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Mint Season 1 episode 5 features WhaleShark, a social entrepreneur and investor with a focus on disrupting the status quo, whose work is widely known for the successful $WHALE community. He’s a prolific advocate of NFTs, social tokens, DAOs and much more with an impressive track record of managing three different social token communities.
On this episode, WhaleShark and I discuss his latest project Elite also known as the ticker $1337, his vision for creating digital clothing dedicated to gaming communities, or as he likes to call it, meta-wear, his takeaways from starting the most successful social token project, WHALE, his views on the future societal implications of creator coins, and so much more.
Thank you to Season 1’s NFT sponsors!
1. Coinvise – https://coinvise.co/
2. POAP – https://poap.xyz/
Interested in sponsoring future seasons? Get in touch here!
Adam Levy: How are you feeling, man?
WhaleShark: Adam, I’m doing great. And thank you so much for inviting me again, I had so much fun with you the last time I was in a podcast with you it was utterly amazing and truly an honor to be back this time again.
Adam Levy: You’re the man, man, you’re making so much noise on Twitter, especially over these last few months with this whole NFT boom. And during that you also had the time somehow to launch a brand new, I guess product project. And we’ll be talking a little bit more about it E1337 tailored towards the gaming space. But before we get into that, which is why I have you here. For those who don’t know you. Can you give me a brief background about yourself? What were you doing I guess before NFTs before crypto before the metaverse and where are you now?
WhaleShark: Sure thing, thank you for allowing me to introduce myself. So I go by the pseudonym WhaleShark. And I’ve been in the blockchain industry for about nine years now. While my claim to fame humbly saying is NFT’s I’d actually been invested in blockchain since 2012. Prior to that, I had actually been in the brand and marketing industry for roughly about 15 years, where I cut my fee professionally. But eventually I got enamoured by the concept of Bitcoin was buying, it was buying half a month salary worth of Bitcoin every month from 2012, all the way to 2015. I ended up loving ethereum and the narrative of it being the world’s computer. And I eventually took all of my Bitcoin and started investing in ethereum instead, that has actually been extremely timely and nice for me. And what I ended up doing is actually extending that, that, that that reach into investing into some several very prominent and successful blockchain companies that we see in the space today, while at the same time allowing me to expand into NFT’s in 2019, and eventually establishing the world’s largest social token whale in 2020. So it’s really been quite the ride. And Adam, you pointed out, you know, somehow, somehow, some way, I found a tiny bit of time in 2019, 2020. To start this new brand is once again, it’s E1337. We usually pronounce it as elite. So elite, which is a traditional hacker form, or hacker writing style, and eventually launched a social token for that this year. So extremely thrilled to be have been doing this. But it’s been a very, very busy few years.
Adam Levy: You know, I remember the first time I interacted with you was in Justin blouse NFT room for his iconic drop that made headwinds and kind of defined a lot of this momentum that we saw the following months afterwards. And I remember, there was something different about one when you enter the room, you were you were still a non, but there was a bidding war between you and I forgot, I think it might have been egg or eight and I forgot who it was exactly. And at the same time you were joining the clubhouse and sharing your energy and sharing your spirit. And ever since then, I’ve been following your journey really, really closely. And to see this new eye new project elite kind of pop out during that whole entire wave really struck my attention because like you said, you already built a really powerful community through whale through NF T’s. And now you’re approaching the gaming industry. Right? So there’s a there’s a lot to unfold over here. But I want to hear more again, how did you get into crypto? I know you started buying Bitcoin you converted into ethereum. But what was that aha moment for you. I know, you’ll mention that obviously, ethereum being this global computer, but tell me more a little bit about that.
WhaleShark: So during the course of my professional career, I’ve worked in many, many cities and countries throughout the world, I was literally moving every two to three years. Now, one of the biggest challenges that one encounters, when you’re moving into different countries into different jurisdictions, is the banking industry. Right? So you know, not revealing too much about my age here. But I come from an age where it takes, you know, three to five days to do an international bank transfer. And that is still very much the case today. I mean, it has sped up, you know, I have been able to send money from Asia to the US, you know, within two days, but back then it was three to five days at the shortest. When I did read about Bitcoin, all of a sudden, I discovered that this single project, the single technology, it alleviated a lot of the challenges that I faced as a globalist and as someone who wanted to truly own my money rather than having the banks hold it for me. So, you know, initially my entry into bitcoin was purely from a financial and economic interest point of view. But then after that, I saw again the decentralised nature of it. The fact that you know, alternative blockchains to Bitcoin could be used with smart contracts to programme the flow of money, the conditions of money, and it truly, you know, really envelope, the economic nerd within me to drag me down that rabbit hole. So you know, even back then, when I was buying Bitcoin, I think I first entered at about $500. And all of a sudden you saw a tank all the way to 200 250 for a couple of years, I really never lost faith in that technology, because there was really nothing around there that could truly replaced what Bitcoin was bringing to the entire space. Now, given that, we know that every single blockchain has its limitations. And while for a couple of years, I was able to send Bitcoin within a couple of minutes, there eventually came a time where there are so many transactions and the lack of scalability resulted in me having to wait You know, one day one and a half days, sometimes for transactions to go through. It was that point in time where I, you know, I understood the narrative of Bitcoin, as, you know, money 2.0 which is very different from the positioning where it’s gold 2.0 right now. But, you know, looking into ethereum, all of a sudden, I was able to do transactions in the seconds or in the minutes as well. So and then on top of that, you had the bonus of it, being able to also be smart, contract, programmable, you had smart money all of a sudden, so, you know, that really enamoured me as well. And I’ve always kept an open mind to the best technology. I’m very much you know, you have Bitcoin maximalist you have ethereum maximalist I’m sure you have Dogecoin maximalist now, I’m very much a use case maximalist. So I’ll give everything a try once or twice. And, you know, mainly I’m looking for fantastic use case and a seamless experience with that technology.
Adam Levy: I think that’s part of being one a good investor, part of being an early adopters that you have to be a maxi in certain areas, and you have to be willing to try and listen to what’s going on, and what’s picking up traction and tinker with it and test it for yourself. So, so more power to you would that and I, and I guess like a perfect transition, how does that kind of tie into elite with what you’re doing right now?
WhaleShark: Got you. So I started elite, actually, as a brand prior to my involvement in nfps. Or I would say probably about the same time. So the birth of elite came by the fact that I was doing a lot of macro-economic analysis and looking at different industries. You know, simply outing myself out as a little bit of a business nerd here. But you know, looking for that next opportunity. After looking at everything that was available in the market, you know, you saw that eSports was gaining a significant amount of traction and continues to gain a significant amount of traction in the market today. Now, given that, as I was watching eSports, delving into eSports, researching eSports you know, I was really looking at some of the apparel that people were wearing. And you know, it was a little bit disturbing to me, because online, if you were to buy eSports apparel, you were literally looking at apparel with dropship quality, so it’s basically a factory who created a cheap t shirt, they’re going to charge you $20 for stamping a logo on it right stamping a logo on the front stamping a logo on the back, bam, all of a sudden you have eSports apparel. The issue is though when you look at sports in general, right, you got you got Baymax like, you know, Lulu lemon for yoga. So for yoga, you have yoga pants for basketball, you have basketball jerseys for football, you have football jerseys. The question came to my mind was, what is a uniform for a eSports enthusiast or a professional gamer? Right? And is it just a simple hoodie? Or is it just a simple t shirt? That’s not a great quality and something just stamped on it? So that really started the fire burning within my brain to really figure out you know, is there a better way to do this? So what I started in 2019, with a team out of Korea, because again, Seoul is the mecca of Esports, is we actually had the team go to the largest and most popular cyber cafes and gaming cafes in the entire city, and actually run a poll from all of the people within there, you know, what did they not like about their Esports apparel? Or what did they wish that their apparel was, so they would be better suited to their hobby. And, you know, that’s when we created came up with the idea. At the same time, my involvement with blockchain was, you know, ramping up with my involvement in NFTs. So you know, it was very, it was a very natural progression to say, hey, how can I use NFTs and merge that with the apparel, the apparel set we were launching after that, and we can talk about this a little bit more detail later on. But after that, given the success of social tokens, and my firm belief that social tokens are going to be the next big thing after NF T’s is how do I take that other piece now? And how do I put it as a part of this amazing project. So that’s really, you know, a short story about how elite was created, and how today we not only have the most customised and high quality eSports apparel, but we also have NFP is that prove the authenticity of those apparel, as well as a social token that is used to drive not only the community, but is the only type of currency that we accept to be able to purchase this apparel.
Adam Levy: That’s big, that’s really big. And it’s big, because, you know, you hear a lot of projects launching, and you hear people just a bunch of software developers getting together, either forking some code, and just copying and pasting and changing the interface and rebranding a little bit. But you actually went to the extent of actually interviewing gamers were these gamers and so were they already crypto native.
WhaleShark: So we actually developed the brand purely from gaming enthusiasts. So some of them might have been crypto native. But the main thing from a physical product perspective that we were looking to do was how do we create the best quality and the most convenient style of apparel for people who are interested in gaming multiple hours a day. And they came back with a lot of amazing input. And that has flowed into the material into the design into the way that we silkscreen, a lot of the designs onto the hoodies itself. And Adam, one of the most amazing things about this is when you look at the blockchain apparel space today, the hardest part of that many people have been unable to conquer yet is the physical supply chain, right? Because they’re so focused on the blockchain aspects of it, they haven’t been able to master the physical supply chain. But because this product was born out of traditional apparel creation, our physical our physical apparel supply chain, from manufacture, from design, to manufacturing, to ordering to warehousing to shipment, is actually world class as well. So I think we tackled the harder parts first. And really, given our interest and experience in blockchain, adding on the blockchain elements was relatively more simple.
Adam Levy: When you were creating and designing this blockchain apparel, and you were in the early phases, I guess, of designing because you were saying how it was already a brand before it became a more crypto native brand, the way I’m understanding it. Why? Why were NF T’s and social tokens like the thing to do with it? Why was that the natural next step, the natural progression, like what is it about NF T’s and social tokens that that gave you that aha moment? You’re like, wait a minute, why don’t we integrate the two? Why don’t we track everything and merge the digital with the physical? What why was that the way to go?
WhaleShark: So I think, I guess one of the main reasons that the main reasons that drove that was predominantly my passion for blockchain as a whole. You know, a tidbit that people don’t know is while we started off as a traditional apparel brand, the diamond that you see on the elite logo is actually called the blockchain diamond. And it’s not something that we advertise quite a bit because again, we were mainly focused on the larger gaming market who may or may not have an interest in the blockchain. But if you look at our logo, it’s basically a diamond with blocks that make up the intricacies of that design, which is actually the blockchain diamond. But I guess the other main reason is, I mean, number one, NF T’s, you know, while we look at nfps, as a way to manage to truly manage and own digital assets, right? You know, one of the other places that it will be used in the future, and not really used as much as it should be right now, is a point of authenticity, right? So I believe that in the future, you are going to see Gucci or mez, Chanel, all of these major luxury brands use some form of NF T’s tied to the physical good to be able to vouch for their authenticity. Now, you know, given that I’m always, you know, I’m not so interested in the money, right, which sounds a little bit weird, but I’m always interested in doing something that is right, and doing something that is ahead of its time. Right. So given that, I mean, given that this brand was just launching, I think it was really a no brainer to say hey, why don’t we future proof this and we use NF T’s as a methodology to really authenticate any single physical piece that came in. And you know, we’ve expanded right, so we started off with physical goods. We use nfps for our digital wearables now. So you know, partnering up with NFT studios who are an amazing designer and technology player within the space. There are some fantastic things that we Do with digital wearables from an NFT perspective, or elite, in terms of social tokens, again, not focusing on the money, but really doing things that are really truly disruptive and innovative. I had never seen a physical apparel brand, and were physical and digital now. But I had never seen an apparel brand, say, you know, alright, I’m not going to accept cash, I’m not going to accept Fiat, I’m not going to accept if or any of the mainstream currencies. What I’m going to do now is, the only way that you can purchase these physical or digital wearables is only by using the native digital social currency called lead, to be able to purchase these items. Now, you know, again, I’m, I think, from our previous conversation, and this conversation you seen, I’m a little bit of an economics nerd, right. So what would happen if you had a business model that didn’t really rely on the purchase and sale or on the purchase and production of products itself, but was more reliant on the tokenomics of a social token that drove that project, right. So all of a sudden, you’re creating more of a community versus a transactional ecosystem, to be able to buy and trade products. So that was really the impetus for me to do that.
Adam Levy: You know, the category of gaming, when you look back to the initial adoption of NFT’s, the first example or one of the earliest examples, at least you can think of is obviously crypto kitties a game, right. And social tokens, I guess, crypto in general has naturally aligned with the gaming industry to begin with, as a use case of adoption. Considering all the activities online, it’s all digital. So I feel like it’s that natural progression that led to that adoption, and the fact that you’re going and you’re taking a digital currency that you’ve created that’s solely for your community that you’ve I guess, community ownership in and it’s a collective type of environment, and applying that to the gaming industry, right. I feel like that’s just the natural next step and where things are going to be heading next and more, more to your point that people in companies like Gucci are going to start investing and their online wearables. I think you’re already seeing an early example of this. And I want to pull up it’s actually a tweet from Alexis ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, and he basically tweets he talks about a Gucci bag on Roblox resold for free, 350,000 roebucks or roughly 4.1k. Okay, $4,115, the same purse in real life costs $3,400. So a digital version of a Gucci bag sold for more online than it did in person. And I think that fact, it shocks a lot of people. And remember, like he continues to tweet, he’s like, remember, this Roblox purse is not an NF t though. It has no value use transferability outside of the Roblox world, yet, it’s worth more than the physical one, watch this space. And I think, like the fact that Roblox is taking that, and they’re doing it on a very micro scale, and you’re already integrating with social tokens, right? You’re adding the traceability element, you’re allowing players to own a digital version of what they own in the physical world. That’s powerful. That’s powerful.
WhaleShark: Thank you, my friend. And I fully agree with Alexis, I mean, Jesus. I mean, when I mean, there’s several, there’s several dynamics that we’re looking at here, right? I mean, the first dynamic that we’re looking at is, you know, again, purely digital goods. And Adam, I mean, if we were to look three or four years ago, and if we were doing this, I would probably have to fly out to where you are, so that we could get the quality of resolution and streaming that we have right now. Right, right. And four years ago, people would say, Hey, I’m spending eight hours a day on zoom, talking to my co-workers talking to my team. I think that would have been unpatentable, right? Similarly, so what does this mean? I mean, moving into the future, you know, we all of us keep talking about the metaverse, where we are right now, there is really restrictions, right? Because again, I can see your head, I can see you speaking, but you know, it’s very difficult for me to see you move within a 3d space. And you know, this podcast might be 1000 times more exciting, if people were able to look at us in a 3d world and then be able to look from any angle that they wanted, while we were moving our entire body. Right? So you know, I think when you look at the metaverse as a whole and it’s coming, right I mean zoom didn’t really gain popularity until this unfortunate Corona Coronavirus crisis. But you know, given that the next step for meetings the next step for interactions, the next step for podcasts, might very well happen in the metaverse where that interaction becomes so much deeper than where we’re looking at right now from a 2d perspective. And given that if you exist in the metaverse, you’re going to want to have digital apparel, you’re going to want to have it you’re going to want to have a digital Gucci bag and you know, a digital Chanel watch and you know, maybe a digital, you know, Crockett and Jones pair of shoes. So I think it’s there. Once again, it’s going to take time, but I’ve always been very interested in being a first player so that I can learn as much as I can.
Adam Levy: Yeah, so tell me, tell me a bit about more of what you can buy on the site, what apparel are you selling? What does that look like?
WhaleShark: Got you. So for the time being, we have launched and manufactured, you know, several sets of physical where they are highly limited. So what we’re looking at is three hoodies, two t shirts and two baseball caps. We manufacture them on a very limited basis, simply because, again, we want to protect the scarcity of what we’re developing what we branched out to, besides physical wear in May. So in earlier last month, was we actually branched out into digital wearables. So we started manufacturing, not only the equivalent of the physical wearables, but we tried to understand Hey, now you have a metaverse, what happens if we design things that were suited for the metaverse because again, you don’t want to go into you might want to sometimes, but people might not want to go into the metaverse and wear a very simply designed hoodie, right, it might look nice, but you know, some people just want to just want to bling out, right. So they want to have animations, they want to have these crazy designs that you would not be able to have on a physical wearable. So that’s what we actually did from the digital perspective. And I guess one of the main things that we believe in is ensuring that we have a constant flow of new designs. So for us, again, it’s really a labour of love. So the team is actually launching designs every single month. And we’re going to get to the point where, you know, I don’t want to drop too much, too many too many, too many things that we’re doing, but you know, dude, you know, wearables, where the design is actually a video, right? Where literally, you have you know, moving patterns and moving artwork, on the wearables themselves that you’ll be able to go into the metaverse of where. So that’s really where what we’re looking at. And once again, it’s still very exploratory. We’re learning a lot as we move forward. But it’s been a hell lot of fun.
Adam Levy: You know, I want to share my screen for a minute and actually pull up the site for those watching on YouTube. And just to get an idea of what it looks like, right? So right, I’m on the physical side of things, you have different hoodies. And as you can see, they’re all you can only purchase it in the native currency. And as of right now, last time I checked the currency is that like $1.27. So do the math per hoodie per hat per t shirt. And I think it’s actually pretty, pretty cool. But you also have the shop digital side, where you’re allowing people to buy these virtual hoodies, which you’re actually charging more for, right? Can you can you explain more behind that? Why? Why do you put a stronger emphasis on the digital wearables versus the physical wearables?
WhaleShark: So we believe that the majority of our core market are going to be metaverse based. And given that, what we wanted to do is number one, ensure that you know, people who are able to purchase our digital wearables are truly fans of the community. Right. So I think that’s the first perspective. The second perspective is that and that’s a perfect fit, you can actually see a 3d rotation. Oh, cool. I was talking about how do you create, you know, wearables that are very different from what you could ever wear in real life. This is a perfect example of [Cross voice]
Adam Levy: Dude, Imagine being able to buy this physically and wearing this around as you go to the grocery store.
WhaleShark: Exactly. I mean, I would love to do it. But again, there’s some things that you can only do in the metaverse. Right.
Adam Levy: Right. Right.
WhaleShark: So I guess I guess the main other reason why we did it was because we really protected the scarcity of all of these items and the physical, the physical items, again, they have a very large amount of, they have a relatively larger amount of production size than these digital wearables. We want to keep things fresh, and we want to keep things coming in. So basically, what we’re going to do is we are going to be limiting the number of digital wearables actually go up onto the site. But at the same time, again, making sure that we’re protecting, we’re protecting that price level and protecting that scarcity of those digital variables.
Adam Levy: Sure, sure. And you talked a little bit about on the physical side that integrates, I guess, with tracking and verifying, through your supply chain. Can you talk a little bit more about that? And what that looks like? Because I know there’s there was such situations, I used to live in Switzerland. And I used to attend these like Bitcoin or crypto conferences in crypto Valley and Sue. And I remember meeting one start up over there that was basically doing that with sneakers. Right? Not the not the digital side, but more of the physical side. Can you talk a little bit more about how that works?
WhaleShark: So we’re actually still at a very rudimentary level. So the level that we are at right now is that, you know, once again, if and this is if the purchaser of a physical item is willing to share their IP address, what we do have is we have a mechanism whereby a corresponding art NFT, actually, and it’s actually on the website as well, but an art NFT is sent to that corresponding address. And again, what happens is that in that NFT, they have not only a beautiful piece of crypto art, and we worked with an artist called Daniel Ignacio, who was very awesome about creating the cyberpunk inspired art pieces. And basically, what it has it has all of the details where you can see, you know, again, you know, which item was it? Where was it from, and you know, the date of minting and stuff like that. Now, what we are exploring at the moment is ways to actually tie the physical to the digital piece. And we are evaluating, you know, several options here. I mean, it could be simple as printing a QR code, where, you know, again, the, the QR code would directly go towards that NFT. Or it could be as complex as actually inserting an NFC chip into these digital wearables itself. Right. So I think that would be the more advanced stage that we’re looking right.
Adam Levy: Right. Oh, and you actually, you can’t see what I’m looking at. Hold on. I wanted to go, I just clicked on open see, let me let me share my screen again. Because I basically what I did, I clicked on the buy now, right? And it took me to open see. So just so users can see what that looks like. Right now. I’m on the open market. And when I was on the digital side of the site, I clicked on that awesome 3d rotation for the, the cyberpunk. And this is actually how you buy the digital version. And then I’m guessing it would integrate to the appropriate platforms that you can actually use where and show off these, I guess, digital clothings, right, these digital, this digital textile. So in my understanding that correct?
WhaleShark: Yes, exactly. And you’re going to appreciate this, because, you know, again, we were talking before, you’re really interested in the social token space, right? One of the things that we’re going to be able to do very soon, is for a single digital wearable, we’re actually going to be able to partner with other social token communities, do a collaboration on a design, and have people pay in or have people buy those wearables in a percentage of a certain social token and a percentage of another social token. So let me put it this way. So let’s talk about I guess, let’s talk about f web, right? I mean, they’re probably one of the larger social token communities and outside of whale and outside of elite, you know, if there was an F web, hoody design, right, what we’d be able to do in the mechanism is say, Alright, so the price of this to the price of this f web elite colab is going to be 50 FWP plus 50. Elite, right, and that transaction will be able to go that way. So that, you know, again, that vouching or that fandom is not only represented by the digital item itself, it’s also being represented by the transaction.
Adam Levy: Wow, that’s so next level. That’s, that’s so cool. So that is so cool. And like, that’s like the like you’re talking about building like online communities, and problems and in groups that are united by 1000s, to millions. And it only makes sense, you know, when you when you think about, like how we’ve progressed, and especially over the last year, and you’re betting on a micro trend, macro trend, that we’re only going to get progressively more digital and more digital, and people are going to be investing more into their digital profiles and their identities and the things that they do online. And it just makes sense that this is like the next step kind of thing. From my point of view, people might think we’re crazy right now, like, people are never going to be spending 1000s of dollars for a digital Gucci bag that they can’t touch or for a digital t shirt that they can’t touch. Because you can’t touch it. There’s no value, but value is subjective. And people forget that. And when you’re joining, you know when you’re when you’re involved in the whale community when you’re involved in the FWP community, and soon to be in these other creator communities that are tokenizing themselves. It makes sense that this is like this is the next, I guess next step in that direction.
WhaleShark: Adam, I agree with you and I think I can take that again. From a historic standpoint, and from behind the scenes standpoint, if I look at a historic standpoint, even my family was telling me that I was crazy buying Bitcoin in 25, right? I remember talking to my dad, and he said, you know, this isn’t going to fly, this isn’t going to work. And you know, I just got off the phone with him earlier this evening. And all he could talk to me about was the ethereum and how ethereum is going to rule the world, right, from a historical standpoint, it’s always a risk, right there is there was very much the risk that Bitcoin would never take off. But again, you know, it’s looking at that risk to reward ratio. From a behind the scenes standpoint, Adam, I can tell you that, you know, every single brand is looking at how they can leverage nfps, whether that is from a pure digital play, or whether that’s from a physical to digital play, I was very fortunate enough to be hosted by one of the world’s leading luxury brand luxury brand magazines. That’s actually based out of China in Europe, I would say about a month ago. And it really was a seminar where, you know, I had the pleasure to, to share the stage with one of the founders of artefacts, right, so RGFT, who are again, an amazing group who are really pioneering the space, the number of questions that came through from brand managers, and product developers from any of the high end brands that you can think of was so large, that we weren’t able to complete the entire session in one, one to one and a half hours. So I think its coming, right. But again, very fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time, with the right amount of expertise.
Adam Levy: I love it. I think that’s so funny. And you’re going to see a lot of those people who’ve been in the traditional textile business and the traditional brand development business, I believe Usher, like you said, and, and the space is only going to get bigger, and there’s only going to be even more questions. And you guys are definitely pioneering that. I want you to tell me more about the deep core visions that the very like the deep, deep, deep core visions that you’re trying to make a reality with elite, as the crypto metaverse and eSports sector kind of evolve. And I’m talking more about from the point of view of applying certain use cases, or perhaps the tech and the products aren’t really readily available to make them a reality, like what does that look like to you?
WhaleShark: Got you. So I think it’s on several points. Right. So I think the first point is that, you know, I can take it from an economic standpoint, right. So, you know, my vision, you know, in terms of building companies is how do you disrupt the traditional flow of, you know, of buying and selling, and rather, you know, allocated towards community growth, right. So while you have seen us been able to create a social token, a second social token, right, besides whale, and that social token, or again, it’s in the top five in the entire world, and at some point was that it was in that was, was the second only to well, but you know, is it possible to build a platform whereby, you know, the growth of a company, the financial sustainability of a company, is really based on the community, and based on token price, rather than, you know, the rather than the inflows and outflows of cash and Fiat. Right. So I think that’s a major economic experiment that we’re doing there. Now, given that again, you know, the reason why, you know, we can’t take it mass market at the moment, is because a lot of those technologies they’re not. They’re not, they’re not everyday consumer friendly, right? Yeah. So the only way that you can purchase lead right now, or you can sell lead is through is through uniswap. Again, the common person on the street is going to look at uniswap. And after that, learn about metamask and say, what do I do? Right? At the same time, if, you know, even if I launched it on any of the major exchanges, you know, how, how do you have that seamless? That seamless integration, right? If because they would have to buy it on the exchange, then they would have to take it out of the exchange, they’d have to put it in their meta mask. And then after that, they have to do it again. Right. So I think what needs to be done from that perspective is, you know, really just being able to allow the everyday man, so our technology that needs to allow the everyday man to acquire these social tokens and use them as easily, as you know, sending money through a bank. Right. And, you know, I don’t think we’re that far off. A lot of people are innovating within that payment space today. And, you know, one of the, I guess, one of the easier, I guess, bandages that has been done is, you know, being the ability to use credit card credit card converts to social token, social token pays, right. So I think you have that, but again, I think it’s a band aid, right? So there needs to be a more fluid way to be able to do that. The second part of technology is something actually that you brought up earlier today is How do you really integrate that traceability? You know, for the product itself. Now, when we spoke about it earlier on, we really spoke about, you know, how do you make sure that the authenticity of the item is there? I’m really interested in saying, how do I make sure that I can trace every single stage of the supply chain and inventory, right, all the way to the point that it reaches the consumer? Again, a question that is being tackled by multiple companies today, no one has been able to answer it in a truly mature manner. But I would love to be able to say, alright, here, here’s your elite hoodie. Here’s the blockchain tracking, or here’s the zipper track all the way from, you know, South Korea, here’s all the material trace from wherever, here’s the factory where it was made, and it was actually traced to, again, a lot of our stuff is handmade as well. So this was traced to seamstress or seamster. Number 46. From a quality assurance perspective, it was checked three times quality assurance, agent number 2, quality assurance Agent number 46, quality assurance, Agent number 52. And then after it got on this truck, and it went to this warehouse, and then it got sent out by this pack by this person. And then it got into your hands, right.
Adam Levy: Boom.
WhaleShark: I think if anyone ever did was able to take that sort of a technology into a very mature level, you’re looking at full scale disruption on the transparency of supply chain in general. Right. So I think that’s probably a second point that I would be looking at. And I guess the third point that I’d be looking at mainly looks towards the digital wearables themselves. And don’t get me wrong, I love crypto voxels. I love sandbox. I love decentraland. But you know, again, I think a lot of those platforms and maybe platforms in the future to come, you know, how do you create, again, that seamless interaction between the user and focus on user experience versus the just viewed versus interaction with the blockchain, right? And that the metaverse that’s able to do that is going to win. And then after that, we’ll see the proliferation of digital wearables. So those are probably the three points.
Adam Levy: That first of all, let’s backtrack for a minute that was like to the T. And it just shows how, how experienced you are in the in the textile space and the e commerce space and the entire, I guess, that entire industry. So and I remember those types of conversations when I was living in Switzerland and crypto Valley, quote, unquote, sube being the Pioneer that it is for innovating and being an early adopter of regulation and this technology, they were still having those conversations three years ago, right? Yep. And to show you that, that still isn’t a problem that solved yet shows you how early we are. So if anybody listening to this solves that problem, or is working on that problem, hit us up and let us know. Because I think whale shark, you’re the prime use case for making it a reality and developing a case study from that, actually. And yeah, it’d be exciting to see how that kind of plays out.
WhaleShark: Adam, absolutely. And honestly, I did dabble in it a tiny bit. So you know, I did take a look at it before, it is just a very, very complex thing. Because again, when you look at it, and I think even the extended use case of applying supply chain, blockchain based supply chain tracking all the way to agricultural goods, that I mean, it has the ability to change everything. Imagine being able to pick up a tomato, or tomato, sorry, tomato, tomato, at your, at your, at your grocery store, being able to scan a QR code, understand not only exactly what was the geographical, I guess, the geographical flow of that single tomato, but also understanding under what soil weather and other conditions. It was, it was being it was it was being grown in, right? Again, the blockchain has infinite number of use cases that can bring humanity together and make society so much more better as a whole. And you know, I’m just amazed every single day by looking at all of the amount of innovators and entrepreneurs in the space that are leveraging that technology to do so.
Adam Levy: And that, again, is another big macro. Their consumers care about where their food comes from. Consumers care about where their clothing comes from, where the fabric comes from. Consumers care about where their diamonds come from, right? They care about where a lot of the products that they use, what’s the source and what does that look like. And many times companies even leverage that as a marketing tactic to show their level of transparency to show their level of sustainability and the fact that they can even present that with data. Or soon be able to do that, is interesting. It’s really interesting to see how that plays out.
WhaleShark: Dude idea just popped in my head dude again, yes, Adam Levy podcast extraordinaire – if you if he was wearing an elite hoodie and a hoodie used to belong to Adam Levy, and it was by an NFP because the NFP moved through his wallet, again, that hoodie could be worth significantly more than what someone originally purchased it for right boom, supply chain and movement of products is just such a prime use case for blockchain. I just can’t wait to see all of those developments in the upcoming years.
Adam Levy: I love it, man. We’re thinking so in the future, and those types of conversations stimulate and stimulate me, I want to talk more about the user experience like you drop the utility. What can people actually do with elite token beyond just using it to purchase clothing? What does that look like right now? And as a follow up, what do you think that whale kind of like evolve to in the future?
WhaleShark: Got you. So I think we always produce digital and physical wearables as a very basic use case, right? There are so many different things that you can do with social tokens. And we’ve implemented quite a bit of them at elite. So I would say that the first thing that you can do with elite with lead tokens is within the discord which again, it grew faster beyond my imagination, I think we’re probably 3500 to 4000 members. And a lot of that growth has come over the last one to two, one to two months. You know, you can actually use those tokens to participate in some of the play to earn games that we have a moderator team, and they play amazing blockchain games like axes infinity, they play Blanco’s block party, they play golf and chain, they play crypto motor stat, and many other games. And we’re actually also going to be partnering with other blockchain companies, blockchain gaming companies in the space where people can actually use and hold lead so that they can participate in those events. The second thing that they can do is again, everyone loves a good airdrop, I love a good holder. So what I tend to do is, again, with that lead and how much you hold in your metamask account, basically, we have a bot that actually monitors all of the different addresses. And we’re able to give airdrops to the largest holders of lead, because at the end of the day, what we’re looking to do is we’re looking to create a community and not, you know, again, no, no disrespect to traders, but we’re looking to create a community, right, so you can actually more earn more lead by holding lead. The third thing that you can do with lead is we’ve actually set up a doubt. And again, we are still waiting for the advent on chain daos, whereby it’s very plug and play seamless and easy to use. But for the time being, you know, we have a full on voting mechanism, whereby people who hold lead, gain Dao voting roles, and what they’re able to do is they’re able to vote on the events that we hold, they able to vote on the designs that we’re going to do, they’re going to be able to vote on the upgrading of the NF T’s or the digital wearables, which is another interesting perspective from an IPS. And the fourth thing that they’re able to do is they’re also going to be able to vote on all of our future production. So again, one of the biggest issues that apparel manufacturers face is, I don’t know how much of a certain design and of how much of a certain size that I need to manufacture, right, by actually having the community vote on things and actually having the community be able to stake their lead beforehand. So almost like a pre-buy process. You know, there’s absolutely no wastage in the supply chain, because I know exactly how much of each design is going to go through. And I also know exactly how much of each size we need to produce, right. So again, it’s much easier on the environment as well.
Adam Levy: Fascinating. I, you know, a lot of people launch tokens whale shark, and they launch them to launch them. And they create, like liquidity pools or yield farming, and all these random like economic incentives, which more power to them, obviously, it’s a way to, I guess, bootstrap liquidity, get more people involved. But the real power, like you said, is delivering real utility that extends beyond the blockchain, right? Building a community around something incentivizing long term holding, versus those traders that will try to speculate on the community, and pump and dump the price beyond your control. And the fact like the way you’ve kind of thought about, I guess, rewarding users and getting them to contribute is very unique within itself. And I wanted to ask you, is there a framework that you use to kind of create these value chains to create this utility? Like, how do you think about utility and how even more so for the creators that are listening? How should they be thinking about when they want to launch their token and build a community around it? How should they be thinking about utility? The value that comes once people have holding the token?
WhaleShark: Got you. That’s a fascinating and amazing question, Adam. So I think there are several things that one needs to consider before launching a social token. The reason why you see, you know, many of the long term stairs on the top list of social token stay there is simply because we have managed to be able to acquire the expertise in multiple fields on multiple fields of discipline, right? A lot of people enter the social token space, assuming that as long as they do some basic token omics, you know, the thing is going to fly. But what people don’t really understand is that, number one, social tokens are really a long term effort and community building, you got to be there, no matter whether it’s 15 cents, or $15, or $150, right, you need to be there day in and day out, you know, grinding with the community, because at the end of day, that’s just what it’s all about, right? It’s about community engagement, and having the community support that token. But given that there are several areas of discipline that one needs to acquire, to be able to effectively manage the social token, you’re looking at. I mean, marketing, obviously, a no brainer, marketing, branding, community building and management. But the two that I guess, I’ve been able to bring to the table, I have, again, I have a fantastic team on both whale and elite. But the two that I Excel a little bit better on would be economics and game theory, right? Because from an economic perspective, you do need to have a decent grasp of monetary policy or monetary theory, right? To understand, you know, how scars should this token be? What should the distribution be? Where should that distribution go? Right? So I think that’s the first and fundamental step in terms of, you know, what is the what is the macro tokenomics of the token that you’re trying to create, right. And again, you need to leave yourself a enough runway, depending on how you’re launching the token, you need to be able to leave yourself enough runway so that you can continue to support the community without losing all of the tokens, right? So, you know, an aspect that could be very appealing to a Creator is saying, alright, um, I’m only going to keep 20%. And I’m going to give the I’m going to sell the other 80% away, what do you have left in hand to be able to incentivize your community after that, right? So really, I think from a macro perspective, you can look at that. And then from a game theory perspective, I mean, game theory has always been extremely intriguing. For me, its number one, what sort of behaviour Do you want to drive through your buyer community, right, in their interactions with the token? And number two, you know, what sort of events will really drive that behaviour that you’re looking for? Right? So again, I mean, the most fundamental basics, and again, it wasn’t basic when I started liquidity meaning right, because I liquidity mine, I hold, therefore I earn more, and therefore, I’m going to continue to liquidity mine more, right. But again, if the social token doesn’t hold value, because your community engagement is low, then people say, why am I liquidity mining at 10 cents for right? So I think it is a mash. And really a structure in terms of understanding here are, here’s the framework here. So firstly, here is the behaviour that I want to drive, right? Here’s the framework of events that are going to drive this behaviour. And here is the interaction between each style of event that leads to in my case, long term holding, rather than trading. Right. It’s All about that. Yeah.
Adam Levy: Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. I mean, you have a wealth of experience, obviously doing whale. Now applying it to a new the second project, the second iteration into elite. What would you say are, I guess, those main learning points that you took away from launching whale, when designing and building it, and kind of like bringing it to market? Like what was there anything you wish you knew you would have known prior to launching your first project whale, and now apply that to elite?
WhaleShark: Amazing question again, my friend. So I would say the first thing is that team is everything, right? Like many others who launched into the social token space before and continue to launch into social token space, community management, community event execution, and fostering community engagement is harder than one can imagine. Right? So you see, sometimes people launch a project with maybe two or three people, assuming that they can actually get the community engaged on a day to day basis. I was very fortunate at wale because again, those community members and those community leaders came on very, very quickly. But one of the things I realised very, you know, very early on before starting elite was that I needed to create a separate team that would able that would be able to sacrifice their time and their energies to making sure that we were building an amazing community. Right. So I mean, the team I lead is wonderful. They’re mainly focused on driving those events down there. But I mean, the main thing, probably that I learned is that team is everything. And you can never underestimate those resources. The issue with social tokens and social token communities is that, you know, again, if the founder is the only one who is supposed to be driving that engagement, the founder is not going to be available 12 to 24 hours a day to sit down at their computer, and make sure everybody enjoys it. Right. I guess the second thing that I learned, you know, and again, it relates to people I think, you know, as you look at all businesses in life, eventually all these to the people in the teams is that I wish when I started whale, I had a much more mature HR structure in place. And I know that when I say HR structure, probably the decentralised committee is going to create.
Adam Levy: [Inaudible]
WhaleShark: No HR, no finance. But in all honesty, people are people, right? I mean, while we are all in the decentralised space, the incentivization, the encouragement, you know, the management of people is not something that a robot can do. And sometimes, again, when you look at a lot of the companies and organisations that are coming into decentralised space, they’re saying, Hey, robot 3.0, you know, we don’t need to have KPIs, we don’t need to have HR monitoring processes, we don’t need to have, you know, annual reviews. And what you see is that those projects just fall apart, simply because, you know, again, there’s no guiding structure and process in place, for people to understand what they should be doing right, on a day to day basis. So, you know, we realised this very early on at whale. And what I did was I hired an implemented, you know, an HR expert from my previous endeavours and brought her into whale as well as into elite, again, to make sure that everyone is not only productive, but they’re also enjoying what they’re doing. And they’re focusing on enjoying what they’re doing. So I think the second lesson really was about that. And you know, just being able to, well, just being able to make sure that everyone had a very relatively structured environment so that they could do what they needed to do effectively. And I guess, again, the third thing that that was, you know, that I learned from whale is that, you know, again, relates to people, not everything that needs to be done manually, right? When you’re looking at building a community on discord, you got a gazillion different bots that you can use. What Bo did very well for elite was I just took the same boss structure that we had on whale implemented it on elite, and we were good to go. Whereas it took probably two to three months to exactly understand what bot structure we needed that whale before I could do it there. So yeah, I think it all at the end of the day, it all pertains to people, it all pertains to team, it all pertains to workflow, because managing a social token is significantly more challenging than most people might think.
Adam Levy: That’s golden. And I think I think I think those three points tend to get overlooked, especially in a Dao circumstance, because Da are naturally decentralised organisations as their as their abbreviation kind of suggests. But when you’re building something that’s decentralised, you still need to have accountability. And people are used to having centralised forms of authority, kind of guiding them and leading them. And I think, you approaching it from the point of view of trying to find at least well, one, there’s you as that quote, unquote, leader and that visionary that’s setting the path for everyone to build on and to work on. But also bringing in an external person, someone in HR, that makes sure that the environment that the vibes, that people feel like they’re building something that they’re excited about, is very critical that I feel like a lot of projects may overlook, and might see this thing as a cash grab rather than just actually investing in the value that extends and unlocks with these tokens that extends beyond token price that extends beyond crypto. And I think you can take those three points to the bank, that’s awesome.
WhaleShark: While we are in a decentralised environment, while we are in the decentralised, you know, age of decentralisation. At the same time, you know people who are people who are participating in decentralisation are still people. Right? Yeah. So I think that’s why people are so important. And that’s also why we also need to have the structure to bring out the best in people.
Adam Levy: Yeah, sure. I we’re coming close to an end. So I want to I want to leave you with, with a final thought. You know, there’s, there’s this I’m thinking about social tokens, the creator economy, people tokenizing their communities, brands tokenizing their communities. And I’m thinking, and this might be extreme, but I’m asking this to everyone. Okay, I feel like we’re leaning somewhat towards a black mirror effect to an extent. And what I mean by that is, you’re going to have people brands and personalities, influencers kind of publicly traded on the markets on the crypto markets. And right now, as a society, we tend a lot of people I don’t want to I don’t want to bucket everyone but a lot of people tend to, I guess determine influenced by the follower count of someone, right. And they didn’t determine their thought leadership based off their social media value, and, and all that all that around it. But now we’re approaching a world where people are going to be basically publicly traded and associated with a price. This person’s worth $1, this person’s worth $2, is communities worth $100? Blah, blah, blah, right? Do you think we’re kind of pivoting towards that, that world where we’re having like a, quote unquote, human stock market community market?
WhaleShark: And whenever you see my mouth open like this, again, it means I’m smiling from ear to ear, because you’re asking the exact you’re asking the right question. So I think it’s difficult, right? So, you know, when you look at when you look at the social token economy, and when you look at influencers, I mean, let me split this off into two different things, right. So the way I think that the social token space is going to grow, is that everybody and their grandmother, very similar to NF T’s right, everybody in the grandmother was either buying NF T’s or selling NF T’s, you’re going to see everybody and their grandmother create their own social token relatively soon, right? Because it’s just so easy to do. However, what you’re also going to see is that they underestimated the five points that I brought up just now branding, marketing, community building economics and, and game theory, and then really understand, oh, what have I gotten myself into. And then after that, you know, just desert that community all together. And you’ll see that token collapse, right. So what I think in the short term that short to mid-term, what you’re going to see is you’re going to see a wide proliferation of social tokens. And then after that people who either number one, you know, didn’t succeed to the extent that they wanted, or number two, they underestimated the amount of resource and effort that it took to close down their social token. But at the same time, I believe what we’re going to see is we are going to see umbrella social tokens springing up. And people are going to start using multi-use social tokens that they’re affiliated with, rather than their own specific social token. So let me give you an example. For example, you know, you could have, you know, three different elites or celebrities who all belong to a particular genre, from month one to month, 12, what you’re going to see is those three individual celebrities, it create and use their own social token, what you’ll what they’ll find out, though, is that it’s too resource intensive, because you know, I’m a celebrity because I need to act because I need to sing. And instead, they’re going to group together, and they’re going to create their own group social token, while also recruiting, you know, people of their friends or whatever, into that same social tokens. So you’ll see, you know, five to 10, celebrities use that same social token, because it is it embodies the values that you know, they embody themselves, right. And that’s your talk, probably looking at the mid to longer term, the most concerning thing to me about social tokens, and even more, so personal tokens, right? Because, again, we’ve seen it with big clouds, and I’m an avid fan of big cloud, right? I’m an avid fan of big cloud, and, you know, shout out to all of my followers as well as coin holders there. But one of the biggest concerns for me, because I’ve been through the same process myself is, do I determine my self-worth based on my token value? And how does that affect my mental health? Right, right. Um, you know, when I first started, well, I know I started at 1520 cents, and then after that, you saw it extended to $3. Then after I saw it, dip all the way back down to 80 cents. Does that mean my self-worth increased by 200%? In a month, and then if that drop if I, you know, 60% next month, and now well, is that $12 worth increased by 2000, 3000%? Last year, it’s very easy to take it very personally, right. My social token price went down, People hate me. My social token went up the entire world. And Adam, you can see it with likes and follows today, right? Maybe, you know what happens when you take that into monetary value And what will the psychological ramifications be on people who are unable to dissociate themselves or their real true self-worth with their commercial value of their personal tokens? I think if it’s not managed appropriately, it could have severe ramifications on the psychological behaviour of youth today, right?
Adam Levy: Yeah, yeah. And that just proves that the market for mental health is just getting bigger and bigger. And stronger as we continue to denominate people’s worth by numbers, follower count, publicly traded number for their asset for their token for the utility token, etc., etc. You know, the situation that the scenario that comes to mind, like, let’s say it’s 2030, right now, and people have their Google Glasses or their Snapchat Spectacles, and that has a lot of AR functionality, you know, people are wearing them walking down the street, all these micro interfaces kind of appear and through the lens, and they appear in front of you, you look at someone, their profile pops up, you’re able to see how many followers they have, what their tokens trading at, or they eat, where they ate last where their last Yelp review was, and you’re basically able to build like a profile of someone on the go. And that number kind of being a core a core factor in that, on whether that reality is going to come true, who knows. But it’s something I like to think about, as I see the growth of social tokens kind of progress and become stronger in the use case for them to empower creators, and take control of their audience. Beyond these web 2.5, platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc. I think there’s something there. There’s, there’s, there’s that powerful narrative there. And with every single new thing, there’s always its pros and cons. And if you’ve done a good enough job with kind of separating your value from your social media account, right, this is just like the next the next step towards it. In my in my opinion, I could be wrong, but what you’re doing, you’re incentivizing long-term holders, you’re incentivizing. And you mentioned that right. In the very beginning or mid-conversation, you said we want to avoid the traders, right. We want to avoid the speculators. We want to incentivize people who are holding elite to come be a part of the community, there’s actually something over here that you might enjoy. So yeah, something to think about.
WhaleShark: Absolutely. And I can’t wait till we get to that to that world, where again, I would love to Don a pair of Apple glasses and you know, be able to see all the amazing accomplishments that other people have done. But again, to your point, to your point, I mean, people do need to dissociate themselves, I guess, from their social media, I guess social media likes and follows. And now, right, their market value, right. So it’s no longer a company market value, yeah, their market value from the true value. And, you know, hopefully, you know, you know, people will come to understand that, again, it’s just a fluctuation in the market. And, again, I’ve never dissed traders before, I think, again, every single project needs to have holders and traders, there are two sides of the same coin, because you need to have the hold. But you also have to need to have the liquidity. So both things are there. But again, I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things that are going to be built on blockchain. As well as you know how that integrates within society as a whole.
Adam Levy: Amazing man. I feel like we can continue this conversation for hours. But obviously, I want to be respectful of your time. Well, shark more power to you man, more power to your communities, to your projects. I love seeing what you’re doing and I hope to have you on again soon.
WhaleShark: Thank you so much, Adam. It is by far one of my favorite times to be able to sit down with you in this podcast room. I always find that you asked some of the most amazing questions, my friend, and thank you I would be more than happy to come on anytime you invite me.
Adam Levy: I love it man and we’ll talk soon. Thank you.
WhaleShark: Thank you.