Web3 doesn’t have the most inclusive reputation, yet so many crypto founders talk about onboarding the next 100 million users into the space. Statistically speaking, the next 100 million can’t possibly be comprised entirely of a homogenous group of cis white men who spend most of their waking hours coding and/or day trading (no shade, just pointing out a fact)!
This week on Chain Reaction, I interviewed Devin Lewtan, a twentysomething founder who seems to have found the secret sauce when it comes to bringing web3 to new audiences.
Her NYC-based media company, Mad Realities, just debuted its first season of “Proof of Love,” a reality TV show focused on dating that allows viewers to engage with the plot and vote on key decisions through NFTs. This April, Mad Realities raised $6 million in a seed round from investors including crypto VC firm Paradigm and socialite Paris Hilton to build a platform they hope will become the ‘Netflix of web3.’ You can listen to the full interview with Devin below.
“We think the thing that’s going to bring the next 100 million people into crypto is going to be content, because it’s intuitive. It’s a real consumer use case,” Lewtan said on the podcast.
Lewtan, who catapulted into tech world fame when she co-released the viral Clubhouse show “NYU Girls Roasting Tech Guys” during the height of the pandemic, first got interested in NFTs when started chatting with her friend and now-cofounder Alice Ma about how crypto could help change the way media is funded.
“We put out a blog post basically saying, what would it look like if we put on this dating show where people minted our NFTs and they could vote on who made it into the show, what happens and who wins and get fun, special, governance perks based on the tier that they bought,” Lewtan said.
Shortly after the Mad Realities team released its first blog post in November, they had raised the equivalent of ~$500k USD worth of ethereum to finance production. In a matter of just a few months, they had whipped up a five-week, interactive show filmed in person in New York City.
The audience for the first season, which wrapped up in April this year, was ~65% female and comprised mainly of people who were just there for the entertainment value of the show at first rather than for its connection to web3, Lewtan said.
Once audience members saw the perks and voting rights afforded to Mad Realities NFT holders, called “roseholders” in a nod to “The Bachelor” franchise, they were intrigued.
“They were able to say to their friends, I’m pretty sure that these roseholders that keep appearing are people who bought NFTs, and those NF T’s let them vote on things, and then the money from the NFTs funded the show. And then they’re like, that actually makes sense to me, more than most projects in the space … that’s not really like the scammy type of use case that I think about with NFTs,” Lewtan said.
As for what’s next, Lewtan said the next season of “Proof of Love” launching this fall will inform the startup as it crafts a broader vision for what a web3 media platform could look like. They are experimenting with ideas such as bringing other content creators onto the Mad Realities platform and helping them launch their own NFT projects for their audiences, she added.
Above all, Lewtan emphasized the importance of keeping user-friendliness top of mind while building the product.
“One of the things that we’re focusing on now as we build out our app is that it’s important that [creating a crypto wallet] is not one of the steps in the process. You should just be able to create an account and not think about the fact that it’s connected to a wallet,” Lewtan said.
“A wallet is compatible, but if you sign up, you should be able to have an NFT in your wallet and your app and not even think about it … So a lot of the stuff that we’re focusing on is, what is the experience like to be so user friendly and mobile-first where it doesn’t even feel like it’s a crypto product?”