Episode Notes

Ancient Warriors is an NFT collection that features warriors from some of the greatest African and Latin American empires in history. The team launched this project because they noticed a lack of representation in the NFT space.

In this episode, we discuss Emmanuel's background and interest in Web3, his reason for starting the Ancient Warriors Project, how he and his co-founders found & convinced artists to work with them, pitfalls and learnings along the way. Emmanuel also shared his number one advice to anyone looking to launch an NFT collection.

Topics & Timeline

  • 2:40 - Emmanuel's Background
  • 4:35 - What sparked Emmanuel's interest in NFTs
  • 6:25 - How Ancient Warriors NFT got started
  • 10:40 - How the team found and convinced Artists to work with them
  • 15:30 -  How the team  decided on the number of NFTs in the Ancient Warriors collection
  • 19:45 - Vision and Roadmap for Ancient Warriors
  • 25:30 - Pitfalls en route to Launch
  • 29:40 - Emmanuel's Number One Advice
  • 32:00 - Factors that went into selecting a blockchain to build on
  • 34:30 - What's next for the Ancient Warriors team
  • 38:55 - Emmanuel's Recommended Resources

Links from this Episode

Emmanuel's Recommended Resources

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Episode Transcript

disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate, comical transcription errors amongst others)

Laide: Hey there, depending on when you're listening to this episode, the dates and timelines mentioned may no longer apply. If you're enjoying the episodes thus far on the Onchain Medley podcast, there are a few ways you can support. You can leave a review on apple podcast. You can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts, or you can share with your friends, families, and communities.

Your support really does go a long way. So thank you so much for that. All right. On to this episode.

Emmanuel: I noticed a few things. I didn't feel like that there were projects that were appealing to people from my background, once again, and NFTs that actually like, looked like me. And when I did see an NFT that looked like me.

For example, if you look at like the crypto punks, actually the price floor of the crypto plunks is little. Dark skinned NFTs. It also has lots of female crypto punks as well. And I think the reason for that is it's not because of racism or sexism. It's just because representation in this space right now isn't great.

Laide: That was Emmanuel Udotong. Eman, as he's called, is one of the founders of ancient warriors. Ancient warriors is an NFT collection that features warriors from some of the greatest African and Latin American empires in history. The team launched this project because. There was a lack of representation in the NFT space.

Some of your goals with this Ancient Warriors collection is to showcase diverse NFT collections Featuring underrepresented artists through in-person and virtual events, as well as onboard thousands of underrepresented people into crypto. In this episode, we'll discuss Eman's background and interest in web3.

In this Episode, we discuss his reason for starting the Ancient Warriors project, how he and his co-founders convinced artists to work with them, pitfalls and learnings along the way. Emad also shared his number one advice to anyone looking to launch an NFT collection. As a disclaimer, the ancient warriors project is actually the first NFT collection that I supported. The reason I did that was because of the team behind it, as you some learn Eman is quite earnest and insightful, I learned quite a bit and I'm sure you've all too, without further ado, here's Eman

Hi Eman, welcome Onchain Medleypodcast. How are you doing today? 

Emmanuel: Hey, I am doing great. I'm doing well. 

Laide: Thank you. I'm excited to talk to you today. Let's just get started. Let's talk about your background and what sparked your interest in web three and blocks. 

Emmanuel: I come from a background in a little bit of entrepreneurship, a little bit of consulting. So back when I was in college, worked on this startup called relief, that just does food processing in Nigeria right now, actually.

And that was kind of like my first introduction to like the working world. Honestly, that was like my first job. I spent some time at McKinsey after I graduated from college. But, you know, I've been in crypto since 2017 and that was just an area that was super, super exciting to me. Um, and I had always thought about like, how can I integrate crypto and my like, passion for Nigeria and Africa large.

And it wasn't super clear to me. It was almost like which one do I pick? So in the end, Decided to leave McKinsey, which was this past summer 2021 crypto was, was where I, I gravitated. I felt there were a lot of opportunities there. It was just an area that I was super passionate about. So I just left the company and, you know, within like a couple of weeks of leaving, uh, I stumbled upon the NFT space.

What's interesting is I didn't actually know about the NFT space while I was at McKenzie. And I think that was just like a, a product of. Not really like having that mind space to even notice how big of an opportunity to this space was. But I think when, once I stumbled upon it and I started to see like, okay, yeah, this is similar to crypto.

It's cool. But what was different about it was just the way that. Applies to culture. It applies to music and fashion and art in a way that crypto really doesn't crypto is like amazing for the financial implications and like what it can do for wealth generation and wealth preservation, but NFTs were kind of like an all eclipsing.

Concept where it was like, okay, yeah, this can also make money and preserve wealth, but this can also create a lot more that appeals, not just to me, but also I think it appealed a lot more to people that come from my background compared to a traditional. Hmm. 

Laide: Interesting. Thank you for sharing that. So when you think about just NFTs in particular, I'll be honest with you.

I'm still forming my opinion on NFTs. I'm not sure where I stand on it. I have more questions than answers. I would say, what was it? You mentioned culture and music and a lot of other aspects that drew you to it. But what specifically about NFTs? Did you see substance in that you couldn't find anywhere else in the web two world, as we say 

Emmanuel: today.

So I love this question actually for me, like when I came into the NFL. One of the first things that I noticed was that there were black and brown communities in the space. Right. Um, there was a DAO that I found that was calledCultureDAO that was made up of a bunch of African-Americans, um, on discord that were just looking for ways to empower, um, ourselves and bring more of us into the space.

Um, there was another one called AfrofutureDAO. That was, um, a lot of African people and African artists that were coming together to make a Dow. And, and that Dow is still, still operates actually. Uh, these were some of the first. Dow's that I noticed within the web three space. And, you know, before coming into the NFT space, I had never really stumbled upon any like black focused crypto groups or anything like that.

So when I saw that in the NFT space, I was like, okay, this is different. And once again, like I said, It had something to do with the focus of, of culture or the applications of NMT on culture. As soon as I saw that there were these black organizations within the space, I just automatically started dialing in further.

They're trying to find ways that I could actually contribute to those groups and getting involved with them. So that was how I kind of. Got myself onboarded into the space. It was actually by people again that come from similar backgrounds to me. And I think that's what really like, started to inspire my interest in terms of what I ended up doing within web three, as well, 

Laide: switching to the ancient warriors project, a disclaimer, I actually, this is actually the first thing I have to project I supported because I'm still holding my opinion of it.

And so I was like, ah, I might as well not sit on the sidelines. Support the project. And I also love the angle around Africa and Latin America and how those two cultures actually closer than many people really think about or talk about. So what led you to start that project? And what was that seed that was planted that made you realize that this is something that.

Emmanuel: For me, ancient warriors is, is almost, uh, a product of a long time coming. It wasn't, it's not just like, okay. I came into web three and then I was thinking of an idea. And then ancient warriors was that idea. It's almost like a lot of the, the ideas and the things that I was passionate about throughout college, as far as like empowerment for African people, as far as like spending time in college and learning about how much.

Our culture has kind of been taken from us and then fed back to us in a way that is just like taking value away from us and almost stripping us of the knowledge of how great our people were. That's always something. I used to have lots of conversations about with my brother, my best friend. And so when I came into the entity space, one area in the NFT space that I started gravitating towards was this profile picture collection space, the whole board, a yacht club, crypto punks, cool cats, all of these different types of projects that are focused on like giving people a piece of identity that they can use as a profile picture.

I started kind of trading in that space and that was like the first thing I did. And after a while I noticed a few things. Number one. I didn't feel like that there were projects that were appealing to people from my background once again. NFTs that actually like looked like me. And when I did see an NFT that looked like me.

For example, if you look at like the crypto punks, actually the price floor of the crypto plunks is literal. Dark skinned NFTs. It also has lots of female crypto punks as well. And I think the reason for that is it's not because of racism or sexism. It's just because representation in this space right now is isn't great.

Like 90, probably 90 plus percent of people in this space are white. And the majority of them are males as well. So I mean, that's why you see that, but the only way to change that is to inspire and excite people by showing them like, Hey, you can also see your. Space look at this project. Look at this piece of art.

You can see yourself in this art, and this is like a great reason for you to come into this space and explore further. So that's kind of why we started thinking about, Hey, why don't we create a project that is actually like dark skinned people, black people of African descent. And I actually started talking with my best friend from college who went to Princeton together.

And I had mentioned earlier on. The conversations that we used to have about the greatness of our people. The past empires that existed in our respective continents in Africa, you have Zulu kingdom, the Mali empire of Benning's and in Latin America, a lot of people are familiar with the Aztecs and cause the Mayans, these empires were able to achieve so much in their time and compete in a lot of, a lot of ways.

They actually. You know, superseded a lot of the European states at that time. And this is just information that we don't know. I mean, people who aren't part of these cultures obviously don't know, but even people within these cultures don't know either. And that's something that I think brings weakness.

It brings power to know that there was a point where we reached these Heights. Like this is the history that, that we should be told about rather than the history of slavery, civil war and terrorism and colonization is. Kind of where the idea of, uh, ancient warriors empire came from, it was how can we bring to the forefront, the greatness of our cultures and the history that we're often not told and put that into an, a project that we can kind of distribute to a lot of different people, uh, and use it as a way to ultimately bring more black and brown people into the web.

Awesome. No, 

Laide: I love it. Thank you for sharing that. That makes total sense. Yeah, I definitely agree. I think a lot of the history is not really told and it's kind of cool to hear your perspective on how you want to sort of revisit that and bring that out to light. So then you had the idea, you got your best friend on board.

How did you figure out like how to do the artwork? How do you think about the arts to represent? How did that whole. Coming to fruition. 

Emmanuel: Yeah, that was a very interesting process. Neither of us are artists. I think, uh, Luis, uh, my co-founder best friend, he has done a little bit of art. He took some art classes while we were at Princeton, but I say for the most part, we're not, we're not, uh, we're not artists, so we did need to go and look for other people who could kind of bring this vision to life.

Uh, but the first step of this was, was actually for us to. Think about and decide what do we even want this to look like? And so. It's just so happened to, as we were kind of forming the foundations of this idea, my brother, Isaiah, who lives in Nigeria, he was actually visiting me in LA for a brief amount of time.

And so there was a day when we went to the park and we were like, Hey, we're going to go to the park. We're going to take a sketchbook and a pen. And we're both going to just sketch out what do we. Envision these warriors looking like, again, we're not artists. So the sketches that came out, they, they're not, you know, we don't show them for a reason.

They're not great, but we took those sketches and we started reaching out to a bunch of different artists that we found on Twitter. We kind of would just, we just searched like NFT. African NFT artists, black NFT artists, Latin American NFT artists. And that's where we started. And we just started reaching out to a whole bunch of people.

We would get on calls with people who had been in the space longer than us, and kind of like knew their way around, a little bit better. And they were kind of recommending to us. Yeah. Reach out to these five different. And let them know. So we did a little bit of like a tryout process where we sent them the sketches that we made.

And we were like, we would love to see this done in your style. We don't exactly know what we want this art to look like. And so we're happy for you to kind of take lead on, on projecting out, like what, what this style could look like. And that's where we started, uh, an, the. Um, we didn't converge on one artist.

We actually ended up picking three because we were excited about all three of their styles. And we were like, you know, is there a way that we can merge this together? And it was, it was really good that we ended up going with three because actually, you know, one of our artists is Nigerian. One of them is an African-American and she's a woman and the other one is from Cuba.

So in the end, we were able to kind of, uh, make sure that our artists were representing. Of the cultures that we are depicting in the artwork, which is really, really important because a lot of projects have kind of stepped down this path of trying to create like diverse art. But then you figure out that the artists are like white dudes and it's like, wait, like, uh, I don't know if this person is, is the right person to kind of be projecting out in representing our culture.

Laide: Yeah. I remember there was like that controversy. I think it was like Fame ladies or something where it a bunch of white dudes in Russia who were putting out art. Mainly predominantly African-American and underrepresented women, which is insane to me and just women in general. Yeah, it was crazy to me. Um, anyway.

Okay. So you got the artist and how does that work? Right when you're starting a project and you have your creator, but then there's an artist working on it. And I know in the NFT world. There's just been a lot of conversation about people taking the work from the artists and are. Probably getting credit at a compensated and all that.

So how did you figure that split with the artist or what was that compensation process? 

Emmanuel: Yeah, I think that was a bit tricky because we didn't have much capital upfront. So we weren't really in a position where we could be paying the artists on like a salary or something like that. So we did have. Think about the equity position instead, um, where we say we kind of came to an agreement with the artists and said, okay, like, this is percentage of the profits from the project that you would get.

We kind of projected out like how much the project was supposed to generate and all of that. And that's how we ended up deciding it. And the artists were actually, you know, from them. I think it took a lot of trust and conviction from them. Yeah. For them to really believe in the mission and believe in the team that we put together in order for them to say like, yeah, I'm willing to put in like multiple months of work with, with little to no pay in order to get like a big payout in the end.

Fortunately, along the way, we were able to raise a little bit of money. So we were able to kind of pay our artists from, from time to time and just try to help, especially. Given that the project ended up taking a lot longer than we initially had hoped. So that was good. But yeah, once again, I mean the, the windfall from the project from a revenue standpoint is going to come at the sell out.

So yeah, it's been good to see so far since we've launched. I think we're at about like 60% of the NFTs have been sold. So I think that's something that the artists are also pretty excited about. Yeah, 

Laide: that's definitely exciting, uh, that to see that hopefully you get sold out soon. So if anyone's listening, go check it out in January as it XYZ with that in the show notes as well.

We're at the point where you have the artist and you've figured out the art you want to do. And then I noticed that. 4,444 collections. I'm just curious. How did you determine that number? I'm used to seeing like NFTs being like 10,000. I think it's an arbitrary number anyway, but why for, for, for, 

Emmanuel: yeah. So it took us a while to converge on that number.

Actually, there was a point where we were leaning towards 10,000 was a point where we were. Trying to save 3000. Um, I think there were, there was the main principle that we were trying to align towards was let us not try to create a collection that's too big. This is our first time doing this in this space.

This is a very new space. So we don't want to set a goal that's too high for us as beginners. Right. Uh, so let's actually, you know, try to have a collection that's like less than 5,000 in number. You know, at the end of the day, if you produce the same quality of art, you put out the same type of marketing and, and community building work, and you just have to sell half of the amount.

And that just made a lot of sense to us. As far as the 4, 4, 4, 4, specifically, we picked four empires for the collection. So we had two from. Africa, uh, we have the Zulu empire in the Benin empire, uh, which is like in modern day, Nigeria. And then from Latin America, we chose the Aztec empire and the Inca empire Luis.

My co-founder, he actually comes from Ecuador. So he has Inca roots actually. Uh, so going with that number four, it just made it a lot easier from like a division standpoint to say, okay, let's have 1,111. Warriors from each empire. Uh, and I also just think the whole like 4, 4, 4 number, a lot of people kind of find significance in that as well.

So that was something cool to align with. Yeah. No, 

Laide: that's so cool. Okay. So you had that many artworks, I'm guessing they're not generative, right? Do they have to each draw them out or have, 

Emmanuel: yeah. Yeah. So we did go the generative route and there are some interesting kind of considerations that we had to make with.

For example, we did not want to mix cultures. We've seen a lot of projects where people have kind of just thrown together like, oh yeah, this was like the tribal mix. And they just kind of throw together anything that they can find that looks like quote unquote African or, or Latin American or whatever.

Um, and it's not actually like a proper representation. So we kind of said like, You know, we have these four different empires. Let's do the research to really understand like, as much as possible as, as accurate as we can get what these people actually wore, the helmets, the clothing, the weapons, the shields face paint that, uh, each, each one of these warriors would have worn in these different cultures.

And then for each empire, we essentially. Took all of those traits as we call it and just kind of like rotated them within each of the empires. And the reason why this is like, not a simple thing is because basically you want to have a lot of diversity in the way that your NFTs look right. You want to have a lot of variety and you don't want people to feel like, oh, my NFT looks.

Someone else's. So in order to do that, you have to create a lot of different pieces, a lot of different traits so that there can be a lot of variety. So if we were kind of rotating the traits all within one pool, as opposed to each empire, having its own pool of traits, it would be easier to see that wider variety, but because we chose to kind of.

Let each empire habit's own pool of traits that forced us to have to create more and more traits for each one of those empires, as opposed to like, just kind of having 100 in total, we had to do like 100 for each empire. So yeah, I mean, these were decisions that made things more difficult, but I think in the end, a lot of people can, can see and they can tell that there was a lot of intentionality in how we put together the.

Yeah, I 

Laide: think that's why I was compelled to support it while I was still figuring out what I thought about NFTs. I was like, this seems like a lot of thought has got into it. And so I was happy to support. That's very painstaking having to do that a hundred times across four different empires, but obviously the output is good.

All right. So when you started that project, then what was the long-term vision for you when you started? Was it more of a, you just wanted it to be as a B's as a PFP, a display pic? Or did you think of like, eventually this is like the long-term roadmap or vision? Like, what was it. Thinking behind that.

Yeah, that's 

Emmanuel: a good question. I think in the beginning, the thinking was definitely. More shallow compared to what it is now in the beginning, we were very, very focused on just getting the basics, right? Like let us put out a profile picture project that works. The art is exciting. People will want to come and use these profile pictures in this profile picture or project space.

Every project tends to have some kind of roadmap or some kind of like utility or benefits to the holders. So we did think about that as well. And. Things that we had on our roadmap where like, is there a way that we can leverage our community as a voice to basically campaign towards museums and ask these museums to return back artifacts that come from our countries that they've taken over the years.

So like the met museum. Or the British museum that have a ton of Benny and bronzes, Benny and bronze sculptures that they took from the Benning kingdom hundreds of years ago. Can we use our community as a voice to bring back those pieces? That was something on our roadmap. There was also like IRL and Ft gallery event that we had in our roadmap.

And so while we were building and it took us longer to. To launch this project than we had initially hoped for. There was a point where we were just like, you know what? We have this roadmap, let's just start delivering on it. There's no reason why we have to launch the project. Like the actual profile picture NFTs before beginning to execute on some of these activities on the roadmap.

And so that's what we did. We did the, the return stolen artifacts campaign. We actually did it twice in the fall. And then we also did two. IRL NFT galleries in December. All of this happened before we actually launched the NFTs themselves. And so once we were able to deliver on a lot of these things that had formed the initial roadmap, we were like, okay, we've already delivered on this.

Like, where do we go next? And so, you know, now we're in that process of kind of lengthening out the roadmap, but also just more broadly. Thinking through the vision for this project, we've already seen kind of the amount of excitement that people have been bringing to this project. A lot of people have been offering to fund our events and things like that.

And so we've seen that it can go far, far beyond just being a profile picture, the impact of the project. It can go as far as we want it to go. And so now we're thinking along the lines of, we want to do a lot of. IRL NFT gallery events in cities, all around the world and use that as a way to highlight underrepresented artists and also use it as a way to bring more people from underrepresented backgrounds into the space from the real world.

We also have a lot of different thoughts, which maybe we'll get into later on. Products that we want to build through the community. But yeah, I think we come from these entrepreneurial backgrounds and we've built businesses in the past. And the way that we're looking at this project is, is very similar to the way that we looked at relief and the other startups that we did in the past.

It it's a company. And, you know, we intend for this to be around 10 years and beyond. Yeah, 

Laide: no, I love it. And it was cool to hear you talk about, you know, Underrepresented artists and artists that also don't have a lot of followings because one of my criticisms of the NFT space is that it's been amazing for this to sort of show up, but then audience ready to support their work.

And if you're a new artist or somebody who has been in this space for a long time, but don't really have a lot of following, it's been difficult to get some traction in the NFT space. And so it's cool to see how you're sort of tying all that back together through IRL and online events and really just making sure.

Artists represented in their own way. And you're also bringing attention to all the other initiatives that you mentioned. So it's really cool to hear that. Thank 

Emmanuel: you. Appreciate it. And just 

Laide: going back quickly to the point about returning arts and artifacts back to the original countries, what was the output of that, of those events that you did?

Did it gain some traction? Did you get any responses from these museum? 

Emmanuel: I love this question. It's hard to know. It's hard to know whether our activities had an effect or not because yes, like we did these campaigns and we had like dozens of people, um, basically putting out, uh, screenshots of artifacts, cultural artifacts that we found on these museum websites.

There's some people who like went to museums in person and took pictures of these artifacts would put out these screenshots. And we would say like, You know, at British museum, we want our artifacts to be returned, tagged, returned, stolen artifacts, and I'm sure they saw some of these tweets. Right. Like I don't, I don't think there's that many people who are tweeting at the British museum.

Yes. I'm sure somebody saw it and little do you know? Um, Not long after we did these campaigns, there were these like announcements or Germany announced something along the lines of, of how they're making a commitment towards returning stolen artifacts. There were a few different like news publications that came out towards the latter end of the fall, right around the time that we were doing these campaigns that gave us a lot.

Excitement to say like, oh yeah, like, all right, it's happening. It's happening. I can't take credit. I don't know how much of a difference we necessarily made. But I think certainly that was almost like a prototype of what we'll be able to do as our community continues to grow over this. Yeah. And I'm 

Laide: sure it contributed, right.

It's probably like a snowball effect and the more people who talk about it, the bigger that it always grows. And then eventually somebody gets a conscience and he's like, let's do something about it. So I'm sure your effort was not in vain and I'm sure I did have an impact. That's awesome. Anyway, now you mentioned earlier about how long it took for you to get the project.

So how long was it? What did you initially estimate that it would take and how long did it actually take to get it off the ground? I 

Emmanuel: started working on it mid September. We believed we would be able to launch. Mid November. So we just launched January 15. So yeah, it was about a two month delay. Everything took longer than expected.

The art took longer than expected. We didn't know that we would need to create as many. Attributes and traits for the, for the NFTs, as we had to create, like we have to ask a lot of the artists do that. The community building and the marketing took a lot longer than expected. You know, we had seen a lot of other projects that would grow very quickly and they would say like, oh, I've been 24 hours since we started our Twitter and we already have 2000 followers.

Like, I don't know how that happens. It seems like there's like, like an in-group that is able to kind of like pump projects and they just kind of continue starting new ones under different aliases. And that's kind of how they're able to do that. But I think if you're starting like the organic way, the building process takes a long time and like, you have to give yourself the time and.

To build up that community, running Twitter spaces, reaching out to a lot of people, having like one-on-one calls with people. It was definitely something that took a lot longer than we had expected. And even now I still feel like we have a really small community and have just been surprised about like how.

That small community has been. So it's small but mighty. Uh, but definitely we have a lot of work to do. Yeah. 

Laide: I mean, I know it's all small compared to other projects, but I think there's size and then there's engagement and I I'm in the discourse in the Twitter spaces and it's a very engaged community.

So I think that's a good metric to also keep in mind. Okay. What are the pitfalls, did you encounter in route to launching this project? You talked about. Everything took longer than you expected. I'm a product manager. So I'm sort of used to things just taking longer in general. What else did you not anticipate besides the amount of time you took?

Emmanuel: Hmm, that's a good question. Let me think the time was definitely a big one. I think. The amount of patience that people have in this space is also something that, uh, many might not know about or the lack of patients that people have in this space. You could say, if you start marketing a project in October and you're not going to launch it until January.

There really needs to be a lot of chips, a lot of hooks that you're offering to your community to really keep them engaged because there's a lot of people in the space. There's just so much being released in the space every day, every day, there's a new project every week. Oh, something pumps to one each floor price.

So there's just a lot of distractions that go around. And so. Someone who's like building and public, which is what we chose to do. We didn't mind the fact that people could see that we're still building our project. We're not done. We're also building community at the same time. But I think along the way, a lot of people did drop off over time because we had said, yeah, we were planning to launch mid November, and then we pushed back to mid December and we pushed back again to mid January.

So it's. Every time, you, you kind of have people's expectations and you get their hopes up and then you kind of let them down by doing that pushback. You do end up losing people, just given that there are a lot of other things that are being thrown in everyone's face right now. So yeah, that, that was another thing that we, we didn't really answer that.

Laide: Yeah, the space definitely moves really quickly and I'm sort of like keeping up at what's going on, but it's still hard to keep up with all the new projects and just new technologies that are unveiling. And everybody definitely has like shiny new toy syndrome and also short attention spans do so I can imagine that was probably stressful for you to be building a thing, but also like dealing with the emotions of people being disappointed and having to exercise patience.

I can't imagine how stressful that was for people who are looking to start an empty projects. We've talked about, you know, all the things. You had to go through it in January as project, but what would you say is your top advice for somebody who's looking to start? What would you advise them to do? What are some steps they could take and pitfalls they could avoid in ensuring that they have successful 

Emmanuel: project?

My number one advice is to join another project first and witness all of the mistakes and all of the victories and successes that that project makes. Before you go and start your own project. And there are two main reasons for this number one. Obviously you can learn from other people's mistakes so that you don't have to make them yourself.

Especially if you're working with someone who is well capitalized and they are moving quicker, you can probably learn a lot more in a shorter amount of time compared to your. If, if you're not in a position where you are super, super well capitalized to, uh, be able to just like move on a project incredibly quickly, it's going to take you a long time to learn these lessons, even if you started on your own.

So that's kind of the first reason, right? Learn from someone else's mistakes. The second reason is. If you go and work with someone else on their project, you joined their team or you joined as a mod. Or even if you just go in the community and you just like get super, super engaged, they also will be excited to support you when you then leave to go start your own project.

And that's one of the most helpful things in this space. Everybody is looking for colabs. Everybody wants to align their project with other projects that have been successful. So that's. Those successful project communities will kind of gravitate over to your new project community. The best way to do that is to be able to say like, Hey, I literally helped you build your project.

Now I'm starting my own thing. I would love your support and helping me get this off the ground. Uh, so just to sum that up, my biggest piece of advice for anyone. Getting into this space, trying to start a new project is to first just go and see what it's like to work on someone else's project. Try to find some, one that you aligned with so that it's something that's fun for you.

And ideally you get paid for it as well, but you would just learn so much from that experience and you will garner a lot of support for your own projects after you leave. 

Laide: Yeah, that's great advice. Learn on somebody else's dime. That's what I always try to say. 

Emmanuel: Exactly. Exactly. 

Laide: I would be absolutely contributed and all that and stuff.

So that way, when you started you, you're better for it. One question before we wrap up, how did you determine which blockchain to create your project on, you know, Ethereum, Solana and all the other ones? How are you thinking about. 

Emmanuel: Yeah, I think for us, the decision was between Ethereum and Solana. I think those two blockchains are the ones that have gotten the most traction and the NFT space, particularly in like the profile picture collection space.

I guess like the benefits we looked at from Ethereum were just the fact that it's what most people are familiar with from the standpoint of garnering support for our project, especially from. You know, minorities that we were focusing on that already make up such a small portion of the space. It made sense to us to go for the blockchain.

Just has a larger number of people. It just has much greater adoption in terms of like the integrations that it has with other platforms and the people that are building products around it, around the Ethereum ecosystem. Solana, I think, you know, definitely we. We had considerations about using Solana.

Obviously the, the, the low gas fees were really, really, um, a big, positive, and a big benefit there, especially once again for the people that we are really trying to cater to here for a lot of us, like those gas fees are not a trivial thing whatsoever. Yeah. And so it was a difficult trade-off to make. In the end, we did choose to go with Ethereum, but we kind of set a goal to really figure out how we can reduce the issue of Ethereum gas fees.

And so we were able to do that actually by. Partnering with this smart contract development lab, it's called Pagzi Tech. They engineered this novel approach to smart contracts where they're able to reduce the price of gas fees, like almost to like one fifth of what you typically see. So a lot of times when I was like minting other NFT projects, I would always see like around a hundred dollars that I would have to pay and get.

Now that we launched our project, we're seeing as low as $20. And sometimes even below that, I mean, everybody has just loved that. So, I mean, we've been able to go with Ethereum and get the benefits of having the larger ecosystem and then also limit a lot of the drawbacks of the really costly gas fees.

Laide: No, I love that. I love that you were thinking about that from the get go cause not everyone thinks about it. And that was also what attracted me to mint more than one. Cause I was like, oh, it's gas fees. They're not that expensive. So I'm going to get three or four. 

Emmanuel: That's awesome. That's awesome. 

Laide: All right.

So then what's next for you? You talked about executing on your roadmap already, and you talked about some products or projects that you're thinking of going forward. Anything you can share with us. Yeah, it's 

Emmanuel: definitely still in that planning phase. Uh, but as we, as we say, we build them. We are thinking about doing, uh, our first post-launch gallery event in Denver, uh, for east Denver.

And that is like, I think February 10 to February 20, we're also considering Los Angeles, uh, just because, you know, that's where I'm based and. We have actually done a lot of different social events. I've gone to a lot of NFT events in LA, um, over the past six months. Um, and we even hosted like a, uh, an event with the Bitcoin devs LA organization.

So a lot of these different like contacts that we have, if we can pull them together, we really think we could have a really awesome event in LA for us. We're kind of just trying to. Geared towards what people in our community are asking for and like where people in our community, our base, but also obviously if you can catch a city when it's having like a big crypto event, like if they're from Denver or NFT LA coming in March, uh, and there's like an influx of crypto.

To people that are visiting that city that is obviously an optimal time to, to do something. Um, so that's kind of like short term where that's what we're, we're thinking of doing, but in terms of like the goal for the year, we want to do 20 IRL and empty galleries in different cities around the world, which is a very lofty goal to set, but we believe we can do it.

The fact that we were able to do two in December, Pre-launch with barely anything of a budget. Um, aside from what was in our own pockets, post-launch with the size of our community, with the phones that we'll be able to have. We do believe that continuing to do two per month, maybe a little bit less than that.

Uh, I think we can, we can make it happen by the end of the year. Uh, and then I think over time, apart from the galleries, we're just continuing to see what the community, like, what do you guys want this to become? A lot of people have been. Pushing that education is really important to them. Um, education on the crypto space and how we can leverage NFT technologies to empower our own.

So we're now kind of working on. Uh, structure within the community that will kind of facilitate that education. I can't say too much on it. It's going to be announced tomorrow. Actually, we're going to start rolling out some changes to the discord server to just try to drive more and more people to first of all, share the things that are exciting to them, but.

It's blockchain related and otherwise, um, and also incentivize other people to come in and give feedback to what others are sharing, add their own insight to the table, uh, and figure out a way to kind of. Correlate that, uh, together now this sounds very, very vague, but yeah, there's definitely a lot to come, uh, in, in the, in the next couple of weeks and months.

Laide: That's so exciting to hear. Can't wait to hear it and see it. The IRL events. Are you doing a call for artists talking to artists to. Looking to find you, is there a way for them to reach you or do you already have a set of artists that you work

Emmanuel: with? Yeah, we will definitely put out a call for artists on our Twitter.

So our Twitter is ancientwarNFT that we'll probably start hopefully by the end of next week, potentially sooner, obviously, because you know, February 10 is coming up very quickly. You know, if you're an artist and you're listening into this following show warriors, ancient war NFT on Twitter and set notification.

Twitter notifications on and just look out for those announcements. Um, you don't have to be at the location where we're hosting the gallery. You just have to submit your artwork. And you know, if it's chosen to feature in the gallery, we'll set up everything. We print out artwork and put it up on the walls and all of that, we print out a QR code.

You're open, see link. Um, so people can actually purchase your work, uh, right, right on the, you know, right at the event. So yeah, I would, I would invite anyone with, with interest there, especially if you're an artist from an underrepresented background, African or Latin American women as well, please do feel free to submit.

Laide: Yeah, that's great. I'll be sure to link that in the show notes as well. And then what are your recommended resources for anyone who's looking to learn more in this space? Learn more in general? 

Emmanuel: I think our discord is a great place. It's not yet completely focused on education. That's something that we're working on right now and it's, it's going to evolve and become a lot stronger, but that's a great place.

There's a lot of super helpful people. Um, especially, you know, again, if you are from the African or Latin American background, you'll meet. People that come from those backgrounds and they can kind of help to, to cater advice to you as well. Apart from our own discord, there's a couple other projects that have a really strong focus on education.

One of them it's called curious, Addie's their profile pictures are like, they're like octopus or octopi. Um, but it's, it's a very cool project, started by a founder who we know in real life as well. And they're, they're a project that we're actually interested in collaborating. Uh, to deliver education to the wider space.

Great. I'll link 

Laide: all those in the show notes as well. Thank you, Mon. And then how can people connect with you? Uh, you mentioned Twitter, any other ways for them to reach out to you? 

Emmanuel: Twitter is his best. That's definitely where I am. I am most often, but I'm also on LinkedIn. Uh, full name is Emmanuel Udotong.

Uh, you can feel free to link. For people I'm doxed, as we say, it's not an anonymous founders, so I'm always open to any, uh, reach outs requests or just anyone who wants to say hi. Yeah. Yeah. I can vouch 

Laide: for that. I reached out to him on LinkedIn and he responded and here we are. So definitely take him up on that.

Yeah. This has been great Imani. Any other takeaways you want to share with the audience? Anything I should've asked you? 

Emmanuel: No, I think we hit all the buckets. I just, yeah, I'm just really excited for where. This project is going to go. It's essentially my lifeblood. I have not worked harder on anything in my life.

Literally like pretty much skipped my Christmas vacation to make this launch happen. And, you know, I think it's, it has been worth, it is probably produce some gray hairs, but I think in the long run, I'll look back at this time and I'll say like, wow, wow. Like we really made that thing happen. Uh, and look how far.

Laide: Yeah, I think you will. And I'm rooting for you and looking forward to see how it goes and looking forward to seeing how we can all support you and your team on your efforts. So thank you for your time today. Your mind's 

Emmanuel: amazing. Thank you. I appreciate it. 

Laide: Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe.

Wherever you listen to podcast. I'm your host Laide until next time.