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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 24, 2022 1 month ago

Startup says goodbye bubble-mailers, hello digital tokens

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Forward-thinking digital-first company encourages non-fungible token users to learn by doing.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Nearly anything today can be attached to an NFT — from houses to autographed movie scripts.

An NFT, or a non-fungible token, is a digital asset with a unique identification code. These tokens are stored in a blockchain, a digital system that records asset transactions, which then can be transferred from owner to owner allowing NFTs to be sold.

That’s exactly what one Tampa-based company has set out to encourage. 

The company, Only Gems, has been airdropping free cards for the past month or so to community members within the company’s Discord group. Co-founder Matt Mudano likens an airdrop to a raffle where those with a raffle ticket are selected to win the prize. But in this case, it's in the form of an NFT.  

“We’ve been doing that," he says, "to prove out the concept and show the community how it works and how to engage with these cards, to get them in the habit of owning and looking at them.”

So far, it’s working. Mudano says users have been commenting on how easy the process has been. “Once they figure out how to do it, then they want to do it again,” he says. 

Only Gems is an asset-backed NFT trading card startup with $10 million worth of collectibles in its vault. With a goal of easing the accessibility to blockchain and Web3 — a hypothetical version of the World Wide Web — Only Gems takes physical collectibles and creates digital versions of them. 

Each collectible is given its own unique footprint of metadata, which includes a grade and serial number issued by a grading company. This information is then extracted to give the collectible its own unique identifiers.

Only Gems then puts the physical item through a scanner to take high resolution scans or photographs, which go through WebGL — a JavaScript API that creates interactive 2D and 3D graphics. The asset is then tokenized based on the metadata Only Gems provides. 

“It sounds fairly simple, but it’s 10 months of wireframing and planning in the making for this protocol to take shape,” Mudano says.    

To further simplify the process, Mudano gives an example of mailing a collectible card. “If I have this card and I want to sell it to you, traditionally, I would have to put it in a bubble-mailer, take it to the post office, send it to you,” he says, noting the buyer and seller would have to figure out payment. 

With an NFT, the physical collectible is kept within Only Gems’ vault while the digital asset is able to easily transact between buyers and sellers. 

“It can be executed without the physical limitations this card brings,” he says. “So I no longer have to worry about putting it in a bubble-mailer and sending it to you. I can sell you the NFT and now you are the rightful owner of this card.” 

And if the owner ever wanted the physical item, they can use the NFT to redeem it. That, Mudano says, is Only Gems' main product. 

As the company evolves, so do its offerings. Like Legend Cards. That's the concept of creating gated content — or content that’s unlocked after a user provides personal information — using access tokens for exclusive communities. Only Gems' Legend Cards are specifically for sports icons and their fans. 

“We thought it was a unique way to bridge the relationship between brands and players and their followers and fans,” Mudano says. “The goal with Legend Cards is to partner with iconic legends of sport to create these sub groups in a community of people who are willing to pay for a little extra content.” 

Something to keep in mind is membership to the community, which shows up in the form of an NFT, is limited. If there are only 2,000 Legend Cards of a certain drop, but 4,000 people want in, only 2,000 get to participate. “It’s supply and demand,” Mudano says. “You can take your Legend Card NFT and sell it to somebody else if the demand is there. That’s how this whole ecosystem is built, is the relationship between the player, subcommunity and platform.”

Only Gems recently purchased the original script from iconic sports comedy "Caddyshack" that includes Chevy Chase’s notes. That script is now broken down into 122 individual pages, which have each been autographed by Chase, and tokenized into NFTs. In July, those NFTs will be airdropped to token holders of the Chevy Chase Legend Card collection.  

“We thought that with being able to tokenize physical collectibles specific to these legendary icons, this would fit well with that,” Mudano says. “In this case, Chevy is obviously a world-class comedian and actor, but he also was one of the main characters of one of the most famous sports movies of all time.”

— Amanda Postma 

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