Digital avatar startup Genies, known for high-profile partnerships with celebrities like Justin Bieber, Migos and Cardi B, has released its highly anticipated NFT storefront, The Warehouse. Genies took his $1 billion valuation from hard-hitting tech investors, including Silver Lake and Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital, in his $150 million Series C round announced in April. Earned.

The Los Angeles-based company has partnered with Dapper Labs, creators of the NBA Top Shot NFT, to develop a storefront on Dapper’s Flow blockchain and debuted it to a group of invite-only beta users last December. TechCrunch reported at the time. Now, The Warehouse is open to the public, allowing users to download the Genies Studio app to create their own avatar and buy digital fashion items to dress their avatars in, said the Genies CEO and founder. ‘s Akash Nigam said in his TechCrunch interview.

Genies is partnering with a select group of creators to design the first set of collections available on the platform, Nigam said. One of his first collections is by fashion photographer and influencer Tati Bruening, known as @ilumitati on Instagram.

Genies CEO and Founder Akash Nigam

Genies CEO and Founder Akash Nigam Image credit: genie

Users can also take advantage of in-app tools to modify purchased clothing and personalize items purchased from these collections.

“Creators sell their own avatar fashions and customized avatar fashions over the past few months. Let’s say if someone in the community decides to buy it for their avatar, they also have the rights to edit it, or they can DIY within the studio platform and use the tools to We create derivative collections and make them available for sale on The Warehouse,” explains Nigam.

Since each item is an NFT, the original creator receives a portion of the revenue each time the item is resold and owns the intellectual property behind the design, he added. Genies charges a 5% commission on each sale, allowing creators to keep most of the revenue they make on each transaction, Nigam said, adding that NFTs within the Horizon Worlds metaverse can earn more than 50% commission. As opposed to being imposed. (Meta is also moving forward with his NFT plans, announcing earlier this week that it would allow users to post his NFTs on both Facebook and Instagram after rolling out its own digital clothing line in June. ).

Meta isn’t the only tech company trying to establish its own identity by allowing people to create their own with digital avatars. Reddit launched its own NFT avatar marketplace in July, and Estonian startup Ready Player Me raised his $56 million led by a16z earlier this month for a similar vision. Genies certainly holds a unique position in this space through celebrity partnerships and its own team. The startup counts former Disney CEO Bob Iger as an investor and board member.

Genie will only allow collections to be launched by approved sellers on the platform, but ultimately we want to allow all users to create unique one-on-one fashion pieces. Genies has ventured into fashion before. The startup partnered with Gucci in 2020 to let retailer customers try on new virtual designs and shop curated digital merchandise.

Images from the Genies platform showcasing collections designed by creator Ian Charms

Images from the Genies platform showcasing fashion collections designed by creator Ian Charms Image credit: genie

Although NFT sales are declining and cryptocurrency prices remain weak, Nigam expressed confidence in the long-term demand for digital avatars, likening their importance to the internet to mobile apps.

“The reason I think the avatar ecosystem is going to be a web3 mobile app is because I see two big consumer trends going on right now. There is one trend: the virtual trend. It’s … I mean, it’s clear: everyone wants to exist in a 3D spatial world,” says Nigam.

Second, he added, avatars allow people to take ownership and individuality in the digital world.

“I think many creators realize that they contribute a lot to various platforms, but they don’t get the full benefits,” said Nigam.

Still, he expressed reluctance to characterize and market the startup as an NFT company, even though NFTs are central to the company’s business model. He explained that Genies’ target audience is not native cryptocurrency users who see NFTs as a financial asset, but that he’s the cool kid of the internet, Generation Z, and that he’s on The Warehouse’s waiting list. 85% of them are women.

“People are really into digital fashion itself and just building their dream closets,” says Nigam.

Nigam eventually sees the company expand into a full-fledged social network, which Gen Z said was “hungry.” He sees Facebook and Snapchat primarily as messaging apps, while Instagram faces an “identity crisis,” he said. On the other hand, he hopes his Genies will evolve as a place where people can chance to meet like-minded friends on the Internet. It’s a vision the company has taken a step closer with the launch of its app and storefront.

“If you buy this as an asset, I don’t think people are thinking about unlocking X, Y, Z and whether or not they’ll generate value or if they can sell it one day,” Nigam said. . “They’re like, I just want to make some dope shit, and then I want to trade it and work with my friends to make it.”

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