Cheeky Unts, pixel art from an Australian team behind Bitgem, bring a little bit of humour and irreverence to the CNFT space.
Look beyond the humour though and you’ll find a serious message and charitable support of wildlife in Australia.
We chatted to Jason, one of the members behind the project, to learn more.
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Tell us a little about Cheeky Unts and Bitgem.
Matt and I founded Bitgem way back in 2011. This is right when game development was becoming more accessible for coders, primarily thanks to Unity 3D. We saw a growing opportunity in making game-ready 3D assets for this new community of web developers jumping into the game development scene. So Matt got to work cranking out low poly hand painted models, while I learned Unity for prepping the assets for publishing.
Unity was very lucrative in the early days, which allowed us to hire a talented team of artists that now work directly with game development studios and blockchain projects like Decentraland, The Sandbox and now Cheeky Unts!
Where did the idea for the project come from?
The original idea has evolved a lot. Being a 3D studio, we knew making a 3D collection to our standards would be too much of an undertaking for our first NFT project. What we had going in our favour was that making pixel art had always been a hobby of Matt’s, so we were able to settle on the art style pretty early on. From there, we knew we wanted something that would resonate with a “Cheeky” Aussie community, so we found a way to make our entire brand revolve around humour and Australia.
That’s why everything—from the animals and all of the accessories in our collection, to our name, the way we write on our website and how we act on social media—is Aussie-inspired and doesn’t take itself too seriously. We even registered cheeky#unts.com originally, but ended up dropping the “C” to keep the project PG!
What about the team behind the project? Tell us a bit about the team and what has lead you to start this project.
Matt, Lance, and I all worked for an Australian company called Envato many years ago. Lance was an easy choice as our full-stack dev, but was new to the crypto scene. It’s safe to say we were successful in brainwashing him with lots of Youtube videos about the space. Gaurav and I currently work together at an AI start-up and I honestly can’t remember how I convinced him to join our crazy little team. He’s a data scientist by day, but has been responsible for building out our infrastructure for minting, airdrops and everything else in-between.
This project has never really been about the money. We see the opportunity in blockchain technology as a vehicle to build decentralised applications that can benefit non-profit organisations. Cheeky Unts is just our first example of how this can be done!
The project has donated a sizeable chunk of money to various wildlife conservation charities in Australia, what can tell us about this? Was the charitable aspect of the project there from the start or did it develop once the project got underway?
We knew from day one we wanted to give back and that doing so would be central to our project. The only thing we underestimated was how hard it is to donate crypto. Lots of charities we approached weren’t very receptive to it.
Luckily we were able to get in touch with Allan Dixon, who is championing the charity/crypto space. He was the one who introduced us to the beneficiaries of our first round of donations, with The Adelaide Koala & Wildlife Centre and the Wombat Awareness Organisation each receiving $25,000 AUD.
Would you say that projects donating to charities is a good way to help change some of the public perception towards cryptocurrencies and NFTs?
Yes, as the saying goes “we’re early”. Perception should shift as more NFT projects contribute/give back to good causes, which will open up a lot more doors for charities to benefit from the space. Exchanges like FTX are making it easier for charitable giving as well, so it’s only a matter of time before we see more “donate crypto” buttons alongside the PayPal or credit card options we see today.
What got the team interested in Blockchain and NFT’s?
Bitgem has had a few clients over the years that paid for services in ETH, and Matt had always been very bullish on all things crypto. So making NFTs ourselves was almost inevitable.
The biggest blocker for us had always been on the social media and marketing side of things as it’s no secret that’s been a key ingredient in generating interest in a project during this NFT craze.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far with this project?
Far and away the biggest challenge has been that the entire team is part-time on the project. That said, we really believe slow and steady is going to win this race. We have a solid roadmap, but have kept most of it under wraps as there’s no sense in promising something we can’t deliver on. We’re really excited to reveal more in early 2022.
As project creators yourselves how do you feel about the recent “rug pulls” or project abandonments?
I think there are two fairly distinct groups here. The rug pulls who never had any intention of delivering on a roadmap give the NFT space a bad rap and scare a lot of new people away.
Having worked in startups all throughout my career though, I can empathise with the projects that ended up abandoning. It’s a lot of work to keep a community engaged and positive while also trying to deliver on a roadmap. Staying motivated when everyone has given up on you isn’t easy!
We’ve been so lucky to have an amazing community, full of loyal and dedicated people from all over the world. They’re all the motivation we need, and I’m sure a lot of those abandoned projects would still be around had they been feeling the love like we are!
What advice would you give someone looking to launch an NFT project?
Art and tech is the easy part. Building a strong, positive and loyal community is the key ingredient if you want to be successful. And in order to do that, you need to clearly define your value proposition and what separates you from all the other projects out there.
What project would you ideally love to do a collaboration with?
In terms of CNFT projects, we definitely like what Happy Hoppers Club is doing and it would be cool to get some Unts into Cardano Warriors.
Do you guys collect NFT’s too? What’s your favourite? Can we see it?
We’ve been collecting NFTs for a while on Ethereum before jumping into the CNFT space, but I’ll use this chance to shill Lance’s art.
He makes 1/1 NFTs and physical art and I’m proud to say I’m lucky enough to own a few pieces!
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