Looking Beyond the PFP: Understanding an NFT Projects True Value
It’s not easy to ascribe value to a non fungible token (NFT). This is partially borne out of a mainstream misunderstanding of what NFTs are and what they will become in the future. Profile pic (PFP) NFTs are arguably the most visible from social media feeds to NFT conferences worldwide. Enthusiasts scream from the rooftops about the incredible digital art, but that’s only the proverbial book’s cover, the pages inside tell a much different story.
While digital artwork and collectibles are definitely a viable NFT use case, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The value that these assets possess will continue to transform, and to keep pace it is important to break down where true value is derived from. The collectibility and rarity is certainly a way that users assign value to an NFT, but we believe that long term value requires something deeper.
We like to look at PFP project launches as a crowdfunding device that helps projects by injecting capital and positioning them to execute on their vision. It’s this vision and the team that drives it that ultimately adds value to a project. While artwork is great and can serve as a foundation for a project, NFTs go much deeper and this is where true longevity can be found. A strong project team, a vision for utility, and consistent social proof are all things to seek out when looking for value beyond an NFTs PFP artwork.
Behind every NFT collection is an individual or team driving the vision forward, and building out the products and services being offered. Whether this is a famous artist, or an unknown team of innovators, the people behind an NFT project are the first indicator of its potential success. The NFT space is flooded with fluffy, cash grab collections, and without an understanding of the team involved, decisions can become clouded.
It’s more reliable to ascribe value to a collection coming from an established brand or creator, as the demand already exists. Building this demand from scratch is something else entirely, and can often be fleeting for projects that focus on short term hype over longevity. Being able to differentiate these and find project teams that are doxxed and committed is so important when understanding the value of an NFT collection.
New teams building in the space should not only demonstrate an ability to create demand with their product, but also elaborate on their vision for the project’s roadmap. This space is still very young, and the vast majority of Web3 products and brands are still being built. Seeking founders that share a vision that aligns with yours can inform your purchasing decisions. Having a vision and executing on it are entirely different. It speaks volumes when a team has experience bringing a product to market or launching and growing a successful brand. Look for this in the collections that you explore, as it is a strong indicator of a project’s potential.
Utility is more than a hype word, but sometimes this can be hard to notice. Our belief in the future of NFTs is founded in utility, the tangible use case for a non fungible token that goes beyond its visual components. When we assess the potential of NFTs, we see a transformation of Saas products, subscription models, and other proven business models. This is why seeking utility driven projects can help assess the value of their NFTs.
Some projects might already incorporate utility in the form of gaming, access, or voting rights. There are a number of impressive NFT collections that offer utility to users now. ENS domains is a great example of an NFT collection that is founded in utility, now the most widely integrated blockchain naming standard. Using NFTs, ENS enables holders of their tokens to create readable user names for their Ethereum-based wallets and Dapps. This is a similar concept to Web 2 domains using .com, .io, or .org. So, instead of focusing on the visual components of the NFT, the product delivers a much needed utility-driven solution.
Other NFT collections might not have unleashed the range of utility being planned for, and the PFP serves as the launching point for their brand. Just because a collection launches as a PFP, doesn’t mean that utility cannot be factored in over time (importance of the team and roadmap). There are several powerful examples of projects that launched with a PFP and went on to develop their product in a way that added utility to the collection.
Deadfellaz are a strong example of a project that launched with a PFP-based collection in 2021, and have been working tirelessly to add utility for holders. The brand has dropped limited-edition merch, puzzles, partnerships, and metaverse perks to those that hodl their NFTs. As they continue to expand global partnerships with brands like Levis, The Chicago Bulls, and Gilson Skis and Snowboards, users benefit from the brand’s growth as the NFTs provide access and membership. Most recently, Deadfellaz announced the launch of their custom streaming avatars, enabling hodlers to “wear” their avatar on live streams and video conferences.
Social proof is extremely important, but it can also be misleading. So much of the internet is built around hype, and some smart people have learned how to manufacture this. The right amount of money, the right influencer connections, and a decent looking collection can pump a project to the moon. However, this doesn’t always last. Many projects have skyrocketed to success, only to fall back down to earth because of the lack of substance or plan for the brand and product.
While social proof can be manipulated, there are still ways to accurately gauge certain elements of a project’s potential based on their online presence. Lots of followers are great, but how is engagement? Are conversations happening in the comments? Are posts being shared? Are trusted industry outlets getting involved? All of these questions begin to shine a light on the actual social proof of an NFT project.
A unique variation on social proof that is made possible via the blockchain, is an analysis of an NFTs ownership history. The number of previous owners and the status of these specific entities can impact a collection’s value. If a high value brand buys into a collection, like Adidas or Jimmy Fallon did with Bored Ape Yacht Club, the perceived value of this collection increases.
On the other hand, some collectors might be looking for collections with very few secondary sales and because of dedicated hodlers that believe in the potential of the project. Take Uniswap V3 Positions as an example. Over 100k people own a piece of the collection but the trading volume on open sea is only 37ETH and none are listed for sale. Some might view this as a poor showing of performance, while others see the value in holding the NFT because of the utility it provides and the lack of secondary sales.
The NFT space is still mysterious, and burdened by expectations that all participants will get get rich. This is not sustainable, and the true future for NFTs will begin to emerge through innovative teams that build products with utility for their audiences. As we collectively navigate this space, it’s important to look beyond the hype and visual components of a project in order to make purchasing decisions that provide value over time instead of siphoning money from our wallets.
At Liteflow, we help Web3 businesses develop, deploy, and manage their NFT projects using modular and interoperable infrastructure solutions. These solutions can help a PFP project elevate their offerings and deepen the value of their products. This is why we are offering a 30 day free trial of a dedicated NFT marketplace, tailored to your brand. Sign up now to access the demo environment and take control of your Web3 business model.