Creator Stories Episode 5: David Tomu
Gated links as NFTs, Wallet-gated communities & the case for exclusive content.
This article is a transcript of a live interview conducted by Gian. If you want to attend our next Creator Stories episode, join our Discord and follow us on Twitter. We hope you’ll enjoy the conversation as much as we did! 😉
Hey David, we're excited to have you here! Could you introduce yourself to our audience that might not know you and talk further about your background and what led you to build Mint?
Hey Gian, thanks for having me. I've studied Tokenomics for several years and then worked for a SaaS-oriented entity project as a project manager. I quickly realized it wasn't a position I wanted to spend my career on because it focused more on having more creators and brands come to the space while keeping marges.
At the same time, I started looking into the Social Token space because I heard about the $ALEX Token. I thought this guy was crazy and was curious how does someone would tokenize himself aha. That didn't make any sense. And then, I started to understand the different types of tokens such as Creator Token, community Token etc.. and that's how the vision of Mint began. It was also the time when Collab.Land launched a feature where you can gate a channel in a Discord server, which made me think a lot about the potential use cases of a Token.
By digging into the Social Token space, I quickly realized a lot of creators, at that time on Roll, started a creator token, and they were like, "Okay, I have a token now, what's the next step? How should I do to enter the market now?"
We started Mintgate firstly as a decentralized TikTok. Basically, we would allow creators to create a Token on a Bonding curve, and for people to see their videos, fans would need to buy Tokens. That was a great idea from a speculative perspective because the more views creators have, the more the price of their Token would increase. But we quickly realized it wasn't a use case for crypto at the moment, and it's still not a good use case today. So we pivoted, and instead of only token-gate quick videos similar to TikTok videos, we used our technology to help creators token-gate pretty much everything like videos, content, website, Discord server etc..
That's how we started to work with different creators. One of them, our first, was Harrison First which was releasing new music every Sunday. We helped him token-gate his website in the way that if you hadn't his NFT or 1000 of his Token, you couldn't access the website and the new music every Sunday.
In a year, we learned a ton from these communities and understood better what kinds of services or use cases they needed.
Super interesting. You mentioned you helped Harrison First to token-gate his website. Is that something that people should need to know how to code to do it? Could you explain to us further how it works precisely so our audience can better understand your product?
Sure. The process is super easy. You take the link of your content, put it on MintGate, choose the Token and the number of tokens you want to lock the content with, and then we generate a private link.
MintGate is an excellent solution for people wanting to Token-gate articles on Mirror, for example, or gate a private playlist on Spotify. We support multiple media (website, music, video..) and various platforms (Youtube, Soundcloud, Audius..). You can even token-gate a Zoom or Google Meet call. That's a cool feature that we shared with our early investors. We were doing our calls on token-gated links, which allowed us to show our investors directly how the product was working.
You don't need to be technical to use Mintgate. We currently support different platforms and media, and we're always looking for new use-cases and potential new platforms to add to our solution.
That's interesting to understand better how it works because when I heard about Mintgate, I wasn't sure I could send exclusive content in a completely safe way.
Yes, the security part was essential for us. We were masking the URLs, but we've also had to make sure to fully protect everything because some people with technical knowledge could have taken out that content and leak it outside.
That was something we focused on during January and February to fully protect any kind of link generated on our platform and not simply mask the URL.
Recently you did a complete rebranding of Mintgate, and I think you even kind of relaunch. That's exciting. Could you tell us what's new with MintGate?
Sure. We wanted to support creators and brands to token-gate everything from their Substack to their Patreon through Social Tokens when we started.
But we quickly realized it's not easy for creators today to get liquidity for their token and get paid for that article they just published.
And I think that's where the market has shifted to NFTs because creators could instantly sell a collection and get money. They didn't have to wait six months for their community to grow and their Token to gain value.
When we realized that, we were already in talks with Rarible. We've decided to collaborate with them three months ago to create links that can be minted as NFTs. So now you can create token-gated content and sell the link to access it as an NFT, making it easier for creators to monetize their content. You can look at us similarly to Kickstarter. It's a way for creators to earn money from their community and fund new projects. Creating gated links as NFTs creates more demand, and it drives more liquidity for the creator.
We've also implemented a new feature recently that allows you to create a collection of NFTs and gate different contents with it. With this new feature, if creators are uploading a new video every Friday for example, and they want that only the people with the NFT can access it, they can simply create one NFT and add content on top of it, instead of having to create a new NFT every Friday.
That's great. Mintgate, for me, looks like it makes it easy for every creator to have a crypto community with exclusive access to content. Have you seen crazy experiments or super out-of-the-box ways of how people have used MintGate?
Interesting question. On the one hand, we wanted to make the process of token-gating content super easy for creators, allowing them to do it on MintGate in few clicks.
But we've also had another approach where we wanted to give creators the possibility to do that under their own brands. That's when we started to think about releasing an API and integrations to provide those creators access to those functionalities and features directly on their website without coming on Mintgate.
That's one of the things we started to think about to expand Mintgate, and it has been successful so far. Some communities are using it to share internal documents or proposals with no mention of Mintgate on the link.
We invite everyone to use our API as we believe that the more developers will look into our APIs, the more use cases they will find. And we want to be there to help them and offer new ways to integrate with Mintgate.
Right now, we're basically on an "On-Demand" model, when every time someone wants to build something new, we make sure to create the feature alongside them. For every specific and customized demand, we're making sure to help as much as we can.
It's awesome. I actually would love to token-gate my website. I'm trying to integrate Web3 components to my website to show my non-native crypto audience how it works.
That's a great idea indeed. However, I think it's important not to put everything exclusive. As you create a community, you first need to have public content. You have to make your content accessible to everyone and, only after, you should develop tiers for your community to access more exclusive content.
I see in the market that there are more and more closed communities with not much public information, and I don't think we should go in that direction even if Mintgate is focused on exclusive content.
I think we should push for more decentralized communities and not try to create the next "Only-fans for Crypto". As more creators are coming into the space, it would show the bad example, showing only the speculative aspect of crypto. The first focus when creating a community should never be the price of the Token, and I think the social status generated by a thriving community is way higher than any price.
As a creator, the more you are open to new people to join your community, the easier it will be for your community to grow.
I was actually about to go to that point about exclusivity because I can't afford many things in the crypto world. I think it's essential that we do not just token-gate everything but leave some for the public to enjoy.
I agree. It works today on Web2 because creators have content on YouTube or Twitch, or Patron and can earn money if they are big enough. The downside of this is that they need a huge amount of followers to get a small salary, and they're splitting their audience on different platforms.
What I think we'll see in the next months and years in Web3 is creators with Public content that start token-gating a small amount of their content and allow their biggest fans to have access to specific features on their website. This way, they can monetize their content more effectively and have everything centralized in one place.
Creators could reward the fans that have supported them on Twitch for the last year, for example, by airdropping them some tokens and allowing them to access exclusive content with those. At some point, every creator will need to create exclusive content because it's the easiest way to monetize content and allow fans to be part of something, be part of an exclusive community only reserved to the biggest fans.
I'm always amazed by people willing to give an insane amount of subs to streamers on Twitch, and I think these mechanisms could be adopted on Web3 as well because of MintGate.
Yeah. I'm also amazed by the huge donations to Twitch streamers, and I think that if fans, instead of simply supporting the creators on Web2 platforms, could have access to unique content through Social Tokens, that could make a huge difference. That would make them feel special within the community and give them the impression to have access to the creator directly.
People can get crazy at having something like badges or exclusive content that only a few people can access. The main difference between Web2 and Web3 is that in Web2, anyone with access to this exclusive content can take it and publish it on another platform for free. In Web3, however, you'll have to connect your wallet and have enough tokens to access the content. It's a complete paradigm shift.
Creators could also gate content through on-chain reputation. Basically, anyone could connect a wallet to a creator's website and have access to endless possibilities because they have status and their social reputation linked with it. And because these fans did some transactions a year ago, they could have access to unique content. The fact that they were engaged and were early supporters since day 1 is far more valuable than holding the Token for creators, and they could offer special perks to thanks them.
Rather than creating a "Token-gated community," creators could create a "Wallet-gated community," where fans could connect their wallet, and that's it. Their reputation linked to their wallet would be enough.
Today, there are many communities with many holders but only 1-2% of contributors. Suppose creators could start a community with only their superfans. In that case, they could create something massive because their fans would be interested in the success of this community, would already have skin-in-the-game, and would want to generate value for the project. People contributing with their time are far more valuable than people contributing in capital, and I hope we'll see many new experiments like this.