Interview Transcription: Sumya Ojakli

Below is the full transcript of a Lingofest interview by Witlingo Founder and CEO, Ahmed Bouzid, of Sumya Ojakli, Chief Executive Officer at Theorem^3 Advisors.  The video interview can be viewed here.

Ahmed: Sumya Ojakli, thank you so much for joining me.  I really appreciate your time.  I’ve been looking around for experts in NFTs.  I’ve looked at a lot of profiles, and I’ve been looking not for folks who are like rara, NFTs are forget about everything in history, NFTs is it.  That’s it, right?  And I’ve encountered a lot of those, and so I’ve avoided those.  And so, I’ve been looking for level-headed folks, who know enough to educate us.  Also, are not going to mislead us on whether – and I’m not saying that those folks are misleading folks intentionally.  I’m just saying that some folks are just overly enthusiastic.  

Sumya: That’s true.  

Ahmed: Overly enthusiastic, you know.  So, before we start, and I want to spend, let’s say, half of our conversation on just the basics of NFTs, maybe you can tell the audience a bit about yourself and your background, especially the latest stuff that you have been doing in – what is it, 3 Theorems?  I’m sorry, the company’s name.

Sumya: Theorem 3.  Yeah, Theorem 3 Advisors. 

Ahmed: Theorem 3.  It’s a very interesting name, Theorem 3, yeah, Advisors.  Go ahead, tell the audience who you are and what you do.

Sumya: So, basically, I am chief executive officer and chief distiller of Theorem 3 at this point.  And what I’ve done is taken probably the entirety of my career, and turned it into one big sphere, which is 360 degrees of marketing and media.  That’s covered film, television, music, magazines, books, everything from commercial production, all the way through to art.  

And within Theorem 3, what we work on is building out for companies and individuals with a – how would I put this – social-impact piece.  So, everything has a social-impact piece of care that we get involved in, whether we’re giving back, or we are developing a message.  So, we work with everything, from Green Wine Futures, all the way through to literacy with companies such as JetBlue.  

But this takes me back to where I came from.  And part of my business was really working with IP, intellectual product across the board, and licensing.  So, it really comes full circle when we start to look at NFTs, and we start to look at what’s happening in the market.  And I think that’s probably the most important, because so many times, people don’t take a full-circle look at everything.  And so, they go automatically into the silo, here it is, let’s take the NFT.  I have an NFT, let’s buy it, let’s make it, let’s buy it, let’s go, ready to go, we’re going to make a lot of money.  

Well, if we take it back a few steps, it’s the same way somebody went out and said, “I’m going to make an album,” or somebody went out and said, “I’m going to make a podcast, and I’m going to make a ton of money, because I’m going to do very well.”  I’m going to make an album, and I’m going to do very well.  But there are other components to everything to making it a success, including in the book business, and I’ve spent a lot of time too in publishing, and carrying from publishing onto other areas. 

And one other place that I cannot forget, because I worked in Web 1.0, launching in the gaming industry.  And we launched, one of the big gaming networks.  So, when you look at that, and you look at who gets involved, it is very interesting to see what the audiences are, and what we automatically think in our heads at home, versus what we think what really happens outside.

Ahmed: Yeah, wonderful.  So, in essence, just so that I can make sure I understand what you just said, you want to ensure that when somebody gets to into a venture such as, I don’t know, making a documentary, or making a commercial, or making an album, they’re not going into it naively.

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: Right.  That they’re going through it with, first of all, full knowledge of what that entails, but probably – again, I’m just trying to extrapolate.  Probably, also, making the most of what they have done and what they have.  

Sumya: Yes.  In fact, I could honestly say that whatever company that I have been in, okay, from my past, which I’ve now taken to the present, I always consider looking at opportunities that create alternative revenue streams, while taking care of the original product, the original intellectual property, and understanding how we disseminate that, and do it the right way.  Whether there is some kind of a caveat to it, whether it’s, like I said, a piece of social impact, a piece of doing good somewhere, or just alone, taking your product that is your intellectual property, and turning it into something, but also watching for the scavengers, watching for the people that are out there that are saying, oh no, we’ll make it big.  

And I can honestly say to you, there are examples that I can give you that shows where things shouldn’t be done, and how they shouldn’t be done, and then why.  And this has been going on forever, okay.  And we think just because NFT makes it official that it is pristine.  It’s not, but it is also new wonderful opportunity or a new vehicle for us to take a trip on.  And also, there is, at least, a little bit of proof of how we can say track with owning our product.  

Ahmed: Wow.  Okay, well, I’m proud of myself in the sense that I think I found the ideal person to speak with.  

Sumya: Thank you.

Ahmed: In the sense that this is exactly the kind of thinking that anyone who wants to get involve into something this brand new should be doing in their mind, or should be cautious, but also there’s a balance between caution and daring, like making the most of the opportunities, but being careful.

Okay, so let’s start with the basics, since again, our audience doesn’t know much, just like me, about NFTs.  What is an NFT as such?  And what’s the difference, let’s say, between an NFT and, I don’t know, cryptocurrency, like a Bitcoin?  What’s the difference?  Are they related?

Sumya: I guess I would really pick this up as NFT is a process, okay.  And it’s a process of tagging what you have.  So, you have a piece of art.  Let’s say you have a sound bite, you have a tweet, you have anything that is your creative IP.  So, if you are a voiceover artist, you may have created some amazing sounds.  And we’ll get into that later, because there are pieces to this that I’ve been after in the music industry.  But we consider the NFT a nonfungible token, okay.  So, that nonfungible token is everybody’s thinking, okay, I’ve created this piece, this art, and now, I can trade it around, or I can do something with it, or whatever.

No, NFT is a process.  So, it’s a process of attaching your IP to the blockchain.  And that’s an important piece to that, because that’s where you look at – how would I consider it – sort of where it comes from.  So, there’s a distinct serial number in the blockchain that attaches each time.  And each time that that process is built, there’s another piece to the puzzle.  

And if you hear a dog barking, I apologize.

Ahmed: Oh, that’s okay.  I like dogs.  That’s fine.

Sumya: She’s my NFT.  But I guess the one thing that we should know is we’re using what you call Ethereum or any type of cryptocurrency to work with buying, with minting the NFT, with paying.  That is the way it’s paid for.  It’s not paid for in dollars.  So, that’s another piece to that puzzle.  But your biggest part is that it is just a process.

So, if we were to look at the words versus, like nonfungible versus fungible, the key to fungible is that it’s something you can do something with.  So, if I give you $10, and you give me two 5s back, it’s fungible.  It’s something that can become one into the other.  An NFT can’t.  So that, if I created sound, or I have a soundbite, that soundbite is mine, and it’s traceable, nobody can hash it up unless I sell it to them as an NFT property that maybe I have made a special quote, or I have a serial, a podcast that are on a process.  Maybe it’s an entrepreneurial process, and I want to share that, that is in my NFT realm.  That has to be shared by my selling it on the market, okay.

So, I would say the best thing to really think about is it’s not a thing.  It’s a process.  And the token is what comes out of that NFT.  So, it’s your ability to own the token that is directed towards that IP.

Ahmed: Okay, makes sense.  So, you mentioned Ethereum, right?  Ethereum is the blockchain, right, where most NFTs are minted?

Sumya: Yeah.

Ahmed: Is that right?  Okay.  Now, let’s say I’ve recorded 60 seconds of sound.  I don’t know.  Maybe it was raining, and I recorded 60 seconds, and I minted it as an NFT, and I called it morning in McLean, Virginia. 

Sumya: Okay.

Ahmed: And I gave it the date, location, and my name, and maybe even, let’s say, this is the house address where this audio happened, right?  And I created an NFT, okay.  And I put it in the marketplace, let’s say Open Sea, right?

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: Or Rarible, okay.  And I put it in the market for sale, and I said, “Okay, somebody wants to give me some Ethereum fraction that is about $100.”  Let’s say $100, right?  I will sell it for you.  And somebody says, “Yeah, I want to buy it,” and they bid, and they get it for $100, let’s say.  And now, they own that NFT, right?  Okay.  Now, the audio, the original audio that I minted, do I still own it myself, or is it now owned by somebody else?

Sumya: It’s owned by somebody else, but it’s not necessarily.  So, you have the original piece.  They have the token to the rights to the original piece.  So, you have that original, but what happens there is they have the rights to do what they – now, they bought it fully from you, okay.  They have the rights to market it on the secondary market.  Maybe they want to share it for an opportunity in, let’s just say, sounds of Washington DC, okay.  And now, they want to sell it in the secondary market.  What’s key to that is you still make money, because you’ll make money on the secondary market as well, because it’s still a license in a certain way.  

I always consider it an upside-down license, but part of it is that you have the token.  That person has the token.  So, let’s say Joe Smith bought it.  He has the token.  And basically, he can now do what he wants with your rain in McLean, Virginia, but you’re still going to make money in perpetuity, but it will be a smaller scale, because you sold it, and you still have the secondary license.  So, because of the traceability, it will trace back to, now, you started it, you made it, Joe Smith bought it, it will go on from there, I believe.  

And that’s something that is kind of an up and down, because right now in the licensing industry, because I work in licensing as well, and basically that’s sort of an offshoot of everything with IP.  The contracts that we have to make now are completely different, because you have to include the NFT into the contracts, and there is always some caveats somewhere, because as the market changes, and it’s not regulated, we have to see what we can do, and what we don’t do.  But right now, intellectual property is in perpetuity. 

Ahmed: Okay.  And then I read and heard that I could also, exact same audio, I could mint another NFT of it.  Is that true?

Sumya: You could with a change.  You could mint.  You could mint, but it would have to probably be another original.  Or you could mint the NFT with a mini change, because there’s – in a way, it’s like Picasso.  If we were to take Picasso, and we look at all the different versions, the different versions would – there might be a tinge to it, but that’s a variation, so there could be a variation to it.  So, you could take that same NFT, but you’re going to add something to it in a way to like patents. 

Ahmed: Okay.

Sumya: So, there’s nothing.

Ahmed: Go ahead.

Sumya: There’s nothing that changes that.  It’s really doing the variations, but I also believe that it depends on what the market is asking for.  You might be wasting your time. 

Ahmed: Yeah.  Well, I mean, let’s forget about me.  Let’s talk about, say, an artist, right, who has an audience, who has a fanbase, who cares about what the artist does.  Let’s take the example of comedian, because for some reason, comedians have been the most interested constituency out there in audio NFTs, aside from musicians.  Musicians are number one, and then comedian, for some reason, are number two, because what they do has to do with audio, obviously, right?  So, if you listen to a comedian, and so let’s take one of those, right?  Let’s take somebody has actually a name.  Not necessarily extra famous, but let’s say they’re on their way to becoming famous.

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: Okay.  Let’s say they’re young.  They have an edge, and they’re going somewhere clearly, and so they issue some NFTs.  Let’s say those NFTs are, I don’t know, the first minute of their standup routine, whenever they go and give it.  So, in New York, in DC, and in Atlanta, right?  So, they record that first minute, and they mint it, okay.  And because they have an audience that cares about them, they have an actual market, right, or folks who believe that these folks, this comedian is going to be a star, even though they are now minor star, maybe become a big star.  I’m just trying to make sure that my reasoning and my thinking is correct.  

So, let’s say I’m a fan of such a person, and I buy one of their NFTs for $1,000, because I really believe that they’ll be somewhere five years from now.  First of all, is that the kind of things that people do, these NFTs?  They buy them because it’s an investment into somebody, some artist, if you’re just focusing on artist now.  Is it one of the uses?

Sumya: It is in different groups.  So, like if we were to take it from a generalized look at who’s buying the NFTs at this point, you’re looking at huge audience maybe of – not huge.  Again, let’s go back.  Maybe it’s 15% or 10% Millennial, okay.  And then you have maybe 2% boomer that’s out there buying, because they’re like, woah, what is this, maybe I’ll test it, of the people that are more forward thinking.  And you’re going to have probably a combination of others, maybe in the 7% space.  So, it’s not a lot of people when you think about it, but yeah, you will see, you’ll get these big booms of, oh my God, DJ so and so did this for so and so, and now they’ve made $70 million.  

Well, it’s the same way that in the 1950s you were discovered working in a restaurant to be the next beautiful face on the big screen.  It really depends, but we turn sort of the market to let’s say this young comedian, I want to take a bet on them, and I buy.  Yes, it’s for $1,000.  That’s your bet.  Whether it happens or it happens, that’s yours because you love them.  

And that brings me to also buying what you love.  So, if you love this comedian, owning that is cool for you.  You don’t know where it will go.  And if we go back to how many collectibles and all kinds of things that we’ve seen through the years, from looking at television, and seeing the Bradford Exchange come out with plates that people collected like crazy that are worth zero, all the way through to what they loved.  They might love the Wizard of Oz, or they might love Country.  They might love.  So, it just depends.  And so, you will be hoping, but it’s not a get-rich-quick.  

And even if they have a platform, and this is key, you have to be able to leverage that platform so much that you’re begging people to buy into it.  And going to that platform, and saying, hey, I have this NFT now, and it’s, let’s say, the first time that whatever comedian said the first words on television, or on a podcast or whatever, I have it.  There may be somebody out there, but there also may not.  And even though, let’s say, the audience is 10 million, which is a nice size, break that down, that out of 500,000 people, maybe five will think about buying it, five.  

But on the other side, people have that imagination that there’s this huge platform.  And I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen it especially in publishing, where it’s bought off a platform like where people are like, oh my God, they’re an amazing Instagram person, and they do so much, and they have a million followers, and they’re going to buy a million books.  Well, they’re not.  They’re really not, okay, because the followers have that person on Instagram.  And a couple may buy the book, or maybe you’ll get 10,000 buying the book out of a huge amount of followers, but you’re still not seeing where’s the continuity.  There’s no continuity after that.  

Ahmed: Interesting point.

Sumya: So, that’s something.  It’s your bet, but if you love that.  It’s the same way I kept the album of George Carlin, because I thought he was so hysterical when I was younger.  And today, his first press of the albums are worth decent, not crazy, but it’s just the fact that it was the first press.  And so, if you think of it that way, it’s okay.  But you must – I think you have to love the product you buy.  It’s not a bet.  

Ahmed: Yeah.  No, that makes sense.  Would you say that it could be a way for someone to support the artist, right?

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: Concrete way, and get something out of it.  Maybe, maybe not, but that’s not the primary motive.  The primary motive is to be supportive, perhaps.

Sumya: It’s kind of being part of an exclusive club.  I like it as part of an exclusive club.  And if you are a big fan, yes.  I mean, I have an artist that I’m a big fan of that I make sure that I’m always buying, and whether it’s a print or it’s whatever, it’s keeping track.  It’s that type of thing, but it’s because I am loyal to that artist.  And so, I believe that it’s a wonderful way.  That I don’t have any qualms about.  This is about being part of a group.  And maybe you’re in that club that each owns a piece of that, and that’s fine. 

Ahmed: Yeah.  For me, that’s the most attractive aspect of this, is not trying to make quick money actually.  You’re playing the long game.  And the long game is not necessarily about the NFT.  It’s about your relationship with the artist, or maybe an organization could maybe do the same thing, like these NFTs to get the support from, I don’t know, nonprofits and so forth.  So, for me, again, I’m in the process of trying to understand this.  Every time I understand a little bit, some new things open up in my mind, right?  It could be used to support something you care about.  

Sumya: Yeah, and I love what you’re saying there about using it to support in certain ways.  I think that is sort of spot on, and B, because I can see that too as actually a fundraising tool.  

Ahmed: Fundraising tool, right?

Sumya: Yeah, it can be.  And that could be wonderful, because it’s also, again, it goes back to being traced back to the original, so that makes sense to me.  

Ahmed: Yeah.  Now, like when somebody asks me, like in a nutshell, what makes NFTs exciting, right, or makes them original, I tell them the fact that, at any given moment, really, you can see the history of what happened to that NFT, as opposed to say, for example, a deed to a house, right?

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: You have to really go, you have to make a lot of effort to go find out what happened, who owned it when, and so on, and so forth, whereas in the NFT world, it’s almost automatic, right, because it’s in the blockchain.  Is that true?

Sumya: Well, yeah, because you have, you’re able to trace everything.  And so now, you feel that it is more authentic also.  It’s the same thing with, yes, with a deed.  With a piece of art too, is that you’re looking at the provenance.  So, even if it was something that, let’s just pretend, a piece of art was, let’s say, a wonderful artwork, a painting was reproduced, and it was reproduced into 10 prints.  And we want to know who reproduced it.  Was it like the Xerox place down the block, or was it somebody very well-known like Pace Galleries?  So, what would happen there is, is that if the provenance went back to Pace, you knew they only did 10 prints, but it’s much harder.  It was much harder then.  If we were able to trace it just like we do now in the blockchain, we would have much more clear path to where everything comes from.

Ahmed: Yeah.  Can we, today, given a painting, let’s say the Mona Lisa, right?  Always go back to Mona Lisa.

Sumya: Yeah. 

Ahmed: Right?  The Mona Lisa has been owned by many many many folks and institutions across centuries, right?  Is there a place where one can go and see who owned it when, for how long, and how much was it sold for whom, or like in the real world, or not?

Sumya: In the real world, I guess, you could look at it as being able to trace it back through working with the museums from that kind of thing, looking at finding where it was, but you also don’t know.  You don’t know whether something dropped off by the wayside, and it’s become a copy.  

I mean, I can tell you that I belong to a very well-known club at one time that had all these wonderful artworks that were all originals, but they needed to raise money to redo that.  And in order to do it, they had to create facsimiles, and sell the real artwork.  And so, there’s a lot of different ways it’s passed through.  

Then there’s other ways where, during the war, people snuck artwork out.  So, you can’t always trace that, and you can’t always say that that piece was got legally, because a good way of bringing your money out of different places was rolling it up as a piece of artwork, and taking it with you.  But in a capacity of this, this gives it a much more concrete path.  

Ahmed: Understood.

Sumya: There’s trust, and I think trust is huge, especially in this big world right now. 

Ahmed: Yeah, absolutely.  So, NFTs, obviously, I think originally, came into being to deal with the digital world, right?  Like, an image and so forth.  And so, how do we make things that are, by nature, fungible, like a series of ones and zeros, which represent an image or it may be, how do we make that unique?  And so, NFT is like a stamp against that says this is unique, this is fungible.

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: And so, yeah, even though you may have other copies of that audio somewhere, they are not the same as this particular audio that is now in the blockchain that is pointed to from the blockchain to some storage, and so on, and so forth, right?  So, it’s a way to make things fungible in the digital world.  So, my question to you is, is there a way to use NFTs in the physical real world, right?  Say, for example, can we NFT a painting?  Can we NFT, I don’t know, this thing here, which is my spiderman doll?  

Sumya: You can NFT anything in a certain way, yeah, with your own sort of twist to it.  So, yes, you can take a painting.  Maybe you bought something that you like, and you can take that, and maybe put it with something else, or you can just have that.  You own it.  You’ve purchased it.  You can make an NFT of it, because you own the physical.  So, the physical now, you can make an NFT, and say, “I have a spiderman.”  I’ve got him, and I’ve photographed him in different places, okay.  And today, spiderman is in McLean.  So, that is your rendition.  And so, now you can put that on the sort of on the market. 

Ahmed: Got it.  And it would be pointing to this object here, this specific object.  Meaning when somebody says, “I want to buy it,” I would sell them the NFT to it, and send them the thing, obviously.  And now, they have a deed to it, so to speak, in the blockchain.  Is that how it works?

Sumya: Yeah, because then you have your – it’s like the chain of ownership.  They would have the chain of ownership.  It would go to them.  So, it would be theirs, but it would be a creation of yours.  So now, they’ve got that chain of ownership, and they’ve got I have spiderman in McLean.  And now, you want to mint it, I want him by the capital, so I’m going to bring him to the capital.  And now, they know you’re minting that.  

And also, there’s something to know about this.  That’s the tough part, is because you spend all this money on minting, and you don’t know if they’re going to buy it.  So, how do you handle that, and where do you go with that?  So, you have to be very careful.  

But if it’s something that is in high demand, let’s say you did buy the Mona Lisa, and now you have the official opportunity to make an NFT of it, and you’re going to.  And now, you’re making money hand-over-fist, because people are wanting to at least have that first run of the Mona Lisa.  And maybe that person then sells on the secondary market.  So, that’s the opportunity.  

So again, it’s the value, I always say is in the beholder.  The value is the person that is also a fan at the same time.  And that’s how you can look at the NFT, but the best part is it’s traceable now.  Now, we know where it comes from, and the contracts.  Like, this falls into also then a smart contract, so that you’re able to know exactly where everything is, what gets paid out, where it goes, and how it goes.

Ahmed: Yeah, which is something that like you were saying, is not guaranteed in real world, right, being able to know exactly when it started, and then who owned it when, and so forth.  And I think that’s a massive plus, right, this traceability.

Sumya: Yes, very much so.

Ahmed: That’s hugely a step forward, in my opinion.  

Sumya: Yeah.

Ahmed: The thing is it’s all happening without a central authority as such, like no one entity.  There’s the blockchain, which is in essence, basically software in the cloud, and people are minting against it.  So, there’s no one entity that is arbitrator, right?  It’s the whole blockchain. 

So now, just so that people understand that minting is not free, right?  There are these – they’re called fees, right?

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: Let’s talk about that a little bit.  Why do they exist?  Then what kind of cost do they entail, the range?

Sumya: So, basically, the gas fees are kind of a fee of admittance in a way.  I kind of look at it, or a fee of building, and then admittance into the sort of the log of the interplanetary system, and that’s how they look at it.  So, basically, if you’re taking – let’s say you want to mint an NFT, and you’re minting that NFT of spiderman, okay.  So, basically, you are doing the very same thing that you would have done 20 years ago, maybe, but in a different manner, okay.

So, you get your wallet, and you get your currency, your Bitcoin, or your cryptocurrency, majority Ether.  So, right now, the Ethereum is in your wallet now, so that you can pay for your gas fees, okay.  And you upload it to the marketplace on whatever platform you’re going for.  

Ahmed: Yeah.

Sumya: And that’s something too that is kind of interesting, because it’s expensive, because let’s say now you’re doing this, and you need gas fees, gas fees can run anywhere from 200.  It could be $70 to $200, depending on what you’re doing, what the complexity is of how you’re bringing it into the market, and what the platform is.  So, that’s one thing.

So, now you’ve got your file.  You’re uploading your file.  And in this capacity, you’re uploading it into that interplanetary system.  And what is interesting is, maybe 10 years ago, we’d be uploading it FTP, file transfer protocol, where you’re just uploading a PDF, and getting it all ready.  And then, right now, it’s completely different, because we’ve added interplanetary.  

And once you’ve done that, and you’ve clicked create within that area, you’re minting, and so it’s taking time.  Whether it’s a complex piece, or it is a simple piece, it just depends to the gas fees, the range.  They’ll range probably about $70 to $200 depending.  Maybe even more at certain times, but in an average, if we’re going to go with an average.

But the other thing is there’s another way of doing it.  There’s a way.  It’s called lazy minting.  And so, lazy minting is different.  So, lazy minting is you take a picture of your spiderman, okay, and you say, “I’m going to do this, but I’m going to put it up on the market.”  And basically, you put it up on the market, and you would maybe do it through like Rarible, or one of those, and they offer where you can put it up, and then if there are people interested, then you can mint, because not everybody can afford to mint. 

And again, this goes back to – let’s go all the way back to pressing a vinyl record, a CD, making a book, doing all those sorts of things.  It’s expensive.  And not everyone – and that’s why independent authors in the past and independent musicians and everybody in the past has not been able to do anything.  But now, it allows us to become soloists.  We are able to become soloists in a couple of ways with either doing the lazy minting, or if we have some extra cash along the side that we want to try five things or one thing, or two, we can.  

Ahmed: Okay, that’s great.

Sumya: So, it gives us more.

Ahmed: Okay.  So, for example, let’s go back to our comedian.

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: Our young comedian who is going somewhere, but they don’t have much cash now, right, like all outcasts.  

Sumya: Yeah, no, that’s absolutely true.  

Ahmed: So, they don’t have a lot of cash, but they have a following, and the following is not yet necessarily familiar with NFTs, and so maybe it will take time.  And they say, well, I’m going to start this thing about the first minute in any city I’m going to record.  I’m going to go, and put them in the marketplace, so that at some point, somebody will decide to buy.  At which point, then I’ll mint.  Is that what you said for the lazy, right?  I’ll wait for the demand.  At which point—

Sumya: Yeah, they wait for the demand, yeah.

Ahmed: Okay.  So, for them, it makes sense, that sense, because they could make the offerings, and then make them available for their followers to show interest in them, right?

Sumya: Yeah.  And what would happen is the follower then – so, if you were minting it, so through a different platform, you’re paying for the minting.  If you’re lazy minting, it’s kind of included in the buyer’s fee, so the buyer’s paying for you, because also, you can look at it as percentages.  Sometimes, when they look at minting, your percentage fee on the sale is like 2.5%, and so instead buyers paying that.  So, it’s an easier way, because you are new, but you think you have a following.  You’re like, hey, everybody out there, support me, this is my first time, or I am minting my comedy from when I was 12.

Ahmed: Yeah.

Sumya: And people will then look at it, and say, “Wow, I wonder what he was like when he was 12, and I’ll be able to own that piece.”  So, you might own all the years of you as a comedian, all the way through.  Now, you’re creating a work, because it’s a pattern of if you make it, or even if that person just likes you, they’re like, you got to listen to this.  Eventually, somewhere, it will go on and on and on.

Ahmed: Yeah.  I mean, if I were unscrupulous, I would – probably I did this out just so that we don’t give ideas to folks out there.  But if I were unscrupulous, I would target expecting moms, because all moms believe that their child is going to be a superstar.  And I’ll tell them you need to mint an NFT of their first cry, right?

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: Right?

Sumya: Right.

Ahmed: And what mom is not going to buy it, because they’re like, I know my child is going to be somebody very very important, right?  Again, if I was unscrupulous, I would do that, but I think it’s an idea that—

Sumya: Actually, it’s a fun idea, but it’s a fun idea for the mom for herself.

Ahmed: For herself.  

Sumya: She mints it for herself.  It’s kind of like when you have the baby’s footprints, when you have the – all those kinds of things are wonderful.  Like, I have cassettes of me doing the news when I was five, okay.  So, when I think about things like that, I said to myself, okay, it’s very funny, because my brother and I listen back on it, and say, “My God, you sounded like that, really?”  

Ahmed: I know what you mean.  I have cassettes too.

Sumya: Yes, and like that’s the piece.  So, yes, it can become something wonderful like that, developing the baby’s first cry.  Doing that as a collectible for a mom. 

Ahmed: For a mom, yeah.

Sumya: Wonderful, and to give to the grandparents.

Ahmed: Yes.  The grandparents who will be today’s – what do you call the latest, Generation Z, right?  Generation Z, right?  Where are we at right now?  Are we passed that?

Sumya: We’re in Z.  I think we’re in Z now.  We’ve run out of everything.

Ahmed: Are they call the digitals?  Let’s call them the digitals, right?

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: These are the folks who they live in their smartphone, like actually almost all of us.

Sumya: I do too, yes.

Ahmed: I know.  I mean, I don’t want to point a finger.  I have a son who is 20.  Well, yeah, 20, and he lives in that world, I think much more than I do.  I’m not judging anyone, right?  It’s a new generation.  But for those folks where digital is very meaningful, right, an NFT for their child might make sense, right?  The metaverse, you know.

Sumya: It might be beautiful.  Actually, it would be really nice.  It would be very nice. 

Ahmed: And if they can make an NFT, like several copies of the NFT, and their child does become somebody, right, that child now has a property that they can sell if they want.

Sumya: That’s right.  That’s very true, yes.  Yeah, it’s kind of like buying a share of Disney stock.  That’s what people did.

Ahmed: Yeah, they become something that 20, 30 years later, right, because that person has become somebody.  And now, they have like a certificate that their mom or their parents created for them, which happens to be the NFT of them, the first cry.  

So, like for example, I don’t know, maybe somebody would pay a lot of money today if there was an NFT of – give me an actor, like DiCaprio, right, Leonardo DiCaprio’s first cry, I guarantee you that would cost millions of dollars.

Sumya: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.  

Ahmed: Okay, so here we go.  So, as you can see, like I’m an example of somebody who’s getting excited about NFTs.  As a professional, now I want to pull in your work.  How would you call me down, and say, “Okay, let’s have a strategy here?”  It looks like you want to create this product, and so on, and so forth, and do you want to create NFTs for folks?  How would you advise me?  I don’t want to get free advice, obviously.  I just want to get paid.  

Sumya: How would I advise you?

Ahmed: Yeah.

Sumya: I would say to you, first of all, is be aware of the market that you’re going into.  Understand that you’re going in because you love what you’re doing, and that you’re going to produce something, but don’t feel that you are going to automatically, the minute you produce that NFT, everybody is going to come running.  This is a very important thing to say, because let’s say your work is you do have an audience, and you might be building.  They’re not going to run, because there are so many components to the NFT, as in marketing.  No one knows what you have in your closet, unless you open the closet, and let them see in the closet.  And that’s one of the key pieces.  

But also, watch out for scams in the market.  Watch out for people that are trying to get you to create your NFT, and they’re offering you, oh my God, you’re going to make all of – here’s one of my favorites.  You will make – yes, you’re going to make all the royalties in perpetuity.  Fabulous, you’re going to make all the royalties in perpetuity.  Just work with us.  We’ll get you in our wallet.  We’ll put you up there.  But what you don’t know is they’re not going to market you.  I want you to close your eyes right now, and tell me what book do you see on Amazon, okay, or what potter pan do you see.  You don’t, because it’s so big, right?  So, you have to look for the curation, and look for where there’s opportunity for you.  

So, when somebody says, “Yes, okay, we can do it, and we’ll get it out there, pay for the marketing,” no, no, because it’s what you put into it.  And I say this to artists, I say this to authors, I say this to musicians, I say this to anybody who has IP, including inventors.  I’ve worked with inventors where people have come in, and said – where I have to take it from there, where people have come in to me, and said, “Well, I paid all these money for these diagrams.”  I said, “Why, why?”  Because no one is seeing them, and they didn’t tell you where you need to take them.  And someone’s already changed this diagram now, and it’s a new patent, somewhere else.  

So, that’s what you have to understand is really going it with eyes wide open, going it because you love it, create it because you love it.  And then understand that there is a marketing plan that needs to be put in place.  You need to know that you are getting out there, or that you have this wonderful social media following that’s going to just push it out the door, and say, “Hey get this.”  And he’s offering it for 1 cent today, okay, 1 cent.  

And so, that’s the thing.  It’s really to beware, because when you do start to look at it, there are everybody.  Everybody is preying upon something.  There are everybody from hackers, to crazy – what do you call – fake tech supports, to I mean you name it.  You need to be with that person.  You need to be able to say to that person, no, this is really the thing.  But if you don’t agree with me, and you want to go with them, I cannot stop you, but go in with your eyes wide open.  

Ahmed: Yeah.  Well, I think the bottom line, there’s no such thing as a quick buck in this world, right?  Never.  The metaverse and all NFTs and cryptocurrency is not like a solution that humanity has finally gotten, which is getting something for nothing.  It just doesn’t work that way in the real world.

Sumya: Doesn’t.

Ahmed: It’s not like real world 3.0, where now, we can make money without doing anything.

Sumya: Yeah.

Ahmed: And I saw that.  I remember.  There was some of this in the late 90s, with the internet, where there was some of this vibe of we make money with the silliest ideas, right?  Do you remember that, where there were all these crazy schemes, business 2.0, blah, blah, blah, and then—

Sumya: Everything.  Or how about, on television, they used to have people that would say, “You can make tons of money buying real estate this way, and I had no money, and I bought all these real estates.”  Well, how that money was made by the person that you see him flying around in a jet, he made it on the books that the people bought, and the tapes, and CDs that they bought to learn how to buy and sell the real state, and then found out more couldn’t really be able to do that.  So, that’s how the money was made.

Ahmed: Yeah, it’s like a one-step Ponzi scheme, right?

Sumya: Yeah.

Ahmed: It’s like a very flat Ponzi scheme.

Sumya: Yeah.

Ahmed: Yeah.  For me, it’s like there are some fundamentals in the real world, the 3D and reality, which is it’s very hard to make money.  You have to work hard for it.

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: And in this case, it may be easy to mint the NFT, but then who knows whether your NFT exist if you don’t market that, and if you don’t do all the work, if you don’t maintain your audience like you’re saying, right?  All that is the actual work that needs to be done.  And so, folks think that NFT has introduced new phase in the history of humanity.  

So, the thing is that I find very interesting about you is that you have – is you’re coming into NFTs with all these backgrounds, and you’re treating the NFTs, so there’s a process, but it’s also a product in a way, right?  I own this, right?

Sumya: Yeah.

Ahmed: And this thing needs to live within an ecosystem, right?  So, walk us through that particular kind of sophistication that you bring into a conversation, let’s say, with an artist who comes in, and they have an album, right, and they want to be successful with the album.  The NFT would tell them it’s part of the deal, right?  It’s just the tool, right?

Sumya: Yeah.

Ahmed: What else would you do with say a big brand artist who comes to you, and says, “Help me out here, I need to make sure that I’m making the most of what I have, and have a strategy moving forward in my marketing?”

Sumya: Okay.  I think what we would look at is what do they have already, what have they done in the past, has anything gone to NFT.  And let’s pretend this is their first time making that foray, so they have their traditional stuff.  Let their traditional stuff keep going.  But now, let’s look back, and find what they have, and unearth it from whether it’s archives, or whether it’s a song that they haven’t brought out.  So, within that, you can create sort of the NFT album that comes with extra, that comes with you sitting at the piano, or sitting in the recording studio, and saying, “This is terrible, I don’t like this.”  Or it’s kind of like outtakes when you start to look at things like that, when you see that after a movie, or whatever, or after a show.  But what it allows is what are the additional things that are going to make this of value.  So, even though I have my album out on the market already, it’s being downloaded, I want to do this NFT with added.  

And this is something that is done consistently throughout the year.  So, if we were to take looks at the music catalog, at comedian’s catalogs, at publishing, art, the backlist or the back catalog sells over and over again.  The new piece is just a lead to the back catalog, or it’s also an intro to what’s on that backlist.

So, if we were looking, I suddenly discovered today, let’s pretend, Stephen King, that I never read him, and I was a mystery reader, and I wanted to read thrillers and everything, but I never did.  I’m testing this new book, and now it’s showing me that there’s a backlist of all of these books.  Now, I, all of a sudden, am now an avid reader, so what I say is that there’s opportunity for alternative revenue streams across the board when it comes to this.  But you must remember that everything comes from one foundation, and that’s you.  And you have to see where all of the pieces come out of.  

And if we go back even further, just because we’re using the word nonfungible token and all that kind of stuff, is we also start to think about, is it just a new name, because right now, my email box is filled.  Okay, I’m embarrassed to say, because yes, I go through, I read a lot of things, blah, blah, blah.  It’s like 200,000 emails in there.  But yes, they’re old NGO.  But why?  Because think about your regular mailbox when you use to go out and get mail, that’s mail.  We put an E in front of it.  Now, all of a sudden, we have this new thing called email.  Now, we go further.  We’re not opening our email.  We’re opening our text.  Now, everybody’s asking us, can we send you a text.  Now, you have too many texts, you’re not looking at them, and you’re not seeing what’s always going through.  

So, what we keep doing is adding these new pieces in front, and just creating this wider track that becomes a sort of a digital plane.  That’s the reality.  And by changing the name to this new world out there, 20 years from now, there’s going to be another thing.  I hope there will be another thing.  But I do feel that people should be aware of this.  They should know about it.  They should read about it.  And they should be well entrenched in it in a certain way, because it is part of our lives, and it will become part, and everybody will be like, oh, maybe 10 years from now.  NFT, yeah, I have wallets full of them, but that was Ether.  I don’t know.  Ethereum was such.  I don’t remember it.  We have now whatever.  And that will change, because everybody is manufacturing.

But we’re also worried too about the carbon output.  But we don’t know where we’re going with this yet, and I think that’s a big piece.  But it is still something that I find important to know.  And it’s a very cool piece of sort of life.  

In audio, but this part, this is a very important part for me to say to you on music, is that, years ago, how record companies, and how we always have to keep track of sampling.  A chunk of money could be made off of going after people who sampled your work.  Now, that you’re on NFT, you have this chain.  

So, let’s say the artist had a specific thing, ba-boom-boom, ba-boom-boom.  That’s his beat, ba-boom-boom, and they NFTed that.  And you find somebody else’s playing ba-boom-boom within theirs, without the chain of command, now you have something.  

So, as time went on, no one could track what was on the radio or hear the sampling.  You spent your time listening to say, “Oh, I just heard ba-boom-boom.”  Okay, see if you can hear that song again.  I heard it.  Well, that belongs to, let’s say, so and so band.  Well, we have to go after them, and charge them.  And then, we were able to do it via other softwares, but NFT allows you to prove the ownership, and that’s one key thing in audio.  You can prove that.  And you can say that ba-boom-boom is mine, and let me show you why, and let me show you when it was created.  And that’s an important piece to the person who’s working in audio, whether it’s just even a sound that they may create or they may use at the end of their podcast that they want to do, and somebody else copies it.  They have something.

Ahmed: Yeah.  Like that, I think there was a sports guy, or wrestling, or boxing, and say, “Let’s rumble.”

Sumya: Yes, yes.  

Ahmed: Right?

Sumya: Yes.

Ahmed: So, that was his thing, and then somebody started using it, and he sued that person, and he won actually.  So, that’s interesting, right, because that could have been an NFT easily, right?  That’s mine. 

Sumya: Yes, exactly.

Ahmed: Yeah, and here’s the timestamp, and so forth.  In any case, the possibilities are endless.  I think the key thing I’m taking away is be careful, be educated to understand that change is fast, and it’s always there, right?  Things are always changing.  And also, that there is no such thing as free money in this world.

Sumya: No, there isn’t, but that’s the thing.  It’s just being creative with it, and even working—

Ahmed: Being creative.

Sumya: Being creative, because one other thing you could do with your NFTs is also create like, what I look at, is a digital access pass, so that maybe your NFT gives you the special opportunity to not only are you collecting pieces of this podcast, or maybe even the voiceovers of a specific voiceover artist.  You may get the chance for that NFT to do a roundtable that is a digital access pass that gets you in.  And eventually, I think, we’re going to start to see things like this offered, whether it’s Broadway, or it's ballgames.  Anything is getting that NFT to walk right through, rather than even having scalpers outside.  

Ahmed: Oh, interesting.  

Sumya: So, it’s going to change, yeah.  So, that’s another piece.

Ahmed: I think once we go over, because right now, the brand of NFTs, in terms of the mainstream, it’s a scam, it’s all right.  They associate it with these crazy GIFs or GIFs, whatever you want to call them, right?  So, there’s a lot of.  But I think once it’s taken seriously, which I think there’s too much value for it not to go away.  I think there’s so much value.

Sumya: Yes, absolutely.

Ahmed: I think once it gets into like folks start taking it seriously, I think that’s where we’ll see a lot of creativity, and like value becoming very concrete, right?  And so, I think that’s where a lot of innovations happens.  Right now, I think we’re still in the initial phase where people are very skeptical about it.  Some people are making money, but that’s like always with anything.  There’s a small portion, very tiny portion of people who are making a lot of money, and folks are trying to emulate them in mistaken notion that there is such a thing as easy and quick money.  But I think there is a future here.  I think it will be interesting to see how it evolves, right?

Sumya: Yeah, and honestly, I think we will also start to see regulation come in a little, just to make sure, because we face everything, from money laundering, all the way through to just intellectual property management.  This is an opportunity to level the playing field in that way by tracing everything back to the original owner, and also being able to own yourself, whether you’re selling it or not.  But you’re creating this property that will be your legacy.  And it’s NFTed, so we know the traceability of it, so 100 years from now, maybe somebody looks back at it, and says, “This is the time capsule.”  

So, I also look at it as the time capsule, because you’re able to trace back, rather than us digging out of like the ground, in a way, brick and a book, and a thing.  It’s a lot of work.  You need to figure it all out.  But in the capacity of NFT, you’re going to trace it all the way back, and you’re going to say, “Well, this was created here, this is who created it, this is why.”  It gives you much more to work with.  But I believe that NFT really can be paired with what we have today as a value add and an extra.  And there’s a complete opportunity with that as well.

Ahmed: Wonderful.  Well, Sumya Ojakli, thank you so much for taking the time.

Sumya: My pleasure. 

Ahmed: This has been very informative.  And it’s good to see like real folks out there who have a lot of experience in the real world, like do real things with NFTs, and share their perspective.  Again, thank you so much, Sumya.

Sumya: Happy to be here, and happy to have spoken with you.

Ahmed: Wonderful.  Wonderful.  Thank you so much.

Sumya: Thank you.  Bye-bye.

Ahmed: Bye-bye.


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