In today's episode, our featured project is the Vera Network. In a simplistic overview, Vera is a decentralized financial platform built on the Polkadot Network which allows users and content creators on any NFT marketplace to generate new revenue streams by offering the opportunity to lend out or lease NFTs. This is a powerful concept with immense implied potential, which is why to further elaborate on the idea and its potential applications, we’ve brought on CEO & Founder of Vera Labs, the firm building Vera Network, to help us understand the ideas behind an NFT DeFi network, and why this matters for the blockchain community, especially play-to-earn and Metaverse supporters?
Hey crypto enthusiasts. Welcome back to the Altcoin News Podcast for each and every one of you tuning in to support us on motivation to keep featuring amazing and potentially disruptive projects. So be sure to like and subscribe if you find this video useful. This podcast series is meant to enlighten you with inside knowledge and expert opinion from professionals and blockchain pioneers. Before we get in, I do have to point out this disclaimer. All information presented in this series is meant for educational purposes only. Please do your own due diligence, if you plan on moving in capital into any of the projects that we cover, your money shouldn't be dictated by anyone, ever. With that out of the way, please enjoy our podcast.
Q: Hey, Denis, I've been really looking forward to this. So why don't we kick off our session with a brief overview of your story, your background, and how did you get into blockchain?
A: Sure, absolutely. I'm happy to share my story to yourself and your listeners. So I'm originally born and raised here in San Francisco Bay Area. My background is in engineering. I went to University of California, Berkeley, did biotechnology and science, computers, and technology. After graduation, my career path actually changed significantly. I used to be pre-med, maybe a doctor. Just like many others, I picked one of the typical career jobs, but I decided to not go down the path and get to the startup of the world. So back then, in early 2000, dot-com collapse. So anybody that do startups basically just had a passion. That's not really for the money because the market wasn't good. I joined different startup teams at that time. I've been on founding teams that grew very big companies from 0 to $100 million a year. I've been on startup companies that failed, like the company ran out of money and then it closed down. So I've seen a lot of different things at a young age.
And I've been since then, a quite entrepreneurial person. My career specialty, if you were to give it an area, is known as full-stack product engineer. What I do is I basically work with highly technical people, engineers, to help them take complex technologies and create real-world products, with the adoption. And that means you also need a strong understanding of the business side, your clients, your customers, what customers want. I'm kind of that bridge in the middle. With that said, I worked in many different types of businesses. For example, one of the past companies I've been outside crypto is in the telehealth field. During COVID, for example, a lot of people don't want to go out to see doctors. So we help them to, like Uber, matchmake the doctor and get their medicine that way. That company with a team of a couple of people and 1 year and no venture funding were able to scale up from 0 to 2 million per month in revenue. It's pretty exciting. With technology, you can do a lot of things to change the world.
But how did I get into crypto? Why am I doing Vera? I got into crypto in 2017, completely by accident actually. From that point on, I actually wore many hats in the crypto world, ranging from founder to advisor to investor. From a founder's point of view and an advisor's point of view, how I got involved was one of my clients at that time wanted to develop a product related to supply track and trace. And they want to see a blockchain to be part of it. So we work a lot in the IoT, the sensors kind of things. And with that experience, I ended up attending so many events in conferences back in 2017, where you meet a lot of types of people, blockchain people, crypto people and understand the excitement in this industry.
Back then, if you remember, there's a big bull run, right? So there's definitely a lot of excited people. From that point forward, I started a startup around late 2017 or 2018, which basically was a consulting and software development firm or enterprise blockchain. That's because I have developed a lot of client relationships on how to use blockchain to build certain products. So we had clients like Daikin, one of the leading IoT and air conditioner companies in the world. We built blockchain PoC for them. That's also the time I worked with my co-founder Michael. We together have been in the blockchain full time, almost for 5-6 years now. And we had clients like Dapper Labs. That's a big NFT company. They had developed a lot of projects. For example, recently one of the projects we built related to that and the flow is Anthony Hopkins. He's the first Hollywood Oscar award-winning movie actor. He's launching a movie in his first Hollywood movie NFT, and our engineering team basically built that NFT platform for them.
We built the blockchain for BitRail, the number four bank in the world called Northern Trust, and so on and so forth. So we have a lot of experience building blockchain-related projects for real-world company. I'm very passionate about the crypto Dspace, and the motivation for that is because if you live here in the United States and you're always seeing what's happening. And I think this may be true for other countries, the big technology companies and even the government have more and more control of our lives, right? They tell us what we can do, we can't do even if it's completely legal. If they don't like your thinking, they can de-platform you on a platform, they can cancel your credit card account, they can cancel your Youtube and de-monetize you.
And a lot of the folks like myself and Michael and my friends that grew up in Silicon Valley, love the internet because it creates freedom of flowing ideas. We see that more and more are being censored and the only things that are not censored are these, maybe, TikTok videos where you see people acting crazy. Obviously, I don't have the answer to everything, but I believe that their technology should promote innovation. It should not be used to make people fearful of the future or what not to do. And especially when it comes to business services, there are things like financial services that should be more decentralized. If you depend on financial services to survive, you're basically depending that the bank will continue to give you the services. Just like if you are in a dropshipping business and, you have to sell things. Your livelihood or your business depends on Amazon, even though it's your business and you create the product, but you depend on Amazon because without them, here in the United States, it probably is very hard for you to get customers, to do all those delivery and everything on your own.
So we see so much where individuals are more and more dependent on big tech, big institutions, where the value created, a lot of times, especially if you're a creator, is the individual. In addition to taking all of your data, they basically make a lot of money off your data, too. So we decided, what can we do to take all our experience working for these big tech, big companies, these multibillion-dollar companies, and be able to benefit everyday people. That's actually how the idea of Vera was born.
And we saw that NFT was an excellent opportunity to implement ideas. Because back then, when we work on blockchain, we worked on a lot of BLT projects, we realize there's really no need for the companies to use public blockchain. They don't want their data to be public. NFT use case makes sense on why you would use a public blockchain. You don't feel like a hyper ledger, because it's like a registry. You want the public to check that registry to see if something is real, not real, who owns that whatever you're trying to look up. That's the definition of NFT. Because there is a viable use case for a public blockchain and decentralization, we felt that this is the holy grail for Web 3.0. We saw even though I know, right now, most of the excitement is about gaming and art and those things. This is just low-hanging fruit. It's the beginning. We strongly believe NFT technology, which is of course backed by blockchain and BLT, is the next trillion-dollar industry that after cryptocurrencies and it can even be bigger than cryptocurrency over time, because NFTs represent assets that already have value in the real world, whereas cryptocurrency, some people can argue, has no value and is highly volatile based on emotions and market sentiment, whereas assets in the real world have existing value based on economics and supply and demand. NFT is just a technology that allows the ownership and various information attributes about systems to be digitized. So you can do business and financial actions more efficiently. So the financialization of NFTs we'd believe is the next holy grail, the next step in this evolution. And Vera wants to be the market leader to provide the essential financial products and services to make that happen. So there you go. You have my story, my background, how I got into Vera.
Q: As a podcast host, I've had the pleasure to speak with amazing individuals with pioneering mindsets such as yourself and learn so much in the process. Especially regarding NFTs, I generally admire what you and your team at Vera is doing. So perhaps tell our audience a bit more about the core services provided by Vera network and these specific problems that Vera is solving.
A: Sure. So Vera is building the most powerful, open financial platform or specifically NFTs, which is a new asset class. We take essential financial service for granted in the real world. If you are to build a traditional application, you should not need to build PayPal or a bank. If you're building an Dapp, a game, a blockchain game metaverse, you should not need to build your own financial services or decentralized bank. That's where Vera comes. We call our products or services, superpowers and we give NFT application superpowers. And right now we're building four products and they are number one, funds, number two, rent, number three, lend, and number four, verify. So I can go through one-on-one and kind of give a quick overview of how it works.
So, finance, for example, you go buy an NFT right now and again, an Axie on OpenSea, you basically have to pay for whatever the cost. If it's 1 ETH, you pay 1 ETH. There's no such thing as using a credit card to buy it. Or say, hey, I wanna pay multiple payments to buy because I cannot afford one right now. Or I say I buy it and pay later. You cannot do this. One of the main reasons why those types of services will never happen anytime soon without Vera is there is a lack of seller protection.
So I buy an NFT from you Peter, and I say, hey, I'm gonna promise you, I'm gonna pay you three payments and you're like "okay, I trust you." So you give me an NFT. I can run away and you'll never get the NFT back just like cryptocurrency. No matter what type of promise you make, legal or not legal. We solve that problem with a feature called seller protection where I buy the NFT for you, then I have to keep the agreement I made with you. If I did not finish paying off an NFT, I cannot move or transfer that NFT out of my wallet before I finish the payment. If I fail to make that payment, then you can actually take that NFT back, automatically call back. So you have no risk of someone stealing your NFTs and all the money I've been paying you or the down payment. I lose that. All of this is trustless. It's done through smart contracts. It automates all these things. But that's an example of finance or building. This is very exciting for a variety of reasons. One, I think, is the on-ramp to the NFT world can be a lot more simple right now that everyone uses crypto.
People prefer to spend money on credit cards even on OpenSea. They're using MoonPay to help you use the credit card to buy crypto, but you're done through another step, you use a crypto to buy an NFT. What we can do with this engine is allow credit cards to directly buy the NFT and if they do a refund or charge back, it'll undo the entire transaction. And so you don't have a problem. That's a really novel innovation, and that integration of credit cards. We're looking to patent in that technology, which is really cool.
If you want to talk about games, even though technically NFTs can represent anything, but right now, a lot of it is in games. Right now play-to-earn is really popular. We will make play-to-earn on steroids even bigger, so people can earn more. And examples of new business use cases is something we're gonna coin or call play-to-own. In the future, games that partner with Vera, the gamer can buy an NFT, play the game, but they don't have to pay for it in 30 days. But during the 30 days, if they do certain actions in the game, someone else is paying for NFTs. They own it, it is free. Basically, it could be the game, it could be a partner, an advertiser, or a promoter, a celebrity, whatever it is. So do you see it can create a lot of very neat partnership opportunities where NFT is becoming more like a unique business model for real-world adoption, not just something where it's a hype.
Right now that's the problem. NFTs really can just buy or sell out, maybe auction, but that's still buying and selling. That's it. If NFTs are limited to buy and sell use case, I don't think they're sending special NFT, I can buy or sell any other merchandise. And if it is that simple, then you let the big tech companies dominate that space. For example, right now, shopify is trying to make a marketplace as an NFT, a really big tech company. Every other company say "hey, I can help a brand do drops of NFT." All of that is commodities is nothing special about that use case is just a really nice front-end or certain user experiences. There's no unique business model.
So my question for the entire web 3 community is if you truly believe in decentralization, how can you take this technology and create a business model that has unique advantages and unique revenue streams that you cannot do with non-NFT, non-blockchain? Think the new protocol, don't think what standard, don't think service rationalization. These are all technical things. What is the business model you can do that non-NFT business people can understand and see clearly that I want to try this out because I can't do this without an NFT. And that's what the engine, the products, various building enable those businesses. Financing, that's a big part. That's one product. I can go on talk about my three others. But I'll let you ask if you have any questions so far.
Q: Absolutely. I have a question from a content creator standpoint specifically regarding two of the services that you mentioned, which were lending and leasing. In my surface level understanding, they will provide creators the freedom to monetize work without going through a middleman which in this case meaning no more Shutterstock or iStock taking cuts from the buyer and the seller. But would you please shed some light on some more profound implied potential of these two core services? What other use cases am I missing here?
A: OK. So of course with our finance product, we want to work with every NFT company, we can allow them to accept alternative payment forms, but then also related to leasing or renting. Because technically imagine I lend you money, you go buy a house, and then you rent out the house because you wanna make money. So financing and renting go hand in hand. Same thing. And if you say, although I can afford it by NFT I want to make money with it. That is an asset. So that's why we have a rent problem. The problem with renting right now is that you can rent my NFT but you have to find me to want to rent. And that matchmaking may be a problem, especially if you have a small ecosystem.
So how do we solve this rental liquidity problem? The future we want to enable is something called NFT yield farming. Just like right now, you can stake some crypto and start making money, called yield farming or staking. There are different variations that LPs or Liquidity Pools are, but they take a crypto and stake it somewhere and make money. How do you do that with NFTs? Can you do it? Because every NFT is different and unique. The answer to that question is absolutely you can. Why? Because if you look at the real world today, that's what banks do. That's what financial institutions do. Real estate, for example, every single building is different. You have tall, you have small, you have commercial, non-commercial, different locations. It is complicated. Yet, they can generate liquidity. And there're ways to do that.
In fact, we noticed very well because our team has worked with these big banks, and we build blockchains for them to manage all these financial products. But how do you replicate those to help everyday people in the DeFi NFT space? So that's the goal. So stake NFT, you start making money. But of course, most likely in the very beginning, these NFTs will have to have proven demand. They have to have a value. They may be part of the Axis Ecosystem or some YGG. Their ecosystem already has a lot of users. And what we're excited to do is we're right now building a feature called sub_script_ion poll.
I'll give you an example to explain it. Let's say you want to play a game. It's a race car game, and you want to really play the Lamborghini NFT. That's too expensive. So you can buy while the game can use Vera and let you rent it. But that's one car. Alternatively, imagine the game create a pool, a sub_script_ion pool, and then the Lamborghini NFT in it, but you can also have NFTs cars from many other owners put in that pool, too. You pay a little bit more sub_script_ion fee, and now you can at any time pick and choose any car in that pool and drive it and play. It's all yours. That creates a very unique experience for you. But from a business point, it's amazing because now you generate more revenue because one pool can actually have multiple customers subscribed to it, whereas for NFT, the renting is 1:1. So now maybe 10 NFTs have 100 people subscribed, so it generates more revenue. Second, it can create more value than individual NFT, because it creates different experiences. And lastly, it will be able to create liquidity or NFTs. Because you can have people staking up these from different games, from different networks, from different blockchains, even when we talk about cross-chain, when you put them all together in a pool, and then people can enjoy them all together depending on the business use case.
But that type of sub_script_ion model, and which then we pay royalties back to the individual owners, is I think one of holy grail is that NFTs can create that traditional products cannot create. And we're working very hard with our existing customers and partners to make that vision possible and test this new business use case and not just in gaming. In entertainment and art, we have partners, our celebrities, if you want more details, I have a lot of use cases that were actually building, so I'm very excited to talk about it. So that is our second product rent, or you call lease.
Q: Perhaps tell us about the roadmap ahead for Vera Labs. What are some of the major updates your team is working on? And where do you see Vera in exactly 1 year from now?
A: Hey, that's a really tricky question. From a business point of view, we're gonna be working very closely with our customers, partners and strategic investors to implement these products. We actually have two more products that I don't have time to talk about. That's okay. But the main direction right now is these two: finance and rent. Because the market fit we discovered is amazing, meaning like 9/10 customers or potential customary talk to say, I want that feature in my game, in my product immediately.
So we're actually actively integrating it, and we look forward to showcasing some of these very soon. So in terms of 1 year from now, we will work with our strategic investors like Animoca, one of the top NFT companies in the world, multiple games and metaverses to basically immigrate financing and rent features into a game.
When their customers buy NFTs, they can do financing. I now pay later, play to own, pay multiple payments. They can also rent NFTs like that. Second of all, in terms of support, we want to be able to support all the top NFT blockchains. So most NFTs right now are minted on Ethereum. We're actually building the Ethereum smart contracts, but we also plan to support Polygon, BSC Solana NFTs. That's another thing that we want to accomplish this year. I would also say, within this next upcoming year, I do want to focus mainly on the gaming world, even though I'm very excited for NFTs that are possible outside, simply because we want to prove that our technology and product can build a very scalable business model in a very specific industry or use case.
So we're gonna be more like B2B2C company, where we're not just selling protocol service or some research experiment on what to do with NFTs, but we want to sell you a turn-key business model where somebody, let's say you tomorrow want to start making money with an NFT and you have some unique thing that is represented by NFT. Maybe it's content. Maybe it's your art, whatever it is. You're a creator. You don't know how to code. You could use our product to basically do A to Z from creating NFTs to selling NFTs. Our core business and our core functionality is not all these other things. It is specifically allowing that NFTs you're selling to be financed and also allowed to rent. Those are our core business models. And also technically verified so that your buyers have buyer protection. Anyway, I don't know the answers to your question, or you want to know more in very specific areas, feel free to ask me about it.
Q: Now, to a serious question that investors will very much love to know more about, obviously, this information is available on the Vera Labs main site, as well as the Startup listing page on Gate.io, which I'll link below. But which is some of the tokenomics and the current status of the VERA token.
A: Actually, speaking of tokens, today I'm in New York Blockchain Week right now in NYC. Today 1:00 pm UTC time we did a Polkastarter IDO launch and it was successful. We basically raised pretty close to $500,000, I believe, $490,000. There was some technical difficulty, for some reason, failing transactions on the Ethereum blockchain and whitelisting system and Pokerstater was lagging. We had over 80,000 people who like to be on a white list. And out of that, 200,000 people wanted to participate in the IDO. But because of our legal, we have to reject so many countries, like the US, Canada, Japan, etc.
But due to some issues of technicality and planning and even monkeys fall from trees, this is the first coin ever launched. So I'm not an expert. And how all this stuff works with launching points, I'm very blessed to work with very knowledgeable advisers. And venture funds have supported many very strong projects. But anyway, we basically hit our goal. And right after we listed successfully not just on Uniswap, on PancakeSwap as well, which is a BSC blockchain and BNB blockchain. On top of that, we immediately within 30 minutes had a 2.5 million volume of transactions. On top, we launched a cross-chain bridge, so that 1 billion tokens can actually be swapped at any time into BSC versions.
Just like how USDT may have TRON TRC-20, and also ERC-20. So now we have BSC BEP20 versions of our tokens. We partner with any swap and chain swap to achieve that. So a big shoutout to our partners and friends at those amazing projects to make this work with us. And all of our private sale, we raised about over $4 million. In our private pre-sales with several top funds. Key backers are Animoca brands, IBC infinity adventure crypto, which is really big in Southeast Asia, and YGG and gaming, which is our focus, SPC, which is a sky vision capital.
I cannot disclose, but we have a very big European fund that is similar to the Sequoia level that right now we're in discussing, and we're trying to finalize it and a bigger fund takes a little longer, but they expressed interest to be part of our rounds. So we definitely have a lot of exciting backers, all of that we sell about 15% or 16% of our tokens. And the total supply, 1 billion amount circulation should be close to 1% initial circulation. I don't know if that answers your question on tokenomics or not. Every single private sale investor has agreed to do a minimum 1 to 2-year lockup with cliff before the release.
That shows an evaluation of tokens, the seed round was at 18 million, and then the next round was at 30 million and IDO was at 50 million. Our performance right now is we're around 30 cents last time I checked on PancakeSwap. And I'm excited to be here because very soon within several hours later on launch on your exchange Gate.io, we don't know where we'll go by increasing even more liquidity. And I think it is so rare for a project to be able to do so much at the launch. Not just IDO, not just get on one Uniswap, also get on two PancakeSwap, launch a bridge, so it became a lot easier for liquidity generation and supporting lower gas fees. We have so many supporters right now from countries like India, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, they cannot afford high gas fees. So we wanna help them. And that's the reason why we decided to support PancakeSwap. And then we want them to support our community. Things are exciting. And that gives your overview of what's going on for our project right now from a token point of view.
Q: Last but not least, to conclude our podcast, would you and your team like to deliver a message to your overwhelmingly supportive community and perhaps to future potential investors?
A: On behalf of my team here at Vera Labs who is developing the Vera project, we're very grateful to have such global community support. And we'd love to give a shoutout to anybody that really wants us to be a successful long-term project. We really think that if you believe NFTs are gonna be a big market in the future, the next big thing is, you need a financial platform to enable that. I talked to so many funds investors, Vera is the first project ever to create this type of product, NFT financing, NFT renting amongst others. There's no other project right now who are doing the same thing. So super exciting. I would love the community to continue to contribute by sharing your ideas, your feedback, even though I've been in the industry since 2017, wearing many hats as an investor, as a founder, supporting many awesome early-stage projects like Solana and work at protocol and had their hashgraph.
I've seen a lot of great layer 1 projects which I personally invested and supported. I know that it is very interesting to build an NFT space, because it's not a layer 1 project. NFT is highly focused on go-to-market, because it represents something that the world has to have like a real-world asset. The game could be a physical asset. And what that means is, what type of use case do you want to see? What type of creative business can you see in the real world? Now we can use the NFT canvas to build it and we want to support you in that journey. We want to build an ecosystem where any one of you, even yourself, Peter, you're a creator, you're a podcaster. You don't need to be an engineer. Using a Vera platform in the future, you can build your dream business powered by NFTs to make yourself a bigger brand, awesome experiences for your followers, more revenue to support your passion, and not have to be taken advantage of by big tech and these big platforms.
So it's my wish to everyone here. And if you want to reach out to me, we're on Telegram, on Twitter, on Discord. We want to build a Chinese community and other language communities on Discord right now. So we are looking for very talented community moderators that can speak multiple languages. We're hiring all across the world. Telegram is too hard to do different languages. So we're really focusing on Discord, and love everyone's support. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you.
On an important note, Vera Labs has initiated its startup sale for its token VERA on Gate.io on September 21st, raising over 32.6 million USDT which was a whopping 108,000% of its original goal. If you're interested in learning more about the details, the link is also down below. If you like this podcast, remember to smash that "like" button and if you have any questions regarding the project, you should check the links in the de_script_ion below to follow down Vera Labs on Twitter, Telegram, and Discord to ask me directly. Until next time. Thanks for tuning in.
Listen the whole episode:
True Liberation for Content Creators, Vera Labs Explained, ft. Denis Lam
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