HeyHey! a celebrity engagement platform, hosted a knowledge sharing event for the media fraternity in Mumbai, on metaverse and NFT trends. CEO and Founder Caleb Franklin, Co-founder Rohan Rajguru and Vice President – Business Development Aman Aggarwal offered an overview on how brands can amplify their reach by exploring emerging trends.
Medianews4u.com caught up with Caleb Franklin on the sidelines of the event.
Do you have operations outside India? What’s the evolution by market?
Our team is all over the world, live with our platform in Tokyo; in Mumbai, India; in the US. The evolution of the market is actually quite strong, HeyHey! launched in October last year in India, we started off the platform in July in Tokyo. We have been really surprised by the demand for people to interact with celebrities, brands they love. In the first business that we started out with ‘Shoutouts’, it was really great to see how people interacted with the product. I think since then we heard the call of our customers, they want to do more, they want to have a way to own a piece of that moment. So when we moved to NFTs we’ve seen a really fast adoption in early days.
How many users have been enrolled? Specifically in India? What is the rate at which they are getting enrolled?
(Users are) Certainly in the lakhs. In terms of enrollment, I would say a minimum of 175,000. Operations in India is very strong with 60 to 70 pc of customers coming from India.
Is there a target number by say end of 2022? 2023?
I would go with the flow to be honest, because we are (continuously) innovating using the technology.
What are the biggest trends in NFT?
First is that people want real world utilities in the NFTs they own, something that can be tangible in life; is it giving me access to an event, am I getting a gift, do I have a chance to meet the person who created the NFT.
Second trend is community; you need something that connects me into a group of people who share my same interest and I can talk to.
Third thing is the audiences really wanting to have more premium (be oto food NFTs or Bollywood).
The bestsellers on the site seem to include Mithali and Sunny Leone. Is Bollywood the biggest puller or are there other entertainers doing well too?
It is very early days. As of now we have Olive Group, Shabaash Mithu, Viacom collaboration and Sunny Leone. I would say right now Bollywood is something that has done very well and we also like Bollywood. We are going to continue down that path and onboard more celebrities who would be working with more movie studios; for the customers, the fans, the users who are our clients they also love it. In the pipeline we have fashion, music, FMCG brands; we think of ourselves as a premium entertainer platform so as long as our NFT is there to provide joy we are excited about it.
Real experience rewards seem to be a definite attraction. Is that correct? Is it the biggest reason for people to sample the offering?
I think the rewards are what draw people and excite them about NFTs; the chief spin is the community and we had so much fun in our NFT groups.
Around an NFT that we did with Viacom18, Shabaash Mithu, we played trivia with Mithali Raj’s life like ‘What was her last name?’, ‘Where was she from?’, ‘When was her first Test match?’ and there were people who were waking up at 2am and 3am to answer the questions. Those are the types of things that we get really excited about, they get excited about. We are going to be launching some exclusive Shabaash Mithu merchandise and collectables from the movie to make it even cooler.
Is there an apprehension about the crypto world in general among Indians? Is that a barrier to a platform like yours?
It’s not a barrier for us because we don’t sell crypto, our NFTs really are digital collectible subscriptions into new communities. I think overall the world is looking and saying, ‘Hey what’s going on in crypto?’ What’s fascinating is that despite the downturn or the correction as I call it in the crypto markets, the same number of NFTs are selling today as were selling then. In fact in some markets NFTs sales have gone up.
Trust plays an important role. There is some doubt in people’s minds like, ‘If I buy this will I really get to go on a red carpet?’ But we saw it with the ‘I dream of Sunny’ NFT collection. The last utility she announced was an ability to be in one of her movies and she delivered. Now that people are seeing it and they see that it’s real then more people are going to come. We have to show them that we deliver on our promise.
The journey ahead looks very bullish, signs are very positive, basically because of the Bollywood attraction. We want to try things that people already love, want to be partnering with people that fans already adore. That is the strategy because ultimately you give people something they trust, they already love and adore.