10 Things to Say to Ace Your NFT Pitch

“Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.” ― John von Neumann

Ah, the good old staircase wit.

You’re in the shower after a long night out, and you remember how you bombed explaining mfers to your friends. You recall the concern that flashed across their faces as they nodded along to your whimsical assertions. You recollect your nervous shuffling when your (now) ex questioned you why rent money was blown on a monkey picture. Then, all of a sudden, it hits you. The lightbulb flashes in your head and you’re like: shoot, I wish I’d said this instead! If this feels like deja vu, this guide is for you. Here are the things I keep in mind whenever I explain why I proudly own NFTs.

"Yea bro, these Goblins are intentionally ugly."
"Yea bro, these Goblins are intentionally ugly."

Note: this is meant to be a field guide, not a technical deep dive. For a more data-driven approach to NFTs, check out:

Scene 1

Your friend’s only impression of NFTs is “the ape picture that Elon Musk tweeted about.” When you try to explain what different NFT collections are trying to do to build global brands and organic communities (making anime, throwing parties, giving out swags, etc), he hits you with “NFTs feel like a giant bubble.”

  • Say: “NFTs don’t have to be monkey pictures. In reality, they can be your car keys, your passport, or your membership card to Casablanca. Online, they can be your Facebook profile picture, your LinkedIn credentials, your avatar in 3D hangout spaces, your favorite song, or your in-game RPG character that can be used across different titles. Yes, it does feel like a bubble. There is definitely a lot of speculation and the price can crash more if macros are bad. BUT— (pause for stress)”

Behind the noise, NFTs are just pieces of code running on a blockchain with specific properties that enable them to interact with other pieces of code; ipso facto they mean nothing. Any meaning or value they have is derived from the community or society based on consensus: this is also why your Gucci hoodie costs less to make than your Uniqlo one but sells for 10 times more. On the flip side of the coin, NFTs will also drive the next round of mass adoption in crypto as many more niche communities discover the benefits that NFTs can offer for community building. Ultimately, Web3 and NFTs unleash the era of creative sovereignty. The Pandora’s box has been opened—there is no way to seal it back up.

NFTs will continue to develop with the advancement of social platforms (even web3 native ones like Gallery.so or Lens Protocol), so naturally more people will discover them. Tell people that once Instagram and TikTok integrate NFTs, you can “display” your NFT to billions of people worldwide. And now, you can have ownership over your social media connections on the web, forming a fully composable, decentralized social graph that springs from your PFP avatar NFT at the center of your Web3 persona. Screw Meta through “read, write, and own.

Even If they don't seem like the type of person to show off, emphasize that they can find like-minded community members/people who share in their conviction just as easily with NFTs. Tell them you can get a good read on a person's personality just based on their PFP (dead giveaway if they are making goblin noises). Make Buzzfeed quizzes that do exactly this—no seriously, I’ll pay you!

Scene 2

Your friend hammers on the fact that NFTs have no real-world utility — “they can’t take you on a date!” he says.

  • First off, tell them they are not wrong. “why do you think I am single?”

Jokes aside, you can say: “NFTs are but a new medium for an old tradition: storytelling. Remember Harari’s Sapiens? Recall how he believed that ​​‘Homo sapiens is a storytelling animal that thinks in stories rather than in numbers or graphs, and believes that the universe itself works like a story, replete with heroes and villains, conflicts and resolutions, climaxes and happy endings. When we look for the meaning of life, we want a story that will explain what reality is all about and what my particular role is in the cosmic drama. This role makes me a part of something bigger than myself, and gives meaning to all my experiences and choices.’”

We all desire to belong and to be a part of something larger than us. You could never have convinced a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven. That’s a strictly human trait.

Human society runs on storytelling. With our new technology, you can literally become the character in your favorite multimedia franchise. You can even influence how the story unfolds through community governance. In my opinion, NFTs don't need to be some metaverse thing in virtual reality like Ready Player One, although that could very well be a very big part of your online avatar or identity in the future. NFTs are also about augmenting real-life experiences and solving existing problems with new technological implementation.

More concretely, you can emphasize how “novel social experiences are being concocted as we speak that are only possible with the web3 tech stack. Projects like Azuki are building community-owned lifestyle brands that focus on growing their IPs through parties, merch, stickers, skateboards, art, mini figurines, and even an anime series. This recent project called Goblintown got 200 people to come together and scream like Goblins for two hours. Another project called Anata promises to make you a virtual idol in your zoom meetings.”

In other news, join us in watching:

Scene 3

The good old right-click save “gotcha!”

“Sure, save my NFT and use it however you want!”

  • Embrace it, and don't get defensive. Many people still see this as the biggest criticism, but they will understand when you explain to them the power of digital ownership. This usually is where the conversion begins. Say: “While it is true that you can deny your old professor royalties by going to libgen.rs and pirating his linear algebra textbook, whenever you right-click save my NFT, you are actually adding to its memetic value. Can you right-click save the Mona Lisa or Guernica?”

The answer is clearly not literally—but you can save its representation, which will only add to its value. Van Gogh’s Starry Night is more than just a representation of the night sky. He flattened the pictorial space and layered on thick paint in a technique known as impasto, which gave his masterpieces an almost sculptural presence. This greater physicality allowed the piece to assert its status as a sublime object, a Kantian thing-in-itself. NFTs are like that: Apes aren’t some sort of digital proxy for primates, they represent a new primitive, a new mode of digital ownership and existence: they are you.

Furthermore, with the increase in the cultural significance of the man behind the painting (van Gogh was pretty much the progenitor of the artist as suffering genius trope), the idea of owning the canonical work becomes more alluring. If van Gogh had made his work an NFT his family could have enjoyed a perpetual stream of secondary sales income from the piece as its fame skyrocketed after his death and became celebrated throughout Europe. By owning an NFT, collectors enjoy the benefits of owning a work of art along with the added bonus that their collection can be freely pollinated across the world without limits, thus accruing more value due to much broader distribution.

Now you realize that the metaverse is just the increasing impasto of the digital world. It is as if van Gogh layered it on top of our reality. When you buy a Birkin bag not for the supple leather but for the likes you will get from Instagram and the new exclusive Hermes clientele group chats you can join, you are deep into metaverse territory. Can your friend right-click save the bag? What about Rolex watches, my special edition Charizard Pokemon card, or my ticket to Coachella?

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Scene 4

Your friend begrudgingly acknowledges that he can’t exactly right-click save your NFT, but completely misses the point by insisting that he can just make another NFT collection called Fatigued Orangutan Jetski Club with similar properties.

  • Say: “Web3 distinguishes itself from Web2 by its ungated ownership—in this sense, it is more like Web1. The code for any project is completely open source. So, if you want to use something I built or even my idea, you can make your own version in five minutes. The problem is that no one’s ever going to use it unless there is some sort of innovation. In the same vein, web3 encourages innovation because traditional barriers to entry don’t exist in the space.”

Sometimes the art itself is so innovative it’ll be impossible to copy. Show your friend this generative art masterpiece by Zancan in motion on fxhash:

Garden, Monoliths #232
Garden, Monoliths #232

Scene 5

Your friend now understands the value of digital ownership but he is unconvinced by how exactly NFTs can be innovative.

Say: “When the digital universe was born, people gained access to the combined knowledge of humanity on their phones. As a side effect, the expense of information dramatically depreciated due to the invention of copy and paste. Blockchains reintroduced that scarcity. The NFT is the best of both worlds because it’s essentially a digital token representing ownership. Everyone in the world can view my token, but the provenance of my ownership is recorded on-chain. They can save the jpeg file that visually represents my NFT, but they cannot replicate my token unless they compromise the Ethereum network. My token is non-fungible, digitally secured, easy to transfer, and perhaps more importantly, composable. I can allow others to build on top of it, or create a virtual world that interoperates with it.”

Now that they are engaged, talk about some cool experiments. I usually go with: “There’s this project called Loot that is literally just a list of adventure gear from some 00s MMORPG like WoW. It’s literally just white text on a black background. Yet, by creating this base NFT for a whole fantasy world, anyone can build anything using these NFTs; it’s as if Tolkien provided the conceptual framework for Lord of The Rings and then told the community to take it wherever it wanted to. I believe that one day, NFTs will guarantee title registrations for everything we value, and this has massive implications for artists, creators, and everyday users like you and me. The creative core is already here.”

You can emphasize that, due to their accessibility and composability, NFTs can capture the monetary value of memes. They can create meme value sinks. Capturing the value of memes in a brand-conscious manner will allow for mainstream adoption and disruption of traditional media: you can make memes with your NFTs and share them on Twitter and accumulate a following (and get attention). UGC will power the web3 economy, and whoever seizes the memes of production becomes the king of the metaverse. If you build a meme—a cultural aRTiFaKT, if you will—on top of my NFT, value accrues to my NFT. If I write an article explaining how to explain NFTs to people, value accrues to my NFT.

Coffin Dance (Dancing Pallbearers) NFT sells for 327 ETH on Foundation
Coffin Dance (Dancing Pallbearers) NFT sells for 327 ETH on Foundation

Scene 6

Your friend went to a guest lecture on NFTs by some boomer (Professor Emeritus of Art History) and now thinks they’re just like high-end art. They assert that since the “art market cap is 60B and NFTs are at around 30B, they have topped.”

  • Respond with: “The end game that we can already see for many NFT projects extends greatly beyond just collectible art like Fidenzas or Chromie Squiggles. My two favorites are the Otherside/Yuga ecosystem being Fortnite+Roblox+ownership p2e economy and Azuki being Sanrio+Supreme+popmart+anime studio that is decentrally owned. GenZ gets this point fast.”

I can wear my Cryptopunks necklace from Tiffany’s, put on my customized Moonbird hat, and hit up the gym on my Azuki skateboard. I can go to my local Doodles workspace for a meeting while drinking my Coffeedoods coffee (of which I get a percentage of all sales due to my doodle NFT). At night I go enjoy an exclusive nightclub wearing my Byredo X RTFKT perfume using my CloneX as a membership pass. All these NFTs are a part of me: Fashion, luxury goods, video games, and many more are all sectors NFTs will eat into.

Kindly remind their art history professor that Dadaism, Impressionism, and abstract expressionism all began as oppositional movements that the highfalutin art dilettantes rejected from their salons.

Seriously, Some art critics thought Impressionism was a joke
Seriously, Some art critics thought Impressionism was a joke

Scene 7

If your friend is actually your mom:

  • As an addendum to the above point, if you are talking to your skeptical parents/grandparents, try comparing NFTs to digital designer handbags with a capped supply or boxes of Maotai. If it worked for my gramps, it will work for yours too.

“The logic is simple: you understand how people have the need to flex, right? But you can only flex on people who also value the object you are flexing. Thus, Lamborghinis actually have limited potential flex-ability compared to NFTs. NFTs are instantly viewable from anywhere in the world for anyone in the world. You can buy and sell them 24/7. They’re even potentially promising stores of value. Buying an NFT ultimately means that you will be able to find and join a like-minded community of interesting people who also value this novel technology and share in the narrative you guys collectively weave.”

Note: young man/woman, if you talk to your mom like this, you have some explaining to do.

Scene 8

Your friend compliments your storytelling skills but points out that no NFT projects have actually come close to accomplishing what you’ve described.

  • Say: “You’re right, but if what I’m saying was already a reality, we wouldn’t be early, and we wouldn’t have a fighting chance. Even so, a lot of people are building every day and the speed of innovation in the space is unparalleled. One day, NFTs will be so ubiquitous you can hardly notice that they’re NFTs per se. If NFTs drive the next adoption of crypto, as I believe they will, that day won’t be very far off.”

Scene 9

If, after all your convincing, your friend still thinks NFTs are speculative ventures.

  • Say: “sure. But I will say, from a friend to a friend, that bubbles always have something substantive underneath them, and they accelerate adoption. Our monkey brains would never jump headfirst into the blaze without these dazzling prices. Without the railway bubble, the tracks would never have been laid; we wouldn’t have California without the gold rush. Just remember, Bitcoin has already been declared dead more than 400 times.”

Tell him that it’s okay to hold on to his benjamins and keep his eye out for cool projects. The OpenSea top 100 projects in 24h volume change on a daily basis.

There is no moral of the story. I would be the first to admit that, to my friend (and myself, years ago), this may sound like a convoluted internet rabbit hole, something out of a Caroll fantasy. Yet, like Kierkegaard says, “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” Sometimes it requires a little faith, a little teleological suspension of the logical. And he had faith.

Scene 10

Your friend needs one last push. Finish him!

  • Know your enemy. If they traded Pokémon cards, start with Pokémon cards. Same with any trading collectible.

If they like art, say NFTs allow artists to fairly monetize their creations and collectors to own their favorite art (capped supply, storage of value, strong consensus around specific artists that allows for collectibles, and the formation of a collector community in a creator economy). Say Hirst and Murakami are in NFTs, and many more are watching closely from the sidelines.

If they like basketball, say Steph Curry has an ape and the NBA has an official NFT collection that tracks the performance of its players

If they like games tell them that you can own game items that are immutable and can take money out of gaming ecosystems due to their open crypto economy (tell them to imagine WoW or Clash Royale except you can trade the in-game gold to USD).

If they are crypto native but are skeptical about NFTs explain to them that artificial scarcity and pumpamentals also apply to NFTs, and, social utility, just like financial utility, is real utility (perhaps the MOST important type of utility as they speak to human nature).

NFTs are revolutionary because they provide direct liquidity for social capital by allowing their free exchange for financial capital at the click of a button. Dig deeper if you think NFTs are not as cool as your DeFi liquidity protocol—your funds are with sifu anyway.

The End

I hope this quick guide will be helpful to people who have always wanted to 1. explain NFTs to friends from a more top-down, theoretical perspective but also in a 2. pragmatic and straightforward way. I hope the scenes are somewhat realistic and can be practical. In the end, if you do it honestly by admitting that some NFT projects are pump and dumps fueled by speculation, you can get people to open up to this new digital primitive. Few can resist the promise of a technology that can unlock the unquantifiable value of stories.

Azuki #6121 and Matching Beanz
Azuki #6121 and Matching Beanz


Lastly, if they think NFTs are not environmentally friendly, tell them to go trade $SOL NFTs and burn their contact information. I’m sorry you had to go through this.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Celia Wan, Bofan Ji, Jay Yu, Akiyo Tani, Ani Pai, Cordie Young, and many others from The Secret Garden for their thoughtful commentary.

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