“After we signed our partnership agreement with The Merchant, I told the owner over the phone that we’re coming over tonight to place a decal of our NFT on his restaurant. Our restaurant partner agreed, not knowing what NFTs were or what our collection even looked like. When he arrived at work the next day, you can imagine the shock he had when he saw a giant cartoon cockroach above his kitchen area,” founder Kie Razid tells Blockhead.
Tucked away in one of the major shopping malls in the Klang Valley, the symbolic cartoon cockroach has now made the container cafe the community hangout spot for local NFT collection RoachPunks. The Merchant partnership was the first experimental integration they did between an F&B & NFT business collaboration, RoachPunk tells Blockhead.
“During our Raya open house event with GamersPunk & BabyBoss, we managed to get around 400 people to a single community event. Our holders even flew in all the way from Singapore just to attend the event. The Merchant was so happy with the NFT community for giving them record sales that day. This gave us confidence to activate more ground events and community meetups with other Malaysian Web3 projects around Malaysia,” said Kie Razid, founder of RoachPunks.
“Our activation events these days get around 200 people and our user partnership sees anywhere between 50-100 scans of the QR code for food bill discounts. Each event goes on for eight hours and each customer will order at least two drinks. So we do this weekly and now we’ve become the restaurant’s golden goose. To us, that is NFTs and Web3 empowering the local community.”
Read more: How 8sian’s Founder Smashed the Glass Ceiling During Crypto Winter
After leaving the music industry with a background in events management and branding, Razid sought a new start to his entrepreneurial journey. He got into NFTs after hearing about Pentas from one of his buddies. Being a curious learner he dived right into the scene with minting his first concept NFT of a pasar malam themed collection. However, he quickly realised that he was not able to get mass adoption for his collection without a plan to educate users.
Together with his team, they carefully studied the market and tested hypotheses to find the best strategy to execute their second venture into NFT collectibles. “The team and I were constantly thinking of questions such as what Is the next hype, what is the next meta, what is the animal that doesn’t exist on the blockchain yet?” Eventually he came to a realisation: “There wasn’t any cockroach NFT project that existed yet so we wanted to become the first NFT project to represent the cockroach.”
The conviction coupled with new knowledge pushed him and his team towards ideating RoachPunks. “After two months of studying the market, I decided to double down into the collection.” Razid pulled the trigger and launched two NFT collections, a limited edition OG Roach collection which sold out and their flagship 2D animated RoachPunk collection which is currently in its “activation-to-mint’ strategy.
“Our next activation will happen during the holidays once we finalise a partnership with a travel agent. We expect the next wave of buyers to be normies that are interested in getting the perks and benefits of the discounted travel packages.”
At time of writing, RoachPunks currently ranks at #5 on the all time traded ranking volume on Pentas, a Malaysian made NFT marketplace.
“We focus to build on brand value instead of building in Web3 because we want to be as approachable as possible to normies who fear the unknown. By that extension, our utility lies in the partnerships with already existing brands and businesses in the country.”
On Struggles for Adoption & Awareness
Being a natural connector, Razid was quick to identify the problem in the landscape. “The hardest struggle for us in our first year was to find creative ways to acquiring new users because Pentas.io is a Malaysian marketplace,” he suggested politically. “I think Pentas has done a very good job to raise the awareness of the NFT marketplace in Malaysia and it’s all up to the projects to raise even more awareness on getting more people onboard.”
Razid soon learnt that the only way to grow the industry from within is to collaborate with other creators by “leading the AtlasAsia campaign, an NFT vending machine campaign with 13 other artists from around Malaysia. RoachPunk represented Selangor and we took it as a chance to creatively educate normies. Collectively, we’ve onboarded almost 200 fresh wallets throughout the campaign to people who had no prior knowledge about NFTs or Web3. We got into the Malaysian Book of Records for that and I think that’s a good achievement for all of us as we continuously work with other artists towards the same goal of raising awareness and to onboard new people.“
Leveraging the community
In explaining their concept and plan, Razid took the time to break down what was important to RoachPunks. “We are determined to prove Malaysian projects can become a Web3 brand to represent SEA.” He emphasised again at how important it was to him to empower and educate people trying to get into the Web3 community.
Razid imparted his findings that other NFT projects in the scene “aren’t educating their communities enough on the tech.” He says that most project founders “lack giving their holders direction on how they can benefit and monetise on the IPs of their NFTs. Once you educate them on things like these, the holders become more involved in the community. We find that there is a correlation between educating our communities leading to a growth of the number of followers and new wallets for our NFTs.”
Empowering other artists and communities to RoachPunks also meant helping other artists out during their time of need, he told Blockhead. “We once did a charity fundraising where we raised 6 BNB($US315/BNB) to cover the cost for one artist that had to undergo a surgery. There was leftover BNB after covering the medical expenses so we donated the rest to prepare 200 meals for a homeless charity last September.”
“We also did a partnership project with TigerPunks to come up with The School of NFT, an initiative to educate the kids from rural areas on blockchain and NFTs. The owner of TigerPunks is actually a teacher based in SK Sungai Rual in Jeli, Kelantan. Together, we have conducted more than 15 classes on blockchain and NFTs together with them.”
“Our collectors had donated a total of 11 iPads for kids to launch their own NFTs on the blockchain. We used the initiative to instil interests towards coding for Web3 and at the same time, resources for their schools from sales of the student’s NFTs on Pentas.”
Balancing Community & Utility
Sustaining an NFT community is anything but easy, and while most struggle to fill their cups, RoachPunks have found a way to get theirs overflowing. Razid is a collaborative connector at heart, a lot of his moves and what he’s been able to accomplish has been “undoubtedly through the help of our community.”
He later adds that he dreams to create value in all parts of the country, strategically. “At the moment we have three businesses in our hands and another three are being finalised. One of them is a travel agency that will give holders discounts depending on the number of RoachPunks they hold.”
“Imagine being in Malaysia and you’re able to benefit from a RoachPunk in Damansara or even Langkawi,” he exclaims.
His advice to new builders and artists entering the space is “to go in with a team. Everyone in Web3 is still learning and exploring and you need a filter for all the noise.” He advises new projects to also get involved with the community. “If you aren’t in a community, find a community to be a part of because the connections you make here will go a long way in helping you grow.”
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