NBA Top Shot is getting a neighbor on Flow.
Startup NFT Genius will be using $4 million it raised in a seed round of funding to build a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace on Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain, the company said Monday. The round was backed by Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, actor Ashton Kutcher and bitcoin advocate Anthony Pompliano.
While NFT Genius is largely focused on music, it also expects to bring NFTs into sports, gaming and even comedy, its press release said. The company is betting that NFTs will remain popular in spite of the recent cooldown in demand in what had been a white-hot market.
NFTs have already begun gaining popularity in the music industry. In March, rapper Post Malone released his second NFT collaboration with concert streaming service Aux Live. Music-related NFTs reportedly topped over $25 million in sales in February alone.
“What NFT Genius is doing that others are not is creating a verticalized destination for interactive experiences and meaningful virtual connections,” Cuban said in a statement.
Cuban compared the appeal of NFTs to “the phenomenon of fanfiction,” where superfans craft their own works related to their favorite books or movies. It’s an internet-era twist on the relationship between creator and consumer.
That relationship is at the core of the company’s vision, said NFT Genius CEO and co-founder Jeremy Born. He cited the music industry as an example of a business that can be revolutionized with the storytelling capabilities of NFTs.
“The industry has been transformed into something about streaming. It’s all about how many plays, how many eyes, how many downloads you have,” Born told CoinDesk in an interview. “Artists are forced into this specific cookie cutter mold to succeed. Back in the older days, music was all about collectibility. I think that NFTs bring back that collectibility aspect to the industry, and allow artists to more creatively connect with their audience.”
The NFT Genius marketplace is still under production, but the company did release a Bitcoin-themed NFT collection in the fall of 2020. The collection allowed users to experience the story of Bitcoin’s creation through a cross-platform treasure hunt for a prize of 1 BTC.
While few have an idea of what exactly the future of the NFT industry will look like, NFT Genius is betting on immersive experiences.
“The experiential side of things, and how deep you can dive into [NFTs], and connect with the fan, that’s for us the key. The people who win will connect with the fanbase in ways others can’t,” Born said.