What NFT Holders Can Learn From The Most Bizarre NFT Project Ever Attempted
Cryptocurrency and Non-Fungible Tokens are in a unique position at the moment as a growing number of people become aware of the concept of the blockchain and the exciting potential it has.
Whilst discussions of crypto primarily focus on the idea of decentralised finance, the potential for blockchains such as Ethereum to store other forms of data on the blockchain has led to some very ambitious projects that take this decentralised idea and use it to disrupt other industries.
Given that many of these projects are exceptionally new, the progress of these projects besides the trending NFTs and digital art themselves is somewhat limited, but some projects demonstrate the potential for non-financial uses of the blockchain.
There are play-to-earn games such as Axie Infinity, where items and creatures are stored as NFTs and can be bought and sold in the same way as any other NFT.
However, the most ambitious and infamous project thus far is an attempt to sell an entire island and a luxurious lifestyle as NFTs in a way that has become so infamous that it serves as an effective guide to the potential pitfalls that can emerge from overly ambitious startup projects in the space.
Here is not only the story of Cryptoland but what investors and minters alike can learn from its truly bizarre story and marketing.
A Confused Concept
The premise of Cryptoland, unlike a lot of blockchain projects, was not to necessarily disrupt or improve an existing industry, but instead to offer a physical location that people who live and work in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space can gravitate towards.
In some respect, this is a rather confusing pitch; one of the biggest selling points of cryptocurrency is that it is decentralised and investors are often digital nomads who choose to work anywhere they like providing it is within reach of an internet connection.
However, there is a universal appeal in a community hub, and given that there are tropical islands available for sale, the idea for a crypto-themed island was not outside the realms of possibility.
With careful planning, strong initial investment and effective marketing that managed to appeal not only to high-level investors but digital nomads who would find a tropical paradise equipped with all the comforts they need to work effectively appealing, Cryptoland could have been a success.
It would not take long for problems to emerge.
The Importance Of First Impressions
When it comes to blockchain projects, especially ambitious ones with ramifications that spread beyond the blockchain, it is vital to start your pitch on the right foot. Be clear about your project’s aims, goals and expectations, especially if they go beyond NFT minting.
Cryptoland did not do this, and its initial (now deleted) pitch video was just over 10 minutes of in-jokes, references, copyrighted music and exceptionally bizarre animation.
What it did not contain, however, was a clear indication of what the project actually was, and whilst the video received considerable attention, many people were confused about what the video was for, either assuming it was a parody or a metaverse project similar to Decentraland.
It did not help that considerable time in the video was dedicated to an extensive segment mocking Carlos Matos and the failed startup Bitconnect.
The marketing was so bad, in fact, that a common cliché in videos and articles responding to the Cryptoland presentation was to present the fact that the project intended to create a real island as a twist.
Eventually, the video was removed and replaced with a 75-second pitch video which made clear that this was intended to be a physical island and that they planned to sell 60 parcels of land with an acre of potential development as NFTs to “King Cryptolanders”.
By this point, it was too late to save the project and its perception both in and out of the crypto community.
Comparisons were immediately drawn between Cryptoland and Fyre Festival, a similarly exclusive island getaway in 2017 that within a day descended into a humanitarian crisis, particularly as journalists and commentators started to look through the white paper and pointed out potential practical issues.
One of the biggest is that the island they were planning to use, Nananu-i-cake in Fiji, had not actually been bought and by January 2022 plans to buy the island fell through as attempts to fundraise to buy the island without using King Cryptolander money quickly failed.
It was later revealed on their discord server that the funds from the early adopters and sales would be used to fund the island, with packages that started at $750,000 and slowly increased as more people bought packages.
There were other marketing issues as well, with a Q&A session causing controversy and forcing a public apology, as well as accusations of stolen assets by various 3D animators and creators.
Initially, Max Olivier and Helena Lopez, the two most public-facing figureheads of the project, embraced an “all publicity is good publicity” approach, believing that the attention would help draw in potential investors.
However, this turned out not to be the case, and after the island sale fell through and only one person (cryptocurrency influencer Kyle Chasse) had bought a plot of land, the project appeared to be over before it had truly begun.
Sales of the Cryptolander NFT stalled with a current floor price of £50, the Cryptoland Twitter account has not posted anything outside of a single retweet since 21st February 2022, and people who analysed the Etherium ledger found that Mr Chasse had his money refunded for the plot of land.
Lessons To Learn
Preparation is key to any successful startup project, whether it uses blockchain technology or not, and it is vital to ensure you have plans for every contingency and be realistic about what you need and what you can acquire from a mint.
Cryptoland claimed that they could create an entire island’s infrastructure initially for $100m and then later for around $50m, both of which are exceptionally unrealistic figures for creating a living space on a largely uninhabited island.
As well as this, the marketing needs to make it explicitly clear what the expectations are for the project, the expected roadmap, timescales and what an NFT entitles you to in writing if there are benefits outside of the art itself.
Finally, much like DeFi is built around openness, be open, kind and conscientious with your community, as they are the ones that ultimately decide whether a project happens or not.
Take their concerns, needs and opinions seriously, as any purchase worth hundreds of thousands of pounds requires careful consideration.