Exclusive: Doodles Co-Founder Talks Pharrell Williams and New NFTs
Launched on Oct. 17, 2021, Doodles has grown in leaps and bounds to become one of the most influential and beloved NFT projects in existence. Starting from humble beginnings, the collection of 10,000 generative NFTs has begun to expand far beyond the blockchain into a Web3 entertainment company.
Considering the young age of the Doodles project, it’s been incredible to see the growth and accomplishments achieved by its founders Evan Keast, Scott Martin, and Jordan Castro. From live, immersive events to unique, innovative project development, the company has onboarded a range of talent to the team, including former President of Billboard Julian Holguin as CEO and none other than Pharrell Williams as Chief Brand Officer.
With the next iteration of the collection, Doodles 2, on the horizon — plus a laundry list of other initiatives — the collective NFT community has been speculating about what the future might hold for Doodles. So we caught up with Doodles co-founder Keast for a deep dive into what we might expect from Doodles in the coming months and years.
What’s changed for Doodles?
The changes within the Doodle ecosystem have been subtle but impactful. At the start, the Doodles team made it clear that they were first and foremost about empowering their community, and this ethos has remained a major facet of the ecosystem.
“To have hundreds of thousands of people enjoying your brand all over the world is definitely something that, you know, you can say you’d expect it, but it’s humbling in and of itself,” Keast said in an interview with nft now. “The core experience is always going to be Web3 and community-based. But that doesn’t cut us off from doing like an animated series, or a movie, or a game.”
Since the early days of the project, Doodle owners (Doodlers) have had the ability to be directly involved in Doodles decisions by voting on community proposals. And while proposals aren’t as frequent as they were the first few months after the project launch, initiatives (like those Keast alluded to) have become much more paramount to the future and overall success of Doodles as a brand.
Similarly, while the Doodles founders have always kept their viewfinder on the horizon, as the project has grown in popularity, so too has the scope of what the Doodles crew is endeavoring to do.
To put it in perspective, the Doodles team originally decided on a mint price of 0.123 ETH in order to secure an initial treasury of ~420 ETH to be placed in the community Doodle bank. Now, the project has amassed nearly 140,000 ETH in sales volume on OpenSea alone, with the Doodle bank taking a five percent fee off the top of all secondary sales on the platform. This has effectively ensured the Doodles team has made their initial treasury holding, which was worth over $1.5 million at the time, back many times over.
This capital bodes well for the multi-prong approach Doodles is taking to brand building. Although they started the project as a simple PFP collection, with the addition of aforementioned music veterans Holguin and Williams, it’s become clear that Keast and co. are gunning for longevity in ways that, at times, feel similar to Bored Apes and Yuga Labs. And it is to these ends that we find Doodles looking to become a full-fledged Web3 entertainment company.
“We’re going to be trying to develop Web3 solutions in parallel with world-class partners,” said Keast. “So if we’re tackling e-commerce, we’re not just going to go it alone, we’re going to be doing it in parallel with Shopify. We’re working on all these things, but I still think that our core business is as a Web3 entertainment brand.”
What’s next for Doodles?
In partnership with world class organizations, expect the magic of the Doodles brand to manifest in music, animation, collectibles, games and live events. pic.twitter.com/rh9HwAKZsz
— doodles (@doodles) June 28, 2022
It’s become commonplace for fledgling NFT projects to employ an expansive and impressive roadmap to lure in potential collectors. Of course, laying out a framework for a project’s endeavors is fine and well, but it seems that a large percentage of projects either constantly extend the due date on deliverables, or simply never achieve what they set out to do.
With Doodles, it feels as though the writing is on the wall for nearly all of the project’s ventures. By incentivizing Doodlers to join in on decision making, the actions of the Doodles founders have spoken much louder than any words on a roadmap could. Possibly one of the best examples of this was Doodles’ activation at NFT.NYC.
As far as Keast is concerned, the Genesis Factory was a triumph that both allowed him and his crew to show their fanbase what they’re working on while bringing the Doodler community together to connect on a level beyond the usual drunken, high-volume back and forth.
“We want our IRL activations to make sense with our product cycles. We don’t want to just show up places and throw a party. We want everything to be integrated into one experience, which is ultimately, you know, to collect a Doodle,” Keast tells nft now. “So whenever we show up, there should be something to do, product-wise. Which would either be revealing new tech or celebrating a milestone on our roadmap. We want something new for people to experience every time we show up.”
As if to perfectly exemplify Kest’s desire to show up and show out, the Doodles Genesis Factory provided a stage for the unveiling of many upcoming Doodles initiatives, including Doodles’ first fundraise, Doodles 2, Doodles Records, and more. Let’s break these announcements down.
First and foremost, the Doodles team took to the stage during the Genesis Factory launch to announce that 776 Management, a venture capital firm created by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, would be leading the first round of funding for Doodles. Although the amount of financing was not disclosed, the partnership inherently seemed robust as it was also announced that 776 co-founder Katelin Holloway would be joining the Doodles board of directors.
In this one fell swoop, Doodles also announced Pharrell Williams joining the project as Chief Brand Officer and board member. This announcement in particular generated a great deal of fanfare both during and after the Genesis Factory.
Doodles 2 is possibly the most important announcement to come from the Genesis Factory. As companion projects like Mutant Apes, Cool Pets, and more have helped popular projects capitalize on demand and further expand their collector base, Doodles 2 is yet another step in onboarding more enthusiasts into the Doodles ecosystem.
It’s important to note that although the genesis Doodles collection was hosted on Ethereum, Doodles 2 will likely live on a different blockchain entirely. Keast says that this decision in its entirety is still a pending decision, but one that he and the Doodles team hopes to help further mass adoption of the Doodles project.
“We’re considering a layer two solution, or something else. It’s not set in stone. We just want it to be as accessible as possible. So we’re considering where to deploy it,” said Keast. “All of our other experiences are on Ethereum. And, you know, that’s where the community is now. So we’re going to continue to build those experiences on Ethereum.”
Marketed as “A Doodle for Everyone,” the forthcoming collection will allow new collectors to mint a base-level doodle, choose generic traits like skin tone and hair color, then customize your doodle with wearables that come in varying tiers of rarity. Doodles 2 are said to be dynamic NFTs where owners can change their look as often as they like, swap between a full-body or PFP perspective, and unlock an animated version of their NFT complete with original music.
Doodles 2 is also where the Genesis Box comes into play. Unveiled at the Genesis Factory, this NFT box holds first-edition wearables that will seed the wearables economy of Doodles 2. This full collection of boxes features 24,000 NFTs that will be made available on June 29, 2022, via a unique new auction format that Doodles is calling a Bucket Auction (more details here).
Another new sector of the overarching Doodles brand was announced at the Genesis Factory. Called Doodles Records, little is known about the supposed record label, but Doodles Records: Volume 1 has been announced to include original music with executive production from Pharrell, hand-drawn album art from lead Doodles artist Scott Martin, and limited edition wearables for Doodles 2. The first volume comes in partnership with Columbia Records and will feature music that Doodles 2 owners will be able to layer into their new animated NFTs.
The Dooplicator, which has lived as one of the most enigmatic facets of the Doodles ecosystem, was revealed at the Genesis Factory as an NFT to, as stated on the Doodles Twitter account, “perpetual utility beyond Doodles 2.” Labeled a “super-powered device” that will allow collectors to bring the rarest original Doodles traits into Doodles 2, Keast says these NFTs are a sort of dealers choice when it comes to interacting with the greater Doodles ecosystem.
“Essentially, the Dooplicator is going to allow you to bring original Doodle traits into Doodles 2. It will be able to be used, not only with this one kind of action though, but it’ll have further uses across the whole Doodles ecosystem,” Keast tells nft now. “OG Doodle holders are going to be able to barter with the folks that have Dooplicators in order to kind of like, loan out or like lease out their traits at a price that they set. Jordan and I took lessons from CryptoKitties on how to create a sustainable economy. That’s as much as I can share about the Dooplicator right now.”
Doodles is designed to be a slow burn
Beyond the general hypes cycle of price increases and celebrities being onboarded into the Doodler community, Doodles has been known to sort of leave their community hanging. This hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing, as while the wider NFT community has become accustomed to biweekly teasers and announcements, it seems that Keast and the rest of the Doodles team are more than happy to keep quiet until they have something to say.
Keast says for him, it’s hard to put the Doodles project in a box. He believes that Doodles is in its own lane, steadily progressing towards both the short and long-term goals on the Doodles roadmap and that he intends to keep steadily showing off what his team is building when the time comes. And perhaps this work ethic is the simple source of the perceived laissez-faire Doodles team attitude.
“What we’re trying to be is the most accessible first NFT experience… We really just want to be the best consumer NFT product that people can get their hands on.” said Keast. “For the second half of 2022 we’re just going to keep delivering and things will kind of reveal themselves over the year. But you know, we’re just excited to continue to show off and for folks to see new experiences that make them think, ‘Hey, maybe NFTs are actually cooler than I thought they were.’”
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