Failing in 2021
Degenz was launched on the 5th July 2021 as a profile picture project (PFP). We were 4-5 months into our NFT collecting journey with lots of connections in the space, an understanding that PFPs could be the future but with zero experience from a creator standpoint. It was the early days of experimenting with PFP utility and it became apparent as the year went on we had misjudged massively what would drive long-term value to an NFT project - despite our efforts (airdrops, comic strips, Re-Genz), the Degenz ecosystem ended 2021 with a floor price of zero.
The Comeback Story
Coming into 2022 we felt an acute sense of responsibility to those who had trusted us to deliver. We knew we were not the type of people to wallow in failure - if anything we like a challenge. We’ve both spent our careers pulling ourselves out of holes and this was no different.
Firstly, we knew we had underestimated the time and effort it takes to build a community. We decided to quit our full-time jobs in January and went from spending 6 hours a week on Degenz to spending 12 hours a day turning it around. Secondly, we had misjudged how to leverage our strengths and weaknesses. Our original idea for Degenz to thrive as a comic brand would likely never work because neither of us have any experience or interest in that field. We asked ourselves - where does our expertise lie?
We’d both spent a decade each in a professional trading environment, at Barclays and Goldman Sachs in London and New York. Here we traded high-yield and distressed debt which is an asset class that often sees wild price swings (sometimes to zero in 24hrs!), is traded over-the-counter and involves detailed analysis of teams, products and businesses. The parallels to trading NFTs were huge. Our experience and knowledge trading this asset class were undoubtedly the biggest contributors to our success as collectors and that’s what we identified as our edge to drive utility to the project. Let’s turn Degenz into a space where we can share this experience and knowledge to help people.
There are a lot of alpha groups in crypto and NFTs which claim to help newcomers. Most of them are garbage. Many are run by people who’ve managed to amass large followings and have a focus on unsustainable short-term flips or pump-and-dumps where the communities themselves are unknowingly often exit liquidity. We wanted to offer an alternative. So we structured Degenz as an “NFT resources” community. We also wanted to focus on an organic growth + low hype strategy. This would give us time to build and foster a community who saw the longer-term vision of the space.
We started with giving unbiased opinions on how we evaluate projects, what we viewed as the key long-term drivers and what were the major red flags. We also stayed far away from calls like “buy XYZ at this price” or “lets buy this together”. We would focus on writing balanced commentary, offering analysis on good and bad outcomes and a full evaluation of each situation. We wanted to create an environment where users picked up the tools to analyse projects, built effective thought processes and use what they’d learnt to make their own decisions as traders, creators and builders. What started off as a forum for learning and discussion, turned into a Discord with daily market commentary, a shared drive with nearly 70 long-form reports on NFT projects and a daily show on Rug Radio where we try to share advice on the space
During our time in the space we were also lucky to build some incredible relationships with top creators and builders. Initially this allowed us to give our community access to various new projects. We were not unique in offering allowlist spots, but we tried to be very selective and over the last few months we have been lucky to give holders access to projects such as WVRPS, LAYERS and Chimpers. As OSF’s art has also continued to take-off, we have been able to reward the community with allowlist mints for Red Lite District (Floor: 14ETH) as well as free mints for rektguy (Floor 0.35ETH). As the year has progressed we have increasingly realised the privileged position we are in to explore rewards for the community through our relationships in the space - this has now shaped our vision for the future.
So what’s next?
Firstly, we want to improve our primary product - NFT resources. On the content side, in April we appointed NightShift to revamp our website. At present, to access our reports, users have to sign up to a Google drive with their e-mail. The new website, along with its rebranding, will allow for holders to connect with their web3 wallets and access token-gated content. At present this is long-form NFT reports but with the new platform we will look to expand further. To realise this we have already hired 6 research analysts to join the Degenz team. On the Discord side we are building more structure to our management with a paid team of mods, community managers and a head of partnerships to streamline daily content. On the trading tools side, we are also lucky to be part of the Flips.Finance team which is one of the pre-eminent sites for data analytics in the space We will be strengthening ties between the two projects with discounted services and a pretty exciting concept for a trading game.
Secondly, its becoming increasingly clear that the original Degenz + Regenz structure and branding is hindering the ability for people to understand the change in utility we are building. Is this a PFP drop? What is Regenz vs Degenz? Damn, what do these strange NFTs in my wallet do again? Those are questions we face daily. We want to move forward with a cleaner structure and a simpler branding which fits the ongoing aims of the project. Our vision is to eventually onboard hundreds of thousands of people into this ecosystem and we want to make it as simple as possible for newcomers. We hope to carry out these changes to our structure over the next two months. It will involve airdrops and it will involve a change in utility of assets in the ecosystem.
Thirdly, we want use our growing platform in the space to build out an ecosystem where our community is rewarded The prime utility of the project is still creating resources to help people navigate the NFT space. That being said, we want to supercharge the rewards of the community by giving them access to free or very low-cost drops from creators and builders that we have relationships with given our position. The lion’s share of any drop will be taken up by our ecosystem with the remainder going to public mint. Our view of “the metaverse” is one where social media will still dominate, PFPs and banners will be the main advertising space, and people will show off their assets mainly through their phones or smart watches. We will be looking to reward our community with this in mind while also innovating with some interesting tech coming out of the NFT space. We are already in talks about upcoming partnership drops.
If you had said in January, “OSF & Mando, your biggest opportunity this year will be Degenz”, some people would have laughed – but this is what we believed and still believe. We are involved in a lot of different projects in Web 3.0 but we think they all can complement each other and that is by design. Our north star is to build an ecosystem where holders receive real benefits and don’t feel tempted to sell – “how can we make it so that the person who minted our NFT for $200 still wants to hold it at $20,000?”.
We still want to foster an organic, low-hype model so communication like this will be limited but we felt compelled to give some more details given the large changes in utility and structure we have planned. The first half of this year has been about recouping and stabilising, the next half this year will be about delivering, and ngl, we’re fucking excited about it.
OSF & Mando