Collector Conversations™️ with NFTier

In the firsti episode of this new series – Collector Conversations™️  where we dive deep with some of the most interesting collectors and investors in the NFT/digital art space, we’re going to kick things off with a young man that I’ve had the incredible priviledge of mentoring since June 2021: a lovely young gent who goes by the handle NFTier.

Pete: NFTier, thank you so much for agreeing to be my guinea pig in this experiment and for taking the time to share your passion and story with the four people who read this blog (most of whom I have the pleasure of calling my family, because they literally are!). I’m joking of course so let’s start with the basic backstory: what’s your origin story before entering the crypto/NFT space?

CrypToadz #5675 - NFTierNFTier: Pete, it is an honor and privilege to do this. Count me as one of those four people! I have long held that if one intends to get a head start in life, reading your blogs is the most real and intimate way to do so. Your decade plus long labor of love and brilliance; the breadth of topics, lessons, footnotes… absolutely inspirational. [Ed: blushing now thx] So, my origin story: was born in Pakistan, attended military boarding school from age 4-8, moved to the U.S. (Brooklyn) in 2008, parents divorced in 2012, raised by my wonderful mother thereafter. As the ‘man of the house’ I knew I had impending responsibilities so I laser-focused on my studies. Graduated high school, got some scholarships, went to college in Boston, and majored in finance and philosophy (also studied abroad for a year in London at LSE). I never studied finance to be an investment banker, rather the SRI,ii ESG,iii and financial literacy fields were my great interests.

Pete: What initially drew you into the wormhole of crypto/NFTs? What was your first purchase, when was it, and do you still own it?

VeeFriends Gifted GopherNFTier: After graduating college, I got a job at a big bank. It is the policy of major banks to restrict stock investing, which I had enjoyed since high school, for certain employees. Since I was prohibited from investing, I began to distance from financial news, which I had adamantly followed for years. I was faintly aware of the crypto world but out of curiosity and necessity (no bank restrictions on crypto), I began to research. I was not sure where to share my knowledge, so in early 2021, I made a TikTok channel (in my native language of Urdu), to promote stock/crypto education. I heard about Beeple’s legendary $69M sale in March of 2021 and my interest piqued after Gary V. announced the launch of his NFT project. My first NFT mint was a VeeFriends Gifted Gopher for 0.5Eth ($2K) on May 14th, 2021. I sold the VF (too early) a few months later. 

Pete: It may be hard for some to believe, but how much capital did you enter this space with?

NFTier: Well, I minted two VeeFriends for a total of 1.5Eth and kept them in a separate wallet. Soon after, I decided to document my NFT journey on my YouTube channel so I added 1 Eth to a wallet and set out to get a CryptoPunk! 

Pete: What were some of your early lessons you learned with regards to market timing, portfolio structure, etc. 

XCOPY FOMONFTier: Oh Pete, soo many lessons learned, but they all share an emotional aspect. The hardest is to be a market participant, while at the same time, be a passive observer of it. The NFT market is dynamic, and the fast pace affects emotions, which can range from FOMO to euphoria to FUD to panic within the span of an hour. That is an outcome of being a market participant. To combat these gyrations, I have learned to take a step back and evaluate market behavior from a logical perspective. Doing that has helped me recognize when emotions are in the driver’s seat and to control them accordingly. 

Pete: How do you “step back” and what does that practice look like on a daily basis? It has to be a constant struggle for you, it sure is for most of us… Do you micro-dose LSD? Pray to higher powers?

NFTier: Literally had to look-up ‘micro-dose LSD!’ I have never been into all that, as a personal choice, but also because I am deeply religious. As a Muslim, the 5 daily prayers have been a constant in my life for as far as I can remember. Five times a day, I am presented with an opportunity to focus on the purpose of my existence, pray for my goals and express gratitude. This process keeps me hopeful, grounded and always at peace. 

Pete: How has your perspective on the overall investment opportunities in the NFT space changed since you started about a year ago? Do you think there are more opportunities in NFTs in 2022 compared to 2021 despite (or because of) the fact that there are 5-10x more participants today? 

xcopy-jpg-summer-e1628374210330NFTier: Regarding NFT investment opportunities, the landscape is quite different to this time last year. Prior to and during ‘JPEG Summer’, record volumes provided plenty of liquidity for smaller wallets like myself to grow. Now, however, after an onslaught of project supply at the beginning of the year, opportunities are fewer, but also a lot clearer in that there are expectations for founders, roadmaps, community-building etc. Over the past month (April 2022), and I think this will continue to be self-evident, capital has flowed into the ‘blue-chip’ collections and away from small/mid cap projects. Granted there are isolated periods of market euphoria (typically followed by airdrops, or traced to collections promoted within large twitter/discord communities) that benefit smaller collections, but the overwhelming trend is a flight to quality. A lack of liquidity on the low-end theoretically makes it difficult for smaller wallets to grow, but the rise in whitelists, raffles, quality ‘stealth’ launches and secondary market arbitrage still provide ample opportunity for beginners. In our space, the ‘next big thing’ is always around the corner and it is critical to success that one sticks around.

Pete: Collectors and investors in this space love nothing more than to talk about “community” but do you personally feel a real sense of kinship here or are “communities” just how networks drive growth, build power, and create financial/cultural value? And how do you balance the very real commitments to these new online communities with your pre-existing IRL relationships?

NFTier: I do feel a great sense of kinship here, and I think it is because we deal with art, which is more bonding in nature than say, altcoins! We know the space will further 10-100x in size over the coming decades, but for now, it feels small, and seeing the same names, and (mostly) mutual feelings is a beautiful thing. I have made only a few deep relationships in the NFT space. I have been fortunate to learn from people (like you) who are at different life-phases than I am, and have great wisdom  [Ed: I’m almost 15 years NFTier’s senior]. I have not been the best at maintaining my IRL relationships as the NFT space is all-consuming at times. But, I am making an active effort to change that, re-connect with friends and rant about NFTs! 

Pete: You’re obviously very active in this space, running Discords, YouTube channels, and goodness knows what else besides, all while maintaining one of the most positive and upbeat attitudes I’ve ever seen. Where does that enthusiasm come from? Particularly with a pandemic, world war, investment stress, and family commitments all pulling in different directions? What do you do to unwind after a long day in front of the screen?

NFTier: Thank you so much Pete! The enthusiasm comes from a desire to help others. It is the reason why I started a discord community and started documenting my journey on YouTube – so others could learn from my mistakes. Further, when I think about what my success can mean for my family, community in Pakistan and beyond, I am motivated to work-hard for their betterment. This year was tumultuous and at times, I had to detach from social channels for my well-being but, it was also a blessing as I finally found something I have a passion for! Since getting into the NFT space, it is difficult for me to do anything else beyond stare at screens, but I love to play basketball and have a ball session every day at my local court.

NFTier's MoonbirdsPete: You clearly have a keen eye for new opportunities in this space and you’ve been remarkably skilled at adapting as you move along, rotating with admirable agility, so what possessed you to bet with such concentration and commitment on one single project recently: Proof and Moonbirds? Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe you have something like 23x Moonbirds, making you one of the largest holders, as well as a highly-sought-after Proof Collective NFT, a which is simply staggering (and fantastically impressive!) given where you began barely a year ago. So why all-in on Kevin Rose and his team? 

NFTier: Well Pete, firstly, a few things I’ve learned about concentration and commitment. When I started in the NFT space, I was convinced that the way to make the greatest returns was to actively trade, even if it meant I was spread out over 10+ positions. I soon learned that was an unsustainable and draining strategy. Over time, and due to our conversations, I realized that in fact, it is a better strategy to bet heavily on a few high conviction plays and hold for the long-run. There is plenty of financial literature around this topic (S&P 500 outperformance vs. hedge funds etc), and I am convinced that even in the NFT space, 80% of people would be better off holding conviction plays as opposed to actively trading.  . The biggest caveat is of course finding the conviction plays and not being wrong! To me, there was nothing more obvious than the Proof/Moonbirds ecosystem. I started listening to the Proof podcast last year and I was struck by Kevin Rose – a man of wonderful character, a curious and shrewd mind. Not much about the Proof pass was revealed before mint, but I knew I was betting on Kevin, so the details were of secondary concern. I watched the Proof pass become my most valuable NFT and Moonbirds provided a unique opportunity for me to double down on the ecosystem. Leading up to the Moonbirds mint, I had to liquidate the majority of my NFT collection, which meant selling projects I firmly believed in (Azuki, Doodles etc.). It didn’t help that the last time I had done such a liquidation was for Cryptoadz, and that didn’t work out as planned! [Ed: NFTier even asked for my blessing before selling his first Toad, how’s that for thoughtfulness? Of course I’m still bag-holding for the “inevitableiv flippening but that’s another fantasy for another time] Investing large sums of money on the secondary market was quite intimidating, but it was necessary to match the level of conviction I have in the Proof team.

Pete: If you had Kevin Rose’s ear for a private one-on-one lunch, what would be the first question you’d ask him? What would you want him to know about your own journey?

NFTier: Oh that’s a tough one! I would ask Kevin how he stays in tune with and true to the sentiment of folks who are in vastly different positions (whether professional, financial etc.) than he is. Kevin is a successful entrepreneur and legendary NFT collector, but I’ve noticed he always makes it a priority to speak directly to the beginner or ‘little guy’. In our space, we often deal with large sums of money without understanding the gravity of our spending, but I think Kevin truly understands what these sums entail for the average working person. To be in so many shoes at the same, is an exceptional quality and one I would like to know the secret behind! Related to that, I would want Kevin to know that the knowledge he shares on his podcasts has made all the difference in my growth in this space. Knowledge is the most important thing one can provide to help someone else and I have learned most deeply about this space through his interviews/teachings. 

Pete: You’ve mentioned that your dream entering into this space was to own a CryptoPunk. Is that still a dream today? Will you trade one of your Moonbirds for a Punk when (not if!) the market dictates that they’re equivalent in value?

CryptoPunksNFTier: Owning a CryptoPunk is still the goal! You know this much better than I do, but nothing rivals Punks in terms of cultural and technical provenance. Moonbirds, and all other PFP projects, are susceptible to the market’s changing tastes, but there is a reason Punks are immune from this and are called stores of value! They present the most mentally accessible way for traditional art collectors/investors to participate in the NFT space (example in your $BTC friend). I am not exactly an art collector (yet) and prioritize return on investment, but even from that perspective, there are no better low-risk/high-long-term-reward investments than CryptoPunks.

Pete: I know you’re young, skilled, well-connected, and have ample opportunities at your disposal, so what’s your dream beyond trading NFTs? Would you like to use some of this capital to start your own business? What else do you see being kick-started by the capital and networks you’ve developed in the past year? Just don’t say retire and sit on the beach! You’re too good for that.

NFTier: Haha, I love this space too much to be away from it! I definitely want to continue to refine my NFT trading skills, and I would love to invest on behalf of a company/fund. But more importantly, I am passionate about Web3 education, particularly in low-income communities. I am not yet sure what the correct means to pursue this venture are. Perhaps it’s starting a small media company/non-profit to spread awareness, or simply making YouTube videos, or a combination. I just know the positive impact Web3 can have on the lives of millions, and my goal is to overcome skepticism, onboard new individuals and provide them a path to continued learning and success. All that to say, I can envision where I want to be in a few years, but am still finding the pathway. 

Pete: My man, thanks very much for your time and for sharing your passion and stories on Collector Conversations™️. I don’t think I’m alone in seeing your journey as absolutely uplifting and inspiring, so again, it’s very much appreciated. Looking forward to the road ahead by your side.

NFTier: Thank you so much Pete! You have been an instrumental part of my journey and have uplifted me in my toughest moments. I am inspired by you in so many ways and am so grateful for our friendship.

Thanks for joining us for the genesis episode of Collection Conversations™️. Until next time!

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  1. And quite possibly final episode – after this, it will be hard to top! To quote Chris Rock: “Grand Openin’… Grand Closin’!
  2. SRI = Socially Responsible Investing
  3. ESG = Environmental, Social, Governance
  4. Archived.

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