In an exclusive interview with Finbold, Blockchain Centre CEO Gintautas Nekrosius shared some insights for entrepreneurs to leverage when establishing blockchain-related businesses. He highlighted factors like the importance of engaging industry experts and how to structure your team, as well as the crucial funding aspect.
Furthermore, the executive delved into the general cryptocurrency market outlook sharing his opinion on Bitcoin’s (BTC) perceived status as a hedge against inflation. Nekrosius also talked about the future state of the blockchain and the potential impact on the sector from the prevailing bear market.
Blockchain Centre has a wide variety of services for those who want to foray into the blockchain, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), crypto spaces. Can you briefly explain what Blockchain Centre is and how it feels to be a part of a blockchain gaming giant’s Animoca Brands ecosystem?
“Blockchain Centre is a one-stop-shop for taking your Web 3.0 concept from idea to finished product with as few mistakes as possible. Our mission is to help builders build and accelerate blockchain adoption.
We have a strong in-house team that can create sustainable tokenomics, provide eye-catching visuals, prepare fundraising strategies and help with development or marketing. Obviously, having everything managed in one place is both rare and a significant time saver — you don’t need to worry about miscommunication or keep checking for constant roadblocks between different companies.
Blockchain Centre being part of Animoca Brands, the #1 investor in GameFi, with a wide variety of successful projects under their umbrella, allows us to access the best resources, experts, and first-hand experience on the market. We can talk with different project leaders, see the issues they face, the solutions they implement, and use this knowledge to guarantee no mistake gets made twice.”
2022 wasn’t ‘friendly’ for the financial markets, including cryptocurrencies. How did it affect your business? How has the interest in starting a blockchain-related business changed this year so far?
“While the price of Bitcoin might have fallen from its all-time high, we’re at a new all-time high — the amount of development, funding, and talent in the space. It’s never been higher. In just the first 6 months of 2022, companies closed more than $3 billion in funding. There were around 135 funding deals closed in 2021. And, in 2022, this number is already at 228, even without taking Q4 numbers into account.
And it’s not just the VC numbers that show growth — if we look at blockchain gaming, we went from 600 thousand unique daily wallets in May 2021 to 1 million unique daily wallets in September 2022. So, while the overall trade volume and sums are lower, the amount of traders or users is growing. People are just more cautious and less speculative. I look at it this way — people stopped gambling and started investing.
To adapt, we’ve started focusing on a more secure pricing structure. We started dealing in fixed pricing and stable coins alongside project-native tokens. Before, we were only aiming to build a diverse treasury of various tokens and focusing on taking projects to market, nurturing them from the ground up. Now, we have the treasury, and to complement it, we started offering one-off services to established projects already in the development phase that are looking to become market leaders in their sector.”
How hard is it to start a business on the blockchain? Could you list the top three key things to focus on when starting a crypto company based on your own experience?
“It’s easy to start a business on the Blockchain — it’s much harder to start it the right way. I’ve seen countless projects “reset” because they didn’t know something, and it was impossible to go back and fix it.
From my personal experience, here are the top three things you need to know so you wouldn’t have to reset.
- Get an expert opinion on your tokenomics early. You won’t be able to change or adjust this after the mint. And the tokens aren’t just numbers in a pie chart — release too many, to the wrong people, or too few, and your project will suffer for years to come.
- Don’t raise more money than you need to. The extra money you raise will become unnecessary extra selling pressure later down the line. If there are more available tokens than users — you’ll lose a lot of value, quickly. So, manage your treasury properly; you don’t have to sell everything at IDO, private, or seed rounds. Keep your value locked in a treasury and sell as demand grows instead of making everything available at once.
- A small capable team is better than a large incompetent one. Make sure to hire people that know what they’re doing; if junior positions outnumber senior ones — you’re in trouble.”
You are onboarding new customers who seek to launch their crypto businesses. Which of these multiple sectors are your clients venturing into the most: Metaverse, NFTs, blockchain games, or cryptocurrency (token launch)?
“Being part of the Animoca Brands ecosystem, we naturally gravitate toward GameFi projects. And, every GameFi project usually needs a token launch and several NFT collections — so we tend to focus on these.
For Metaverse-based projects, the barrier of entry is obviously incredibly high, and the amount of funding, talent, and expertise these projects need is out of proportion compared to the other ventures. So, there aren’t that many individuals who have the right team to start these projects and seek funding.
At the same time, interest in blockchain gaming has dwindled a little bit, but it’s still a desirable industry. Because game companies don’t have to compete with each other that much. Each game can have its audience and be unique, while a specific cryptocurrency is most definitely competing with something that’s on the market already.
This year various GameFi projects raised anywhere from 100 thousand to 200 million from VC funds. However, CeFi projects still tend to attract the largest investors — raising as much as $1.15 billion in the case of Citadel Securities.”
As the crypto winter prevails, are you concerned about the future of blockchain? What does the future hold for the blockchain sector in the next few years?
“While the perceived value of cryptocurrencies jumps up and down each year — the overall pace of users, developers, projects, and funding in the blockchain space only grows.
- We have a 34% increase in active users for the blockchain gaming sector when comparing 2021 and 2022;
- There’s a 32% increase in the amount of funding deals Web 3.0 companies close when comparing 2021 and 2022;
- There’s only a 34% decrease in DeFi users. Even after major platform collapses like Celsius or Anchor, daily active users have decreased from around 50,000 to just below 30,000;
- The term “remote crypto jobs” was searched 614% more times in June of 2022, than it was in the same period of 2021 — enabling more people to work from home or just get a job overall.
In 2018 crypto was mainly just Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), and speculation on crypto exchanges. Today, we have multiple alt chains with their own ecosystems, games and art projects. While some of the largest projects cut the number of positions they have open, there are still plenty of projects that are hiring and trying to build out their vision.
That’s why I’m not concerned about the future of Blockchain; after all, it’s just a technology, it’s successful if it helps solve problems, and we can measure that by adoption, not price.”
What about cryptocurrencies – do you think they solve any real-world problems? In your opinion – is Bitcoin still ‘a hedge against inflation’?
“I believe it’s a great digital currency that’s next to impossible to fake; the fact that there’s anonymity and privacy built-in definitely helps it stand out from your standard digital bank wires.
The network can work without human supervision; it doesn’t take holidays, you don’t pay monthly service fees for owning a wallet, and probably the biggest advantage of cryptocurrency is the fact that it can operate in the regulatory “grey” area. It won’t get frozen or seized, protecting users from the power abuse of their government officials or bullying from banks.
And, when describing Bitcoin as a hedge against inflation, I don’t think we should look at the strongest currencies in the world; buying Bitcoin is no different than buying the US dollar or Euros when your native currency is in trouble. Their adoption is bigger than 1 single country, so naturally, it’s more “shock absorbent” in times of local crisis. However, during a worldwide crisis, it will follow the same patterns as other top currencies because it’s just that — a currency, not a superpower.”
Do you believe that the excitement around the idea of using NFTs as digital art has subsided and that the market is now readjusting? Moreover, do you believe that other use cases for NFTs, such as in real estate and the fight against the counterfeiting of real-world goods, will ultimately become the norm?
“Using NFTs as digital art is definitely not as exciting to people anymore. In my opinion, NFTs are a great way to digitalize ownership, but as art — they’re just not fun. Now, people want to do more with their NFTs since there are not many places you can display your NFT art and even fewer places where people care enough to look at it.
While there are great uses for NFTs, real estate or counterfeit protection is not one of them. A lot of changes would have to be made in order for NFTs to become the norm in real estate, and I don’t think it would be much of an improvement to what we have now. And the only thing that’s realistically stopping NFT counterfeiting is the blue checkmark on OpenSea. So, using a highly counterfeited item to combat counterfeiting is probably not the best idea.
However, I do believe NFTs have a wonderful and meaningful implementation in the gaming sector. Game items are already digital, and they’re already being traded. So, NFTs would only enhance the experience by allowing cross-game items to exist and cut out shady 3rd party re-sellers by allowing players to take control of the items they own.”
As we approach 2023, are there any services or products that Blockchain Centre plans to add to the platform within the next year that you can share with us?
“We’ll adapt to what customers need because here at Blockchain Centre; we don’t focus on providing a list of services. We’re an ecosystem that exhausts its resources to provide anything and everything a project needs.
Most projects we work with are building something that has never been built before. In a lot of cases, it is not possible to prepare services to accommodate their needs in advance. However, we try to use our network of connections to find and manage industry leaders that can help accelerate the building process or lighten the load on time-consuming tasks.
Our main asset is the almost limitless network of connections, from VCs and experts to synergistic projects and developers. Being part of Animoca Brands provides us with seats at the table where the most important people in the industry sit. Since our mission is to accelerate Blockchain adoption, we act like a bridge — connecting all of the individual pieces and making sure projects cooperate to achieve their goals faster.
We’re also starting some in-house projects to further our experience and knowledge, but we’re not sharing them just yet, since our main focus is still on our clients.”
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