#290: IRL Connectivity Is More Important Than Ever in Web3 by Lena Grundhoefer

🎥 Web3 is known for online communities, but IRL is where it’s at. Here’s how to build a solid live event plan

TPan here! I’m on the second leg of my honeymoon so I won’t be writing my usual pieces. However, I do have some great content for you from someone else in the space.

Today we have Lena Grundhoefer sharing her insights around web3 event marketing. I met Lena a couple years ago at Consensus and we’ve kept in touch ever since, following each other’s respective journeys in the space. 

Learn more about Lena, OFFLINE and her marketing agency, ZEITGEIST Labs.

TPan and I originally met a couple years ago and since our newer(ish) days both of us have come a long way. Since the beginning, we met up at various conferences around the US like NFT.NYC, Art Basel, and Consensus, and we both agree, nothing matches kicking it at IRL events.

The truth of the matter is, the average American spends 7 hours a day looking at their screen. But for crypto alone, the industry alone incentivizes users to be glued to their feeds, exchanges and marketplaces from 12 AM memecoin drops to 24/7 engagement farming to new meta and games taking over the industry like Crypto The Game

So, the need to unplug is greater than ever. How can we create a world where our interactions go beyond repetitive voice chats and smiling at fluorescent screens? 

We build cool events. Here’s how we did it at OFFLINE:

NYC – The Boiling Pot of Crypto Culture

I began my events journey working backstage at NYFW shows as a volunteer, which led to a position as a Production Intern at CS Global. There, I had the opportunity to work on top NYFW shows such as Philipp Plein, La Perla, Brooks Brothers, and many more. It was through their unmatched expertise, the CEO’s hawkeye for perfection and attending probably thousands of branded events over the years in New York that the bar was set extremely high. To give that same experience to others, even if it was just for a few hours, gave me a tremendous sense of purpose which pushed me to establish my marketing consultancy, ZEITGEIST Labs.

All that said, the Solana NYC community has been brewing and it stood out to me due to its inclusive and low-fee digital point of entry. 

On a regular basis, there are Tennis/Pickleball matches, to one-off events by industry ecosystem partners to hackathons like New York Hacker House, as well as intimate investor and founder dinners. Solana NYC naturally cultivated a strong base of supporters spanning various professions, from seasoned to new and curious, as New York has slowly become the blockchain builder hub in The United States. 

So in a melting pot of culture where millions enter and leave the city every year, how do we bring our industry closer together?

We Get Offline

Local communities are more important than ever to tap into, even with global technology like Solana. Plus in New York, It’s not just our water-based bagels and foldable pizza that are unique; NYC-based businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists have their own unique flavors based on the city’s culture. 

OFFLINE, (prev. Solana NYC Alliance), was co-founded by Alice Chen and I in August of 2023 to build a robust developer and founder community for Solana’s NYC ecosystem. It started as a NYC community working group (shout out @Chrisdotsol) and evolved into something way bigger than we both anticipated which led us to focus on IRL initiatives to unite founders and developers and build out what New York was always meant to be– an interconnected builder network.

Get Offline

The best thing you can do for your live event strategy is lead with your objectives at the forefront, nail the ambiance, and curate a room that reflects your mission and brand. Think globally but act locally. We did this for OFFLINE, through our robust partnership network as the New York effect is real.

Our most recent production, Emerald City at NFTNYC
Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z

That said, it’s easier to organize 10 smaller local events than one large out-of-state event, so be sure to always scour the local market first. From Luma to Partiful, Telegram, Posh, and Discord, events are always happening (whether you know it or not!) and they’re easy to score as long as you’re plugged into the right communities across these apps.

But to start, tap into the digital convos happening on Discord, Telegram or even Farcaster, you’d be surprised how many communities and DAO’s are springing up in cities across the world.

We have a tendency to silo ourselves into groups even within Web3–Bitcoin purists don’t like Ethereum purists who don’t like Solana purists, etc. Repping Solana at ETHDenver in the past made me feel like an outsider, but it’s important to reach outside of our comfort zone to get a top-level view of how your project fits into the greater ecosystem.

And that includes both Web3 and legacy industries we’re hoping blockchain will disrupt.

Showcase Your Solutions

At the end of the day, live events are meant to strengthen your community through IRL activations and even a WOW factor that people can have long after it's over.

POAPs are a great example of this–the proof-of-attendance protocol lets event organizers provide a limited-time digital collectible that can only be collected using the code provided at the event. They’re a useful way to both attract attendees and give them something to memorialize the event, similar to a concert t-shirt or program.

ROVE, a Solana-native ticketing app, puts collectors and fans in contact with their favorite artists and brands.  Within the app, using credits, you can buy and sell tickets to events, gain status and earn unique rewards and perks that incentivize every step of the way.

Of course, blockchain usage isn’t limited to Web3 events–Coachella partnered with OpenSea for three NFT collections this year on the Avalanche blockchain. Ten “Coachella Keys” were initially launched and guaranteed lifetime access to the annual festival, and these were transferred to Avalanche after the FTX collapse caused them to be seized by the government.

For those who didn’t participate in the initial $1.4 million mint, Coachella also released Coachella Quests–a game developed in partnership with Ava Labs, the company behind Avalanche. In Coachella Quests, attendees complete quests both at the event and on the official Coachella Discord to earn benefits including access to the VIP lounge, unreleased music, exclusive merch, and a rare NFT that includes two tickets to the 2025 festival.

Of course, to claim them, you’ll need to defeat Mecha-Spider-Grimes!! (jk)

Think Outside the Block

You probably noticed I listed a mix of blockchain-specific events like NFT.NYC along with outside events like SXSW. That’s because blockchain doesn’t exist in a bubble–the best solutions are integrated seamlessly into existing categories.

New York Comic-Con, for example, represents a $15.5 billion comic book industry alongside large segments of the $305 billion toy industry, $391 animation industry and $100 billion movie industry. All of these industries are ripe for blockchain disruption, which we saw a lot of in past years.

Disney and Warner Bros each partnered with Web3 platforms to create and distribute NFT collections for their popular IP, and popular NFT collections like VeeFriends and Pudgy Penguins break out of the “Web3” category to reach mainstream audiences by attending events like Comic-Con. 

VeeFriends at NYCC 2023

If you have a Web3 solution for an existing industry like gaming or ecommerce, it’s vital to break out of the blockchain box and dig into the existing events for those industries. All sectors from insurance to food and fireworks have industry publications and trade groups holding long-standing annual conferences, trade shows, and other major events. 

Every industry has its Super Bowl, so plan these into your events strategy alongside the local meetups. Your events plan should be structured similarly to a football team with a regular season of local gatherings followed by a few big tentpole events.

We keep a running list of major events around the world and track them every year because more people are entering the space every day. Web3 events are on one page, which can be easily localized, while other categories are separated into their own pages. An event like Fashion Week or the Fancy Food Show could be the perfect place to showcase one client but be useless to another. 

Of course, you need to understand the audience at the event, as not everyone is Web3-friendly. GDC, CES, and SXSW all have Web3 tracks within their conferences, so they do welcome blockchain. Plug into the Web3 exhibitors and sponsors at your event to ensure you have a strong community and branch out to targeted legacy brands while you’re there.  

IRL Is the Next Meta of Web3

Although Web3 has a vibrant community on social platforms like X, Discord, and Telegram, it isn’t confined to the digital realm. IRL events continue to prove the value of face-to-face community meetups. From intimate local gatherings for under 20 people to major festivals like SXSW and Coachella that draw over 250,000, IRL events are a great way to foster a strong community. 

But just because you build it doesn’t mean people will come–whether you’re hosting or attending, IRL events require a solid strategy with clear and quantifiable goals. They require a 24/7 commitment before, during, and after the event to maximize your ROI, and working with impactful communities that are the missing link between promising partnerships and one-of-a-kind experiences is the best way to ensure success.

As online as this industry is, IRL events are where much of the magic happens. For industry participants, this is an opportunity to put actual faces to names and create deeper connections. For operators and companies, this is an opportunity to stand out and create a different type of lasting impression.

If you want to learn more about Lena and her work, follow her on X or check out OFFLINE and her marketing agency, ZEITGEIST Labs.

See you soon!

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