Aped (Series), Intro

An anthology of what projects I’ve “aped” into and why

Kumo Resident #0047

If you’ve spend any amount of time on NFT Twitter, you likely see the acronym “DYOR” on a daily basis. Maybe it’s just me, however, it would seem that a lot of the time we in the NFT community ape into upcoming projects without doing our own research, oftentimes driven by FOMO. In an attempt to move away from this habit and to justify the purchases in my portfolio, I am creating the “Aped” series: an anthology of sorts where I will catalogue my NFT purchases along with the reasons as to why I “aped” into the projects.

Before the series truly commences, I’d like to cover the basic strategy and framework I use when assessing projects. It’s important to note that I do not consider myself a “flipper” (someone that buys and sells NFTs for quick turnaround profits) — I got into this space so that I could learn and contribute as much as possible during these early days of web3 innovation. This framework, therefore, is not a model for financial success via NFTs, but one that helps ensure I’m joining an endeavor that I’ll enjoy and will provide me the most opportunity to learn and engage.

At a high-level, I assess projects based on 3 criteria:

I. The Team

II. The Roadmap

III. Community & Culture

The methods through which I investigate these criteria are all free and easy to use — Twitter, Discord, OpenSea and, of course, Google. There are also plenty of great tools and services that are extremely valuable, such as icy.tools and Nansen, however I have not opted to pay for these subscriptions just yet. At the end of this article, I’ll post links for the many resources I utilize as well as Twitter handles for the “influencers” that I like to keep up with.

Now, to the framework…

I. The Team

Founders, creators and developers

https://thingdoms.io/#team
The wonderful Thingdoms team — doxxed

As the saying goes in crypto, “follow the devs” applies to NFTs projects and DAOs just the same. Being that literally everything about the blockchain and blockchain technologies requires some form of technical know-how, it’s important that the devs have an idea of what they’re doing. But how can you know that they are legit?

For starters, it’s imperative that the team has “doxxed” themselves, or made their identities known at some level. I’m not looking for an address and resume or anything, but it’s important that even team members using “anon” handles at least provide some background that showcases their chops. By providing their identity, whether IRL or digital, they are laying out their reputation and will likely do whatever they can in order for the project to succeed.

Although there are other attributes that can make a team extraordinary — I can’t help but think of the marketing wizardry of Thingdoms — those qualities are icing on the cake to the dev team. Follow the devs.

II. The Vision & Strategy

AKA, The Roadmap

As a product manager, I tend to gravitate toward this aspect of NFT projects. It’s somewhat of an art to lay out a beautiful strategy, so when I see a great one, I am verrrry close to aping in. Of course, ones idea of a “great” strategy will vary based on whomever you ask, however, in my experience I boil it down to this:

A grand, ambitious and seemingly unachievable vision paired with logical, achievable objectives that can be measured by quantifiable key-results.

At the foundation of any project is its vision for the future. Is the project aiming to achieve something not in existence today? Are they doing something different that will stretch the team and community to be a better version of themselves? This doesn’t have to be some grand philosophical thing, it can be about a hobby you’re passionate about. Take the vision statement from the LinksDao project, for example:

Even without any experience in golf, by reading the LinksDAO vision you know what it is they want to achieve and how they’ll measure success. Clearly the first of its kind project with a daunting road ahead, but you can feel the passion behind it. Beautiful. (I minted a LinksDAO leisure pass even though I am not a golfer…).

III. Community & Culture

Community and culture is often cited as the foundation of a sound project, yet they are tricky attributes to pinpoint. The problem is, many will go on and on about community without really knowing what the community is rallying around. If you can’t define what the community is trying to accomplish, the culture of the project is likely defined by the floor price — one of the flimsiest foundations in the NFT space you can find.

In order for a project to last, there has to be a real reason for people to come together. Although NFT projects tend to (loosely) follow the DAO model, making them essentially allergic to any form of “top-down” processes, culture still stems from the founding team (or… the “top”). I can’t help but use Kumo x World as an example here. Kumo, the creator of Kumo x World, designed the project to drive creative engagement and has consistently pushed back on any talk of floor price:

Kumo lays the smack down

Kumo has spent a lot of time creating a friendly, inclusive environment that people of all ages can engage in. By actively engaging with the community with positivity and clearly stating her objectives, she has ensured that it will stay that way. The above message came during the midst of a meteoric rise in popularity of Kumo x World — I can’t imagine she’s unhappy about the floor price hitting ATHs every time she wakes up, but based on her statements we can know it’s definitely not the priority.

Floors can change in an instant, culture and community (for better or for worse) are etched into the DNA.

You may have noticed I left out art. Of course art is important, especially if you are buying based on style! However, I believe a projects longevity has much more to do with the ability of the team to pull together a solid community who is willing to work together to create impactful utility rather than a cool PFP. Nifty art can draw you in, but the team, community and a collective vision and strategies will make you stay. In the upcoming Aped series, I’ll refer to art in more detail — I, for instance, tend to gravitate to the nostalgia that pixel art can provoke in me (e.g. Anonymice and Kaiju Kingz). Others, however, may prefer the “cuter” art that Doodles and Cool Cats embody. Whatever your preference, it is my belief that these projects will last not because of the art, but because of what that art has come to represent.

As mentioned earlier, these are the attributes I’m looking out for when assessing projects I’d like to take part in, not ones that assure me of financial gain. With that said, if I am successful in selecting projects that will last the long term I would hope that would also correlate with financial success as well. Because the results of my framework are yet to be determined, I’ll try to CYA and leave you with some of the most common phrases in the NFT space:

Not Financial Advice. Do Your Own Research…. wagmi… gn.

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product manager by day. web3 wanderer by night.

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product manager by day. web3 wanderer by night.

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