April 19, 2022 | Company Building

A Novel Approach to Web3

John Cowgill

Written by

John Cowgill

Last year, Web3 hit its tipping point, moving from just early adopters to welcoming the early majority. In particular, NFTs caught fire, with unprecedented growth of 20-30x in buyers, sellers, and total volume over the course of the year: 

It’s especially remarkable that this growth occurred in spite of the massive barriers in the current NFT user experience–including fraud, technical issues with drops, and complex on-ramps to buying crypto and setting up a wallet.  And as much as I love a fun new profile picture, there still isn’t much one can actually do with NFTs once purchased. 

Brian Sugar and I started riffing on this problem in the middle of last year. We saw a pattern: many of our favorite ecommerce founders were purchasing NFT’s in their spare time, and excited about the potential of NFTs as a natural brand extension and something they could incorporate into their customer engagement and loyalty strategy. But they asked the same questions: how do we get started with NFTs? What does it take to do a drop? What will customers actually do with brand NFTs after purchasing them? 

At the same time, Roger Beaman and Anna Merzi – both second-time founders with deep experience in ecommerce enablement and fintech – were thinking about what they wanted to build next. They both were going down the same Web3 rabbit hole and excited about the potential to bring Web3 to ecommerce.

Loose ideas rapidly developed into concrete use cases, and six months later, we’re excited to finally take the covers off what they’ve been building at Novel Commerce: a no-code platform that makes minting and buying an NFT as simple as selling and purchasing products from a traditional ecommerce store, while enabling brands and creators to quickly layer utility on top of NFTs they drop.

Novel takes the work out of creating and selling NFTs

Ease, simplicity, and meeting users where they are are the keys to unlocking mainstream engagement in any platform shift. Novel is  a no-code interface to buy and sell NFTs on the Shopify platform, which millions of consumers are already familiar with and trust.

Novel makes the process of creating NFTs similar to – and as seamless as – listing and selling a t-shirt. Tooling built across the entire experience enables brands to do in five minutes what has historically taken weeks of work from an in-house technical team: from generating the art to deploying the smart contract to creating a wallet. And Novel enables consumers to buy their first NFTs with a few clicks in a single familiar interface.

The industry is just scratching the surface of how NFTs will be used

We believe NFTs will be a foundational part of how brands engage and retain their customers in the future. Why? As verifiably scarce, portable, and programmable pieces of digital property, NFTs enable brands to offer discounts, restrict access to items, and target potential customers with a degree of precision that has never before been possible. In just six short months, brands have already used the Novel platform to launch: 

• Tokens gifted with purchase of physical product: a verifiable digital receipt attesting to your ownership of an exclusive item

• Token-based discounts: merchandise discounts for holders of an NFT. In fact, several merchants are using this to target holders of popular existing NFT drops before they launch their own.

• Token gated storefronts: exclusive access to items and sections of store unlocked by presenting an NFT

• Token-based loyalty programs: access to Discord channels, drops, and events based on token ownership

The reception from brands has been incredible–one day after its launch, Novel had three Fortune 500 brands sign up for its waitlist along with  120+ others. More than 30 customers – from the beauty industry to NFL athletes – are now signed up to launch with Novel.

A great team building the right way

Roger and Anna have grown Novel to a world-class team of product, design, and ecommerce experts. Just as important, they’re building with the right values, committed to both developing something of value that is accessible to the masses and staying true to the ethos of decentralization. 

The Novel platform decentralizes file storage for all their metadata and assets with IPFS and generates a public provenance record page to prove the fairness of every single drop facilitated through Novel. 

The team cares deeply about the users and the brands they work with, and have gone above and beyond with each brand they’ve launched to make their experience (and the experience of their end users) exceptional.

We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity ahead with Roger, Anna, Brian and the Novel team on their journey. After co-leading the preseed round with Sugar Capital last August, we’re thrilled to announce Novel’s $6M Seed round and welcome new investors Gary Vaynerchuck and Lerer Hippeau. Chapter 1 of Novel is off to a great start, and the team is just getting started!

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