The most recent web3 bull run provided a short-lived and, ultimately, unsustainable growth spurt for NFTs as a concept, nonetheless it gave us a glimpse of the potential use cases for NFTs such as in digital art, collectibles, community membership, and gaming, as well as the potential benefits of NFTs for artists, creators, and consumers alike.
From improved monetization opportunities to automated royalties and increased direct engagement with fans, the possibilities are exciting.
For consumers, NFTs can provide access to exclusive communities, as well as the ability to participate in the financial upside of their favorite brands and creators. They also offer the power of "proof of passion," allowing individuals to verify their early adoption of a cultural trend for the purpose of building social clout and signaling.
The next wave of NFT use cases will be driven by utility, cultural significance and status signaling rather than speculation
Undoubtedly, we’re still in the early days of NFTs and their use cases, and the industry will continue to evolve in ways difficult to predict from the depths of a crypto winter. However, we believe that their utility will vastly increase as digital and physical experiences are built around them, including wallet experiences, social networks, social feeds, games, virtual worlds, and physical items and exclusive events. The use cases will expand to things we can't even contemplate now. But, one thing we are betting on is that the next wave of NFT use cases will be more driven by utility, cultural significance, and status signaling rather than pure speculation.
Spotlight on Fashion and Culture
Why do we believe NFTs to be such as critical part of culture? Largely because of the power of community and social signaling. The same reason consumers hop on the next fashion trend. For self-expression. To showcase personal style. To signal wealth and status. Or to fit into a certain group or community. Culture and status signaling is a part of the social fabric of society. NFTs can serve as the digital extension of an individual's social identity.
This is why we believe NFT use cases will emerge around culture and communities, where the NFT can serve as a status symbol that a consumer is part of a community. If you think about it, the most prominent communities culturally (beyond ethnicity and religion) are sports, music and art, and fashion. This is where NFTs will have their ‘technology-market-fit’ moment.
The NFTs ‘proof of passion’ feature allows the owner to prove early adoption of a cultural trend (or joining a community) for the purpose of building clout and social signaling. NFTs can serve as an immutable record of coolness that can 1) show an individual was early to a trend, liking an artist, following a brand, or having a passion, and 2) provides the ability for the public to see who has owned the NFT prior to you or is also in the NFT community that you are a member of i.e., “I own an NFT that Snoop Dogg once owned.”
There is a reason many leading global brands have jumped on the web3 bandwagon as they have started to realize the potential for consumer and brand engagement, especially in high-end fashion, where brand prestige and status signaling are key. For example, Nike, Adidas, Gucci, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana are all running full steam ahead with their own fashion NFT collections.
However, for this reality to play out, there needs to be a vastly improved user experience to attract mainstream adoption and not just crypto enthusiasts. The current user experience for purchasing NFTs presents a number of issues for mainstream adoption in terms of both technical, financial, and social barriers.
The current process of buying NFTs is highly complex. 100 clicks and multiple platforms to get started, > 30 minutes to make your first purchase, and on top of this, lacks the social functionality required to ensure utility and allow for social signaling. Any web3 enthusiasts who have tried to purchase an NFT on Opensea will be familiar with these pain points in the buying process. With the current user experience, how are NFTs, and web3 by extension, ever going to hit mainstream adoption?
Enter OWND: the platform for investing in Fashion NFTs
The talented founders Anker and Mads are solving the core user experience issues for interacting with the emerging decentralized ecosystem of digital assets.
They are solving the core UX problems for allowing investment into culture. With OWND, it is possible to invest in fashion NFTs without understanding crypto.
OWND's transformative ability lies in abstracting away the complexity of the existing purchasing experience by lowering the technical, financial, and social barriers to purchasing, trading, and collecting NFTs.
They have simplified the management of a non-custodial wallet by allowing for log-in with 2FA, aggregation of NFT liquidity from major NFT marketplaces, hiding the complexity of understanding gas fees, and enabling purchasing through user-friendly payment options such as Apple pay.
Using OWND, fashion enthusiasts and sneakerheads can now purchase, trade, and collect fashion NFTs, including physical items (where the digital NFT is redeemable for the physical object it represents) from leading brands such as Nike, Adidas Originals, Gucci, Prada, to name a few. And they are just getting started.
We largely believe that, in the long term, the adoption of culture-focused NFTs will be driven by the internet-native Gen Z as NFTs eventually become a core part of their digital and social identity.
As Gen Z founders, Anker and Mads are well-positioned to unlock the social relevance and utility of NFTs with a deep understanding of both emerging Gen Z internet trends and the world of crypto/web3. We couldn't think of a better founder market fit. They are crypto-native Gen Z building for mainstream Gen Z.
OWND is focused on being the go-to platform for trading and consuming culture
OWND’s long-term vision is to build the verticalized wallet for trading and consuming culture. Starting with fashion as their primary industry to tackle, but can eventually expand to allow access to music, art, and sports NFTs.
They are positioned to capture this opportunity by reimagining the crypto wallet experience. Crypto wallets serve as the access layer for interacting with web3 applications and have a high potential for value accrual by reducing the technical, financial, and social barriers to trading and consuming culture. And so far, the existing wallet experiences present massive UX barriers hindering mainstream adoption of crypto applications.
We are very excited to have co-led this round with Skyfall and participation from SteelDAO Bessemer Venture Partners’ Web3 scout program as well as top crypto angels Alex Larsen (Sky Mavis), Alex Nabutovsky (Quicknode), Simon Ousager (founder and CEO of our portfolio company, Januar), Einer Braaaten (CoinFund), Seth Ginns (CoinFund).
We look forward to seeing what the future will bring for this stellar team as they onboard the next generation of users to be able to invest in culture.