With the dawn of NFTs, the toy industry has now entered a brand new era. Instead of playing with physical toys, children can now go digital to build collectibles online and play with other people from all over the world. After observing this behavior, Will Weinraub started Cryptoys to bring toy, gaming, and entertainment worlds together and create one expansive universe. He joins Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger to discuss how this NFT gaming platform provides players with a refreshing yet nostalgic experience. He also talks about their groundbreaking partnership with the legendary toy company Mattel. For this episode's Sponsored Hot Topic, Rafi Anteby shares how he helps people reconnect with their own consciousness through Rafi Lounge, the world's first members-only Web3 lounge.
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Will Weinraub Of Cryptoys, Collectible And Playable Digital Toys, Plus: Rafi Lounge Wellness NFT, And More…
Stay tuned for this episode to learn how we hope to create the next Ninja Turtles craze with relationship magic.
Why Mattel disrupted their own category to become masters of the digital universe.
Our hot topic guest is solving for Web3 burnout, both online and in IRL in beautiful Malibu County, California. All this and more on this episode.
Don't forget, we put together a gathering called NFTLA that brought out thousands of the world's most innovative doers in the NFT space. Head to NFTLA.live to get tickets to our bigger, bolder, better, but just as intimate and impactful event happening in Los Angeles, March 20th through the 23rd, 2023. See you there.
Our guest is Will Weinraub, a serial entrepreneur and CEO and Cofounder of OnChain Studios, the makers of the NFT gaming platform, Cryptoys. Before OnChain Studios, Will founded the Miami-based startup Live Ninja, which was acquired in 2017. OnChain Studios has raised over $30 million from top-tier investment firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Dapper Labs, CoinFund, Draper & Associates, Acrew Capital, and others. They also signed a multi-year partnership with a legendary toy company, Mattel. They will also invest in startups through Flamingo Capital and runs The Local Leaders Collective, an organization that helps founders overcome challenges through peer support.
On the personal side, Will is obsessed with Miami Sports, the Heat and the Dolphins in particular. He has three kids, Victoria, Kevin, and Tyler, and an Australian Shepherd, Ace. He also has a strong affinity towards good Southern barbecue and thinks the best flavor combination in the world is chocolate and peanut butter.
We could have used your collective. I have to say, shout out to the Dolphins. I'm a Patriots fan. It hasn't been our strongest year. You guys need a little bit of time to shine. It's been a while.
You had your decade. You did well with your 50 million Super Bowls. We need one at this point.
The Patriots are one of the most expensive franchises in the world now. Not a bad cycle there.
It pisses me off as a Dolphin fan because we had to put up with Tom Brady and the Patriots for the last several years. As soon as he leaves, now we got to deal with the Bills in Josh Allen. I thought we would have the division, but it doesn't look like it, unfortunately.
At least on the consolation, you're building something pretty epic here. Cryptoys, you got a portal with toys, gaming, and entertainment, all colliding on the blockchain, bringing new meaning to the word, play. It's great to have you on the show and to hear about some of the stuff you have brewing here. We had Mattel at NFT LA. We have the sense that there was more to what they were cooking up and now the whole circle comes to us. How did this platform begin? Tell us what you're up to.
First of all, thank you so much for having me on the show. I’m excited to be here and jam with you guys. I'm a serial entrepreneur. I got started in tech when I was a kid. I got my thousand hours of America Online via CD-ROM in the mail, for those of you that remember those days. That got me started on the internet. I was on AOL a lot and those topic-based chat rooms and got started building websites on GeoCities. I’m dating myself here, but for those of you that remember, GeoCities and Angelfire and Tripod and those free hosting sites back in the day and started building sites. That's how I got started. I’m tech building websites for people for money. I did some consulting stuff when I was a teenager.
GeoCities should come back as a metaverse project.
That'd be sick. I'd love that. As an NFT project, they might as well bring back GeoCities. RadioShack could be relaunched. Anything's possible at this point. That's how I got started. I went off to Florida State University. I came out of Florida State and started my first venture-backed company that was called Live Ninja. I sold that company in 2017. This whole thing with Cryptoys started off as a side project shortly after I sold the company.
Around late 2017 and early 2018, I started learning about NFTs through Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist for Union Square Ventures. I'm a big fan of his. An early investor in Twitter and Tumblr. He had this blog called AVC. He still has it, AVC.com. He used to write every single day. Now he's slowed down a little bit, but they wrote a blog post and he said he's investing in this new company called Axiom Zen.
They're renaming to Dapper Labs and they have this thing called CryptoKitties that's coming out. He said, “Don't laugh because they're digital cats on the blockchain but trust me, NFTs are going to be a big thing one day. Digital collectibles are going to be a thing.” I grew up a comic book collector, collecting action figures and playing video games.
To me, digital collectibles made all the sense in the world. I started buying my first CryptoKitties back then, setting up a MetaMask wallet and whatnot and then playing around with it. I was fascinated. At the time, my daughter was about five years old. She was into these things called blind bag toys, things like L.O.L. Surprise, Hatchimals and Rainbow Corns. For those parents out there that have kids around the same age, you know what these things are. You buy them for $20, $30 at Target or Walmart.
Kids buy them home. They open up these little plastic eggs and inside is a random toy. Some of them were rare than others. I was spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on this stuff. As any entrepreneur would, you get curious. You're like, “Why this? Why are you fascinated with this? What about this is fascinating?”
I started looking up the company that made it. They were generating billions of dollars on these toys. I was fascinated by the concept and learning about this new trend in the toy industry. One day I'm working from home, my daughter screams from the playroom with excitement. She's like, “Dad, come quick. I got it. I got the ultra-rare. Finally, I got the ultra-rare.” I go to see what she's doing and she's holding up this gold glittery plastic toy.
She looks at it for ten seconds and then throws it in the bin with all the other ones to collect dust like the mountain of plastic. I thought to myself, “Here is this multibillion-dollar segment of the toy industry that's predicated on collectability and scarcity.” We can now do these digitally for the first time ever because there's this thing that Fred's talking about, this NFT thing. We could now bring this concept of toys to the blockchain. I go to my daughter and said, “Sweetheart, what if I were to make you the digital version of these toys where you can collect them, chase after the rare ones, but then when you get them, you could do things with them. Play games with them, interact with them. Would that be something you'd be interested in?” She's like, “That'd be amazing. I would love that.”
I was thinking to myself, I'm like, “I got a couple of years left on my earn out, but I have my nights and weekends.” Even though I have a full-time job, I could still do a side project on the weekends. I go to my old cofounders at Live Ninja. I said, “Do you want to do a little side project with me?” I pitched them the concept and they were excited about it. Freddy joined the team. He was Emilio's friend. They worked together back at Disney and then he worked for Konami games and a bunch of other gaming studios. He brought the 3D expertise to the project.
From 2018 to 2020, we built this little passion project. Nobody cared about NFTs at all from 2018 to 2020. We looked pretty stupid for those two years because we would go around and we sold this company, Live Ninja. Everybody in Miami was like, “You sold the company. Congrats. What's the next move? What are you going to do next?” I was like, “I'm still trying to figure that out, but in the meantime, let me show you this digital panda that I'm working on.” They’d be like, “Aha.”
You need to spend more money on therapy at this point.
It was one of those moments. I'm like, “It lives on the blockchain.” They're like, “Yeah, sure it does.” It was one of those things where you're like, “These digital pandas, are they in the room with us now? Do you see the digital pandas?” We were building it for our kids, so we didn't care. Nobody got it. In late 2020, the NBA Top Shot craze hit. That's when we got some interest in the project from VCs and other partners. We raised a little bit of capital. What was the side project for our kids turned into now a full company. We're over 50 employees now around the country. We raised some venture capital. We had some great partnerships and have some awesome things brewing. That's how the whole thing got started.
Raise some venture capital. That's a nice and simple way to say Andreessen Horowitz is investing. That's pretty cool. We probably don't have time to go into that in this episode, but I'd love to know how that connection came to be and what that pitch was like. Have you pitched Andreessen Horowitz before or something?
a16z, we got introduced by one of our initial investors in the company. They said, “What you're doing is interesting. We'd love to chat more.” We got on a call with them. That's how the introduction started. It was a first-time intro by one of our early investors.
We've clearly entered a new era for games, toys, collectibles. You're a part of the initiation of that era. When you envision this future of the play paradigm, digital collectibles, NFTs, what's in your imagination?
First of all, you talk about the toy industry in general and the deal of the concept of play. For those of you that have kids, you'll recognize this rather quickly. The way people play is changing rapidly, especially for younger audiences. My kids have their physical toys and things that they play with in real life. They also play in digital formats as well. If you look at the way that our kids play on pads and video game consoles, you would look probably at a high level and say like I did. I'd say okay, “They're playing video games.” It's a different modality of video games that you and I played growing up as a kid. Remember, we played Doom as a kid. We played GoldenEye and Mario. That was the type of video game format.
When kids are playing these days, it's a much more social experience when they're gaming. They look at things like Minecraft and Roblox, even Fortnite to an extent. These are social experiences at its core that have gaming wrapped around the social method and modality. When my kid's playing, he's not playing a normal shoot-em-up game like when we played GoldenEye as a kid. His play pattern is, “Benji, meet me in that corner and let's go build this structure together,” in Roblox.
It's more of an after-school social activity than it is a video game that we think about. He has the methods of play in the physical world where he is like, “Come over to my house and let's go play in my room.” He also has the virtual extension of that where sky's the limit because all of a sudden, you could do all these different things digitally. You could play with people around the world.
These kids are ebbing and flowing between physical and digital seamlessly. To them, it's just methods. It's not an either-or conversation. It's very much an and conversation. The way that I see the future is very much native to that. When it comes to NFTs and digital collectibles, it makes a lot of sense for the generation that's being born into this world because for them, this is natural.
For example, we're Jewish, so we celebrated Hanukkah in December. The big gift that she wanted for Hanukkah, I’m like, “Sweetheart, what do you want for your eighth Hanukkah?” She ran up to her room, grabbed her iPad, and said, “Dad, I want you to authorize an in-app purchase for $99 for me in my favorite iPad game.” When I was a kid for Hanukkah, I got a bicycle. My daughter wants an in-app purchase on digital items.
You'll appreciate that my girlfriend got me a Tom Brady rare NFT and Draft Kings for Hanukkah.
That's a great gift right there. I bought digital items in-app purchases for years. We spent tons of money on that. It would've been great if I was able to say, “Sweetheart, fine, I'll buy you $99 worth of digital items, but why don't you sell the other thousand that you don't play with that's doing nothing right now? Better yet, give those to charity or to a kid that can't afford them.” Right now, she's unable to do neither. She has no control over those NFTs. That's backwards. It makes no sense that my daughter can go to her room, grab a toy, any physical toy that exists there, and sell that on eBay, but she can't do the same thing for her digital items.
You extrapolate that to the gaming industry. Think about the gaming industry. We could all go into GameStop right now and purchase a copy of Halo for $59.99. That's our copy. I could give that to a friend. I could put it on Amazon. I could sell them back to GameStop. GameStop will probably only give me $2 for it, but they'll still give me something at that point.
If I spend that exact same amount of money, $59.99, through the Microsoft app store and download the game digitally, I have no rights to it whatsoever. It’s the same amount of money. It's the same product. It's just the delivery mechanism and the rights are completely different. That's fundamentally broken. When I look at the future of this industry as it relates to play and into gaming, I'm excited about where things are going and how things can change for the better.
It's not fundamentally broken for Microsoft. It sounds like it is people realizing they want to take back this type of ability to do this type of thing.
It will be broken for them, though, if they don't shape up. Apple is store trying to charge 30%. It’s challenging. Jeff, I'm reflecting on what Will's sharing and what you always say about NFTs being the building blocks of the future. Essentially, he's manifesting that through Cryptoys.
It 100% is. The ability to do with digital assets, what we're doing with digital assets now as opposed to strictly in-game purchases in a closed ecosystem, it's game-changing. The smart contract approach, the 1155, changed everything. The coolest part is it's just getting started.
Quickly follow up on the vision of the future. How do you see Flow involved? Is it the major player? What is Flow's role in the future of all this?
Things are getting better in other blockchains like Ethereum and whatnot for fees, but specifically, Flow’s fees are minimal. Also, there is some architecture in the way that smart decisions were made by Flow and how it was built and architected that lends itself well for games like ours and for assets like ours. For example, there could be an NFT that owns other NFTs and is bundled together seamlessly inside of the code.
Also, something that people don't give much credit for is that the environmental concerns, whether they have validity or not or there's a gray area, are in the minds of a lot of big IP holders. We have these meetings with a lot of folks that license IP. Some folks that are old executives will be like, “I heard blockchain's bad for the environment. We don't want to get involved with blockchain stuff.”
That sentiment out there, whether there's some semblance of truth or not, it's still a sentiment you got to deal with. Flow, early on, they did a research report that showed that minting something on the Flow. Blockchain was the equivalent from an energy consumption perspective of four Google searches. That report helped us a lot when it came to dealing with IP partners and making these deals happen.
Also, on top of that, Dapper Labs, who made Flow, were incredible partners. To have someone like Roham and Mickey and Ridhima and the team at Dapper that I can go to for all these different things, whether it's help with business development, licensing, smart contract support, dev support, marketing support, they're there for us.
That's invaluable when you're dealing with an early-stage startup and you need e advantage that you can get. They're great partners to have in general. Frankly, as an entrepreneur that's been exposed to NFTs since NFTs started, I have a massive hat tip to give to Dapper because if you ask most people how they got involved in NFTs, the majority of people will give you 1 of 2 answers. Either CryptoKitties or NBA Top Shot. Both of those projects were started by Dapper Labs.
You're talking about OGs in the space that literally built the space. They coined the term NFT. They've done so much. I have massive respect for the people over there. They got a great vision on where the future's going. I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs about this when they are asked to pick a blockchain. This is bad for the space is you have a lot of maximalists. You have the ETH maxis, you have the Solana maxis, you have Polygon and Flow. There are all these great choices out there. It's not one size fits all. There are a bunch of great choices. I encourage entrepreneurs to pick the platform that's best for them but focus at the end of the day on utility and great user experience.
At the end of the day, if this is going to go mainstream, NFTs, in general, the mainstream consumer's not going to care which blockchain it's on. My theory is that consumers will care about three things mainly. 1) Is it a great user experience? 2) Are the fees low? I don't want to pay exorbitant fees for a platform if I don't have to. 3) Do I have true ownership in liquidity of these assets? Realistically, if I put it up for sale, am I going to be able to sell it? If you hit those three things, consumers aren't going to care. If it's on Ethereum, Flow, polygon, Wax, it's not going to matter.
The Reddit deployment is a great example of that. Nobody knows that it's Polygon on the back end. Nobody cares that it's Polygon on the back end. It's a use case that fits that platform and they provided a great user experience. The Starbucks NFT, it's going to be the exact same thing. This whole Odyssey thing, people are going to log into their Starbucks app. They're going to see their NFTs. They're not going to know which blockchain it is on the back end and it's going to feel native to the platform. For us, it was what makes the most sense for us to create the best user experience. For us, that was Flow.
I wouldn't even argue people aren't going to give a shit if it's an NFT or not. We know that there's something cool there for mainstream audience. There's such a handful of people, relatively speaking, in the space right now.
What's going to matter at the end of the day to people, do they have true ownership and liquidity of the asset? You have to be able to prove that there's true ownership and liquidity. For models where supply and demand plays a factor, you have to be able to prove scarcity and assure scarcity or else you're a company that can mint 5 million more swords tomorrow because you feel like it. Those are the things matter. I agree with you. I don't think the concept of an NFT just because an NFT doing well, I don't think that is going to happen in the future. It's about consumer market fit at the end of the day.
To that point, some things that people do give a shit about are brands that they care about that create nostalgia in them or connection or relationships with certain brands, with certain products that have been developed or IP that's been developed under the flag of these brands. You all have this killer partnership coming up to that end with Mattel. Tell us a little bit about that.
We're super excited about the Mattel partnership. Early on, we were in a fortunate position where we focused all of our efforts on toys. You look at a lot of NFT platforms, they focus on a lot of different areas and a lot of doing different things. We focused on toys and what digital toys look like. Because of that, we spoke with a lot of the major toy companies. We had a chance to sit down and have these great conversations. It was clear to us right from the get-go that Mattel was the one that was leaning forward the most into innovation and technology. A lot of these toy companies, these legacy ones, they thought about, “We have tees. Digital is going to be a thing. This is going to hurt our existing physical business and whatnot.”
Mattel had this mindset. This is where the world's heading. It's not physical or digital. It's physical and digital. If we're going to be disrupted, we need to be the ones that disrupt ourselves. I love that methodology and mindset. We quickly say, “If we're going to partner with someone, these are the partners for us. We started having conversations, casual conversations and exploring where we could take things together and quickly realized that we all wanted to work each other and the feeling was mutual. They came in also. What was cool about that deal was it looks at the surface like it was a traditional licensing deal where we're licensing their IP. It goes a step beyond that. We are licensing and working with their IP, sure, but they invested in the company as well as part of our series A.
Mattel is a shareholder of the company, too. There are fully aligned incentives for both sides to do cool stuff together to maximize shareholder value. We talked to them every single week. I got a notification for a calendar invite that popped up of a meeting happening right now with my art team and their team to do some cool stuff. They're true partners. I think of them very much in the same way that I think of Flow and Dapper. They’re like an extension of the team at this point.
It's fascinating to hear how collaborative the relationship has been. Jeff and I went to those licensing shows in Vegas back in the day before digital products were a thing. In fact, we were exploring different licensing options for a fashion line we were doing. They were willing to give us the digital rights with the physical rights.
It was no big deal to them at that moment. We also learned, to your point, how important true partnership was because there were these booths and these IP holders that were like, “Name your price and you can use our IP, sure.” The ones that have the most stories to tell that have the biggest upside were the ones that brought true partnership and collaboration to the table and understood what that could be. It sounds like Mattel’s an ideal fit from a Web3 partnership perspective. That's great to hear.
Specifically, you guys have something. You got a drop coming up on November 9th, 2022. This is the Masters of the Universe. What is that all about? Talk about a throwback brand. That's amazing.
When we partnered with Mattel, they asked, “What IP would you want to get started with?” You look at the brands that they have some cool stuff. First of all, we created a whole backstory in lore with our platform. If you go to Cryptoys.com, you'll notice a two-minute short that we did high-quality animation that goes over the backstory of these characters. For your readers, the backstory of Cryptoys, to quickly summarize it, is that Cryptoys are 8-bit video game characters from 1981 that get sucked into a wormhole and transported 40 years into the future. They go from 8-bit pixelated game characters to fully 3D animated. They get dumped on the blockchain. They have to learn about the nature of their new existence as NFTs.
We have a heavy ‘80s nostalgia angle to our platform. Aesthetically, I like to say it's like Stranger Things meets Pixar. I remember the golden age of toys of us all growing up as kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s. We want to harken back to that. We recognize that even though we're building an all-ages gaming platform, a toy platform that's friendly for all ages, we're starting with parents because you have to be eighteen or up to sign up, create an account, or create effectively a wallet. We know that the majority of people that are buying Crytoys at least to start are people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s. We looked up the IPS that we had available to us and looked up Masters of the Universe, an IP I grew up with as a kid.
I'm curious, I said, “When was this brand launched?” Cryptoys’ backstory takes place in 1981. Lo and behold, I looked it up on Wikipedia. When was Masters of the Universe created? It was 1981 and then launched in stores in 1982. For us, it was the perfect kind of crossover. If you look at most of the NFT folks, again, all of us are roughly the same age. We all grew up with He-Man and Skeletor and Orko and that whole cast of characters. Nostalgia plays such a huge part in the platform. I don't think you can have a more iconic nostalgic toy line than He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. We were excited to sink our teeth into that one first and then go from there. I was at a Halloween party. There was a warrior princess and I was like, “You must be She-Ra.” She goes, “Who's She-Ra?” I was like, “I totally dated myself.” I was a huge He-Man and She-Ra fan.
You dated yourself and you're not dating.
I don't think my girlfriend knows who She-Ra or He-Man is either, but that's fine. More power to them. That's a great choice. I can totally appreciate why you would start with a collection like that. That sounds exciting.
When you said more power to them, were you thinking like we have the power? Was that unintended?
The Powers of Grayskull, is that right?
By the power of Grayskull.
Before we skip off that topic, though, I'm going to give you a little permission to shill here. Why do people need to get involved in this? I know the drop's coming up here. We might be able to put the word out. Why now? Why do they get to get in?
There are two drops that are happening. We have our Genesis drop. We did a test drop. We did 400 units and then we're doing a few more beta tests. The Genesis drop is our three characters, Comet, Juno, and Alphie. That's the first off the line. That's the first that we'll ever do. There are the benefits of being a Genesis line. The Masters of Universe line is the first licensed public drop on Cryptoys. It’s the first time we do a license with a partner. That's obviously Mattel and Masters of Universe. They're both heroes. We have three tiers of the platform. The lowest tier are adventurers. They're the base tier.
You have the mid-tier, which are the elites. You have the highest tier, which are heroes. The heroes are the most capable toys on the platform. We're only going to make so many of them. Both our Genesis line and the Masters' line are all heroes. We'll release a bunch of lower-tier ones shortly after. If you want to get a hero, a Cryptoy, and stack them and collect them, this is probably your best chance to do so early on in these drops because a lot of stuff that's coming that's specific for heroes.
What about the fact that He-Man and She-Ra are heroes? How does that fit into it?
That's the part of it. To be a hero tier, you've got to be heroes in the lore. It all ties into things narratively. We're cautious about how we interweave different aspects of the platform from the toy standpoint to the gaming point, entertainment and scripting, and how we craft different episodes and an animated series. You'll see it all come together pretty holistically.
You got it out there right in time for toy season.
That's the hope. The goal is you make it in Oprah magazine one day, but I don’t know if it's going to be this year, but maybe next year we will have a chance and then it's the hot toy of the holiday season is not a physical toy, it's a digital toy. That'll be the headline I'm looking for. We got some work to get there, but that's the mission.
You mentioned that you've been following this space for a while and some of the ode projects and folks and some of whom you're now collaborating with. Are there any other projects that you've been keeping tabs on in this space that you find intriguing?
Yeah, there are a lot. First off, I hold Bored Apes and stuff like that from the early days. I'm excited about what Yuga has done. I was able to participate a little bit in the round to show some support. It has done so much for the space. They're so well-funded and well-capitalized. I'm excited to see what those guys do with a big vision and a big war chest. Hat's off to them because they're innovators. Dapper is always going to be doing tremendous stuff with all these different licenses. Especially when it comes to sports, I don't think anybody's doing it as good as Dapper is.
From an IP standpoint, which is something that I'm focused on, is building our own IP. One of the companies that I respect the most is what Gary is doing with Veef because he takes a similar approach to what we're doing is how do you build generational IP that could resonate with all ages. A big cat tip to Gary with another huge vision for something different in the space and building IP from the ground up. Those are the ones that are coming top of mind at the moment.
Any quick things you want to share on the roadmap coming forward?
We're doing our Genesis drops over the next few weeks here. If you're interested in participating, a little bit of inside information here is that it's not inside information, it's on the website but you might not notice it. Worth sharing is that if you're participating in these drops, if you max mint five, you're going to get marked to receive a golden ticket in a future airdrop. A golden ticket is effectively an NFT. They look like golden tickets that allow you early access to mint future drops starting in 2023. You could mint as many as you want. As long as there's inventory, if you go and you participate in the Master's drop and you buy 5, if you go back and buy 5 more, if they're still available, then you get 2 golden tickets. You buy another 5, you get 3 golden tickets. These are and NFTs so you can buy, sell, and trade them when the marketplace is launched.
You will get priority access for future drops. I will say the IP partnerships that we're going to announce soon are ridiculous. I still think I'm dreaming with some of these partnerships that we're going to announce. If you're a fan of huge brands and doing collectibles, things like that, and stuff that we grew up with in the ‘80s and ‘90s, you'll be excited by some of these minting opportunities. That's one. We have a bunch of games that we're in development right now. Beyond collecting, you'll be able to play with your Cryptoy in a variety of ways in the coming months. We have a few games in development internally right now.
One of which is going to be launching shortly after mint. Additionally, I thought a lot of folks don't know this, but it's worth highlighting, we have two people on the team that is dedicated 100% of their time to natural language processing and AI. Inside the mobile app we're building, you will have AI-based experiences with your Cryptoy, where you will be able to interact with it in different ways. Not just game applications but also utility-based applications as well, which we're excited about. We have a lot of new stuff coming through the pipe, like collector's incentives and whatnot starting in 2023. Those are the main things.
Not busy at all. Awesome stuff, guys. Resource, it sounds like a great team. Great experience, amazing roadmap. Check it out, Cryptoys, you all.
We want to transition a little bit here to get your personal perspective on some questions we like to call Edge Quick Hitters. It's a fun and quick way for us to get to know you a little bit better. We're looking for short, single-word or few word responses to these things, but we can dive in a little bit deeper here or there. Question number one, what's the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
A Ninja Turtle.
Did that influence your first company? They're still present.
Little known fact, although we mentioned on the show before, Josh and I know the guy that sang the theme sound for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I need that introduction. Do I need to bring him back?
Somebody had to do it.
He's super into NFTs. That would be easy. He's got a great voice.
Can you make that introduction? I'm serious.
Question number two, what's the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
My services to build a website. When I built the GeoCities website, I was about thirteen years old, going into one of those AOL chat rooms and trying to make some money by selling GeoCity website building services.
Question number three, what's the most recent thing you purchased?
This will be a little bit dorky. It goes back to my Ninja Turtle stuff, but of course, I'm running a digital toy company so I have to buy toys even as an adult. I saw this at Target. This is a Stranger Things Ninja Turtle crossover collab. I was like, “If you know me, this toy was made for me.” I don't know if they know that they made this, but this was constructed for Will Weinraub. Walking down the Target toy aisle, because I take my kids every time I go to Target, we have to go down the toy aisle, I saw this and I put it in the cart immediately. My wife was like, “Why? You don't need that.” I'm like, “No, you don't understand. I do need this. This is very much a need.”
Question number four, what's the most recent thing you sold?
I sold an NFT, a decent one. I'll go there with one of my NFTs.
Anything you care to disclose?
I did sell one of my Bored Apes.
Question number five, what's your most prized possession?
I have this piece of art is custom. I graduated from Florida State. I came out of Florida State. This piece of art's been with me ever since then, around 2008. I met a local artist in Miami that did this for me. These are some of my favorite music artists that he put on the canvas. You have what looks like Doctor Doom, that's a rapper, MF Doom, one of my favorite rappers. Bad Astronaut, underground punk band Hieroglyphics and other hip-hop band that I grew up listening to. There's something about that piece that brings me a lot of happiness and joy every time I look at it. It's following me around different apartments, different offices. I like that. From a physical perspective, that's priceless to me, that piece of art. Even though if somebody did it for me for a price, I wouldn't sell it for any amount.
It's got that ninja turtle green flowing through it, too.
The secret of the ooze vibe coming out of it.
Question number six, if you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical service and experience that's currently for sale, what would it be? What do you have your eye on?
I want to give a more thoughtful answer to that because I'm sure I could follow up if I had more time to think about it. Right now, one of the things that I was excited about, believe it or not, was a ridiculous outdoor kitchen because I'm a big griller. I like to grill. I like to host and entertain people. I want one of those ridiculous ones with an outdoor structure with a grill and a TV where you could sit outside, watch football and grill and hang out all day. That's one from a physical perspective. There's a 1965 Mustang in Forest Green with cream interior car that I have my eye on whenever I get some spare cash. That's a car that I would love to drive on the weekends.
Jerry Seinfeld would probably be down to join you in that car.
Question number seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
There are a couple of things that I value highly in other people that I try my best to employ and deploy myself. The first thing is empathy. This is not something I don't think you're born with. It’s something you practice at, is the real raw, authentic connection to other human beings, and sitting there and putting yourself in their shoes and your perspective and being a good listener and deploying empathy. That is such an important quality. Unfortunately, it's becoming more and more rare these days in our AD driven society where we're onto too many things interacting with so many people on a daily basis. As I raise my kids and I practice every day trying to be a better father than the day before, I try to have more empathy for them and for the others around me, including the folks that I work with here at OnChain Studios.
Another thing as far as a quality goes that could serve people valuable in life is take pride in being a good storyteller. Oftentimes, people don't value how important storytelling is for various aspects of our life. Whether that's building a business, recruiting, building connection with your loved ones, the ability to tell stories and share stories and listen to stories. It's a big part of the human connection from our tribal days of being around a campfire and talking to each other.
We lose a lot of that. More of our fast-hitting ad-driven society is little fifteen-second clips on TikTok followed by bursts of information here and there. Sitting down and being able to tell a good story for 30 minutes or an hour, however long it takes, and listening to that story or interacting with folks. There's a lost art in storytelling. Empathy and storytelling. If I were to give advice to another entrepreneur out there, if you can get good at those two things, it's a good foundation for building businesses and advancing society and being good in your family and with your friends.
The flip side of that, though, question eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would that be?
Oftentimes, I can be impulsive sometimes. That's a double-edged sword because I impulsively started this company and project. That's one way where it was a good thing. Sometimes you want to take a moment to process things before acting or saying it. Impulsivity has a lot of good things. There are a lot of good things about acting on your impulses. Business books are written on how you should always trust your gut and being what your impulsive reaction is, but also times you got to watch out. My impulsivity is something that I always try to refine a little bit.
Question number nine, what'd you do before joining us on the show?
I was on a call with a hire that I was trying to make. I was trying to recruit someone into the company. I was trying to pitch that person. They should be joining. Let's see what happens. I'm excited about that potential hire.
Last question here, question ten, what are you going to do next after the show?
After the podcast, I am going to reply to a few text messages from my investors that I saw come through here now, but some exciting news it looks like. I'm going to reply there. I saw Josh's introduction about the ninja serendipity subject line that came through, which is the introduction to James Mandel. If I have my priorities in order, I'm responding to that email right after this.
Send him a photo of that thing you bought. We have two Ninja Turtle connections. I've got another connection apparently to make as well. I played the voice of one of the Ninja Turtles. We've got two Ninja Turtle intros to make.
This is why you come on this show. You come on, you think you're doing a show, but you're leaving with introductions, values, doors open.
We had this other guy on the show. He was a huge fan of Pink Floyd. We were able to connect him directly with Scott Page, the saxophone player for Pink Floyd. You're not lying. We do this all the time.
That’s what we do, making dreams come true.
That's Edge Quick hitters. Ethan, let's go over to Hot Topics. We got a special one for this episode.
That sounds like a great idea. Hot Topics for this episode is all about a sponsored Hot Topic about Rafi Lounge. We have Founder, Rafi Anteby, to be with us here to talk about the world's first members-only Web3 lounge incorporated into the blockchain. Welcome, Rafi. It’s great to have you here in your Zen and peaceful studio there. How's it going?
I’m going amazingly. I was listening to the whole conversation. I loved it. I love the connections you’re doing. By the way, before we even start, one of the members in my lounge, we're going to talk about it, produced in the theaters. I've got a good connection for you after that.
What is happening on this show?
One of them was my Tai Chi student for many years. His name is Lance Robbins. The other guy's name is Ellie Deckle. It goes all the way to my friend, Shooky Levy, who is partnered with Saban, who created that. We'll talk later.
This is incredible. I feel like if we kept going for another half an hour, there will be another Zoom tile popup and one of the Ninja Turtles that will show up at this point.
My name is Rafael, the full name, so you can put me as a Ninja Turtle.
Rafi, it's great to have you on the show. I had the privilege to learn a little bit about what you're building. I couldn't wait to share it with the guys and with the world. Give us a scoop.
I created something called Rafi Lounge that I created in the midst of pandemic. The main purpose was I was doing many other things and live many lifetime in this lifetime I would say. I saw that there's a fear and at the same time, there's also a certain potential for growth or something that never happened before. There was something that was in at the time, if you can say that called digital nomads, all those people that realize that they can go around the world with a little computer and little cellphone and create businesses and they don't need the four walls.
This formula, this concept magnifies itself through Zoom as we know and understanding that we don't need those four walls anymore and we can do it anywhere. At the same time, the other factor was that a lot of people needed wellness and connect to the spiritual side and understanding more about life. They went deeper inside to learn about themself and to get better physically as well. I created this place. I was traveling for one month by myself. I said, “God gave me the best gift, is to see America without people.” I went to travel all the way to Yellowstone. I came back and created this thing called Rafi Lounge that a place that I found.
It's 11,000 square feet out of the 6,500 square feet is a balcony overlooking the ocean in the most spectacular place in Malibu, right across from Soho and Nobu. I created an outdoor experience where people can come and combine wellness with co-working space in outdoors. We have a lot of people, as you heard, some of the people you indirectly talked about are members here. While I do it, I myself, I'm an artist and I say I do many things and you see yourself first and most and as an artist.
Immediately, when people started talking to me about NFTs, I said, “Let me tap into it.” I learned more and more. I said, “For selfish reasons, if you can say, ‘I'm going to start to do NFT nights and invite all kinds of speakers to talk about it so I can learn and also, I can pick and choose if I want to do something, who do I want on my team.’” I said, “I'm game. I'm in.” I called all those people around me and I said, “I want you to be part of that.” They said, “What do you want to do?” I was a kung fu and Tai Chi monk in China. I also go a lot to China and Tibet and Nepal to learn mandala Zen artwork. I said, “We're going to create a digital mandala like a GIF. From that, we’re going to convert it into QR codes and we are going to use token, so it’s going allow a lifetime access to our lounge through the NFT platform. That's where we are now.
It’s right around the corner, November, 11, 2022?
11/11 at 11:11 AM
Is there anything folks need to know about that drop that's special?
There are a few tiers, but the main two tiers right now that are available. There's one tier that's called the Unity. Like you guys thought before, we also do the Genesis collection, which is going to be a limited one. The Unity one is available for everybody. It's going to be a digital one. People will be able to go online. They will be able to tap into any class that we have. We have anything here from yoga to Tai Chi to meditation. The Lama of Tibet comes here. We will also do interviews online with some of my monk friends and chanting and things like that. They will be able to tap daily and do that. That's going to come out at 0.2 for each one.
They will be able to come once a year to a big tea gathering that we are going to do and to attend our Vortex workshops we're going to do three days of work twice a year. We're going to do it in like Vortex area in Sedona, Arizona or Mount Shasta or places like that, which is going to involve what I call ancient healing modalities with futuristic financial modalities. The second collection is what I call the Mindful Connection. That collection is the main collection that a lot of people are looking at because it's a membership lifetime. Both of them are, by the way, lifetime.
They pay 3.33 ETH. They have one time. We are only releasing 111 of those at the first stage. They will be able to come into any classes that you want, anywhere from Brook Burke, who's teaching you, to Dancing With the Stars, to me teaching Tai Chi, to all of those to attend all of those. We'll be able to go and also attend other places that we are going to open, like Miami, Scottsdale, and Newport, and be part of that big community. The last thing is that in Art Basel, we will do another popup for Rafi Lounge. Hopefully, they will all come there and join us.
I can't wait. I'll be there and looking forward to it. There's so much about this project that I love in terms of this connection of consciousness through digital. We talk a lot about Web3 burnout, but there is tremendous benefit from using this technology to create greater connections between people and their consciousness.
I talk about it a lot here, how the Web3 has emerged slowly. It meets the spiritual world. We talk about it slightly, but it's such a beautiful way because there will be a time that everybody will have to connect without the intermediate institution. The revolution of Web3 is above the internet. A lot of the institutions will have to take a step back and adjust. It's the way that people will interact with each other without having the institution in the middle.
Obviously, information will come much faster soon. Even if you look at little things like when I travel in Tibet and I go to the Himalayas and I went too fast down to Nepal and I got mountain sick from that. It took them 24 hours to verify my insurance in America. Those verification, because they're going to go now to another level, it's going to be so fast without the insurance being involved. It’s going to save money for people. We all will be verifying each other, which would be amazing.
I was going to say that roadmap, though, by the way, sounds amazing. The partnerships that we were talking about are the power of these different partnerships and relationships that form already in these early days you. You've been forming so many close relationships that are going to propel this thing forward. I'm excited to have the opportunity to check it out.
Thank you. He talks each one about his experience. He said to me, “I don't want to edge myself.” I don't want to edge myself, but I've created so many relationships. Everybody stepped forward. We have a full experience here on the weekend. We bought anybody from Bento boy to Brett and WGMI and to Amir and a lot of people from the NFT world that they all want to help. All the way to other friends like Jamie Foxx and Gerald Butler and all those people that jump in.
If you even see on the board, I didn't choose a board that’s going to be a normal board. I do have the former president of Sony, who, by the way, left after 23 years because of NFT because that's the space he wants to be in. Also, like Lavinia, who was the owner of Equinox gym and the Lama of Tibet, who said, “I'll sit on your board and I'll give the spiritual advice that I can.” We are trying to merge those worlds between the youth and make it about wellness and progressiveness.
You have Edge of company also in the mix. Thank you for including us as members who are excited about it. Will, what do you think? Is there a collaboration at some point down the road?
A hundred percent. I like the idea and the concept. Being present, conscious, and empathetic are all traits that are super important, especially as we educate younger audiences. There's a lost art to it. I love the mission. There's a cool collab maybe down the line for both companies.
Thank you. For sure, I would love that. I'm always happy to help. I will put you in touch with those people so that you can maybe create this Ninja Turtle more than little kids. I always stay no matter what. When you look at things, still try to look at it from a kid's eye. That's the most beautiful thing.
Speaking of that, we have a little giveaway which will inspire some excitement, Rafi, from your end. Do you want to share any of the details around that Mindful NFT we got in the mix here, is that correct?
We have one Mindful NFT that we're going to give. Mindful NFT, again, it's something that everybody will be able to come here. Whoever gets it, it's something that they can come immediately. That's the beauty about what we do, is it's not a futuristic thing. It's here and now. They can drop in as soon as they get it. Come in here, meet everybody, and start to participate in all the classes. Hopefully, you can be with us in the full moon, several ceremonies that we have and everything.
Keep an eye on our socials for that giveaway. We'll give you all the details on how to score that thing. Massive value coming your way if you're lucky enough to grab that. Also, before you head out, Rafi, we want to make sure we know where to follow you as well as your company and all your projects. Where should we send people?
You can send us to Twitter obviously to @RafiLounge. Also, we have on Web3, it's a RafiLounge.io. That's where you can see all the things. The people can register for the whitelist and all those things over there. If you want to see the classes, then on RafiLounge.com. That's where we have the platform or you can download the app. We now have an app, Rafi Lounge. On the app, you can see all the classes that we have there.
Amazing stuff. Everybody, head over there. Check it out, Rafi Lounge. Rafi, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
Thank you. I appreciate it, too.
Talk soon. Guys, we wanted to move to this next piece that we've added, a segment called Shout Out. That's where we like to give a little love for people moving the needle in our orbit. I wanted to hand the mic over to Will here to share with you somebody that's moving the needle for him.
I want to give a shout out to my Cofounder and COO of the company, JT. There's a lot of moving parts when you're running a business at this scale. You see a lot of folks right now, they're doing a lot of different aspects of the company, whether that's Emilio on engineering, and Alfonso who's doing product, Freddy who's doing art animation. JT is oftentimes very much behind the scenes, but he's doing a lot of the work that's incredibly necessary for us to even get to this point.
All of the operations and making sure that this is moving at the pace that it needs to move at and making sure that every one of those people that I mentioned has the right resources, the right team, the right funding, everything situated and structured properly for them. I want to give a shout-out to JT because he is always operating behind the scenes. I want to make sure he gets the love and appreciation that he deserves. I appreciate you, JT. Thank you so much for everything, brother.
Much love, JT. Making that happen behind the scenes. We do appreciate it as well. Before we break for this episode, we also got to make sure that our readers know where to follow you and the project and all these amazing things you have going on over there. Where should we send them?
The best place is to go to Cryptoys.com. Check out the website. For more up-to-date information, you always go to our Twitter, Twitter.com/crpytoys or @Cryptoys, and then our Discord. If you're following us on Twitter and you're in our Discord and then also have the website up as a reference point and you've created an account, you're good to go. You'll be in the loop as much as humanly possible.
Are you particularly active personally on socials as well?
Twitter's my go-to. I would say that's my social network of choice at the moment. I'm excited to see what Elon does with the platform and where it goes from here.
Interesting ride. Ride on. Word on the street is we also have a giveaway from Cryptoys. Readers, please keep an eye on our socials. We'll get you all the details on how to score one of these highly coveted spots and give you the opportunity to win one. Guys, we've reached the outer limit. Thanks for exploring with us. We've 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 Spotify or iTunes right now, say something awesome, and then go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Also, look us up on all major social platforms by typing @EdgeOfNFT and 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.