Episode 262
July 11, 2022

Building a Web3 Company After the NFT Crash

Joining the show today is Brandon Martinez, Founder of SNKRHUD. We discuss the dynamic of digital goods and NFTs during a downturn in the market, and how physical events and identities are becoming the norm in what was once thought to be an anonymous and online-only fandom. Listen now!

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this episode sponsored by

The End of the Good Times

  • “Hype alone isn’t enough to build an enduring brand or community.” There has to be a non-monetary reason that people are engaged in community — for sneakerheads this is the love of the culture and nostalgia that endures well past childhood. Sneakerheads come from many different backgrounds and walks of life, so a digital goods community around sneakers may be much more durable than any other PFP project.
  • “Collectors need investors. They’re intrinsically motivated, and inextricably connected.” — Phillip
  • NFT Project creators are doxxing themselves now in an effort to increase optionality. There’s a lot more to gain by having a trusted reputation as a person than there is as a cartoon avatar.
  • SNKRHUD is a collection of digital goods and an NFT-based playground for sneakerheads based in Earth-326, a post-apocalyptic world where sneakers rule. Sidekicks is a recent mint of a profile picture (PFP) asset, which is laying the foundation for future projects.
  • “I think of the community from which sneakers actually emanate. How can I make it so that anybody can be rewarded even for their participation, for their love of and the passion of whatever that community represents?” - Brandon
  • Brandon shares his perspective on NFT NYC 2022: "it was like most conferences, but it was happening in the heat of the downfall.”
  • “The buyer modality of attachment or nostalgia of a particular time or moment in your life is diffuse when it’s spread across 5 or 10 purchases. Souvenirs should be singular” — Phillip

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Brian: [00:01:16] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:21] I'm Phillip. Today I am joined by Mr. Brandon Martinez from SNKRHUD, and the one person I know who has more shoes than me, but definitely the one person I know who has a better sneaker archival and filing system than me. Welcome to the show, Brandon.

Brandon: [00:01:39] Thank you. Thank you. Glad to be here.

Phillip: [00:01:41] Yeah, glad to have you.

Brian: [00:01:42] Look at that background. Look at that background.

Phillip: [00:01:44] It's amazing. If you're not watching on YouTube, you're missing it, but quite a flex. Give us a quick two seconds about yourself.

Brandon: [00:01:54] I'm an entrepreneur. Just trying to figure it out like everybody else.

Phillip: [00:01:57] Yeah. Ain't that the truth? What is SNKRHUD?

Brandon: [00:02:01] SNKRHUD is an NFT-based playground community for Sneakerheads.

Phillip: [00:02:06] The NFT space has been going through some challenges right now, so we'll get into that. You and I met up during NFT NYC. I was so intrigued about who you are and the business that you're running. It seems like you're sort of at this intersection of sort of fandom and collecting, certainly enabling that with Web3. But you're also a serial entrepreneur. You've done this before. This is not new for you. So tell us a little bit about NFT, NYC, and what your experience was there.

Brandon: [00:02:40] For sure. Phil, don't act like we're not buds like we don't talk about...

Phillip: [00:02:43] We're tight.

Brandon: [00:02:44] Every single day. You say, "Oh, we just met up. We just happened to run into one another." No, no, no. This was we were exchanging sneakers.

Phillip: [00:02:52] That's true. {laughter}

Brandon: [00:02:53] We're friends, we're buds. I'm excited to dive in. And it was really fun to kind of share about the event because it's been, Brian and I were just kind of chatting a little bit as well. I wasn't really sure what to expect from NFT NYC coming from in the middle of the crash, watching things falling down around us. I think we're just kind of chatting, watching some of the bigger houses fall. But the earthquake is coming for everybody else pretty soon. I wasn't sure what to expect and there were a lot of smiling faces, which was awesome, really glad. There was a lot of enthusiasm and everybody was still really psyched, but a lot of uncertainty for sure. And I think ultimately, as we've already seen, nothing changed. Nothing new happened from there. The rich got richer, the big projects got bigger, and nothing happened because it was all the same community that we just continue to sell to, to talk to. So it was great. It was fun. I'm glad I got... It was great. It was really great to see a lot of people and put not even faces to names but screen names to faces to names. It was really cool, and I look forward to more of that. But it was like most conferences, a lot of glad-handing, a lot of smiles, and let's talk more and stuff like that.

Brian: [00:04:24] What else are you going to do? {laughter}

Brandon: [00:04:28] I know. No, that's a good question because there are a lot of people that pulled out, the speakers, companies, activations. So there was also some sort of like dead time in the middle of schedules and things like that. Yeah. Yes. You definitely have to just put a smile on, put one foot in front of the other, try to avoid COVID, you know, which I didn't do.

Phillip: [00:04:53] Yeah. I mean. Well, yeah, the minefield that we all happen to cohabitate in at the moment. What was your activation? What did you guys do at the event?

Brandon: [00:05:05] Yeah. So, our actual activation that we did was we sponsored an event that our good friends at Krause House did. Krause House is a DAO trying to purchase an NBA team. They recently purchased a Big Three team. It is a super, super, super active community from all over the world. It's really incredible to see all these people come together and whether it was the merch that was being sold at the event, or putting the actual event together, it was just an incredible community of people. I'm a member of the DAO, how we got connected to them, and they've been very supportive of us. So they did their main event was a 3 on 3 basketball tournament with a dunk contest in between. And they were selling NFTs, which was the first time you got you were able to get access to the DAO other than I believe the Genesis Mint and the NFTs were replications or pieces of the court that they were actually playing the game on. And the court itself was designed by various NFT projects and artists, both traditional and digital and it was really, really cool. The artwork, the court it was, was unlike anything else not only at NFT NYC but at most conferences that I've been to. This was a really cool activation and the basketball was phenomenal. We had a front row seat where we were, and we just kind of set up a little booth, like letting people know who we are or we had a little take photos of your sneakers kind of set up or whatever. And it was great just talking to some people and things like that, but the event itself was really, really cool. And then so our second thing that we did, our main thing is that when we did our Mint, which was just about three weeks before NFT NYC, we had done a really big giveaway in collaboration with Dapper Labs. We're built on FLOW, so they're the parent company of the blockchain.

Phillip: [00:07:07] And Dapper is the NBA Top Shot. So that's known from that, right?

Brandon: [00:07:13] Yeah. So Dapper Labs, they sort of the quick genesis of that is they built CryptoKitties back in 2017, which sort of broke Ethereum and they said there's got to be a better way than this. So they went they built FLOW there on blockchain and NBA Top Shot is like the premier product on top of that, showcasing exactly that, basically. Quicker transactions. No gas fees, anything like that. We can get into more of that. But so Dapper Labs helped us sponsor. We sent two people and a plus one if they chose to NFT NYC, and got them into a lot of really cool events, which wasn't part of it, but I just felt an obligation to do so. And then the big event was we took them to Stadium Goods, had the shop shut down for supposed to be an hour beforehand, but Adel rolled through the middle of that, so a little bit longer.

Phillip: [00:08:07] Adele, like the singer?

Brandon: [00:08:09] Adele The singer, yes, absolutely.

Phillip: [00:08:11] We'll get there in just a second because I was really blown away by what you guys did and sort of just the way that you were able to give back to the community. You have like a whole world building element to SNKRHUD that like blows my mind. So there's a story that sort of like uniting the why this particular thing must exist in the world. Give us a little bit about that. It's like a post-apocalyptic world building sneaker community, which I find that element of story to be so compelling.

Brian: [00:08:46] Yeah, the storytelling side of this is super cool.

Brandon: [00:08:48] Yeah. So the NFTs that we actually just released are PFPs, picture for profile, the typical similar to a Bored Ape or CryptoPunk, what you see out there. And so that was us recognizing that that's where NFTs are currently, what people understand of them. And so that acts as an onramp into the bigger platform that we're building. [00:09:09] The core of the platform, the core assets are what we call DED stock, our version of DED stock, Digitally Enabled Dopeness, which is, like I said, allowing anyone to take photos of their sneakers and turn that into an NFT, adding in machine learning layers on top of that. So now your photos look like Frida Kahlo, Basquiat, or Warhol or something of that nature because adding in that art element. But we're really looking for utility in both IRL and URL, so we want to take that a step further. So the photo taking is, again, based on behaviors within the sneaker community. So the next step of that is to then be able to battle your sneakers against other sneakerheads, kind of the daily flexing my sneakers are better than yours, which in the group that Phil and I belong definitely happens on a regular basis. So yeah. So that is the play-to-earn gaming side that we're building out, which is a big component of NFTs that I think we'll be hearing a lot more about very soon. But so that stuff is what we're building. And so in those battles, you would then be able to earn an in-game currency, which hopefully ideally at some point in the future would be like the currency of culture. You'd actually be able to spend that at Nike and Adidas, but your favorite boutique shops as well and buy the real-life sneakers and streetwear that you really want as well. So then creating this flywheel of earning and contributing back to your life in a meaningful way. [00:10:37]

Brian: [00:10:39] It's an in-game currency that can be used at the brands that surround this community. I do think that's super interesting, like community-based currency. That's the next phase? That's the goal or is that active right now?

Brandon: [00:10:53] It's active in the sense of this is where a lot of my ideas come from. I'm a watcher of the world. I love just seeing trends. That's why I love what you guys are doing, just kind of pointing these things out, what people are doing, what are people up to. And so I've got a ten year old. We play a lot of Fortnite together. And so it's that, right? You spend all this money on these skins and things like that. Especially think about some of the collaborations with Jordan Brand or KAWS recently. And you are spending this money and then it doesn't really go beyond that or let's say that they're never going to do that collaboration again or bring it back to sneakers, that specific colorway, or that specific model. Now you have something that is rare and valuable to somebody, and you can, in theory, the next step of this would then be able to sell that down the line. Or think of all the while you're playing the game, the currency that you're earning. Maybe you don't have a full time job, you are just a kid, or maybe you are in an emerging economy like the Philippines is one place where we've seen this really taking off. And so now this is a new way for you to game and earn and then be able to spend that money back, whether it's cashing it out for actual Fiat, real money, which is what we saw with Axie Infinity at its height, or just spending it back in the economy, in the community, kind of like what you're talking about, Brian. So we are seeing a little bit or we're seeing kind of tests of that. There's definitely a "Is this a Ponzi scheme or not?" question, the great wolf theory as well. But I think that that's again, where we're just talking about the hype and where all this stuff is, where, yes, there's always going to be some bad actors and some people that spin this off and take advantage of the technology. But then I think that there are also builders like me and many others that are out there that are really looking at how can this really benefit our community. So like when I even say our community, I mean the sneaker community, which I look at sneakers as a very mainstream audience. And so that's how we look at what we're doing with SNKRHUD is bringing in a mainstream audience and using sneakers as a vehicle to understand Web3. But also, I live in Bed-Stuy. I am black, Hispanic, and Jamaican. So I think of the community from which sneakers actually emanate and how the heat that I have in my closet, kids in my neighborhood would absolutely love those sneakers for the monetary value or for the flexing alone. So how can I make it so that anybody can be rewarded even for their participation, for their love of and the passion of whatever that community represents?

Brian: [00:14:31] Gets back to something I wrote about a while back, like being a collector versus being an investor. And we've seen a lot of mixing of these two, especially in NFT and Sneaker both. Collecting something because of its significance and/or it's just something you're passionate about, brings you joy specifically, and you're not looking for monetary gain off of it. And actually, I think it's really interesting. You mentioned kids. Kids are collectors by nature.

Brandon: [00:15:03] Yeah. {laughter} Whether we like it or not.

Phillip: [00:15:04] Ain't that the truth?

Brian: [00:15:08] Yes. And so I think that sort of tying it back to [00:15:16] what the next generation finds compelling is actually a good litmus test of the lasting value of something. [00:15:26] I think that's a really cool point that you just made there. I love that.

Brandon: [00:15:31] No, I think, again, I'm always going to bring things back to sneakers as well. And so think about the kids who were buying sneakers back in the day and actually held on to them. The value that that actually has, the kids who somehow had that foresight even to hold on to the boxes or the hang tags that came with them and that kind of thing. So we know that everything has its cycles, every 20 or 30 years or so. And so maybe we realize that more now than before. But also one thing that's interesting about sort of where sneakers are now versus even past passion, hobbies, and other things people collected like Beanie Babies and baseball cards is that we know the actual number. We know the actual finite amount of how many there are in the world. So one of my favorite pairs that I have is this pair of Nike SB Zoo Yorks from 2002. So the second collaboration Nike SB ever did. There are in estimate three or 400 pairs that are out there. But if you think about it, that's a 20 year old shoe at this point. Kids were, again, not collecting back then. And also these are skateboard shoes. So kids are actually skating in them and destroying them. And I also have a pretty large foot. And so the higher up you go, the more rare that actually gets. So I have a size 11 and a half, which is my size, in very immaculate condition. That is a super, super, super rare sneaker. And so, again, it's sort of like the value of what you're saying, the collector versus an investor. There is the I have it because I love it and it's in my size. Everything I have is in my size. I don't buy anything just for the sake of buying it. It's also I can actually wear it, but there is inherent value if you wait it out long enough that that will be valuable to somebody down the line.

Phillip: [00:17:23] I take umbrage at the fact that you said that you have a big foot. We have the exact same size foot. And I think it's a very average size foot.

Brandon: [00:17:32] My favorite pairs are my pairs from Japan. I lived in Japan as a kid. So I'm a huge Japanophile. That makes it that much rarer because 11 and one half over there is an absolute giant. Like 12, get out of here. 13, definitely not. So that's how I look at it.

Phillip: [00:17:52] I see. Oh, it's by Japanese standards, it's a large foot. I can live with that.

Brian: [00:17:59] The thing that I think was very interesting, and we were talking about this a little bit pre-show, Brandon. We do have all these investors that have mixed into these markets. They're in it because there is opportunity.

Phillip: [00:18:10] In some ways, the market wouldn't exist without them.

Brian: [00:18:12] Correct. Exactly. And so while collectors sort of set the tone and set the pace, investors have come in and sort of gone after both the NFT market and the sneaker market, which is like the two markets that you're in. And I was lamenting digital assets and sneakers, they're a thing. They're a thing that's here to stay. Digital assets are going to be a part of our future. Now, how those digital assets are created and so on is still why the hype is here because we found this incredible way in NFTs and using the blockchain to create them. What I was lamenting is the hype cycle if it got so high and people hit it so hard that this crash that we just had and it was inevitable and you just minted like right in the middle.

Phillip: [00:19:13] What timing.

Brian: [00:19:14] Yeah. And so I love to hear your perspective on being invested in something that is a part of our future. But you're in the middle of that head to the trough of disillusionment.

Phillip: [00:19:29] Brian's shouting, he's so excited. He needs to know.

Brandon: [00:19:33] I love it.

Brian: [00:19:33] So yeah, no, I would love to just hear what you're feeling and your take as we kind of head... Are we headed further down or is are we are at the bottom right now?

Brandon: [00:19:45] Yeah, for sure. So meant for us was, geez, almost two months ago now, at this point, the beginning I think of when we all accepted a crash was upon us. And we grew, I think by like 300 people in our Discord that day alone just because people were mad. They were mad about NFTs, they were mad about Web3, they were mad at Dapper, they were mad at FLOW, they were mad at Top Shot... You name it. They were upset. But it did spark a really good conversation. A lot of what we're talking about now, like what is the value? What is it that we're really trying to do? Just a lot of interesting things that we still continue to talk about as well. So I think a couple of things come to mind. One is we were talking about pre-show sort of I was saying how much I love newsletters, you guys included. So one of my favorites is called The Milk Road and it's really just an everyday understanding of Web3 for people. And so they talked about a couple of weeks ago this sort of like three phases of the bear market crypto winter that we're now definitely in. And so phase one was sort of that like the rumblings, you're hearing some things you're starting to feel you get a little, little pit in your stomach, a little uneasiness, a little queasiness. Thinking about this, the fun might be coming to an end soon. Phase two is, oh, there are some ramifications from this. This is definitely happening. Luna was definitely the tipping point of that for sure. Now Three Arrows and some other fallouts that are beginning to happen from there. And I think we're about squarely in the middle of phase two. We've still got more to come in phase two. Phase three is the bloodshed. That is the absolute like a lot of companies are going to go away. A lot of founders are going to go back to day jobs, maybe not forever, but definitely is the end of the good times. Now that said, I think that what I'm not maybe not excited for, but I think that [00:21:48] the good point of all of this is that there are builders. There are people that are true entrepreneurs that came out of the housing market crash in 2008. Airbnb and several other companies as well, where we'll build things that also have value. Part of what hype is is that it's taking advantage of people having stimulus money and other just money to spend. It is really what contributes to the hype. So now it's going to be if you're building, you really have to have to build value and something that also generates revenue and monetizes on its own without that hype, basically. So I think that's what we're definitely focused on and what we're trying to do right now, not just selling people things, but really offering value before you try and sell them something and building community from that as well because those are the strongest communities are ones that proselytize you to other people because they're shouting about the value that you offer to them. [00:22:47]

Phillip: [00:22:48] And I think that's where I'd like to kind of take us back to what you guys did at Stadium Goods. There was a really interesting way that you gave back to that community, the people that have been investing in helping build community with you. Tell us a little bit about that event that you had.

Brandon: [00:23:06] Yeah. So we really wanted to give everyone something. We really wanted for there to be immediate value. So we had really big plans of a lot of things that we were going to be giving away and had priced everything out. We were just about ready to hit go and of course, the market crashed out and we didn't have a full sellout. We still, again, netted out a really great community and a little bit of a treasury that's allowed us to path forward. But we had to adjust. Luckily, our grand prize flying two people and a plus one if they chose out to New York for the event and then ultimately giving them each $5,000 to shop at Stadium Goods, we'd already secured that with Stadium Goods. Dapper Labs was sponsoring, so we're still able to deliver upon that. We're still doing a bunch of T-shirts and socks and collectible cards, physical ones, and things like that as well, which is a whole other task of how do you set up like basically a Shopify store but with wallet connectivity so people can actually claim those? Maybe that's a conversation for another time. We're now just about set up with all that stuff, but so once we tracked down our two users, one was in Australia, we planned for international, we're like, I bet we get somebody from Australia. Sure enough, we sure did. But really, really gracious about the whole thing. Another guy came out from LA with his wife and what was really interesting is that both of them are familiar with sneakers, and have friends that are sneakerheads. Maybe they used to be into sneakers back in the day but weren't nearly as caught up as say Phil and I are, and so even in Stadium Goods day of was just so much fun to just like share my passion and like walk around the store like I was a sales associate just telling them about the history behind various colorways or certain models. And the wife was asking, she got a couple of pairs, so what would be good for her? And thinking about my fiancee and my daughter and the things that they're into and again, the general trends that I read up on. So it was really that's where we sit at is again this intersection of Web3 and sneakers and how to help both communities kind of understand the value and the passion that's shared between the two communities.

Brian: [00:26:59] You were rolling in the deep, to bring it back to Adele.

Phillip: [00:27:04] {laughter} Wow. Freaking Brian.

Brian: [00:27:05] I've been waiting to work an Adele reference, and I'll get another one in at some point.

Phillip: [00:27:12] When she walked in, she'd go, "Hello?"

Brian: [00:27:15] I almost pulled that one earlier, but it just felt too cheesy.

Phillip: [00:27:20] One of the stories you told me a couple of weeks ago, Brandon, was you said there was like a very different way that the two folks who had that give away sort of like realized it. The one was like, "I'm going to buy a whole bunch for a bunch of buddies." And another guy was like, "Do I go for my grails?" And I thought that that was such an interesting expression of the ways that people think about those kinds of opportunities in their life. It really is highly dependent on your context and what you're bringing to it. How do I share this moment with other people or how do I maximize the value of this moment for something that I could never achieve on my own? I think that's like extremely human. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about how those sort of choices played out.

Brandon: [00:28:07] So our winner from Australia really struggled. Literally had to go take a smoke break in the middle of everything because he was so stressed out, which was really amazing. And, you know, he wanted... For him in Australia, another way to think about it, Phil, which maybe we didn't talk about, is that the pairs that are considered sort of like GRs or a little more accessible. The military black Jordan 4s had just come out. Not a crazy pair to get kind of like the not average everyday Jordans but just a little bit harder to get. But if you really want them, you can definitely get your hands on them and probably not have to pay resale for them. But in Australia, they get a much smaller amount of those things. And not only that but their proximity to China and Japan has Asian especially resale buyers snapping those things up basically. So they are a lot harder for him to get, basically. And so for him, it was really maximizing everyday pairs that he could wear because he was the one that was a little bit more into sneakers, really into basketball. Literally, his handle's NBAJamAUS, which is amazing.

Brian: [00:29:17] Nice.

Brandon: [00:29:19] So it was how can I maximize this for my everyday uses? Because I'm never going to get this opportunity again. But he kept kind of coming back to, when I was walking him through, we were talking about the Jordan 1s and I was like, "Well, these are the ones that I own. So these are the ones that mean a lot to me." And so we talked a lot about the Union Jordan 1s specifically and I'm a big, I'm a sucker for storytelling. And so the fact that they took this kind of idea around people bootlegging shoes back in the day, that's kind of why this upper is kind of stitched to the bottom. And that's what it looks like. But taking the classic colorways of the Storm Blue or the Classic Chicago colorway is amazing to me. And I think the execution was absolutely phenomenal and then set Union up on this path of this incredible run that they've had on some really great releases. And it's a sneaker that I, man, I remember I was in Europe a couple of years ago with my fiance and they had just been released and I'd been eyeing them. And the price just kept going up. And I thought for sure it was going to fall down at some point and then it just hit up again. And finally, I think that's when I pulled the trigger on them and they've continued to climb in value as well. And so but for him, I forget what they're going for, three grand or something like that now, it's just an astronomical... For anybody. Let's be real. It's an astronomical amount of money to spend on sneakers. And so it was just really hard for him to think about spending that amount on one pair of sneakers. And so the sales associate and I finally convinced him, it's not your money. Like just go for it. This is the one opportunity you're going to get. You may pull the trigger on some of those other pairs, but this is your one opportunity to really go for it. So f*ck it, just do it, you know. And so that ultimately is what he decided as well. And I think he's really happy with that decision. I don't know if he's taken them out of the box yet. But hey, he owns them and that's the thing.

Brian: [00:31:13] It's really interesting. Do you wear those or do you not wear those? That's I mean, that's the conundrum that every single sneakerhead faces. But for someone like that, that's like he was focused on the everyday, it's still a collector's item if you wear it. In fact, I would almost argue that it's more a collectoresque to wear it. But that's my opinion. I don't know.

Brandon: [00:31:42] Yeah, I think it's also it's a memory of you won this opportunity, this once-in-a-lifetime thing. And I think, Phil, maybe it was you who said this like are you going to remember... And we can talk about the second user. But are you going to remember ten pairs or are you going to remember one pair specifically from this event? And so I think that's an interesting way to look at the second winner who from the outset had his brother, his I guess he had been in Vegas a couple of days before. And so one of his best friends was just giving him a history on what to look out for and that kind of thing. And yet this user specifically is a huge Kobe fan. Literally, Mamba is in his username. And so he had his mind set on a pair of Kobe's. And so he ended up with the Grinches, which is also not a cheap pair of shoes, $1000, $1500, something like that that they're going for right now. And for him, he put them on immediately. Like this is what he came for. This is what he wanted. To me, that's a Christmas shoe. I love that sneaker. I also own that sneaker. But that's a Christmas sneaker. Didn't care. I think he's been wearing them. I think he's been wearing them almost every day since as well. He's been sharing a bunch of photos in the Discord, which is amazing because to me, Brian, you asked, do you wear those sneakers or not? I just made a decision early on in my sneaker collecting. I'm going to wear everything. That's the collector that I'm going to be. And so the second I... It's a problem. The second I get them, I usually like first I spray them. I got a whole routine of how to protect my sneakers. But after that, they go straight to toe almost immediately. But yeah, I think for him that was his main pair. He ended up getting there's a pair of pigeon dunks which designer Jeff Staple did specifically for New York. This was the second version. There's an original version which is super, super limited, and costs like 50 grand right now. But this current version, I think, is also$ 600 and $700, something like that. And that was, I think mostly it for him. The rest was filling it out for his friends and family and things like that. But I think to Phil's question, even if he had ten pairs, he probably only has two others at home. So for Phil or I, ten out of 200 or 400 or however many sneakers we have, that's really not that many, but 10 out of 12, that's your whole damn collection.

Phillip: [00:34:02] That's the whole thing. It's the whole thing. It changes the whole perspective of what it means to you, not just by volume, but the experience that is wrapped around how you came to get them, which you and I both know is like that's a whole part of the sneaker culture. And there's a community there's more community experience around that now than it has ever been. And that's such an interesting way that you're bringing it to your own community. Let's shift gears a little bit. Let's talk a little bit about the infrastructure of you building your business because you're building your business in a new way and in an environment right now and I think, infrastructure-wise, the way that you build your business is built on new technology. Let's talk a little bit about how you made some of those decisions and what your past experience as an entrepreneur helped to inform you of how you went about building this new company.

Brandon: [00:35:04] Sure. Yeah. So I mean, it's been a windy road as it is for many. So technically, this business started summer of 2019. I'd been working on it off and on for a little while. I finally had a prototype that was good enough to get us into Snapchat. They have an accelerator program called Yellow. So Summer of 2019 was really the official start of the business. What's crazy to me is that by the end of that year... That product was not great. It definitely lacked a lot of, I think, the technology ultimately why we're building on Web3. But one of the reasons why we struggled to raise money at the end of that program was every almost every investor said, "Community is dead. No one cares about community." Then, of course, COVID hits and that's all everybody cares about and all everybody talks about. but one of the big things that was lacking for us was, again, I was telling Brian this, I used to call them digital assets and I had no idea kind of thinking about the gamification of sneaker collecting. And you can go back to a little bit of your question or what you're kind of bringing up before, Phil, of like the idea of sneaker collecting and who a sneaker collector is has really grown tremendously. So I kind of laugh about this, but back in 2017, when I first had the idea and I was talking to a VC that I know pretty well, he literally asked me, "What is a sneakerhead?" And I kind of cringed a little bit in the moment. But now that question kind of haunts me a little bit because we think we have an idea. But look at us. Like between just you and I, Phil, like two very different guys. You're down in Florida. I'm up here in New York. We're roughly the same age, and definitely the same shoe size. Most people probably think of a young 20 year old kid that would you would consider a sneakerhead. But sneakers have been outselling heels for women, I think since like 2017, or 2018. So especially post-COVID when we're all like Team Cozy, just wanting to be comfortable. And I definitely think that that idea of who a collector is has changed quite a bit. So in thinking about that, as more people are coming into the culture and of course the resell platforms have made that significantly easier just to buy sneakers, that idea of a grail that's a whole other conversation around it should mean something that's just truly unfathomable to obtain. And now it just means like, "Oh, I think it's really cool."

Phillip: [00:37:26] {laughter} As I spent more money than I should. That's what that means today.

Brandon: [00:37:32] But so what that means is that [00:37:34] you have a lot of new people coming into the community who don't necessarily have the full context of the culture, basically. So I think that that's a lot of what I've been thinking about and really how to carry that forth. So the original idea of the platform was really built on data and information, [00:37:50] so when you're on Instagram, for example, and you're searching for let's even just a Yeezy, you're going to see his kids at a fashion event. You're going to see a new car that he's coming out with. You're going to see him still lamenting about the divorce, all kinds of different things before you even get to the sneaker, let alone the specific model that you're looking for. So I'm just a huge data nerd. Like Phil said, everything behind me is organized by like brands, model, colorway, year of release, designer, or whatever other useless information I have in my head about sneakers. So that's sort of like organization is really what we were bringing. So still, again, the original version was showcasing photos of your sneakers, but with all this metadata sort of built-in to be able to find what you're actually looking for or to be able to easily post what you actually had. But definitely again was looking at, okay, but where is sneaker collecting going? And I think also there are people that take amazing photos of their sneakers, and then there are those like me that have really no artistic ability whatsoever. And I try, but it's not so great. And so but you see these same people, even people like me that are posting on Instagram every single day, and they're lucky if they get 100 likes per photo. So to me what that says is that they want to be part of the culture, they want to be part of the community, but the algorithms and everything else just really isn't allowing them to do that. So that's really kind of where we started. And I think what Web3 really allows us to do is to have all of that information on the chain. And really also we have a lot of people right now that, it's easy to buy your way into the culture as well. If you've got the money, you can go buy up all the sneakers that I have. But I take pride in the fact that I very rarely pay top dollar for my sneakers. I hunt out a deal, always have, always will. And so I can tell you when I bought specific sneakers, how long I've really been in the culture as well. And again, there's nothing wrong with if you just kind of came into it and you're just figuring it out. That's part of your story as well. And so I think that all having all of that provenance information on the chain as well is also just really interesting. And in terms of understanding where a sneaker came from, you know, like if you own, for example, a 1985 Jordan 1, that's worth a significant amount of money. But if it was game-worn, it's worth significantly more money, right? So all of that can be tracked on the blockchain. I think bringing all of that in is what helps to again, bring together the community with the culture in which it exists and how that doesn't get lost as well.

Phillip: [00:40:23] What's next for you guys? You mentioned before, there's certainly an element of community amongst other Web3 founders. For instance, when I asked you about how you even got the hook up to be able to do an event at Stadium Goods, you just pointed back to the fact that well, man, it's just serendipity. There are people that are part of this community that have hookups and connections that helped me get there. What's next for SNKRHUD and what is the infrastructure of the rails that you think are going to power it?

Brandon: [00:41:06] Yeah. So a couple of things. I mean, like, yeah, the community on both sides is incredible, right? That's why I'm here. It's because Phil and I talk about sneakers all the time. Or I've picked up a couple of pairs for him as well. But Stadium Goods came together because I'm part of another DAO, another community called Friends With Benefits that's sort of a mixture of cultural related people involved in Web3, a lot of artists and musicians, a lot of builders and entrepreneurs like myself as well. And literally, somebody offered up, "Hey, I think what you're doing is really interesting. I work at Farfetch. Our brand Stadium Goods is doing some really cool things and they're interested in learning more about Web3. Can I connect you?" To which I said a bajillion percent I'm ready for this conversation the second you send it through. Part of that is also just being ready to your question before as well, Phil. This is not my first go around. I'm a seasoned entrepreneur. I certainly don't know everything, haven't seen the highest of successes by any means. But I am an entrepreneur, through and through for sure. And so it's being able to have those conversations. And I think that that's where, again, we're talking about sort of that phase three that's coming of the crypto winter. Unfortunately, a lot of these NFT projects were really cool and had really great ideas for roadmaps, but most of them it's their first job at DreamWorks or Activision or Blizzard or something like that. And so they really don't know what it means to build the business and to create revenue streams and longevity of a business as well. And so I kind of said it pre-show, I'll say it again, I think that [00:42:46] this is the time that will determine are you a true entrepreneur or not? And even if you fail, that's okay. That's part of being an entrepreneur. But really having the fortitude to stick it out, I think is one of the biggest learnings that I've had from company one to company two now. [00:43:03] So I think just to wrap it up, like sort of where we're at now, as I mentioned this before, but looking at value for our "customers" isn't the right word. "Users" isn't even the right word. "Investors" isn't the right word. We're still trying to figure it out. But for our community, rather. Before I can really bring, I think, DED stock to market both for the sneaker community and for NFT purchasers, we need to provide more value, especially on FLOW. FLOW is a really nascent chain. There's a lot more. They just opened up permissionless building. So you no longer need to kind of go through the guardrails of FLOW. It really is becoming more decentralized. They're also bringing the FLOW token to the chain. It's a really, really, really phenomenal chain. Packy McCormick is one of the leaders in the Web3 space, wrote a really great paid article, but very long read on FLOW, which I highly recommend. It's called Blockchain for Normies. I highly recommend everybody read it, spend the time on it. It's all the reasons why I'm bullish on the chain. But [00:44:08] we need a lot more infrastructure. We need a lot more tools and features. A great explanation of, I think, Web3 as a whole that I heard recently was it's sort of like a vending machine, where sort of like as a consumer, you don't care how it actually works in the back end. You just want your chips, your candy or your soda, or whatever. That's where we are with Web3 is we're still talking a lot about how it works and how to make it function. And and really, it should just be better, faster, easier for for all the consumers. So I think that the next 6 to 9 months, many others, us included, are focusing on that, are focusing on the tools, the infrastructure that are going to make this more valuable for users so that when the second round comes, hopefully top of next year, we're ready for you. [00:44:56] We're going to spend all that new stimulus money that's coming out, all those new raises you've got from being promoted, and everything else.

Phillip: [00:45:05] Well, as Adele would say, "Rumor has it" as you are building we will definitely have you back. Listen, this is certainly the beginning of your story, and it's nowhere near the complete story. But it's an honor to have you on the show right here at the outset. I'm excited to learn more. Can't wait to hear what happens in that long, steady build. And I do think that you're spot on in so many regards about having to have the stomach for entrepreneurship through the ups and downs and certainly having to stick it out through the harder times. Well, I can't wait to have you back. Loved having you on the show. It's always great to have a friend on. Where can we point people to go get involved?

Brandon: [00:45:52] We're at SNKRHUD across most platforms. If you want to see some of the value that we're bringing, maybe we can talk about it next time, but FLOW Score is a rarity tool that we recently launched for our community we are actively onboarding more projects from the FLOW ecosystem. So FLOWscoreNFT.com Or just FLOWscoreNFT across most platforms. You can find us there. Super, super early but really excited about, I think, the value that we're going to bring to the community. And then I'm @BMart on Instagram and proudly washed because I'm old and I'm happy to be on Twitter.

Phillip: [00:46:33] I love it. BMart. Well, thank you so much for joining us.

Brian: [00:46:36] Thank you.

Phillip: [00:46:36] And thank you so much for listening and tuning in to Future Commerce. Commerce is a catalyst for change in whose world? Your world, the world around you. And maybe one day we can use it to change the world. Thank you for listening to Future Commerce.

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