Please tell us more about your background, how you got interested in blockchain & DeFi and what you are currently working on?
I am the founder and CEO of Outlier Ventures, a VC/ accelerator that invests in emergent technologies like VR/ AR, DeFi, NFTs, gaming, and tools for the creator economy. We’ve invested in nearly 100 startups in the Web3 space and most recently have focused on NFTs, which will ultimately lay the foundation for representing unique assets in the Open Metaverse.
Earlier this year, the team and I introduced the Open Metaverse thesis, a framework for an operating system that outlines a pathway towards architecting a Metaverse in favor of its builders and users—a Metaverse based on principles of user-centricity, decentralization, and sovereignty of identity, data and wealth— not singularly prioritizing shareholder value above all else.
What problem does Outlier Ventures solve?
We are the Y Combinator of the Metaverse and will accelerate 100 early startups and protocols this year alone to realise an Open Metaverse, by leveraging Web3 infrastructure including blockchains and innovations in fungible (Crypto) and non fungible token (NFT) economies to allow them to be more decentralised and user centric. With a focus on the sovereignty of the user, their data and wealth.
What's unique about us is that we're specifically setup to help both entirely metaverse natives firms, which may not even be setup as a company but rather a DAO, but also existing businesses that want to decentralise aspects of their offering and develop a token to optimise their value chains to create digital economies.
How do you manage to grow your project and find partners?
We appreciate the Metaverse is both about technology, finance and culture and over the last 7 years have built a unique network of over 1,500 leading founders, innovators, creatives, technologists and investors from across the space to build unicorns. As our portfolio grows, so do our projects and partnerships.
Our products and services currently include our startup accelerator program, Base Camp, which is the world’s leading Open Metaverse startup accelerator, where we offer programs that mentor, provide investor networks, funding, and equity programs.
We also have a Polkadot Basecamp, which backs the world's best teams leveraging Polkadot's interoperability for DeFi, NFTs, gaming, and more.
As well as our Filecoin Basecamp, which empowers innovators developing a decentralised web.
We also just announced applications are now open for the Polygon x Base Camp Accelerator. The program will begin in early 2022. Up to eight teams will join an intensive five-month program that supports founders with fundraising, community growth, token design and implementation, business model innovation and governance, in addition to gaining access to Outlier Ventures’ mentor network of leading Web3 founders.
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How DeFi and blockchain have changed your life?
For Outlier Ventures, very early on, it was clear blockchain could not be looked at in isolation because it represented more than just a single technology but a new open economic system that would enable, and be convergent with, other technology trends.
It would fundamentally change the business model of The Web and bleed into almost every industry, well beyond narrow pure financial use cases. More recently, through the innovation of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), blockchains allow for new types of unique digital assets that go well beyond crypto-currencies extending into gaming, virtual worlds, and the wider Creator Economy.
What is your vision for your niche? What do you expect to come in the next few years?
In a future of the Metaverse that I’d like to see, the Metaverse will be an open one, that’s completely decentralized and is an extension of advancements in Web3. This will require the application of Web3 principles that are based around user-centricity, decentralisation, and sovereignty—code must be open source, the assets are portabile, and the data platform isn't proprietary but rather user-controlled.
As far as technologies, I outline in my Open Metaverse Thesis the different agents of The Web3 Toolbox, which spans DeFi (units of value, aggregators, Data marketplaces), NFTs (minting houses, marketplaces, new standards of metadata), decentralized governance (DAO frameworks, staking, multi-signature wallets), decentralized cloud series, and more. While this is just a small collection of the technology that will power and Open Metaverse, collectively, it's an evolving collection of highly composable technologies that will increasingly, but selectively, be used to make aspects of the Metaverse progressively more open.
What developments in the field do you find to be the most exciting?
There are huge amounts of economic value trapped into a handful of platforms that today only benefit their shareholders. Web3, especially in the context of the Metaverse which extends it across not just social media and ecommerce but to gaming and virtual worlds, can unlock this digital value and better distribute it to us, the users, giving us an almost 'Metaverse Dividend'. When this value can be financialised by being represented on a blockchain as digital assets, to be borrowed and lent against in DeFi, it acts as a form of financial inclusion for huge parts of society and whole generations.