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AMA Highlights: Quidd

By Daniel Dal Bello, Director.
November 12, 2021–10 min read.

On Thursday 11 November, we welcomed Michael Bramlage of Quidd into the Hillrise Group Telegram chat for an AMA.

Quidd is a digital collectibles marketplace that has gathered unique collectibles from over 325 different brands over the past handful of years since their inception in 2015.

So far Quidd has operated in a traditional sense, but they’re now taking the next big step by bringing their centralized marketplace to the blockchain, enabling users to mint collectibles on the chain of their choice.

Backed by Animoca Brands, we were curious to learn more about their ambitions for decentralization.

In this post, we have compiled key questions and answers from the event.

Rowan Zwiers
Thank you for joining us today! As we have a keen interest in digital collectibles we’re seeing more and more established brands like your own make the jump to NFTs. It’s a very exciting development and we commend you for the innovation.

Before we get into the gist of the conversations could you please introduce yourself and Quidd market?

Michael Bramlage
Sure thing. I’m CEO and Co-Founder of Quidd Inc.

We founded Quidd in 2015 and launched it to the world in 2016, so we’ve been doing digital collectibles for 5 years! Before Quidd, I ran the digital division of The Topps Company, the old American maker of physical baseball cards. While there I helped incubate, launch, and scale their digital trading card business, so I’ve really been doing digital collectibles for about 10 years now!

Prior to that, I held product roles at Nokia (back when they made phones, in the “oh crap, Apple just launched the iPhone, what do we do!” era) and Microsoft (in the Web1, Web2 era).

Quidd is the world’s first — yes first — marketplace for digital collectibles.

Today, Quidd has over 7 million registered digital collectors collecting over 325 of the world’s best brands, including Disney, Marvel, Rick And Morty, Game Of Thrones, and the NBA.

On Quidd, our collectors can buy, hold, and sell their digital collectibles — off-chain for real money — or they can choose to mint their digital collectibles on-chain, to their blockchain of choice.

For us, NFTs represent not only a ‘new collectible type’ to issue, sell, and resell, they also represent a ‘new format’ to migrate your existing digital collectibles into.

On Quidd, our collectors can buy, hold, and sell their digital collectibles — off-chain for real money — or they can choose to mint their digital collectibles on-chain, to their blockchain of choice.

Almost like the collector is saying, “Wow, this digital collectible on Quidd is starting to rise in price and it certainly is meaningful to me…what do I do to protect that? Ahh, okay, I can move the storage of the item from Quidd’s centralized service to the broader blockchain, and therefore own it permanently, port it around with me into on-chain games and metaverses, and potentially profit more by bringing it to different on-chain marketplaces, like OpenSea.”

Rowan Zwiers
You’ve shared your belief that using blockchain solutions have the best shot at bringing the next large group of people to this industry — for the most part because you’d be attracting your current users to start using blockchain as they mint their collectibles to NFTs — which we naturally applaud over here.

What is your opinion on how your push for innovation will impact your userbase, which is currently predominantly late teen/early adult and US-based?

Do you believe innovation is a necessity to stay relevant for your existing users, or do you see it more as an extra differentiating feature attracting new demographics?

Michael Bramlage
There are a lot of folks and projects in the NFT-space that have these lofty ambitions of ‘bringing NFTs to a billion people’, which is great, but they never really explain how they are going to do it.

The how is challenging for us and for anyone in large part because you’re ‘smashing together’ different groups of people:

  • Crypto-veterans
  • NFT ‘hypebeasts’
  • NFT speculators

And these groups need to be married with:

  • Sports fans
  • Physical trading card/memorabilia collectors
  • Regular people

And it isn’t easy to attract the latter, nor is it easy to have it all co-exist with the former!

In some ways, the NFT-space has not really crossed the chasm. How many soccer fans are out there, and how many daily active buyers does Sorare have, you know?

So for us, we think about that a lot. How do we really get a normal person from Iowa in the United States to become a digital asset/NFT collector when she is a ‘no-coiner’, can’t ‘buy a Lambo’, and doesn’t have ‘diamond hands’?

Two things we do know work, because it has allowed us to attract over 7 million registered collectors, are:

  • a) Brands, you’ve got to have IP that people love.
  • b) Fun, you’ve got to make collecting fun so that the experience lasts beyond speculation.

Raymond Reijnders
Starting in 2015, amassing 7 million collectors and working with so many prominent brands already is quite the feat! What’s your secret to success as a team?

Michael Bramlage
First, it’s important to frame this to say that that we’ve been running and building a business and community for nearly half a decade.

The $QUIDD token isn’t a utility token for something we’re going to build two years from now. It’s not even really for a ‘project’, (which seems small in scope and kind of short-term) it is for an existing product, collectibles, and community, and is designed to bring, in part, millions of Web2 people into Web3, and millions of off-chain collectibles on-chain.

So, with that in mind, the key to success is just to keep going and keep learning. Ship early, ship often, iterate, listen to the community and iterate some more.

Rowan Zwiers
On your token, your pre-NFT business model worked well, and it’s a natural addition to your previous business model to add an NFT minting on-chain functionality to your users.

However, your push for innovation also comes with the launch of your utility token $QUIDD, which is utilized in a typical fashion (earned by community contributions, spent on fee reductions, votes, etc.).

This utility token seems effectively unrelated to the NFT functionality and could have been implemented much earlier or later.

What is the strategic reasoning for launching your token simultaneously with your novel NFT-functionality?

Michael Bramlage
We aren’t the first or the last NFT marketplace to have a utility token. I like to think that timing-wise, we’ve hit that sweet spot where enough of our community is educated about NFTs and is actually demanding to store their goods on-chain (there’s a pull to do it from our community who see blockchain and NFTs not just as revolutionary, but as a solution to a really practical problem of long-term storage and portability).

There’s also a push in that we have some major ambitions that cannot be achieved unless we have the token. The token, as they say in Web3, begins to shift power to the community, and that’s necessary to double and triple our audience, from 7m to 14m to 21m collectors.

We have some major ambitions that cannot be achieved unless we have the token. The token, as they say in Web3, begins to shift power to the community, and that’s necessary to double and triple our audience.

Raymond Reijnders
We’ve read about the advanced measures you’ve taken to prevent counterfeiting, making sure every digital collectible published on the Quidd marketplace is officially licensed and approved by its active rights-holders. Surely this must be a large process with over 7 million registered digital collectors from over 300 brands.

How is this process organized as it is, and do you see the community contributing to this process as the future direction (token) can help incentivize collectors to contribute?

Michael Bramlage
There are two schools of thought or approaches with marketplaces; the supply-side is either heavily reviewed by editorial staff before it is published (like the App Store) or it is ‘publish anything first, take down later’ (like the Google Play Store).

Since you can’t really ‘take down’ a digital collectible or NFT someone has bought, you know, it’s ‘theirs’, we operate on the App Store model, where everything is either made by us based on a licensing agreement with the underlying media company or sports club or is made by a close partner of ours, with the full approval of their underlying rightsholder.

Everything is either made by us based on a licensing agreement with the underlying media company or sports club or is made by a close partner of ours, with the full approval of their underlying rightsholder.

As for the token and its usages with the community. We won’t need to incentivize ‘authenticating’, so we won’t apply tokens. If it’s on Quidd, it’s legit.

Instead, one area our community will tackle in the future with the right combination of tools and incentives ($QUIDD token) is cataloging the vast collectibles and NFTs in circulation.

Not to get too wonky and academic, but having a deep and robust amount of metadata per digital collectible or NFT allows the market-runner to do some amazing, never-before-seen things around liquidity-providing, organization, discovery, etc.

Basically, whether it is fine art, wine, watches, cars, or trading cards, collectibles, physical or otherwise, having ‘cataloging problems’ that spring up. We’re intent on deploying our community to help us solve some of those, and the end result for them is more $QUIDD and a far better understanding of what is in circulation to collect and, well, more liquidity in the aftermarket.

Rowan Zwiers
Over the years you’ve provided a centralized collectibles market with strong measures and verification to prevent counterfeiting and controlled publishing of collectibles with publicly available verification tools. Users have trusted your mechanism and transparency so far, as demonstrated by the success of Quidd.

Now you’re introducing functionality to swap pre-published collectibles to NFTs publicly verifiable on distributed blockchains.

In your own terminology minting is, “authenticating, grading, insuring, and vaulting your prized possession”.

Could you elaborate on this statement and on how the process of minting adds to the areas specified in your quote?

Michael Bramlage
First off, the process is quite simple. Our collectors have an existing off-chain account, profile, and collection with Quidd. A necessary first step is associating their crypto-wallet address (or choice) with their profile (this will likely be multiple wallet associations to tackle multiple chains). Once associated and verified (yes, this collector also holds this wallet address), the collector will be able to escrow off-chain items and mint them into pre-deployed smart contracts on their chain of choice. We’re starting with Ethereum.

There is no copying or duplication. We delete it off-chain and mint it on-chain, but then still subscribe to the NFT now on-chain in that collector’s wallet.

What’s cool about that, is post-minting, the newly-minted NFT can still appear in your collection on Quidd. In that regard, we’re ultimately building an off-chain/on-chain/multi-chain aggregator of your collectibles and NFTs.

We’re ultimately building an off-chain/on-chain/multi-chain aggregator of your collectibles and NFTs.

Imagine a single ‘collection interface’ that shows you your prized possessions where they are stored with us or stored on-chain on Ethereum, BSC, WAX, Flow, Solana, etc.

In that way, we can and will do some cool things, like allowing Solana NFT collectors to see and bid on someone’s Ethereum NFTs with the intent to bring them into Quidd (as a hub) and move them out to Solana (as a spoke).

Rowan Zwiers
Since the original value and scarcity of the collectible originates from your centralized servers and is verified as such, what is the actually added value of migrating collectibles to NFTs — that would have no on-chain verifiable history and scarcity of their own?

Would the verification of such NFT collectibles not still require trust in your centralized operation?

Michael Bramlage
First off, we have trust in our centralized environment. For 5 years, our community has been able to publicly verify that when we say, “there are only 5 copies of this JPEG”, that there are truly only 5 copies. We have a kick-ass inventory system that we could market as our own ‘private chain’ but that’s a cheesy gimmick, so we don’t.

This inventory system and the metadata doesn’t go away when we put it on-chain. That metadata will move on-chain. So, for instance, we show all collectors the ‘print date’ of their centralized digital collectibles. We can’t undo the precise time-stamp when the item first existed and had its first owner. So we’ll move that ‘history and provenance’ on-chain in the minting process. You’ll get a ‘born date’ (earlier) and a ‘mint date’, you also might get an ‘unmint date’ if you decide to remove it from Ethereum (the spoke) bring it back to Quidd (the hub), and mint it onto Solana (another spoke).

Lastly, in this context of off-chain/on-chain/multi-chain the ultimate registry of what exists where is very important. We’ll maintain that off-chain but that will of course subscribe to all the happenings on-chain.

Raymond Reijnders
Your market has millions of registered users that trade amongst each other. As far as I could see, users can follow each other, but not message them. There is also an active Twitter account to follow and a Discord community with a little under 7,000 members — which seems little compared to the total users registered.

How do your users communicate/form community, has this been a focus, and does your market function just fine without personal interaction?

Michael Bramlage
You’ve probably seen the Quidd Market on the web (which as a ‘client’ is less than 1 year old and only contains a subset of the functionality of our other ‘clients’ — the mobile apps).

The Quidd native mobile apps on Android and iOS are 5 years old and have the real ‘core functionality’ of Quidd that hasn’t yet made it to the web. Things like pack buying, wish list creation, checklist usage, leaderboards/ranks/etc, are long-standing features exclusive to our mobile apps.

In the mobile apps, our users can DM each other, which they often do to work out private details.

So, our community is a bit split, where 1-on-1 interaction happens in-app and on Discord (which is probably 6 months old) contains more public chat from newer, ‘less OG’ users.

Rowan Zwiers
As announced by Animoca brands in early December 2020, they have acquired 100% of the issued capital in Quidd, Inc.

What is the strategic important of this acquisition and how has it helped shape your strategic direction over the last year?

Michael Bramlage
We’ve been fortunate to be a part of Animoca Brands, alongside successful projects like The Sandbox.

In the shortest possible terms, we bring the ‘regular collectors’, 325 brands, and a solid marketplace product for on-chain and off-chain collecting. They bring cryptocurrency and NFT expertise.

Raymond Reijnders
I’d be curious to hear if you’ve ever worked with Epik under the Animoca umbrella.

Michael Bramlage
I know of them, but not yet.

What we’re excited about is selling off-chain voxels that can be minted and used in The Sandbox. That’s the kind of ‘day one interoperability’ that a lot of companies only talk about — we can deliver it in days not years.

Hillrise Group supports ambitious Web3 startups with early-stage venture capital and fundamental research.

Quidd is a marketplace to buy, hold, sell, and collect limited-edition, individually-serialized digital collectibles.

Connect with Hillrise Group
https://hillrise.group
https://hillrisegroup.medium.com
https://twitter.com/hillrisegroup

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Fundamental research arm of Hillrise Group. We bring simplicity to complex technology.

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Hillrise Group

Hillrise Group

Hillrise Group is a blockchain-native venture capital and consulting firm supporting emerging Web3 startups.

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