The NEAR NFT community has been going through turbulent times these past months. We have previously posted an analysis of the market situation and our thoughts on how to improve this:
Current Problems with the NEAR NFT Landscape
Identify, Incubate, Accelerate
Since then our concerns have only become more relevant and I think everyone will agree with us that things need to change. We have been working for several months with both NEAR community stakeholders and the NEAR Foundation to propose a workable solution and to find common ground. However, some of you are aware that we have recently started to publicly voice our concerns regarding the lack of feedback and urgency from the NEAR Foundation.
Due to the above reasons, we have decided to share more of our latest proposal and be transparent with our mission with the NEAR community. Various key topics within our proposal require input from community stakeholders, one of them being our Mentors in Residence initiative. We have changed our approach to the following: initially, we proposed a Venture Capital fund solution that is fully self-sustainable. This is the solution we also discussed at NEARCON with the leadership of the Foundation. However, we understood that this solution was not something the Foundation deemed feasible. We were more than happy to work with the limited feedback they provided to us and have since then put forward more solution proposals. Following true to the Foundation’s motto, “Show us you can walk and we will help you run”, we have aggregated the brightest minds in Web 3 to create a venture studio dedicated to supporting the emerging brand’s in NEAR’s NFT Ecosystem.
Illia’s latest gov post has definitely resonated with us and this is the reason why we feel that it is the correct moment for us to bring our solution to the wider community. We believe that our latest proposal provides for a fast-paced, aggressive and sustainable solution to solve key issues in the NFT ecosystem and to lay the foundations for a thriving NFT ecosystem, which is something all of us desire.
Now more than ever, we require open communication and positive action from the Foundation, as talented founders and key projects have been forced to migrate to other chains to keep their visions alive. The way the NEAR Foundation has handled the discussions over these past months has profoundly shown to us their underestimation of the seriousness of the situation and their lack of ambition when it comes to NFTs. This is why we feel that projects migrating to other chains have had to make a difficult but rational decision. It is unfortunate that it required a mass migration of core teams and communities to highlight the urgency of this situation to the Foundation, but it’s the wake-up call we all needed.
From the first meeting we had we have always intended for our solution to be community-based and collaborative with NEAR ecosystem projects, we do not seek to be “kingmakers”. From this point forward we want to actively start talking with anyone interested in playing a role in our solution. We want to be inclusive and our only goal is to make NEAR the best blockchain for NFT products.
“Mass adoption is our north star, and everything we measure feeds into it.”
The goal of 171 Studio is to positively impact the NEAR NFT Ecosystem. We aim to roll out an NFT-focused Venture Studio with the aim of driving net new users to the NEAR Ecosystem, improving user retention and engagement, and assisting in the deployment of meaningful utility for the NEAR NFT Ecosystem through the portfolio projects we accelerate and incubate. The end result for our portfolio companies is twofold: a better product with more users and giving the best support to builders and founders to lead them on the path to a Series A and becoming flagship projects pushing forward the NEAR narrative and its amazing tech to externals.
171 Studio will solely focus on incubating and accelerating within the vertical of NFTs specifically applications, and businesses.
Target areas we would look to incubate and explore are the following:
- NFT applications
- NFT platforms and services
- Community-driven projects
We will also focus on projects building and utilising new standards for NFT innovation; especially ones that create interchangeable utility blocks like:
- NFT Governance and identity - NFTs shaping the way communities interact, engage and coordinate in their ecosystem.
- Nesting - NFTs that able to contain other NFTs
- Multi-resourcing - NFTs with variable output based on input
- Composability - NFTs that can equip owned NFTs to alter utility or appearance
- Conditional Rendering - NFTs that can have variable output due to on or off-chain factors
- Fractionalisation - NFTs that are fractionalised and community-governed
These building blocks allow NFT collections to reimagine the way they deploy utility.
Education is critical to success. We ensure our portfolio companies have all the resources they need to operate proficiently through participating in our incubator or accelerator that equips them with best practice guidance for all aspects of their business.
- Legal: corporate, governance, regulatory & compliance support, risk management
- Compliance: KYC/AML support
- Tech: smart contract security audits, code reviews
- Economics: tokenomics design, token distribution mechanisms, commercial viability
- Finance: treasury management, OTC partnerships, investor readiness
- BizDev: monetization strategy, sales and partnerships
- Marketing: strategy, brand building, holder acquisition, community management, PR
- HR: team governance, recruiting, executive coaching
In addition to educational material, access to the right people at the right time is critical. Our portfolio companies will have access to office hours with domain experts, ecosystem exhibitions with prospective partners, and most importantly, demo days with top-tier VCs. We have identified firms that we have one or two degrees of separation with that we are targeting for our demo days.
Our core team consists of web3 native professionals that have proven themselves in the NEAR ecosystem and throughout their careers with a combined 50+ years of experience. We are web3 founders with extensive careers in both corporates, fintechs, and scale-ups. We have gained our experience in companies such as the NEAR Foundation, Consensys, Proximity Labs, Antisocial Labs and Bitpanda. The core team will be responsible for all operational functions from hiring and legal to partnership relations and incubation strategy. On the incubation side, they will have specific areas of focus within their respective portfolios to drive education across commercial strategy, GTM, community management, development, product management, design, legal, finance, tokenomics and more.
We recognise that our portfolio companies will need help across all aspects of their business, but in the initial intakes, we will be paying additional attention to our portfolio companies’ marketing, community-building, and UX & UI strategies.
Additionally to the core team, 171 Studio will onboard Ecosystem Partners. Every single Ecosystem Partner will be responsible for a specific part of the incubation, acceleration and mentorship. The Ecosystem Partners are required to be experts, having vast experience and a proven track record within their specific field. Moreover, the Ecosystem Partners are expected to have a good connection to the NEAR community and to be in good standing amongst their peers. For some roles, we have already identified fit and proper candidates. The following specific areas will have their own Ecosystem Partner at 171 Studio:
- UX/UI programme & research
- Tech & product development
- Business Development
- Investor relations
- Community Engagement
171 Studio is dedicated to having all of the NEAR NFT Ecosystem experts participate in the acceleration and incubation of projects within our ecosystem, therefore our Mentors in Residence represent a wide array of key leaders from our ecosystem to participate in core parts of our portfolio projects journeys.
Our framework of Observation, Normalisation, and Evaluation serves as the core tenets of our strategy to ensure success for our incubated/accelerated projects and provides a granular approach to driving ecosystem success.
The adage summarises it well, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.”
At the crux of it, we cannot achieve ecosystem success without having a baseline and goals. Further below, we outline the Ecosystem Score, a weighted aggregate of project metrics that enable us to quantify a project’s impact on our ecosystem.
We achieve scalable success by identifying best practice and codifying it, creating repeatable steps that portfolio companies execute.
By having a baseline and a standard process for every portfolio company, we will be able to evaluate how our companies perform and pinpoint which parts of the process they need to improve on or course-correct.
We will disintermediate the funding process, from how projects apply to how they grow, by asking at every stage, “how will this make our ecosystem stronger?” A vast amount of data exchanges hands between a project and its investors throughout their relationship. Ultimately, we seek to aggregate this data into a holistic score that serves the ecosystem.
The Ecosystem Score is an amalgamation of the critical variables required to join the portfolio. The score assesses an early-stage technology’s maturity and captures its potential upside.
In its early forms, we will use a mix of tools like Discord, Notion and Airtable (and relevant third-party suppliers where required) to digitise the whole application and incubation process and start to collate multiple data points on projects to generate their ecosystem score:
- Applicant Management
- KYC and Due Diligence
- Milestone Management and Payments
- Incubation and Acceleration Pathways
As projects progress from application to incubation, we can capture and aggregate various data points from social presence to marketplace metrics to establish their baseline in the ecosystem.
We then set goals based on their promised deliverables to measure the impact potential they have on the ecosystem and deploy funds following those goals. At this stage, we require our portfolio companies to report additional data to ensure accountability.
What will start as a very high-level data point to assess applicants will grow into a guiding metric for ecosystem success. Ultimately, the Ecosystem Score is a tool that enables us to quantify the impact of a project on our ecosystem.
In addition to the process, we also aim to democratise knowledge for our portfolio companies by enabling access to multiple databases like:
- Ecosystem mapping/project relational database
- KOL database
- Investor database
- Partner/supplier database
- Mentor database
- Smart Contract boilerplates database
- IP database
- Contract template database
- Regulatory memo database
- KYC/AML/Compliance memo database
By having a list of our resources at their fingertips, our portfolio companies can cut through unnecessary hurdles and go straight to the source.
Having skin in the game in our portfolio companies allows us to ensure they drive value to our ecosystem. Our tools, like the Milestone Playbook and the Ecosystem Score, feed into this singular goal.
We intend to be continuously hands-on with our portfolio companies throughout their time with us. So even after they complete our incubators or accelerators, we aim to keep them involved and see them play a part in educating and mentoring the next generation of portfolio companies as alumni alongside us.
We have the mission to bolster and boost the NEAR NFT ecosystem. Our mission is to create flagship projects on NEAR by seeding founders, giving them the pathway and support they need to achieve a Series A.
We have been at work for several months drafting over 100+ pages of market research, solution, incubation strategies and talks with the NEAR Foundation. We have always wanted to be inclusive to the community and we are happy to discuss with any interested stakeholder. Now we want to hear your thoughts, how can you help and to what extent do NFTs factor into NEARs north star? Want to chat? Reach out to us on twitter: @171ventures.