to add value to the provenance - of which there are infinite possibilities.
What's also interesting is that it buying one company's/creator/collective's cards as an investment isn't just a play on that single entity because web3 is so open. Top Shot is made by Dapper a company that as build $FLOW blockchain and $FLOW token. In many ways owning Top Shot right now is a bet on it all. As is owning $FLOW token. As is investing in Dapper equity - which just happened in a serious way. Owning some of the early Top Shot moments could be valuable in other places in the Metaverse and investing in them is an investment in their format. If Cryptokitties could "flow" into Top Shot or Top Shot could "flow" into Cardshop, then it creates value for us all as you aren't tied to the game of Top Shot. In many ways buying the "cards" might be preferable or something you should do in addition to raising equity financing as many old "card" manufactures are long gone as business, but their cards are still worth a ton. Ask Honus. The equity could be a function of all the "cards" that Dapper prints or enables to be print, or it could end up being worth a couple Honuses - which are now being traded in auctions and other companies and actors are creating and realizing value from it.
Serious people will tell you a company's equity is worth some stream of future cash flows, but it's really about control. If you can't control the company you can't control the investments the company makes and you can't control your realization of such cash flows. Take away control, and what's the difference between say a share of Facebook and a Zuck card, and whats the difference between Flow and the NYSE or Ethereum and Nasdaq? Also, what's the difference between Top Shot or Card Shop and Robinhood? I said this sentence when I was first raising money from friends and family for Cardshop and it rings even more true today.
We are almost done with our seed deck for Cardshop and if you are a VC or investor reading this you can email me, hit me up on LinkedIn, DM me Twitter, if you're interested. We can tell you more about Cardshop, our story, what we've built so far, what we see, and what we are looking to build.
You could also just keep reading.
Founder as Creator, Storyteller, Networker, Recruiter and Fundraiser
If you believe Chris Dixon, and the find yourself nodding at the paragraph above - that companies will be able to finance themselves through non-traditional methods such as card sales, and that middle then the "founder" will have to be an artist herself. We already accept the notion that the founder of any startup wears many hats early on and throughout. They form the company, they tell the story of what they are building, they network with others to recruit people to help them build it, and recruit investors to help fund that. That's the art of the founder.
On Friday, I started an experiment I called the Cardboard Collective. It's a lot of things, but foremost it is my own art. I can't draw well or paint. I don't play a musical instrument. I can write somewhat well when I'm not in a rush, but I'm no Hemingway. But I consider myself creative. I'm creative about products. I am creative about business models. I am creative about new ideas and what things could mean. NFT's interest me because they allow me to express that creativity in ways that apply to business and where I like to be creative. This blog post is also a part of that experiment, but it's also just a blog post.
I started it with a few goals in mind:
1) Demonstrate that Cardshop can self-finance/bootstrap their company at least partially by selling cards/NFT's. We are fundamentally a card shop, are we not?
2) Learn and Network in the Community. with We are building in this new weird Metaverse, therefore I need to live there as CEO. I need to mint, promote, and experiment to understand our customers, and everything else more.
3) Do it all while also creating actual art. Art can't hit you over the head at first. Not all NFT's are going to be art but I think the idea of value hidden in plain sight is important to all of this.
The first drops make no sense to anyone, and I wanted to test whether they did, but now that value in plain sight was out there for a bit, I'll walk you through a bit what they mean to me. To keep this blog post a bit shorter, I'll walk through the first one today, CARDICLIP.
Also, if I wasn't clear already, the proceeds of any sale of this art will go to Cardshop.
CARDICLIP - Simple, seemingly "worthless" NFT's can DO things if you just believe that they can
CARDICLIP is a fun one for me both because it's personal, silly, and powerful. It represents how we are thinking about NFT's and cards at Cardshop - which is giving ways for creators and collectors alike to "do" something with their cards. When we started building Cardshop, Top Shot hadn't really taken off yet, but we looked at standard physical cardboard cards and we wanted to give them a more digital format where they were now free to roam the internet. CARDICLIP is commentary on that, and other stuff.
On the surface it's a dumb picture of Clippy and quote from Nicki Minaj with a nonsensical description:
Hi, how can I be a banana stand to you? Or is it banana? Dedicated to MP who went deep into the Metaverse with me and back in the last week. Clippy is an artform of marriage, or is it vice versa?
If you weren't living in my head, in my house, or on the phone with me the last week you wouldn't even have any idea what any of it meant
Additionally it is listed for only a few fractions of an ETH, and there are 1B up for sale, and we get 99% of all royalties when you sell. This means if you buy it you would need to sell it for 100x more than what you bought it for just to recoup your money. Even if you loved the art, this alone should render it worthless at outset to most collectors. It is both abundant and takes a huge cut.
There is also some unlockable content (more on that later).
Inspirations include Universal Paperclips, Warhol and Velvet Underground, Banksy, Arrested Development (and this corporate blog post), and my wife's quoting of Nikki Minaj's verse when I told her the idea of selling cards to finance a company - which was an amazing validation of the hypothesis unto itself. Moreover, is I was so exhausted and slaphappy when I created it - I mixed up Cardi B and Nikki Minaj. Since everything on the blockchain is permanent, the mixup is kind of like a bad print on a baseball card. A wonderful and beautiful mistake.
I won't expound on what the inspirations mean beyond this. I'd rather you read up on it and come to your own conclusions - but it definitely is a commentary on art and collecting and this new world mashing up w/ the old one. It is also a dedication to my wife who has gone deep into this with me.
CARDICLIP as Substack
Everything about CARDICLIP should say it's worthless. Even if you get the art, as a collector you would never buy it. That's also the point. Good art shouldn't hit you over the face from the artist, it needs to let others smack you in the face with it. Consider this a light smack from the artist.
The unlockable content in CARDICLIP is a Google Docs link that has comments enabled and is open to the world. Like most Google Docs like this you would need a link to find it. When I published that Google Docs link I published a copy of a "Whiteboard" I was writing which was a tongue in cheek nod to Satoshi's Whitepaper but just a brainfart of concepts around NFT's that I think are important. It's filled with lots of typos and consider it kind of my personal draft thoughts on NFT's. You can find a link to it in the description for BANANACOIN.
What's interesting is now I have linked up a blank canvas with social community functions with a small payment that is like a $0.68. I could publish a link to a new CARDCLIP daily and now I have blog with a micropayments model behind a paywall - as long as you believe me that there is a link embedded in it. It's most of the value prop of Substack - maybe even more.
Obviously this doesn't have the concept of a recurring automated purchase of CARDICLIP every month, but I don't think there needs to be recurring revenue in this model w/ the right NFT economics (which to be fair CARDICLIP doesn't have). Just fact that anyone can now roll their own Substack with a blog/email list, an NFT mint, and Google Docs is really fucking amazing. And that should just open your eyes to the value that can be created (and that we can create for you at Cardshop) as well as the value that can be destroyed.
CARDICLIP as a Virtual World
But it doesn' t have to stop there. I don't have to publish a new CARDICLIP every day. I could just let my followers know I have a new post and post it in the Google Doc. In fact could do anything in that Google Doc, or at least from that Google Doc. I could perform lead gen from the Google Form. I could post links to new drops of other things I'm doing, I could embed Google Forms, and spreadsheets, links to decks and presentations. I could also embed other CARDCLIP's, and let the CARDICLIP owners also list their own CARDICLIP's on some linked Google Sheets Doc. An entire exchange of CARDICLIP's
The next question is - well can't someone who bought it just link to it. Sure they can. That's like asking can't I just copy that JPG on the blockchain. Of course they can! Also let them! Our CARDICLIP world starts with CARDICLIP but doesn't end there if there's more CARDICLIPS being created below it, maybe with different embeddable content or different auction models that make their own sense. Who cares?
CARDICLIP as an Equity Investment
The 99% royalty is basically saying that CARDICLIP itself is highly illiquid. CARDICLIP is not a great format for short term speculation. Even if you bought one, you would need more true believers in order to control the market in CARDICLIP and start to set your own prices for what it's worth. It basically says if you believe in CARDICLIP you are willing to risk it all until it's the CARDICLIP you believe in, because you believe in what CARDICLIP can enable.
This is kind of an early stage equity round. You could buy all the CARDICLIP up for 1M ETH ($680M) and own it all. You could also buy up whatever portion of CARDICLIP you think is valuable. More people buying more CARDICLIP isn't even dilutive to your stake. It makes it worth MORE. It's kind of like a SAFE with no cap.
It could also kind of be an IPO. You could underwrite CARDICLIP, or the remaining CARDICLIP out there and buy it all up and wrap up it up in a more liquid structure, where the CARDCLIP virtual world still exists but it has a more liquid format for investors vs. believers. As long as what's happening in that Google Doc is valuable some version of CARDICLIP should be something you want to own
You could also treat CARDICLIP as a SPAC where the Creator or Creators are the managers. Before CARDICLIP is anything today you could write it a blank check and now it's just you and the Creator in a Google Doc having a chat, talking about world building and how to make CARDICLIP worth something. Maybe it's just a conversation about how to find a market in BANANACOIN for those who still believe in scarcity, then you wrap the BANANACOIN into CARDICLIP. :-)
I created a few other pieces of work over there. Each one has a story. This is the first of many.
At Cardshop we're all about the spawning many CARDICLIPS from one. We want to make cards fun and valuable again. Like everything on the Metaverse, this new world that itches your brain a bit, we're not exactly sure where it will take us, but we know how to get started. It all starts in with believing we can find value - like any startup or business, or purchase of cards. We think the future of the internet starts with a Cardshop.
If you're interested, feel free to reach out or just buy our art.