Interview: NFT Now Founders Matt Medved, Alejandro Navia and Sam Hysell

Insight from the team behind the leading web3 editorial platform

Though there are still plenty of web3 skeptics (or as NFT Twitter likes to call them, “fudders”), those people paying close attention to the space see it as a beacon for the future of technology and media. The founding team at the informative platform nft now—Matt Medved, Alejandro Navia and Sam Hysell—predicted the permanence of web3 and the cascading effect it would have on others aspects of culture. nft now offers in-roads to those just starting their web3 journey with articles like “How to Buy an NFT in a Few Simple Steps” and “What is the Metaverse?” They share daily updates on key projects worth following. Earlier this summer, they also launched the inaugural edition of the NFT100, an annual event (where these images were taken) that celebrates leading creators and community figures in the NFT space.

Each founder’s background fuels why they do what they do, and what they bring to the platform. Medved founded Billboard Dance in 2015, later ran SPIN magazine as editor in chief and led content at the lifestyle publisher Modern Luxury. Hysell founded NOX Media, a social media marketing and content production agency. Navia went from being the Director of Innovation and Culture at Elite Daily to leading content strategy and acquisitions at Verizon. We sat down with all three to talk about the future of web3, why they made the jump and what you need to know about the space to succeed.

Courtesy of Yvonne Tnt & Brendon Cook for BFA

What made you make this jump into web3? What were some of the shortcomings of web2 that led you all to design and launch nft now?

Matt Medved: While I’ve been dabbling in crypto since buying Bitcoin in 2013 and have done a lot of coverage of music and blockchain, NFTs were the missing puzzle piece that inspired me to jump headfirst into web3. It’s the technology I’ve long believed in finally disrupting the fields I’m actually passionate about—art, music and culture—in a way that empowers creators. Coming from legacy media, I saw firsthand how broken the web2 business model is. I witnessed misaligned incentives where publications were optimizing for advertisers rather than serving their core readers and ending up in a clickbait race to the bottom. In web2, media companies were building audience as a means to an end of monetizing it, as a middleman for brands, constantly at the mercy of centralized social media platforms’ algorithms. In web3, creators and brands can build community as an end in itself and directly monetize by sharing in the value they create.

Sam Hysell: When seeking different resources to dive deeper into the space, it was quite fragmented and noisy. nft now was really born out of the desire to scratch our own itch of having a trusted and credible source that could help consumers and creators navigate the space, and help unleash the potential of how web3 can empower the creators of culture.

These new economic models really energize us because it puts the “do it for exposure” days behind us for creators and creates novel media experiences that prioritize the community

Alejandro Navia: Our mission is to empower the creators of culture and bring NFTs from niche to mainstream. Web3 empowers us to fulfill this goal by sharing in the value that we create with our community. These new economic models really energize us because it puts the “do it for exposure” days behind us for creators and creates novel media experiences that prioritize the community.

Courtesy of Yvonne Tnt & Brendon Cook for BFA

What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from web3 so far?

MM: Web3 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bypass traditional gatekeepers and build a more inclusive creative economy that doesn’t reflect the entrenched inequities of the past. But we will need to fight intentionally for that better future, it won’t just build itself. We’re already seeing corporate and centralized players like Meta moving in to capitalize on this movement, and it would be a true shame if we let them dictate web3 the same way they did web2.

Super-serve your super-fans instead of trying to reach the masses

SH: Everybody is always searching for scale. The beauty of NFTs is that you don’t need scale to win. You need a deep connection with a core group of supporters and community participants. This fundamentally changes how people should approach building brands or successful careers as creators. Super-serve your super-fans instead of trying to reach the masses.

AN: One key lesson that has been reinforced in web3 is that human connection is a profoundly beautiful thing. There is no web3 without the people behind the technology, the creations and the communities. Web3 is bigger than an industry; it’s an economy. From a macro viewpoint, we can clearly see that web3 is eating the world. Whole industries are now creating strategies focused on web3 while simultaneously deploying billions of dollars into building the future of it.

Courtesy of Yvonne Tnt & Brendon Cook for BFA

Can you tell us a little bit more about the future of nft now?

AN: NFTs are clearly here to stay. Mainstream adoption is compounding on a daily basis. While exciting, it can feel overwhelming—especially for new entrants to the space. This ties directly into our goal to help onboard 1 billion people to NFTs over the next decade. We are committed to empowering the creators of culture through our platform, creating new opportunities through education while keeping our community safe and informed with trusted and objective content. We are excited to help brands enter the space authentically, intentionally and sustainably to better grow and serve their web3 communities. We are expanding our original content offerings with the launch of nft now studios while doubling down on super-serving our community. I am quite excited for nft now’s upcoming NFT membership pass.

Courtesy of Yvonne Tnt & Brendon Cook for BFA

What’s one crucial piece of advice that you’d give someone new to the space?

MM: First, make sure that you’re entering the NFT space to create value, not extract it. Take your time and start by collecting. Start small and learn the artists, projects and markets as you figure out your role in the space. It’s a huge red flag if you’re trying to launch an NFT project without meaningfully engaging and supporting the existing community, which is very welcoming but can smell like a cash grab from a mile away. Think longterm and remember that an NFT launch is a beginning, not an end. If you’re not thinking about the people on the other side of the exchange and how to continue building a bond and creating value for them long after the primary sale, you will fail.

SH: Find projects that excite you. Don’t fall for the myth that NFTs revolve around speculative investing. This is a disruptive technology that creates a new mechanism for communal ownership and participation. Although it’s great to take notes on what various projects are doing well, there’s tons of whitespace to innovate and create new precedents. Lastly, as per any industry, it’s just as important that the infrastructure and support systems are strong. You don’t have to be a creator to get involved as there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow by contributing to other projects and communities in the space.

AN: My recommendation for anyone coming in is to fully immerse yourself in the communities, the projects, the artists, the tech and whatever excites you the most. Prioritize your mental health by setting appropriate boundaries that align with your best interests. Trust your journey as it unfolds and be prepared to strike when opportunities present themselves. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment in technology. It’s not about timing the market, it’s about spending time in the market. The value creators always prevail.

Hero image courtesy of nft now