#221: Going to Market with Utility Wen

PLUS: 📊 Safary's State of Web3 Growth Tech report

It’s been a while since I’ve done a segment on a new NFT project that piqued my interest. The dust kicked up from all the 2021-2022 hype has settled, novel growth and marketing mechanics are popping up less often (the space is maturing and bringing in some standard best practices from other industries), and larger players/brands are building quietly in the background.

Similar to others that are still active in the NFT space, I’ve become more picky with what NFTs I mint or purchase off the secondary market. The collective bar of what is ‘interesting’ has risen, even from a speculative POV, and that’s good.

One project has met this bar recently, and that’s Utility Wen. Most details are still limited but are supposedly being revealed today. I purchased a few from the collection to stay close to the storyline, while keeping my expectations even-keeled.

So…What is Utility Wen and why is it interesting to TPan?

Utility Wen’s last tweet

First of all, the Utility Wen Twitter account announced that they will be deleting all tweets prior to August 1st and reveal the new account handle and name afterward. Because of this, I will only provide screenshots from the account, links will break.

This tweet alone is notable:

  • The account handle and account name will update to the actual brand name

  • All prior tweets will be deleted to provide a clean slate for the actual brand the collection will be under

  • There will be no more mention of NFTs after the August 1 reveal

This is effectively a rebrand for a collection that just minted out 5 weeks ago (mint opened on June 24th), and it’s all part of the plan.

The decision to omit the mention of NFTs (and I’m assuming web3, crypto, and blockchain) after the reveal also shows that the team has their sights set on an audience much larger than just NFT enthusiasts.

Also, the temporary project name of Utility Wen pokes fun at the NFT community and their precious JPEGs. There was a period of time last year when there were numerous debates and conversations around the topic of utility.

Now that we’re in the depths of the JPEG bear market, we can agree that these are first and foremost digital collectibles. They can do more than that and there are plenty of examples of it.

“Wen utility?” Maybe soon. Maybe down the road. Maybe never.

Back to the Twitter account — Why have no changes been made to the Twitter account yet? Might be due to logistical issues, maybe it’s part of the plan, or it’s possible that this is one big empty promise.

Team

The last option is unlikely (at least for now) because this collection is related to The Plague, a project and community that has been around since April 2022. All things considered, any web3-native community that has survived for this long deserves some degree of respect. I haven’t been a part of The Plague’s community or held their NFTs before, but have observed their community grow and stick around over the past year.

The founder, Pons Asinorum, is known for his blunt takes which I appreciate in a sea of hype, inflated personalities, and overpromising.

A couple examples of what I mean:

Harsh but also accurate. I would frame it more as ‘tuition’, but stupidity tax has a nice painful ring to it. I’ve been there more than I’d like to admit.

Here’s another with Pons calling out services that give the impression that a project is doing well, but in reality isn’t. This has existed in various forms (inflating listener numbers on Twitter Spaces with bots or incentivization, boosting mobile install volumes to reach the top downloaded charts in the App Store, buying followers on social media, etc.), so this strategy in general is not too surprising.

Pons keeps it real, so when he is building something, it’s worth leaning in, at least a little bit.

Back to what makes it interesting

The project is clear about what they are trying to do and what they are not

In Pons fashion, Utility Wen sets expectations for the holders and early community.

The reveal process so far

The reveal process wasn’t eye-catching for the art, but the storytelling. There have been 3 parts so far.

1. After mint, the NFTs revealed one of 4 owls that laid a 💩: White, Blue, Brown, Black. Each of the owls represent a different segment of crypto/NFT community that have delivered nothing:

  • White: Larpers (Live Action Role Players) such as life coaches, self-help experts, millionaires that create content with little substance.

  • Blue: Ruggers that create projects but deliver no value

  • Brown: Scammers that create malicious websites that drain wallets, or ask for donations due to tragic events that never happened

  • Black: Influencers that pump and dump projects to their audience

Harsh, but true. And the visual representation of this is on point with owls representing wisdom but providing literal shit. Not true for everyone in the space of course. Am I a 🦉 or 💩? I’d consider myself more of a fart lol

Fortunately, owl poop is not where it ends.

Have you pooped before? If so, share or subscribe!

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2. In early July, holders had a one-week window to move their poop if they chose to. The poop fortunately ended up being a seed, phew!

Holders could choose different environments to place their seed: grass, desert, path, or rocks.

The answer for where to place the seed was obvious in hindsight, grass! However, Pons and team wanted to make a point about trusting blindly.

3. The seed’s location determined the starting Tier, which ranged from 1-4. If the location wasn’t grass, the Tier for that NFT would start at 1. However, just because a user chose the correct grass environment doesn’t mean the seed would grow similar to real life. A new ‘calamity’ trait was applied to a number of the correctly chosen ‘grass’ environments, bringing these seeds to Tier 1:

  • Earthquake

  • Locusts

  • Meteorite

  • Eaten

Holders that were lucky and prudent enough to jump through the above hoops had seeds that started at Tier 2 or higher.

They’re focused on reaching a wider audience

From various tweets over the past couple of months, Pons and Utility Wen shared that:

  • The project is cross-chain compatible in partnership with Layer Zero

  • The business backend will be on Polygon

  • By holding a NFT from the collection you are ‘buying’ the product

  • Bitcoin will play a part in this ecosystem

  • There will be a DAO component and multiple business entities involved

  • There is a 5% secondary market royalty. 0% of the royalty is going to the team, but rather the holders. Details and terms on this mechanism are TBD.

  • Utility Wen is working with We Discover, an Australian creative and experience design agency that has worked with web3 clients like Smart Token Labs and Swell, as well as traditional clients like Vodafone and Qantas.

  • The project is partnering with a…country?!

  • There will be a physical product and it will be shipping around September

  • The team will be incentivizing holders with NFTs and ETH to share and spread the brand

  • There is an element of transparency involved thanks to blockchain (eg: ‘scan this NFT’s QR code to see the cost of goods sold and the profit made by the company’). This reminds of me Everlane in the early days when they shared the true cost of their products, and have since removed that info.

Source

Well, whaddya know? Seems like the Utility Twitter account has been deleted as promised and the reveal has begun.

The Reveal

If you couldn’t tell, I am live writing (which has been my process since I’ve started this publication). The beauty of this is I occasionally get to capture moments like these!

What has Utility Wen turned into? MakingCoffee.com (referral link because I want to see how their rewards work. If the rewards end up being coffee beans I’ll gladly ship them to you since I’m lazy and drink bottled coffee, as long as you aren’t halfway around the world 😉).

What has the team revealed so far with Making Coffee:

  • Making Coffee has a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of El Salvador

  • Will use Bitcoin and blockchain to provide transparency to the coffee supply chain. This is notable because El Salvador has been crypto-friendly for a while. They were the first country to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021.

  • Introduced WenSwap, an alternative to traditional supply chain financing. Instead of banks providing capital to small business, Wen Utility holders can provide capital in a P2P manner.

  • Intro of the business model

Will Making Coffee succeed? Who knows. But one thing’s for sure.

It was interesting as Utility Wen, and it’s just as interesting as Making Coffee, possibly more.

Safary’s State of Web3 Growth Report

My buddy Justin, Co-Founder and CEO of Safary, released an updated edition of the State of Web3 Growth Tech map!

The report breaks down the ~200 companies into categories and shares themes and insights around the emerging growth tech landscape in web3.

On the note of utility, the companies in this report are turning that thought into reality, so check it the report!

See you Thursday.

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