Edge Of Asia 4: Seoul Meta Week, Feat. Trevor Owens (Ninjalerts), Jay Kimm (Boomco), RUSYENG (NFT Kartel)

October 30, 2022

In today’s episode of Edge of NFT, we bring you to Seoul Meta Week, a platform to create the blockchain-based ecosystem value and share knowledge of trends and information about the Metaverse, NFTs, Web3, and blockchain technology with the experts, NFT artists, NFT collectors, and top players in this industry. Tune in to hear from Trevor Owens of Ninjalerts, Jay Kimm of boomco, and RUSYENG of NFT Kartel as they talk about the trends and useful applications of the open-source network and blockchain technology.


Listen to the podcast here

EdgeOf Asia 4: Seoul Meta Week, Feat. Trevor Owens (Ninjalerts), Jay Kimm (Boomco),RUSYENG (NFT Kartel)

We are bringing you a special one filled with content curated from our recent travels to Southeast Asia and beyond. Stay tuned for some amazing interviews with incredible folks. We will cut from one conversation to the next, introducing each guest as they arrive to give you the feeling like you are right there with us, jumping into each engaging conversation as it emerges.


We are live and Soul Korea at Seoul Meta Week with someone whose background in the blockchain is fascinating and whose beard matches or dominates our one and only, Zach Sekar. Trevor, it is great to have you here.

It is great to be here, Josh.

Are you having some tea? It has been an adventure-filled first day at Seoul Meta Week. I enjoyed your talk earlier. Maybe for our readers at home, you can give a little bit of an overview of yourself and what you covered in your talk, and we will have a broader conversation about what's going on in Seoul, Korea, broadly in blockchain and Web3.

My name is Trevor Owens. I'm the Managing Partner of Stacks Ventures and also the CEO and Founder of Ninjalerts. I have been an entrepreneur for a decade, mainly how we go back and we didn't even know it but I used to run a company called Lean Startup Machine doing training for entrepreneurs all around the world. Josh, we have mutual connections to that. You also were an attendee of one of those programs a while ago.

Lean Startup has been a key part of my entrepreneurial journey and something I have recommended to many entrepreneurs over the years. It is a great way to go about creating a company methodically and not letting your own personal bias and love of your idea blind you from the data.

It was Lean Startup that brought me to Asia. Originally, I was working with Microsoft in China and spent several years there. I had a book published on the Chinese market. I worked with some big companies like Tencent and Huawei. When Covid happened, I made my way over to Korea because I always had an interest in planting seeds. I have always done stuff globally. Back in the Lean Startup Machine days, I used to travel the world doing training. I have always had a global view.

When it comes to Asia, specifically, if you are to look at the global population of eight billion people and if you were to draw a circle around the smallest area that has more people inside the circle than outside the circle, it is called the Valerie Peer of Circle. It exists around a five-hour flight radius from Hong Kong. Within a five-hour flight radius from Hong Kong, there are more than four billion people living within that circle.

My philosophy has always been global. It has always been about planting seeds outside of the US, and I probably view myself long-term being in the US. One of the most interesting things about Asia is that if you were to draw a circle on the globe and a five-hour flight radius from Hong Kong, there are more people that live inside that circle than outside that circle. More than half the world's population is within a five-hour flight of Hong Kong.

If you are looking at the global macro trends and you are keeping it on Asia, you are seeing the massive amount of growth that is happening here. In the future, 2030, maybe 40 years from now, we may see a shifting of the main economic and innovation happening in Asia. That has always been my philosophy and mindset. When I look at the potential hubs of innovation in top cities, I consider geopolitics and those factors.

If you're looking at the global macro trends and keeping it on Asia, you're seeing the massive amount of growth happening there. In the future, 20, 30, or 40 years from now, we may see a shifting of the main economic and innovation happening in Asia. Click To Tweet

I look at Singapore and Korea as being the two main areas to base a company or a team in. The main event of Korea compared to Singapore is that the main language is English, which is probably the main benefit and the finance industry there. There is only a 5 million population in Singapore versus, if you look at Korea, it is 50 million.

There are many other industries here, such as entertainment, K-pop, K-Dramas, eSports, gaming, Samsung, and LG. There is a much more dynamic and diverse economic ecosystem in Korea. The biggest barrier is the language barrier. If you are an entrepreneur like I am, you are adaptable, and want to have a serious long-term impact in the Asian market, Korea is probably the best place to base your company.

Let's get more in-depth here. What is it like on the ground here in terms of the blockchain and the Web3 climate?

It is booming. It was August 2022 that we had the Korea Blockchain Week, which was hosted by Hashed, ROK Capital, and some friends of mine. There were more people at the Korea Blockchain Week than were at Bitcoin Miami. Bitcoin Miami was 30,000 people. In Korea Blockchain Week, it was reported to be 40,000 people in there.

I have also heard that the Korean government is fairly concerned about scams and consumer rights. How does that parlay into innovation?

The government has been fairly hands-off when it comes to blockchain and crypto so far. TBD, some of the new regulations are coming but even up until 2021, there have been no taxes on crypto. That has been a huge boost to the industry because there are a lot of people, especially with code and inflation. There is a ton of money pouring into it. In Korea, there are no taxes on top of that. It is a perfect storm of interest in altcoins and all things blockchain. I do think that Korea tends to be a little bit behind the US in terms of what the trend is. We are seeing now like NFTs picking up in Korea, whereas it was huge in 2021 in the US.

I heard there is a major department store that had a VIP membership for over $30,000 as an NFT, and it sold out quickly.

It was a presidential candidate who sold his own NFT to raise funds for his campaign.

How did he do that?

I didn't see the NFT myself but it was either a mayor candidate or a presidential candidate. I have to look that up.

That shows some local buy-in. Are there any other projects based here in Korea besides Klaytn, which everyone knows about or at least knows more about than maybe some of the other things? Are there other projects here that you find particularly inspiring?

From a technology perspective, there is Klaytn, and there are some other interesting things that happened. Korea is more focused on industry application than it is necessarily on the core technology. That is the case with most countries. You don't see layer one being developed outside of the United States that is successful.

With the open-source network, Korea is more focused on industry applications than it is necessarily on the core technology. Click To Tweet

Klaytn is an exception because of its connection with Kakao. Vitalik, for example, is a Russian Canadian. Satoshi was an American. All of the most likely suspects are from America. You see a heavy layer one development focus coming from the US. Other countries are going to be doing industry applications. Korea is poised well because of K-pop and K-Drama and the fandoms that they are creating. People underestimate how big K-pop is.

Are you now a K-pop fan? You have been here a few years.

I appreciate it but it is a little bit outside of my age category.

Have you been to at least one K-pop concert?

I have not, but I have listened to some of the earliest K-pop. There is one of the first K-pop bands is this band called Big Bang. I used to listen to those. My friends introduced me to them. They are pretty cool. The younger ones are a little bit out of my demographic. Looking at gaming, E-Sports, K-pop, K-Drama, and IP creation, Korea is second to none in Asia. There are billions of people here in the Asian region. K-pop is huge in China and Southeast Asia. There is a lot going on for those industry-specific focuses in Korea.

Let's also give folks some background on Ninjalerts and Stacks. You guys are up to some cool things in this space.

Stacks, you can think of it like a layer two on top of Bitcoin that brings Ethereum-level smart contracts to Bitcoin. It is one of the youngest chains now. We launched several years ago. I was an early advisor to the founders through the Lean Startup Machine and have been able to follow them over the years. They have been in this game for a long time but released the Stacks Network several years ago.

NFT Edge Of Asia 4 | Seoul Meta Week
Seoul Meta Week: Stacks is basically layering two on top of Bitcoin that brings Ethereum-level smart contracts to Bitcoin. It's one of the youngest chains right now that just launched about a year and a half ago.

It has been growing quite rapidly. My thesis is that we are moving towards a multichain ecosystem. The key thing is going to be differentiation. With Ethereum now succeeding, it is moved to proof of steak. Other than Solana, a lot of the proof of stake chains are going to get wiped out because what is the technological advantage or differentiation of the other chains now that Ethereum is carbon neutral and has the potential for layer twos?

In regard to Lean Startup with my previous company, we called it the yeah, buts. The big dog has removed the biggest, yeah, but. That should be an awakening for innovation within the ecosystem.

My theory is that at some point, the biggest competitor to Ethereum is going to be layered on top of Bitcoin because Bitcoin still has momentum. It has big trade-offs over the Ethereum in terms of staying with proof of work. Building layers on top of that is one of the big theses I'm interested in. The data stacks are crushing everybody in that race to be the smart contract layer on top of Bitcoin.

The contrarian viewpoint there would be that building on top of Bitcoin doesn't make sense. It is not a logical use of technology. What are your thoughts there? I'm sure you have quite an in-depth response.

Stacks is building in a layered approach. The whole argument is that Bitcoin is never going to change. That fits into the strategy that Stacks took to it, where it is adding layers on top. We don't have to change Bitcoin to add new functionality to Bitcoin. One of the biggest advantages of Bitcoin is limited functionality.

When you look at all the exploits and different hacks we have seen on Ethereum related to DeFi, that is because the attack surface is large. The more functionality that you have, the more the attack surface is. With Bitcoin's limited scripting capabilities, it is hard for a major hack to happen. Having Stacks as a layer on top, you can put the DeFi and the NFT capabilities in a way that leverages the security of Bitcoin while also extending its functionality.

The whole idea behind Stacks is not to change the base layer because the base layer is extremely hard to change. We saw that in the 2017 and 2018 block size wars, where they wanted to increase the block size but it didn't happen. Ethereum is going to reach a maturity point with the base layer, and you are going to have more innovation happening. The layer two is arbitration optimism.

Bitcoin is already there. The difference is going to be how much functionality is on the base layer versus how much functionality is on the higher layers like layer two. If Ethereum has a lot of function on the base layer, the Rollups and Snarks extend that functionality versus, with Bitcoin, there is limited functioning on the base level, and the layers on top are going to add a ton more functionality.

You guys are doing a lot to help people build on top of Bitcoin with the accelerated program. You do that program multiple times a year. You have a new class coming up. Maybe you can tell folks a little bit about it and maybe highlight some of the unique innovations that come out of the program. I know it is difficult to pick a favorite. People ask what our favorite show is, and they always want the favorite but maybe a couple of interesting highlights from the program and what's come out of it without saying any of them are your favorite.

I love all my children equally. We have been operating for several years. Since the Stacks Network kicked off, we have made 47 investments to date. We had an aggressive pace of capital deployment. We do make small checks. It is $50,000 per company. Every one of these projects is my favorite children. Alex DeFi, which is like Uniswap and meets compound on Stack. You can go there.

You can swap tokens. You can do borrowing lending. They already have an order book layer three on top of their core platform. There is also Arkadiko, which is an interesting one because of one of the key differences between Stacks and Ethereum. You know how you have to stake on Ethereum, which allows you to earn a yield of Ethereum. We have the same thing on Stacks but instead of earning Stacks, you earn a yield of Bitcoin.

Who doesn't want to earn more Bitcoin passively?

Especially for a new network that is less proven than Bitcoin, to be able to hold the token, stake it and earn native Bitcoin until your Bitcoin wallet is pretty compelling. With Arkadiko, it is a die-like stablecoin where it is backed by collateral but when you take that loan out, you can pay it back through the yield automatically. You can put down $100,000, and you are going $25,000 out as a loan in stablecoins, and your loan is going to pay itself off automatically from the interest on your collateral.

Why didn't I know about this? That is cool. Tell us a little bit about Ninjalerts as well.

Ninjalerts is an NFT trading tool. We are a contract and wallet tracker. We allow you to subscribe to wallets of top traders, celebrities or specific contracts, and you get push notifications to your phone when certain actions take place. If, Josh, I want to follow your wallet and see what NFTs you are buying, I can easily do it with Ninjalerts. We also have a directory. You can search for different wallets. I don't think I have added your wallet there yet, but I will make sure to do it after the show so that I can keep track of you.

Ninjalerts is an NFT trading tool. It’s a contract and wallet tracker that allows you to subscribe to wallets of top traders, celebrities, or specific contracts, and you get push notifications to your phone when certain actions take place. Click To Tweet

What have been some of the more popular wallets to follow besides Vitalik?

Frank Season 2 is the most profitable trader of all time. He has made over 10,000 ETH in profits from trading NFTs. That is a popular one. We have a bunch of probably lesser-known people because we also run algorithms to identify who the most profitable traders are. You can go into the app and view their wallet stats and profits.

Do you have GMoney on there?

We go have GMoney on there. We have all the celebrities. We have Ashton Kucher, Jimmy Fallon, Paris Hilton, and Mark Cuban. We have done all the research to find all of this.

We love Eva Longoria. Hopefully, she will be at NFT LA. Kim is great, too. Where can folks go to learn more about Stacks and Ninjalerts?

Check out stacks. It is Stacks.co. It is the domain name. That will give you a lot of links to the functionality, the documentation, and the list of projects. You can go to Ninjalerts.com. You can download the app for free and start following my wallet. I will add Josh's wallet in there after this so you can see what he is trading. Maybe some inside knowledge there or follow your friends too. I follow a lot of my friends to see what they are minting, buying or selling.

Trevor, thanks for hanging out with us and giving us that nice perspective on what is going on here in Asia and specifically Seoul.

My pleasure.


I’m with my new friend Jay Kim. It is great to have you here.

Nice to have you.

We had a great conversation and learned that Jay is doing some fascinating stuff in the world of Web3 and shares our ethos on learning and using this technology in unique ways. Jay, you could do the honors here. Tell everyone what you are doing and a little bit about yourself.

Our company, called Boomco, is about learning. It means that we have been in the field of Web2 and introducing English Korean learning. We found out there are people who are interested in learning the language but there are countries who can't afford it. We have seen that Axie Infinity plays to earn. These movements that took an economy can move a lot of things. We thought, “Let's bring learning and rewarding together.”

We launched our own app as an MVP, as a Minimum Viable Product. We tested it out. You can see people are engaging if you have rewards on the back. Learning is quite difficult. It is hard work. They are doing this hard work to get earnings and repeating it again. Our app is live at the moment. There are a lot of users learning Korean of totally different languages and getting rewards for it.

I have been here a few days, and I can tell how important it is to know at least a little bit of Korean when you are in Seoul. It is a vibrant blockchain community, and people want to engage but it is one of those places where the native language matters.

The difficulty is that you can't read it. You can't hear and understand it. The barrier is a little bit higher than learning another language, which is based on alphabetically. If you go into Korean, our app is based on very easy listening, hearing, and repeating because we believe repeating is king. If you want to repeat, you have to have something that can push you forward. You may remember when you say, “Mom, I will get an A plus if you buy me a PlayStation.” That is the reward you need in the back.” This is what our app is doing. It is rewarding and pushes the user forward so we can push forward with learning.

You have chosen a hybrid economy of tokens plus NFTs. Can you tell us a little bit about how that works?

Our token is for getting the reward itself, and there are systems out there where you need an NFT to participate on the network but in our case, there is a free-to-learn model. You can download the app and start earning. There is a model where you have an NFT, which is only available as promotional marketing. With this NFT, you have the ability to earn a little bit more on the system and directly because our free-to-earn is based on a point system where you have to participate and earn points on a ranking board. With an NFT, you can earn direct rewards.

NFT Edge Of Asia 4 | Seoul Meta Week
Seoul Meta Week: There are systems where you need an NFT to participate on the network, but boomco has a free-to-learn model.

To rewind a little bit, Jay. How did you get into the blockchain space, and what is Boomco all about?

Boomco is about making an equal opportunity for learning itself. We are in the educational field in Edutech and Edufied as the learning system itself. I started at the end of 2017. That was a big time for a lot of us.

That common year, people share when they got involved in blockchain, 2017.

I also started with a similar system where you can write something and earn rewards. It was a blockchain system called Steam. There is where I met all the blockchain people around. They have offline events. They are writing content about blockchain and so on.

If people want to learn more about what you are building, try out the product or learn a little Korean, where do they go?

You can go to Google Play Store or Apple iOS Store and write in Boomco. You can find an app. You can directly download the app and trade up.

For our readers at home, you are going to be eligible for an early version of this Genesis NFT that you are dropping. Is that correct?

That is correct.

More to come there. Thank you very much for your generosity, and I wish you the best in developing this exciting product. I have already talked to a few people here that are excited to learn a little bit more now that they are at the conference and realizing how powerful it can be to know the native language of the place you are traveling. As we think about East Meets West and cross-pollinating Web3, it is important that we all speak each other's language, both metaphorically and in actuality. I’m excited to learn more about your product. Thanks so much, Jay.

Thanks for having me.


We experienced Metacon, and during the launch, I had a chance to meet RUSYENG, who shared with me that he is one of the Founders of one of the largest guilds in Asia, but the top guild in Korea, which is called the NFT Kartel. This is pretty innovative because NFTs are relatively newer to the space in Korea. You and your fellow Kartel members are the pioneers. I wanted to learn more, and it is great to have you on the show. Thank you for being here.

Thanks for having me, Josh.

I know English is not your native language, and I appreciate you being a risk-taker on the show. No worries at all about the language barriers there. You can start by telling me about how NFT Kartel got started, and there have been a few moments where it took off. Maybe you can share a little bit about the story of NFT Kartel.

We started in February 2022. We were a small community in a chatting room. Many people want to get information for Klaytn Project, NFT Klaytn. Our other founder is called Brett. He made a chatroom. Many people join our chatroom and also me.

It was an organic thing where everyone wanted to gather and learn information about gaming. What was the first game that you guys started playing together?

It was a Land PIE. We were playing Tychus Gold and Big Time.

We are going to have Big Time on the show, and we did a Twitter space with them. At what point did things grow and become formal, where you called it a guild? When did that happen?

In the middle of April 2022, many people joined online Meetups. We are thinking differently. We can make something like a guild or platform. At that time, they were not guild members, just people. We were talking about information for NFT, blockchain, economics, and everything. There are nice and genius guys in our chatroom. We decided to make a big community.

To recap, you started in February 2022. You started to have these in-person gatherings. In April, you started to realize there were a lot of interesting people with different expertise. You decided to turn it into the NFT Kartel, which is what it is now. One criticism of guilds has been how hard it can become to be part of the guild, and the responsibilities can turn unhealthy, where people are addicted or work too hard. This sounds like a guild that is community-driven, where it was created by the community. How do you balance the responsibilities of guild members with a healthy lifestyle?

We don't have any rules. You can do everything in our community. You can communicate or something. Every information known themselves can send any link and picture. We have a decentralization system. We have a comfortable community.

You mentioned you are a photographer. You have a photography studio. You still do photography, and this is a hobby that is making extra money and you enjoy. Let's talk about some of the statistics. Starting in February 2022, you are getting formal in April 2022. You already have five active projects and $10 million of land. That is quite a lot for 1,200 guild members. How did it grow quickly?

Our community can make more members. We provide many promotions for our followers and guild members. They want some benefit in the NFT scene or blockchain community. We provide many benefits for them for free. We don't make money in our team. They give away all of their trust in our community.

You are not trying to over-profit on the community or the projects. You are generally growing the community. It is a great example of more revisionist thinking on guilds because as we talked about, some of the older guilds got a little bit unhealthy, and you are trying to reward community, bond together, and help each other in a positive way. It is cool and exciting to see what you have been building. What have been some of the favorite parts of this experience for you personally? What have you gotten out of being part of this guild?

I can enjoy vibration in the community, and I'm relationship-oriented. I’m relationship focus. They can talk to me easily.

NFT Edge Of Asia 4 | Seoul Meta Week
Seoul Meta Week: The guild is relationship-oriented. Being part of it, you can enjoy the vibration of the community.

For those of you that are reading this, I can tell you that the gentleman sitting next to me has a great aura of positive energy and an amazing smile. It is cool to see you and the community having fun and growing together around that passion.

We are preparing the largest guild platform in the world.

Those are big ambitions.

We are preparing many programs. We make a web service for NFT. It is called the NFTs Top. That makes our core team members. NFT Top can see every Klaytn network situation like trading, NFT price, and transaction. Everything can be. It is for our guild members can only benefit. We provide a scholarship program. We learned from a project like Hundred NFT and gave our members. They didn't buy NFT. They get free NFT and play to gain. There can get a mining system from NFT. We want many people can playing and did an investment for themself but we can give guild members many benefits and services. NFT is free. We want to go together with project team users.

That is the Web3 way. You guys vibe this ethos, which is why I was excited to speak with you. I know it wasn't easy for you to have an interview in English. We don't have a translator. I appreciate your effort here. I'm excited about what you are doing. I like to give your community two tickets to NFT LA. It is a gift from me to your community. You can decide who in your community should come. Maybe we can do more together beyond that. Similar to your style, we are about leading by giving, and good things happen. That is my gift to you.

Thank you so much, Josh.

It is my pleasure. Where can people go to learn more about NFT Kartel, and how do they join the guild? I'm sure they have to be as cool as you are but besides being an awesome person, how do they join the guild?

Follow us on Twitter, @Kartel_NFT.

Get involved in the hottest NFT guild in Korea. Thank you for spending some time with us. It is great to meet you in Seoul and see what you are doing in the community.

Thank you.


We have reached the outer limit at the Edge of NFTs. Thanks for exploring with us. We got space for more adventures on this starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to iTunes, rate us, and say something cool. Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole.

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