Who Knows? It Might Just Work
Scott D. Clary | Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship
Here is my weekly email with some insights and ideas pulled from conversations I had on my podcast.
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Who Knows? It Might Just Work
When the telephone was first patented in the late 1800s, it got laughed out of town by one of the biggest industry players – Western Union – after they described it as 'nothing more than a toy'. Now, we refer to Alexander Graham Bell as the Father of Modern Communication.
It's funny to think that a company the size of Western Union missed out on their most lucrative opportunity because they refused to keep an open mind. You might say they were acting out of self-preservation – and maybe you're right. But look what they lost in the process.
And of course, the telephone was just one out of many, many examples where a world-changing invention was met with skepticism before it became the norm. Cars were called a 'novelty' and a 'fad' by a man who later bought shares in Ford. An American radio show said commercial television was an impossibility.
Point is, we've turned our noses up at some pretty crucial inventions throughout history – and who says we've stopped? History repeats itself, doesn't it?
One of my recent Success Story guests, Edul Patel, made me rethink some of the latest crypto fads with his interesting take on digital assets. Let's take a look.
Edul Patel, Mudrex, and the Changing NFT Landscape
Edul Patel is the Co-founder & CEO of Mudrex, a Y Combinator-backed crypto startup with over 100k users and 20m AUM. Their aim? To take the laborious research and decision-making out of crypto investments so that anyone can get started with a simple click.
"Over the course of the last few years, the number one problem for retail investors was too many choices. They wanted to really create long term wealth, but there were just too many tokens coming in, and this coming in, and that coming in – and as a result, they weren't able to find products to invest in. That's where Mudrex comes in."
Edul brings with him over 10 years of experience deep-rooted in finance, entrepreneurship, and building tech-driven applications. If you're interested in hearing about his business and the crypto space as a whole, here's what we talked about:
- Edul's origin story and how Mudrex got started
- How Edul solved the security component, and why YC chose Mudrex
- How he differentiated Mudrex in terms of trust
(You can hear all about it in the full interview – I highly recommend a listen!)
Before long, we got onto the subject of the latest technology trends: Metaverse, NFTs, Web3.0, and more. Things got interesting as I started to realize – have I been underestimating the potential of these technologies?
What's Sticking Around in the Long-Term?
I'll be honest – when it comes to some of the latest fads, like Mark Zuckerberg's magical metaverse land where everyone hangs out in VR, I'm a bit of a skeptic.
I'm not a party crasher or anything. To be honest, I do see some utility in all these things; I appreciate the people attempting to make content creation more profitable for artists, or to create more secure ways to store our data.
When it comes to things like NFTs and virtual land, though, I'm a little stumped. Millions of dollars for a picture someone made in ten minutes? Is that what we do now?
Edul is someone who's incredibly active in the crypto space, so I was eager to hear his thoughts and predictions on what's here to stay (and what's going to kick the bucket).
"I think the theme will stay, but the players will change. So NFTs will be there, but the current projects within NF Ts might change; Metaverse will be there, but the current popular projects within Metaverse will change. And in fact, I shouldn't say might – they most likely will change, because such is life."
Interesting. Hearing Edul say this made me rethink my all-or-nothing perspective; after all, there's no doubt that the inventions themselves are solid. We've got:
- NFTs – a groundbreaking way to own and trade digital assets
- Metaverse – a virtual world that enables VR, AR, and other forms of computer-generated experiences
- Web3.0 – a decentralized web that's more secure, private, and censorship-resistant
Maybe it's the projects associated with these inventions that give people (like myself) cause to doubt.
"Ninety percent of companies that were in the S&P 500 20 years ago aren't there today, of course," Edul said, "And that's reality. The [projects] might continue to change over time, but the idea still remains.
“So Metaverse as a sector will continue to grow. NFT as a sector will continue to grow. But whether the individual constituents of NFT and Metaverse will grow or not, that's of course dependent on what those individual projects are doing."
I was interested – but Edul hadn't sold me on the future of NFTs just yet.
NFTs: Glorified Digital Art, or the Potential for More?
Now, I wouldn't consider myself ignorant when it comes to the latest trends. I understand the concept of an NFT, and I can see how it would have utility. People like Gary Vaynerchuk talk about typing NFTs to tangible objects and experiences, and there are so many other business applications to be explored.
But there's no denying that a huge part of the NFT mania is people buying HD pictures for millions of dollars, and that's where I start to get a little skeptical. Won't the lack of tangible value cause momentum to slow down before long?
Disclaimer: I’m a big fan of digital art. I think it’s awesome, and of course, incredibly valuable as a creative pursuit. It’s just strange that image-based NFTs have come to the forefront, and almost nothing else.
My NFT fanatics out there will be glad to hear that Edul was eager to set me straight.
"I genuinely think you haven't even scratched the surface of what NFTs are," he began. "NFTs are non-fungible tokens; a token that's unique. If you look at our real world, there are actually more things that are unique than there are generic."
Edul went on to explain that, in fact, most of the things we tie to our identity are unique. Authors write unique books and put their names on the front. Jobseekers write a unique resume based on their own unique experiences.
Our organizations are unique. Our property is unique. Our identities and statuses are unique. The ideas that come out of our heads – unique. I started to see where this was going.
"Today, the only unique thing that we've gotten set up in the NFT world is essentially art. So we're literally looking at one small part that actually doesn't affect the vast majority of people."
It makes you wonder – how much of our perception is shaped by the majority? All of it, probably, since I can't disconnect the word 'NFT' from 'digital art' in my head. I was keen to research into some innovative applications of NFTs (preferably something other than images) to see if I'd change my tune.
Since NFTs have been intertwined with the exchanging of digital artworks and the purchasing of crypto coins, most of us haven't considered the possibility that – maybe – NFTs don't need to be transferred. Who says an NFT needs to build value by being sold?
What if we use NFTs to represent our values and achievements instead? That's the idea behind soul-bound tokens, a concept introduced in the research paper called Decentralized Society: Finding Web3’s Soul.
A soulbound token (SBT) is a permanent non-fungible that, once tied to your identity, can never be sold or transferred. Your passport might get stored as an SBT, for instance, or your MBA from Harvard.
"All the things that we felt were unique goods or services in the real world will probably continue to move towards the internet and the digital world via this route," Edul said.
In my travels, I also read about an incredibly cool project called HumanDAO. The team behind it is building a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that aims to connect disadvantaged and underrepresented groups with opportunities to learn, work, and grow.
One of the ways they're doing this is by making NFTs available to companies looking to outsource simple PA tasks, like data entry, research, and other administrative work.
NFT holders can unlock a certain number of 30-minute PA intervals per week – they're called 'energy bars' – and after unlocking one, a PA (Pocket Assistant) is automatically assigned the task. The pay is fair, and both parties win. I love it.
Ever been the victim of a good old-fashioned domain swipe? It's pretty rough to find out your website's been suspended because someone decided to buy your domain out from under you.
Unstoppable Domains, an innovative company founded by Matthew Gould, is working on a solution. They're building .crypto domains that live on the blockchain and can never be taken down.
It's simple – you purchase a lifetime claim on the domain of your choice, and it becomes a non-fungible URL in your name. No registration expiry dates, no hosting fees, and no need to worry about losing your site to a squatter.
Why Perspective Matters
It was such a relief to see how many uses people are finding for non-fungible tech. Honestly, I'd begun to think that the innovative potential had gone to waste; in reality, we'd just been too focused on which celebrity bought which Bored Ape.
"Think of it like this," Edul said. "Pets.com went bust in 2000. But there is an entire gamut of online pet companies now that are thriving and growing rapidly, right? So it's not necessarily that the first iteration should work out."
Maybe, then, the best is yet to come for NFTs. If so, I'm excited to see where the non-fungibles take us.
"The smartest minds of our generation today are saying that the world fundamentally needs to change if we want to move more towards the internet. Web3 is all about capturing, attributing and transferring value for the value that individuals are trying to create."
Bring It In
So, how does all of this circle back to what I was saying earlier? About the TVs and the telephones and the 'novelty' automobiles? I guess my conversation with Edul prompted me to think about the ideas we might be too quick to write off.
It's not about the first iteration – that's just the idea. It's the rosebud. Allow yourself to see the potential behind that first iteration, though, and you open yourself up to some truly incredible possibilities.
Hopefully we're all feeling a bit more inspired now to give new things a chance. Whether it's an unproven technology or a business model that's yet to be perfected, who knows? It might just work.
Don't forget to check out Edul Patel's full interview. I love his passion for the future of crypto technology and I know you'll enjoy his proactive energy.
Thanks for reading!
Success Story Podcast
If you like the content in this newsletter, I host a Top 10 Business podcast, (with over 20m downloads) called “Success Story”, where I interview entrepreneurs, executives and other high performing individuals so you can learn lessons and insights from the world-renowned leaders.
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