- Jonathan Ma decided to launch an NFT collection to fund his dream of filmmaking.
- He built a following around his YouTube channel and created a Discord server for the NFT collection.
- Those who own one of his NFTs have special access to a private Discord.
Jonathan Ma, known as Joma Tech on YouTube, is a creator focused on making short comedy sketches about computer programming, crypto, and all things technology. He’s racked up over 1.6 million subscribers.
Ma was a software engineer at Facebook and Google before he became a full-time YouTuber. He says his ultimate goal is to become a film director, an endeavor that comes with a big price tag. For example, one high-quality film would cost him about $30,000, he said.
So he hopped on the nonfungible-token bandwagon to fund his dream. Like many others, he became interested in crypto and NFTs after realizing their popularity; NFTs generated a record $25 billion in sales last year, according to DappRadar. He began to cover the sector in his YouTube videos and eventually decided to launch a collection that raised funds, involved his supporters, and gave them something valuable in return.
On February 1, Ma released a collection called “Vaxxed Doggos” that generated 2,191.2 solana, or about $234,400 based on the solana token’s trading price of about $107 at the time of sale. After commissions for the marketplace and developer were subtracted, Ma received about $187,567 worth of solana.
Each piece was minted for 0.88 SOL. They sold out within 42 seconds, according to transaction records compiled by the data provider Solscan and reviewed by Insider. The funds raised will be used to create films, Ma said.
“I was so surprised,” Ma told Insider. “In the beginning, when I started this project, I didn’t think that I would even sell out. I was thinking that I would raise a little bit of money.”
The journey to launching an NFT collection
Before launching his project, Ma told Insider, he would update his community regularly on what he was doing and what he hoped to achieve by selling his NFTs.
The collection consists of 2,500 dogs holding vaccination cards. Ma said the idea came from the stuffed dogs that are piled up on his couch, often in the background of his videos.
As for the technical part, Ma hired a contractor to draw most of the traits that would be combined to create the various dogs using generative art.
He launched the Vaxxed Doggos on a marketplace called MagicEden.io, which is tied to solana’s blockchain. He said he chose solana because he didn’t want his followers to pay high gas fees, something ethereum is known for. Solana averages about $0.00025 per transaction while ethereum averages $14, Barron’s reported last month.
While Ma acknowledged that ethereum’s blockchain might seem more prestigious and have more users, he added that regardless of where you launch, it’s really about the community’s support.
“In my honest opinion, if you don’t have a built-in audience, it’s going to be hard either way on either of the chains,” Ma said.
He continued, “The only stories that you hear are kind of outliers, where they blew up a lot on Twitter and they became famous and then they sold NFTs. But I think in general, it’s not an easy thing to raise money through NFTs because you have to care about the community. And I think that’s what matters, no matter if you go on ethereum or solana.”
The NFTs launched in two increments. First was a presale that started February 1 at 12:00 p.m. ET. It lasted for three hours and gave early access to his 1,200 “reserved followers,” users who were already part of Ma’s community and might have helped get the word out about his project by creating funny memes and sharing ideas. That session sold 1,426 of his NFTs. Then the public sale began at 3:00 p.m. ET, when the rest of the 1,074 were sold within 42 seconds.
Anyone who holds a Vaxxed Doggo has access to a Discord channel that allows them to interact with Ma, access early clip footage, share input on his scripts, and even stand a chance to be an extra in one of his videos. They can also flip their NFTs for profits if their values increase.
As for everyone else, Ma has a second Discord channel open to the public; he refers to those participants as “unvaccinated doggos.”
Ma said the biggest learning curve for him was figuring out how to grow, interact, and oversee the community he built around his project. His main goal was to keep a positive culture, especially within his Discord channel.
“So the difficult part is how do you create the culture that you want within your own Discord channel?” Ma said.
He continued, “First of all, you can’t be on there 24/7. You still have to sleep, right? So you really have to learn to trust certain people that they have the same idea or vision as you so that you can work together to create a community that is very welcoming and that attracts other people to come into the project.”
Before the launch, he regularly updated his followers on his progress. By the time the NFTs were released, most people buying in understood the concept behind the project, he said.
Now that Ma’s on the other end of a sold-out collection, he said the second-hardest part is keeping the long-term value in the project. And that means being tied to your community for the rest of your career. He hopes to achieve that objective by making the best videos possible and continuing to grow his YouTube channel.
Right now, his collection is still trading on the secondary market. Ma receives a 4% commission every time one of his NFTs is resold. Overall, royalties are set at 5%, but 0.5% goes back to MagicEden.io and 0.5% to the developer.
As for the NFT industry as a whole, he’s not sure whether it’s in one big bubble, even though avid crypto investors like Mike Novogratz say the high valuations are unsustainable.
He believes that being able to raise funds through NFTs makes fundraising for all kinds of early projects more accessible to anyone.