Johan Unger on Earning Rewards for Supporting the Internet’s Top Performing Memes with Meme.com (Episode 185)
Johan Unger spends some time with us to discuss how you can earn rewards for supporting the best performing memes and trends with Meme.com.
Johan is an ancient alien at Meme.com. Meme.com is the home of meme markets and trend exploration. It’s built as a crypto-economic system that can track the value of memes. Boosted by the amazing Marble community, Meme.com will grow into something extraordinary. The place you go to discover the finest memes and trends. The Majestic Establishment of Memetic Exploration.
Meme Blog: https://blog.meme.com/
The following transcript was created using artificial intelligence. There will be some grammatical errors below.
00:00:05:13 – 00:00:21:21
Richard Carthon: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Crypto Current, your here, Richard Carthon and today I got a guest all the way out in Sweden working on a really cool project with an amazing domain name that I don’t know how you got it, but power to you. We have your Johan with Meme.com. How are you doing today?
00:00:22:16 – 00:00:24:16
Johan Unger: Excellent. How are you? Happy to be here.
00:00:25:01 – 00:00:36:20
Richard Carthon: Aw, man, great. A lot to unpack, you are doing a lot. You’ve been in the NFT space for a moment. A lot of questions I want to ask in that regard, but I first want to learn more about you. Can you give us some background on yourself?
00:00:38:00 – 00:01:06:28
Johan Unger: Sure. I started the company since high school. Basically, this is my third startup. I’ve been in sort of online media, online content since those early days. My most successful company prior to Crypto was a publisher, and that’s a company that promoted content between websites basically. So, we grew that team from three people to over 50 people in around three years. So, that was a great experience.
00:01:07:18 – 00:01:40:21
Johan Unger: And then in 16, I got really into Crypto. So, initially we started experimenting in-house with different business models. At my last company, we tried to combine Crypto and sort of advertising and attention and so on. But publishers and advertisers didn’t want anything to do with Crypto. We quickly learned. But then in late 17, NFTs came along and then sort of the initial idea behind Marvel Cards were born. When you have one NFT for each unique content on the Web, each URL on the Web. And yeah.
00:01:40:23 – 00:01:41:08
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:01:41:10 – 00:01:42:10
Johan Unger: And we went.
00:01:43:08 – 00:02:11:20
Richard Carthon: Man, that’s pretty incredible. I mean, I always love talking with entrepreneurs and just hearing their backgrounds and all the things that sounds like that you previously worked on is kind of propelled you forward to be able to take on the endeavor of Meme.com. I first want to just spend some time on you know, you said you first, I believe, got into Crypto roughly around 16, 17, what was that first introduction? Like, how did you first hear about it? And what made you say, like, Wow, I want to go see how I can go create this company utilizing this?
00:02:13:24 – 00:02:51:20
Johan Unger: I’d heard about Bitcoin way before I tried to buy it initially, but didn’t succeed, but then I heard a podcast in 16 where they talked about Ethereum and sort of how you could use, this was around when the ERC 20 just came out. Saw people were using these tokens as effectively giving out future value to the early users and early contributors and so on. And as somebody who has built, you know, a lot of projects having that superpower, which I thought it was to be able to give things to early users for providing value, that was something super powerful. So, after that, I was hooked and could think of little else from that.
00:02:51:22 – 00:03:18:27
Richard Carthon: Right. And I mean, it’s cool that that was that first entry point when you heard about Ethereum then the NFTs, because it went straight into my Marble.Cards, one of the first big NFT projects in the space. You know, kind of ahead of your time, if you will, in preparation for what’s going on now. You know, can you kind of just walk us through a little bit more of like, that concept and then how you were able to take that and kind of evolve it into what is now becoming Meme.com?
00:03:21:09 – 00:04:02:25
Johan Unger: Yes. So, Marble is an attempt to give a new way to curate information on the Web, basically. So, we wanted, One, to have people have a closer attachment to things they share, things they promote or amplify, and then also use Crypto incentives to rank that content. So, that is what we have been experimenting around since 18, basically. Can we build a platform that both gets people attached to content and then also is able to rank those cards around different areas so we can see what are the best cards in the best of URLs at this moment?
00:04:04:15 – 00:04:57:26
Johan Unger: And we’ve been fairly successful in doing that, we have over a hundred thousand NFTs, a hundred and ten thousand NFTs created up until now. And where people rank cards, we have around 3,000,000 votes or something. So, it’s a lot of data and a lot of usage so far, but we also felt that potentially there was something missing in terms of how you value the content and the trends. And that’s when we initially started thinking about something called hashtag markets, which effectively would be, well, have the cards they’re NFTs, that would also have some kind of fungible token layer. And then the idea was that anyone can create a hashtag market by specifying the hashtag and then a bonding curve. A fungible market is basically created where people can buy in and out of this thing based on how they perceive the value of that medium or that trend or whatever it is.
00:04:57:28 – 00:04:58:13
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:04:58:15 – 00:05:11:18
Johan Unger: So, yeah. Down that path we went in late last year and started conceptualizing it and now landed in what is Meme.com, hopefully will launch in around one month.
00:05:11:20 – 00:05:12:05
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:05:12:07 – 00:05:15:12
Johan Unger: Where people new will be able to invest in memes, basically.
00:05:16:03 – 00:05:39:07
Richard Carthon: For sure. And, you know, I love that context because it provides a lot of background and it’s essentially showing what Meme.com is. And for all those who are listening right now, when you go and check out the website, really cool. I mean, the media thing you’re going to see is basically on the website, is all of these paintings with these memes that a lot of us know, right? And the meme economy is something that’s very real.
00:05:39:09 – 00:06:12:11
Richard Carthon: So, much so that you see things like Dogecoin that have taken on a ton of value and even a lot of these other NFTs, right? Where these memes are originally made, but then are used a million times, a lot of different ways, but they don’t necessarily get the value of the originator who created that first one before it all broke out. It sounds like that y’all are trying to help create that origination so that as it is used more and more over time, that people can get their do feel, get their compensation and whatnot. But I’ll let you kind of explain a little bit more. But that was kind of my first take at it.
00:06:12:24 – 00:06:45:09
Johan Unger: No, it’s correct. So, the creator is obviously important and we want them to be able to be rewarded on this platform in a number of different ways. There will be fees allocated to the original creator and other things. That said, we are also firmly believers in that for a meme to take shape and become popular, it needs to be remixed thousands and thousands of times and shared by millions of people and so on. And those people should also get something back for, you know, pushing something that later becomes a huge thing.
00:06:45:26 – 00:07:16:11
Johan Unger: So, both creators and people who contribute and share and stuff should be able to benefit from this. And if we look at, imagine Dogecoin, we think it’s a super interesting trend also with the later meme coins, even though that was like a Wild West thing. But there’s a seed of something that I think is very interesting and that is investing almost as entertainment. I mean, we see it with stocks like GameStop and AMC and stuff.
00:07:16:13 – 00:07:17:00
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:07:17:02 – 00:07:33:08
Johan Unger: As well, where we think that potentially people will be drawn to a platform that can provide both entertainment and investing as a sort of combination. So, that is something we will dig deeper into and try to unpack.
00:07:34:02 – 00:08:01:02
Richard Carthon: Right. I mean, as you should, man. Like I can already see your mind works uniquely in the sense of finding a market opportunity that hasn’t necessarily been blended in quite the way that’s been seen yet, but exploring it in a way that can be expanded on and have growth possibilities. And like, what bigger growth opportunity than meme’s culture right now? Like, that is our generation right now. We are all flocking to memes.
00:08:01:06 – 00:08:20:20
Richard Carthon: It doesn’t matter if you are a Miillennial, GenZ, a boomer doesn’t matter. Everyone knows what they are now and so, it’s a very unique opportunity in a lot of ways. So, for people who are looking to potentially come on your platform, you know, what are some of the ways or reasons why I would come and create an account and start to put some of my content on Meme.com?
00:08:23:25 – 00:08:57:00
Johan Unger: I think there are a few different like, user types. One is obviously if you believe in the concept of a meme market and that memes can have this type of value and speculative value, then as a speculator, you come in and pick your best memes. I think memes are going to be around for a long time. I put some money into this and hope that my prediction will turn out to be true. As a content creator, so, the fees in the different markets and from the platform, they are allocated to the people who can produce the best content for each market.
00:08:57:17 – 00:09:33:29
Johan Unger: So, all fees from B and Pepé market, for example, goes in part to a poll where that will be allocated to the best content created by that community. And then the coin holders vote on which should become an NFT, which is sent out to the holders and then the creator is rewarded. So, I think if you, you know, if like memes, you love memes, if you’re good at creating them and you want to like, experiment with this thing that we’re building, then you should totally get on the there and start creating some awesome memes and submitting them,
00:09:34:14 – 00:10:01:01
Richard Carthon: No doubt. And something else I actually want to bring up that I originally didn’t think of, but it makes a ton of sense. And even some of my friends I know who don’t come up with the original meme, but we’ll reframe it and then like that one takes off. Can you kind of talk through how that kind of system works because like, I already know, there’s plenty of people who can, like, go and see something hilarious and then put their own twist on it and it’s even more hilarious, if you will. So, can you kind of just talk through, like, how that work track kind of goes?
00:10:01:14 – 00:10:45:03
Johan Unger: Yeah. So, like, at the top, you have the original meme. So, it’s Pepé, for example, that is the fundable market. And then underneath, you have a bunch of different NFTs and memes and content and stuff. And those can be remixes, they could be marble cards, they could be NFTs from other platforms and so on. And it’s up to the community to decide which ones do they like best, which ones do they want to amplify. And then we also measure the popularity of that content on the Web as well. So, we look at social media shares and how much that image is shared and so on to determine what is the best stuff basically, and then try to reward that accordingly.
00:10:45:27 – 00:11:09:12
Richard Carthon: Yeah. And which sounds very cool and definitely something I’m looking forward to getting involved in. It’s always fun to be able to put your own spin on something and also just come up with your own meme. So, definitely going to check that out. And even I know that originally Marble Cards actually came out before Meme.com, but there’s a way that you’re gonna be able to reincorporate it back into Meme.com. Can you kind of walk through what that relationship looks like?
00:11:10:23 – 00:12:10:28
Johan Unger: Yes. So, Marble Cards were always a good proof of discovery, basically. I found this year this tweet or this YouTube video or something, I was the first one to to marvel it, to bookmark it basically using the service on chain. And so, on Meme.com, it should be the place you go to, Okay, I want to know more about this meme, so, I go there. There will be info and you know, stories and stuff and then there will be content recommendations, there’s origin stories, and maybe, know your meme page, Wikipedia, blaj, blah, blah, blah. And then, you’re able to pin a marble card. If I was the one who marbled this important piece of content for Harold, that I can pin that there and generate some rewards based on that if Harold is a popular meme. So, it’s a way to show that you were early in discovering important content for a specific meme.
00:12:11:21 – 00:12:38:20
Richard Carthon: Yeah, no, that’s cool. And that makes a lot of sense. Being able to bookmark that and getting the credit for like, finding all this information, even combining it in a way, to where it makes sense that some new person could come and use all of these resources in a very quick fashion. That sounds very unique. And again man, kudos to y’all for figuring this out. I’m very excited for this launch. And I mean, if you’re able to kind of tease up some more of the things that are coming up on Meme.com, like, what are some of the things on the roadmap that people are going to be very excited about?
00:12:40:23 – 00:13:34:08
Johan Unger: So, we’re looking into creating some gan art. In fact, we’re having the contributor look at a bunch of different images for memes and try to generate art, computer generated art. Based on that, which we can then use as, in part content for the NFTs and so on, that is rewarded to be contributors. We also have some more advanced creator features coming up where you will be able to effectively sign NFTs on the platform and take part in everything that they generate. So, say I marble, one of your podcasts on Spotify and then that turns out to be popular, I can send you a bid and you verify it. And then if it does well, then both you and I will get a share of those profits.
00:13:36:09 – 00:13:36:24
Richard Carthon: Wow.
00:13:36:26 – 00:14:01:25
Johan Unger: Other than that, I mean, it’s now at least the rest of this year, full focus will be on getting the meme markets up and running. It will likely be a step-by-step rollout. So, initially we’ll have maybe five, 10 markets, the top memes, and then next test will be 10 more and then we open up so anybody can create any market after that. So, it’ll be like step by step to see how things work out, basically.
00:14:02:22 – 00:14:12:08
Richard Carthon: Yeah. And that’s super incredible. If someone is interested in being one of those first markets, is there a way that they can either sign up for this or find ways to get involved?
00:14:13:02 – 00:14:32:19
Johan Unger: They should join our Discord and just hang out and ask questions and show interest. We have a very tight community there who all help out. It’s amazing to see we’re now at least 20, if not more people from the community who are actively contributing in different ways. So, it’s awesome to see. So, yeah, definitely enjoying them.
00:14:32:21 – 00:14:54:04
Richard Carthon: Awesome. Well, for everyone that’s interested in that, make sure you go check that out. Also, make sure you’re going and checking out on Meme.com and everything that is going on in this incredible space. NFTs are here to stay, they’re not going anywhere. I don’t think meme culture is going anywhere any time soon. And what better way to like, get involved at this early stage of the future of where this is headed than right now.
00:14:54:19 – 00:15:41:29
Richard Carthon: So, definitely everyone listening, make sure you take a moment and go and check that out. But Johan, I have a couple other questions. I definitely want to talk about you being in this space as long as you have, you have a pretty good perspective on the various ways that Crypto markets go up and down and also understanding where we are headed into the future. Like, I think we’re past the proof of concept phase of whether this is going to be here and go away or if this is here to stay. I think it’s safe to say it’s here to stay and it’s just we’re building to where we’re trying to get to. What are some things that are on your mind or that are on your horizon that has your attention right now that you think other people should be paying attention to? So, whether it’s the NFT space DeFi, you know, anything in the greater Crypto, Blockchain space? Like, what are some things that have your attention right now?
00:15:44:18 – 00:16:11:26
Johan Unger: Good question. I think in general for NFTs, we’re seeing like, kind of a like, a small bear market maybe will be deeper, maybe it won’t, hard to say. I personally think some of the later NFTs that came out were kind of uninspiring, so, likely they will be filtered out a bit. I’m really excited about things like programmable art, for example, like async. That is something I’m very fascinated in.
00:16:11:28 – 00:16:59:03
Johan Unger: But probably most of all is virtual worlds. There are some very interesting things coming up, both in terms of like, land, but also how you interoperate with items and so on. There is one project called the, let’s see, what is it called? I want to remember it now, but one of the virtual worlds of kind of on the cover still, but that’s something I’m very excited about. On the DeFi side, it’s very hard to say. I like the landing platforms that I feel is a very clear use case. I use them. Other than that, it’s very much a casino at this stage where some very cool things will come out of it. So yeah. Overall, very excited about everything that’s going on. It’s incredible to see.
00:16:59:05 – 00:17:30:01
Richard Carthon: No doubt. And I think so with the NFT space, where a lot of projects, people with influence just came and made a thing with nothing really long term to show the real value there. And I think where the uniqueness is, where things can kind of be sustained and have value, you know, over time. Some of the biggest NFTs that I’ve seen up to this point were people who made memes out of people didn’t necessarily know about and said, like, this is literally the original, how would you like to do with this? And they all did very well.
00:17:30:06 – 00:18:20:11
Richard Carthon: So, again, that’s why I think you have something very powerful here, but it’s continuing to find those ways to get that mix between both art and then the community with wanting to interact with and seeing like, actual value with having this item that they can, like, reuse and show. And just like you said, like, even having an original meme piece that you can then take into your virtual world on your virtual land with the virtual house that you can then put on you know, your virtual wall. Like, for a lot of people, it’s kind of mind blowing. And I couldn’t even conceptually think about it until I met one of our past guest, Carl Fravel who works with the Decentraland. And he kind of walked through like, here’s how you literally can, like, go do all this stuff and it blew my mind. So, I also think that’s another thing that people should be looking out for, the virtual worlds and the cross between NFTs being in those virtual worlds. I think that’s going to be really cool.
00:18:21:15 – 00:18:23:08
Johan Unger: Totally. It’s amazing,
00:18:23:25 – 00:18:47:20
Richard Carthon: Yeah, man. And, you know, another thing that you’ve been in this space for a while, you’ve probably learned a lot. You probably have taken a lot of information that if you could go and impart wisdom on yourself when you first started, you’d probably be able to get to where you are now a lot faster. So, if you could take two or three pieces of information, and impart that wisdom to yourself when you first got started in this Crypto space, what would you tell yourself?
00:18:48:16 – 00:18:51:13
Johan Unger: I mean, as a builder, or as, like, an investor?
00:18:51:15 – 00:19:04:11
Richard Carthon: So, there’s two different lenses. One as like, a newbie to Crypto. So, if you were just getting started and you’re like, Hey, here’s some things to get started. But then on the other lens, as an entrepreneur who was imparting wisdom to yourself as you were building this out.
00:19:06:25 – 00:20:00:09
Johan Unger: New to Crypto, I would say just, you know, hang on Twitter all day and try to follow as many interesting people as you can. That’s just how I learned initially. As a builder, I would say, so we kind of did that, but I would say one that’s turned out to be very, very true, as initially we said, the most important thing for us while we are starting up is to have a long runway. So, instead of trying to get some big free product hype, initially we said it’s better that we save whatever fun, small things we have and try to make this run as long as possible. So, we built all the way from 18 to all the way through the bear market and now we’re able to sort of reap in a bit on that. So, that’s turned out to be a very valuable thing instead of just running out of funds mid.
00:20:01:05 – 00:20:01:20
RIchard Carthon: Right.
00:20:01:22 – 00:20:35:16
Johan Unger: Until we have something. Other than that, and it’s probably given a focus even more on community. Just try to get as many people on board as possible and really hang out and talk a lot about what you’re doing because it’s more important to have, say, 10 people initially in Discord, that understand what you’re doing and they’re interested in being there than, say, having 1,000 people on Twitter that just, you know, they kind of think they know what you do, but they don’t really.
00:20:36:19 – 00:20:37:04
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:20:37:06 – 00:20:48:11
Johan Unger: So, yeah. Definitely keep talking to your close community members and really try to make them understand and also get feedback from what you’re doing if it resonates with them.
00:20:48:26 – 00:21:22:13
Richard Carthon: Absolutely. And it’s so powerful that you just said like, 10 core people, like you don’t need a ton to get quality feedback and understanding what you’re building and building it for them, because most likely that 10 can represent a larger amount of people that would love your product and how to use it. So, sometimes people think like, Oh, I need all the clout, I need all the community and make it as huge as possible, as quickly as possible without even understanding your product yet or having it built yet and like, understanding corely what people are looking for. And that feedback is very important and powerful. So, I really do appreciate that.
00:21:22:20 – 00:22:08:21
Richard Carthon: And just one fun question I do want to go back to for a second, you just said something that I think is extremely important as an entrepreneur that a lot of people overlook is the idea of having a runway of like, having enough time to give yourself the time and space. When it’s your time that you can hit the ground running and that you’re not strapped for cash and stressed out at every waking moment. You know, from building from 2018 basically to now to two and a half years, three years, depending on when that was. But like, you were head’s down just building for that long and a lot of people don’t recognize that sometimes it takes a while to build to get it to a place to where you are now ready to release it to the world. Can you kind of just talk through that process of like, of being resilient down through a bear market, but then also just having the vision of, like, this is going to work?
00:22:14:06 – 00:22:45:22
Johan Unger: Like I said, again, you have an initial idea, you try to get a proof of concept out as soon as possible, unless you’re very, very lucky, that proof of concept will not, you know, turn out as you want it to. But there is probably something that is good there if you have a good idea. And then what you need to do is you need to find that something and then iterate on that. And so, again, talk to your community, see what do you guys think about this. Is this what we should keep developing on?
00:22:45:24 – 00:23:19:04
Johan Unger: And one thing that we’ve done that’s been very successful is we’ve tried new things in Discord. So, before we build new features, we manually try them in Discord. So, step one, say, we’re going to do that now with the meme markets, for example, so, what we did first was we used a spreadsheet. So, now you can buy these memes and when you do, me and my co-founder, we manually put what you wrote in Discord into the spreadsheet. You can go in there and see see what you have.
00:23:20:21 – 00:23:31:05
Johan Unger: So, then we test it a few times. People liked it. Next step was, Okay, how can we automats this in Discord? So, we build some Discord bots. So, now we had an automatic system where you could buy in and out of these memes.
00:23:31:22 – 00:24:02:22
Johan Unger: And then we came up with a structure to determine what are the best memes that’s probably the best. So, we tested things around that. And that allows us to when we actually start coding, we have some initial idea of what is it that people want and how will they behave when they get it? So, that we’ve done. We did it with meme markets, we did it with this content curation thing called the Arena and we’ve also done it with a few other things.
00:24:03:21 – 00:24:44:14
Johan Unger: That has turned out to be very successful because when we then launch the product, we at least see some decent traction. That said, by looking at our user numbers, you have this initial and then it goes down and then you just got to make sure that it stays at a slightly higher level than it was before you release something and then you do that over again. And that is a very slow process. Like, the flat period is probably 90 percent of the time and then you get a spike and then it goes down and then it’s slightly above the last. And it just got to be there for that and keep iterating to see those numbers grow slowly. But. Hopefully shortly,
00:24:44:24 – 00:25:09:12
Richard Carthon: Yeah, no. I mean, it’s really important. I really appreciate you breaking that down because I know a lot of people who listen to our show, are actually entrepreneurs in the Crypto space building out some of the projects. And it’s just good to be able to hear the resilience, also understanding like, the integrations and continue just to build. So, thank you for spending some time on that and for all the knowledge that you’ve been able to drop on us today. But as we kind of wrap things up man, what is a final thought that you want to leave with all the listeners here today?
00:25:13:02 – 00:25:47:22
Johan Unger: Good question. Maybe not a thought, but like, advice again. If you’re in it and you want to get it, never, ever give up. You know, if you want it, then just go for it until you can’t, until you break and then kill some more, because that is what is required. And obstacles are just there, you know? Somebody put it there so other people won’t get over it. But as long as you don’t give up and get over it, then yeah, you’ll get it.
00:25:48:18 – 00:26:03:22
Richard Carthon: Yeah. Final great thought for everyone who needed that today. A piece of resilience. Just keep it moving, it’s going to work. If you have a way to keep finding a way around the obstacles and keep leaning on community, keep finding people who are trying to do the same thing that you’ve done.
00:26:03:24 – 00:26:34:08
Richard Carthon: And if you’re looking at something a million ways and for all those, of course, who are listening, we do all these shows, also, if you want to watch them, I manually put up my hand right now, if you’re looking straight like this, but then all of a sudden someone can look at it this way, now you see a new way that you can potentially go after that challenge. So, just keep being resilient, keep going after it. Johan said it best. Just thank you so much for spending time with us, dropping that. What are ways that people can connect with you and learn more about all the things you have going on with Meme.com and Marble Cards?
00:26:34:29 – 00:26:49:04
Johan Unger: Our Discord is definitely the best. We’re all very active in Discord. So, that is what I would recommend. And our Discord is on our Twitter. Our Twitter is @Meme Explorers. And you will find a link there.
00:26:49:28 – 00:26:55:27
Richard Carthon: Excellent. Well, again, Johan, thank you so much for joining us today. And of course, for everyone listening, stay Crypto Current.
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