Web3 and NFTs are just the beginning of a vast metaverse says Wursta
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
We recently caught up with Alex Wykoff and chatted about NFTs, why they are more than just art, plus how they can ignite brand engagement and propel your business forward. Alex discusses why Wursta jumped into the NFT realm, and how brands can leverage Web3 and NFTs.
Alex Wykoff, Director of Product, Web3 at WRST Collabs talks all about Wursta and their web3 team, why they chose to enter the NFT realm, how NFTs ignite brand engagement, what that process looks like, and the different ways brands will leverage web3. Wykoff also shares how society is starting to become more comfortable with NFTs, different ways you can use NFTs, and why we will start to see them used in all kinds of brand activations. Lastly, Wykoff explains the role NFTs play in the adoption of web3 and the metaverse, the benefits for businesses that choose to incorporate NFTs, his prediction for the NFT industry in the next 10 years, and what is on the horizon for Wursta.
NFTs are more than art: how they can ignite brand engagement and propel your business forward
ADM: Tell me a bit about yourself and about Wursta.
Wykoff: I’ve been in the tech industry since 2007 and web3 specifically since 2016. I recently joined Wursta in April of 2022 to help grow their web3 team. Wursta is a leading independent technology advisory specializing in cloud transformation and digital workspace design. Earlier this year, we launched WRST Collabs, Wursta's newest innovation studio for Web3 ventures consisting of engineers, artists, and product-focused individuals passionate about Web3. Wursta is continuing to grow, hire and invest in the Web3 space.
ADM: You’ve typically been known as a company that helps businesses make the most of their investment in the cloud. Why did Wursta choose to enter the NFT realm?
Wykoff: Wursta’s leadership is always paying attention to what is coming next. In particular, this latest push into web3 stems from observations of brands exploring the space as well as the overall trends in technology. We’ve been helping organizations build their digital workspace for a long time. That's why we decided to open the WRST NFT Gallery here in Austin earlier this year.
We felt it was important to build an interactive space for the Austin tech and art community to connect, celebrate, and learn together as an extension of Wursta and also help customers understand and build in the web3 space. Wursta is passionate about working with the community to build for the future and encourages collaboration.
ADM: When most people think of NFTs, they think of digital art. How do NFTs ignite brand engagement?
Wykoff: NFTs go beyond an individual piece of art or a profile picture for social media. Brands, at the heart of it, are about a relationship between a business and an individual. NFTs have a permanence and introspection capability far beyond anything we have seen before.
Reputation systems, influence, and social proof are all publicly viewable. This is going to encourage brands to push benefits to active individuals as they compete for attention. In exchange, they will have a very clear picture of the cadence of activity that up until now, only a few credit and marketing analytics firms had access to.
ADM: What will this process of NFTs for brand engagement look like?
Wykoff: We’re seeing more adoption of NFTs throughout the world and in many different use cases. Recently, I was chatting with Phil Hedayatnia, founder of Airfoil Studio, who was telling me about his stay at a hotel where he received an NFT for staying beyond a certain number of nights.
We’re already seeing how NFTs are integrated into everyday society. For example, we’ve seen the email and password systems replaced by a different type of authentication connecting your wallet to ‘log in', which then allows you to receive discounts and promotions based on your confirmed blockchain history. That’s just one of the different ways brands will leverage web3. As society starts to become more comfortable with NFTs and the different ways you can use them, we will start to see them used in all kinds of brand activations.
ADM: What role do NFTs play in spearheading the adoption of Web3 and the metaverse?
Wykoff: NFTs have generally been easier to understand by the consumer audience compared to a more complicated topic such as DeFi. While the first wave of NFT enthusiasts paid for access to this new realm, today’s audiences are able to participate with a much lower entry fee.
I see NFTs as a stepping stone to the adoption of Web3 and the metaverse. I think we’ll slowly start to see people warming up to NFTs more as they become integrated into more daily practices such as hotel transactional purposes, such as the example I shared above. A special shoutout is owed to POAP for encouraging people to participate for free. Personally, I see the next push being in reputation systems and reasonably could see portable reputation become a very lucrative market much like the early days of online video game accounts in the 90s.
ADM: What would you say to businesses who are hesitant to utilize NFTs?
Wykoff: I can understand why businesses would be hesitant to utilize NFTs. Web3 has not fully proven itself as the next generation of web technologies, it carries some regulatory risk and must be navigated carefully, and there are some environmental concerns.
However, I would also say that there are few opportunities to be a leader, explore a new frontier, and help define the future. This is precisely that moment and the barrier to entry isn’t expensive, just arcane. If you are looking to open up a new way of engaging with your customers or discovering new ones, this is the right time to be curious and experiment.
ADM: What are some benefits for businesses that choose to incorporate NFTs?
Wykoff: The immediate benefit is that depending on the NFT you have created, it represents a lasting relationship between you and an individual. The more frequently and focused you deploy NFTs, the more fidelity will build around individual profiles.
NFTs can also represent a community bond. Much like a team jersey, band t-shirt, or your favorite sneakers, how you decorate your ‘avatar’ physically or virtually is an expression of your identity. Businesses can use thoughtful NFT creations to build bonds between customers and ultimately enrich their relationship with the brand.
ADM: What should we expect from the NFT industry in the next 10 years?
Wykoff: 10 years!? I can hardly imagine 10 months into the future when it comes to Web3. What I will say is that, personally, I sincerely hope that as new entrants enter the industry they remember the open source and non-zero-sum culture which created the foundation they are building upon. The great sin of the web came with .com, ads, and forgetting the ideals of intellectual & individual liberation at the internet's heart. If we have built this future right, we will see an incredible enhancement in individual liberty via technology. By that time, I would expect NFTs to be more ubiquitous than plastic is today.
ADM: What’s on the horizon for Wursta?
Wykoff: We also have a few internal projects in the pipe, but you will have to stay tuned to the WRST Collabs social media channels to see those updates as they come out.
Alex Wykoff is a seasoned Product Manager with depth and rigor built from a career in engineering, design, and research. The brains behind numerous successful product launches and events, Alex has made a name for himself at companies like Brave, heading up their launch of Brave Rewards, Stakefish, and Spiceworks. His product philosophy is that the most successful products are derived from observing and listening to users while applying a design-with strategy. He has taken products from concept to launch while maintaining industry-leading standards of privacy and security. Originally from Pennsylvania, Alex now lives in Austin, TX, where he is the Director of Product, Web3 at WRST Collabs.
The WRST NFT Gallery
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