It was named the ‘word of the year’ by the Collin Dictionary. We are not shocked, given its continuous ascent over the past year. We’re talking about non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Just to give you an idea of how popular NFTs are, their sales volume increased to $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021.
While the metaverse and NFT are most popular in the United States, India is not far behind. According to a new research by DappRadar, over half a million Indian users have expressed interest in NFTs and metaverse projects since the beginning of November. As the NFT movement gains traction, new-age firms are stepping in to establish markets or an intelligent layer on top to create mechanisms for NFTs to engage with things like games.
Vibranium, a Bengaluru-based firm that was named to the Tech50 list of the most promising early-stage startups, is gaining traction as one of the fastest-growing marketplaces for artists who want to transform their digital artwork into NFTs and sell them for a reasonable price.
Hesan Kumar Naik, Emmanuel Digal, and Misan Kumar, three brothers, saw an opportunity in this burgeoning field and sought to create a native platform for the typical Indian artist to sell work without having to pay a high ‘gas tax’ to enter a similar market with fierce competition. Simply explained, the ‘gas charge’ is the fee a user pays to have their transaction calculated and added to the blockchain.
Beginning at a young age
While still in their teens, the brothers began their first entrepreneurial venture with Foodvail, an Odisha-based breakfast delivery startup that serves schools.
However, due to difficulties between job and education, they closed business in early 2018 and went on to college, with the eldest, Hesan, relocating to Bengaluru. The eldest brother, who dropped out of college, developed an interest in the financial market and decided to try his hand at stock market trading while doing a few odd jobs. Hesan learned about new-age financial areas like blockchain and cryptocurrencies at this time.
“It was around early 2020, when I came across NFTs and started trading on OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces. The concept was and still is picking up in the country. However, we noticed that there weren’t many Indian players or marketplaces for trading NFTs and decided to cash on this opportunity,” says Hesan.
His brothers Misan, an accomplished digital marketer, and Emmanuel, who previously worked with Calibehr and studied accounting and finance at Corporate Finance Institute, quickly joined him (CFI).
The three brothers collaborated to create Vibranium, which is based on Binance Smart Chain, a blockchain network comparable to Ethereum for hosting smart contract-based apps.
Reducing the obstacles to entry
In the digital world, NFTs are “one-of-a-kind” assets that may be purchased and sold like any other piece of property, but have no physical form of their own. The digital tokens might be compared to ownership certificates for virtual or actual assets. NFTs, in a nutshell, aid in the establishment of ownership of digital assets on the blockchain.
Artwork can be “tokenised” with NFTs to generate a digital certificate of ownership that can be purchased and sold. Smart contracts can be included in NFTs, giving the artist a portion of any future token sales.
NFTs were originally part of the Ethereum blockchain, but more and more blockchains are implementing their own versions of NFTs. Binance Smart Chain is one of them. Vibranium is able to offer a relatively low “gas,” or fee required to effectively complete a blockchain transaction or convert an art into a token, in the region of Rs 30-Rs 40 (about 50 cents or half a dollar), compared to an average of $128-130 offered by other marketplaces.
This inexpensive gas is aimed for assisting artists, particularly those with a limited budget, in increasing NFT sales and showcasing their work in the virtual environment based on the metaverse. A metaverse is a virtual reality environment where users can interact with a computer-generated world as well as other users.
Vibranium began its journey in a Telegram channel, where it was able to pull together approximately 200 musicians in a matter of two to three months, and quickly created a name for itself before launching the site in August 2021.
The company charges a 4% commission or fee for its services and currently has over 800 NFT creators on its platform. It claims to have sold over 500 NFTs worth over Rs 50 lakh in total transaction/trading value.
“95 percent of the artists are Indian and we are getting demand from newer markets like Germany and Netherlands.”
Putting together a multi-chain marketplace
Vibranium will continue to focus on one-on-one art created by individual artists. It aims to sell over 10 million NFTs by 2025 and expand into other markets such as education, gaming, and event tickets, among others, in order to become a multi-chain NFT marketplace.
“We aim to become the number one NFTs marketplace on the metaverse. We will soon be working alongside influencers for exclusive NFT collections, expand our team, integrate Solana blockchain, build our own metaverse and gamify it. We will also tap into microseries NFTs created by individual artists and empower them to create their own collectibles. There is no dedicated market for it as of now,” says Hesan.
The benefits of blockchain technology are becoming more widely recognised, despite the fact that it is still in its infancy. As a result, Vibranium is well positioned to take advantage of the growing popularity of NFTs by establishing a marketplace on Binance Smart Chain that is free of high gas fees and congestion, unlike some other Ethereum-based exchanges.
Domestic players such as WazirX NFT and Kalamint NFT, which use a different blockchain, compete directly with the startup. Of course, the international market is far larger and more competitive, with platforms like as Foundation, NFTB.io, and AirNFTs, among others. Vibranium has been named a Tech50 company for 2021.