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Despite selling out in four minutes and boasting close to half a million followers on Twitter whilst sporting elusive blue ticks of approval on their pages, Imaginary Ones has flown under the radar in the Singapore NFT scene. Escaping the limelight and steering clear of Singapore’s recent crypto/F1 week mayhem, Clement Chia and his fellow Imaginary Ones founders have gone largely undetected by Singapore’s insular crypto community.
Nonetheless, the curious cats at Blockhead couldn’t leave this stone unturned and met up with Chia to learn more about the project and its focus on kids content as well as its recent partnership with Hugo Boss.
The last time Blockhead covered Imaginary Ones (IO), the project was under fire from FUD spreaders, alleging it was one big rug pull.
At the time, we wrote: “Although it’s often too late to know if a project is a rug pull or not, the team at Blockhead is not convinced by the concerns surrounding Imaginary Ones. The team behind the project has put in remarkable effort in building up the project and organically grew support by being active on Discord. Yes, IO’s walking gif is somewhat resemblant of Invisible Friends but to disregard the project as a copycat is short sighted. Chia’s artwork – even prior to the project – is of an impressive standard and it carries through to IO.”
Fast forward six months, and our prophecy was correct. “I don’t even know who that guy was,” Chia reflected on Nate Rivers, who started all the FUD. “It just happened when we were asleep. All the FUD came out with Photoshops of us partying!”
Prior to IO, Chia and his co-founder David ran a motion design company called Offset for close to 10 years and worked with giant international brands including Apple, Nike, Adidas, Singapore Airlines and Tiger Beer. The pair then started online video platform Offeo, which they scaled to 300,000 business users and 700,000 monthly visits. Once the business became automated, Chia wanted to venture into the NFT space after noticing his designs going viral on Instagram.
“Back then, the NFT space was all about Cryptopunks, Azukis etc. It felt very male dominated,” Chia recalls. “So when we created the Firecrackers for Imaginary Ones, we wanted it to be more inclusive for females and males, and people of different ages.”
Chia experimented with five characters on Twitter. “At first, nobody actually liked it,” Chia says with a laugh. “We then shared it on Discord and when we woke up, it blew up to 4,000 likes.” The founders had wanted the collection to be small, but the demand was so big that they had to rethink the process.
“Creating 500 3D animations, but creating 8,888 is like what are you thinking!” Chia said. “We rebuilt the whole flow and as time went by, Imaginary Ones just kept growing. At one point there were 600,000 followers.”
Mental health like a boss
Mental health is a topic that’s dear to Chia, and an element he wanted to introduce to Imaginary Ones. Chia was particuarly disenfranchised by “grind culture” of degens fighting for whitelists on Discord. Instead Chia said, “With other NFT projects you have to be on Discord saying ‘good morning’ and all that.”
“I thought it was quite pointless. So our messaging was that we aren’t giving anything through Discord. Instead we encouraged healthy activities and said ‘just go for a walk’ if you want whitelist.” Chia said he didn’t want people to keep pumping the project and just wanted them “to live their own lives.”
Imaginary Ones’ partnership with Hugo Boss ‘Hugo’ was heavily inspired by their shared concern for mental health. “Hugo also recognized that mental health is a problem not just in the crypto space, but as a general world problem. We felt that we could use NFTs for good and through this new collection, we can encourage people to express their emotions freely.”
Chia added that together with Hugo, the joint project will target a younger crowd that is “afraid to showcase their emotions.” He explained that ‘Hugo’ is for Gen Zs whilst ‘Boss’ is for a more mature crowd. For Imaginary Ones and Hugo, the idea of a hype-driven NFT does not appeal, Chia said. A recent NFT from the project sold for 15.4 ETH, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Youth Aware of Mental Health organization.
Securing Hugo as a partner was no easy feat, but Chia believes the brand particularly bonded with the fact that Imaginary Ones founders were doxxed.
“All our founders have track records of how we run a business successfully,” Chia explained. “Back then, when a lot of projects came out, the founders were always undoxxed. You cannot run a business with undoxxed founders. Hugo Boss is a billion dollar business, they can’t risk their brand and not do due diligence.”
Children are our future
“Baby shark, doo doo doo.” Love it or hate it, Pinkfong’s two-minute-long kids’ music video has garnered over 11 billion views on YouTube. Instead of debating the internet on whether the earworm was the best or worst thing to invade the web, Chia told us that he drew inspiration from the MV’s ability to capture such an immense viewership.
Just two months ago, Imaginary Ones launched a YouTube channel called Imaginary Junior, which features video content for children. Their most recent video titled Old MacDonald Had a Farm + More 🐥 | Imaginary Junior Kids Songs was released one month ago and has garnered close to 1 million views.
“The revenue model is similar to Pinkfong’s,” Chia explained. “Kids content brings huge adoption to the world at the fastest rate. At the start, people were questioning why Imaginary Ones was doing kids content, but actually if you think about it, in the long term it’s very profitable, which makes the whole project stronger as a whole.”
Teach them well and let them lead the way
As a demographic, Chia believes that the younger crowd has untapped potential. “Right now, the age of people jumping into crypto and NFTs are around 18 to 40. But kids could be the future of the space and I think it’s good to expose them. Now we’re at a stage with kids’ content where we don’t really present ourselves in a crypto world but I think somehow we will try to. We’re looking at brands like Disney who start with you really, really young and then grow with you across the years.”
“It has to be a genesis of a certain age where they start being familiar with our products so when we push out merchandise like plushies, it’ll be the real test. I really feel like kids are the future of crypto, we may not see it now but inevitably they will be. If we want to establish a brand that’s very mainstream, we have to start with kids.”
The style of Imaginary Ones resonates well with kids too. “When we surveyed people and showed them Imaginary Ones, we found that kids love it. I had a former employee who had a kid who was crying at 4 am, but when they showed him the Imaginary Ones video, he stopped! There’s a magic with Imaginary Ones and kids, so we’re taking it seriously.”