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WTF is an NFT? This ASU business can tell you and help you sell them

DropParty is a business co-founded by an ASU student to teach people about NFTs and help creators sell their digital art


DropParty, a company founded by ASU student Xavier Santos, helps people sell digital art and learn about NFTs. Illustration originally published on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.

DropParty, a business co-founded by an ASU student, helps people sell NFTs by creating online storefronts for creators to sell their digital art

The business works with clients to help "drop" their NFT collections, and it connects with students over its Discord server to introduce them to the world of NFTs. DropParty and its clients are part of the rapidly growing NFT market that generated nearly $10.7 billion in trading volume during the third quarter of this year, a 704% increase from the previous quarter, according to DappRadar.

DropParty was founded in May of this year. Xavier Santos, CEO of the company and a senior majoring in marketing, wanted to make the world of NFTs more accessible to creators by helping them set up virtual storefronts.

"With games, with anything, there's virtual items that exist online," Santos said. "We want to be the place where you can set up (a) store straight from our website."

NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are unique digital items that can be bought and sold. By using blockchain technology, a digital transaction record, people can show digital ownership of an NFT.

"The question people ask all the time with NFTs is, 'Well why can't I just screenshot it?'" said Mason Adams, the co-founder of the NFT collection School Yard Punks, a client of DropParty. "It's the exact same thing when we're saying, 'If I print out a picture or a poster of the Mona Lisa, it's not the Mona Lisa.' There (are) experts who can verify what the Mona Lisa actually is based on its age and brush strokes … With NFTs, you don't need experts for that verification. It’s public information."

DropParty's Discord server is where students can go to learn about NFTs. The DropParty team's goal is to educate anyone they can about how to get into the world of digital ownership.

"We want to make sure that the average person knows what an NFT is and how to get started in NFTs," Santos said. "So I guess in the future you might see us simplifying the technology a little bit so that regular people can get started in it without knowing much about it."

NFTs come in a range of digital formats, like videos, GIFs and JPEGs. DropParty and its clients focus on art JPEGs.

Ryan Steffens, co-founder and chief operating officer of DropParty, met Santos at a party at Loyola Marymount University in 2019. During the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Steffens and Santos started doing business together.

The formulation of DropParty started with the duo's first project, an NFT collection based on the doge meme, "because memes run the world," Santos said. Santos and Steffens did not let their memes be dreams, and they launched CryptDoge, a bunch of randomly generated character cards based on the famous internet meme.

When Santos and Steffens showed CryptDoge to their friends, they were confused about how to purchase NFTs, birthing the idea for DropParty.

"We figured, why don't we just make a platform to make everything easy for NFTs and creating on blockchain," Steffens said.

DropParty currently has four clients, the first of which was School Yard Punks, an NFT collection based on school-related themes that look grungy and monstrous.

The School Yard Punks, $300 apiece.

When somebody purchases one of School Yard Punks NFTs, they receive one of the ten thousand NFTs available, a majority coming with a randomly generated first and last name. Like digital Pokémon cards, every character is unique and some are rarer than others.

Certain characters have rare attributes, like wearing a cast. The characters with those attributes "are inherently more valuable," Adams said. 

The School Yard Punks collection officially releases Oct 31. The NFT's start at $300 apiece, and they can only be purchased using Ethereum, a type of cryptocurrency. Adams hopes that once the market takes over and people start trading the NFTs, they are worth thousands.

Adams believes School Yard Punks stands out from other NFT collections on the market.

"There are a lot of projects out there that are horrible," Adams said. "They have no, what we call, 'soul' to them. They have no meat, they have no substance … I think when you look at our art versus a lot of other NFTs, you can tell that it's meaningful and there's (a) story to the characters. We're doing stuff that other people just haven't done yet in the NFT market."

Outside of the digital art world, NFTs are making an appearance on the music scene. In July, Grammy-nominated artist SZA released an NFT collection that included never-before-seen photos of one of her performances. 

DropParty is looking at new ways for artists to incorporate NFTs into album releases. If somebody buys an album that comes with an NFT, they could unlock features exclusive to album holders.

"What if Travis Scott released a virtual AstroWorld, and only album holders can go in there and see it," Santos said. "That's the kind of stuff that we see out of this."

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Kaden RybackBusiness and Tech Reporter

Kaden is a reporter for the Biztech desk, focusing on student run business, people profiles and research papers. During his time at The State Press, Kaden's biggest piece was about ASU's history with NASA. He's a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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