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INTERVIEW | 0N1 Force CEO on Web 3.0 and Falling in Love with the NFT Community

"When you look at the potential of what NFT is bringing in terms of technology and community especially, it's unlike any other industry" — 0N1 Force CEO

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(© 0N1 Force)

Web 3.0 embodies a paradigm shift toward a decentralized internet prioritizing enhanced security, privacy, and user autonomy. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are blockchain-based certificates of ownership and asset authenticity, are part of this expanding market. Within this environment, 0N1 Force, an anime and manga-inspired NFT collection features 11,110 characters on the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.

Starlordy, CEO of 0N1 Force, spoke with JAPAN Forward about his vision, the community building around it, and his thoughts on the future of Web 3.0.

Excerpts follow.

(© 0N1 Force)

Early Beginnings of 0N1 Force

How would you describe 0N1 Force to someone hearing about it for the first time?

Essentially [0n1 Force is] an anime IP [intellectual property]. I kind of call it, "Naruto meets Star Wars," but it's way more edgy and cyberpunk. I guess it's like Blade Runner as well.

It's just like a universe that's meant to live on multiple formats, from comics to webtoons, to anime to video games — anywhere a popular IP would live. We just want to be the greatest anime IP that was created from Web 3.0 that's also built by the community.

Could you share some insights about the early beginnings of 0N1 Force?

0N1 Force was minted in August 2021. There are definitely some innovations that a lot of people now probably don't realize.

Since then, we've seen different people come into the [Web 3.0] space, too. The OGs ["original gangsters," people who were in the market early] definitely knew what 0N1 Force was. It was the first anime PFP [profile picture] legitimately, and it was the first sideways PFP. Apparently, it was the first left-facing, too.

And then I think what's also very incredible is that our developer at the time, Cryptospaces, actually created the whitelist [crypto wallet addresses that get early access to new NFTs]. That was an attempt to deal with the gas [bidding] wars when gas fees still were kind of high. But you know, they did manage to save money for some people.

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How did you become involved in the NFT industry and 0N1 Force?

I found 0N1 Force during their bull run when they were at seven ETH [Ethereum] floor. Then I became friends with a couple of the founders. When I found out they were having some trouble, I offered to help. I thought I was just going to help with marketing, but they asked me to run the project as the project manager in January 2022.

I just fell in love with the community and became really close with people. It was the first community where I felt, "Oh, this is like, my people." So the founders wanted to exit. We helped them find a buyer. And then I just decided to stay on as CEO. And that's the history.

(© 0N1 Force)

The Future of Web 3.0 and NFTs

What excites you the most about the NFT space and its potential?

Well, for me, I still am drinking the Kool-Aid that "the NFT space is the future."

I think that when you look at the potential of what NFT is bringing in terms of technology and community especially, it's unlike any other industry. So, I feel the Web 2.0 world still doesn't realize how much better it is when you have blockchain technology tied to your experiences.

We're an IP company, so when I think about other IPs out there, whether it's Marvel or Star Wars, [I think] how much cooler would it be if you could be a fan and participate in these things, but also be rewarded with your ownership through what we call utility? But as with tokenomics, I think Web 3.0 is still the future. It's just a matter of us building the right things, the right experiences that can then be translated for everyday users.

With developments like Bitcoin halving and expansion of the Runes protocol, where do you see the industry heading in the next few years?

I'd be lying if I could predict where the industry is headed in a couple of years. But that's the beauty of the [Web 3.0] space. There are so many smart people working really hard to innovate.

With Ordinals and Runes, in particular, what I love is that for a very long time, Bitcoin was considered a chain where it was just strictly a store of value. Even the smartest developers in the world looked at Bitcoin and it never even occurred to them to try to do something [else] with it. They just assumed because it's slow — like there was no point.

But now that we've opened up that opportunity to build experiences on top of Bitcoin, I think that's gonna be really valuable for us. Bitcoin is still the number one onboarding tool for the "normies" [regular people]. So if you don't know anything about crypto, it's pretty easy to learn about Bitcoin and it's pretty easy to adopt it.

That will then translate into [regular people] being more interested in NFTs and the experiences that you can have with your communities. I don't think the average person realizes how valuable "community" is, and what it actually means to make friends with people around the world, share experiences, build things together, make money together, lose money together. It really changes your life in a lot of ways. So I think Bitcoin will help us and Runes will help us get there.

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The 0N1 Force F4LL3N collection on Magic Eden marketplace.

Community, Challenges, and Opportunities

How do you build and maintain a strong community around 0N1 Force and within the whole Web 3.0 industry?

Community is everything. I've said this since day one and I really believe that. The reason why I'm here is community. Initially, when I was brought on, it was like, "Oh, help this project." At first, it was almost an opportunity to learn. But then when I got to know the community members, I realized, "I really love these people."

I think it goes deeper than even the word "community." Community is identity, right? We have these individual identities, but then we have shared identities now because of NFTs. 0N1 Force is a very unique identity. Obviously, there's the love of anime, storytelling, and art. Our community is [made up of] genuinely really good people. Our community is very kind-hearted. They're very good "degens" and they're very "passionate."

Especially for 0N1 Force holders. They've been through thick and thin. There's no other project in our time that has gone through as many ups and downs as ours, or whose community has held on as long or been this loyal.

Our community is the best because they're very supportive. It's a great place just to be if you're a fan of art, storytelling, gaming, culture, fashion, and lifestyle. And then on top of that, doing some degen things together.

0N1 Frames collection.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the NFT industry? 

When NFTs first launched, there was a ton of interest. It was like the most Googled search term in the world.

Unfortunately, the people who were early in the industry did not take care of each other. I think there were way too many scams, rug-pulls, fakers — people who basically destroyed the reputation of NFTs as we know them.

A lot of the industries that should love NFTs the most hate [NFTs], like in gaming and comics. And that's really bad because if ["NFTs"] were the most Googled search term in the world, that means everybody knows what NFTs are. But now, they don't care about NFTs. 

And you know how hard it is to get someone to care about something once they've already decided they don't care. It's very difficult. We hurt ourselves and put ourselves back. So the biggest challenge 0N1 Force has is more of an overall market sentiment.

How are you tackling your challenges?

Within the Web 3.0 space, there's always the question of, "How are you writing value? How are you keeping your community happy? How are you giving them opportunities to grow?" Those are the standard things that everybody's dealing with. The way we're tackling that is we are going to be expanding our IP in Web 2.0.

I think the beauty of our project compared to non-IP projects is that we have an opportunity for people to fall in love with us, because of our art, our storytelling, and the characters. Our job is to expand our IP and win the hearts and minds of people everywhere, just based on the strength of the quality of IP.

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Where do you go from here?

Internally, we want to keep innovating and pushing forward, always looking at where the market is going, and trying to stay a couple steps ahead. I think we did that very well with Ordinals. 

There were people who told me I was stupid, or I didn't understand what was important. But I just had a lot of conviction that Ordinals were going to be a thing, and I'm grateful that it did turn out correct.

Now we've given our community a rare opportunity to get a financial benefit for being part of what is the future, the next stage of evolution for Web 3.0. That's a huge benefit for our community because now our community gets to have exposure to Ordinals and Runes. But more importantly, we get to build a stronger community by having new blood, new builders, new passionate creators, and fans who can be part of this project. That in itself is a huge value.

Relatable Anime Quotes

Before we end, would you share your thoughts about some famous quotes? 

Anzai-sensei. (©Slam Dunk, Takehiko Inoue / Shonen Jump)

"When you give up. That's when the game is over" — Anzai sensei (Slam Dunk)

That's actually a very poignant quote and something I identify with. I once interviewed Vivek Ranadivé, he's the owner of the Sacramento Kings basketball team. He has a really fascinating story because he came from poverty and became a billionaire. I asked him, "What is the one piece of advice that you would give to somebody trying to make it?" And he just said, "Never, ever, ever, ever give up." I think the intensity with which he said it made me realize that willpower, the guts to never give up, is what it takes to win.

Goku faces off with Vegeta. (© Dragonball Z, Akira Toriyama / Shonen Jump)

"Even if you're a dropout [like me], work hard enough and perhaps you could surpass the elite" — Son Goku (Dragon Ball Z)

That's very poignant as well. Especially in Web 3.0, that has a lot of meaning. I feel like we're all underdogs. This space is made with underdogs, and everybody is an underdog. I don't think anybody in NFTs was like the cool kid in high school.

We're all kind of punching upward, trying to make a better life for ourselves and our families. It's not us against each other. It's us against the world. Everybody in the NFT space shares that characteristic.

Satoru Gojo before his warm-up fight with Sukuna. (© Jujutsu Kaisen, Gege Akutami / Shonen Jump)

"Don't worry, because I'm the strongest" — Satoru Gojo (Jujutsu Kaisen)

That's my quote for the community about me. Don't worry, we got this.

About 0N1 Force:

The 0N1 Force comprises 7,777 generative side-profile characters, each boasting over 100 meticulously crafted features, engaged in an existential battle. Surviving in The Ethereal Enclave demands resilience, determination, and flair.

Beyond their stunning high-resolution artwork, every 0N1 NFT unlocks exclusive perks on the 0N1 Force website and Discord. Notably, holders gain entry into a collaborative RPG adventure delving deep into the immersive 0N1verse.

Recently, 0N1 Force released a new collection of 3,333 characters called "The F4LL3N." It's available on the Ordinals project.

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