Mission Labs is winding down

It breaks my heart to announce that Mission Labs is officially winding down.

I started Mission Labs because I thought NFTs would be a vital part of a marketer’s quiver in the future, I still do. But the timing wasn’t right.

Due to most NFTs being on PoW (Proof of Work) blockchains, which require thousands of miners all crunching numbers to create the blockchain network of validators, many people have a negative connotation around NFTs and the blockchains they run on’s effect on the environment. This caused NFTs to fall out of favor with Gen Z and climate-conscious consumers, and ultimately most brands and artists.

Below is the e-mail I sent to the Mission Labs pre-seed investors for full transparency:

Hello all,

This email is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write.

Unfortunately, after much deliberation and last-minute deals falling through, I have started the wind-down process for Mission Labs, Inc.

What I did wrong:

1) Hired too fast

  • Hired too fast before hitting PMF, as I thought the NFT boom would be more prolonged and more pronounced.
  • This caused our team to get bogged down in corporate-like meetings when we just needed to focus on the product and talking with customers.
  • I expected the seed to be just around the corner, as money was much cheaper back in the Spring.

2) Hired wrong

  • Most of the initial team did not have Web3 experience and bogged the company down with elementary questions, confusion, and meetings. I thought this was something we could easily overcome with training. It proved to be very difficult for most of the team to grasp.

3) Selected a name & branding that attracted legal action

  • As I launched the company I didn’t have a name picked out, and it took us way too long to settle on a name: Momintous
  • After the name was selected, we started working on branding, and I didn’t do a thorough-enough search to make sure we might not be potentially infringing on someone else's name and brand. Unfortunately, Momentive.ai saw my LinkedIn post about our new branding and sent us a cease & desist… four months after my LinkedIn post. As a small pre-seed company with limited capital, this seriously derailed us and wasted precious time and resources.

4) Services work

  • I thought we could offset our initial few months of R&D on our platform by doing some one-off drops for artists and brands.
  • Ultimately, this was a huge distraction, and it took all hands on deck to get the one store live that we did.
  • The artist we launched had adult-themed art, which made it hard to use as a case study for brands, artists, and investors.

5) Delegated finances

  • I delegated the finances to my cofounder, who is not a CPA, and ultimately lost 1–2 months of runway due to not having an accurate read on burn and runway.

6) Delegated Update e-mail

  • At my first startup, I always did weekly update emails. At this one, my team wanted to write the first draft but only wanted to do it monthly. I relented and let them own it. I eventually took it back over to weekly after we had missed a few months in a row. Next time it’s weekly. And I’m writing them, with the help from others when I need it.

7) NFTs fell out of favor with Gen Z

  • I first started out targeting brands and agencies for NFT drops. But when NFTs fell out of favor with Gen Z, brands and agencies no longer wanted anything to do with NFTs, as their target market had such a negative connotation around them.
  • I noticed this trend early on but waited too long to pivot out of “NFTs” and into the value that NFTs brought to collectors and artists.

8) Employees vs. Contractors

  • In hindsight, except for my cofounders, I should have started everyone as contractors. Employees are costly, and it’s hard to know who will make it in the early days. Starting early help off as contractors gives me more flexibility in hiring and finding the right early team.

9) More angels, fewer funds

  • When I started the company, every fund in Texas was reaching out to see what I was up to. Flattered, I met with all of them. Most passed quickly. I wasn’t ready for fund meetings. At all, but I liked the attention. It was a waste of time and probably killed any shot of raising from them for this venture by meeting with them too early. First impressions are huge. I should have kept my head down, said thanks but no thanks for the meeting invite, kept building the product — and raised from angels and strategics.

What’s Next?

I explored launching a blockchain with the Mission Labs assets, but ultimately my heart is not in launching yet another blockchain. I will take some time off to rest (my wife’s orders) and then get back at it. I will most likely take a job as we head into a time of uncertainty, and I can recalibrate. But I am always looking for the next venture.

Thank you to all of you for believing in me. Seriously, it crushes me to know I won’t be returning your money to this company. I will always be eternally grateful for your support and trust in me. When I launch my next company, you will be the first to know (even if you don’t want to! :)).

I am working with my legal team to wind down the company with the IRS and respective states so that you will be receiving proper paperwork for your tax accountants.

If there’s anything else I can do for you all, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Ryan Merket

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