Why do humans collect things?
There are many possible reasons: the thrill of the hunt, the joy of nostalgia, the satisfaction of completing a set. Whatever their reasons, plenty of people do it. The Journal of Consumer Marketing estimates that 40 percent of U.S. households engage in some form of collecting behavior.
The curios are wide-ranging: vinyl records, coins, stamps, baseball cards, porcelain, antique furniture, classic cars — and now, non-fungible tokens.
Though it’s still nascent, the NFT market surpassed $40 billion in value in 2021 according to an estimate from analytics firm Chainalysis. However, users are still stumbling over the complexity and lack of familiarity of digital collectibles. In order to unleash the market’s full potential, companies need to make engaging with NFTs feel uncomplicated and remove barriers to adoption.
“We are empathetic to folks who are confused. It’s become really obvious that it’s not that people don’t think it’s cool. It’s because they don’t understand it, so they are going to dunk on it,” said Steve Wall, Web3 product strategy and innovation manager at Sweet.
Sweet is making it simple to feel the rush of collecting without the crypto confusion. The end-to-end NFT platform offers creative services, minting across blockchains, gamification, distribution, marketplace and a wallet. Sweet is melting away a layer of misunderstanding around digital collectibles by replicating familiar Web2 experiences and transferring them to the Web3 world.
“It’s really about taking all the fluff out of the Web3 space and grounding ourselves in Web2 terminology,” said Senior Product Manager Bret Kobylka.
This strategy of simplification is attracting major logos. Since its founding in 2017, Sweet has built successful partnerships with huge brands, such as the National Hockey League, Elton John and Burger King.
Sweet’s NFT campaigns help idols and entities with fandoms grow revenue and drive engagement through the thrill of collecting. Often, NFTs offer the dual benefit of letting brands repurpose existing material that has been picked up and dusted off from the cutting room floor.
“There is a wealth of exciting history and memories that sits in the closets of so many major enterprises, leagues and brands that can be revealed digitally. There are fascinating ways to bring undiscovered collector pieces into this space and unlock new revenue streams for these entities,” said Executive Vice President of Partnerships Betsy Proctor.
To identify and cut away the complexity of NFTs, Sweet’s team is stacked with virtuosos from atypical backgrounds. Take Proctor, who previously worked with and managed musicians such as Keith Urban, Radiohead and the Foo Fighters. Or Wall, a two-time Grammy-nominated record producer. Then there is Kobylka, who is equal parts philosopher and tech nerd. According to the team, these diverse perspectives give Sweet an edge against its competitors in the market as the company seeks to break down the walls around NFT collecting.
“We are a collective of diverse backgrounds. There are so many different, great minds here and the way we think together is what makes the magic happen,” said Kobylka.
Whether a job seeker is a digital collector or wants to work on ambitious, future-shaping goals, working at Sweet offers employees the chance to have a large impact at an emerging company as it strives to simplify the use of NFTs in everyday life. Built In sat down with Proctor, Kobylka and Wall for more insights.
How is Sweet simplifying the NFT experience?
EVP of Partnerships Betsy Proctor: We came at it from a consumer engagement standpoint. Number one, we have sophisticated technology that lets users register for a wallet in a way that’s familiar. Number two, we’re not asking them to go through an entirely new process. It’s as simple as: enter your phone number, get sent a code, put in your name and password and accept the terms and conditions — then you’re done. Users don’t have to understand things that don’t matter to the consumer space. Demystifying means taking all the complexity out of it and making buying an NFT as familiar as buying a T-shirt on Amazon.
Web3 Product Strategy and Innovation Manager Steve Wall: There’s a spectrum of crypto and blockchain education. This level is fresh to a lot of people, and there are hurdles to getting into it — some are financial, but it’s also that people learn in different ways. That goes for the users, but also for people in our own company. It’s part of our job to level up everybody here.
Senior Product Manager Bret Kobylka: It’s about taking out all the fluff. We’re really concentrating on stripping away that complexity and making it super easy and frictionless for users to sign in, get onboarded and get collecting.
What is a “collector mentality,” and how does Sweet support it?
Kobylka: As a fan or a collector, you can now go on a journey with your favorite artist or brand instead of having a one-way relationship. Previously, they’d pump out whatever the product is, you’d consume the product and wait until the next drop. With our platform, and the way we dematerialize the collectible from the physical space to the digital, you’re part of an ever-changing dialogue.
Proctor: My husband has probably 20 folders of baseball cards that he never, ever looks at. But every single day he’s showing me the new NFT he got — it’s on his phone, he can show it to me right there. We’re gamifying the collection experience, we tap into the psychology and adrenaline of owning something and the benefits it can unlock.
“Demystifying means taking all the complexity out of it and making buying an NFT as familiar as buying a T-shirt on Amazon.”
Wall: It may not matter to the client which blockchain they’re using, but it matters very much that these tokens are authenticated on the blockchain. Serious collectors don’t have to worry about authenticity issues.
What sets Sweet apart when it comes to working with brands and artists?
Wall: A lot of the things we’re trying to hit with these brands are actually familiar things — senses of community and the progression of their connection to fans. Users are wanting to go deeper and see what brands are willing to do to extend that relationship, and brands are willing to dip their toe into trying new stuff.
Proctor: The properties we work with love our tech because we approach NFTs from a consumer engagement standpoint. We’re asking: As a brand, what are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish? We don’t approach it from an NFT perspective — we consider brand strategy, period. And then we use our innovation team and tech stack to put together a program that leverages NFTs to accomplish those goals for them.
NFTs at the 2022 British Grand Prix
What exciting new things are on the horizon for Sweet?
Proctor: We’re innovating all the time — and seeing the number of people registering go up, which means we’re doing something right. One of the things I’m excited about is that we’re going to have a way for consumers to keep a balance in their wallet, so they can have their play money inside of this collecting space.
Kobylka: One of the ways we’re able to onboard the mainstream user successfully is that we have really good delivery and distribution models. One of those is QR codes — we’re baking them into our NFT wallets, which we’ll release in a couple months.
Wall: The more people that touch Sweet, the more people will realize that brands like Macy’s are in it for the right reasons. We’re presenting Web3 methodically, so consumers can see that these brands aren’t going away — you can take a hammer to it and it’s going to be solid. It removes the mystery.