From ideation to inception to innovation: the never-before-told-story.
An interview with CodeRave and Def1nft, co-founders of MHOUSE.
Q: Do you ever find it terrifying to be at the forefront of a technological revolution?
Almost every single day!
Can you imagine pushing boundaries and making world firsts on an almost daily basis?
So many things can go wrong and there is so much risk…
…but this seat of your pants excitement is something that I have thrived on for over 20 years.
Q: What do you mean?
One of the skills I have been blessed with is a talent for noticing things early…
…and throughout my life I have always been one of the first to embrace innovations.
I started working in finance and venture capital in 2000 when the internet economy started.
It was the same feeling then as it is now with web 3 – the feeling of being a pioneer and the excitement of having a chance to change the world.
The coolest thing is that so many of the projects that I worked with have gone on to become household names around the world.
For example, I was part of the fundraising team for eBay which went on to become one of the biggest e-commerce corporations on the planet.
Q: Are you driven by making insane amounts of money then?
Whilst it is wildly satisfying to launch extremely successful global projects…
…more than anything, I love the subculture that comes with groundbreaking innovations.
The sense of community and belonging to something ground-breaking is super cool.
From the first wave of the internet to the birth of hip hop and now the web3 revolution.
It has been epic to contribute to so many exciting projects.
Q: Why should artists trust you?
Before the pandemic, I ran a music agency that provided musicians to over 1000 private events a year across Europe.
From wild parties in villas on the Amalfi coast to formal recitals in chateaus in France…
…the world’s greatest music aficionados came to me to collect performances from our roster of talented artists.
As a musician myself, I know just too well the years of dedication it takes for an artist to develop a craft, their skill and talent.
I became an expert in using digital marketing to sell musical acts to passionate buyers and obtain fees that represented the true value of the artist.
Q: You mentioned the pandemic – what happened?
They say that you can find light even from the bleakest darkness and that’s what happened to me.
During the pandemic, my artist agency went into liquidation and overnight, I lost my business of 12 years.
Faced with imminent homelessness, I had to rely on the kindness of friends and family to keep a roof over my head.
I dug deep, found an inner fire and within 3 months launched a new digital marketing agency and secured a portfolio of large international clients.
Q: The pandemic affected the art world too, right?
At this, traditional art galleries across the world were unable to open their doors and had to move to online art sales.
I was actually invited by vPatina (an artist portfolio site) to speak on a podcast as a marketing consultant with KochxBos gallery in Amsterdam.
During the conversation, we investigated traditional art sales techniques and the challenges that galleries faced with the move to selling art online.
It was a really exciting challenge to take IRL techniques for selling art, understand why they are successful and then develop solutions and strategies for obtaining high price sales online.
In my research for the gallery, I discovered the Dutch artist Dadara.
He had just started exploring the NFT world in a thoughtful way and his WTF manifesto introduced me to NFTs for the first time.
It made me realise that so many things are unknown, uncertain, untested in the crypto art space and…
…how brave artists are as the pioneers of this space.
Each artist is risking their time, reputation and portfolio to push the boundaries of not only art, but also now tech and finance.
Artist: Jon Beinart / Tim Molloy
Q: When did you get into web3?
I first became interested in crypto in 2016 because I truly believed that it was going to take over the world…
…and since then I have just been waiting for the rest of the world to catch up!
Q: Did you always want to work full time in this space?
I was excited with the idea of being part of this new technological revolution, but in such a fast moving space you need to have the right idea and the right team.
In the spring of 2020, I secured the opportunity of working with a defi protocol and token…
…and I had a friend (CodeRave) with a reputation for being a marketing guru.
However, it took some work to bring him onboard.
Q: Why was that?
Because the crypto space is super inaccessible.
It was too difficult and challenging to get my head around it…and I found it fucking confusing.
But then, he offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse and that forced my hand.
Q: How can you market a project that you don’t understand?
Oh, you absolutely can’t.
It is impossible to market and communicate anything effectively unless you fully understand the product, the market, the users, the language, where people hang out, etc.
This meant that I had to do a deep dive and learn wtf it was all about.
It took ages of research and a lot of late night phone calls with Def1nft, asking stupid questions and talking through wild concepts and ideas.
Q: Was your first attempt at marketing a successful or a failure?
We built an insane referral marketing campaign that generated a community of 85,000 people with 0x wallets in just 15 days…
…but we had to turn it off because it was scaling exponentially out of control and overwhelming the protocol!
Q: Why the move from crypto to NFTs?
To be honest, I didn’t realise that the mainstream adoption of crypto would be through art and NFTs.
Perhaps it is because art is more accessible?
Personally, I am really excited about wider use cases that are starting to come out of non fungible tokens.
CodeRave started to get really into NFTs – he made his own NFTs, marketed them and used the funds to start collecting…
…and suggested that we should start researching NFT projects.
Q: So CodeRave, you fell down the NFT rabbit hole then?
I did – so so deep.
One day I was scrolling through my endless Crypto Twitter feed and a grotesque looking image popped up – a Toddlerpillar.
It really stood out and it literally stopped me in my tracks.
I joined the discord and discovered a wild community unlike any I had ever seen with countless messages every second.
The message feed was moving so fast that it was almost impossible to keep track of the conversation and I had literally never seen anything like this before.
Q: What was going on?
The community was running a whitelist game, where the first 40 people to reach level 22 would win a physical print of a Toddlerpillar signed by the artist and illustrator.
I called some of my friends in Australia and discovered that they were familiar with the artist (Jon Beinart) and had been to his gallery in Melbourne…
…so I thought: “Awesome, the artist is legit – let’s see if I can win one of these prints.”
For the next 52 hours, I became the most active member of any Discord community – ever.
I typed a cohesive message and engaged in conversations every single minute for 52 hours straight…
…without any sleep.
It was insane.
For the first time, I truly realised the potential for a genuine online community.
I made friends who I still speak with now, I learnt about hardware wallets and bought a ledger, I got advice and support when my daughter’s guinea pig died…
…and a new word (CodeGrind) was coined by the community to describe the insane effort I put in to get into the top 40 spot.
Q: That is pretty extreme – was it worth it?
You can’t understand a subculture or a community unless you fully immerse yourself in it.
I discovered that a strong NFT community is a place where real people choose to hang out with other like minded people.
No longer do you need to limit your friend circle to your town…
…instead you can find epic people in every corner of the globe.
This got us both thinking.
If we were going to make a community and build a project then who would we want to hang out with 24/7?
Who would be the like-minded people who would want to join?
For us to make a long term commitment to a project, it would be an important decision to get right.
Q: So, what type of people did you decide you wanted to hang out with?
Absolute legends, of course!
More specifically, we looked at our backgrounds and identified a few niches that we felt were relevant to web3.
CodeRave (as his name suggests) can write code and is a DJ and I have a background in finance, business and crypto.
This gave us a potential network of ABCD – artists, businesspersons, collectors and developers.
ABCD are all needed to launch a successful NFT project, so it seemed like a valuable community to build…
…and we thought – let’s do it!
Q: What then?
We had this idea for a community that was a bit like an online Soho House for web3.
Members who were doing something exciting in the web3 space and needed help to achieve their goals…
…or people new to the web3 space who are ready to take their first steps.
In the near future, Web3 is going to become a basic human right.
Our vision was for a community that provides web3 networking and resources for free and in every language…
…to anybody looking to innovate in the web3 space.
We secured investment from an incredible angel investor with a shared passion for art, the future of web3 and doing things the right way.
And with that, we both quit our jobs…
…and MHOUSE was born.
Artist: Shurooq Amin
Title: Society Girls
Q: What did your first week look like?
The launch of MHOUSE was at NFT NYC in 2021.
I flew over to New York and introduced the concept to some of the world’s greatest pioneers in the web3 space…
…and they loved it.
Nobody had done this before, and there was definitely a need for a safe space where the top innovators could connect.
A personal highlight was at the Metapurse Dreamverse event where I first met Beeple and he signed a postcard wishing MHOUSE luck and success. We have since met with Beeple and his Scott at many more events, they are great guys ad we hope to bring their art to a European audience.
Within the first month of MHOUSE, we had built a community of 100 members – nearly all of whom were leaders or team members of the top web3 projects.
Q: Are you just focusing on innovators who have “made it” then?
Whilst we love the idea of celebrating the leading innovators and introducing them to the wider world…
…we wholeheartedly believe that the success of web3 will be the adoption by the “everyday” innovator.
Awesome people from all over the world who can have a better life because of web3.
By bringing in members who have already been successful, we can provide mentors and panel discussions to help and inspire the new wave of rising stars.
Q: How do you get inspiration for the projects that you run?
Inspiration comes from listening to others.
A great place to connect with other web3 people is to hang out in Twitter spaces.
The source of inspiration for the LINKED Collection was a twitter space called ‘Amplify Women in NFTs’ (hosted by MJ Ryle).
I was invited onto the space to talk about the NFT Innovator of the Year Award and as I was waiting to speak, I heard Shurooq Amin tell her story.
Shurooq is a censored artist from Kuwait who explores socio-political taboo topics in her paintings and is now using NFTs as a utility for freedom.
This was the first time that I had ever “met” an artist who was truly benefiting from web3…
…and it made me realise that there are 100s of other artists with important stories to tell from every country around the world.
Q: Why do artists need help?
The saying ‘If you build it, they will come.’ is NOT true of crypto art.
There is a huge amount of noise in the space, it is too easy to make mistakes (technically and in the eyes of collectors) and complicated tax rules and gas fees can make it hard to monetise successfully.
Furthermore, there is a huge resistance from traditional modern art collectors to enter the space…
…and that means that artists have to build a new community of collectors from scratch.
This takes time, experience, more time, perseverance, money and hard work.
As an artist, would you rather spend more time creating or do you want to embrace the switch to businessperson?
Q: How do you plan to help?
The LINKED Collection is going to provide 1000 artists from around the world with a voice to tell their story.
We have an opportunity to make a long term substantive change by breaking down the existing barriers that are preventing traditional art collectors from collecting NFT art.
There is also a unique chance to educate existing digital native pfp collectors who have no experience in collecting art…
…and introduce them to the fulfilment that you can get from collecting art by incredible artists from around the world.
Funds from the collection will keep MHOUSE free forever, allow us to provide more resources and networking in every language to members around the world.
As we scale globally, more collectors will come into the MHOUSE community, creating more demand for the LINKED Collection and generating more liquidity for sales on the secondary market.
Artist: Jeremy Cowart
Collection: Block Queens
Q: How will you manage to bring in traditional collectors when others have failed?
How hard have others really tried?
Bringing in traditional collectors is not as simple as making an NFT marketplace, listing great art and hoping that they will come and buy it.
There are so many questions that need to be answered in the right order to bring a collector into the space.
Why should I collect NFT art?
How do I research and find the right artists to collect for me?
What strategies exist for investing in NFT art?
How do I buy the NFTs?
Art is truly powerful because it can communicate complicated topics in a simple and accessible format.
The theme of the art in the LINKED Collection is the web3 revolution.
Imagine an online gallery with 1000 different stories – 1000 reasons for why web3 is important.
Potential collectors will find pieces that resonate with them and they will have that epiphany moment where they finally understand WHY they should collect NFT art.
Q: It feels as if there is a lot of research for a collector to do?
That is a fair comment, but you make it sound like an ordeal.
A treasure hunt technically involves a lot of research – solving clues, exploring, travelling to different locations, searching, etc.
But it is a fun experience and there is a prize at the end.
From working with traditional galleries, the experience is one of the most important parts of selling a piece of art…
…and often it becomes part of the collectors story.
‘I acquired this piece in this amazing immersive art gallery in Amsterdam. The gallery was like a maze and I found a secret corridor that led to a room with an incredible piece that had just been installed. At that moment, I knew I just had to collect it.’
For the LINKED collection we are going to be showcasing the art in exciting IRL shows and metaverse exhibitions that leave the collector with a story to tell.
Q: Not everyone wants to go on a treasure hunt to find art though…
Right – so this is why we are providing a high quality, digital portfolio for every single artist in the collection.
A single portfolio page, beautifully presented, that provides everything that a collector needs to DYOR, get excited by the story of the artist and fall in love with the art.
I discovered a project called Block Queens by Jeremy Cowart that presented the art and his story in a truly captivating way…
…and this inspired me to create a wonderful digital visual experience that would be enjoyed by collectors.
Collection: Rxnegade RX Apes
Q: Everyone is talking about smart contracts – what are they?
One of the beautiful things about NFTs is the ownership that it gives you as a creator.
If you make your own smart contract (rather than use one of the popular marketplaces) then you can craft a set of unique rules that define what the NFT can and can’t do.
With an art NFT, for example, you could write into the contract that a 10% royalty on all secondary sales is paid to the artist’s wallet address.
This means that if a piece of NFT art sells for $1 million in the future that the artist would get a $100,000 royalty.
These rules then become immutable, have to be followed and live on the blockchain.
Q: Immutability sounds risky – what happens if you make a mistake?
Right now, mistakes are quite commonplace.
Some projects launch contracts that don’t work. Others launch contracts with vulnerabilities that are open to attack by scammers.
So why does this happen?
Smart contracts are written in a programming language called Solidity and this is very new and continually evolving.
Most developers have written their first smart contract in the last 12 months and every project that comes out is innovating like crazy and trying new things.
It feels a bit like the first aeroplanes…
…weird and wonderful designs, not all of them flew and some just fell apart mid-flight.
Q: What can you do to mitigate this risk?
The 7P’s come to mind – proper planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance.
The starting point for a contract is understanding the logic.
You need to understand everything that is possible and then hone in on what you want the contract to do, who you want to allow to interact with it and where you want the interaction to happen.
Then, you need to take the logic and turn it into code.
When you have a contract ready, you can write tests to check all of the functions and then deploy it to a test net and interact with it in a staging environment before you take it live.
Q: This sounds out of reach to most people, right?
If you have a basic understanding of coding, time and commitment then you can teach yourself to write a basic smart contract.
There are some incredible free resources available on YouTube with “follow-along” instructions and by going through this process, you can learn enough to start working with a developer.
In August 2020, I challenged myself to write a 10k pfp project from scratch and even though I nearly destroyed my laptop with frustration…
…1 month later, I deployed a smart contract on a test net, built a web3 minting site and generated images using an api.
So, I had an overview…
…but definitely not enough experience to take responsibility for launching any contracts for MHOUSE.
We needed a developer.
Q: How did you find your smart contract developer?
This is one of the coolest parts of the MHOUSE story.
We built MHOUSE with the mission to connect artists, businesspersons, collectors and developers together.
The idea in the future is to create superfluid agile teams from within the community to work on projects for commercial partners.
From the sidelines, we watched some of our members put together teams from within MHOUSE…
…and when the time came, we too turned to our own community.
The response was epic!
We discovered Renshawdev – an amazing developer with a great breadth of experience in smart contracts for several successful NFT projects.
In particular, we were really interested in ProjectRxnegade – an Ape derivative project in partnership with the artist Mattylaboosh (his brother).
This project has some really interesting api interactions and contract functions that are very similar to our requirements for the LINKED collection…
…and when he offered to head up the development team, we were hyped.
In our opinion, he is probably the best solidity developer in the space right now.
Collection: LINKED Collectors Pass
Q: How does the LINKED Collection fit into your story?
At its core, the LINKED Collection is based on the idea that web3 is a revolution. It will change the way we both interact with each other and organise ourselves for the better. So on the one hand it has the potential to be this utopian dream, on the other hand it is really confusing. We believe that through art, backed up with the right technology, we can make the unfathomable fathomable.
By sharing the story of 1000 of the world’s best digital artists from across the globe, we can capture the attention of both the art world and the web3 community…
…and deliver a collection that will define this new period of NFT art and become a reference point for future generations of artists.
This collection will bring more collectors and artists into the web3 space and link them together with opportunities far beyond what any individual could achieve.
By taking part, you will become part of history.
How exciting is that?!
Q: What is the inspiration behind the collectors passes?
The artistic inspiration for the collectors passes came from the pointillism style of the dot obsessed Yayoi Kusama.
Her inability to stop and the output of her art as a constant attempt to make sense of hallucinations related strongly to my 52 hour CodeGrind in the Toddlerpillars discord.
The obsession to be the first, the never ending grind of discovering new projects, the 24/7 degenerate world of NFTs, the lack of sleep, the mental ups and downs of projects mooning and rugging.
To me, the circle is an inclusive shape, one that implies fairness and invites participation…
…and this inclusivity is something that is at the core of web3.
I wonder if anyone will keep the collectors pass as a piece of art or if everyone will burn them in exchange for a piece from the LINKED collection.
Q: So, what do the collectors’ passes offer if they are not solely art?
Each Collectors Pass NFT gives the holder early access to LINK NFT drops in the LINKED collection.
This means that they will get a chance to obtain art from the LINKED collection before the general public.
Holders will have the time to research and choose the artist editions that they love…
…and when they mint the LINK NFT, they can burn one of their Collectors Pass NFTs for a 50% discount (a bit like exchanging a voucher in a store).
Q: Why would collectors want to buy passes before seeing the art?
The LINKED Collection is going to be curated by some of the world’s best digital art curators, so the quality of art is never at question.
Every Collectors Pass NFT provides funds to support a carefully planned international marketing campaign for the LINKED collection in advance of every public drop.
This means that collectors can now directly contribute to increasing the reach of the LINKED collection through these passes…
…which will sell out the artist’s editions, bring more buyers to the secondary market, improve the collections liquidity and enhance collectors holdings.
This new symbiotic relationship is revolutionary.
Q: Where can I find out more?
The linked collection (emotional slide deck):
The full white paper:
Mint your collectors pass NFTs: