Round 10
Winner
The Blue Marble
by

Revolutionising Impact Investment with NFTs

Budget request:  
*
WebsiteCode

Project Stage

Startup

Category

Marketplaces

Based in

UK/Thailand

Team size

Active since

2022
Products & Services

We believe that NFT technology is nascent and there is a need to educate creators and protect buyers while we uncover the ways in which the technology can be used for safe, long-term investments.


The Blue Marble allows organisations to launch NFT campaigns with ease and split sales revenues with social and environmental causes. The platform has been designed to attract audiences outside of the traditional crypto space through the development of easy to use interfaces for creators and credit and debit card purchase facility for buyers.



Stellar is an ideal choice for the blockchain infrastructure, given the alignment of core values and the fact that the energy consumption by the Stellar network provides an important market differentiator against the incumbents such as Ethereum.


Services offered by The Blue Marble:


1. Curated NFT drops

  • Identifying social enterprises, creators and buyers whose relationship can be leveraged for group success
  • Providing consultancy to design financially robust NFT drops that wraps utility and value into the NFT asset
  • Marketing these drops to buyers, sourcing new buyers as well as leveraging our growing community


2. Legal tooling

  • Providing the legal constructs and advice to large scale initiatives to allow NFT usage in large scale problem solving such as community land protection
  • Connecting customers to our legal partners who develop the legal contracts to purchase assets that can be traded via our NFTs


3. NFT communities

  • Promoting the general development of our NFT communities and drops as seen in other NFT marketplaces
  • Providing community curation to identify opportunities for our buyers


4. Education courses and onboarding

  • Providing onboarding to the non-technical into the NFT crypto space and groups who could benefit from more knowledge of the crypto and NFT space
  • Thought leadership and knowledge sharing around the ways in which NFTs can be used with long term value in mind
  • Free courses to upskill anyone who would like to learn how to develop their own NFT drops that can benefit their community and/or social/environmental campaigns they want to support.
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Previous Project(s)
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Progress so far

The technology behind the platform has already been developed thanks to investment by Stellar into Task.io. As a previous SCF winner, Task has channeled some of this funding to create an NFT marketplace that compliments and works in conjunction with the Task brand.


“The Blue Marble” is also now a recently registered trademark  (UK00003743142). This is a major milestone given the significance of the “Blue Marble” image taken by the Apollo 13 Astronauts, the connection of this image with the fragility of our planet,  and how it relates to the core brand mission we have to align NFTs with social and environmental investments.


The NFTs currently use the Stellar Turret Layer 2 smart contracts to control the Stellar assets including payment of royalties which are tracked using Stellar asset Managed Data entries.


The first NFTs have been minted

The first NFTs minted on The Blue Marble were part of the Biochar Life program, a significant customer of the Task brand and a key success factor resulting from our previous grant award.


Biochar Life train smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa to change how they deal with crop waste, specifically by replacing open field burning with the production of Biochar, and by doing so they remove carbon from the air. Using Task the data is gathered to measure how much carbon is removed. This is used to mint NFTs for purchase as carbon offsets on The Blue Marble.


We have also seen success with the first NFTs supporting royalty payments to multiple parties, in particular where an Artist can choose to split some or all of the sales revenues with a cause they wish to support.


One example is the Mina NFT by Kate Iverson which provides support to ArtTable, the foremost professional organization dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in the visual arts.


Increasing the value in NFTs

We firmly believe that our success will be driven by the utility and legal safeguards we bake into the NFTs created.


As such we have begun to create our own Utility focussed NFTs (see https://thebluemarble.io/tbm) which enable purchasers to access our support, book onboarding sessions and create NFTs on our marketplace amongst other utilities. We are also in discussion with UK and US lawyers around the development of contracts for fractionalised ownership of land and other physical assets.

Goals

Our goals by the end of December 2022 are:


  1. $1m+ of Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV)
  2. Gross revenue of $200k+


These figures prove business traction that not only see The Blue Marble on track to becoming cash positive, but set the stage for larger institutional investments to support increased scale.

To get there, we  will use our requested budget of  
*
  to:

We are executing a tactical plan that sees 1 curated NFT drop every two weeks, with the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) ranging from $17k to $850k per drop.


The Blue Marble takes a 15-30% share of GMV for curated drops which allows significant investment into the marketing surrounding these drops, ensuring sales targets are met for customers.


We approach each drop with an economic analysis that ensures we can sell the higher priced NFTs through revenue share that allows us to invest properly in the marketing required to create financial success.


To provide concrete examples, the first curated drop is by Stellar artist, Sir Cheesley, who will be creating a range of female inspired digital art pieces in conjunction with StellarWomen, to help raise funds for telehealth charity, OvaryIt. Sales revenue targets are $25K.


The second drop is National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager, who will be launching a campaign as part of his One Cubic Foot project, splitting proceeds with Seneca Park Zoo. Sales revenue targets are $150K.


We will increase the size of these drops throughout 2022 in order to hit our goals at the end of December.


Drop economics

We have developed a drop economics modeling approach that considers:

  1. What is the optimum volume (number issued) of NFTs given the proposed market price for each purchase?
  2. What is the likely customer acquisition cost (CAC) given the network strength (or not) of the NFT Creator, and how does this affect the optimal NFT price points?
  3. What are balanced revenue shares that ensure we can invest in the marketing behind the drop in addition to The Blue Marble attaining profitability


An example of our drop modeling (for StellarWomen) can be viewed here.


Incentives and marketing

All NFTs will have built in incentives and utility to help secure initial sales and encourage ongoing trading of the asset. Curated drops will partner with organizations that have established communities or/and branding, to help reduce marketing costs and ensure sales success.


We see utility plus marketing as the critical areas for us to address as a business, given we have already developed the technology and given the skillsets of the leadership team - and so a significant percentage of the funds we’re asking for will be used to build a marketing team that builds community, revenue and brand awareness.

Overview

Problem

NFT technology has been surrounded by a mixture of hype and controversy since coming to market. People outside the crypto space struggle to understand what it is and the value it provides, and they are venting legitimate concerns around environmental impact.


This has been compounded by the limited application of NFTs in Digital Art which, while valuable, represent just one use case amongst the plethora of innovative ways we could be leveraging this decentralized digital certification technology.


Solution

The Blue Marble provides access to NFT investments that are anchored to the “real-world” by social and environmental problems. It uses Stellar’s blockchain which operates within acceptable environmental impact levels.


The platform onboards non-technical buyers into this new space, with an aim to open up access to secure, long-term investments into people and the planet.


Technology - The Blue Marble

The Blue Marble is in production. A breakdown of the technology is as follows:


  • Core system uses Ruby on Rails with an AWS Aurora Databases and other AWS services to interface, transact and store data on the Stellar Blockchain
  • All NFT assets are stored on Stellar using IPFS for file storage and NFT toml files
  • Provision of NFT logic on the Stellar network (which does not currently provide Layer 1 smart contracts) is achieved using Stellar Turrets (Layer 2). NFTs are being minted such that they may be ported to Stellars Layer 1 solution in the future.
  • The Smart Contracts provide an innovative royalty system which allows trade and sales revenue defined in the locked Stellar asset to be split between the Creator of the asset and social/environmental Campaigns they would like to support
  • Creation of NFTs focuses on adding data that supports the value of the NFT in addition to digital images
  • The Blue Marble has developed a Stellar Wallet which supports Send, Receive, Asset Exchange - and on/off ramping via SendWyre and Ramp.Network
  • A Stripe Connect integration has been completed to allow the Primary sales of NFTs to be purchased quickly using a bank card (with the users Stellar wallet/account all setup for them automatically in the background)



Market analysis

The Total Addressable Market (TAM) has been calculated by assessing the total sales of NFT’s in 2021 which is a $17 BILLION market.


The Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM)  has been assessed by estimating the number of buyers in the market who are motivated  to support good causes. Assuming this to be 20% of the TAM the SAM is estimated to be $3.5 BILLION.


The Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) is estimated at $17.5m which assumes capturing 10% of the SAM at an average 5% transaction fee on NFT sales ($3.5B x 10% x 5%).



Sales and marketing

Sales and marketing team

We will be recruiting a team of sales and marketing employees to execute the strategy. Positions will include:


  • Marketing Director to define top level strategy (part-time)
  • Marketing Executive to execute the strategy
  • Social media manager (part-time)
  • Content writers (contract)
  • Business development manager (full-time)
  • Ambassadors (part-time and based within targeted sales territories)


As we build the business, many of these part-time roles will grow to full-time.


Marketing channels

The sales and marketing team will use a combination of owned, earned and paid channels.





Network & Influencers (Top 10)


Customer segments

The Blue Marble has a number of customer segments that make up the creator/buyer persona community.

  • Creators
  • Artists, creators and other personalities who have a sizable (>50K reach) existing audience
  • Existing NFT creators that have a track record in selling their work and who are looking at alternative sales channels
  • Nonprofits and social enterprises who would like to create their own campaigns via inhouse or contracted creators
  • Brands looking to launch NFT campaigns for aligning to their SGD/ESG initiatives
  • Buyers
  • Existing NFT investors who are interested in assets with more stable long term value
  • Traditional nonprofit donors (non crypto personas) looking at new ways to fund causes through collectables
  • Socially conscious GenZ and Millennial generations wanting to build digital reputation through NFTs that support good causes
  • Causes
  • Existing Task.io customers who are already on the platform and looking at new fundraising opportunities
  • Social enterprise and ‘smart charities’ who are actively seeking technology solutions to increase their impact
  • Organizations using blockchain technology to measure and trade environmental impact outcomes such as carbon removal


Sales channels and partners

The Blue Marble has a number of sales channels allowing us to scale effectively without needing to continue hiring beyond the initial core team. These channels bring a combination of sales and technology resources.


  • Blackbaud is the leading provider of nonprofit applications globally with more than 45,000 customers. They are an existing Task partner and we have already built an integration to their platform. All Blackbaud customers will have the opportunity to launch an NFT fundraising campaign on The Blue Marble.
  • Just Giving is one of the largest fundraising platforms globally and is owned by Blackbaud. We are in discussions with their tech team about integrating The Blue Marble, so anyone launching a campaign has the option to mint impact NFTs.
  • There have been a number of reputable online news and media companies launching NFT campaigns both for fundraising and archival purposes. We are in discussions with Chiang Mai CityLife and South China Morning Post about providing our marketplace plugin for their NFT services.


Competition

There are now around 200 NFT marketplaces with the majority of those launching within the last 12 months. Many of them are focused on digital art resulting in a crowded competitive market with everyone targeting the same prospects. Most of them are also focused on the crypto community with technology that alienates a large part of the addressable markets.


The marketplaces that survive will likely be those that have clear differentiation with their service offering and are focused on assets that have long term value.


The Blue Marble has some key differentiators putting it ahead of the competition.


  • Built on Stellar means we do not carry the burden of huge energy consumption that comes with many of the other marketplaces - a fact that is now hindering much of the corporate sector looking to get into NFTs as they assess risk to their brand.
  • Credit card payment options allow many more people to invest and trade in our NFTs without needing to be crypto savvy.
  • Working with social causes provides the opportunity for us to build in utility for buyers such as understanding the impact of their NFT investment as we report via Task how funds are used.


Revenue models

The Blue Marble provides 2 ways in which Creators of NFTs can bring their assets to market.


Curated Drops

The key revenue in our business plan focuses on executing a Curated Drop every 2 weeks. The team structure aligns with building a high quality pipeline of drops, with the Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) of each drop starting at $17k and building to $850k.


The Blue Marble takes 15-30% of the GMV in order to invest in marketing that will support the success of the drop and generate adequate revenues for a successful business.


We believe that the vast majority of NFTs issued without adequate marketing support will struggle. Our market research via the existing Curated Drops we have in place tells us that our customers are happy to share significant revenue in return for well marketed drops that result in high sales volume.


Club level

The Curated Drops will help us generate community around the brand, and we plan to release educational material that demystifies and opens up the use of NFTs to support community projects.


Our community will be able to run their own drops with a 2.5-5% sale transaction fee provided to support our platform.


Financials


We have a created a detailed 2 year financial plan which you can view at ​​https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1waxfLD8Cc50jczwmB4NHJNygU-94S5V0jllstXiAk-M/edit?usp=sharing


Conclusions

The Blue Marble represents the next generation of NFT technology. A marketplace that can be used to solve real world problems, moving NFTs way beyond that initial use case of digital art.


Our aim is to protect buyers and support sellers through a marketplace of assets that represent real value. By breaking down the technical barriers inherent in so many other marketplaces, we will provide access to billions of people who can now be an integral part of social and environmental movements.


We have a leadership team who have built and exited startups successfully, and have taken previous SCF funds to develop Stellar interests commercially in a number of areas including this focus on NFTs as long-term impact investment assets.


Building on Stellar is important to our success given the alignment of core values and the fact that the minimal energy consumption by the network provides an important market differentiator against the incumbents such as Ethereum.


It’s been the support of Stellar through Task.io that has enabled us to build the technology behind The Blue Marble, and we hope to be able to accelerate our go to market business plan with further support from the SCF.

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Team

Steve Walker

Founder/CEO


Steve has been in the startup space since 2003 with a successful exit of his previous business idibu.com to Compono Pty in 2021, of which he now acts as an advisor. He has been working in blockchain for the last 5 years, and has spent decades in the technology space. His mission is to see blockchain deployed in ways that protect natural assets and promote social causes while creating accessible long-term investments.


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevejwalker/

Discord/Twitter/Telegram: @stevewalkr


Matt Rickard

Founder/CMO


Matt is the Co-founder and CMO of Task.io and TheBlueMarble.io. He brings with him 20+ years experience working in sales and marketing for technology businesses in the Asia Pacific region. He’s worked for software companies in the environmental and social space and designed and executed a number of his own social impact programs.


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewrickard/

Discord: @matt-task

Telegram: @mattrickard