Lessons Learned During My First NFT Adventure

How buying a ‘Stoner Cat’ unlocked a look into the tech phenomenon and opened doors to an exclusive community

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I bought my first NFT and it was a Stoner Cat. Meet “Hammie,” a character voiced by Chris Rock from the series Stoner Cats, starring Jane Fonda, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Vitalik Buterin (the creator of Ethereum) and Chris Rock.

The show is about a woman with several cats who accidentally drops her medical marijuana in the fireplace after falling asleep. After inhaling, the cats find they can talk, walk upright and use their hands. Hilarity ensues. Episode 1 is out now but to watch, you must buy one of the NFTs as ownership unlocks viewability. Episode 2 was released yesterday, Nov. 15.

But more importantly—I bought my first NFT. Here’s what I learned.

#1 The user experience is messy

I had to download a MetaMask wallet, transfer my Ethereum (ETH) from Coinbase to MetaMask in a process that felt nerve-wracking. After transferring, I then officially bought my NFT, but only after obsessing for a day over the potential rarity of the cat. I used a site called rarity.tools, which assesses the rarity of the features of each NFT to assign an overall rarity value.

However, as the site mentions, rarity shouldn’t be the only factor used to evaluate the significance of an NFT. Liking it should be one of the first considerations. Hammie here is wearing an Ethereum collar, blowing on a noisemaker that reminds me of the time I participated in a kazoo concert in elementary school, and holding rubber banded drug money. Real dollars. That last one really got me, considering I was paying for this in a digital currency.

#2 The beginning is clunky but exciting

Everything is a bit messy in the beginning. While navigating the early internet was confusing and somewhat laughable, I reveled in being on the ground floor before the entire world figured it out. There was an immense, entrepreneurial mindset in those times.

I’m late to this #NftParty, but still inside that velvet rope before it reaches full mass. Being in early means you’re also part of the group helping to figure out what it becomes.

#3 Experiencing art in new ways?

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KAWS

I thought of this NFT as a natural extension of my street-art obsession. However, once I bought one, it feels a bit like a baseball card I have stuck in a dusty drawer somewhere. Even the process of opening it online is confusing.

And so, it feels more transactional than I had anticipated. Yes, I made it my Twitter profile image. Yes, I open it every now and again, but it still doesn’t feel like an item I really own in the sense I am familiar.

#4 Gas prices

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Unsplash

What’s that you say? It’s the fee to execute a contract on the Ethereum blockchain. When there are more transactions, the fee goes up as the supply of computation energy available goes down. Think, Uber surge pricing.

I didn’t have to deal with gas-fee increases because I bought a resold token vs. a minted token. Originally, when so many people were trying to buy the minted tokens, the gas fees MetaMask estimated weren’t enough and buyers lost money. If you include a gas fee that doesn’t meet the threshold based on the current demand for supply, the fee is still collected, but you end up with nothing to show for the money that you spent.

How much was lost by users? $790K overall per Decrypt. Who does that money go to? The miners who verify calculations on the blockchain.

#5 Decentralized content production

Stoner Cat NFTS are essentially paying for the content itself. Typically, series are paid for by networks, studios, distributors and/or production companies. I love when a model gets flipped on its head back into the hands of the community.

This is that moment. Originally, when minted, the Stoner Cats were going for .35 ETH, which was about $800 at the time. 10,000 were made and sold out in 35 minutes netting the show $8M.

But wait! There’s more!

Every time a Stoner Cat is resold, the company gets a 2.5% royalty. In addition, a portion of proceeds are donated to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, in honor of Ms. Stoner who struggles with the illness. Given that every episode drop has the opportunity for episode and NFT promotion, it’s an interesting mini-flywheel situation.

#6 Community

Once you own, you get access to a special Discord channel to weigh in on creative decisions for the show. This is where things got unexpectedly fascinating.

For example, I joined a Women in Hollywood event in the Discord for owners, hosted by Lisa Sterbakov from Orchard Farm Productions and one of the show creators, Sarah Cole. In it, both women spoke candidly about what it was like being a woman in the entertainment industry.

It was a bit shocking, in all the best of ways, to hear this type of discussion in a Discord seemingly predominantly-filled with men. A company called Meltwater analyzed Twitter conversations about NFTs from January through the beginning of April and found the audience to be 77% male and 47% under the age of 25, leading to my assumptions about this audience.

I also joined a Twitter Spaces event hosted by Black NFT Art and Mack Flavelle, who is the co-founder of CryptoKitties and founder of Big Head Club, which created the Stoner Cat NFTs. The conversation focused on the redistribution of wealth for Black communities and how to empower Black people to consumers or creators of NFTs. Fascinating and thoughtful.

Also, as part of the Big Head community of NFT holders, we get access to upcoming NFT releases as pre-sales before being open to the public. For example, Big Head Club will soon be releasing 10,500 mini-puff Ghostbusters NFTs in celebration of the upcoming film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which releases on Nov. 19.

A day before that, the NFTs will be available to the public, but only after being first available to Big Head Club NFT holders. It’s the loyalty program that keeps on giving. In short, community building and engagement is fiercely critical to the success of a NFT project.

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Big Head Club Ltd.

In sum, it’s bumpy, but I’m glad I was able to experience NFT ownership during the early days. I haven’t made a dime, for the record, but unlike most in this space, that wasn’t what I came here for. The amount of learning is continuously vast and the experience so fresh and so clean, clean.