Interviewing the CEO of Epics Collectibles About Their Latest NFT Project: Kolectiv
The culture of collecting has been around for eternity, being a pastime for all ages. It is no surprise that the attraction of collectibles has had such huge success in the NFT space, with blockchain technology allowing scarcity and rarity to become a factor in digital assets. While Epics GG mainly focused on the e-sports and gaming sector, their new project Kolectiv aims to capture the people, projects and artists representing the past year in the crypto art space, immortalising the zeitgeist in a cool set of collectible NFTs.
Kolectiv offers ‘packs’ which feature cards with varying degrees of rarity with artwork and designs by crypto artists. Interestingly, the project offers incentives to complete sets, of which there are only 150 possible complete sets. Being the first to complete a set earns you a special reward card, and you can build up your collection score and see yourself climb the leaderboard to the top! While there were only 5000 packs released, Kolectiv has its marketplace where users can sell, buy and trade unopened packs or duplicate cards, making it easier to complete sets.
To learn more about one of the most successful NFT collectible projects of 2021, I spoke the CEO of Epics GG Mark Donovan, one the driving forces behind Kolectiv.
I understand Epics GG began working with gaming collectibles, when and why did you make the jump into the crypto art space?
We started building out our collectibles platform in late 2017 and launched our first collection with a core group of Counterstrike teams in summer 2018. We've known several esports teams for a while and have been working in the space for many years so it's always been a natural place to start for us. On top of that, we're big believers that esports are the future and that more and more fans will migrate to the teams in that ecosystem being their main focus of attention as the years go by.
We decided to get into crypto art late in 2020 and started the conversation with a few key artists and influencers to get the project rolling. We saw what was happening in the space and felt that we could carve out a unique corner of the space where we could create collections and drops based on common themes. We want to bring artists together and really focus on having some bigger established artists curating a collection of their peers and bringing in new up and comers that collectors should be paying attention to. We want to know who those next big artists are and who knows better than the artists who are in the middle of the action? We compare this to the current ecosystem which is frenetic and crazy which is great, but different from what we want to create. Hopefully, collectors and artists like this approach. We also want a place where we can really experiment with drops and test out different formats, content types and drop types. With Epics we have fewer options as we're working with major publishers and IP's - with Kolectiv we're working with digital artists and there's so much more openness to experiment and innovate which is extremely fun.
The range of artists you collated for this project is very impressive, tell me about some of the artists you work with, and how you went about choosing who to work with?
We started chatting with multiple artists and influencers in 2020 and ended up deciding to make Pranksy the curator for the first launch set - Crypto 2021, which will be a yearly collection of art based on the themes, events, people, projects and artists from the past year in crypto with the goal of documenting its evolution over time through art. As collectibles guys we felt this would be really cool when you could look back in 20/30/50 years and really see how the mood changed from year to year in such a massive, critical time in human history. We wanted to work with established artists like XCOPY, DotPigeon, etc and also introduce collectors to new up and coming artists like Dario De Siena or Gabe Weiss who are becoming more and more relevant in the space. Things really came together quickly with a core group of major artists and then we opened up submissions to the public and worked with our team to select the art for the set. I think the outcome was pretty interesting and created a diverse collection. Lastly we worked with a leading concept art shop to craft some very rare reward cards for completing the set, etc based on some of the key themes we wanted to make sure got into the set for the year.
“The Crypto 2021 Collector Card Set” is your first set of art based NFT collectible cards, what is next for Kolectiv?
We have a lot more in planning but we're not in a rush to get the next drop out yet. We want to make sure the themes are in place, the right artists are in place and we create something we're all proud of when we launch it. Other sites do multiple drops every week and many times multiple artists in a single day - that's not what Kolectiv will be. Kolectiv will be a place to come for big drops that are fun and really a mix in media, artist size, etc.
We've got some pretty exciting drops in the works around some cool themes like pixel artists, sci-fi, urban artists etc and also mixing in some cool physical/digital elements as well. I think it will be a lot of fun for people and hope they agree.
I see for Epics GG, you have physical trading cards. Would be something you would roll out for Kolectiv?
Absolutely - we're one of very few companies in the space who can tie digital and physical items together at scale. We've already got millions of hybrid trading cards in the market and are going much, much bigger with that over the next few years with strategic partnerships. We're also looking to tie other physical items to the digital world in the near future - we're not ready to announce anything yet but we're having a lot of fun innovating in the space and I think it could spawn a whole new category for us going forward.
I have seen mention of special membership benefits that come with ownership of cards. Any news of what this will be if it happens?
Yes! Owners of our Founder's cards will receive ongoing benefits on future drops. We're trying to get something into every drop we do and also work with other projects to provide value to our collectors. Examples would be free bonuses in drops, entries into drawings for free items, early access to drops, exclusive access to drops, etc. We want to thank our early supporters and that's what these cards allow us to do. We're going to experiment and see what works and what collectors see value in.
We have seen quite a few ‘collectible’ NFT projects take off in the NFT space, did any of these projects provide any inspiration?
Of course - there's so much innovation going on that it's impossible to not be inspired on a daily basis. We try to keep focused but integrate cool things we see into what we're doing. We always try to leverage the amazing tech and capabilities we've built to create content - we think we have built an extremely good team that builds some of the best experiences/UX and content in the space so that opens up a ton of potential to innovate.
One of the interesting questions within the NFT space is the division between ‘art’ and ‘collectibles’ as is often shown on data sets. Where do you see yourself within this intersect?
We don't pigeonhole ourselves - we have great tech, a great team and a toolset that can be used in multiple categories so we feel we can innovate in multiple places and even create new categories. This space is moving fast and there's no reason to define yourself by someone else's category distinctions. We've also had a lot of interest from partners who want to create verticalized NFT offerings but don't have the tech or don't want to spend the time/focus building it so we're working with them to use our tech/UX/experience to move faster and offer a leading service to specific niches - that allows us to do more by focusing on what we do best.
Kolectiv has certainly capitalised on many of the joyous qualities of tradeable collectibles and with Epics GG’s empire growing, I for one am certainly excited to see what else they will bring to the table in the future and to discover what is next for Kolectiv.