Facing KBW After 3 Years of Waiting
August in 2022 was a pivotal moment for the Asian blockchain industry as a whole, and of course for us, UNOPND, the largest Web3 incubator in Korea.
The month began with Buidl Asia 2022 which highlighted the technological advancements in the crypto space. It was immediately followed by Korea Blockchain Week 2022, the largest comprehensive crypto event ever held in Korea in the last three years. With nearly 10,000 participants for the Main Event and even more for the satellite events, KBW 2022 is one of the best Asian crypto events along with Token 2049.
KBW 2022 has concluded, but the impression lingers on; as a leading crypto industry of Korea, UNOPND hosted two brilliant satellite events, in which we showcased our own projects and held sessions with VCs, gaming guilds, developers, Web3 project leads, TradFi investors, and Web 2 conglomerates.
We are writing this piece to recall the ceremony and the colorful satellite events in retrospect, to share who we have met, how we prepared for the occasion, and what we have learned during these two great weeks.
UNOPND Night: Knocking on the Unopened World
In June, we were busy calling many Web3 companies that were either visiting Seoul for KBW or were based in Seoul. Surprisingly, unlike our initial belief that the industry was primarily run by foreign projects, there actually were plenty of domestic firms running blockchain business. We were able to make contact with them without much trouble, and most of the recipients answered with affirmative replies.
Under the realization that the Web3 industry in Korea was bigger than our expectation, we thought it would be better to meet the domestic firms first, let it be Web 2 or Web3, before we meet foreign projects, to maximize network effects we could enjoy from the Main Event. So, we decided to host UNOPND Night just before KBW, on a Friday night.
On 5th Aug, we were greeting over two hundred people walking into our venue at Gangnam from 117 companies. They told us that they were from Web 2 Gaming, K-Pop Entertainment, Banking, Arts… It was truly a marvelous opportunity to meet KOLs from various backgrounds to learn more about their insights on the industry.
We had 2 panel sessions during the event. First one was moderated by GD Kim, the COO of Unopnd with 5 guest speakers as follows. The topic was ‘Outlook of the Gaming market with Web3 trend.’
The second panel session was about ‘The future of Web3 projects growing together with communities. Wise Kim, the Marketing Manager of Unopnd hosted the session with four guest speakers.
Even though the topic may seem too broad, the panels came up with unexpected answers with a creative approach and their philosophy.
Watching hundreds of people eagerly discussing Web3 business gave us a great feeling that the next FAANG might be incubated right here in front of us. Visitors might also be relieved that they already made new acquaintances prior to the Main Event, that they had already overcome the awkward moment of being a stranger to everybody.
When the party was over, quite a lot of participants came up to us, and told us that the event was great, and that they would be the first one to sign up for our next event. It was an exhausting journey to prepare for UNOPND Night, but well, was worth it.
UNOPND Showcase: Opening the Unopened World
After the two-day main event and heavy rain, UNOPND Showcase was held under a clear sky.
UNOPND Showcase was a networking event where internal projects of UNOPND were introduced and chains, exchanges, projects, and gaming guilds gathered to share various ideas.
Throughout the showcase, UNOPND not only reported the latest news of existing projects such as Derby Stars, DAVA, XOCIETY, Modhaus, and LOK, but also unveiled new projects, Kentin Creative and UNOPND Pass. Also the members of Triple S, the world’s first decentralized K-Pop idol group, visited the showcase. Arguably, it was the moment when the web3 people aiming for decentralization were most centralized.
It was crucial to introduce 7 individual projects, but that was not the only purpose of UNOPND Showcase. There are three more reasons for hosting the showcase. First, we wanted to meet our partners and web3 people whom we haven’t seen for a long time and catch up on the news of our projects.
If you have ever experienced the powerful energy that comes out when web3 people gather, you will sympathize with the emptiness you feel even if you talk face-to-face with Zoom and chat a lot through Telegram.
Also, we wanted to share our vision and our own way to achieve that vision and to hear various opinions about it. The vision of UNOPND is to open “unopened value” and create an “opened world” on web3. To achieve it, UNOPND is moving web2 to web3 at the midpoint between web2 and web3 while creating web3 native projects.
We wanted to have an in-depth discussion on how to make web3 a reality and whether our efforts to become a stepping stone between web2 and web3 are right. Through this discussion, we believed that UNOPND, various projects and companies could share their trials and errors and give each other advice and comfort during the showcase.
Lastly, we hoped several projects, VCs, chains, and exchanges would gather in one place to unlock new opportunities that were hard to be found before. As everyone already knows, no one can do anything alone on web3. So, so that people can find their perfect supporters and collaborators, we wanted to plan an event that has everything necessary to start new cooperation and collaboration — a variety of projects, new people, and pleasant conversations.
The showcase was held in the newly moved Hashed office a few days before the event. Originally, about 70 people were expected to attend. But as time passed, more and more people were interested in the showcase, and the number of attendees had to be increased to 150.
As a result, from VCs to chains, exchanges, projects, and gaming guilds, from the United States to Singapore, Europe, and Southeast Asia, people from various countries in various industries were able to gather in one place.
They talked about how the KBW main event was, listened to UNOPND’s project introductions on the big screen, and heatedly debated how to work together for the future of web3.
Above all, we put the most effort into the presentation of the individual project team. As this was the first official event to introduce all of UNOPND projects together, we tried to vividly show the philosophy and product of each project and recall the confidence and hope about the future of web3.
Starting with the presentation by Kiho, the CBDO of UNOPND, Sean, Lead Producer of Derby Stars(a horse breeding game), Ggomma, the Team leader of DAVA(a deck-building adventure game), Joseph Baek, Co-founder & EVP of Modhaus(K-pop startup), Dan Lee, Director of Corporate Development of LOK(MMO strategy game), Gunny Yoon, Director Assistant of XOCIETY(a loot shooter and metaverse), Sanghoon Cha, Director of Kentin Creative(decentralized video studio), Jimin Jeung, PD of Kentin Creative, GD, the COO of UNOPND who prepared Kentin Creative, and Nathan Kim, Marketing Director of UNOPND who planned UNOPND Pass, made presentations one after another.
From presentations to networking events, the showcase was a success. The goods prepared were sold out, and the soulbound tokens of DAVA were also sold out. During the 40-minute presentation, most of the people didn’t leave their seats and concentrated on the presentation, and even after 3 pm, the originally scheduled end time of the event, many people gathered and chatted.
I still can’t forget the people who said “This is the first time I have seen such a great event on web3. It was so good.” and the photos of the showcase posted on social media.
We talked to a lot of teams at the showcase and made promises about the future — and we’re still making those promises a reality by ringing each other’s telegrams loudly.
Some teams are working hard to improve the product based on the conversations they had at the showcase, and some teams are promoting collaboration with the teams they met at the showcase. Even though UNOPND Showcase is over, we are preparing for the next showcase again.
So, let’s open the UNOPND value together!
UNOPND at KBW
The core experience of KBW 2022 would be colorful and dynamic satellite events — there were 120 official satellite events in KBW 2022, and the number would go 150+ if those not listed in the official Docs were included.
We were invited to most events in Seoul, regardless of Hackathons or Meetups, so we would have spent a hard time deciding on which ones to attend and which ones to turn down; luckily, with a headcount of over 110, we had enough manpower to respond to all invitations, albeit some of us had to go overtime a bit.
People came to networking events to raise funds, to promote their services or to look for talented builders. Each had her own reasons to visit satellite events, but all of their eyes gleamed with enthusiasm.
A common phenomenon we observed during the week was that a great part of the satellite events were hosted by either L1s, VCs, or CEXes. It is not necessarily bad, as all three of them are crucial in providing the fundamental infrastructure for the crypto industry, but was rather incomplete in a sense that even after the DeFi Summer and the NFT frenzy, we had not yet found many killer products that are hosting splendid events.
On the other hand, we also grew our confidence in two ways: One, the confidence in the industry as a whole since the more time we spend to build the infrastructure, the brighter the future Web3 industry built on top will be; two, UNOPND as a studio is actually grinding to deliver the exact killer products the market needs right now.
The overdevelopment of fundamental infrastructure is superficially showing a lack of products, but actually is a forerunner to the bright future for long-term builders such as ourselves. To achieve mass adoption, we must first have a scalable foundation that can withstand the crowd. To bring millions of people to our metaverse, we must build our metaverse on top of solid infra layers.
“You need to actually send a transaction to create a DNS name, you need to actually send the transaction to recover your account, you need to actually send a transaction to meet some of these adaptations.”
— Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum at KBW 2022
Interestingly, although most events were hosted by infrastructure providers, the attendees were mainly project leads who were fervently lecturing their projects to visitors, indicative of the presence of many builders who are dedicated to ship products built on the infrastructure.
Moreover, we hosted UNOPND Night and UNOPND Showcase to announce to the public what we are building and how we aim to improve the status quo by building games that are games, and to rectify unfairness in the traditional business models — in general, to supply goods and services that are actually demanded by the mass culture.
“The Metaverse is an important industrial field, and as a platform, it is the space where many people will work in the future. Metaverse will create huge synergies by combining with blockchain and Web3.”
— Sam Seo, Director of Klaytn Foundation at KBW 2022
We also participated in the Main Event to deliver our core thesis of onboarding the mass and to freely exchange ideas with everyone. Nathan Kim, our Marketing Director, has stood up in the KBW podium at Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas to talk about “the Potential of Web3 with NFT, Gaming, and the Metaverse,” and Han Yoo, COO at NOD Games, followed right after to discuss go-to-market strategies for blockchain games.
To create a sound and sustainable Web3 business culture, Nathan Kim emphasized that the industry leaders have to encourage people to enjoy, love, and passionately support the brand they are building. That was how a successful Web3 business could create long-term cultural value with its users.
Han Yoo mainly spoke on the topic of problem solving, on how the founders of gaming projects should focus on the problems that could be solved with blockchains instead of blindly applying the technology and hoping for the best.
Apart from the Main Event, we were also restless in attending other satellite events to reach as many people as possible: Kiho Hong, our CBDO, and Hozin Kim, our CSO, pitched as speakers at Polygon Connect Korea; GD Kim, COO at UNOPND, spoke in Buidl Asia 2022 and in Avalanche Summit.
Polygon Foundation has been aggressively growing its ecosystem lately, especially with its “uncapped multimillion ecosystem fund” to onboard Terra-based projects onto Matic network, also forming a partnership with Derby Stars along the course.
As close partners in distressed times, it was natural for Kiho to discuss what and how should we build during the expected, prolonged bear market, and Hojin stood up to talk about broadening the use cases of NFTs as Hojin himself is incubating Modhaus, a project which uses NFTs in original ways to run K-pop idol bands.
One year has passed since Avalanche Rush, the $180M incentive program to boost the network’s growth, and Avalanche grew to be the center of enormous network effects with its innovative DeFi protocols, and more importantly, its gaming subnets.
At Avalanche Hacks, GD sat with founders to talk about the evolving use cases of NFTs for gaming, stemming from the current primary usage in proof of digital ownership.
“The more volatile the market be,” Chan Lee, CEO at UNOPND, remarked at Party of Kings, a cozy drinking party hosted by NOD Games.
“The more convinced we could be on the future of the industry. Had it not been for the bears, we might still be inflated with preposterous business models relying on ever-growing player counts — we, too, might have been washed away with the excessive optimism and riden the boat bound to sink. But here we are, building for the mass.”
KBW 2022 has concluded, but the impression lingers on. We are back to our ordinary days, but one thing is different — we could proudly wear t-shirts with the company logo and be acknowledged by the crypto space when we stroll in Seoul.
However, we do not stop here. Onboarding Web3 enthusiasts onto our future is indeed a fantastic start, but it is never our endgame. We will unlock the UNOPND world, to integrate everyone, even those who have not even heard of blockchains.