A Conversation With A2KDeFi
The Co-creator of Exchange.art is excited about the world of Solana
Written by Ryisan C. Nov. 8, 2021
I had the absolute pleasure of being able to speak with the co-creator of Exchange.art that goes by the moniker A2KDeFi. In speaking with him about his project and his thoughts on the future of NFT and everything Solana I could tell there was indeed a man who was filled with awe and inspiration. Also being a co-founder of Digitaleyes- the NFT marketplace, you could tell that he is in this for the long run and that his ideas spread far and wide. It was a great conversation and I would like to share with you all how it went.
During this interview I could feel his enthusiasm, each moment speaking to him got me even more excited for the future of Solana and NFT in general. The energy was palpable and the amount of positivity and hope that he exuded during our interview was addictive indeed. Here now is my interview with A2KDeFi.
Q: What is your background? IT/business/crypto or other?
A2KDeFi: All kinds of things; IT and business. I did a lot of Ethereum and NFT, I fell in love with Solana just from the user experience perspective and then just made my way to minting. I have been minting since day one. I was minting SOLbubbles and the image didn’t show up. I started talking to the artist then got connected with Blue magician and with a few other people we created Digitaleyes. I left Digital eyes with a few other very capable people and within 5 weeks we created Exchange.art.
Q: I see on Twitter there are many co-founders of Exchange.art, what is the context? A band of friends? Former colleagues? All devs?
A2KDeFi: It’s kind of interesting, we have seen each other on video and stuff. We all became close through video meetings. Covid has taught us how to work remotely but in crypto, you can work with people that you have never met in person before on a project, even silicon valley couldn't do that! It’s just like having someone who you’ve never met but feeling very close to them at the same time, my wife thinks I’m very weird.
Q: What attracted you to the world of NFTs?
A2KDeFi: I think NFT is way more than Jpegs or Gifs, they represent culture and what Exchange.art has as a vision which is to accelerate the adoption of the blockchain in everyday life. I love DeFi but that is not what is going to onboard the next 100 million people; art, comics, music, games are the things that are going to onboard the next 100 million. They represent culture and that is what excites me, I am even more excited about how it empowers the artist, Instead of having an artist create and lose a large percentage of their sales from a middle man, they are instead able to gain up to 98% of sales, this is amazing.
Q: Why build a new marketplace (if that is the term you feel is correct, if not pls advise) on Solana?
A2KDeFi: You know we wanted to create one on Solana because the gas fees are nothing. There is an argument from ETH users that Solana is too centralized to which I answer that most buyers don’t care, they just want a system that performs well, is cheap, fast, and easy to use. Normal users don’t care about the centralized vs decentralized argument. At Exchange.art we strive to provide buyers that ease of use. While we do believe that the future is cross-chain we are not in a hurry to create a marketplace on Ethereum, we are focused on being the best on Solana right now.
Q: What are you mainly focused on at Exchange.art?
A2KDeFi: Right now we are laser-focused on winning the Solana ecosystem and being the very best marketplace out of any other marketplace. What you see from our system is the ability to see the entire collection and make an offer whether listed or unlisted and for the seller to get a notification in their wallet to accept or reject, that’s the kind of first of its kind innovation that we are bringing to Solana and that’s first on Solana. I think everyone should get used to the phrase “First On Solana” as that is a phrase that is going to be used a lot on our site. I think everyone that follows us should be excited as we have a lot of great things down the pipe.
Q: Do you feel Solana is going to be a winning solution in the world of NFTs? If yes, why?
A2KDeFi: I absolutely think so, we are seeing tons of artists come from other chains to be here because Solana is the place to be. The writing is on the wall Solana is going to keep innovating keep pushing. As you can see there isn't a lot of competition on ETH but there is on Solana and I think competition is a good thing, it’s gonna be what drives us forward. We have so much more marketplace innovation on Solana than ETH right now.
Q: Will Exchange.art be available on other blockchains? Will Exchange.art goes into other NFT sectors (other than art or Content NFTs)?
A2KDeFi: Not at the moment, we do believe holistically that the future is cross-chain. We would love to bring liquidity to Solana from other blockchains. At this point, our focus is on Solana as a whole.
Q: It is not easy to come up with an original NFT exchange platform nowadays but I believe you are trying to, can you highlight the issues you see in current marketplaces and how you plan to solve these issues on Exchange.Art?
A2KDeFi: Yeah, we have ideas for sure. One idea is our NFT notification solution. We believe you should be able to see an entire collection and be able to send an offer whether it’s on our marketplace or not, so we have solved that problem. We also believe there isn’t enough search capability online right now. For example, if I want to search for Sombrero across all collections, as a member of the Bandito DAO I would love to be able to do that, and now we can do that. That search feature on Exchange.art is only getting better. We also have what we call a “brand” feature while others focus on “collections.”
Q: Can you explain that? The difference between Brands and Collections.
A2KDeFi: So we have this idea of Collections where other marketplaces only have collections. One artist may have many different collections on the marketplace. There is one artist on our site that has Cryptocubs, OG Cryptocubs and now they have the mutant cubs, they are a brand that has multiple collections. That is in our architecture.
Q: Do you want Exchange.art to have a different relationship with NFT creators? NFT collections?
A2KDeFi: Yeah, that's a really good question. There are a lot of exchanges, most of them, those force-lists creators. We have chosen collectively to get to know the creators to build a relationship with them. Other exchanges don’t put in the time to get to know the creator ever and just force lists them. We want to learn as much as we can about the artist and their project so that we can in turn help them promote it, you can’t do that if you don’t talk to the artists. SMB for example has chosen to give listings to three exchanges only: FTX, Digitaleyes, and Exchange. art, both of which I have worked with. Other exchanges that have them have not spoken to them at all, they just force-listed the project. Creators want to be on certain marketplaces but resale is tough when it is fragmented across too many exchanges. So token lists are the best way to make sure of the legitimacy of the NFT and not have anyone be scammed by people putting fraudulent NFT on a different marketplace.
Q: What do you see as the biggest short-term challenge for Exchange.Art? Long term?
A2KDeFi: Well long term cross-chain will be a challenge, how do you do cross-chain correctly? I haven’t seen it implemented right yet. Short term I think we are doing very well with our projects and our way of doing business. So far I think we are doing very well so I don’t see any real short-term challenges, as our liquidity is increasing every day so are our optics. I would say the biggest challenge I face is not having enough time in the day, we have so many ideas we want to try but never enough time.
Q: Why should NFT collectors and creators join Exchange.Art?
A2KDeFi: Every other day we are featuring a new non-Pfp project. We are going to continue that as long as we can. With Digital Eyes we had a massive explosion of sales with Pfp and we are now going to use Exchange.art to continue to create an explosion of non-pfp projects and fine artwork. The market is going to turn and probably over the next few months. I would say that 50% of sales on OpenSea are not pfp projects. We are also rolling out a really awesome loyalty program, every sale or purchase you make you accrue status that ties to that NFT notification card. That notification card also acts as a loyalty card, even if you move that notification card to another wallet it will still continue to accrue status, so the card, not the wallet is the identity, in this way we truly are a web3 implementation.
Q: We all know many (most?) NFT projects will go nowhere but sometimes it is the journey that is important… do you feel the same? How many NFT projects in % you think will be around in 2 years' time?
A2KDeFi: I think 5% will continue. It’s a hard world out there. The projects that are focusing on community and that have a utility that can be realized are the only ones that will make it. Communities are key, organic communities. I think the projects that can figure out how to create organic communities will be the ones to succeed. These NFT are about community and culture at the end of the day, and the ones that bring about amazing utility are going to be the ones that win.
Q: We start seeing concepts such as AR NFTs, AI in NFTs, etc… is that the future or just some short-term experimentation?
A2KDeFi: I think AI art is a growing category. I personally really love algorithmic art but AI art is challenging in itself. AI art is not simple at all, that is indeed a misconception, it is very challenging to do very well. We will see it continue to grow. Everyone has their favorite type of art and mine would be algorithmic art. Using Augmented reality in NFT is pretty great and I would love to see more of it, I think it is pretty early for it but it will grow as well especially with the metaverse looming.
Q: Do you see NFTs as a piece of a larger puzzle? A brick in a larger foundation?
A2KDeFi: I think they are the foundation, and so many things are going to be coming from that foundation. You can think about all the different DeFi applications that can be going with these NFT, DAOs, and such. Think about taking your pfp NFT and having it created into a game or into any other system that you could use in the metaverse.
Q: What advice would you give to NFT collectors? creators?
A2KDeFi: It just depends on the category. The advice I would give a musician would be different from the advice I give an pfp artist. For a pfp artist, I would say the best advice would be to do something innovative, build a community and keep it organic, that is the only way you are going to survive in this community. I look at a lot of projects that are saying the same thing that is in some way “ponzinomics”, which for me is less exciting. Another good thing would be to be very good at marketing as well. I would suggest you work on your best utility and lead with the value of your project, what are you doing differently? You should lead with that.
Q: What do you think of gaming as a utility?
A2KDeFi: I am very bullish on gaming as a utility and I love the indie gaming scene. There is a project named Crypto Console that I think is doing an amazing job. You can purchase the game as an NFT, play the game, and if you like sell it once you are done with the game. To me, this is very web3, unlike most game publishers that want to have control of every aspect of the game. Another cool concept is the in-game objects. A lot of game houses do not like to lose control of in-game assets or economy to the outside world, so they don't like to use secondary markets, even Star Atlas. In my opinion, by Star Atlas not agreeing to sell their posters on secondary markets just to create awareness of their project, they have delegated themselves as a web2 company, that's a very web2 move. I think there will be game companies that in the end make moves more like web3 and will be more profitable then.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
A2KDeFi: I love to help with projects. A lot of people have asked me to be an advisor and I have to tell them I can’t for obvious reasons. I will, however, be a sounding board and I wish more people would do the same, give back to the community, ask for nothing, and just try to make the world a better place.
The Right Choice
After an hour of speaking with A2KDeFi, I could feel nothing but more enthusiasm towards Solana, Solana NFT, and the metaverse. Here is a man that can see the future for what it is and is boldly and bravely walking right into the light of a new day, one that is hopefully more transparent and justified than the days of late.
I sat in front of my laptop thinking how I could properly describe my time with him, but then I thought; how can someone clearly describe any event that changes you? After speaking with him I felt that our mission here at Solanews was the correct one, the best choice for all of us A2KDeFi expressed his love for Solanews and I cannot in full words express my love for Exchange.art and the mission they have at hand. Let us all work together towards a better, fair, generous, and more prosperous future.