NFTs have unlocked another way to engage in the digital space. Fandom spaces happen to have one of the most potent forms of engagement, online or otherwise. So, what does the future of fandom look like in the NFT space? Dillon Rosenblatt is the CEO & Co-Founder of Autograph. This NFT platform brings together the most iconic brands and legendary names in sports, entertainment, and culture to create unique digital collections and experiences. He joins hosts Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger to discuss what they’re doing to elevate the fan experience through NFTs while democratizing and decentralizing its use. Plus, tune in for our Hot Topics and learn how Uppercut Training Club NFT is giving storytellers a more accessible voice.
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Dillon Rosenblatt Of Autograph – Building The Future Of Fandom With Legendary Names And Iconic Brands, Plus: Uppercut Training Club NFT, And More…
NFT curious readers, stay tuned for this episode and find out how our guest lives his company’s core values every day, why DeLorean might help our guest accomplish several of his personal goals, and how all our guests are democratizing NFT and IP ownership in unique ways. All this and more on this episode.
Don’t forget that we put a little soiree together called NFTLA that brought out thousands of the world’s most innovative doers in the NFT space. Head on over to 2023.NFTLA.live to get on the whitelist for tickets to our bigger, bolder, and better but also just as an intimate and impactful event happening in Los Angeles from March 20th to 23rd, 2023. See you there.
This episode features Dillon Rosenblatt. He is the Cofounder and CEO of Autograph, an NFT platform that brings together the most iconic brands and legendary names in sports, entertainment, and culture to create unique digital collections and experiences to better connect fans to the things they love. At Autograph, Dillon has ideated on and built a groundbreaking NFT platform and a business solution for the sports and entertainment industries.
He has secured partnerships with titans of business, including DraftKings and Lionsgate, to bring his vision to life and spearhead negotiations with the world’s leading entertainers and athletes to sign them with Autograph. In addition to partnerships, Rosenblatt is scaling product, creative technology, and marketing functions in preparation for the company’s formal launch. Notable Autograph board members include Sam Bankman-Fried, The Weeknd, Peter Mattoon, and Michael Meldman. Dillon, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you on.
Thank you, Eathan, Jeff, and Josh, for having me. It has been a long time coming.
Usually, it’s harder to meet in person, but we had you over at NFTLA. It took about a year to get you on the show. We’re pumped. We remember when you announced your vision of Autograph. We have been excited ever since then to see what you are cooking up. It’s an honor to have you on the show.
I appreciate it. More than anything, it’s an honor to be here. It has been a while since our first NFT drop. It has been a fun year. We have learned a lot. I couldn’t be more excited about what is next. I’m excited to be here and chat a little bit about where we have been and where we’re going.
Let’s talk a little bit about the where-you’ve-been part, in particular, where you were in founding this thing. Your vision is massive here. You are already making tremendous progress against that vision. What’s the origin story? How did this come about?
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by pretty incredible people. I was able to get this vision in front of early on in the NFT game. My personal journey has always been one of entrepreneurship. For me, it was my whole life wanting to start a business for my first company starting a tutoring app at 15 Dub, the Uber for tutors, to connect tutors with students on a mobile app. From there, it was a variety of different startup ideas, leading up to the ultimate idea, which was Autograph.io.
I’ll skip all the stuff in between. I was lucky to be able to bring together amazing people around me, namely Tom Brady as the cofounder of the company, and to have been able to share the vision of creating a safe and accessible destination in this brand new world for the world’s biggest icons to come in and engage their communities in brand new ways.
The first vertical we started was sports collectibles with utility attached but longer term. As the space develops and people get more comfortable both conceptually, and with the technology behind Web3, we’re going to get into much more interesting and deeper applications of that tech to give a new look to the fandom and its future.
If there’s any way to ever enable Tom Brady and Josh Kriger to shake hands, Josh would be indebted to you forever. I asked him if he could bring anybody to a deserted island. That’s all it could be there. There’s only one person that he ever responds with. That is Mr. Tom Brady. If you can make that happen, that would be life-changing.
It’s not off the table. Tom is truly one of the kindest and most compassionate people. Being able to found this company with him has been an amazing experience. It has been nothing but supportive here for the business and me. Hopefully, one day, he would hang with you, Josh.
I finished that ESPN series that Tom produced about his journey in football and how he got to where he is. I was fanboying the whole time. He lives his ethos and drinks his Kool-Aid in every way. It’s cool. We were in the food world too. I saw Tom get into that world. Jeff is a vegetarian. I’m so focused personally on performance and recovery with my health now that I’m in my 40s. It’s the full circle. Work hard, play hard, and create amazing things but take care of yourself because you only have one you.
It’s that a championship mentality with his brands like TB12 and others. He does live what he preaches about treating your body well, recovering right, and saving yourself up for the long-term.
When we end up on that desert island trying to play football, let’s make sure we pack the sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
Make sure that it’s a two-hand touch. Notably, in that documentary, we did a drop with Man in the Arena. It was ESPN’s first-ever NFT drop on DraftKings Marketplace, which was a lot of fun. The collectibles for that came out great. It was pretty exciting. We were able to give away some ESPN Plus subscriptions.
My girlfriend gave me that drop as one of my Hanukkah presents in 2021. My favorite Hanukkah present was that entity. I am HODLing.
Honestly, that’s pretty cool for me to hear that one of our updates was given as a gift. I’ve heard it a couple of times, but it never gets old.
This is perfect. We answered my next question, but maybe we can dive a little bit deeper. My question was this. Who is Autograph’s target customer? How are you serving them to make their lives easier other than providing their girlfriend a gift for them for Hanukkah and coming on their show?
If you look at what Autograph’s audience has been, it has been a combination of existing DraftKings users dropping the majority of our NFTs on their marketplace and the true super fans of an icon and traditional collectors that collect around our icons and the memorabilia space. Longer-term, our core audience, whether on DraftKings or new to Autograph, is that true fan and collector. It’s the person that holds a piece of memorabilia to feel one step closer to somebody who might be their hero or to a property that they only have a few opportunities to express their fandom and engage with other fans.
We want to give that person a brand new destination to belong to and a product to own and feel good about. The pride of ownership is a true thing. NFTs have unlocked a brand new way to engage. We use Tom in Tampa as an example. If you’re in another city and you walk into a bar in Tampa Bay, Jersey and see another fan, you’re much more likely to engage, interact, and form a relationship, even if it’s short-lived.
That NFT ownership has given people new permission to engage, form into communities, and be social. We have seen it across projects regardless of the success. Our target customer is somebody that’s looking for both that place to belong, engage, and get closer to their icon. It’s a lot of fun too. If you look at the opportunities online when I say belong, you look at Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram within this community, whether it be Discord or longer term on Autograph. The goal is to give a brand new look to engaging digitally with like-minded people.
I had a flashback moment, Jeff, to one of the old ideas we were ideating on, which was this way for fans that were traveling out of town and are in a random bar to be able to find other fans of the same team of theirs to watch the game because you want to see the Celtics play with other Celtics fans. You want to see Tom break a new record with someone else that cares. This idea of creating that deeper connection not only to fans of the athletes and entertainers they love but to each other is powerful.
I think of that How I Met Your Mother episode where there’s the Vikings bar for Minnesota Vikings fans. A way to have that community feel and also the discoverability is an issue, but hopefully, when we go from icons to other properties and other things that have natural engagement around them, the community can form themselves and build those in-real-life connections.
Nothing is stronger too than sports teams. At the end of the day, that passion at whatever level, whether it’s pro, collegiate, or even in some cases local, is amazing and so powerful. It’s hard to find other communities like that.
It’s the longevity as well and the fact that it can be passed down for generations of Bucs fans for years. It’s pretty amazing.
I’ve been in LA for years. I’m just starting to come around to LA teams. It took a long time. That attachment to your favorite teams takes a little while to grow and cultivate. It doesn’t happen overnight. It lasts a very long time. Let’s talk a little bit about accessibility, too, because we know that mainstream adoption is the goal of many in the Web3 industry.
It’s important that everyone gets to benefit from the types of projects that are being built. Part of that is pricing it in the right way and setting up payment systems that make sense and that our mothers and grandmothers can use easily if they want to get into the mix. What are the types of measures that you’ve taken to make this more approachable for the masses?
It’s a combination of accessible price points and simple payment solutions. We sold our first-ever NFTs at $12. Some scaled to be on the higher price point, but the majority of our NFTs have been under $100, which we think is a huge barrier to entry for a lot of people looking at the space that want to dip a toe in or collect in the physical world. The highest-end side of memorabilia is worth much more, but if you look into buying a pack of cards or a traditional trading card, they are accessibly priced.
For us, the price point meant a lot but also part of the decision to work with DraftKings Marketplace was that they were going to be credit card-first. Taking crypto and being in the Ethereum ecosystem, Polygon, or whatever it may be is a huge priority for us. When I sit back and think about it, their entire design discipline is created about making things as easy as possible for a user to either purchase or engage with your product.
For us, it was always looking at how many steps it takes for someone to learn about this new ecosystem. There are benefits to that as well because once you start to understand how that ecosystem works. You have the noncustodial wallet that you can take from application to application and see the magic of the ecosystem, you’re hooked for life. Still, I also think it’s hard for a lot of people that dedicate the time and energy to figure it out.
They have heard about the hacks, the scams, and all of the above. I do think there’s a strong place for both using traditional product design thinking to make it as simple as possible, namely signing up for a credit card and then taking advantage of the technology and all the benefits that come with decentralization. To sum it up, it’s setting things at an accessible price point the consumer can understand, collect, and enjoy and also making sure that there’s a simple option to purchase.
We had a kid on here from Egypt who is diving headfirst into crypto and NFTs. He’s talking about how he didn’t have a credit card and he didn’t even have PayPal, but he was generating his wealth through crypto directly there. You’ve got to think about those factors. When it’s kids’ collectibles, you could only make so much more on your lawn or something like that. You want them to be able to enjoy getting involved early and have the same experience people were able to have with collectible trading cards and things like that many years ago.
The way I think about it is it’s the application of technology. When you have custody of your wallet, you can go from platform to platform with the items you own, with that identity, and with that place in the market and the ecosystem. It’s incredibly powerful. I think it is still a bit complicated for the average person to adopt. There’s going to be a point when it becomes as simple as purchasing anything else online. That’s when the space explodes. I’m bullish on the technology and its applications 100%. The design aspect, whether it be credit card payments or making paying in cryptocurrency simpler, is where things need to head for this space to reach the billion people that can.
We think about core values a lot here with all of our projects. We’re not just doing the show. We’ve got NFTLA and larger organizations of tech things going on. A lot of things rise to the top. Co-creation is one of the things we always talk about and community and transparency. I would love to get your thoughts on core values, whether they’re encoded or things that pop into your head. How do you translate that into what you’re building?
The core value is for us to create something that everybody could purchase in a simple way and something they could genuinely own and enjoy. That led to telling a unique story about the icon that likely couldn’t be told in the physical world in the same way. In Tom’s collection, for example, we’re able to take digital representations of multiple items that told the story of him coming into the NFL, like the QB1 jersey and the stopwatch with 5.28 seconds. It’s not the most impressive 40-time. He has gotten his speed up.
It was us being able to tell those stories digitally and give something to fans. It’s a new look and a new form of memorabilia. That was exciting for us. When it comes to community values, we preach a place of respect and for people to get along in Autograph.io, both those running the project and each other. That’s important to have a positive environment over the long term. You called it our formal launch. I look at it as the next chapter since we have been around our community for quite a bit of time.
In this next chapter, I want the community to design the values for themselves because that’s who it’s for. The Autograph company principles can make it easy for you to get in the door and purchase, but I want them to have the autonomy and the ability to say, “This is what needs to matter to us. This is how we should behave with each other.” This is ultimately what we want to build through our interactions and behavior.
That’s special. You’re talking about core values and addressing this community and how you incorporate the community into your thinking, your planning, and your actions. What else can you tell us about that community? How’s it forming? How’s it going? How connected are you with them? What platforms do you use to drive them forward?
Personally, I’m very connected to the community. When I see the usernames chatting back and forth, I know them all by name. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot in person. We have hosted quite a few community events at this point, whether it was as simple as a meetup in LA, all the way to the match in Las Vegas. For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s the Tom Brady, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers golf match hosted at the Wynn in Las.
We were able to have about 40 collectors out to come to hang out with each other, meet the team, and go to some fun dinners and top golf events. Meeting them in person was special. I wasn’t able to attend, but in Tampa, we had 21 or 22 collectors and their plus ones down for a VIP experience at Training Camp. There was a fun dinner hosted the night before with the Autograph team.
The Future Of Fandom: NFT ownership has given people new permission to engage and form communities and be social.
The next day, they were able to hang out with the family and friends around Training Camp in the special box area and then got a live meet-and-greet with Tom. For those that have been here for a while collecting, it was pretty amazing to have that experience go so smoothly. If you look at Twitter, people are excited about it. When we talk about our core values, we want to deliver something special for our collectors and something that you can’t get or is difficult to get without Autograph. It was special to see that mission come to life.
I’ve got to figure out the minimum number of NFTs to hold to be invited to the next one of those. I’m going to start buying.
All I need is a location. I can throw a rock at Tampa from here. I’m down at Sarasota. Give me a location. I’ll find a way.
You probably know the dinner spot there. The collecting is one aspect and the contributing is another. You looked at the community and you asked about my relationship. I know the people that are providing immense value to Autograph and Autograph Nation as we call it. There have been people that set up community games in partnership with our moderators that are full-time employees. They set up something for the community to engage in night after night. It was this survivor game they put on. It was pretty amazing. To see those collectors also be rewarded for their behaviors and positive contributions is something special. It’s something that I want to lean into more as this project and company develop.
That’s beautiful. We have this thing called fan shout-outs, where we give love to the folks in our community who have given love to us. It’s a simple fundamental human concept, but our society has gotten quite transactional in nature. At the end of the day, there are so many different ways to contribute value to society. There are so many different ways that the community can contribute value.
It doesn’t have to be collecting. It can be being involved on Discord or Twitter and adding value. That’s one of the beautiful components of Web3 that everyone can have a role in the community. On that note, this is about the democratization of value for creators, collectors, fans, and builders. I would love to get your perspective on what democratizing the NFT space means to you.
It’s setting up the right infrastructure as a company to create those opportunities. You look at the purest opportunity, for example, a Layer 1 blockchain like the Ethereum ecosystem where anybody can come in, use the technology, benefit from the liquidity, start their business, and build something amazing. For something like ours, it’s an application on top of Ethereum and Polygon. The goal is for us to design the systems for our community to be able to get involved and let their effort translate into something meaningful for them.
We’re early on that path and journey, but that’s something that I’m excited about. When you talk about democratizing the community, a lot of people are limited by the supply of NFTs and the price point as well. If there are only 10,000 at a very high price point, it’s probably difficult for someone to join the community. Us being able to get out a high volume of NFTs at a relatively accessible price point creates an opportunity for more people to come in and join.
When Jeff was asking about the community, as we went through our chapter one on DraftKings, we built a strong audience and community, but we’re going to be doing our next series of drops on Autograph.io, which I couldn’t be more excited about. We’re going to be taking a credit card payment. The target consumer should be someone that collects, someone that’s looking for an awesome community to be a part of, or someone that’s a fan of all of our pretty amazing icons from Brady to Tiger, The Weeknd, and whoever it may be.
On this show, we welcome all new people to join Autograph Nation. If you come in, everyone is friendly and excited to have you. We’re looking to expand and grow this community as well because when you think about us not owning one piece of IP, whether it’s from Autograph or around the partner, we work with a variety of different athletes and entertainment properties. To be able to service that talent, we want an amazing and big audience that’s all united by those values and what we talked about earlier.
There’s so much goodness in there. When we think about the application, we always like to elevate examples of how you’ve deployed those core values, your community, and your overall vision. You had the Rafael Nadal drop. We wanted to know how did it go. What did you think about it? What did you learn? How is it going now? We will leave it at that.
The concept of celebrating a historic moment in Rafael Nadal’s career with his community was a very good one. His 22 Grand Slam was an epic achievement. We were able to get 22 of those signed NFTs out the door, which people were pretty excited about. People were able to get physically signed rackets from him as well as the utility. We thought that was a special and unique offering on DK. If I could go back, I would have waited a bit of time and gone on a decentralized ecosystem or Autograph.io because the majority of his fan base is in Spain and the broader territories around it.
I would have loved to give those fans the first opportunity on the DraftKings Marketplace. It’s North America-focused. Users can then withdraw their NFTs into their decentralized wallets and take them to other parts of the ecosystem. For the next thing we do with Rafael Nadal, the first memorabilia in our classic mystery box format was fun, but we want to get into driving longer-term fan experiences that a global audience can access. We went through GDPR and all of the above internally and on Autograph to be able to make that happen for the next one.
That’s a special one for sure for his fans, though. We always talk about when we’re trying to get people who aren’t in this space to understand some of the benefits of building out these projects and incorporating utility, whether IRL or URL. You have to dial in on what it is that people are passionate about because it’s hard. If you’re not a Nadal fan or a tennis fan, you may not get it.
It may not resonate with you, but if you’re super into motorcycles and I could talk to you about connecting you with the person that designed a particular bike or somebody that’s big in the space and whatever it might be, then it clicks. It’s obvious, but it seems to get lost sometimes. These examples are great to use cases for the roadmap for people to do amazing things in this space.
You have the all-star team of entertainment and sports involved in the project and crypto, for that matter, with Sam. I would love to learn a little bit more about what you are cooking out. Maybe some of the upcoming drops that you are able to tell us about.
I can’t disclose too much about the who but the what, I can speak to. What we want to lean into more are these experiences that we have seen our community celebrate, whether it was the Tampa Bay meetup, the match at Las Vegas, sending collectors to Tony Hawk’s Vert Alert, or whatever the application and experience was. Especially after two years of COVID, people are looking to get outside to experience something new. People have asked me about what my generation likes a lot of times. I love experiences. People live for them, whether it’s a great dinner, going on a quick trip, or hanging out with friends.
That’s what matters over things. Us leaning into experiences around icons and a brand new way gated by an NFT is what gets me excited. There’s going to be a balance between the existing community, looking at the infrastructure we have set up to provide experiences to them, creating something brand new, and attracting a new audience overall. An upcoming drops for all of our tier-one partners, I’m excited about thinking through after a year of learning and drops what’s the real value that we can start providing behind NFT ownership. One of the easy ones is the physical, the meetups, and all of the above, but the question I have is this. How does that scale into a continuous fan and community experience?
When I think through the problem statements and the problems that we want to solve as Autograph, I started to think about how you create that fan experience that lasts, have the NFT offering be the backbone of it, create an accessible way for the user to get in, and have the NFT be the backbone of this experience. The NFT tells a story. There’s an amazing utility attached. In the longer term, how do you leverage the amazing and paradigm-shifting technology that is Web3 in the blockchain to let those experiences go further and last? I’m excited for the future overall.
In terms of the core product itself, we can’t talk in too many specifics about the partnerships forming but how about core product development? What’s next on that roadmap?
It’s the Autograph.io platform. That’s what it is. We have an amazing in-house creative team that’s continuing to develop high-quality products for the actual NFT offerings. We have taken a few special steps to make our NFTs themselves stand out among the crowd. To talk about more of a traditional website, the Autograph.io platform for users to come in, engage and have that continuous fan experience gets me excited.
When we talk about the market being, in my opinion, semi-fragmented as it should be, and in some cases decentralized, how can we own more of that customer experience with the intention of providing a better one is on the docket for us. From the point of sale on Autograph.io to what you do once you own an Autograph NFT, that’s the next thing in development for us.
That’s amazing progress to date and quite a roadmap here ahead of you. We’re excited to follow along on your journey. It’s an amazing time now.
We will be announcing some exciting stuff in the coming month, quarter, or whatever it may be. I’m happy to come back whenever and chat about it more.
We would love to have you. Let’s shift gears and do a little segment we call Edge Quick Hitters. It’s ten set questions that we like to ask to get to know you a little bit better and have a little bit of fun. We’re looking for short, single-word, or few-word responses, but we might dive a little deeper here or there. Are you ready to get in on these?
Let’s do it.
Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
It’s Hot Wheels at the local toy store.
Do you have some of those laying around the place?
I don’t know if I have my Hot Wheels set anymore. I know some of those are very collectible now. I can’t tell if this is something someone told me or memory, but maybe it’s pacifiers back in the day, but Hot Wheels is the first one I explicitly remember.
Question two, what is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
Outside of my house, I set up a lemonade stand. I was harassing every car that drove by to be able to buy a cup of lemonade. I was making cookies and all the above and selling them. I always realized that the fact that you could put the cost back on whatever mom drove to the grocery store and bought the lemonade is a pretty efficient business model. It’s lemonade.
There are some low startup costs for that hustle.
Question number three, what is the most recent thing you purchased?
I haven’t bought something fun in a while. The last thing I paid for is I went to a great dinner with a lady a little bit ago. That was awesome. That was some good Greek food.
Question four, what’s the most recent thing you sold?
It was my TV. I’m finishing up school. I didn’t need the TV anymore, so I sold it.
Question five, what is your most prized possession?
The Future Of Fandom: Our target customer is somebody that is looking for both that place to engage and belong and that place to get closer with their icons.
I lean experiences over things. That’s why you heard me pause on the last three things. I would much rather do a night somewhere or go for a drive, a hike, or something, but maybe it’s this Apple Watch. I’m enjoying the Apple Watch. I’m tracking my steps. It’s making me get more active. This thing is awesome. It also feels like I’m in Spy Kids at the time when I did get into it. To a lot of readers here that have had Apple Watches for years, it’s nothing new, but I’m still in that. It’s my third day using it.
I got it for a birthday present from the same girlfriend that bought me the Autograph NFT. You’ve got to try the heart rate monitor. It’s pretty dope. There are some cool sleep apps. It will tell you how you’re sleeping and wake you up in a very slow and safe way that makes you happier when you wake up.
We will have to take this offline. I need the full rundown. Do you still have the fascination after a month?
I’m still exploring. There’s a lot to it. There’s this whole the Ring versus the Apple Watch camp, but the Watch is the way to go.
I still have my Garmin over here, but we will see. Question number six, if you could buy anything in the world, and I know where we’re going to go with this one, digital, physical, service, or an experience that’s currently for sale, what would it be?
It’s either an awesome vacation somewhere in Europe. You name it. I could be convinced of about anywhere you convinced me of, Jeff. I’ve had my car for a bit. I love it, but it’s a new car maybe or something like that. It’s about time. If we’re going down the pure enjoyment path, it’s one of those two things. The work we’re doing at Autograph is so exciting, but I’m a big travel guy, so I would love to get out at some point.
I interviewed the CEO of DeLorean. They’ve got an NFT production line project where you can get a spot for the next version of the DeLorean coming out soon. It’s something to keep your eye on.
Can I change my answer to a CryptoPunk? I would like a CryptoPunk, whether it’s an Ape or a Punk. I have my Doodle, which I’m loving, but I wanted those since the first time I saw an NFT and started Autograph.
Question number seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
This was a hard one for me, but maybe it’s humor and empathy or a combination of the two. It’s being able to make other people laugh and take an optimistic look at things and then caring for others.
That’s important. Question number eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would it be?
It’s worry or fear. Whether it’s founding a startup or it’s going through the ebbs and flows of life, as long as you’re making responsible decisions and doing so with your heart in the right place, the worry doesn’t need to be there. It can limit your potential. At the end of the day, things generally work themselves out. We will probably get rid of that.
Question nine, what did you do before joining us on the show?
I grabbed this protein bar and took a lap around the office to get ready for a nice conversation.
Here’s the last one. Question ten, what are you going to do next after the show?
I’m getting back to work. We’ve got some exciting stuff coming up as the new launches come in. I’m looking to grow this community. I’m back to work.
That’s Edge Quick Hitters. Thanks so much for sharing with us. We do appreciate it.
Let’s move on to segment three. This is a segment that we call Hot Topics. Alisa and Kartik, if you could join us, that would be amazing. This Hot Topic is all about Uppercut Training Club. We are fortunate to have Alisa and Kartik with us to talk about it. We will have Kartik on in a second. Alisa, what’s up?
Whether it’s founding a startup or it's going through the ebbs and flows of life, as long as you’re making responsible decisions and doing so with your heart in the right place, the worry doesn't need to be there. Click To Tweet
How are you?
We’ve very well. Alisa and Dillon had a connection in our universe in that they were both on stage together at NFTLA, one of our events. There’s nice serendipity here that we have you both in the show at the same time.
It’s nice to see you, Alisa. Thank you for making me look good on stage. You’re one of the first several to be able to do that.
It was awesome. It was honestly cool listening to your segment.
That was awesome.
Talk to us about Uppercut Training Club. What’s going on over here? There are lots of moving pieces.
I’ll tee it up and pass it to Kartik, our fearless CEO. Jumpcut Media is an incredible AI-based production company. It’s backed by Atomic VC, WME, A-Rod, and a lot of interesting notables. With Kartik at the helm, it has been an honestly delightful experience because they’re genuinely trying to decentralize, democratize, and diversify Hollywood through Web3.
While they use amazing AI technology to unearth underserved storytellers, cool backstory-generating technology, and lending tools that can white-label other platforms or stand alone, at the crux, it’s creating Web3-native projects that can ultimately be the next action hero franchise and giving storytellers a much more accessible voice. We have an incredibly exciting Uppercut Training Club project coming up. It mints on August 30th, 2022.
I’ll pass it to Kartik to give you a little more info. I’m excited to be a part of this. I believe that it is the future and that we’re in the future. Dillon spoke about experiences earlier and how important that relationship is with the community, the icons, and the overall brand. With the storytelling and the experiences unlocking the story and being a part of that choose-your-own-adventure, we’re trying to digitize that. I’ll pass it to Kartik. I’m excited. I appreciate being here.
Thanks, Alisa. First of all, thank you for having me. It’s a great pleasure. I’m a big fan of the show. Dillon, as a founder, I could relate to what you were saying about the traits you want to pass on and the traits you want to get rid of. I would probably pick the same ones. It’s nice to hear that. As Alisa was saying, what got us started was this observation of how Hollywood has historically been very top-down.
Few execs decide what gets made and by whom. The result is that the industry is not particularly inclusive of creators. It’s also one where fans are relegated to being mere consumers. We wanted to flip that. With Uppercut Training Club, we’re trying to build the next great action franchise bottom-up with communities where fans have a say in how the franchise gets built.
Imagine owning an NFT for a character, and that character becomes the Luke Skywalker of the story universe. That’s the promise of what we’re trying to build. We have a great creative team, which includes directors of projects like Book of Boba Fett and the Mortal Kombat series. We’ve got writers and producers of top shows for Netflix and Amazon who are part of the creative team.
We paired that with a great technology team that understands what Web3 is all about and is creating a compelling product experience where NFT holders can participate in quests and contribute to the story universe. I would love to talk a little bit at some point about the story itself and the Dungeons & Dragons-style quests we have built around as well.
We’re here. Tell us a little bit more. I’m going to get a major case of FOMO if you don’t share a little bit of the story.
That was a brilliant cliffhanger, though. We’re ready.
When we looked at a lot of NFTs, there are some great artworks. People buy the NFT. You hold onto it for some time, but then after a while, you get bored of the NFT and then maybe you decide you sell it. We said, “It’s got to be much more than the artwork.” In our world, the NFT is a character in a story. The story that our creative team is creating is that three senseis are out to rediscover the ultimate martial art. Everything is a subset of it, but it’s lost in time.
They’re all trying to rediscover it and competing to do so. What they don’t know is that they better collaborate along the way before the dark forces find it. Each sensei starts a dojo. Once a user mints an NFT, you enroll your NFT character into one of the dojos whose personality best matches yours. Every week, you solve a series of quests that your dojo sensei gives you.
These could be IRL quests. There could be a virtual quest. It might be creating a backstory for your NFT character or going for a run. There’s mental fitness, physical fitness, and storytelling. All of these are part of those quests. Ultimately, you’re trying to help your sensei unlock the lost martial art. By doing so, you earn points for yourself and your dojo. It’s a little bit of Dungeons & Dragons quests mixed with your favorite martial arts movies. That’s what it’s about.
It’s also a euphemism for all sports. I think about all the different coaching philosophies in basketball and the differences between the camps and MMA fighting. Jeff and I are big UFC fans. There are so many different ways to go about inspiring the best out of your team. Some are very relatable and some aren’t a fit for you.
The Future Of Fandom: To create something that everybody can purchase in a simple way, something they can genuinely own and enjoy that allows them to tell a story about their icon that likely couldn’t be told in the physical world in the same way.
Some of the senseis that the NFT holders are going to attract are Hollywood stuntmen, MMA fighters, and real martial artists who are going to be your sensei and who are going to train you. It’s exactly that kind of spirit that you’re talking about.
I’m trying to decide. Do I want A-Rod as my sensei or someone else? Dillon, what are your thoughts on all this?
It sounds pretty amazing. Maybe we can help bring a sensei to the table at some point. I love the premise of decentralized content creation and these decentralized quests like the community forum naturally that you’ve talked about. It’s philosophically very Web3. I’m excited to learn more.
I want Big Papi from the Red Sox to be my sensei.
Speaking my love language as a Native Masshole, I am all the way for it.
He would inspire me 100%. That’s great. We’re going to do some giveaways. Thank you for that. We will announce the details on social soon. Folks can be tuned into that and participate in some way. We appreciate that. We’re excited about what you are doing. It’s a spirit of where this industry is going with these multidimensional projects that touch on the arts and entertainment industry in a profound way. That’s why we do what we do. The whole ethos behind NFTLA is this intermixing and cross-collaboration among all these different types of IPs. It sounds like you’re putting a lot of thought into this.
To Kartik’s point, the quests are both building lore around the character and the story world but also creating collaborative versus competitive gamification. If Dillon has a super dope NFT, which is not just static art, it’s gamified and animated and it’s collaborating these iconic writers, producers, and creatives with some of the top artists on the Unreal Engine and these epic fight scene payoffs. You get to participate in where that story goes down to what the Domo is. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What are the real-world IRL activities to also earn and become more participatory?
Whether you are Web1, Web2, Web3, or the precursor to Web4, there’s this incredibly integrated community and storyland where you get to be a cook in the kitchen a little bit. When we think about how stories are told in Hollywood, the comics world, literature, or any form of retail, there are a lot of folks in the ivory towers. There are a lot of folks that are monolithic, monochromatic, and homogenous. It’s to be able to equalize that and not other those that have been in power or not but have a more accessible entry point. The ethos is that if there’s less of a barrier to entry, there’s a more equal playing field to do all the things, tell the stories, produce great works, and develop the next franchise.
That’s special. That has been fun to work on with these guys. They’re also doing some projects we can’t quite talk about yet, but they’re amazing with community building, women, and what narrative storytelling looks like for these incredible collectives that already exist to work together, build stories together, and also diversify resources. There are a lot of tools. That’s not just money. It’s also money. There are a lot of tools to be a creative digital entrepreneur in Web3. I’ve been inspired by what that looks like in investment in the most traditional sense but also in education, workshops, access, and building out the Hall of Heroes for Uppercut, for example.
If you go to UppercutTrainingClub.com, there’s that personality test to identify which Domo you even feel a sense of belonging to. Are you more Zen and empathetic? Do you use intellect over brawn? Are you more bold and ferocious? There are different subsets of even our personalities. I’m all over the place, so I probably need one of each, but it’s finding your tribe a little bit. What I would say too with Uppercut, in particular, is this. What does it look like to have a seat at the table? What if you could loan that same NFT?
If you think about the guilds, the associations, and the groups that may not even have the socioeconomic advantage or access, what if you could rent the runway? What if you could rent or loan in a meaningful way for a period with non-exclusive rights? What do IP and smart contracts look like in a way that more people can be involved in the storytelling process? That’s the solution they’re coming up with from a technical perspective. That can change the game across a lot of marketplaces, platforms, and blockchains beyond even a cool drop on August 30th, 2022.
There are super exciting things happening. All the principles that we’re talking about here are so foundational to the projects that we believe are going to move the needle. It’s great to hear that. There’s this element too that maybe a lot of people don’t understand. It’s part of the magic that’s happening there. That is the storytelling element of this. It’s not just in the core product but also in how you’re describing your roadmap. There’s this customer journey that you’re describing that’s rooted in narrative storytelling and entertainment.
Being able to capture that and find that in a way makes us fun, interesting, and attractive for members of that community to actively engage and participate. There’s a magic in there that a lot of people miss, but you have not. We appreciate that. We appreciate you sharing all these details. We appreciate your generosity with the giveaway. Keep an eye on our socials for that. Lastly, where should folks go to follow everything that’s happening here on social?
For the project, first of all, our website is UppercutTrainingClub.com. Our Twitter is @UppercutNFT. It’s pretty easy to find. You can find us in these places. There’s one quick thing that I’ll mention, Jeff, since you brought up many different aspects of these projects. One of the things you latched onto was the storytelling as being a key one. We look at Hollywood. Hollywood is amazing at storytelling, but one of the things Hollywood hasn’t got is a community opening up the gates, making things accessible, and embracing communities.
One of the things we know with Web3 is it’s the framework that’s built around communities, but the lore and storytelling are still very superficial. We’re trying to bring the two together. Content and storytelling are what engage the community. The community is what elevates the storytelling. That’s what we’re all about. It’s UppercutTrainingClub.com. Thanks.
On Twitter, we will be doing some fun spaces, hopefully with you as well, @UppercutNFT. One thing I wanted to add was one of our colleagues, Eric, always says that for too long, heroes have been narrowly defined as the Johns, Jacks, Wick, McClane, Connor, Rambo, Reacher, Ryan, and Sparrow. They all look alike. They all feel alike. They all do alike. Not to take away from some of the most iconic franchises and heroes of our time, most of which I’m a stan for, but what does it look like when we represent these senseis, combat warriors, and heroes a little bit more broadly? Could they be disabled? Could they be women? Could they be of any ethnicity or nationality?
What does that look like and feel like so that people can see it to be it and feel a little bit more of a sense of belonging coming into the community even if you’re not Tom Brady, A-Rod, or even Kartik, who’s a brilliant academic and engineer? If you’re not that yet and you want to find your place, you have to show different faces, bodies, looks, and feels. That’s cool. As you see the artwork and what the heroes in this more inclusive world look like, you will get a sense of that.
There are also iconic fight scenes. At the end of the day, if you like martial arts and gaming, coming from a gaming background and having had a lot of fun getting to talk with Dillon, Autograph, Baron, and a bunch of folks at NFTLA around what the sports world looks like coming into owning fandom and that sense, “You have a name and likeness, an IP, or an identity that so many people find inspiring, aspirational, and motivational,” what does that look like in Web3?
Dillon spoke to it earlier. Kartik summed it up beautifully. It is that hybrid reality of on and offline storytelling, as Jeff said, where it’s getting more depth and substance. Also, taking it across platforms and not living in isolation in Web3 but bringing Web3 into the real world and bringing the real world into this new reality that is Web3 intersectionally, not just as plus-ones to the party.
The Future Of Fandom: We’re starting to think about how to create a fan experience that lasts and having NFT be the backbone of it.
We couldn’t be more excited about Uppercut Training Club. Keep an eye out. There are great things forthcoming. Thanks so much, Alisa and Kartik, for joining us. We will catch up very soon.
It’s very cool stuff all around. Dillon, I do see some neat intersections between what they’re doing and what you are doing there around some of these athletes’ fans. We talked to a lot of people both on the show and in general in this space all over the world at different events and whatnot. When you start to look at and break down all these core values that you’ve been talking about the whole time, not just in concept but in execution as well, it makes for something that’s distinctive in the space and something we need more of. We appreciate you being a great example for those other folks building other projects and trying to move the space forward for how to structure something of meaning.
I appreciate that. Those of us that are working in this space all understand how early we are. You look at the examples of tech innovation in history. That, at first, was a high price. The price comes down, or the actual application wasn’t found yet, but it was found later on. We’re right at that point in the NFT space, where things are starting to get more accessible. People are starting to figure out the actual functions of the technology, accessing the physical and the digital, and telling stories. I couldn’t be more bullish on the next 5, 10, or 15 years to come for everything NFTs and Web3.
We’ve got to make sure folks know where to go to follow Autograph, you, all these amazing things that are forthcoming, all these cool drops, everything you weren’t able to tell us all about, and everything you were. Where should we send them?
If you want to be bored, my Twitter is @DillonRose24 but if you want to follow the fun stuff, check out @Autograph on Twitter and @Autograph.io on Instagram. Our website is Autograph.io. You can sign up and mint your username on Polygon, which is pretty cool for employing it. It’s yours though. You can’t change it because it’s permanent, but you can make your username. Everyone is hanging out in the Autograph Discord. It’s not gated by the need to hold the token quite yet. Feel free to jump in, hang out, and get to know the community. This has been great. Thank you all for having me.
It has been great to have you on. Check it out, everybody. Autograph is making waves and making the future.
We’re trying. Thank you.
We have reached the outer limit at the show. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship, so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes, rate us, and say something awesome. Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Look us up on all major social platforms by typing EdgeOfNFT to start a fun conversation with us online. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.
- Rafael Nadal drop
- Uppercut Training Club
- Jumpcut Media
- @UppercutNFT – Twitter
- @DillonRose24 – Twitter
- @Autograph – Twitter
- @Autograph.io – Instagram
- Discord – Autograph
- Spotify – Edge of NFT
- iTunes – Edge of NFT
About Dillon Rosenblatt
Autograph is a first-of-its-kind, experience-driven NFT platform that brings together the most iconic brands and biggest names in sports, entertainment, fashion, and pop-culture to create unique digital collectibles. Experience, collect, and enjoy.